This is another in our occasional series of posts wherein we update you on the status of the nonstop schadenfreude express which is the 2008 San Francisco Giants…
Philadelphia and San Francisco were tied at 4 in the bottom of the tenth inning. The Phillies had runners on first and second. Right fielder Geoff Jenkins grounded the ball sharply to the left of second baseman Eugenio Velez, who bent down to pick it up and…oops!…the ball went under his glove.
And that’s how the Giants lost Sunday’s game, with Howard scoring from second on the play.
Some Giants fans will point to the team’s talented young pitchers as reason for hope. But this optimism takes for granted that, when those pitchers induce ground balls and shallow pop-ups, that the fielders will be able to catch the ball and throw it to the appropriate base.
After yesterday’s game, we can no longer assume.
The Giants made three errors Sunday. The first was charged to shortstop Emmanuel Burriss, who threw wide of first base in the third inning. The second was charged to third baseman Jose Castillo. And then, of course, there was Velez.
Giants starter Tim Lincecum allowed four runs in six innings – none earned. But don’t feel too bad for Lincecum. He made a few mistakes of his own. He had two wild pitches. One led to a run.
Today, the San Francisco Chronicle suggests that fielding errors are the price you pay when you stack your team with young players:
Any team that pushes youth makes a Faustian bargain. There will be moments of uninhibited enthusiasm and excitement, but the payback will be lots of mistakes.
There’s some truth to this. A majority of the Giants’ errors this season have been made by the team’s younger players. But here’s the rub: just because you’re one of San Francisco’s younger players doesn’t necessarily make you young.
Castillo, who is 27 years-old, is in his fifth major league season and leads the team with six errors. Brian Bocock, who actually is young (23 years-old) and is filling in while Omar Vizquel is out, is second on the team with three errors. After Castillo, Bocock and Fred Lewis (who is 26), the Giants have no starters under 30. Moreover, the only reason those guys are playing at all is because of injuries to older players.
So let’s not pretend that the Giants are in the middle of a youth movement. The Giants are not a young team (they’re ranked 15th in average team age). They are not a good defensive team (they are among the bottom third of teams in fielding percentage and errors).
This weekend, all three games against the Phillies were decided by one run and two of the games went to extra innings. Of course, the Giants lost two of three — further proof that in close games defense makes the difference.
That’s more bad news for the Giants.