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A Week Of Giant Frustration

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 12: Giants 6, Padres 1

Lincecum V Latos pitted two of the game’s best right-handers against one another in a fierce, no-holds-barred steel cage match. Latos, of course, has filled the role left by Jake Peavy as San Diego ace/Giant killer. His breakout sophomore season (14-5, 2.21 coming in) is thanks in no small part to the Giants’ total ineptitude against him in 4 previous games (2-0, sub-2.00 ERA). Making matters worse, before the game it was announced Andres Torres, the Giants own breakout star in 2010, had an emergency appendectomy which would reduce him to spectator for quite some time. At the outset, the prospects for a Giants victory weren’t exactly high…especially considering the free-falling Fathers needed a split in the worst way.

Watching Aaron Rowand complete the most predictable 3-pitch K I’ve ever seen—with the obligatory slider down and away inducing Strike 3—and the next two hitters go down quickly did little to inspire my confidence. But all of a sudden Latos started hanging breaking balls and serving up straight fastballs. And the Giants didn’t miss them, except one juicy curve that Pat Burrell should have hit literally 1,000 feet into the other side of the San Francisco Bay. So frustrated was Latos, who in the past (when the Pads weren’t good) hasn’t had the best relationship with teammates, that he visibly turned away 3B Chase Headley as the latter approached him on the mound for a chat! Can you spell R-A-T-T-L-E-D??

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14: Dodgers 1, Giants 0

A September Dodgers/Giants series, no matter the venue, is almost always electric. Most years, one or both of the teams are in contention. For the last 5 or so it’s been the Dodger fans hamming it up at AT&T Park as the Giants play out the string. Now it’s OUR turn!

Los Angeles is not in contention this year. The reasons vary: Matt Kemp and Russ Martin have looked simply disinterested in playing baseball now that they’ve gotten hefty raises. Manny Ramirez was hurt, old, and finally given away to the White Sox. Clay Kershaw is the only reliable Dodger starter. CL Jon Broxton has been very hittable. We Giants fans don’t care about ANY of the whys. We just wanna—all together now—BEAT L.A.!!!

We knew it would be a low scoring game because Barry Zito was starting. Zito had started 4 prior times vs. the Dodgers, with no wins to show for it. He’d allowed a total of 4 earned runs and pitched the requisite innings to qualify each time. Apparently, #75 is so good against Los Angeles that he’s able to mow through two batting orders for the price of one—no matter the opponent, the Giants go to the plate with paper towel rolls whenever Zito starts this year.

Tonight was no different: Zito battled into the 6th inning, allowing but a lone unearned run off a Uribe (playing SS) error. He took heat for his gaffe, which was undeserved. Uribe didn’t cost the Giants the game; the bats did. If you allow a lone run, you should be able to win the game! But Kershaw cut them into little pieces. I was sure after about 5 innings we’d be lucky to even score, let alone win, unless Kershaw strained a groin like Roger Clemens used to do once a year. I will go to my grave singing Uribe’s praises as a defender. I remember what he did in the 9th inning of the 2005 World Series for the White Sox. I was impressed. He made a bobble. It happens. The Giants’ lineup should have been able to muster a bloop and a blast in support of their beleaguered veteran left-hander. Who is only 32, by the way; he just SEEMS older.

Did I mention the Dodgers had a total of one hit in this affair? Only Matt Kemp’s single leading off the 2nd prevented his club from repeating history, in which they defeated the Angels last year in spite of being no-hit by the tandem of Jered Weaver and Jose Arredondo.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15: Giants 2, Dodgers 1

Another nail-biter, another scratched-out win. Matt Cain is easily the team MVP this year, nothing against Wilson and Torres. We’d be screwed without any of the three, but Cain has taken a step forward in 2010. He isn’t beating himself as he’d done at times in the past, and is going deeper into ballgames, meaning the ‘pen is fresher for games started by Bumgarner and Sanchez, who are less economical at this point in their careers. We have a young, 80% homegrown starting staff that rivals that of the 1970’s Orioles and Mets, the 1980’s Dodgers, the 1990’s Braves, and the 2000’s Athletics. We really MUST quit wasting it! Especially in Zito’s case as I’ll outline below.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 16: Giants 10, Dodgers 2

Sense a pattern? Three of the Giants’ four games before Cain’s start ended in 1-0 scores—one victory, two defeats—with the Latos game mixed in. So this is how life without Torres is going to be. 3 or so runs over 3 games, followed by an offensive explosion in which the entire lineup looks like All-Stars. Dodger P Ted Lilly never had a shot in this one; Huff and Posey electrified the crowd with back-to-back jacks early on, and Edgar Renteria even had a 4-hit game in which he used the whole field with thump. Most of us fans have long forgotten Edgar’s red-hot start to 2010 in which he was batting well over .300 thru April until his 36-year-old body began to betray him. How sweet would it be to have that Edgar back, especially now that Torres is sidelined.

This win vaulted the G-Men into first place over the Padres by 0.5 games!!!

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 17: Brewers 3, Giants 0

Randy Wolf, veteran pitcher best known for his days with the Phillies (he and Burrell were teammates forever there), had thrown one shutout in the past six seasons…until he met the Jekkyl-and-Hyde act that is the Giants lineup. I don’t know if the guys celebrated too hard after clubbing the Dodgers and claiming first place the night before, but what I DO know is a pitcher whose style is not unlike Lilly’s completely ran through the Giant hitters like Homer Simpson does a box of donuts.

The crowd could never get into this game; Wolf stymied San Francisco to the tune of three hits, and that was that. A sellout crowd went home very disappointed on an Orange Friday—which used to be an automatic win. This loss made 3 straight on Orange Fridays after only one other all season. Bumgarner is still searching for his first home AT&T win! When Jon Miller read his statline after the game and indicated he was now 5-6, it seemed like a mistake at first until I remembered the jettisoned Todd Wellemeyer held the 5th spot in the first 1/3 of the season…shudder.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 18: Brewers 2, Giants 1

This game will be remembered for the following: Boch making the controversial choice to yank his ace after 5 for a pinch-hitter to ignite his dormant offense (that hitter, Nate Schierholtz, did manage a walk leading to an RBI fielder’s choice by Mike Fontenot.) Even though Lincecum supplied some of his own offense in his last start and had plenty of gas left in the tank, Bochy is in no position to leave himself open to second-guessing.  Lincecum is an adequate-hitting pitcher but the spot called for something more than adequacy. A pinch-hitter was the way to go, especially with a red-hot rested ‘pen that went on to shut the Brewers down.

Milwaukee scored its’ lone runs on a weak, 2-run semi-bloop single by rookie catcher Justin LuCroy off Lincecum in the 4th. It held up. It shouldn’t have, but Yovani Gallardo has mastered the Giants in his short career with those curveballs off the plate. He went 7 strong for the Brewers and turned it over not to Trev Hoffman, who no longer closes now that he nabbed save #600, but to the kid John Axford, who is only 578 saves behind Hoffman. He retired Aubrey Huff when he shouldn’t have as we became the latest squad to get C.B. Bucknor-ed. Strike 2 would have been low if Dr. Ruth were the batter. Yet it was good enough for Bucknor, and Huff went from a walk to a full count; he whiffed at a slider on the next pitch. Who KNOWS what would have happened had he reached first as he should have?

What DID happen: Posey worked Axford for an 11-pitch strikeout, and Uribe K’d as well. Another loss to Milwaukee. Fantastic.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 19: Giants 9, Brewers 2

Typical Jekkyl and Hyde Giants act—score 1 run in 18 innings to begin the series, then bust out for 9 in the finale. If they had spread out the nine runs they put up today, Bumgarner has a home win, Lincecum is on a 4-start win streak, and the Brewers are flying out of S.F. having been swept; they only mustered 7 total runs themselves!

Jose Guillen did it all today. He slammed in his first AB, then with the bags full once more ripped a 2-run single. He had a chance for a 3rd-straight bases loaded at-bat, as Burrell held a 2-0 count with men on 2nd and 3rd. Even though Mike Krukow predicted “walk”, Burrell went on to smoke a 3-run jack to left, erasing Guillen’s “ducks”. I had the audacity to be disappointed over a three-run homer because of Guillen’s lost opportunity.

Clearly, this team is one who feeds off each other. If one guy struggles, they ALL do. If one guy is ripping the ball, multiple guys follow. They are putting too much pressure on themselves to be the hero when relaxing clearly brings out their best. If it is legal to manipulate the scoreboard so that our hitters think they’re ahead 4-0 every time they hit, NOW IS THE TIME TO DO JUST THAT.

Barry Zito, with 6 runs of support in 6 innings, had the game well under control until allowing a 2-run jack to Ryan Braun (who made a RIDICULOUS catch to rob Cody Ross of a home run in the 1st) in the 6th. He, according to Kruk, is now 110-6 when given 4+ runs of support in his MLB career. He has not gotten that in over 60% of his Giants starts (what is it in 2010, about 80%??). But he got it today and upped his record to 9-13, with two starts left to notch his tenth straight season with double-digit win totals.

Lastly, after watching “controversial” (as Kuip put it) Prince Fielder, I became that much more happy we have Aubrey Huff as our first baseman and not him. Huff is fun to watch—note his run from 1st to 3rd on Posey’s double to RF—and easy to like. Fielder just isn’t. I don’t know him; he could be a good guy. But he’s not Huff, and that’s reason enough to be pleased he still wears the blue and gold, not our orange and black.

S.F. re-claimed first place with this win, as San Diego lost to St. Louis (Latos getting lit up even worse than by the Giants last Sunday!). This doesn’t mean a whole lot in and of itself, with so much time left in the year and so many games left head-to-head against the Padres. But psychologically it gives the Giants a slight edge. We’ll take it!

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I've been a Giants' fan since 1990; I still remember my first game at Candlestick as if it were yesterday (Robby Thompson homered and the Giants downed Houston 7-3). Pushed for us to get that elusive championship and at last we GOT IT! You can see me on the softball field every week sporting my orange and black, and I'm raising my little girl to not follow in her A's-fan-mom's footsteps!

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