The scheduling fairy continued wildly waving her wand over the San Francisco Giants as the Pittsburgh Pirates came to AT&T Park to play the third series of the fledging 2010 season. After opening on the road against a Houston team on the verge of being declared a federal disaster area, the Giants faced the perplexing but talented Atlanta Braves.
The Braves, who look so solid on paper, were placed in a shredder by Giants’ pitching and clutch hitting. Only the semi-weekly appearance of Giants’ 5th starter Todd Wellemeyer prevented a sweep of the Braves. Six games, five wins.
The next day, the Pittsburgh Pirates pulled up to AT&T Park in several dilapidated 1978 Volkswagon vans, carrying their equipment in plastic Safeway bags, and wondering just how they managed to piss off the Old Testament God. Seventeen consecutive losing seasons, and all the Pirates can look forward to in 2010 is maybe a plague of locusts or to be driven into the desert by a high ranking Egyptian official.
The Giants took two out three games from the Pirates, 9-3, 5-6, 6-0, and would have completed the sweep if Giants shortstop Edgar Renteria had made an easy double play. What? Never assume the double play you say? Please. With a runner at first and no outs, pitcher Jeremy Affeldt induced an easy ground ball from the next Arrrrgh... another loss of Biblical proportions batter, which he snagged and then tossed a perfect feed to second base. Renteria had it clang off his metallic glove and fall to the turf, allowing the next Pirate batter, Garrett Jones, to knock in an unearned run; the same unearned run that tagged Affeldt with the game two loss.
Giants Manager Bruce Bochy was feisty and very defensive in talking with reporters after the game, basically claiming that Renteria’s error was so rare it probably would never happen again. The Giants front office is extremely sensitive about any criticism of Renteria (.250 BA/48 RBI/69 SO/terrible range at short in 2009), who they signed to a ridiculous two year $18.5 million contract in 2009. It’s like the Nixon White House, the bigger the mistake the more hostile the response to questions about the mistake. The type of error Renteria made in the April 13th loss to Pittsburgh isn’t common, but it is symbolic of the variety of ways his defense costs the team runs.
That said, the Giants will not be seeing many baseball challenged teams for the next twenty-three days, facing 18 games with the Dodgers, St. Louis, Philadelphia, the Rockies, Florida, and the Mets. Oh, and a three game breather (hopefully) with San Diego somewhere in the middle. Will this be a test of their early success and enthusiasm? You can bet your iron glove on it.