CINCINNATI – If you lived through Giants baseball in 1978, you'll recall it wasn't exactly a golden era. That year included the last and only other time that they were held to just seven measly hits over a three-game span.
That’s what the Giants have squeezed out over three games at Great American Ball Park. A third of their lineup – Brandon Crawford, Gregor Blanco and Pablo Sandoval – are towing a combined 1 for 73 slump that defies ... wait, let me triple-check those numbers. Yep. It's 1 for 73.
The clouds are squeezing out a little more here Thursday, and there's a lot more coming up from the South. So the Giants could be waiting around a long time, then flying all night before beginning their homestand Friday against the Dodgers. Call it the cherry on top of a manure pile as the Giants try to put some kind of gloss on a 10-game trip in which they’ve lost eight of nine thus far.
[Giants vs. Reds -- Rain Delay]
Yes, we could be here awhile. The Reds have a July 4 gate to protect and these two teams have one common off day the rest of the season. It’s Aug. 29, but rescheduling for that date would cause the Reds to play on 34 consecutive days – something the union would never let them do.
Even though it’ll never happen, here’s my notion to get us all out of here early: Bang the game, then play it at a neutral site – namely, Coors Field. The Giants will end their series at Coors on Aug. 28 and the Reds arrive to play the Rockies on Aug. 30. Easy peasy. You could even file a restraining order against Dinger for the day to make sure he doesn't show up.
Won’t happen, though. The Reds don't want to lose that gate.
Just spitballing here, but it wouldn’t be terrible if the Giants rained out. They could save Matt Cain to face the Dodgers at home on Friday and bump back Madison Bumgarner a day, throwing their best two pitchers against the hottest team in the NL West. But as it stands, Cain is getting ready to pitch. And if there is a lengthy delay during the game that idles Cain, Mike Kickham is able to give the Giants 60 pitches or so. (Giants manager Bruce Bochy wouldn't start Kickham, though. He's done that before and outsmarted himself, so he's got a personal rule against it. It's commonly known as the Merkin corollary.)
The Giants’ lineup is missing Marco Scutaro, whose hip and back remain sore, and Buster Posey, who needs a day off. Those are tough sacrifices to make, since Bochy is willing to go to any length to break this malaise with a victory.
Sandoval is in the lineup, though, hitting third despite his 1-for-30 slump that has looked even worse than the numbers would indicate. Bochy said he didn’t want to push Joaquin Arias’ hamstring on a wet field after he played defense a night earlier for the first time in nine days.
Moreover, Bochy said of Sandoval: “Pablo is one of our guys. I know we’re struggling with the bats. But these are our guys and you’ve got to stay behind them and keep throwing them out there. … It might be one base hit that changes everything.”
As for roster changes, don’t expect them Friday. Bochy said he and GM Brian Sabean have discussed adding players from Fresno, including outfielders Gary Brown and Roger Kieschnick, but they don’t feel either player is ready.
Just looking at the bare facts, Brown would appear to be a good option. He’s their former top prospect and No.1 pick, he’s a center fielder and the Giants lost Angel Pagan until September because of hamstring surgery.
After a terrible start, Brown entered Wednesday’s game with a .344 average with 17 extra-base hits since June 9. He’s second in the Pacific Coast League with 60 runs scored and he leads with 13 outfield assists, too. He was on base 18 consecutive games from June 9-28.
But numbers in the PCL can be a mirage and the pitching is drastically different in the big leagues, as Brett Pill has demonstrated upon numerous call-ups. Brown’s approach against right-handers is still suspect, and Bochy, without going into specifics, said Kieschnick isn’t ready, either.
It is not pleasant outside. Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum walked in the clubhouse after playing catch, soaked to the bone. "It's not that bad out there guys, really," announced Zito, who then proceeded to peel off his rain shirt and squeeze it out over a trash can.
Bumgarner was given the option to fly commercial ahead of the club so he can be better rested for Friday’s start. Bochy said Bumgarner was “adamant, and he’s more comfortable flying with the team.”
Bumgarner must really hate standing in that Zone 1 boarding group.