Sunday, March 05, 2006

Giants vs Team USA

Giants vs Team USA seemed to be fun for most of the fans in attendance, but it was actually kind of a snoozer for me. Even though Team USA had 12 hits and 11 runs they were out hit by the split squad version of the Giants, who had 13 hits. Chase Utley had 5 of their 12 hits and they scored 6 of their runs off of AA pitcher Billy Sadler (even though 3 of the runs were charged to Matt Morris) and another 2 runs off of AA pitcher Merkin Valdez. I really expected a lot more fireworks out of that lineup. I know it is their first game as a team, but the WBC tournament starts for real on Tuesday.

Matt Morris pitched perfect 1st & 2nd innings. In the 3rd, he got the first out and then gave up a single and two walks. When he was facing Randy Winn, Morris had a 1-2 count and threw a fastball right down the middle…..for a called ball. Then on a 2-2 count, he threw a perfect curveball that caught the bottom of the strike zone…..and was again called ball three. Then on a 3-2 count, he threw another fastball and Mike Matheny did not move his glove at all……..again, Morris didn’t get the call and Winn walked.

Billy Sadler relieved Morris with the bases loaded and 1 out. Sadler proceeded to give up 2 hits, including a HR to Chipper Jones. Sadler gave up all 3 of Morris’ runs (all earned) as well as 3 runs of his own. All 3 of Sadler’s runs were unearned on another error by Ray Durham. Ray now has 2 errors in the short exhibition season. In addition he had a 3rd mental error in the first game of the spring when Lance Niekro was standing underneath a pop foul, when he was called off by Durham. Durham was unable to make the grab, but it was not scored as an error. I know many fans who heard the game on the radio blamed Niekro for the missed pop up…….but Durham clearly called him off and then couldn’t get to the ball. Not a good defensive spring so far for Ray Ray.

Jamey Wright came in to pitch the 4th inning and practically duplicated Morris’ outing. After 2 scoreless innings, Jamey left 2 men on base with 1 out and was relieved by Jeremy Accardo. Accardo allowed 1 of Wright’s runners to score, but got out of the inning without further damage. Jack Tashner then came on to give up 2 more runs on a 1 out 2 run HR by Chase Utley. Merkin Valdez finished off the game by giving up 2 runs on 3 hits in the 10th inning. The game went 10 innings because Team USA asked the Giants for a 10 inning game to provide extra work for the Team USA players.

As far as Team USA goes, Clemens pitched 2 good innings, giving up 2 hits and no runs while collecting 3 strikeouts. All Leiter was terrible, giving up 4 runs on 5 hits in his one inning of work. Todd Jones also did not pitch well, giving up 2 runs on 2 hits in 2/3 of an inning. I was more than a little surprised that the Giants lineup of mostly single A and AA players would get 13 hits off mighty Team USA.

The Giants reached deeper into their farm system in this game than they have in quite awhile. Even though the Giants had a total of 69 players invited to camp, they played at least 2 players who they pulled from the Minor League camp; Tyler Von Schell and Julio Cordido. In addition to that; Clay Timpner, Abraham Nunez, Angel Chavez, Derin McMains, Jake Wald, Eliezer Alfonzo, Fred Lewis, Adam Shabala and Nate Schierholtz all had considerable playing time in the game. Lewis and Shabala started in the game and played the entire way. Honestly, I love our kids…….but I really thought Team USA should have run away with this game. The fact that a team of All-Stars would be out hit by the lineup the Giants threw out there does not bode well for the USA in the WBC tourney.

At any rate….the good news is that the Giants kids (and veterans) fared surprisingly well against Team USA. The bad news was that Team USA did not show the depth of pitching or hitting that I expected from them. Take away a couple of terrible pitches by Billy Sadler, a couple of margin ball calls by the umpires and Ray Durham’s error…….and Team USA would have been beaten in this game……by a VERY young Giants team who played only 2 projected starters and very few players from the projected 25-man roster. All in all a very mixed bag of good & bad news, depending on whether you are looking at it as a Giants fan or as a fan of Team USA.

Tomorrow will be the Giants vs the Angels in Scottsdale. This will be the Giants last home game until Sunday, after the first round of WBC competition is over. It will be interesting to see if Barry Bonds will play in any of the away games over the next several days or if he will wait until the Giants return home in almost a week. It will be equally interesting to see if Team USA can play better than they did against the Giants kids today. If not…this could be very embarrassing for the home fans.


kalbearz said...

Unlike most people it seams, I am really excited about the WBC. However, I don't understand what the heck Al Lieter is doing on the team? Is he really someone we want in the game against some of those powerful line-ups we will soon face? I for one do not think so. Get him off this team Tommy! Please...

GRMG said...

Good comments Hank. That's about the way I felt after listening to the game, so I wondered what a regular observer would think. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Actually, i was expecting almost exactly this result, but i was also expecting our giants team to be made up of about half the starting lineup. Upon learning that we started mostly A and AA players along with a smattering of rookies, i was suprised to learn that the Giants were in it for so long.

From the Bleachers said...

I caught this one on the radio, and even though it's always great to hear the earliest spring training games, I'm just not a fan of the national team thing when it comes to baseball, or basketball for that matter. I enjoy your pix and got your link from a Giants forum regular I work with. If your blog is this detailed during the regular season, I'll be a regular.