Pirates 6, Giants 5
LP: Jeremy Affeldt (0-1)
Giant HR: Eugenio Velez (1)
Record: 6-2, first in NL West, 1.5 games ahead of Arizona, Colorado
For the second time in four games, a simple defensive mistake from shortstop Edgar Renteria contributed to a Giants’ defeat.
Renteria dropped a throw from Jeremy Affeldt trying to turn a double play, resulting a no outs and leading the Pirates taking the lead in the eighth inning of a 6-5 win over Giants on Tuesday.
With the scored tied 3-3 with one out in the eighth and runner on first, Affeldt got Lastings Milledge to hit a comebacker. Affledt fielding the chopper, spun and made a perfect throw to Renteria covering second. But in his haste to make a quick turn, Renteria did not secure the ball before beginning switching the ball from his glove to throwing hand, resulting in both runners being safe. Garrett Jones followed with a single to right scoring, Andrew McCutchen from second.
The play seemed to lose some significance when the Pirates tacked on two more runs in the top of the ninth off Brandon Medders. But then Eugenio Velez’s two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth brought the spotlight back on Renteria.
It’s also worth considering that had the score remained tied 3-3 after eight, the Giants likely would have sent Brian Wilson out for the ninth, instead of Medders, considering that a tie game after eight innings meant that Wilson could not be placed in a save situation.
Renteria said afterward that he never saw the ball, and was just trying to protect his face. Nice try, Edgar, but we’re not buying that you lost the ball in Affeldt’s gotee.
It looked pretty evident from the replay that he was trying to make a quick exchange of the ball from glove hand to throwing hand and simply muffed it.
But fortunately for Renteria, there was more blame to go around.
Third-base coach Tim Flannery gets some blame, too.
With runners on first and third and two out in the fifth, Mark DeRosa shot a double down into the right-field corner, scoring Aaron Rowand from third. Then Flannery inexplicably waved Pablo Sandoval home.
Watching the play live, you could see Flannery wave Sandoval home and automatically think “uh oh.” The next TV camera cut went to the Pirates cut-off man catching the ball and throwing home and you knew it wasn’t even going to be close. And it wasn’t. Not even the best shot from Kung Fu Panda to bowl over Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit could dislodge the ball and the Giants’ rally was over.
The decision from Flannery was bad from start to finish. First, Sandoval is not the most fleet of foot and Flannery should have been able to see the throw would beat him by a country mile. It was the kind of decision you might see him make in the bottom of the ninth if Sandoval was representing the winning run. But in the fifth inning?!?
If Flannery had put up a stop sign, the Giants would have had runners on second and third with thier hottest hitter — Bengie Molina — coming up next. Even if the Pirates decided to walk Molina, it still would have brought up Juan Uribe to the plate. Also a good situation for the Giants.
Flannery’s decision also had another impact. It contributed to the premature departure of Giants pitcher Matt Cain. Cain struggled early in the game, falling behind hitters and allowing three runs in three innings. But then, Cain found his groove, setting down the last 10 Pirates he faced.
And Cain had recorderd those last 10 outs with such efficiency that he was sitting at 86 pitches after six innings. He clearly could have come out for at least the seventh inning.
However, in the bottom of the sixth, Molina led off with a walk. Uribe followed with a single, sending Molina to third. After John Bowker struck out — struck out in a situation which calls for contact of just about any kind — it forced Bruce Bochy’s hand. He opted to pinch-hit for Cain, sending Velez to the plate. Velez responded with a run-scoring groundout and the game was tied. But it also took Cain out of the game.