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Take That, J-Hey Kid

(originally written 4/12/10)

The Giants are 5-1. WHY aren’t our playoff tickets being printed yet???

Because the season is a week old. Still, how can we Giants fans not help but get excited? Our team is not just winning---we are beating teams. 
What’s the difference?

Take the Diamondbacks from 2007, as an example. That team regularly finished games with more runs than their opponents—enough times to win the N.L. West, in fact—however, it often seemed that their opponents just ran out of outs, kind of when an NBA team runs out the shot clock. The D’backs outlasted the opposition, so to speak, rather than defeated it.

So far in 2010, S.F. is taking the field and handling business convincingly. They appear strong enough to beat anyone in a 27, 30, 33, or 48-out game. A theory which Bob Davidson and his increasingly laughable umpiring tried to put to the test, it seemed.


Defense wins ballgames. We’ve heard it a thousand times. Yet, guys like Omar Vizquel, J.T. Snow or Mike Matheny were never gifted with $100 million contracts, while the likes of Manny Ramirez, Carlos Lee, Mo Vaughn and others got so much cash, E. Pluribus Unum should be stamped on their foreheads. Obviously, defense is not as critical to some as it is to others.

But for our Giants vs. Atlanta, defense was the difference. 
In the Giants’ two wins, the Braves stone mitts and sprinkler arms helped as much as anything. In the marathon Game 1, Brave backstop Brian McCann’s errant throw put Juan Uribe in position to score on Aaron Rowand’s infield hit in the 13th. A good throw means Uribe is either out, or at worst, on 2B. If there is any pink goo between his ears at all, he stays put on Rowand’s slow roller to the left side. Meaning a force is in order against a Giant team that’s hit into double plays very frequently this year.

To summarize, it made the difference between the win and a potential loss. 

Fast forward to Game 3, when Atlanta is leading 2-1 in the 6th. Mark DeRosa cranks a drive to right to bring home the tying run. Jason Heyward, the Hall-of-Fame Brave RF, shows off his strong arm, but the throw is up the 3B line and caroms off Panda Sandoval. To me, if the throw is online, Sandoval stood a good chance of being unsafe. Instead, he scored the go-ahead run. Later on, the Giants would lead 5-2 (thanks to a spectacular, rugged home run by Panda) and add a gift 6th run when Brave LF Matt Diaz played hot potato so well with an Aubrey Huff popup, Huff went all the way to 3B! He would soon score, meaning at least two Giant runs came via Brave goof. (Note that had the Braves played a straightaway D on Huff in the 4th, a third run is prevented, but we exclude strategic errors.)

Meanwhile on the Giants end, Game 3 showcased great plays by Panda at 3B—good thing he has extra padding in that midsection—and another by Geno Velez at 2B. 

It was a far cry from the nightmare of Game 2—namely the 2nd—in which all Giant infielders except Huff fumbled balls for errors, hits, or blown double plays. It didn’t cost them runs, miraculously, but did force extra tosses from Todd Wellemeyer. Later, Huff did join the fun by “failing” to touch 1B on a routine grounder. That, a wild pitch, and an unturned double play contributed to Brave scoring. 


All these mistakes drew attention away from Troy Glaus, the Brave 3B-turned-1B and the biggest reason the Angels won the 2002 World Series instead of the Giants. Glaus had a very poor defensive Game 2, literally being knocked down by a John Bowker liner that never touched him, failing to make a routine scoop (if there is such a thing), and firing a very bad throw to 2B that cost the Braves a double play. That’s what he got for smacking that go-ahead double off Robb Nen. Little did we know that was the end of Robb Nen as a major league pitcher. That still trips me out.



April 11, 2000—it was 10 years ago that Pacific Bell Park opened, and the Giants invited back a sizable portion of that 2000 bunch to mark the anniversary. In doing so, they proved just how old a team they trotted out during the latter stages of the Bonds era—only three members of that team are still active (Livan Hernandez, Joe Nathan and Pedro Feliz, who played his first eight MLB games that year; Shawn Estes and Alan Embree failed to make big league rosters this spring and are probably done).

It couldn’t have come at a better time. Without Kirk Rueter, Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent, Armando Rios (who looks exactly like Omar Vizquel if all of Omar’s three daily meals were steaks), Rich Aurilia, J.T. Snow, Estes, Nen, Bill Mueller and Ellis Burks to interview, CSN Bay Area would have had supreme difficulty killing Game 3’s four-hour rain delay. Of course, if you use the repetitive questions as a barometer, they were having difficulty, but it was cool seeing the best team Pac Bell/SBC/AT&T Park has ever trotted out IMHO. And no, I didn’t forget 2002.

Who else carried mixed emotions about seeing/hearing Bonds interviewed? On one hand, he was colorful, playful, and truly likeable in his five or so minutes with Kruk and Kuip. On the other hand, if only he had been that Barry more when he was still active and not the aloof, egotistical one so many people identify him as, he might still be around—and going for home run #850 this year. From a baseball standpoint, we lost out not eking every last drop out of the greatest hitter this generation (or maybe any) ever saw. 


Just how bad WAS that mound in Houston that Tim Lincecum had to stop play to scrape crud from his cleats more than once in normal conditions, but didn’t have to do it at all on the AT&T mound after a substantial storm in Game 3?...Game Two: the female fan makes a sensational backhand catch of a Rowand foul ball, while the male fan allows Ishikawa’s foul to bonk him right on top of the head. Guess which one I’m signing if I’m a GM…


Heyward looked terrible in Game 1, but lived up to his loud hype from that point forward offensively with a 3-for-3, HR Game 2, and an impressive oppo HR off lefty Jeremy Affeldt in Game 3… Affeldt got to bat in the 8th of that game and almost jumped into the cove when confronted with an Eric O’Flaherty slider for Strike 3…Braves legend Chipper Jones didn’t play the whole series…


How great was it to hear Greg Papa calling the Giants again? He’s been stuck in the CSN studios since their pre/postgame show debuted last year, with Dave Flemming picking up the slack, but got the nod for Game 2 on NBC 3’s broadcast. When Mike Krukow made reference to well-known fan “The Dog” having been coming to AT&T for 10 years, Papa retorted “That’s 70 in dog years”. LOL!...I do not like the new name of the Acme Chophouse. “The Public House”? Sounds like somewhere you would go to get a prostitute, not a good meal…

I want to see DeRosa’s Game 3 slide into 3B (on the play Heyward’s throw hit Panda) as his 2011 Topps Baseball card. He held the pose for that very reason, it appeared…the Giants’ pen threw 8.2 innings in Game 2, but only two in Game 3 (both by Affeldt). They’ll go into the Pirates’ series in fairly good shape…remember the injury to the Astros’ Sammy Gervacio last series? He was DL’d with rotator cuff inflammation.


Pittsburgh is 3-3, but their three losses have come by the combined score of 34-9. They gave up 13 runs to Arizona in the 4th inning alone on Sunday, 4/11! For that reason, they are dead last in MLB with a 7.47 team ERA—a whole 1.30 more than the runner-up. But Garrett Jones, he who homered twice to beat the Giants last summer, already has three bombs, plus Lastings Milledge and Andrew McCutchen are starting to escape season-opening slumps. The Bucs somehow have two McCutchens (Andrew and Daniel) on their roster who are not related…oookaaayy.

It’ll be Ross Ohlendorf vs. Barry Zito on Monday at 7:15, followed by Paul Maholm and Matt Cain Tuesday at 7:15. Charlie Morton will battle Jonathan Sanchez in the 12:45 matinee Wednesday.

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