It was a reminder of yesteryear, before the championship era, when the Giants weren’t always a playoff team but always threw a heck of a party.
Reunions, ceremonies and celebrations were the norm, but winning always wasn’t. Then-managing general partner Peter Magowan had a fondness for acknowledging franchise history, dating to New York, and sometimes the sideshows were more significant than the games themselves.
The Giants are fading fast these days, losing four out of five on the homestand and six of eight overall, including Saturday’s 4-0 yawner to the Pirates, and the presence of Barry Bonds, five Hall of Famers and a host of former managers and players provided a nice diversion to a season heading south.
“Baseball is such a game of momentum,” Giants catcher Buster Posey said. “Unfortunately, it’s gone the wrong way the last week or so. You hope the game last night (a 13-10 win) would help turn the tide, and it still can. It doesn’t mean because today went the way it did that it won’t. Hopefully we’ll get going in the right direction.”
Friday’s game was a load on the bullpen as the Pirates scored seven runs in the final three innings, and the hope was to go easy on the relievers Saturday. Thanks to newcomer Casey Kelly, the pen got a breather.
Giants fall to Pirates, upstaged by pregame ceremony
Starter Ty Blach went just four innings, giving up four runs, three on Josh Bell’s home run, and Kelly impressively finished up. He pitched five scoreless innings, surrendered two hits and walked nobody, and suddenly he’s an option to fill the fifth starter’s spot the next time the Giants need one, Friday in Cincinnati.
“We’ll talk about it,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “What a great job he did.”
Blach, who got mostly soft contact, except for the fourth-inning homer, said he wasn’t affected by the pregame hullabaloo featuring the retirement of Bonds’ number. Scheduled to start at 6:20 p.m., the game was delayed 16 minutes. Blach’s first pitch was at 6:36 p.m.
It certainly didn’t affect Pittsburgh’s Trevor Williams, who threw seven scoreless innings after warming up in the bullpen up the right-field line just as Bonds was introduced and emerged through a center-field door.
“I felt like such a jerk out there,” Williams said. “It was weird timing. I felt like all the eyeballs were burning a hole through me.”
Posey said the game had a playoff feel because so many fans showed up early for the ceremony, as they would in the postseason.
“We’ve been part of enough pregame stuff here that we know it’s not usually on time,” Posey said. “You kind of bank on adding 10 minutes to whatever you’re told.”
In their latest uninspiring offensive display, the Giants collected six hits, two each by Posey and Evan Longoria, and had one at-bat with a runner in scoring position. In three of the four losses on the homestand, the Giants scored one or no runs.
It was Pittsburgh’s 13th shutout of the season, and Williams started seven of them. His ERA over his past five starts is 0.62.
“It’s a confidence thing,” Williams said. “Every time you go out there, you have to trick yourself into thinking you’re the best pitcher on the planet that day. I was on the field with the best hitter on the planet, and I was thankful he wasn’t in the lineup tonight.”