Pirates And Giants And Wins, Oh My
(originally written 4/18/10)
The Giants beat the Pirates 2 out of 3, and may have swept them had Edgar Renteria gloved a routine throw to 2B. Granted, the Giants were supposed to win that series, but Pittsburgh—a team in ruins ever since Barry Bonds left 18 years ago—hasn’t always held up their end of the inferiority deal. Remember that 3-game sweep at AT&T in 2007? Us SF fans were ready to run everybody out of town after that.
Beating the Pirates is a lot like arresting an old woman for shoplifting. You HAVE to do it, but what satisfaction do you really get out of it? It’s not her fault she’s in that position. You want to reach out and help her, but forces far larger than you prevent that.
When Aubrey Huff signed with the Giants, I can guarantee he didn’t expect to run this much. Did Neukom, Baer, Sabean and/or Bochy ever actually SHOW him AT&T Park? Wow. I have limited Huff insight, as he’d spent the bulk of his career in the A.L. East with the then-bad Rays and still-bad Orioles, but I do know he was no triples hitter.
Now, he’s a triples hitter and more: After legging out a triple in Game 1 that would have been a home run anywhere else in the world, Huff ripped an inside-the-park home run in Game 3 of the series; the ball hit off an archway in the brick wall and made a magic-bullet deflection into a right field left vacated by lead-footed Garrett Jones—who must have actually thought he could catch that ball.
Game One was won by the Giants 9-3, and it wasn’t that close. In the rare games last season in which San Francisco plated seven or more runs when four would have sufficed for a win, didn’t you just wanna scream at them? Either “WHERE WAS THAT LAST NIGHT?” or “SAVE THAT FOR TOMORROW!!” Though happy with any victories after four years of losing, seeing them beat somebody 7-1 or 8-0, etc. ticked you off as much as it elated you—simply because you knew it could take them an entire series to score seven runs again! But this isn’t the same team.
The current assembly has the ability to break out any day vs. any pitcher. Whether it’s due to the importing of Huff and Mark DeRosa, the hiring of Bam Bam Meulens, or simply the subtraction of the 4A players (Lewis, Frandsen, Ishikawa as a starter), when these Giants fall behind 3-0, it feels like 3-0 and not 10-0.
Barry Zito battled through his six innings in Game 1 but prevailed, but Matt Cain couldn’t keep the ball down in Game 2 (won by the Bucs 6-3; they broke it open when Renteria dropped that throw). Eugenio Velez, who I’ll have more to talk about later, brought what has been an electric AT&T crowd to life with his late-inning two-run home run off the once-dominant Octavio Dotel.
Game 3, played in the sunshine, pitted Jonathan Sanchez against the immortal Charlie Morton. This contest featured everything good about Giants baseball—day game, great starting pitching, the Huff four-bagger (and memorable Will Clark-esque pose which should be his 2011 Topps card image), and a three-run homer by backup C Eli Whiteside for additional support. Every few years, some no-name Giant hits a grand-slam (see Alberto Castillo and Brian Dallimore in addition to Whiteside) which buys him about a season’s worth of honeymoon period.
Whiteside is making the most of his; he is a solid reserve catcher who I hope stays with the team even after Buster Posey displaces Bengie. Speaking of Mr. Molina, he ripped a savage two-run home run off ex-Angel batterymate Brendan Donnelly in Game 1, part of a streak of nine base reaches in a row—which Donnelly himself snapped the next night.
We also got a glimpse of ex-Giant Jack Taschner, who threw an inning for the Pirates in Game 3. Taschner was a lefty reliever for San Francisco from 2005-2008, but madly inconsistent, especially against lefty hitters. The crowd response? Not particularly positive.
Coming soon will be the Dodgers/Giants commentary and analysis. Or commysis, as I call it.