Monday, March 13, 2006

Giants vs Padres - March 12th, 2006

The Giants lost to the Padres yesterday 10-6 in Scottsdale. For the most part it was a good game for the Giants with a couple of notable exceptions.

Matt Cain started for the Giants and it looked like it was going to be a long day for the kid. He gave up a long double and a HR to the first 2 batters he faced. Then all of the sudden, it was like a light switch came on and he just shut the Padres down. Cain struck out the next 2 batters on called third strikes, and then went on to get a total of 6 on the day. Cain went 4 innings giving up only the 2 runs and only an additional double and single after the first 2 batters. Also very encouraging is that he allowed zero walks to go along with his 6 K’s, against the Padres regular starters.

Armando Benitez followed Cain and did not fare nearly so well. It looked like Benitez was specifically working on a splitter or a sinker. Whatever it was, it was dropping out of the strike zone, low and the Padres were not swinging at it. Benitez kept working on that pitch even though he was walking everyone in sight. The good news was that the pitch had a ton of downward bite on it……the bad news was he couldn’t throw a strike with it to save his life. With the Padres disregarding that off-speed pitch, they were able to jump on what few fastballs he threw. Piazza’s grand slam was on one of the few fastballs Benitez threw. Piazza looked like he was just sitting on the pitch…..and I’m sure he was. Benitez ultimately got only 1 out, while giving up 6 runs on 4 walks and 3 hits. Benitez’ only out was a strikeout. For what it is worth the Padres only hit 2 balls hard off of Benitez (the other hit was a bloop single), but that is more than enough when you walk 4 batters in 1/3 of an inning.

Billy Sadler came on to relieve Benitez and he didn’t help much. He only gave up 1 double and no runs of his own in 2/3 inning, but he allowed both runners he inherited from Benitez to score. Tim Worrell pitched next and threw a perfect inning with 1 strikeout. Jesus Reina followed with 2/3 of a very forgettable inning. Reina gave up 1 run on 1 hit and 2 walks while registering 1 strikeout.

Scott Munter relieved Reina with 2 out and 2 on and immediately got a ground ball to end the inning. Typical Scott Munter line……1 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 1 walk, 4 groundball outs and 2 broken bats. Don’t let the boxscore fool you…….the boxscore says it was Brian Munhall but I assure you Brian is still a catcher and it was really Munter who pitched. The published boxscores this spring continue to be as inaccurate as I can ever remember. Jack Taschner pitched the 9th inning, giving up a run on 2 hits.

Offensively, it was a good day for the Giants as we saw more regulars and Major Leaguers in this game than we have seen so far this spring. Of the starting 8 position players only Angel Chavez at 3B is not a lock to make the 25 man roster. Jason Ellison led off and played RF, going 2 for 4. Jose Viscaino batted second and got a hit in 3 trips to the plate. Steve Finley batted 3rd and went 1 for 3 with a run scored.

Barry Bonds hit 4th and went 1 for 2 with his first HR of the spring. Bonds struck out looking in his first AB on a very questionable strike call (looked way outside to me). In his second AB he was way out in front of a Woody Williams off-speed pitch, but managed to keep his hands back. Bonds hit a rocket into the party patio in straight away RF with just his wrists. It was just a remarkable shot. Bonds had lost his lower body completely. Most hitters would have continued thru the zone and missed the pitch by a mile. Bonds somehow kept his hands back and hit one of the hardest wrist shots I have ever seen. Normally, if a player manages to hit a HR with just his wrists, he does it by hooking the ball down the line just inside the foul pole. Barry’s went to straightaway LF, on a line and made it out easily. Amazing…….just amazing.

Mark Sweeney batted 5th and went 1 for 3 with a HR. Ray Durham batted 6th, going 0 for 1 with the Giants’ only 2 walks of the game. Mike Matheny hit 7th going 0 for 1. Interestingly, Matheny had only 1 plate appearance before coming out of the game. My guess is that his back was bugging him again. Angel Chavez batted 9th and went 1 for 3 with a double. Todd Greene replaced Matheny and had a solo HR to show for his 2 ABs. Lance Niekro replaced Sweeney and had a triple….that’s right……..Lance legged out a triple…….in his 2 ABs.

For once the kids did not come in and bale the veterans out with late inning heroics. Nate Schierholtz, Tomas De La Rosa, Derin McMains, Fred Lewis, Dan Ortmeier, Kevin Frandsen, Brian Buscher, Todd Linden and Adam Shabala went for a combined 2 for 10 with Shabala and Buscher each picking up a hit in their only AB. Derin McMains also had a SAC fly for an RBI.

One defensive item of note. Fred Lewis had 1 chance in CF and dropped the ball for an error. Normally, I would not make a big deal out of this, but in the October/November 2004 Arizona Fall League, I attended almost the entire season and saw Lewis play some of the worst outfield I had seen since Marvin Benard. Lewis led his team in errors with 9 in only about 20 games played. It’s pretty hard to lead your team in errors from the CF position…….but Lewis managed. He also was among the team leaders in errors at Norwich last year, with 14, and WAS the team leader until the last couple of months of the season when they moved him to the corner position and he seemed to fare better. Yesterday’s error was the same type I have seen many times before. The ball was hit right to him and Lewis hardly had to move at all. The ball hit him square in the glove and just popped out. No reason for it at all, he just didn’t squeeze it. I bet 8 of his 9 errors in the AFL were just like this one. His concentration level must be just horrible. I am really losing patience with this guy. With all of his athletic ability he should be a sterling fielder. But he just can’t catch the ball.

Although, it didn’t rain at all yesterday, there was rain in the forecast so I did not bring my camera to the game. So, no photos today. Also I picked up a little cold over the past two cold and rainy days, so I am going to skip the 4 hour roundtrip drive to Tucson and will not be going to the Giants vs Diamondbacks game today. I will pick it up again on Tuesday, with the Giants against the Rangers at Scottsdale. Wish me luck on shaking this cold.


GRMG said...

Thanks for the updates, as usual, Hank. Good luck on beating back your cold. I'm battling the same problem here, and hoping it goes away before we head down there on Thursday. shows rain in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday...can you do anything about that???

See you soon!!

fullmonty8 said...

thanks for the good recap

Giants Win The Series! said...

Thank you for the updates. Your blog is one of my daily reads.


Anonymous said...

saw Lewis play some of the worst outfield I had seen since Marvin Benard

Did you see Sanchez play?

DrBGiantsfan said...

Thanks for the report. You know, the Giants have converted so many position players to pitcher and vice-versa, I actually thought the Munhall line was for real. I mean, if they can do it with Jon Coutlangus, why now Munhall? I did think it was strange that they would just throw him out there in a ST game like that. Usually they work with them in extended ST for awhile and then turn them loose in Augusta sometime in the middle of the season.

I'm also very excited about another great outing by Scott Munter, the reincarnation of Greg "Moon Man" Minton. He's going to be a very valuable player for us

Very encouraging start by Cain. I'd rather see him have a couple games where he struggles and then recovers than to just sail through the spring. He's going to get into his share of situations like this after the season starts and he'll need this experience to draw on.

Glad to hear Armando looked like he was working on something. After what we went through last year, a line like that can be a little unnerving. That's what ST is for, especially for the vets.

Blackened06 said...

You are the man Hank. Get well! The work you do for us Giants fans is very much appreciated..I Hope you realize that! Godsend..

Giantfan9 said...

"Did you see Sanchez play?"

Yes, I did. Lewis was worse. Think about it. 9 errors in 20 games.....from an outfielder!! Not even Sanchez could match that. And that doesn't include all of the balls that Lewis midjudged and didn't get a glove on. I hope he has or will improve, but in October/November 2004....Lewis played the outfield about as bad as it could be played.

Marc said...

Once again a great read!! Great job of making Spring Training interesting and making it feel like I am in the stands. ST Box Scores suck!! They always have.