San Francisco Giants Morning Minute: Baseball is a Game of Inches Too

Jun 20, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the second inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 20, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the second inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

On this edition of the San Francisco Giants Morning Minute, we discuss how baseball is a game of inches, and the void now left at the hot corner.

More from Golden Gate Sports

Good morning, San Francisco Giants’ fans, and welcome to another edition of the Giants Morning Minute. On Monday, the Giants dropped game one of their four-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, 1-0, in a tidy two hours and 24 minutes. Jeff Locke earned his sixth win, Madison Bumgarner was the tough-luck loser, and Mark Melancon earned his 20th save.

The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals on Monday night, gaining a game in the National League West. They are 5.5 games back, and gained ground for the first time in over a week.

Here’s what went on Monday.

1 – The Game of Inches

They say football is the “game of inches”, but Monday’s Giants-Pirates game turned out to be a game of inches as well. Both pitching staffs were great, as Bumgarner and Locke (then the Pirates’ bullpen) battled back-and-forth, but one swing in the fifth inning was the big difference.

Bumgarner faced Erik Kratz, the Pirates’ third-string catcher and eighth-hitter in the lineup, with two outs in the fifth. On a 1-0 pitch, Bumgarner ran a fastball in towards Kratz’s hands, but Kratz got around on it and put some wood on the ball. Off the bat, it seemed likely it would be a fairly routine play for left fielder Angel Pagan. But the Giants’ outfielder kept drifting back, and soon had to traverse the short left field wall of PNC Park.

Pagan made the leap and got his glove on the ball, but as his body smashed into the wall, the ball jostled around in the glove. Pagan couldn’t hold on, and that ball landed in the stands for what would turn out to be the game’s only run. Pagan, always wearing his heart on his sleeve, showed his frustration by slamming his glove down on the ground, having betrayed him just seconds earlier.

The left fielder did nearly everything perfectly. He made the jump at the right time, he got his glove on the ball, and he put the right part of his body on the wall so his arm didn’t slam into it. But still, he just couldn’t make what would have been one of the finest plays of the season.

If the pitch comes in a few inches more inside, it’s likely a broken bat pop-up. If the flightpath of the ball keeps it a few inches closer to the field, maybe Pagan has that extra split second to close his glove before hitting the wall. But we’ll never now. Them’s are the break.

2 – Another One Bites the Dust

More from San Francisco Giants

The Giants have another big injury to deal with in the coming weeks, as Matt Duffy is heading to the disabled list because of a strain in his achilles. Though there is never a good time for injuries, the timing is made even worse as Duffy was finally starting to find his way at the plate.

After a dismal start with the bat, Duffy had finally found that stroke that made him such a pivotal part of the lineup last season. In the 12 games before the injury, Duffy was slashing .349/.383/.512, and had hit half of his four home runs. Even while his bat was ice cold, he played some tremendous defense, and that will be especially difficult for the team to replace.

With another player going down, the traditional questions of “Christian Arroyo?” popped up, and though a move this time would make more sense, as he’d be able to play just about everyday instead of spending most of his time on the bench, Giants’ general manager Bobby Evans turned down that notion.

It seems the most likely move right now will be for the team to call up outfielder Mac Williamson for the fourth time this season. He’s eligible to be called up because even though he hasn’t spent the mandated 10 days in the minors, he can be recalled to replaced an injured player. That gets another, much-needed right-handed bat on the bench, but doesn’t fill the gap at third base.

In all likelihood, the Giants aren’t going to bring anyone else up, so the third base job is left to a platoon of Conor Gillaspie and Ramiro Pena. Gillaspie, the left-handed half of the platoon, was mired in a miserable slump, going 0-24 before breaking out with a two-run double on Sunday. Pena, a switch-hitter that will likely be used as the right-handed half, has only played three games for the Giants since having his contract purchased, but is 2-6 from the plate in limited time.

Next: Giants Morning Minute: Bochy Knows Best

And that will do it for this edition of the Giants Morning Minute. Up next, the Giants and Pirates face off in game two of their series. Johnny Cueto takes the mound against rookie Wilfredo Boscan, who makes his first career start.