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Giants: Just Another Laugher

(originally written 7/17/10)

Quick explanation: In early May, my family and I visited the Washington, D.C. area, where, as you might imagine, no televised access to Giants games exists unless they’re facing the Nats. That’s why you’ve seen no articles on the 2010 Giants lately; I felt unqualified to cover the team when—as ashamed as I am to admit it—I didn’t even know the Giants had Pat Burrell until three days after his signing. (Surely, if Burrell had punched his ticket out of Tampa by choking his general manager, maybe, just maybe SportsCenter would have considered mentioning his acquisition by the Giants. But that wasn't the case.)

Our original return date of July 13th couldn’t have been timed better as the Giants would be visiting D.C. July 9-11. We planned to sport our Giants gear with pride at Nationals Park—and hopefully be spotted by CSN cameras! Unfortunately, circumstances forced us to fly back sooner, or spend an extra $550—long story. The Giants wasted Washington in the final two games of that series; needless to say, I’m disappointed I had to miss it.


Joining me back in the Bay Area were those surging Giants, who dusted off the Mets Thursday behind a vintage Tim Lincecum shutout. Nothing against Bengie Molina, whose bobblehead remains prominently displayed in my home, but Timmy clearly has no reservations about throwing to that Buster kid.

Friday’s starter was Barry Zito, fresh off an outing reminiscent of the 2007-2008 Zito prior to the All-Star break. Tonight, however, he was sharper than Barry Bonds’ eyes. He whiffed 10 Mets, including Ike Davis three times in one AB (you know your stuff is sharp when you buckle the umps). He didn’t walk anyone until opposing starter Jon Niese worked him for a free pass in the seventh. Zito held down a Mets lineup that, even minus Jose Reyes, is still fairly dangerous—and he did so with absolutely zero margin of error as SF could only scratch out one run of support. This Giants fan couldn’t help but worry about a repeat of the “Manny” game earlier this year in which Barry threw 7.2 scoreless at the Dodgers, only to watch Sergio Romo serve up a game-winning two-run bomb to Manny Ramirez. In the end, Zito did get the much-deserved (and needed) win, 1-zip. The southpaw’s lone transgression: letting himself get doubled off first base…

About that play: we’ve long known about Jeff Francouer and his bazooka arm; it helped keep him in the majors when he lost his batting stroke. When you thoroughly examine what he did in order to complete this double play—ranging far to his right to pull in a drive by Andres Torres, alertly locating Zito too far off 1B, and finally chucking a one-hop strike from right-center field with all his momentum going away from first base—you almost feel obliged to tip your cap.

One last examination of that play from a whole different angle—has F.P. Santangelo improved in the booth or what? Usually, whenever I learn Mike Krukow would be missing a game or two, it’s a given I’ll tune in to KNBR rather than subject myself to F.P. or J.T. Snow or whatever monogram the Giants would trot out in his place. This time, having not seen a televised Giants game in two months, I watched anyway. And Frank Paul impressed me. He was quick, insightful, and sounded like a pro. None of this was true in the past. 

He even foreshadowed the Zito baserunning goof; Zito had reached base when Mets 1B Davis intentionally let his sac bunt popup drop, forcing out Aaron Rowand at 2B. Santangelo noted how replacing a regular player on the bases with a pitcher who doesn’t run the bases often could be beneficial to the Mets. Sure enough, Zito failed to gauge whether or not Torres’ liner would fall and was hung out to dry. Good job, F.P.—but I still prefer Krukow (and always will.)

⦁    Aubrey Huff made at least three fine catches near the dugout/seats on foul pops, and was still substituted at 1B for defense in the ninth. At first I was outraged for Aubrey until I realized Travis Ishikawa was brought in on a double-switch along with Brian Wilson.

⦁    Juan Uribe wasn’t balanced on any swing until the last one he took, a ball that came feet short of a three-run bomb. Niese and his curveball/fastball combo had him completely out-of-whack, something we Giants fans aren’t used to seeing.

⦁    What will the Giants do about the continual double-play ground balls? There were three more in Friday’s game. At the rate this is going, Bruce Bochy is going to be left with two options: ordering mandatory sac bunts with men on 1B, or ordering intentional strikeouts upon falling behind in the count. 

⦁    Late in the game, Panda Sandoval took out Mets’ 2B Alex Cora with a hard (but clean) slide. A visibly displeased Cora left the contest after that half-inning. Something could go down in Saturday’s game—or someone. Remember, the Mets never fully retaliated for the 95-mph seamprint left in David Wright’s dome courtesy of Matt Cain last year. And they’re frustrated after 18 straight zeroes against Giant pitching. In the previous series, New York regularly (and successfully) attacked Panda with high fastballs. The Mets might think a high and tight heater is appropriate tonight...

⦁    A play occurred that I’ve never been privy to in 20 years as a baseball fan: Jason Bay tapped one about two feet in front of the plate against Wilson in the ninth. As he ran to first, he stepped on the fair ball, and was immediately called out.

⦁    Watching the Mets come to AT&T without Carlos Delgado will never get old. He deposited three home runs into McCovey Cove as a visitor. I hear Delgado is recovered from his hip surgery that has threatened his career, and working on a comeback to baseball.

In conclusion, congratulations to Molina who managed to somehow hit for the cycle for Texas Friday night. No, the triple did not come at the expense of three colliding unconscious outfielders. 

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