The Skinny: The final 2012 Cactus League game for the San Francisco Giants was a limply unremarkable 7-4 loss against the Milwaukee Brewers, with one exception: during the seventh inning, 24 year-old Brett Bochy, the son of Giants skipper Bruce Bochy, made his major league debut on the mound.
Bochy the Younger, who spent last year pitching AA ball for the Augusta Greenjackets, struck out the first two hitters he faced, then sent the third packing without hardly breaking a sweat. Young Mr. Bochy won't be continuing into the season with the Giants, but his outing was a refreshing break in a game that ended the team's Cactus League outings more along the lines of a whimper than a bang.
The Stats: Easily summed up in one word -- meh. The Giants racked up 4 runs, 10 hits, 1 error (a throw that died a premature death on its way from Tim Lincecum to Brandon Belt during the third inning), and stranded 8 men on base.
Freak Watch: Giants ace Tim Lincecum made it a shaky 4 2/3 innings into the game, giving up 6 runs and 8 hits to the Brewers in 79 pitches. During the first four innings, Mr. Lincecum spent most of his time struggling to tame his squirrely fast ball into submission. The beginning of the fifth inning went no smoother, with Mr. Lincecum hitting the first batter, Rickie Weeks, then allowing a pair of hits and walks before Steve Edlefsen was brought in to put pressure on the bleeding.
Giants fans shouldn't freak out about The Freak just yet -- Mr. Lincecum later told reporters that, overall, he was happy with his fast ball command during the game and that it was "the best it's been all spring." Hopefully he'll be able to show off that command on Friday, April 6, when he starts the Giants regular season against the Diamondbacks.
Giants Player of the Game: Brandon Crawford, who was all over the place both offensively and defensively. Mr. Crawford demonstrated, yet again, his skills as short stop. He also hit a three run homer off of the Brewers star pitcher Yovani Gallardo that pleasantly reminded Giants fans of Mr. Crawford's first Major League grand slam last year which, appropriately enough, was hit against the Brewers.
Quote O'The Game: This gem comes from KNBR 680 Giants announcer Dave Flemming, commenting during the ninth inning about Milwaukee Brewers closer John Axford --
He has one of the worst haircuts I've ever seen on a Major League baseball player.
That had to hurt.
The Verdict: The Giants' loss against the Brewers amounts to approximately nothing. The Cactus League games -- particularly the final few -- are more of an exercise in lets-get-through-this-without-injuries-everybody than actually trying to win. It's a good idea to sail into the regular season playing strong, but in the end, it's all about the record that really counts, baby.
The trouble is that the Giants have been wobbly these last few weeks to the point that their 25-man opening roster has some disturbing holes. There's still a bullpen slot up for grabs, and there hasn't been enough standout pitching lately among the hopefuls (or, for that matter, the veterans: Affeldt, Casilla, anyone?) to make a decision. With Buster Posey back, Hector Sanchez, Eli Whiteside, and Chris Stewart are battling for back-up catcher without a clear frontrunner pulling ahead. And fan favorite Brandon Belt still doesn't know whether he should be looking for digs in San Francisco or Fresno.
The Giants have until 2 pm, Pacific Standard Time, on Wednesday to get the final roster under control. Getting those choices right is going to affect the fate of the the 2012 San Francisco Giants more than any number of Cactus League wins or losses.
Ready for the Giants' exhibition series against the Oakland A's? The Battle by the Bay starts Monday, April 2nd, at 7:35 pm with Madison Bumgarner going up against Oakland's Graham Godfrey.