Sunday, July 03, 2016

Revenge of the Rooks II

On Sunday the Pittsburgh Pirates completed a sweep of the A's in Oakland and after winning four straight are back at .500.  Notable in this streak is their bullpen, which hasn't given up a run in 32 innings.

That's in contrast to the San Francisco Giants bullpen, which blew late inning leads in their last two games in Arizona.  After leading 5-1 for much of the Saturday game, a 3-run homer in the eighth gave Arizona the lead and ultimately the win, 6-5.  Before that, the highlight was Mac Williamson's titanic home run that hit the scoreboard, which none of the Giants' announcers could remember seeing before.

On Sunday an even more makeshift lineup (Brandon Belt playing left field because of injuries to Span and Blanco, playing next to Jarrett Parker and Williamson) the Giants nevertheless had a 4-1 lead while starter Suarez was pitching, but blew it once again on a homer in the 8th, this time tying the game at 4.  It took eleven innings for the Giants to win it 5-4, with the bullpen holding the line in the extras.

Brandon Belt had two keys, one of them a 2 RBI double, as well as an important catch in the field, and Brandon Crawford had another stellar defensive game that saved some runs.  But again it was the rooks who were the story--both Parker and Williamson were in the thick of it, and the winning hit came from the hobbling Pena, not fit to field yet but who came off the bench to double in the 11th inning, bringing the speedy Parker around from first.

Williamson hit another boomer, but this time a line drive that was caught.  Announcer Jon Miller gets a lot of joshing from the rest of the crew for fixating on the new stat of bat speed.  But Dave Fleming had to admit that the ball traveling at an exceptionally fast 117 mph off Williamson's bat correlates with a hit 95% of the time.  

So the Giants limp home from a short road trip with, almost unaccountably, 3 out of 5 wins, and still 5 ahead of the streaking Dodgers.  They return with Denard Span awaiting results of an MRI on his neck that could lead to yet another player on the DL.  The good news: Kelby Tomlinson is doing his final rehab thing in triple-A and is close to returning, while Hunter Pence seems ahead of schedule on his possible return, taking batting practice.  Matt Cain is doing his triple-A starts.  And best of all for the beleaguered bullpen would be the return of Romo.

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