They said there would be nights like this.
In a game that was seemingly destined for a Giants victory, Houston turned the tables, rallying with three solo home runs from deficits of 3-1 and 3-2, and finally breaking a 3-3 tie in the eighth to win 4-3. The G-men usually fare better in tightly contested, one-run games. In fact, they came into the game with a 9-3 record in such games. This one ended badly however and was one of those games where you’re thankful that the season is comprised of 162 games, with a new game this evening.
Starter Tim Hudson pitched what is becoming his typical game this season – five or six innings, a few hits, a couple of home runs, a couple of walks, a few strike outs, and usually three or four runs. He generally keeps his team in contention, as he did in this one. The problem last night was that the Giants offense stopped producing after the fifth inning, allowing the Astros to methodically chip away at the Giants 3-1 lead. With his evening, Hudson’s ERA rose slightly to 4.57 on the season as he took the no-decision.
Jeremy Affeldt gave up his first homer of the season in the eighth inning, and it turned out to be the game winner. It is the first home run Affeldt has given up to a right handed hitter in almost two years.
“Our execution got us tonight,” said manager Bruce Bochy, citing the Giants leaving 10 runners on base, their hitting with runners in scoring position ( just 2-for-8), and the two double plays they grounded into. As noted in previous blog posts, the difference between this offense being above average or slightly below average is the hitting with runners in scoring position statistic. The Giants simply must get better here, as this is a game they would have won had they executed better in those situations. The Giants team batting average of .260 ranks them 10th in MLB, but they’re ranked 29th, second to last, in runs scored (112), averaging just 3.3 runs per game.
Angel Pagan has another good night at the plate, going 2 for 5 with a triple and run scored, but he also left two men on base. Buster Posey had a big night offensively, going 3 for 5 with a home run (his fifth), three RBIs (14 on the season), and a run scored. Posey is now hitting .291 and the G-men hope that he’s getting a hot bat. But Posey also left two men on base in the ninth inning with two outs, including Nori Aoki, the tying run on third base and Angel Pagan, the go ahead run on first base. Brandon Crawford continues to shine offensively, going 2 for 3 with a double from the ninth spot in the lineup, and is now hitting .264.
The Giants didn’t lose any ground with Los Angeles who also lost, and remain 5 ½ games behind the first place Dodgers. Next up is Cincinnati, where the Giants open a four game series at Great American Ball Park tonight. The teams match identical (17-17) records, as the Reds find themselves in a similar situation in the NL Central, 6 ½ games agains the first place Cardinals.
Tonight’s pitching matchup should be a good one, with Tim Lincecum (3-2, 2.00) taking on Johnny Cueto (3-3, 2.98). Lincecum has pitched very well this season and is currently riding a 15 consecutive shutout innings streak, while trying to convince the baseball world that he’s truly back. This will be a good test, as Lincecum has struggled against Cincinnati in his career, going 0-4 with a 9.79 ERA. Let’s hope he turns it around this evening.