Friday, March 31, 2006

Giants vs Angels @ AT & T Park - March 30th, 2006

Before I get into last night’s game, I would like to just write a little note about the Giants final game in Arizona, a 12-0 shellacking of the A’s. Jason Schmidt looks to be his old self. His fastball seems to have more life than last year and his off-speed stuff, particularly the changeup, is just getting hitters WAY out in front. The only time Schmidt even remotely got in trouble was when he gave up a hit and a walk in the same inning. Other than that, the A’s never threatened. The only thing that concerns me (you always have to have some concern) is that Schmidt only struck out 1 batter in the game. He took several batters to a 2 strike count, but usually the at bat resulted in a popup or a groundball out. As I said…….to my eye, the fastball seems to be back to the mid-90’s range…….but with the lack of strikeouts, I will be interested to see what the gun reads the first time he pitches in a park that displays the pitch speed.

The offense in the A’s game was just superb. Seven HRs from 7 different players, including both veterans and youngsters was very good to see. I must say though that there was a very strong wind blowing directly out to LF…….Omar Vizquels HR, at the very least, would never have made it to the warning track on any other day. As it was, the ball made it over the wall by just inches. Another 17 hit day, where 11 Giants got base hits, off of some very good A’s pitchers was also good to see. Since I left early to get to the airport to catch a plane, I didn’t get to see the 9th inning. But the 4 runs on 6 hits (including 2 HRs) off of A’s phenom closer, Houston Street, must have been a thing of beauty. A VERY nice ending to my 6 weeks in Arizona.

I returned to the Bay Area on Wednesday evening. When the Giants break camp and head to San Francisco………I break camp and head to San Francisco.

Last night’s game, against the Angels, was not the most enjoyable game I have been to. It was chilly and threatening rain pretty much all night. The rain finally came in torrents, with 1 out in the 6th inning, causing an immediate end to the game. The Angels were playing with a split squad and the Giants fielded a team that LOOKED like it was a split squad. I am sure that Felipe Alou didn’t want many of his veterans to risk a late spring injury on the wet field. At any rate, the Giants fielded a team that looked a lot like the lineups they used in early spring when 4 starters were off playing in the WBC. Personally, I think they should stay in Arizona longer and take advantage of the better weather……..but since they wouldn’t be able to take advantage of 20,000 season ticket holders paying regular season prices to see the Fresno Grizzlies play…..I am sure that won’t happen any time soon.

The Giants lost 1-0 as it looked like most players from both teams looked like they would rather be anyplace else in the world than at the ballpark. The Giants managed only 2 hits off of Angel’s starter Jared (the other) Weaver, as the offense never got untracked. Matt Morris pitched a very good game, giving up 1 unearned run on 4 hits, no walks and 3 strikeouts. The unearned run came on a fly ball down the RF line that Abraham Nunez got to, but then dropped the ball after it hit in his glove. It looked like Nunez was more concerned with his footing than in watching the ball all the way into his glove, which was understandable with the wet turf. The run scored on a 27 hop ground ball that just made it out of the infield past a diving Kevin Frandsen. Morris really only gave up one hard hit base hit, a double in the 4th inning by Angel’s DH Mike Napoli (a AA player last year).

When the rains finally came, those of us who were prepared let out a huge cheer. It may have sounded strange on the radio, but it is actually kind of fun when the team is playing in the pouring rain and you are staying dry because you thought to bring the proper rain gear and the fans who were unprepared are scampering for the sheltered areas of the park. But we knew the game would soon be called. After Jeremy Accardo got 1 out in the top of the 6th, the umpires stopped play and very soon thereafter the game was called. As a note, lost in the hoopla about who will be the 5th starter and how Benitez, Walker, Hennessey and Correia are doing, is the little known fact that Jeremy Accardo has a 1.42 ERA this spring, giving up only 1 run in 5 appearances.

So it was a rain shortened night at the ballpark. Not exactly what I had hoped for on my first game back in the Bay Area. With rain predicted for the entire weekend…..this may not be the last rain shortened game before the regular season starts. Tonight is the Giants vs the A’s with Noah Lowry on the mound. I would hope to see more regulars on the field tonight, but with the rain…….I wouldn’t bet on it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Giants vs Royals - March 27th, 2006

Well, as encouraging as the pitching was the day before…..…it was downright depressing in yesterday’s 15-6 loss to the Royals. The Royals hit early and often in yesterday’s game, amassing a total of 18 hits.

Matt Cain started the game and although he pitched better than he did the last time out (when he gave up 8 runs) he didn’t do that much better. Matt went a total of 5 1/3 innings and gave up 8 hits (including 2 doubles and 2 triples), 3 walks, 5 runs and registered 3 strikeouts. As with most poor pitching performances, the problem was location, location, location. Cain was unable to hit his spots and fell behind in the count often. When he threw a “get it in” strike, the Royals blasted it. Cain was relieved by Jack Taschner who, as opposed to the day before, was a pitching bright spot. Jack came into the game with a runner on 3B with 1 out after Cain gave up his 2nd triple of the day. Jack struck out both batters he faced to strand the runner on third.

Armando Benitez came on to pitch the next 1 1/3 innings and was just horrid. He really was bad…..but not as bad as his 10 runs on 9 hits, a walk and a HR would indicate. The first hit Benitez gave up was a broken bat blooper, followed by another blooper….then after the first 2 lucky hits he started getting hit hard. In his second inning of work, he looked like he was pissed off and was throwing the ball harder than I had seen him throw as a Giant. The good news was that he induced what should have been an inning ending double play which would have led to a scoreless 2nd inning of work. The bad news was that Angel Chavez threw the ball away and didn’t even get 1 out. That led to yet another 5 run inning for Benitez. Benitez just started grooving the ball after the botched DP. Only 1 run was unearned because of Angel’s error, since the scorer can’t presume a double play…….but in reality the error allowed all 5 of Benitez’ runs in that inning. I am not making excuses for Benitez as he threw way too many pitches over the heart of the plate that were hit hard, but his disastrous 1 1/3 innings were not entirely his fault.

Steve Kline came on to relieve Benitez with 1 out in the 8th. After giving up another bloop single to allow the last of Benitez’ runs to score, Kline got the next 2 batters out to mercifully end the inning. Merkin Valdez finished the game off, pitching a no hit 9th inning. Unfortunately, while he gave up no hits and struck out one, Merkin walked 2 batters in his inning of work. Merkin’s stuff may be “electric” but all too often he has no idea of where it is going once the ball leaves his hand.

Offensively, the Giants had 14 hits of their own and scored runs off of all 3 of the Royals pitchers. Moises Alou was the only starter to not get on base and he and Jose Vizcaino were the only starters to not get a hit. Randy Winn was 3 for 4 with a double, a RBI and a run scored. The Giants had SIX doubles in the game. I am still not sure how they had 14 hits with 6 of them being doubles and only scored 6 runs. Lance Niekro was the only other Giant to have multiple hits, going 2 for 3 also with a double and striking out once.

After the starters left the game, the replacements hit pretty well too. Kevin Frandsen, Jason Ellison, Angel Chavez and Jed Hansen all went 1 for 1, with Frandsen and Ellison chalking up an RBI each with their hits. In a shocking development, Frandsen DID NOT get a double today. I can’t remember the last time that happened. Abraham Nunez also went 1 for 2, while Daniel Ortmeier, Todd Greene, Eliezer Alfonzo and Todd Linden were hitless in 1 AB each. Mark Sweeney was 0 for 2.

I can’t believe that yesterday was the final game of the spring at Scottsdale Stadium. Seems like just yesterday that I went to the stadium to see the first practice session. I have now been to 25 games and will headed back to San Francisco tomorrow evening after the A’s game at Phoenix Muni. Six weeks gone already. Time flies when you are having fun.

I won’t be taking the 4 hour roundtrip drive to Tucson today. It has been drizzling all morning and we have a lot of cleaning and laundry to do before heading back tomorrow. I seem to always find a reason not to make the drive to Tucson…….but as my wife says……we have seen enough baseball. I will probably post a few photos later in the day, but I probably won’t be able to post my final review (of the A’s vs Giants) until I am back in San Francisco on Thursday.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Giants at Padres - March 26th, 2006

I am finally back on-line. I am afraid that, this being the last weekend of Spring Training, I have been partying all weekend and just didn’t have the time to update my blog. I think most people are getting a little tired of Spring Training games anyway. I know the daily readership of the blog has been dropping pretty steadily since the first week or so of games.

At any rate…..the Giants lost to the Padres yesterday at Peoria Sports Complex. I can’t remember the last time the Giants won a road game this spring……of course I also can’t remember the last time the Giants brought more than 2 starters to an away game. It’s kind of funny because many of the Padres fans asked where Barry Bonds was, and spoke derogatorily of him not being present. When I pointed out that the Giants only brought 2 starters to the game and only 2 or 3 other players that had a chance to make the 25 man roster…….they had no idea. They know when Bonds is missing…….but they are clueless that Alou, Finley, Winn, Durham and Visquel are also not present. It is truly a love/hate relationship…..the say they don’t like Bonds……but their biggest disappointment of the spring is attending a Giants game where he doesn’t play.

Yesterday the starters that made the trip to Peoria were Lance Niekro and Pedro Feliz……and the two of them accounted for all 5 of the Giants’ runs. Feliz with a solo HR in the 5th inning and Niekro with a 2 run HR and a double plus two additional RBIs. Feliz’ HR was his only hit of the game, but his 1 for 3 performance raised his spring average to .294. Niekro’s 2 for 3 performance raised his spring average to .386. Niekro also leads the Giants with 18 RBI, even though he missed almost a week with shin splints.

The only other offensive star of the game was Kevin Frandsen (again). Kevin went 3 for 4 with not just his daily double….but with 2 doubles and 2 runs scored. After a 0 for 12 start, Frandsen now has his average up to .385. Those of you, who have been reading my stuff for more than this year, know that I said last year in Spring Training that Frandsen reminds me of Robby Thompson. I caught a little flak for that comparison, but now I am hearing a lot of people saying the same thing. The only other hits in the game came from Angel Chavez (a double) and Clay Timpner (a single). Timpner actually started the game in CF and had a couple of good running catches. By the 6th inning the Giants had Chad Santos at 1B, Jed Hansen at 3B, John Bowker in LF, Brian Horwitz in RF and the scoring was over for them. Yeah…….I didn’t know who Jed Hansen was either. The media guide says he is a 33 year old Minor League journeyman who the Giants picked up in May of last year as a warm body for AAA Fresno. This guy was in the Majors in 1997, 1998 and 1999 with the Royals and hasn’t made it back yet. Talk about perseverance.

Noah Lowry started the game and had his best game of the spring. He threw 5 shutout innings before running into trouble in the 6th. Noah ended up pitching 5 2/3 innings, giving up 3 hits, 2 walks and 2 runs. Through 5 innings he was spotting his fastball well and both the change and the curve were working well as evidenced by his 5 strikeouts. He lost his location in the 6th, but when he left the game, only 1 run had scored. Scott Munter allowed Noah’s 2nd run to score when he allowed an uncharacteristic RBI double instead of his usual groundball. Munter only went 1/3 of an inning and got the out on the very next batter.

Tyler Walker followed Munter and had one of his better appearances of the spring with a 1-2-3 7th inning. Jack Tashner followed and had just a disastrous outing, picking up the loss in the process. Jack had only given up 2 runs the entire spring before giving up 4 runs on 3 hits (2 of them HRs) and 1 walk in only 1/3 of an inning. Jack’s pitches had nothing on them. I don’t know if he has hit a dead arm period or what, but his pitches just did not have their usual life. Tim Worrell relieved Taschner and allowed no runs on 1 hit and 1 strikeout.

Even though this was another loss for the Giants, there were a lot of good things happening. The pitching was very good, except for Taschner’s melt down. Even though the Giants played mostly very young players, it took the Padres until their last AB to beat them. The two starters that did play in the game brought a ton of offense to the game and Lance Niekro in particular continues to justify the Giants’ trust in him in naming him as the starting firstbaseman. You hate a late inning loss, even in Spring Training, but given the circumstances, and who played (or more accurately who DIDN’T play), it was a good game.

Today is the Giants vs the Royals at Scottsdale. Showers are again in the forecast (even though the temperature is about 74 as I type this) so I probably won’t take my camera to the game. I would think that the Giants would play mostly starters today with Matt Cain taking the mound. It will be interesting to see how Cain reacts after he last, very poor, outing.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Because of the location of my seats.....yesterday was closeup day with the camera.

Pablo Sandoval replaced Pedro Feliz at 3B. He went hitless in his only AB.

Scott Munter was the final Giants pitcher. He went 1 inning, giving up no hits and no walks while striking out 1. Munter's only baserunner was on a groundball to Jake Wald at SS that jake booted for an error. Munter lowered hi spring ERA to 1.42 and is still throwing nothing but groundballs.

Clay Timpner contemplates his upcoming AB while watching Dan Ortmeier at the plate. Clay was 0 for 1 with a strikeout. Ortmeier was 0 for 2 with an RBI on a groundout.

Tyler Walker was the 3rd pitcher of the day and had one of his better outings. 1 perfect inning with 1 strikeout. He reduced his ERA to 9.53. His new "grey beard" look makes him look as old as Fassero.

It may not be Milwaukee.....but they still have the Sausage races. Gametime temperature in Maryvale......75 degrees........gametime temperature in Milwaukee.....39 degrees. OH......and for those of you placing bets.....the All-American Hot Dog won the race.

Derin McMains takes a BIG swing. Looks like a good way to turn an ankle doesn't it?

Derin McMains replaced Frandsen at 2B. Good day at the plate going 1 for 1 with a triple. Bad day in the field when he bobbled a ground ball, panicked and threw the ball into the dirt in front of 1B....even though he was only about 30 feet from Tyler Von Schell. Does this kid look like he is 12 or is it just me?

Jeff Fassero was the second pitcher of the game. He threw 1 2/3 innings giving up only 1 unearned run (due to a McMains throwing error) on 1 hit and 2 strikeouts. The old man has a 1.86 ERA for the spring. Not bad for a guy with that much grey hair.

Todd Linden heads back to the dugout after yet another out. Linden went 0 for 2 with a walk, a strikeout and a run scored.

Todd Greene started at C. Good thing he is short..makes it easy to get out of the way at pitches heading straight for your head. Todd went 1 for 2 with a strikeout.

Randy Winn was one of the 3 starters that the Giants brought to Maryvale. Winn went 0 for 3 dropping his spring average to .154.

Firstbaseman Lance Niekro got his first playing time in 4 or 5 games due to shin splints. He looked a little rusty going 0 for 3 in the game.

Kevin Frandsen got the start at 2B - He responded with a 1 for 3 day at the plate. Frandsen got yet another double.....seems like he does that every game. He is now batting .348 on the spring after a 0-12 start. I love this kid!

Pedro Feliz at 3B - 1 for 3 at the plate but with a costly error in the first inning that allowed 2 unearned runs and set the tone for Hennessey's outing.

Starting P - Brad Hennessey - Bad day for Brad that was not helped by the defense behind him. 4 1/3 innings pitched; 6 runs (4 earned) on 9 hits, 3 walks and 1 strikeout.

Starting SS - Angel Chavez - 1 for 4 with a RBI

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Giants vs Angels - March 22nd, 2006

Another ugly day (night) for the Giants in an 11-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Giants were out hit 17-5 and just played generally slow sluggish baseball for the entire game. I am not worried at all about the pitching or even about the offense, but in the 2 games that the Giants finally started playing their regulars, the intensity is just gone……the energy sapped. It might have been the rain the day before or the chilly night air last night, but whatever it is, the vets need to learn a little something from the kids and show some fight.

Defensively, the Giants had only one error, but it wasn’t pretty. Jason Ellison went to field an easy groundball in the outfield and just ran right by it for a 2 base error. No reason for it, Ellison just didn’t bend down far enough and the ball went under his glove. Pedro Feliz had about 4 groundballs hit toward him and he didn’t even attempt to move. Not hard hit smashes…..but medium hard hit grounders and bouncing balls hit to both his right and left where he didn’t even lean in the direction of the ball. Omar Vizquel missed another couple of grounders that were out of his “range”……at least for this game. And Mark Sweeney had an easy double play hit right at him that he fielded cleanly but couldn’t get a grip on the ball to throw to 2B. He had to settle for getting the one out at 1B. Just an ugly sluggish game. I think the team wanted to be out to dinner or at a bar someplace……..anyplace but at the ballpark.

The Giants got their first 2 runs on Barry Bonds’ first swing of the game. He hit a rocket shot that was over the RF fence by a good 100+ feet. The ball was still on it’s way up as it left the park and I am not sure it was hit high enough to make it over the wall at AT&T Park. It might have drilled a hole in the wall, but I don’t think it would have made it over. After that, the Giants offense went into hibernation. They only had 2 more hits until the 9th inning mini-rally, both were singles from Feliz and Mike Matheny. In the 9th, Tyler Von Schell walked and Kevin Frandsen and Eliezer Alfonzo strung back-to-back doubles together for the Giants other 2 runs of the game. That was it for the offense…..5 hits.

Matt Cain got clubbed, but that doesn’t bother me much. It was bound to happen. He got most of his pitches up in the zone and I think he fell in love with his fastball. The Angels were just sitting in the batters box waiting. Hopefully, the kid learned something and this experience will teach him a little humility. The rest of the pitching wasn’t much better. The lone exception being Jeremy Accardo. Accardo went 2 scoreless innings giving up only 1 hit and recording 2 strikeouts. Accardo lowered his spring ERA to 1.50. There are going to be some tough choices in the bullpen this spring. Lots and lots of good arms. What a change from the last 2 years.

Another very poor game for the Giants veterans. They need to take a lesson from the kids and bring some intensity to the game. Talk about a terrible game to televise back to the Bay Area! I didn’t post many photos because most of them were very blurry from the dark conditions.

Today will be the Giants at the Brewers at the Maryvale Sports Complex. After 2 days of playing the regulars, I don’t anticipate too many of them playing today. Maybe we will get to see some action today……after the last two snooze fests……I am ready.

Scottsdale Stadium scoreboard

Another overall view of the game.

Night baseball in Arizona.

Pedro Feliz. He was one of only 3 Giants' starters to get a hit. Pedro was 1 for 3 with a strikeout on the night.

Omar Vizquel. Also 0 for 2 (as was most of the team). Omar still looks sluggish to me. Groundballs that he normally gets to are getting by him. Maybe he has a minor ding or is playing at Spring Training sped.

Moises Alou at the plate. 0 for 2 with a walk. I don't know how he hits at all with that stance.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Giants vs A's - March 21st, 2006

The Giants lost to the A’s 6-4 yesterday (as they always seem to do in Spring Training) on a day where the weather started out nice and ended up dark and dreary. For the Giants it was a slow, sluggish day where they left another 11 men on base and where 3 of their 4 runs were unearned because of 2 A’s errors. The A’s were almost as lackluster as the Giants. They had 12 hits, yet half of their runs were unearned because of 2 errors by the Giants. The Giants played all of their projected starters with the exception of Barry Bonds and Lance Niekro. They certainly didn’t play with much energy. All and all an ugly game on a mostly ugly day.

Noah Lowry had what I thought was a terrible outing, although I read in the paper that he was happy with his day. His pitches were mostly high and mostly very hittable. Somehow the A’s needed an error by Mark Sweeney, to score more than 2 runs off of Lowry, even though he gave them 10 hits and a walk in only 4 2/3 innings. Sweeney fielded a groundball at 1B, tagged the bag for one out and then threw to home for what should have been an easy double play. Sweeney rushed the throw and bounced it about 2/3 of the way to Matheny at home. The ball got by Matheny and the A's baserunners were off to the races. It’s not a good thing to only throw the ball 60 feet when your target is 90 feet away. Just one of many mediocre to bad plays on the day.

Even though he was not charged with any errors, Omar Vizquel had a terrible day in the field. He just seemed to be a step slower than normal the entire day. Four of the A’s hits came on groundballs to SS that Omar just missed by a foot or less. He just wasn’t getting that quick first step to the ball that we have all come to expect from him. Add to that a 0 for 3 day at the plate and Omar’s day, like most of the game, was very forgettable.

After the starters left the game, the Giants kids came on and didn’t play any better than the veterans. Todd Linden was 0 for 2 and left 4 men on base. Kevin Frandsen was 0 for 2 and also left 4 men on base. Daniel Ortmeier was 0 for 1 with 2 left on. Jason Ellison was a little better going 0 for 1 with a walk and a stolen base. The only Giants replacements to get hits were Abraham Nunez, who went 1 for 2 with a walk and Todd Greene who had a single to show for his 2 ABs, although Jose Vizcaino (playing 1B for the first time this spring) did have 2 walks in 2 plate appearances.

The pitchers who followed Lowry did pretty well. Kevin Correia came on to relieve Lowry and pitched 2 1/3 very good innings, giving up no runs on no hits and no walks while recording 3 strikeouts. Correia had the A’s totally under control while reducing his spring ERA to 2.70. I thought he was out of the competition for the #5 starter spot a week or so ago. Now I am not so sure. Tyler Walker had his usual bad inning, giving up 1 run on 2 hits and a walk while registering 1 strikeout. Merkin Valdez finished the game with a perfect 9th inning, striking out 1. Merkin is another player who may be forcing the Giants to think about him for the 2006 season. Other than one outing, Merkin has REALLY looked good…….and that fastball is just smoking!

As an aside, the Giants’ pitchers were saved from further damage because they continue to be very stingy with the bases on balls. The Giants’ pitchers gave up only 2 walks on the day. In a real change from past years……the pitchers are not giving up the free pass like they usually do. Let’s all hope that trend continues into the regular season. Make the batters EARN their way on base.

Not a very memorable day, but there were a few bright spots. Correia and Valdez on the mound…….Finley, Durham and Winn at the plate. Like most spring games, some good…..some bad….although it was mostly bad.

Tonight is the Giants vs the Angels at Scottsdale for a 7PM game. I hate night games in the spring, but this game is particularly poorly timed. The weather is just starting to take a real turn for the better here, but the temperature is only supposed to get up to around 70 degrees today; whereas tomorrow we are supposed to get up close to 80. I hope you folks back in the Bay Area appreciate that I will have to endue another chilly game, just so you can watch the game on Fox Sports!! ;-)

Another Spring Training game. The weather was beautiful to start the game, but by the 3rd inning it was cold and grey with light rain falling on and off. The Giants' play was as dull and dreary as the weather.

Noah Lowry throws the first pitch of the game. Noah only gave up 2 earned runs in 4 2/3 innings but was not at all sharp. 10 hits, a walk, a HR and 2 errors behind him accounted for 5 of the A's 6 runs.

Randy Winn in the box. Randy was 1 for 2 with a solo HR, a walk and 1 strikeout.

Omar Vizquel at the plate. Omar did not have a good day. He was 0 for 3 with a strikeout with the bat and was a half step short on about 4 groundballs in the field. He looked very sluggish.

Moises Alou strides to the plate for his first AB since his return from the WBC. Moises was 0 for 2 on the day.

Mike Matheny behind the plate. Mike was 1 for 3 with 1 of the Giants' 2 RBI's on the day. The light hitting catcher is now at .400 for the month.

Ray Durham takes his lead as Dan Haren releases the pitch.

Steve Finley had another good day. 2 for 3 to bring his spring average up to .444

Ray Durham and Moises Alou take their places in the field. Durham was 2 for 3 with a run and is now hitting .438 on the spring.

Pedro Feliz & Omar Vizquel, returned from the WBC. Feliz was 0 for 3 but hit 2 LONG shots that were run down by Mark Kotsay just to the left of the 430 foot mark in CF.

Mark Sweeney mans 1B. Sweeney was 0 for 2 with a walk and a run. He also committed an error which allowed 3 unearned A's runs.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Giants vs Brewers - March 19th, 2006

When I looked out of my window at about 8:00 am, I never thought the game today would happen. As long as I have been coming to Scottsdale, I have never seen it hail here before. It was cold and windy, but the rain stopped and they got the game in, with nary a drop of rain falling once the game began. The Giants, in a split squad game, lost to the Brewers 4-2.

Matt Morris started the game and got a good workout in. He didn’t look particularly sharp. His breaking ball in particular seemed to do a lot of hanging about waist high, making it very hittable. Morris did become the first Giants pitcher to go 6 full innings on the spring. He gave up 8 hits, including 2 doubles, a triple and a HR; a walk, 4 earned runs and recorded 5 strikeouts. I was a little surprised the Giants let Morris throw 93 pitches this early, but he seemed to handle it well, even looking a little stronger in his last 2 innings than he did in the first 4.

Steve Kline and Matt Kinney finished up the game with 3 scoreless innings. Kline looked a little rough, giving up 2 hits before getting out of his only inning with a strikeout. Kinney gave up only 1 hit in his 2 innings of work, but walked 2 to go along with his 2 strikeouts.

Offensively, the Giants continued their usual inability to get the timely hit. They had as many hits as the Brewers, 11. In addition they had 3 walks and a Brewer error and still managed only 2 runs while stranding 11 men on base, hitting into 1 double play and having one runner (Tyler Von Shell) thrown out on the bases trying to stretch a double into a triple.

Today marked the return of Randy Winn and Omar Vizquel from WBC play. Winn looked very rusty going 0 for 4 with a strikeout. Omar looked like he was in midseason form going 1 for 3 at the plate with a walk and 1 run scored. Omar was in the middle of a 4-6-3 DP and fielded several groundballs with his usual ease.

The remainder of the Giants hit well……but not when it mattered. The Giants only runs were knocked in by a RBI single by pitcher Matt Morris and a SAC fly from Todd Linden.

Because of the threatened rain, I did not bring my camera to the game… no photos again today. Today is the Giants only off-day of the spring. Next game will be the Giants vs the A’s at Scottsdale on Tuesday.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

These Photos Are From Yesterday's Cubs Game

Better late than never

Ray Durham comes to bat. Ray is now hitting .435

Giants' starter Noah Lowry, sporting his classy St. Patrick's Day hat. Does that body position look like it hurts to you?

Mike Matheny and his new buddy. Mike is now hitting an even .400 this March

Mark Sweeney - Now hitting .316 on the Spring

Cubs starter, Greg Maddux. Have you seen a baseball player that looks LESS like an athlete? But he is a heck of a pitcher!!

Barry Bonds - trotting off the field without a sign of a limp

Steve Finley - 41 years young - Now batting .381 on the Spring

Giants vs Mariners

This was just a great game to watch as a Giants fan. The Giants started hitting early and just kept hitting the entire game. The Giants tallied 19 hits on the day and scored 14 runs. The offensive outburst was fueled by both the veterans and the kids. The pitching was also excellent and limited the Mariners to 3 runs, 2 of which were given up in the 9th by 22 year old Anthony Moreno who was brought over from the Minor League camp to mop up.

The hitting star of the game was hard to select, because so many players had great offensive games. If I had to pick, I would have to say Mike Matheny was the guy. Mike went 2 for 4 with a 3 run HR and a 2 run double. Not a bad day for a light hitting defensive catcher. Jason Ellison was not far behind with his 5 for 5 day with 3 runs and 1 RBI. Steve Finley continued to hit like he was 10 years younger; going 2 for 3 with 2 doubles, 2 runs scored and 3 RBI.

Todd Linden had his first hits in about a week going 3 for 6 with 4 runs and 1 RBI. On the down side Todd struck out twice and only a Fernando Vina error kept him from hitting into his 3rd double play in the last 3 days. Lance Niekro, Ray Durham and starting third baseman Angel Chavez each went 1 for 3 with Durham and Niekro each getting an RBI and Chavez adding a walk. Tomas De La Rosa started again at SS and went 2 for 4 with a run scored. Every Giants starter got at least 1 hit and the starting lineup as a whole was 17 for 31 (.548). Even with 14 runs scored, the Giants still left 10 men on base.

The Giants again had Tyler Von Schell replace Niekro as the backup first baseman. Von Schell was 0 for 3 with 2 strikeouts. What happened to Travis Ishikawa? Is he injured? Simon Klink was also brought over from the Minor League camp to replace Chavez at 3B. Klink was 0 for 1. Abraham Nunez replaced Finley in CF and went 1 for 1 with 2 RBI and a run scored. Jake Wald was 1 for 1 as the replacement SS. Kevin Frandsen continued to be the only Giant to play every spring game, when he replaced Durham at 2B. Frandsen pinch ran for Durham and was hitless, but had a walk and a SAC fly in 2 plate appearances, netting him 2 runs and 1 RBI. Like I said…….a fun game if you like offense.

The pitching was almost as good as the offense. Jason Schmidt started the game and other than a solo HR by Richie Sexon, was in complete command of the game. Schmidt threw 5 complete innings, giving up only 3 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run while recording 3 strikeouts. Schmidt’s fastball had a lot of zip and most of the hitters seemed to be tardy on their swings. When the batters started catching up to the fastball, Schmidt had his changeup working and still managed to handle the Mariners with relative ease. Tyler Walker relieved Schmidt and had one of his better spring appearances, with a perfect inning.

After Walker, the Giants paraded out a trio of Minor Leaguers to finish off the game. Pedro Liriano pitched a perfect 7th inning as did Michael Tejera in the 8th. Anthony Moreno pitched the 9th inning and did not fare so well. Moreno was brought over from the Minor League camp and I believe this was his first Major League appearance EVER. He gave up 4 hits, including a HR and 2 runs. He also recorded 1 strikeout. I personally had never heard of Moreno. The Media Guide says that he was the Giants #39 selection in the 2002 First Year Players Draft. He has been a professional since 2002 and spent about half of last year in low A Augusta and half in AA Norwich. His is 20-8 in his Minor League career with a 4.20 ERA. He has given up 197 hits in 201.2 innings and has registered 173 strikeouts vs 71 walks.

That’s about it for today. I did not take any photos today, but a good friend of mine is supposed to e-mail me some that she took. If she does, I will post them. I also have a few photos from yesterday’s game that I will post soon. Tomorrow’s game is Giants vs Brewers, again at Scottsdale.

Giants vs Cubs - March 17th, 2006

Yesterday, the Giants lost to the Cubs 7-5 at Scottsdale Stadium. It was not at all a well played game for the Giants. The Giants out hit the Cubs 15-5…that’s right FIFTEEN to 5. The difference in the game as that the Giants committed 5, that’s right FIVE errors and the Giants left 10 men on base while Cubs only stranded 6.

Noah Lowry started the game and gave up 5 runs (2 earned). Lowry was not sharp, allowing 3 hits, 2 walks and reaching his pitch count after only 3 innings. It looked like he had no idea where his fastball was going. Still, he would have done alright, had it not been for a groundball in the 2nd. Ray Durham made a nice stop of a groundball to his right, but made a poor feed to SS Tomas De La Rosa. I thought Ray put the ball in a position where De La Rosa had to field it with his bare hand in order to make the play. De La Rosa couldn’t make the barehanded play and it was ruled an error on the SS. I would have scored the error on Durham for the poor feed, but the scorekeeper disagreed. Not only should this have been an out…….it should have been a double play.

De La Rosa would commit another error later, this one indisputable as he failed to field a simple groundball hit right at him. The normally sure handed Angel Chavez committed 2 errors in the same inning allowing an unearned run off of Scott Munter. Both errors were on easy groundballs that hit Angel’s glove and bounce away. Jake Wald committed the 5th error when he fielded a groundball at SS and then threw the ball into the Cubs’ dugout. Not a good defensive day for the young Giants’ infield.

Jeremy Accardo followed Lowry and gave up 2 earned runs on a HR to Aramis Ramirez. Accardo went 2 innings giving up 1 additional hit, walking none and striking out 1 Cub. Tim Worrell, Steve Kline, Scott Munter and Jack Taschner pitched no-hit ball for the final 4 innings. Kline walked 1 and Munter gave up the unearned run on Chavez’ 2 error inning. Between the 4 pitchers, Taschner was the only one to register a strikeout.

Offensively, Barry Bonds started and went 1 for 2 with a single to the right side, beating the Cubs’ shift. Also very encouraging was the fact that Bonds scored from 1B on a Mark Sweeney double. He ran as fast as I have seen in 2 years and showed no signs of a limp after he crossed home plate. He also made a couple of plays in the outfield that required him to run.

Kevin Frandsen remained hot, going 1 for 2 with a 2 RBI triple. After a very slow start, Kevin is now batting over .320 for the spring. Todd Linden remained cold as he had yet another 0fer day. This time going 0 for 3 with a double play. Seems like it has been forever since Linden got a hit, after starting the spring at 5 for 5 or something like that. Jason Ellison, Ray Durham, Mike Matheny and Tyler Von Schell all had 2 hits on the day to help add to the LOB totals.

Just an overall bad day at the park, if there is such a thing. The Giants got lots and lots of hits……..but just couldn’t get the big hit when it counted. The defense was as bad as it has been this spring. The pitching, excluding Lowry’s wildness was the bright spot of the day. If this team has Worrell, Kline, Munter and Taschner do what they did today on a regular basis, good things will happen.

Today it will be the Giants vs the Mariners at Scottsdale. Rain is supposed to return to the valley tonight and tomorrow. Hopefully all of the games will go on as scheduled.

Giants @ Rangers - March 16th, 2006

I am a couple of days late on this game review so I will make it short. The Giants lost to the Rangers 4-3, but once again, because of who was playing the game; this was a “good” loss for the Giants.

The Giants only brought one starter to Surprise, Lance Niekro, and only Todd Linden or Jason Ellison realistically even have a chance to make the 25 man roster. The remainder of the players in this game were the Giants Minor Leaguers. Those loveable youngsters who have been playing so well this spring. I really enjoy watching these kids play. I know some fans only want to see wins, even in Spring Training, but having young players perform well and gain confidence in these games, means MUCH more to the organization that 1,000 spring wins.

The Rangers played mostly starters and played many of them late into the game. Merkin Valdez gave up a HR in the 7th to Kevin Mench to allow the first runs scored by Texas to tie the game 2-2. Mench is a 4 year Major Leaguer with almost 1500 ML at bats and he was still in the game in the 7th inning. Meanwhile, the Giants were playing Tyler Von Schell and some kid named Bowers or Powers in the 7th inning. Neither of these guys are even in the Major League camp and I have never even heard of Bowers/Powers who played SS and isn’t even listed in the Giants Media Guide Minor League roster. Can anyone help me out here?

After the Rangers tied the game in the 7th, the baby Giants came right back in the 8th and took the lead once again on Von Schell’s double and Kevin Frandsen’s RBI single. Unfortunately Merken gave it right back again in the bottom of the 8th and Matt Anderson gave up the winning run in the 9th. The winning run was unearned because of Anderson’s own error on a pick-off throw. Surprise is the only stadium in the league that has a radar reading posted on the scoreboard. Merkin was throwing 97-98 MPH consistently, but even though he only registered 1 walk, he was not locating his pitches at all and fell behind most batters. Merkin hopefully learned a valuable lesson. You can throw 98 all day long, but if you put a 3-1 fastball right down the middle to a Major League batter……he can/will hit it out of the park.

Kevin Correia pitched a great game, throwing a 4 inning, 1 hitter with 2 strikeouts. He was in full command the entire outing and just may have popped himself back into the competition for the 5th starter.

Considering the mostly veteran Rangers took until the 9th inning to beat the mostly VERY young Giants, it was a very encouraging game. Hopefully these kids will continue to develop and we might actually see some homegrown position players on the Giants in the next couple of years.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Nate Schierholtz replaced Abraham Nunez at the DH position. He had 2 walks to show for his 2 plate appearances. I love the way he tracks the ball. I have photos of players looking at the pitcher while they swing and miss. I even have photos of players swinging with their eyes closed. But Nate's head is ALWAYS on the ball.

Tyler Von Schell replaced Niekro at 1B. I really don't like his swing. Look how the bat is still on his shoulder and how close the ball is. He did go 1 for 2 however, with a double and a run scored. The box score says 1 for 1, but he had an unlisted K

Michael Tejera finished off Merkin's second inning of work after Merkin reached his pitch count earlier than planned. He is not listed in the boxscore.......but here is the proof that he actually DID pitch.

Merkin Valdez was the 3rd pitcher of the game and showed why having a 98 MPH fastball does you no good if you can't control where it is going. His line; 3 hits including a HR, plus a walk, 1 strikeout 3 earned runs in 1 2/3 innings. He gave up the lead twice when the Giants were ahead 2-0 and when they retook the lead 3-2. Merkin was behind in the count to every batter.

Proof that Merkin was hitting 98 MPH on the radar gun

Todd Linden was the starting leftfielder. He remained cold with another 0 for 2 performance. He did get on base once with a walk.

Lance Niekro was the only projected starting player to start the game. He was 0 for 2 for one of the first times this spring.

Kevin Frandsen got the start at 2B and responded with a 3 for 4 performance with 1 RBI. Kevin also struck out and was caught stealing.

Starting pitcher Kevin Correia. Very good game for Kevin....4 innings, only 1 hit, NO walks and 2 strikeouts, against mostly Texas starters