Ooh boy. It's bad enough we have a crucial series with the rival Dodgers starting tomorrow. I mean, the Dodgers are slumping right now (they were swept at home by the Braves this week) and the Giants were in a prime position going into Friday to pad their NL Wild Card lead as well with the Rockies playing the Cubs, and the Giants taking on the Reds, a team that had been struggling mightily since the All-Star break.
Well...we didn't get swept, I guess. However, other than that though, this series pretty much was a disaster, compounded by the Giants losing 5-2 today to Aaron Harang, a pitcher that hadn't won a game since May. I really don't know what got into the Reds this weekend. I don't know how Wladimir Balentein started to not suck anymore. I don't know how Brandon Phillips looked like the stud he was two years ago when he first arrived to Cincinnati. I don't know how Dusty Baker out managed Bruce Bochy despite having sub. 300 OBP hitter in Willy Tavares batting leadoff.
A lot of things don't make sense. The Reds shouldn't have taken two out of three from a team that had the best home record in the Major Leagues going into the series on Friday. Yet, baseball hardly makes sense at times, and this was one of those moments, much to our chagrin as Giants fans.
Today, you couldn't blame anyone for the loss, maybe other than Matt Cain, which isn't easy to do because I love the guy. The Reds came in, took care of business, and had a big inning in the fourth, compounded by a two-run homer by Andrew Rosales (Yes, I still don't know who that is). Let's face it Giants fans. As a fan, I'm worried about Cain. I know the guy is going to have a bad start every now and then, but two straight? Against two mediocre teams? That definitely leaves me worried. Now, I'm not saying Cain is going to fall off the wagon completely, but I'm definitely worried that he may be out of gas, not to mention luck, from the marvelous All-Star first half he had this year.
A lot of tough moments to stomach overall during this game. The "Panda" was in prime opportunity to really hammer in big innings and he hit into double plays...twice. That's not what Sandoval does in big spots like that. However, instead of the usual-clutch self, he looked more like Bengie Molina, unable to come up with the big hits the Giants needed in big spots. I think he'll be able to rebound from this game in time for the Dodgers series (which starts tomorrow...so he better rebound quickly), but it was just a disappointing development that we usually don't see from the "Panda," especially at AT&T Park.
Were there any bright spots in this series? Yes. We didn't get swept (as I mentioned before) and Eugenio Velez continues to earn his spot as our new leadoff hitter. Seriously, this guy is good. I could harp and harp on this kid until my face turns blue, and I still wouldn't be finished singing his praises. This is exactly the guy I thought we would get a year ago when he was tearing it up in Spring Training. He's just such a spark plug out there, and he's an infinitely better upgrade than Randy Winn or Fred Lewis in centerfield. Once Nate Schierholtz comes back, I am looking forward to an outfield that consists of Velez in left, Rowand in center and Schierholtz in right. That in my mind, will give the Giants the best shot to win down the stretch.
Oh well...we had a chance to really capitalize and we didn't. It doesn't matter though. All what matters is this Dodgers series starting tomorrow. If we sweep the Dodgers, it won't matter what happened in the Reds series this weekend. All will be forgiven in my mind. Nothing would beat a Dodgers sweep, or at the very least, a series win over the bums from Chavez Ravine.
Come on Giants. Let's beat LA!
(I don't sound too desperate now, do I?)
Postgame box notes:
Winning pitcher: Aaron Harang (6-13) 7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO.
Losing pitcher: Matt Cain (12-4) 7 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO.
Giants standouts: Eugenio Velez, 2-for-4, 2B (5). Fred Lewis, 2B (16). Freddy Sanchez, 2-for-4.
Reds standouts: Brandon Phillips, HR (17). Wladimir Balentein, 2-for-3. Andrew Rosales, 3-for-4, HR (4).
Giants probable starters for next game against Los Angeles: Kuroda (4-5) vs. Sanchez (5-9).
Reds probable starters for next game against St. Louis: Cueto (8-9) vs. Lohse (4-7).