|Sergio Romo and Gregor Blanco in Sea Lions throwbacks|
The Giants happened to make this Atlanta road trip when the Braves were celebrating Negro Leagues Heritage Night, so while the Braves wore Atlanta Black Crackers throwbacks (which is a cringe-worthy name in many respects), the Giants wore San Francisco Sea Lions uniforms (which have bears on them... which is an interesting story in itself). I had never heard of the San Francisco Sea Lions. Doing a little research, apparently there was a one-year black minor league right after World War Two called the West Coast Negro Baseball League. They had six teams in several of the major Pacific Coast League cities- San Fran, Oakland, L.A., San Diego, Seattle, and Portland. The issue for the league, apparently, was that the Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson that same year, and even the Negro Major Leagues were starting to see the beginning of the end. So a black minor league far away from the major franchises, while a worthy idea, was in bad shape from the start- so it only lasted one season, 1946. And that's why I'd never heard of them.
Then it was up to Pittsburgh. I don't even know where to start with this Pittsburgh series. I suppose the best way to start is with some praise.... for me! You may recall that Matt Cain sliced his finger while making a sandwich in the hours before his scheduled start during the homestand, and Yusmeiro Petit got the spot-start, and also got the win. During that game, Giants color broadcaster Mike Krukow, a former 20-game winner in the show, said that there was no way Cain would make his next start, scheduled for the first game of the Pittsburgh series. Yet the next day, manager Bruce Bochy said that Cain would make that start. In my review of that week, I stated that I agreed with Krukow, that Cain would not make that start. Well, on Monday, the Giants put Cain on the disabled list, had Petit make another start, and called up a guy from Triple-A to take Cain's place on the roster (albeit temporarily- the was the DL works, Cain was “retroactively” put on it ten days ago, meaning he could make his next scheduled start on Saturday in L.A.). As always, believe the former pitcher and not the club.
|Lincecum got goofy on throwback night|
Nevertheless, the Giants won that one, the second time they've won a game this season while allowing at least ten runs, extending their season-long win streak to six games. That changed on Tuesday, when the streak ended on a bit of history... the first time replay has ever decided a walk-off win. The game was a strike away from going to bonus baseball for the second consecutive game, and Tim Hudson had thrown just over 100 pitches, a real spectacular game and much needed after that 13-inning marathon. The Giants claimed that the bullpen was ready to go, but if that's the case, why not lift Hudson in a 1-1 game after seven or eight innings? Would you rather have a 38 year old starter pitch the 9th in a tie game or a 27 year old reliever? I thought so.
Anyway, with a one-two count, Starling Marte of the Pirates knocked one off the right field wall, and when the relay to third skipped wide, Marte headed home. The throw there beat him and the home plate umpire called him out, but the replay showed that while Buster Posey tagged him on the chest, Marte's right hand had just touched the plate. The call was overturned, and the Giants became the first team to lose a game on a walk-off replay.
|Belt belts in ATL in Sea Lions throwback|
As a positive, Brandon Belt did drive in all three Giants runs on the day, including his 9th home run of the year, which means that Belt has homered in every park the Giants have played in this year. I didn't figure that one out, but it's a pretty cool stat. It's certainly not Hank Aaron homering in 45 different parks or whatever the record is. It seems to just show the hot-and-coldness of Belt's season. He'll mash one, and then he won't do anything else for the rest of the series. He started out so well, like four homers in five games (remember the talk about him hitting 75 taters?), and since then he's hit five more. It's a combination of pitchers realizing his weak spots and Belt pushing because he knows he's struggling. Let's not even get into the ditch that Pablo Sandoval has dug himself into.
Anyway, six games down and another 11 to go before an official day off. Four more road games, these will be in Dodger Stadium. Vogelsong the start on Thursday, Bumgarner on Friday and then we'll see if Cain returns on Saturday before Huddy closes it out on Sunday afternoon. The Dodgers got Clayton Kershaw back in the rotation, he'll throw one of those games for sure. This is a dangerous series. As well as the Giants have started (21-13, still one of the top records in baseball), don't forget how poorly LA started off last year (remember when Don Mattingly's firing was inevitable?), and then they just motored past everyone without a problem to win the division. A split in LA for the four games is acceptable, because then at least it's evened out. A sweep or just one win for Ess Eff and that boosts El Ay's spirits as much as it deflates the fellows in the orange and black.
Then it's back to the Bay, where the Bravos will want nothing better to return the sweep favor, and four against Miami, who entered Wednesday tied for first in the NL East with Atlanta. Then it'll be May 19th, and San Fran's first off-day since the first. And maybe Matt Cain will have a win by then. I know I’ll have taken at least 48 hours off from running.
All photos: zimbio.com