Losing catcher Buster Posey to a mangled left ankle is not the
doomsday scenario that will kill the Giants’ title defense.
By Cam Inman – Contra Costa Times
Losing catcher Buster Posey to a mangled left ankle is not the doomsday scenario that will kill the Giants’ title defense.
Now, if pitchers Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Brian Wilson all vanish into McCovey Cove, then go order the hard stuff from your bartender.
Posey’s exit is obviously demoralizing and impactful. His steady offense, trustworthy catching and beyond-his-years leadership as a rookie helped sew last season’s championship into San Francisco’s fabric.
But the Giants are not doomed because of his collision at the plate in Wednesday night’s 7-6, 12-inning loss to the Florida Marlins
A one-man band? Not the Giants, even if Posey hums a damn fine tune, and even if Thursday’s 1-0 loss completed a three-game sweep by the visiting Marlins.
This season, much like last year’s, is banking on arguably baseball’s best pitching staff.
Instead of 3-2 victories, the Giants may have to grind out 2-1 escapes.
“We’re going to play with good defense, good pitching, timely hitting and hang on for the ride,” general manager Brian Sabean said. “It’s redundant, but it’s who we are. We went through all this the second half of last year, the playoffs and so far this year.”
Sabean spoke by phone after the game while unexpectedly packing for the Giants’ six-game road trip that begins Friday night in Milwaukee.
“I didn’t plan on going, but I’ve got to knuckle down,” Sabean added.
So do his hitters. Here is Sabean’s wake-up call to them:
“Anybody with experience has got to get better at-bats. Our pitches-per-plate-appearance is atrocious. Guys try to do too much per swing. We’re bad with runners in scoring position. We need to work our way through it.
“Regardless of contracts, we’ll put people in the field who’ll help us win, and they know that.”
This season, much like last season, is in dire need of crafty personnel moves by Sabean as well as manager Bruce Bochy’s sublime lineup shifts and pitching changes.
Two positives to consider: at 13-8, the Giants are a tough out at home, and they are 16-9 in their division.
That said, not enough guys are getting on base or being driven home, even when Posey had two good ankles. With him out possibly for the season because of a fractured lower fibula and torn ankle ligaments, his teammates have to fill the void now more than ever.
Look, Posey wasn’t going to carry this lineup, anyhow. Multiple batters have to snap out of slumps. With a mix of ring-toting veterans and spirited youth, Bochy is capable of finding the right mix.
Rookie first baseman Brandon Belt got summoned back from Triple-A Fresno and will be asked again to spark the Giants offense, something he couldn’t do when the season started.
“It’s a world of difference this time, maybe because of the pressure I put on myself the first time,” Belt said. “I was overwhelmed at first. I know what to expect now and I fixed my mechanical issue.”
Sabean didn’t single out any Giants who need to fix their glitches, but Aubrey Huff knows he needs to step it up more than anyone. His batting average fell to .215 after he went 0 for 4 on Thursday in place of Posey in the cleanup spot.
“I’m a big part of the problem,” Huff said.
He can be a big part of the solution, too. So could leadoff hitter Andres Torres. Or hot-hitting Freddy Sanchez. Outfielders Cody Ross, Aaron Rowand, Nate Schierholtz and Pat Burrell are competing for at-bats, eliminating any complacency there. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval said his broken hand is progressing well.
“The irony is when Sandoval got hurt (April 30), we ended up getting in first place,” Sabean said. “Now with Buster down, the job is to stay in first.”
That’s right, the Giants are still a first-place, championship-defending team. Sabean called theirs a tight, unforgiving division, but the West most certainly can be defended against the shaky Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies.
Here’s more on the bright side: No one was hurt in the Giants’ latest one-run game, albeit their second such loss in two days.
“We had the right guys up and we have to start coming through,” Bochy said. “We can’t live on the edge every night.”
Yes they can. They have a World Series banner flapping next to McCovey Cove as proof.
Said Sabean: “This team hates to lose, and when you’re like that, you do everything you can to come back.”
All the Giants have to do now is handle Posey’s loss in the same feisty fashion.