Here is a link to my Monday column about the Giant’s loss to the Cards in Game 2. The full text runs below:
When Kolten Wong yanked Sergio Romo’s pitch into the right field stands ending Game 2 with a walk-off piece, Romo yanked his head around and stared at the ball. Then he turned around, a look of surrender and grief on his face, and walked briskly toward the visitor’s dugout.
The game was over, a game the Giants could have won. Except they lost 5-4. They lost because Romo failed. And because their bullpen failed in the extreme.
A few minutes after Romo gave up the 390-foot bomb to Wong, the press entered the deathly quiet Giants clubhouse. The Giants coaches sat in one room, Dave Righetti and Hensley Meulens and the rest in chairs staring into their lockers. Across a hallway sat manager Bruce Bochy alone, staring straight ahead. His face was contorted with sadness or anger or frustration. Who knows?
In the visiting clubhouse, you could see Romo in the restricted area, toweling off on the tile floor, drying his hair, looking in the mirror. He walked to his locker and turned his back to the mob of writers waiting for him. He apologized for dressing in front of everyone. He turned around.
“Have at it, guys,” he said in a cheerful voice.
What pitch did he throw to Wong?
“Changeup down the middle.”
Was it a mistake?
“No, just down the middle.”
He was being ironic.
He kept talking, answering questions, speaking fast. He said things like, “Everyone’s hitting bombs. It is what it is. When you don’t make good pitches, when you don’t execute things like that happen. It just happened to be in the playoffs. It hurts but we’ve got a game next time. There’s a real good chance I’m going to get the ball again, so let’s go at it. That’s fine.”
More questions came. How will he put this behind him?
“It’s already passed,” he said and again he grinned.
Someone asked why he threw a changeup, not his slider. His slider is his best pitch, his out pitch, the pitch that makes him special.
“I worked on it (the changeup) so I can better my arsenal, so I can better myself. Today, it just didn’t work. I felt fine. I went in there confident. Did I expect to throw it down the middle? No.”
Romo gave a fine performance. But he was grinning out of context, a man trying unsuccessfully to seem casual and give the impression everything was under control. Everything was not under control.
His words differed from how he looked and what he did. He began sweating the minute he turned to the media. Within minutes, his face was awash in water and his hair was as wet as a swimmer’s.
He kept doing stuff with his hands. He played with the lower fringe of his shirt that hung over his pants, nervously pulled on it. Compulsively, he shoved his left hand into the front pocket of his jeans. And then he took it out and then he put it in again and again.
The hand expressed his true feelings — the feelings he wanted to hide. It nervously bunched into his pocket and flew out, showing his anxiety, his feeling things had gone to hell. Or maybe he was looking in his pocket for something he had lost. His slider. The pitch he should have thrown.
Romo wasn’t the only reliever who had gone to hell for one night. Jean Machi gave up a home run. So did Hunter Strickland. Strickland is in a class by himself. He has surrendered five hits in the playoffs and four of them are home runs. With this guy it’s bombs away. He is a rookie who can throw 100 miles an hour, but big-league hitters can time heat. And if you have nothing else — does Strickland? — they will time your gas and hit it out.
When you add in the homer that starter Jake Peavy gave up, the Giants surrendered four home runs. Not so good when you consider the Giants’ pitching — especially the bullpen — has been a strength. The bullpen needs to be strong because the Giants cannot hit. Look over your scorecard. See how many scoring opportunities the Giants wasted Sunday.
They had runners on first and third in the seventh, could have blown open the game, but scored only one run.
They tied the game in the ninth with one run — they really are gritty — but with two out and the bases loaded, Pablo Sandoval grounded out to the pitcher.
Before the game, Bruce Bochy addressed his team’s hitting — its lack of hitting:
“It probably has to turn around. You’re going to have to get some timely hits with the team we’re playing. It’s going to take somebody coming through and getting that hit. We’ve gotten a couple of breaks. I think you look at Washington, that last game, the wild pitch, the walk. Those things don’t happen a lot, so we can’t rely on that. We’re going to have to have somebody come through for us.”
They sure do.
So, where does this series stand? It stands as a dramatic series between two top teams. Game 2 kept going back and forth, and the Cardinals came out on top. And now the series goes to San Francisco. Thankfully, it continues.
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