Thursday, September 8, 2016

NL West W L GB
LA 79 60 - Startin' to pull away.
GIANTS 74 65 5 How long can this go on?
Wild Card W L GB
GIANTS 74 65 - Took 9 pitchers to lose it.
St Louis 73 65 - Scoreboard-watchers, rejoice.
New York 74 66 .5 They're baaaaaack…

Giants lost at Colorado, 6-5, bowing a 5-3 ninth-inning lead.
LA finished a sweep of Arizona with their fifth straight win, 3-1.
St Louis lost at Pittsburgh, while New York won their fifth straight and swept Cincinnati.  

Giants have the day off. They begin a weekend series at Arizona tomorrow night.
LA is likewise idle as they travel across the land to Miami.
New York is idle and on their way to Atlanta, while St Louis is back home, opening a 4-game weekend series tonight with Milwaukee.
Last Night's Game
The wobbly wheels came completely off the wagon of the Giants' creaky, crumbling bullpen last night, and as usual when these things happen, it couldn't have come at a worse time. Thanks to some good and timely hitting-- hey, a two-run homer from the long-dormant Brandon Belt! Hey, Hunter Pence, 3-for-5! Hey, Gorkys Hernandez, his first home run!-- the Giants took a 5-3 lead into the ninth, three outs away from winning this tough road series. Alberto Suarez hadn't exactly pitched a gem, but he made it through five with the lead, which is all you can ask from a fifth starter, and he outdid his veteran counterpart, Jorge DeLaRosa. Steve Okert and Hunter Strickland were in shutdown style in the sixth and seventh, as was Will Smith in the eighth, assisted by Javier Lopez. 

So it was, again, up to Santiago Casilla, he of the 31 saves and 7 blown saves. He wasted no time, as Nolan Arenado hit his fourth pitch 437 feet to make it a one-run game and send chills down the spine of every sentient Giants fan. "Bochy had literally no reaction," texted a family member. Casilla seemed to recover, fanning David Dahl, but when Tom Murphy singled to put the tying run on base, Bochy reacted, all right. Out came Casilla and in came Josh Osich, who hit Charlie Blackmon on what was probably the single most costly pitch of the game. Now it was Joe Nathan, the inning's third pitcher, the Giants' ninth pitcher of the night. Nick Hundley dropped an absurd little blooper in front of Angel Pagan, who was playing no-doubles deep. The denouement then was quick: a no-doubt-about -it double from the wonderfully-misspelled Cristhian Adames, and that was it. Eight blown saves and a no-confidence vote for Casilla, worse than that from the supporting cast, a five-game deficit to the Dodgers, and miles to go, it seems, before a return home to AT&T Park and whatever comfort might be offered there.

Is Casilla done? Will Bochy play closer-by-committee? Will he anoint a provisional closer-- Romo, Strickland, Smith, even Nathan? Will he abandon his matchup-based plan and stick with the "hot hand," assuming there is one? Will any of it matter? The small positives we've seen lately-- general steadiness across the rotation, Hernandez and Nunez and Smith improving their play-- are lost in the foul backwash of this complete inability to hold a lead in a close game. With the Dodgers opening up a five-game lead, with the Mets on a roll, and with the Cardinals due in town a week from now for a four-game set--  what, realistically, are the Giants' chances of being even in wild-card contention for the final two weeks?

Today is an off-day. We all need it.   

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