SAN FRANCISCO – With 10 days until the non-waiver trade deadline, any little injury right now could alter a team’s trajectory, throw their spacecraft off course and give them urgency to deal.
That’s what happened when Jeremy Affeldt got hurt in July, 2010.
That might be what happens after Affeldt got hurt again in July, 2013.
Affeldt limped off the mound, into an MRI chamber and almost certainly onto the disabled list after sustaining a strained left groin in Saturday night’s 4-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
And if this sounds familiar, it should.
Nearly three years ago to the day (July 23, 2010, to be exact), Affeldt injured his oblique while warming up in the bullpen at Arizona. He went on the disabled list and the Giants, suddenly in need of a left-handed reliever, obtained Javier Lopez from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
It was a below-the-sensor array move at the time, even decried by many fans who pined for a bat. But the Giants probably (certainly?) don’t win the World Series in 2010 without Lopez. They might have missed the mark without him last year, too. And without him Saturday night, they wouldn’t have grabbed the next rung on the monkey bars in the NL West standings.
The sidewinding lefty got two critical outs in the eighth inning on a night that manager Bruce Bochy burned through seven-eighths of his bullpen -- and that’s after Bochy made five pitching changes the previous night.
Suddenly, the Giants are four back in the loss column.
Who knows? Maybe Affeldt’s injury will provide the impetus for GM Brian Sabean to pursue a new reliever. And maybe Minnesota’s Casey Fien, or Miami’s Steve Cishek, or Milwaukee’s Mike Gonzalez, or Seattle’s Charlie Furbush, or Toronto’s Brett Cecil, or any other number of non-household names ends up getting their own cable car in the parade as a result.
I know. A parade reference right now, with the Giants at 45-51, is as stupid as drinking coffee while wearing white pants in an airplane seat. Then again, Edgar Renteria is probably shining his World Series MVP trophy right now.
Point is, everything affects everything and you never know where the particles are going to fall. Affeldt was just starting to turn a corner, and he was a strike away from what would’ve been his third consecutive solid outing. He’s a hugely important part of this bullpen, and whenever he returns, the Giants will be counting on him.
Maybe the end result will be a bullpen that is stronger as a unit.
Affeldt’s injury might distract them a bit, but the Giants were very focused on trading for a starting pitcher and I anticipate that won’t change.
As much as Bochy loves Jake Peavy, my information is that the White Sox and Giants have not discussed a deal. And if the Giants had one of their special assignment honchos there to see Peavy pitch Saturday night in his first start back from the disabled list, they stayed out of sight.
(Great. Now I’m imagining Dick Tidrow looking something like this.)
From what I’m hearing, the White Sox expect to have several clubs interested in Peavy and his $14.5 million contract for next season isn’t viewed as an impediment. If it’s going to require a big prospect haul, the Giants don’t have either the quantity or quality of trade chips to get a seat at the table.
I sense a lot of gamesmanship going on as it pertains to Peavy. Even the Diamondbacks and old pal Kevin Towers are putting out word, tactfully, that they won’t be players. I don’t believe it. Both the Giants and Diamondbacks would love to have him, and by the way, there ain’t no way he’s getting through waivers.
Lopez saved the Giants on Saturday when he retired Gerardo Parra with two aboard in the eighth, which meant Bochy didn’t have to push Sergio Romo for a four-out save. Romo was warming up and almost certainly would’ve faced Paul Goldschmidt if the inning continued.
But it turns out Lopez contributed to Saturday’s win – and others before it – in other ways, too.
He’s been working with fellow lefty Jose Mijares on a drop-down slider. Mijares used it to strike out Adam Eaton and strand the bases loaded in the sixth inning. Mijares said he also used it to escape that bases-loaded, no-out jam – Kobayashi Maru for a relief pitcher -- he inherited from Chad Gaudin last week in San Diego.
“I am working here every day,” said Mijares, who has allowed one earned run over his last 12 outings and is holding opponents to .154 (in 52-at-bats) with runners in scoring position.
Mijares said he started throwing a slider from the three-quarter arm slot roughly two weeks ago. He’s already confident enough in the pitch that he’ll throw it in pressure scenarios. But generally only with two strikes, when he’s looking for a strikeout.
Romo said he was fine, by the way, after getting hit by Goldschmidt’s comebacker in the ninth. It struck him on the heel of his glove. Sandy Rosario had X-rays on his hand that came back negative for a fracture after he tried to stop Cody Ross’s single in the eighth, too.
As for Romo’s scoreless streak against Arizona, which had its origins in 2010 and lasted 29 innings? He said he had no idea about it until after the game.
“Oh well,” he said, smiling. “I was able to get the last out. So I guess I started another one.”
The Giants were 2-8 at home before winning these first two games against Arizona. It’s their first home series win since June 17-19. But in their position, it isn’t just being greedy to want a sweep behind Madison Bumgarner. It’s being pragmatic.
Oh, and this might surprise you, but they improved to 29-20 against NL West opponents – the best intradivisional record of all five clubs – and they’re 8-3 against the Diamondbacks.
We’ve talked ad nauseum about the Giants’ problems with runners in scoring position. But after Pablo Sandoval’s RBI double in the first inning, he was batting .361 in 83 at-bats with RISP.
The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, left 11 runners on base – and that’s just in the final five innings.
Goldschmidt, who always seems to be hotter than a ghost pepper, is 1 for 9 with two strikeouts in the series. Twice he’s stranded the bases loaded.
Both the Giants and Reds continue to go with TBA for Game 2 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, but you don’t need an office at 221B Baker Street to figure out at least half of it.
Mike Kickham threw 83 pitches for Triple-A Fresno on Saturday, so he won’t be rested. Eric Surkamp is currently listed to start for the Grizzlies on Tuesday at Salt Lake. Here’s guessing Surkamp doesn’t get within a hoodoo of the Beehive State.
The rest of the matchups for that series: Lincecum-Arroyo on Monday, Zito-Cingrani in Game 1 Tuesday (a road game, officially!), and Gaudin-Leake on Wednesday.
No Homer Bailey.
I’ll repeat this one from the Instant Replay: Buster Posey’s home run was just the third in the Giants’ last 16 home games, but their 30th at AT&T Park in 47 games this season. One more and they’ll match the 31 homers they hit in 81 regular-season home games last year.
There was a bit of small talk after Posey met with reporters after the game. His Buster Bash video game somehow came up in conversation. There’s an update you can download. The object of the game has changed. It’s no longer to collect as many sunflower seeds as you can.
“It’s coins now,” said Posey, which is appropriate enough. He signed a big contract, and he darn well isn’t getting paid in snack food.