The Giants are playing their final game of the season today, so I better get a wrap up posted.
I went to fewer games this season (9) than I have since the new ballpark opened (at least). I was out of the country part of the time, but that’s not a very good explanation for the entirety of the six months. If I had to guess a reason, I’d say the fact that I spent around $1000 less on Giants games this year than I had in each of the last few seasons is a good place to start. This was also the first bad team of the four since I gave up my season tickets, so there wasn’t always a pressing need to BE THERE. Maybe it’s that I’m 60 years old, I don’t know.
Nine is such a small number, I could post the highlights of each game right here. I think I will. (All links are to the Baseball-Reference site.)
April 5: Opening Day. They raised the 2012 Championship flag. Barry Zito (yes, Barry Zito) threw seven shutout innings. The only run of the game came from a bases-loaded walk to Angel Pagan.
April 10: Barry Zito (yes, Barry Zito) threw seven shutout innings. Again. This time, the Giants scored more than one run … ten, to be exact, with a one-out triple by Buster Posey in the first inning starting the rout.
April 23: Zito didn’t pitch, so of course, the Giants lost. It took 11 innings. The game was not without its moments … trailing 4-0, the Giants scored two in the 8th, and two more in the bottom of the 9th, the latter courtesy of Brandon Belt’s first homer of the season. I’d call that the play of the game, except the Giants still lost. At that point, I’d already been to three of their first eleven home games … no sign that I’d only see six more.
May 5: My first Dodger game of the year. The Giants won their 6th straight, Matt Cain got his first win of the season, Sergio Romo his 12th save, Hunter Pence had two doubles and three RBI. I’d now been to four of their first fifteen home games.
May 21: This one had the best ending of all the games I saw, with Pablo Sandoval hitting a two-run walkoff homer in the bottom of the 10th. He hit it off of Yunesky Maya … it was Maya’s only major-league appearance of the year. The game only made it to extra innings because Gregor Blanco hit a two-out, run-scoring triple in the bottom of the 9th. After the game, the Giants were tied for first place. I wouldn’t attend another game for two months.
July 23: At least when I returned to China Basin, I got my money’s worth: a doubleheader. In the two months I’d been away, the team had gone 19-33. They weren’t in first place. In the first game, the Reds battered Eric Surkamp around on their way to a 9-3 victory. The second game was an oddball … it was a makeup of a game played in Cincinnati, so the Giants hit first and wore road uniforms, and the Reds hit second and wore home uniforms. As many noted, this gave Cincy a chance to get a walkoff hit while on the road. Barry Zito gave up three runs and left before he’d pitched five innings. When he left, the Giants still led, 5-3, and that’s how it ended. Sergio Romo ended any chance of the Road Walkoff … after a leadoff single, he struck out the side. And we were still there … kudos to Olivia for doing only the second DH in the “new” park.
September 8: Somehow, I missed all of August. This game was the highlight of the year, because my brother made his first trip to China Basin. And the baseball gods rewarded him. The game took more than 3 1/2 hours, went 11 innings, and ended when Angel Pagan singled home the game-winner.
September 24: A pitcher’s duel where all three runs came via bases-empty homers. Unfortunately, the Dodgers hit two of them. It marked Brian Wilson’s China Basin debut as a Dodger, and went without much hubbub. (That came the next night. Thanks for 2010, Brian. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.) Final record for the season: 6-3.
So … how about that Hunter Pence? He just signed an extension, five years, $90 million. That’s probably too much, although there is a lot of money floating around baseball these days. I’m not much for including “intangibles” in player evaluation, and I have no inside information (which is one reason I suspect “intangibles” … do we really know what Hunter Pence is like in the clubhouse?). But … one of those old baseball beliefs is that a good clubhouse atmosphere leads to a winning team, while I assume it’s the exact opposite, that a winning team leads to a good clubhouse atmosphere. Well, the Giants are not a winning team this year. And again, I’m not privy to inside information. But in September, the Giants have played well, and have rarely looked like a team that couldn’t wait to be done so they could go fishing. The team attitude seems (I emphasize, seems) to be realistic but positive. I could be making all of this up, I don’t know. But Hunter Pence won the Willie Mac Award this year, which goes to the player who shows best shows the spirit and leadership of Stretch. Most importantly, it is voted on by the players and staff. It’s their way of saying, Hunter Pence meant a lot to this team. That is probably worth something.