By Andrey Burin
Equipped with a depleted pitching staff and down an All-Star outfielder (Hunter Pence) among others, the San Francisco Giants came into this series at Miami optimistic about their chances of defeating a mediocre Marlins team. Additionally, Matt Cain's first start after a year of battling back from a smörgasbord of elbow and forearm injuries was a cause for celebration (and a coup for the pitching staff). Though the final scores of both the series and Cain's outing were less than perfect, having Matty back with Pence and Jake Peavy soon to follow should leave fans feeling bullish about the rest of the season. Here are three quick and dirty takes on the three losses we suffered to the Marlins.
SF Giants 3 – Miami Marlins 5
Just like the Giants, the Marlins were also singing the injury blues coming in without their daunting slugger Giancarlo Stanton (if you haven't seen him hit, he smashed two of the five longest homers in June) and their fans were anxiously searching their batting order up and down to see who might give them some run support in his absence. It would turn out to be Justin Bour, who started off the series with a homer in Game 1.
Miami's much needed jolt in this one came from speed burner Dee Gordon, who plated three runs with an inside-the-park home run and gave the Marlins a lead they would not again relinquish thanks to a solid bullpen performance paired with a good outing from MIA closer A.J. Ramos. Buster had a solid performance at the plate (HR + legged out a hustling double) but it wasn't enough to beat the Marlins.
SF Giants 5 – Miami Marlins 6
The beginning of the 9th inning saw the Giants prepped and ready to take advantage of a botched defensive effort by the Marlins only to have Santiago Casilla blow a rare save and give up a walk-off homer to, guess who, Justin Bour on a sinker that caught just a little too much of the plate.
Bruce Bochy would say after game that Casilla's arm was tired and he would get a few days off—considering the amount of injuries the staff has already suffered a healthy and on-point Casilla is a must-have for us. This game saw Gregor Blanco continue his hot hitting as of late, going 3-4 at the plate. San Francisco also received a very solid performance from the Giants bullpen, as they pumped out two solid innings.
SF Giants 4 – Miami Marlins 5
The overarching storyline of this game concerned two talented pitchers making their respective comebacks from injury, and after Buster Posey and Brandon Belt each plated a run in the top of the 1st and Matt Cain pitched a scoreless half-inning (his first appearance in 12 months!) it looked like this game could make up for the two preceding losses.
Unfortunately for the Giants, Jose Fernandez' tough night did not last, and this game turned out to be a mini highlight reel for him. The Cuban phenom pitched six solid innings and sparked an offensive run by knocking one out in his first game back from Tommy John Surgery. Fernandez did not hand out a single walk in his six innings, threw with consistently high velocity, and ended the game on a very solid note with six straight outs.
As for Matty, simply pitching a game in an SF uniform is an excellent sign for the team and the pitching staff, and save for some issues with control and a home run given up to Justin Bour (a habit this series for our pitchers), he looked pretty solid for being a year removed from his last outing. Gregor continued on a tear at the plate and hit a powerful home run in the fifth against Fernandez.
Tonight sees the Giants pitted against a solid Nationals squad and led by Jake Peavy (currently sporting an ugly 9+ ERA) finally coming off the DL. To capture some Ws as pitchers make their way back into the rotation and become comfortable the offense will have no choice but to be productive. Look for Gregor Blanco to continue his hot-hitting and lead the G-men to a victory tonight in the nation's capital and get things back on track for SF.