It was a quiet clubhouse last night, as you might imagine. To lose the fifth game in a row when we were so close after Aaron’s three-run homer – it’s incredibly frustrating. We were all very down and angry at ourselves for not coming through when we needed to. As frustrated as you are as fans, let me assure you we are ten times more frustrated as players.
What’s going wrong? A few obvious things.
We haven’t been putting the ball in play. You have to give a lot of credit to the opposing pitchers. They’ve been throwing great. That’s been a factor. Then the longer you go without hitting, the more you start pressing. And when you lose four, five games in a row, you go up to the plate trying to hit a seven-run homer with no one on.
Second, we haven’t been making our pitches. We’re not hitting our spots. We’re falling behind in counts. If we’re going for a fastball away, we’re leaving it over the plate. Curve balls are hanging. We need to hit the corners for strikes. Our poor hitting isn’t helping the pitchers – it puts even more pressure on them.
Last night was a killer because we were so close. Wilson came in in a tough situation – bottom of the ninth, tie game, bases loaded, no outs. He got a grounder to short – exactly what you want — but we couldn’t turn the double play. So with Loney up – who had hit a sacrifice fly on a high fastball earlier in the game – we wanted to keep the ball down so he’d keep it on the ground and we’d get a second shot at a double play.
Unfortunately, on a 3-2 count, the fastball was too low and Loney walked. Game over.
Like the other veterans on the team, I talk to the young guys and remind them that it’s a long season. We’re not even out of April yet. We have to stick together and work hard and make sure each of us does everything we can to be ready for every play, every pitch. That’s all you can do, and inning by inning, game by game, you rebuild.
The truth is, our young guys are handling this rough stretch really well – with much greater perspective than you might expect. Pablo Sandoval, who has really been struggling at the plate, is still really positive and energetic. His attitude is great – he lifts everybody up.
And Timmy’s another kid who has such a positive attitude no matter what’s happening. He loves the challenge of things. He knows what he’s facing, and he’s got that fierce competitiveness that gives you no doubt he’ll be absolutely fine.
I think returning home tomorrow and playing in our own park in front of our own fans will close the chapter on this awful past week and we can start fresh.
I know you’re disappointed and frustrated as fans. But it’s more important than you can imagine to stick with us. Don’t turn your backs on us in the tough times. We’re working as hard as we can to break out of this, and I know we will. We need you there with us in good times and bad – maybe even more so in the bad times.
I hope to see you this weekend when we play the Diamondbacks. This is a great group of players, and an even better group of men.
One thing I can promise: This team will never give up. I hope you won’t either.
In my last blog, I mentioned the psychology of managing pitchers and how this is part of what I love about catching.
People often ask me what I say to pitchers when they see me go to the mound in the middle of a game. First, I should say that I try not to go to the mound too often. I don’t want the pitchers to be thinking I’m there bothering them. I want them to keep their concentration. But I also want to help get them out of trouble when it’s necessary.
And that’s the beauty of catching – reading the situation, knowing the personality of the pitcher, figuring out when it’s too early to say something and when to step in before it’s too late.
When Barry Zito was on the mound during the last game of the homestand and he was walking some guys, I went out there. I didn’t say anything about how he was pitching. He knows what he’s doing. What I told him was that we’re all here behind you. We’re all in a Giants uniform and we’re all in this together. That’s not going to change no matter what the outcome of the game is. We got your back. OK, let’s go.
Sometimes, of course, I remind a pitcher of something the pitching coach told him in the bullpen before the game. Sometimes I’ll just tell a pitcher to stay back, take his time, get into his rhythm.
The beauty of catching is you have to know all the personalities of the pitchers. It’s not always WHAT you say but HOW you say it. Not everything works for everybody.
I’ve been asked how long it takes for me to get to know what works and what doesn’t work for a pitcher. I’d say about five outings. And that goes both ways — that’s about how long it takes the pitcher to learn to trust me as his catcher.
What I really like about this Giants team is how much trust there is in each other. Everybody is looking out for everybody else. The TV cameras, I know, caught me in the dugout recently giving some instruction to Brian Bocock, our young shortstop. I was telling him that he had to be patient in the batter’s box. He was in a new league, facing new pitchers. He needed to wait on the breaking ball and go the other way to right field and not try to pull everything to left.
I was frustrated last season that there were players not playing hard enough. This group of guys is unbelievable. Even when we don’t win, we’re out there giving 150 percent every single day. There is so much heart on this team. Aaron Rowand is out there completely banged up and hurting and still diving for balls. Randy Winn is hurting and he’s going out there every day and putting his body on the line.
Our losses are very, very hard on us, in part because we know the fans take the losses hard, too. The fans are such a big part of what we do. If they’re not behind us, we lose something. I can’t even tell you want it is exactly. But we definitely feel it when the fans are behind us and when they’re not. I want them to know that, regardless of the outcome, we’re leaving everything on the field every day.
More later. Thanks for checking in.