Given the success of Giants’ pitchers in recent years, it’s practically impossible to be critical of the way they play the game.
However, methinks it fair to point out the reason the Giants lost Friday night’s opener in San Diego. The 2-1 nail-biter came down to a simple tactical decision; or lack of one. Tim Lincecum did not drill Chase Headley in the bottom of the third inning.
Headley came to the plate on the heels of what is perhaps the most bizarre stolen base the Giants will see all year. With the Giants leading 1-0, Padres starting pitcher Andrew Cashner swiped second base on a well-timed delayed steal on a pitch in the dirt to strike out Will Venable.
The reason to drill Headley in that situation is elementary. Cashner made the Giants look bad. Sure plunking the next hitter is an old school train of thought. But such a tactic would have given the Giants a little momentum at a critical point of the game. Instead, the Padres rolled into a rally, following the sneak-attack with three straight singles to take a one-run lead, which they sustained throughout for the victory.
The demoralizing facet of the Cashner steal was more than merely witnessing the opposing pitcher beat you with his legs. And don’t get me wrong. The steal was great baseball. But seeing Padres first base coach Dave Roberts peer intently from the coach’s box immediately thereafter as the evil mastermind of the pivotal play brought back all the bad memories that should be attached to Roberts’ legacy in the eyes of the Giants.
Somehow, modern history will have Giants fans remember Roberts as a Giant. They shouldn’t. Sure he played the final two years of his career in San Francisco. Sure he stole 31 bases with the Giants as Barry Bonds made history in 2007.
But Roberts was, and always should be revered as, a Dodger. Giants fans especially should behold him with such reverence, because Roberts is one of the classic Giants killers of all time. He always seemed to have game-changing runs stashed up his sleeve against San Francisco. In his career, his total combined runs and RBIs was 58 against the Giants. To put that number in perspective, against the fellow NL West Rockies, who played at the most prominent offensive yard of the era, Roberts’ combined runs-and-RBIs total was 46.
Friday night, by putting the wheels in motion to essentially steal the game, he reminded the Giants of that fact.
And San Francisco should well be prescient of Giants killers when in San Diego. Padres reliever Luke Gregerson threw up a scoreless eighth – mowing through the top of the Giants’ order on six pitches. Just a day in the life from the veteran right-hander, who has slain the Giants throughout his career to the tune of a 1.86 ERA in 38 appearances.
Granted, the last thing the NL West needs after the Carlos Quentin-Zack Greinke debacle is another bean-ball war. But for what it’s worth, one simple cutter to the fanny could have won Friday’s game for the Giants.