Monday night in St. Louis, the SF Giants behind 2-1 with two outs in the ninth and a man aboard, Buster Posey hits a drive that off the bat looks like a sure home run to put the Giants ahead. But it lands a foot or so short in the outfielder's glove, his back on the wall, to end the game.
What else could go wrong?
Earlier that inning, Hunter Pence hit a deep drive to center that looked like it might go out, but it didn't. It was caught on the warning track. On his way to first, Pence flinched and grabbed his side.
Pence hurt his oblique muscle, and was taken out of the lineup for Tuesday's game. So the Giants play the team with the best record in baseball, without a single starter in the outfield, and without the starting second baseman. Maxwell is in right, Blanco in center (though Blanco at this point may well be considered the starting center fielder) and Lollis starts his first major league game in left. Oh, and without the previously announced starting pitcher, Mike Leake.
So what happens?
The Giants win 2-0, behind a sweaty but ultimately successful start by Ryan Vogelsong, and with a pinch hit by...that man again...Madison Bumgarner. He singled to start the 7th and scored the second run when Belt was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Rookies Tomlinson and Duffy got hits, and Ryan Lollis got his first major league hit. Rookie Osich pitched a perfect relief inning. Lollis made a pretty nifty catch in left, as did Maxwell out of his usual position in right. Blanco hit as well, but that's becoming normal. Crawford hit safely in his 12th straight game, a personal high. Buster Posey just missed another homer to center.
It's an object lesson never to count this team out, but... The danger signs for the near future are formidable. After the game the word was that Pence will go on the 15-day DL...again. Right at the wrong moment. Even within the win, there were too many left on base, and an 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
The good news? Susak is back, Leake and Aoki probably soon will be. And these guys play hard. Chris Heston also gutted out his start on Monday and held the Cards to 2 runs. Posey, Crawford and Duffy have to keep on being spectacular, they need Aoki to return to early season form, Belt to stay hot, etc.
Matt Cain starts tomorrow--maybe his last chance to return to his dominant form before "decisions are made" when Leake returns. With two good starts in a row, Vogelsong has earned his spot in the rotation. It's been suggested that Cain accept a minor league assignment so he could work out the kinks with less pressure. Of course, a strong scoreless seven will throw all those calculations into the wind.
As might a deal, as might be in the offing soon. Like tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the Pirates won another extra-innings game, this time outslugging Arizona in 15, 9-8. But it wasn't easy--they blew a big lead, some sloppy play, but at home they find a way.