The Giants suffered a tough 4-3 loss against the Cardinals in St. Louis on Wednesday, but at least they got something out of it.
Giants fans discovered this Juan Perez guy after all these years. In the first inning, the 28-year-old career minor-leaguer scaled the wall to make a Spiderman-like catch on Stephen Piscotty’s long drive and saved a run. Literally, Perez ran up the side of the outfield fence, leaving spike prints in the padding and making highlight packages everywhere.
Still, the Giants won’t repeat with untested guys in lead roles. They need experienced ones who have been there. They hope to get one in Pittsburgh tonight, when Nori Aoki is scheduled to come off the disabled list. The Champs played a man short again, which prompted manager Bruce Bochy to call on Madison Bumgarner to pinch hit for the second consecutive game.
Better yet, Matt Cain looked like Matt Cain as the game progressed. Not the one who struggled the last two-plus seasons but the 16-game winner of three years ago.
Cain made necessary adjustments, allowed two runs in six innings and saved his spot in the rotation at least for now. If Mike Leake really does return Friday, Chris Heston may be the odd man out.
“The biggest thing for me right now is to stay in a good rhythm,” said Cain, who retired eight of the last nine batters.
Now why oh why did Bochy let rookie Josh Osich pitch to Matt Carpenter with runners on second and third and one out in the eighth inning? He coulda, shoulda walked the left-hander to load the bases, then called on Hunter Strickland to face three consecutive right-handers. Strickland retired the first two before Yadier Molina took him deep.
Instead, Carpenter hit a slow roller to rookie second baseman Kelby Tomlinson, who made a low throw that catcher Andrew Susac couldn’t handle while Thomas Pham slid into him. The Cardinals tied the score at 3-3 on the play.
The Giants took a pass on Chase Utley, who was traded to the rival Los Angeles Dodgers, and they better hope that Joe Panik and his bum back return sooner than later.
“That’s a good club we’re playing,” Bochy said. “They found a way to win. That’s why their record is what it is.”
Now the Giants head to Pittsburgh, where the road won’t get easier against another formidable team.
BOGUT DOWN, NOT OUT: Could be there was more to the recent Jason Thompson trade than we knew at the time. What the Warriors might have in mind was more insurance for Andrew Bogut, whose bum back acted up this week.
Bogut had 10 points and 10 rebounds Tuesday, when his Australia team secured a berth in the 2016 Olympic Games, but it was a wonder the big guy played at all.
“Just 48 hours ago, he couldn’t move,” Boomers doctor Graham Lee told Fox Sports Australia. “He was in bed and in a lot of pain.”
Whether the Warriors knew about the situation was unclear. Because if the front office was aware of it, it could have requested Bogut be held out of the game per a FIBA-NBA agreement.
“I was good enough to play, and you never want to use injury as excuse,” said Bogut, who has two years left on his contract. “Obviously, I didn’t make the first flight as I was stuck in bed with an ice pack. But it responded pretty well, I got a lot of help from physios and masseuses, and I was satisfied I could get on the plane the next day and come out. I was a little tired, but I felt all right.”
We’ll see how Bogut feels in the regular season, when the Warriors are scheduled to play 20 back-to-backs, most in the league.
HARBAUGH REVISITED: Jim Harbaugh might not have been dragged out of Santa Clara kicking and screaming, after all. In John Bacon’s forthcoming book “Endzone: The Rise, Fall and Return of Michigan Football,” we learn that the ex-49ers coach probably had the Michigan job in mind before the 49ers called him on Dec. 14 to cut the cord after the season.
According to Bacon, Harbaugh got the itch at a wedding in the Leelanau Peninsula last summer. On a boat ride with his wife Sarah, Bacon and friends, the former Wolverine was welcomed back with “The Victors,” a song that he sang louder and prouder than anyone. At one point, a boat of Michigan State fans happened to pass with a similar idea. That triggered dueling fight songs, which led to Harbaugh to remark per a Wall Street Journal excerpt, “This stuff just doesn’t happen in the NFL!”
Neither does this: When the Spartans’ boat turned around, a young female fan mooned her Big Ten rivals before it sped away.
“He’s said that many times to me — ‘Wouldn’t it be great to raise our kids in a college town?’” Sarah said later. “That’s always been in the back of his mind.”
So much for the notion that the Harbaughs would never leave California and professional football.
REST OF THE STORY: No sooner did coach Brady Hoke complete a 5-7 season last December than Harbaugh and interim athletic director Jim Hackett began to talk every Saturday. After several discussions about what the football program would need in its next head coach, the talks turned serious.
Hackett figured that Harbaugh would be a hot item in the open market, so he issued a Saturday, Dec. 27 deadline, one day before the 49ers’ final game. Harbaugh indicated that he was interested in the move, but first he would have to fulfill the final days of his 49ers’ contract. Hackett took Harbaugh at his word, in large part because they were Michigan men who had mutual trust. Tech glitzes created some anxious moments — Hackett’s computer and iPhone conked out — but the deal got done the next day.
So why did Harbaugh leave the 49ers and the NFL?
“A lot of people say, ‘You made it to the top, you’ve got to stay at the top,’” Sarah said. “Not that he’s taking a step down by coming to Michigan, but he’s pursuing something that he’s always felt was his destiny.
“Feeling the love. That’s what it came down to.”
YOUR TURN: “If Mark Davis, owner of the Raiders, cared a wit about Oakland, he would pay to have ‘Mt. Davis’ removed from the third deck of the Coliseum to rectify one of the wrongs committed by Al Davis. Remember also how Al demanded $1 million from the city in the ’80s just to think about moving back here from LA., which he did not do at the time. … [Mark] and his father Al have been parasites on the city that made the Oakland Raiders a valuable sports franchise.”
— Richard Hack, San Francisco