Like all sports, baseball has its own language. Can of corn, Texas Leaguer, Humm Baby and a single-syllable bit of naughtiness that can pierce any level of fake crowd noise a team can generate. Statcast should record the decibels and run a daily leaderboard.
Starter Tyler Anderson shot that epithet into the Anaheim sky with bazooka force Monday night after a three-run fifth inning that cost the Giants a lead, the big hit a two-run Albert Pujols double.
But it’s not who (bleeps) first, it’s who (bleeps) last. In this case it was Mike Yastrzemski in the ninth inning as he watched Tommy La Stella’s two-run, game-ending homer fly over his head, another shot off Trevor Gott, another ninth-inning lead blown in a 7-6 Angels victory, another kick in the temple for the fourth-worst team in the majors.
The Giants can change the vocabulary only one way, but holding a ninth-inning lead. If they get one Tuesday, Gott will not be on the mound.
No matter how much confidence the Giants have in Gott, a manager knows he has to try something else after the same guy blows leads of 7-2, 6-3 and 6-5 in span of four games.
And Gabe Kapler will.
“In the long term my confidence level in Gott has not changed,” Kapler said. “In the short term we may need to look for a softer landing spot for him and evaluate what other options we have for the high-leverage moments.
“Obviously, Trevor is having a really tough time. Nobody feels worse about it than he does.”
How the other 27 players feel is important, too,. Kapler should not have to remind them they all have gone through bad stretches, too. But they are human, and even if they want to back Gott they know a change is necessary.
Brandon Belt, whose two-run homer launched another nice game for the offense, understands that tricky balance.
“Honestly, I’m glad I don’t have to make those decisions,” Belt said. “Gotter is a really good pitcher and I have all the faith in the world in him. My teammates do as well. He’s having a tough go at it right now. It seems like it’s been a long time, but it’s been three games, and three games don’t define a season.”
Kapler pulled the right levers after Yastrzemski’s two-run double in the sixth turned a 5-4 deficit into a 6-5 lead. Pablo Sandoval started the three-run rally with a single, Mauricio Dubon added another and Chadwick Tromp hit a sacrifice fly.
Jarlin Garcia pitched an eventful but scoreless sixth, Tyler Rogers got Pujols to end the seventh with a double play and Tony Watson pitched a perfect eighth that, Kapler thought, would make the ninth a good spot for Gott. The closer would face the Angels’ 9-1-2 hitters and not need to tackle Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Pujols if he had a perfect inning.
Gott did look better and confident as he struck out Brian Goodwin on three pitches. But David Fletcher, who extended his hit streak to a majors-leading 15 games in the first inning, swatted a high fastball through the right side for a single.
The low 1-2 curveball that La Stella hit out was not a terrible pitch, certainly not as bad as those he threw to Oakland’s Matt Olson, Stephen Piscotty, Sean Murphy and Mark Canha that left the yard in San Francisco. But Gott could have benefited had he buried the pitch in the dirt.
So what are Kapler’s options?
He could close with a combination of Watson and Rogers. Both are throwing well, can retire lefties and righties, and get groundballs when they are right.
In a season meant to identify bullpen talent, Kapler could see if Garcia has the stomach for the role to go with the stuff. Shaun Anderson, who got a crack at the role after the Giants traded Will Smith last year, has not pitched well in 2020.
No matter whom Kapler picks he must then determine who gets the important middle innings among a group that has so little big-league experience – and now will include Gott.
At least the Giants have had leads to blow. They are scoring runs consistently even without a lot of guys hot at once.
Every Giants starter had at least one hit except for Tromp, who got a sacrifice fly.
Belt homered for the second time in two games. Dubon had two singles and a steal that contributed to runs and Yastrzemski had a single to go with the two-run double in the sixth that spared Anderson a loss after the lefty made a big mistake to the wrong hitter
Kapler had just let Anderson face Trout with two on and one out after Trout had hit his 10th homer the time before.
Besides showing faith in his starter, Kapler also followed through on his pledge to lean more heavily on an improving rotation with his bullpen now a sieve.
Anderson got Trout to hit a liner for the second out. But Rendon doubled home the tying run before Pujols hit his two-run double for a 5-3 Angels lead.
Pujols hit a rope off the base of the short fence down the left-field line. His body language suggested he thought he had his 660th homer to tie Willie Mays for fifth all-time.
“He was throwing strike after strike,” Kapler said of Anderson. “That to me is a recipe for success in this league. There are times you are going to have to go through what could be three consecutive Hall of Famers in the middle of a line, where it’s difficult to get out completely unscathed.
“But I thought he was attacking the zone, he was efficient and we wanted him to keep going.”
The Giants had a lot to forget when they flew to Anaheim. Blowing those leads against Oakland then getting trucked 15-3 in the sweep-ender was … what’s the best word?
“It’s very demoralizing,” Darin Ruf said. “It’s very tough physically and mentally to get past it.”
Now they have to get past it again, knowing they can fight for three hours to put themselves in the right spot, but unsure of who will finish the job.