CINCINNATI – The Giants have been shoved around while losing eight of nine on this road trip. So they were all too happy to accept a push Thursday.
They stuck around for nearly three hours after the scheduled first pitch at Great American Ball Park as the Reds hoped for a weather window to save the huge gate on Independence Day. But with no break in the steady rain, the clubs postponed the game.
Call it mercy rain.
No reschedule date has been determined, but several options were being discussed, including an option that I threw out on Twitter earlier in the day -- a neutral-site game Aug. 29 at Coors Field. The Giants will be finishing a series against the Rockies a day earlier and the Reds begin one a day later.
For now, the postponement was the best possible outcome for the Giants, and not just because it saved them from a late-night flight before Friday’s homestand opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Giants were 1-8 on their road trip, which is their worst record on a nine-gamer since 2006. A third of their lineup – Brandon Crawford, Pablo Sandoval and Gregor Blanco – were towing slumps worth a combined 1-for-73. Hunter Pence is in a 2-for-25 funk, too. Their one hot hitter, Buster Posey, wasn't in Thursday's lineup because he needed a rest. Giants manager Bruce Bochy ended up drawing a "rest Posey for free" card.
And the Giants saved their Thursday starter, Matt Cain, for the NL West’s hottest team. Cain will pitch Friday, moving back Madison Bumgarner to Saturday and Chad Gaudin to Sunday. It’s never a bad thing when the Giants can throw Cain and Bumgarner in the same series against a division rival.
Not since the grotto of Lourdes have there been such healing waters.
No matter how many you've won or lost, it's always a happy flight to some extent when you're going home after playing 22 out of 31 on the road.
Among the other rescheduling options would be to play at Cincinnati on Sept. 30, one day after the conclusion of the regular season, if it impacts playoff berths. Or the Giants and Reds could play a split doubleheader later this month, when Cincinnati visits AT&T Park for a three-game series July 22-24.
The Giants last had one of those in 2004, when they rained out against the Montreal Expos in Puerto Rico and ended up rescheduling the game as part of a single-admission doubleheader at AT&T Park. The Expos acted as the visitors and batted first in both games. (Of course, the Expos were being run by Major League Baseball at the time and their players had absolutely no say in anything that year.)
There is only one common day off for the Reds and Giants, though, and that is Aug. 29 when both clubs are in the middle of road trips. Thus the Coors solution.
Playing a rescheduled, neutral-site game would not be unprecedented; in 2007, the Indians endured a spate of snowed-out games and played a home series against the Angels at Milwaukee. Also, in 2008, the Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano threw a no-hitter against the Houston Astros in Milwaukee after games at Minute Maid Park were moved because of Hurricane Ike.
But whether they play at Coors Field or in Cincinnati or on the third moon from Jupiter, scheduling a game on Aug. 29 would require the approval of both teams and the players’ association. That’s the case any time a team has to play more than 24 consecutive games without a day off. It would be 34 days without a break for both clubs, in this case.
Cain, the Giants’ union rep, said he hadn’t been contacted yet. The players wouldn't like 34 games in 34 days, to be sure. But for the moment, they were just glad to go wheels up and get out of Cincinnati.
“I only play once every five days,” joked Madison Bumgarner. “What does that mean to me? I get four days off all the time.”
Yes, it was a little looser in the clubhouse after the announcement. After nine games of bad baseball, bad at-bats and bad breaks, the Giants finally got something to go their way.