Damn you, Denard.
The Giants are beyond saving this season. We knew that nearly a month ago. Deep down we probably knew it in June. In the words of Brian Sabean, 2013 has been a “bad penny” year for the orange and black. I’ll argue that poor play on the part of the 25 men who put on the uniform every night is more to blame for this season’s struggles than bad luck. Sure, there have been injuries and some bad breaks, but mostly this team’s undoing can be traced back to its own performance on the field.
Yes, this season is over in the figurative sense. But it’s never too early to play for next season. In baseball, much as in other sports, a little momentum can go a long way. This group of guys we call the Giants aren’t this bad of a baseball team. They know it, we know it, and the rest of the league knows it. They’ve got the rings, and we’ve got the commemorative DVD’s to prove it. Right now, however, the Giants are a team in need of a lucky break. Not to save the season, but to save face.
Last night, the proverbial bad penny waited until there were two outs in the top of the 9th before it reared its ugly head. For once, the Giants were rallying. After falling into a 6-1 hole to the Nationals in the 4th inning, Brandon Belt sparked some life back into the club with a towering home run in the 8th. Buster Posey and Hunter Pence followed with singles, and Pablo Sandoval doubled them home. The Giants’ 3-4-5-6 hitters – the source of so many offensive problems lately – combined for 9 hits, and 4 (yes, 4) RBI’s last night. In the 9th, the Giants rallied again. Hector Sanchez singled, pinch runner Andres Torres took second, advanced to third on a ground out, and Belt knocked him in. Posey kept the 2-out rally going with a base hit.
That all led to Hunter Pence, who whacked a hanging slider from Rafael Soriano into left-center. For a couple seconds, the ball looked like it was going to split the outfielders. This was going to be the clutch hit that the Giants have been so desperately missing for the past two months. But Denard Span had other intentions, and it became apparent as the ball started coming down that he was going to make a fantastic play. He did, and from the mouth of Duane Kuiper, “that’s the ball game.” A team in need of sign of hope didn’t get it last night, and has now dropped two games in Washington while outhitting the Nat’s 23-17. Span’s game-saving catch was the third such play that has ended a game against the Giants this season. Maybe Sabean was onto something with those bad pennies after all.