For the first time during the Giants’ amazing 2010 season, I actually enthusiastically anticipated and welcomed outfielder Aaron Rowand being brought into a ballgame. It was a singular moment, and I checked my pulse to make sure I hadn’t died and turned into a zombie. A baseball zombie who roams the earth with an irrational desire to see Aaron Rowand play baseball.
Anyway, I waited for Giants manager Bruce Bochy to bring Aaron Rowand into the game and put him in centerfield for defensive purposes. Only it didn’t happen.
The Saturday September 25th contest between Giants and the Rockies was a slugfest appropriate for an epic race to the playoffs: 9-7 San Francisco in the 8th, when Giants closer Brian Wilson was brought in with two on and two outs to face Troy Tulowitzki. The Rockies star shortstop doubled in both runs before Wilson got Melvin Mora on a come backer to the mound.
After a scoreless 9th, closer Wilson was still on the mound for the start of the 10th. But there was a problem. The Giants did not have their best defensive alignment on the field. Defensive specialist Nate Schierholtz had replaced Jose Guillen in right field, but Pat Burrell was still in left. Burrell has a power bat, but his lack of speed and weak arm make him a liability in the outfield even when the score isn’t tied in the bottom of the 10th inning. The smart move, and a move that had been made numerous times in the same scenario, would have been to move center fielder Cody Ross to left and bring in Rowand to patrol center.
So it was that after Rockies slugger Carlos Gonzalez hit an infield single, Troy Tulowitzki’s double found Burrell in left. Burrell went for the ball, slipped, and threw low to cutoff man Juan Uribe. Gonzalez scored from first base, beating the throw home by maybe two steps. Rockies win, Giants fall to second place in the NL West.
And Aaron Rowand watched the bottom of the 10th from the Giants dugout.
Luckily, this Giants team has not let a big loss distract them all season long. They have the mental focus and the veteran presence to forget about yesterday and concentrate on today. That make-up has served them well, and it will serve them well against the Rockies on Sunday.