Thursday, March 29, 2007

Giants vs Mariners @ AT&T Park

First let me say thank you to those of you who left comments thanking me for my Spring Training Blog. As you all know.....I don't get paid for this. The only remuneration I receive is your gratitude. I do this for my love of Giants baseball........but is really great to receive the accolades. I's all ego.....but I will admit feels good.

Well, I have been missing the last couple of days. Besides the move back to San Francisco, some freakin' scam artist managed to get my e-mail user name and password and hijacked my ISP service. Luckily I caught it in less than an hour......and after about 2 hours conversation with my Internet provider.......finally got things worked out. So I am back now.........and although I love mankind in general......I hope the perpetrator of this transgression suffers the same fate that I wish for all Dodgers........a long slow painful death.

Tonight's game was more of the same for the Giants. The Giants were 5-0 vs the Mariners this spring. Tonight was no different as the Giants beat the Mariners 4-0. The Giants are now 6-0 against Seattle and 9-16 against the rest of the Cactus League.

Barry Zito got his final exhibition start for the Giants. He was nothing short of exceptional. He gave up 3 hits, 3 walk and tallied 3 strikeouts while giving up no runs in 6 full innings. I thought his curveball was good in Arizona.......but tonight it was breaking 12 to 6 about 18 inches. Pretty darn impressive. I did not keep score.....but I have to admit I was surprised that Zito allowed 3 walks. I thought his control was excellent, as he threw 52 strikes in 90 total pitches. For those of you paying attention to managing differences........I have not seen a manager allow a Giants pitcher go 90 pitches in an exhibition game in San Francisco since.......well I don't know when the last time would have been. Bochy obviously believes more in working his starting staff more than did Baker or Alou.

Zito was followed by Sun-Woo Kim, who may still be in the running for a roster spot. Kim had an easy inning, retiring 3 batters on 8 pitches. Brian Wilson followed Kim and allowed a single and no runs in his inning of work. The game was closed out by Armando Benitez, who continued his fine work this spring. Mando's fastball is less than impressive. His split is usually not in the strike zone........but his slider is just exceptional. I don't know if he can get by on just 1 pitch all season. But so far.......he has managed quite nicely.

Offensively.......only Barry Bonds and Bengie Molina had multiple hit games. Somehow the Giants still managed 12 hits and 4 runs. The Giants started their starting lineup for one of the few times this spring. Rich Aurilia was back at 1B and besides going 1 for 2 with an RBI.......made a nice catch of a foul popup while running away from home down the RF line.

All in all this was a well played game. The Giants got good starting pitching.....good relief pitching and the offense scored more than enough runs to win the game. It was good to be back in the park in San Francisco. It was a beautiful night with an announced attendance of 29,627.....I would guess the butts in the seats were about 2/3rds that.

The new scoreboard is VERY impressive when it is showing HDTV quality video shots from around the park. When they put up the lineups and box score was WAY too over done and hard to read. It looked like they were trying to create a visually impressive display...but it was just too much. Tone the score keeping down......keep it to black and white......and it will be OK. Great great display......but the line score doesn't need a bunch of colors. That just makes it hard to read. Reduce the volume of info and the colors and make it where you can READ it.

Great night....good game......and the Giants are now 15-16 this spring.....right about where you would want them to be. The offense and the starting pitching has been the bullpen just needs to step up. The bullpen is actually my only real concern. It will be interesting to see how this all comes out.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Giants at Mariners

Today was a very good day for first 7 innings..........and a terrible day for the last 2 innings. Matt Morris had his second very good game in a row. He gave up 2 runs on 7 hits and 2 strikeouts. He didn't walk anyone and really didn't give up too many hard hit balls. After an 8th and a 9th that felt like going to the dentist......Morris finally got the 9-8 win.

Ichiro led off the game with a long double, but the wind was blowing out and Randy Winn misplayed the ball and turned around and faced the wall, like he expected it to either be a HR or hit high off the wall. As it was, the ball hit the wall about 1 foot off the ground. If Winn keeps his back to the wall....he makes an easy catch. Even with the double.....the Mariners did not score in the first as Morris buckled down and left Ichiro standing at 2B. Morris' first run was allowed when he allowed a leadoff single. He got one out and got Ichiro to hit a comebacker for what I thought was a DP......but Morris was too deliberate with his throw to 2B and Ichiro beat it out to 1B. Ichiro then stole 2B and Eliezer Alfonzo threw the ball into CF, allowing Ichiro to move to 3B. He then scored on a 2 out double by Jose Lopez. The second run was even more tainted. With 2 out and a man on 1B, a ball was hit on a low line drive to Clay Timpner. Timpner made an ill fated attempt to make a diving catch. The ball bounced off his glove and the runner was able to score from 1B. Morris then got the 3rd out of the inning. If Timpner just fields the ball on a hop.....the runner stops at 3B and Morris' 2nd run never scores.

Morris was followed by Vinnie Chulk. Chulk had a good inning allowing one hit and getting 1 strikeout. After that the wheels came off for the bullpen. Taschner pitched the 8th and gave up a run on 2 singles and a walk. Brian Wilson stared the 9th and did his best to prove Righetti clairvoyant. Unfortunately, Wilson actually HAS been inconsistent since Rags incorrectly told the press he was inconsistent. Wilson went 0-2 on the first batter....and proceeded to throw 4 straight balls to walk him. Walks are just killing the bullpen right now. Morris and Chulk issued ZERO walks through 7 innings.........the rest of the pen allowed 4, plus a hits batsman, in the last 2 innings. Wilson gave up 5 earned runs on 3 hits and 2 walks and only got 1 out.....just abysmal.

Ryan Meaux relieved Wilson and walked the only batter he faced. Scott Munter relieved Meaux with the bases loaded and 1 out. He struck out the first batter he faced. Then gave up a groundball up the middle to allow 2 runs to score to make it 9-8. The ball was just hit to the wrong place...if it was hit to an infielder......the game was over. Munter then hit the next batter on a 2 strike count......before finally getting the final out of the game. The good news is that Munter's sinker was sinking and the only basehit he allowed was a groundball that was not hit hard. The bad news is Wilson was horrible. Meaux and Taschner were merely mediocre.

Offensively, Eliezer Alfonzo had a breakout day. He went 3 for 4 with a double, a HR and 4 RBI. His HR was a line drive that just cut the corner between the batters eye and the LF fence, right at the 410 mark. Everything Alfonzo hit was just smashed today.......even the foul balls. Pedro Feliz went 3 for 4 with a double. Ray Durham was 2 for 3 and hit the ball hard. Lance Niekro went 1 for 3 with a sacrifice fly and 2 RBI. Barry Bonds had the hardest hit ball of the day and had only a double to show for it. Bonds hit the ball off the batter's eye about 20 feet off the ground right above the 410 foot sign. I think that makes 3 hits off of the batter's eyes in Spring Training that would have been 430+ foot HRs in any park in the Majors.

Tomorrow is the last game in the desert as the Giants face the Brewers in Scottsdale. Hard to believe that Spring Training is over. I will be catching a flight back to the Bay Area after the game and will be at AT&T Park Thursday night for the exhibition game against the Mariners. I have a bunch of things to do before I leave tomorrow and obviously, I won't have time to post after tomorrows game. I definitely will not be keeping score or taking photos at tomorrow's game. I will try to post some photos from todays game later on tonight.....but I won't make any promises.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Giants vs White Sox

Today's game was strange for a couple of reasons. First, the Giants finally won a game. Second, the Giants started 7 of 8 starting position players for the first time in I don't know how long. And third, both teams played the 8th inning like the game really counted. Bottom line is the Giants won 3-2 on a well pitched, well played game by both teams. The White Sox also played mostly regulars, but in their case many of them never came out of the game. Darren Erstad, Tadahito Iguchi, Paul Konerko, Jermain Dye, Joe Crede and Brian Anderson all played the entire game.

I didn't keep score and I didn't take many photos. As the end of Spring Training doesn't take much for me to get distracted, drink a few beers and talk baseball with my neighbors a lot more than I do earlier in the spring. Today...I did all of the above. I can't believe the Giants have only 1 home and 1 away game left in Arizona. It seems like just yesterday that I flew from San Francisco to Phoenix.

Offensively, besides Winn, only Bengie Molina had a multiple hit game. Bengie went 2 for 4 with a run scored and a nice hit and run single. He is another guy that started out slowly, but is hitting much better the last few games. Other than that.....the Giants didn't have much going offensively. Just enough to win.

Defensively of note, Kevin Frandsen got his first innings of the spring in the outfield. Frandsen said in February that he wanted to learn the outfield....but he was not given the chance until today. Frandsen had an unusual defensive line today. He replaced Ray Durham at 2B when he came out of the game. Replaced Bonds in LF when he came out of the game. And replaced Omar Vizquel at SS when he came out of the game. Frandsen had no chances (that I remember) in LF.......too bad.

As far as the pitching goes......Kevin Correia replaced Hennessey and gave up the 2nd run of the game on Iguchi's solo HR. Correia, also gave up a single to put 1 man on base with 2 out. This is where the gamesmanship began. As the Sox brought lefty PH Rob Mackowiak to the plate with 2 out......the Giants brought in lefty Steve Kline. When the Giants brought in Kline.....the Sox brought in righty PH Eduardo Perez. In a very disappointing couple of ABs....Kline allowed a single to Perez and a walk to Anderson to load the bases with 2 out. The Giants then brought in Armando Benitez who got Gustavo Molina to fly out harmlessly to LF to end the inning. It is pretty rare that you see this kind of maneuvering in a Spring Training game. It was kind of nice to see......reminded me of REAL baseball. Mando then pitched a 1-2-3 9th inning with 2 strikeouts (including Iguchi). His slider was nasty. I don't know........he is beginning to win me over.....god help me.

That's about it for today. Like I scorekeeping today so this entire recap is based on my memory (never a good thing). At any rate...a good game with an 8th inning that reminded me of a hard fought regular season game. Good stuff........especially Benitez' continued resurgence.

Tomorrow is the Giants in Peoria against the Mariners in the final away game in Arizona. Should be Matt Morris against Horacio Ramirez. Morris had a good game last time would sure be nice if he could continue the good vibes.

Barry Bonds started in LF and had another poor game. Barry was 0 for 3 with 2 more strikeouts. He is getting a lot more called strikes these days (today's umpire Kerwin Danley is probably the worst balls and strikes umpire in the Major Leagues) but he was fooled badly on an off-speed pitch for his 2nd strikeout. His swing was UGLY. I don't remember any chances defensively.

Pedro started at 3B and was one of only 2 started who played the entire game (Molina was the other). He went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored. He also struck out once.

Ryan Klesko was the only non-starter to start the game for the Giants. He batted 5th and played about 7 innings at 1B. Klesko went 1 for 3 with a run scored to raise his BA to .387.

Dave Roberts returned to the lineup today in the leadoff slot. He didn't fare too well with an 0 for 2 and a walk......but it was good to see him back.

Offensively, today's game was essentially a 2 man game. Iguchi knocked in the White Sox only 2 runs......and Randy Winn batted in the Giants only 3 runs. With most of the starters (except Aurilia) playing today....Winn batted EIGHTH! Who ever made that move deserves a medal as Randy went 2 for 3 (including a triple) with all 3 of the Giants RBIs. Another very slow starter in Spring Training, Winn is suddenly up to .281 with 12 RBI.

Brad Hennessey followed Cain and threw one of his few scoreless innings of the spring. He gave up 1 double.

Matt Cain started the game and continued the string of Giants' starters going 6 innings. He threw 6 exactly, giving up 1 run on 4 hits and 2 walks while tallying 4 strikeouts. Matt looked pretty darn good. If it wasn't for that pain-in-the ass Tadahito Iguchi.....he would have had a shutout. Iguchi is batting .250 on the spring, but is 5 for 9 with a single, 2 triples, 2 HRs and 6 RBI's in his last 2 games against the Giants. Take away the Giants and he is hitting about .190 for the spring with 3 RBI. He has 5 hits in the last 2 games against the Giants and only 9 hits for the rest of the Spring.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Giants at Padres

Great weather returned to the Valley of the Sun today. Unfortunately, great pitching did NOT return to the Giants today. Well....that's not entirely true. The Giants did pitch pretty darn well after the 3rd inning. Of course that wasn't enough to keep them from losing their 6th game in a row and their 12th out of the last 15. After starting out 9-3, the Giants are now 12-15. Not the way you would plan it.

As I said in the photo was the day the Giants were to audition replacements for Brad Hennessey's failed attempt to hold onto his long relief spot. Hennessey has given up 22 hits and 7 walks in only 13 innings pitched this spring. He has all but forfeited the long relief spot that was his to lose on March 1st. Fortunately for Brad.......neither Scott Atchison or Sun-Woo Kim seemed to want the spot as they gave up 10 earned runs in 2.2 innings. After that, Giants pitchers went 5.1 scoreless innings allowing only 2 hits and 1 walk. Very encouraging. These are the guys we were counting on. If Sanchez, Chulk, Taschner and Wilson can pitch like this.......the bullpen will be OK.

It is hard to get a read on the Giants offense. Between injuries and days off.....I haven't had much of a chance to see what the real Giants can do. Today, with Rich Aurilia, Ray Durham and Dave Roberts nursing minor injuries and Barry Bonds and Omar Vizquel getting the day off....... Randy Winn, Bengie Molina and Pedro Feliz were the only starters to see action......and they only saw a total of about 12 innings between them. It is March 25th.....and I have no idea what to expect from the Giants' offense.

I posted a lot of photos today, so I think I covered most of the game in the photo captions. Tomorrow, the Giants face the White Sox at Scottsdale. I hope a few of the dings and dents get fixed and I will get to see a few more regulars in that game.

I just included this photo because under Bochy.....we have seen very few of the young position players once they get sent down to the Minor League camp. Here Ben Copeland takes his lead off of 1B after pinch running for Bengie Molina in the 7th. Ben did not do a very good job, getting doubled off on a popup to RF by the very next batter.

Tomas DeLaRosa played the entire game at SS and did nothing to distinguish himself. He went 1 for 4 (a single) and scored a run. He also had the Giants' only error on the day.

Jason Ellison didn't help his bid to make the opening day roster. He replaced Winn in RF in the bottom of the 4th. He went o for 2 with a 6-4-3 DP and a strikeout.

Pedro Feliz got the scoring started with his leadoff HR in the 2nd inning. Here is his HR swing and him receiving his props as he returns to the dugout. He went 1 for 2 on the day......typical Pedro.....1 HR......1 strikeout.

Kevin Frandsen takes his lead off of 1B after a 1st inning single. Frandsen started at 2B and continued his offensive resurgence as he went 2 for 4, with 2 singles, a walk, a strikeout and a groundout to 3B. After a VERY slow start, Kevin has his spring BA up to a respectable .283.

Justin Leone replaced Pedro Feliz at 3B in the bottom of the 2nd and provided the bulk of the Giants offense with a grand slam in his first AB of the day. Justin also had an infield single as he went 2 for 3.

Todd Linden continues to be in a little mini-slump. He went 0 for 5 today with 4 of them a 4-6-3 double play. I believe that dropped his BA to under .400 for the first time this spring.

The Tools of Ignorance

Bengie Molina played longer than any of the Giants' regulars. He went 1 for 3 with a single, a HBP and a run scored. Molina left the game for a pinch runner in the top of the 7th after the hit batsman.

Lance Niekro got the start at 1B and played the entire game. He had a very good day, going 3 for 4, only a triple away from the cycle. He scored 2 runs and knocked in 1 run. Lance had probably the best 2 ABs of the day. In the 2nd inning he worked a 10 pitch AB into a double. In the 7th, he made his only out of the game, but not before reaching a full-count, fouling a couple of pitches off and working a good 9 pitch AB.

Mark Sweeney started and played the entire game in LF. He went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored. Mark needs all the 1 for 3 days he can get. Today's performance RAISED his spring BA to .205. Not good.

Randy Winn was 1 of only 3 starters that the Giants brought to Peoria, along with Feliz & Molina. Only Molina made it past the 4th inning. Randy was 0 for 2 with a walk and 2 groundballs to 2B. He did not figure in the scoring.

The final Giants' pitcher of the day was Brian Wilson. He also had an easy 1-2-3 inning on 13 pitches. One encouraging note to Wilson's performance is that he went 3-1 to the leadoff batter, but battled back to induce an easy flyball to CF on a full-count. Also, unlike Taschner, Wilson faced Oscar Robles, Geoff Blum and Pete Laforest.....all of whom have Major League resumes.

Jack Taschner followed Chulk, allowing only a groundball basehit up the middle, while getting 2 groundball outs and 1 flyball out. He threw 13 pitches......9 of them strikes. I would feel a lot better about Taschner's outing, but he faced all #80 somethings after the Padres had removed most of their starters.

Vinnie Chulk followed Sanchez and had the best inning of the day. Chulk had an easy 1-2-3, 8 pitch inning on groundballs to 1B and 2 to SS. Vinnie threw only 1 ball in the inning.

The good news is, that after Atchison and Kim, the Giants' bullpen tightened up and did not allow another run. Jonathan Sanchez, came in to relieve Kim and required exactly 1 pitch to end the inning. Sanchez went on to pitch another 2 scoreless innings, allowing double and a walk. He faced only 1 batter over the minimum due to an unassisted line drive DP to DeLaRosa at SS. Sanchez' last inning was his best as he got 3 can-of-corn flyball outs (1 to each fielder) on 10 pitches. He threw a total of only 23 pitches in his 2.1 innings.
If Atchison politely said "no thank you" .....Sun-Woo Kim SCREAMED......"Don't you dare give me that roster spot!" Kim didn't even make it out of his inning, giving up 8 earned runs on 2 walks, 2 singles, 4 doubles and a HR, while only getting 2 outs in the inning. He needed 34 pitches to get his 2 outs.

In all fairness to Kim, he was not helped by his defense. With 3 runs in, 1 out and the infield playing in, Kim induced a double play ball to Frandsen at 2B. The ball might have taken a little bad hop, but went over Frandsen's glove for a basehit. Later in the inning, with 4 runs in, Linden lost a Brian Giles flyball in the sun and it dropped right at his feet for a 2 RBI double. That's the 2nd, flyball lost by Linden in 2 days. The Arizona sun is nasty.

Still, even with the questionable defense.....Kim was hit hard. He had very few, if any, swing-throughs. Out of his 34 pitches, Kim only threw 10 strikes that didn't result in a basehit. Not a good outing.

Today was audition day for Scott Atchison and Sun-Woo Kim. Atchison started the game so Bochy could get a look at the bullpen, while the originally scheduled starter, Russ Ortiz, pitched in a Minor League game. Atchison politely said.....I don't think I want Hennessey's Long relief job.

Scott pitched 2 innings, giving up 2 runs on 2 hits and a walk. He had a good first inning, allowing only 1 baserunner on Tomas DeLaRosa's error to the leadoff batter. The 2nd inning was a little rougher, as he allowed single, HR, walk to the first 3 batters before tightening up getting the next 3 batters on a strikeout, flyout and groundball to SS. Atchison had trouble finishing off batters. The single came on a 0-1 count, the HR on a 1-2 pitch, and the walk came in an AB that started out with a 0-2 count. He threw 39 pitches.....24 of them strikes. Atchison has a decent fastball, but his out pitch seems to be a breaking pitch of some sort. I would say slider.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Giants vs Cubs it was threatening rain again. I was feeling much better, but once again, I did not bring either scorebook or camera. The Giants lost 3-2, but the pitching was much better than we have seen in earlier games.

Barry Zito pitched 4 full innings, giving up 1 run on 2 hits (a HR and a single) and 1 walk. Zito pitched very well, but I was surprised to see him leave the game after 4 innings. I read where he pitched on only 3 days rest.........but I was still surprised to see him leave the game anyway. I did not have a pitch count, but I would be surprised if Zito threw more than 50 pitches. His curveball was looking good again today. The one run he did give up was on a lead off HR by Aramis Ramirez in the 2nd.

Zito was followed by David Cortes. Cortes pitched 2 innings with 1 run scored on 3 hits and a walk. Scott Munter pitched the 7th and did a very good job. Although Munter gave up 2 hits, one of them was a groundball single and 2 of his three outs were on groundballs. As I have said many times, Munter's success is 100% due to his sinker. So.......Munter had a good day because the sinker was working. Brian Wilson pitched the 8th and was victimized by the sun. He gave up 2 hits and an earned run, but the earned run was scored because Todd Linden lost a Derrick Lee flyball in the sun for a double. As I have said before......early in the game, left field is a nightmare for balls hit high into the sun. Later in the game, the sun field moves to CF. Armando Benitez, finished the game off with another perfect 9th. Mando gave up no hits and no runs while striking out one.

Offensively, again the Giants didn't have much. Once again they started only 4 starters, with Dave Roberts, Bengie Molina, Rich Aurilia and Ray Durham taking the day off for mostly minor injury reasons. Ryan Klesko, Todd Linden (again) and Mark Sweeney were the only Giants to have multiple hit days. Sweeney had, easily, his best day of the spring. He came in as a pinch hitter for Cortes in the bottom of the 6th and went 2 for 2 with a double, a HR, a run scored and 2 RBI.

Today's game was a very quick (2 hrs - 15 minutes) game. The pitching was good....but the offense did not do as well against the Cubs pitchers (Wade Miller, Angel Guzman and Will Ohman) as I would have hoped. Once again the Giants were not able to play their starters. I really hope this does not become the pattern for the season......but with Roberts' sternum, Aurilia's groin and Durham's hamstring.....the Giants just weren't able to field their best team.

Tomorrow will be the Giants vs. the Padres at Peoria. According to the Press Notes, Scott Atchison will get a chance as the starter in the game. Atchison has pitched very well this spring with a 2.89 ERA so far. I am sure that the Giants are giving him the chance to prove he is worth an opening day position. Since no other Giants' reliever has stepped up.......why not Atchison? I would never have thought this in early February .....but with the way the Giants relievers have performed.......Atchison, Sun-Woo Kim and Cortes still have a chance to make this team.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sick Day

After sitting in the rain yesterday, I feel like crud today. So I did not go to the Giants/Cubs game. Sounds like Lowry is falling completely apart in the second inning. 4-1 already with Cubs still threatening. Noah is not looking good this spring.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Giants vs Diamondbacks

Shitty day....shitty game. The Giants lost 6-0 in a 7 inning rain shortened game. It rained off and on for most of the game. The rain decided to seriously come down in the 6th and did not stop until the game was called after 7. As I write this in my condo........the rain still hasn't stopped.

Matt Morris easily had his best game of the spring. He gave up 5 runs on 5 hits.....but all 5 runs were unearned. After throwing 4 scoreless, 1 hit innings, Matt got the first batter of the 5th inning to groundout harmlessly to 1B. Unfortunately, Mark Sweeney booted the ball and the leadoff batter was on base. This actually should have been Sweeney's 2nd error of the game, but on an almost identical play earlier in the game, Kevin Frandsen refused to give up on the play and fielded the ball after it deflected off of Sweeney. Morris also did not give up on the play and Frandsen threw the runner out 4-1. The second batter of the inning grounded the ball to Omar Vizquel's left, and the ball deflected off of a diving Vizquel's glove for a basehit. I really couldn't disagree with the call of a basehit.......but I have seen Omar make that play and turn a DP MANY times. Omar just seems to be a step short this spring. So the D-Backs had 2 men on with no one out.....when they definately should have had 1 out and if Omar makes a play he makes with frequency, should have had 2 out with bases empty. After that the flood gates opened, and 5 runs scored. However, if Sweeney doesn't make the error, no one scores. If Omar makes his isn't even close. In another good sign.......Morris returned to pitch a scoreless 6th. Morris only gave up 1 walk and got 4 strikeouts over his 6 innings. Just 3 days ago the press was lamenting the fact that not a single Giants' starter had gone 5 innings this spring. Since then Ortiz went 6, followed, by Cain with 5.2, and today Morris with another 6 inning game. As a fan I am, by definition, schizophrenic........but after the last 3 days........I feel much better about the rotation.

Benitez threw the 7th inning and gave up an earned run on 3 hits........all of them singles. I am willing to give Benitez a pass on this game. It rained relatively hard during his entire inning and the fielders were all a step behind by this time in the game. I am actually very surprised that Bochy brought Benitez out to pitch the 7th. You would think with his injury history the past couple of years that Bochy would have said "sorry big guy....we'll catch you tomorrow". The D-backs only had 1 extra-base hit......a double by Dave Krynzel off of Morris in the ill fated 5th.

Offensively the Giants couldn't do much off of Brandon Webb. Winn, Bonds, Feliz, Sweeney , Molina and Frandsen all had 1 hit......all of them going 1 for 3 except Frandsen who was 1 for 2. Feliz and Molina's hits were doubles. The Giants just couldn't string together enough hits to score a run. It didn't help that the D-Backs committed no errors and Webb issued no walks.

The Giants only had 2 less hits than the D-Backs....and had more extra-base hits (2 doubles to 1).....but still lost 6-0. That's what a strategically placed error will do for you. With a clean 5th inning...Matt Morris actually out pitched Brandon Webb. Given Morris' performance last year and his performance this spring.........that is a VERY good sign. Mark Sweeney is now hitting .156 for the spring. He has not swung the bat well since the first time I saw him in batting practice. It is starting to look more likely that Ellison (or less likely Niekro) might replace him on the 25 man roster. The next 10 days should be very interesting.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, is the Giants at the Cubs in Mesa. The Press Notes say it will be Noah Lowry on the hill for the Giants. Noah needs a good outing. It is getting awful close to opening day. Hopefully the rain won't be a factor and the Giants bullpen will get a full day's work in. Also....if the rain stays away.....maybe I can take a few more photos.

Giants at White Sox 3-21-07

Long day yesterday. I didn't take my camera or scorebook, but here are a few quick inpressions of the game.

First, it was a VERY windy and cloudy day in Tucson. It looked like it was going to rain any minute, but it never did. The wind was blowing infield dirt into my eyes all day. I thought that it would be a pitcher's day, with the batters having a hard time picking up the flight of the ball. Shows you what I know, as the White Sox beat the Giants 10-9.

Matt Cain started the game and had his best outing of the spring. He lasted 5.2 innings and although he gave up 3 earned runs, he pitched even better than his line would suggest. He was throwing strikes, hitting the corners and generally looking overpowering. At least 2 of the 6 hits he gave up were on broken bats, including 2 of the 3 RBIs. He must have broken 4 or 5 bats on the day. I don't have pitch count info, but he struckout 6 and walked only 1. Another thing that plagued Matt (and plagued every other pitcher too) was the fact that there was a strong wind, mostly blowing in all day. Because of the wind, the Giants' outfielders were playing VERY conservatively. There must have been 3 or 4 hits on the day that I thought were easy flyball outs, but dropped in front of the outfielders.

The relief pitching was abysmal, with the exception of Sun-Woo Kim. Kevin Correia was particularly bad. He gave up 5 earned runs in 1 inning on only 2 hits. Kevin walked 3 and gave up a big 3-2 grand slam to Tadahito Iguchi with 2 outs. What was so upsetting about Correia's performance is that he was 1-2 or 2-2 to practically every batter in the inning. He just couldn't put them away. Again, I don't have pitch counts, but Correia must have thrown close to 30 pitches. Judging by Bruce Botchy's body language.....Correia may not make the team. Bochy was getting redder and redder as Correia kept walking batters with a 5 run lead. He was REALLY not a happy man when he took Correia out.

Kim relieved Correia with 1 out in the 7th and pitched a good 1.1 innings. He allowed only 1 hit. Kim has been pitching well all spring. The press accounts this morning say that Kim is being tried in short relief because of the ineffectiveness of the Giants bullpen.....a subject that was suggested here about a week and a half ago. Brian Wilson gave up a 1 run lead in the 9th for a blown save. His only real mistake was giving up a leadoff walk to Jim Thome in the 9th. A poor play, where Ellison let a flyball drop in front of him and an error on a sure DP by Tomas DeLaRosa allowed 2 runs to score. If the plays are made in the 9th.......Wilson escapes with the save.

The Giants brought only 4 starting position players to Tucson. By the 7th inning, the only sure 25 man roster types on the field for the Giants were Linden, Alfonzo and Frandsen. The White Sox, by contrast, played mostly regulars and were still playing Podsednik, Thome, Cintron and Hall in the 9th inning. The Giants hit very well, with Durham, Klesko, Linden and Alfonzo all having a multiple hit game. The Giants got a walk and a basehit to lead off the game but couldn't score when Rich Aurilia almost hit into a 5-4-3 triple play. As it was, it was a double play.......and Aurilia pulled a groin beating out the triple play. Aurilia was not limping when he left the game....but a groin injury is not quick to heal. And so the injury parade begins.

Today the Giants face the Diamondbacks at Scottsdale Stadium. It has been showering all morning and there is a chance of thunder showers all day long. I won't bring my scorepad to a wet game and depending on how the sky looks, I might leave my camera in the car too. Hopefully, the showers will go away before game time and they will get the game in.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Giants at Rangers

The Giants faced the Rangers at Surprise today, and lost 3-4. The Giants started only 4 starters. There were very few replacements in the game. Thomas DeLaRosa replaced Vizquel, Clay Timpner replaced Klesko and Lance Niekro replaced Bonds. Of the 3 replacements....only Niekro got even a single AB. This is new for the Giants. Under both Baker and Alou.....the Giants used VERY liberal replacement players all spring long.

Through the 8th inning, the Giants had hit 8 HRs in their last 17 innings in Surprise.......unfortunately, all 8 of them were solo shots. The Giants waited until the 9th inning before they finally got a run that wasn't due to a solo HR.

The Giants outhit the Rangers 11-7, but failure to take advantage of baserunners killed them. In the 2nd inning Molina was thrown out trying to score from 2B on a 2 out single. In the 3rd inning, Ellison got on base on a leadoff single, but was thrown out trying to steal. In the 4th, Molina had a 1 out single, Sweeney walked, but then Todd Linden hit into a 4-6-3 DP. In the 7th, Frandsen had a 1 out single followed by a walk to Ellison. Then Frandsen was caught stealing and Vizquel flied out to end the inning. In the 9th, the Giants had a 1 out double by Sweeney, followed by a RBI single by Linden. Linden stole 2B, but strikeouts by Frandsen and Ellison ended the game. The Giants just couldn't keep baserunners on base and just couldn't get the key basehit.

I pretty much covered the pitching. Ortiz was great, though victimized by the wind. Sanchez was OK and Kline continues to worry me. It was just good to see a Giants' pitcher go 6 full innings on March 20th. I have always thought the Giants pitchers weren't quite ready for the start of the season, since under both Baker and Alou.......Giants' pitchers didn't go more than 5 even in their last spring appearance.

Tomorrow is the Giants at the White Sox in Tucson. We will be going with a couple of my wife's clients and will be going out to dinner afterward. With the 2 hr trip back to dinner....I doubt I will be posting tomorrow, unless it is the following morning. I doubt many Giants regulars will go to Tucson tomorrow. Hopefully, Bochy will play the regulars for the last week or so. Maybe then we can get a read on this team.

Surprise Stadium is near Luke Airforce Base. Here I caught 4 F16's (I think) flying in formation over the stadium. This has nothing to do with the game........I just liked the photo.

Barry Bonds was the DH again today. He went 1 for 3 with a flyout to CF, a groundout to 1B and a solo HR. His HR bounced off the facing of the private party area in RF, behind the bullpens. Again..........out in any park you can think of. This is his HR swing. I might be wrong.....but it seems to me that he has a little more uppercut in his swing this spring.

Jason Ellison started and batted 9th. He went 1 for 3 with a walk. Unfortunately, when he got a single to lead off the 3rd inning, he was caught stealing almost immediately. For all his speed, Jason has really never learned to steal a base.

Pedro Feliz started at 3B and for some reason batted cleanup. He did exactly what you would expect of him in a vital position like cleanup.......0 for 4 with a strikeout, a flyball to RF, a groundout to 3B and a popup to RF. Not a single hard hit ball.

Kevin Frandsen got the start at 2B. He had one of his better offensive days, going 3 for 4 with 2 singles and a HR. Unfortunately, his HR was a solo job.. He was caught stealing in the 7th and left on base in the 2nd. He struck out in the 9th, in a 3-4 game with a man on 2B and 1 out. Kevin's HR was pulled to the back of the LF bullpen and was not affected by the wind.

Ryan Klesko go the start in LF as Bonds was the DH. Klesko batted 2nd.......and I think that was a mistake. He had a couple of singles in his 1st 2 ABs, but finished with a groundout and a strikeout. No one hit while he was on base, so he didn't figure at all in the scoring.

Todd Linden got the start and played the entire game, batting 7th. Todd was 1 for 4 with an RBI single in the 9th. He was less than inspiring with a called 3rd strike, 2 groundballs to of them a DP.

Recognize this guy? Kenney Lofton is now with the Rangers. He went 1 for 3......but even a weak armed Lofton had enough to throw Molina out at the plate.
Bengie Molina takes his lead off of 1B. Bengie had one of his better offensive games. He went 2 for 4 with a double, a single and a strikeout. Bengie really is a truck. With 2 out in the 2nd, Bengie was on 2B when Kevin Frandsen got a 2 out single to medium deep CF. Bengie took off on the crack of the bat. Tim Flannery waved him around 3B.....and he was thrown out, to end the inning, by 20 ft. Molina was not even at 3B when Lofton fielded the ball. When Kenny Lofton can throw you out by 20 ft at the are in trouble. Memo to Tim Flannery; Molina is a truck......even with 2 outs.....he needs a double to score from 2B. DON'T SEND HIM.

There was a Lance Niekro sighting today. He struck out in his only AB in the 8th.....but at least we saw him.

Mark Sweeney started at 1B and batted 6th today. He had probably his best day of the spring, going 1 for 3 with a double and a walk. He scored the Giants 3rd run of the game in the 9th inning. Whether the Giants intend to keep or trade Sweeney.....he needs to have more days like today to show his worth.

Omar Vizquel started at SS and led off for the Giants. He didn't help the cause much, going 0 for 4, with not even a hard hit out to show for the day.

Steve Kline had another ineffective outing. Scott Munter actually started the 8th inning, but after he got a 2 pitch groundout and a 6 pitch walk.....he was immediately replaced by Kline. Kline struck out the first batter he faced, but followed that up with back-to-back 2 out singles to allow a run to be charged to Munter. This run ended up being the winning margin of the game for the Rangers. Kline then struck out the next batter to end the inning.
Jonathan Sanchez pitched the 7th inning. He gave up only 1 hit, to go along with 2 groundouts and 1 strikeout. Unfortunately, the 1 hit was yet another solo HR, this one being Nelson Cruz' 2nd HR of the day. This HR was solidly hit and would have been out of any park. It was hit deep to dead LF.

The big news, to me, was Sanchez pitched only 1 inning. I never really believed that the Giants intended to use Sanchez as a reliever and the way they had been using him this spring, suggested he would begin the year as a starter in Fresno. The ineffectiveness of Taschner and Kline, along with the demotion of Pat Misch, added to the 1 inning appearance today, makes me think that the Giants are getting serious about testing Sanchez as a possible bullpen member to begin the year. After all, they have to find an efficient lefty somewhere (although I though Misch was doing pretty darn well).

Lest you think I was making up the wind comments when reviewing Russ Ortiz' performance. The photo on the left is of the wind strength and direction during Nelson Cruz' HR to RF. The photo on the right is of the wind strength and direction during Ian Kinsler's HR. The flag poles are located on top of the grass seating berm in right centerfield.
Russ Ortiz got the start today and did just a sterling job. Russ gave up 2 runs, both on solo HRs. Not to make excuses for Russ allowing 2 HRs, but neither HR would have been close to out at AT&T. Russ was a victim of the warm light Arizona air AND a strong wind that was blowing out to RF when Nelson Cruz hit his HR and was blowing out to CF when Ian Kinsler hit his out. Cruz' HR was into the RF bullpen by literally inches. Kinsler's HR made it out to dead CF by about 5 feet. I didn't think either ball had a chance to make it out...until I looked at the flags and saw them just continue to carry.

Other than the HRs, Ortiz continues to look totally different than he did even as a Giant. He is throwing less pitches, mixing the pitches up more and throwing A LOT more groundballs than he used to. Russ became the first Giant to go 6 full innings and, excluding the HRs, allowed only 1 single and 1 walk. Russ threw only 79 pitches through 6 and in his worst inning, threw only 20 pitches. Russ struck out 6 and more importantly, 51 of his 79 pitches were strikes. 12 of Ortiz' outs were by strikeout or groundball (one a DP). That leaves only 5 of 18 outs hit in the air.....and only 1 of those was hit particularly hard (a liner to CF where Todd Linden made a great diving catch).

I was never a huge Russ Ortiz fan. He threw WAY too many pitches, walked too many batters and gave up too many flyballs that turned to HRs. I know I am getting way too excited, but this is NOT the same Russ Ortiz I knew. Other than 1 outing this spring, he has had low pitch counts, has thrown more strikeouts and groundouts than flyballs and just looks more like a PITCHER and less like a brain dead heaver.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Giants vs Royals

Decent day at the ballpark today. The Giants won 6-5 in the 9th inning on a run scored by Fred Lewis that Lewis scored virtually on his own (with a little help from the Royals fielders).

Noah Lowry started and really did not look good at all. He threw a lot of balls and when he threw a strike....way too many of them got clobbered. I assume Lowry hit his pitch count after 3 2/3 innings. Osiris Matos came in with 2 out and 1 man on and got the only batter he saw to popup to Pedro Feliz on the 1st pitch.

Matos was followed by Armando Benitez, who continues to get my hopes up. Mando is not throwing as hard as I remember, but he seems to have a really good biting slider right now. Mando had a perfect inning with 2 strikeouts. No one even hit a loud foul off of him. I don't know.......I don't want to believe he is the best option for closer........but a couple more outings like this and I will have to become a believer. Benitez is using his legs better than he has since he has been a Giant. I see no sign of a limp or of him favoring his hamstring or knees.

Sun -Woo Kim followed Benitez and had yet another good spring outing. I am having a hard time getting a read on Kim. He seems to always give up 2 or 3 hard hit balls.....then makes a bunch of hitters look bad in the same game. Whether he succeeds or not seems to depend on how far those hard hit balls carry. I really don't know why that is. Today was no different as he went 2 innings, giving up 3 hits including a double, but striking out 4. All of the hits were stung pretty good.......but he looked like he totally outclassed the batters on the strikeouts. I really don't know what to make of him.

The 8th inning was pitched by Kevin Correia. Kevin wasn't at all overpowering, but he got the job done allowing only 1 single, no walks, no strikeouts. The way most of the bullpen has been performing, the Giants really need Correia to be able to perform as he did today. Just throw strikes.......just get outs. The 9th was thrown by the man who Righetti called "erratic". Brian Wilson was "erratic" once again today with a perfect inning, with 1 strikeout. I quit scorekeeping by the 9th inning, but if Wilson threw over 7 or 8 pitches, I would be shocked. Quick.....quick inning.

Offensively, the Giants didn't have much until the last half of the game. They were behind 5-0 after 3 1/2. They erased that margin with 2 in the 4th, 2 in the 6th and 1 each in the 7th and 9th. Fred Lewis pretty much stole the game with his hustle and heads up play. Fred is question about it......but the word "hustle" is usually not used in conjunction with his play. Today was an exception that I hope becomes a rule. Lewis got an infield single with 2 out in the 9th. He beat the throw cleanly, but the throw was slightly high and bounced of the firstbaseman's glove. The ball didn't get more than 20 feet away from 1B, but Fred never hesitated, he continued around 1B and was easily safe at 2B. I am not sure any other runner on the Giants could have accomplished that......especially not so easily. The next batter (Ellison I believe) hit what should have been the 3rd out of the inning and should have sent the game into the 10th inning. Once again the ball was off the mark at 1B and got away. Once again it wasn't all that far away from the firstbaseman......but Fred just kept on running and didn't stop until after he crossed home for the winning run. This is the type of play I have been waiting 3 years to see Fred make. Oh.....he also was 2 for 2 with a triple and an RBI. Considering he didn't enter the game until he pinch hit for Kim in the 7th......not a bad game for Lewis.

Ray Durham went 0 for 3 and left 4 runners on base. Ray is now batting under .200. Randy Winn was also 0 for 3. Todd Linden had a hit in 4 ABs. Jason Ellison had a hit in 2 ABs. Justin Knoedler was hitless in his only AB, but threw out Esteban German trying to steal 2B. Knoedler, really has a good arm and he put the throw right on the money, just to the right of the bag. I know I don't get a vote.......but add his arm and his age to his .529 spring batting average....and I am starting to like Knoedler instead of Alfonzo as the backup.

Like I said........decent day at the park. Lowry's performance kind of puts a damper on it. I like winning as much as the next guy........but Spring Training results mean nothing. Lowry's performance means a whole lot. As a Giants' fan.....I am always worrying about something. I'm going to have to add Noah Lowry to that list.

The Giants have their only day off of the spring tomorrow. My wife gets back in town and we are going to do our once a year Don & Charlie's dinner tomorrow night. The dinners are so-so and way overpriced......but you gotta go once a year just for the memorabilia fix.

Rich Aurilia had a decent day, going 1 for 3 with a single and a walk. Richie didn't figure in any of the scoring. He batted 3rd today in place of Bonds.

Bengie Molina continues to struggle with his hitting. After another 0 for 3 today, he is hitting in the .150's. He has thrown out 3 baserunners and has looked good behind the plate.

Dave Roberts has been pretty cold this spring. Today however he went 1 for 2 with double, a walk, a strikeout and a run scored. Roberts hit the double leading off the game, for what was a promising start. Unfortunately, Vizquel lined out to 2B, Aurilia grounded out to 3B and Durham grounded out to SS, leaving Roberts right where he began the inning.....standing on 2B.

Omar Vizquel had yet another great day today. Like Feliz, Omar started out slowly and is now over .350 after a 2 for 3 day with a double, a triple, a couple of runs and an RBI. The triple was hit very hard to the RCF gap. Omar showed that he still has speed to burn and made it into 3B easily.

Pedro Feliz had another good day. After hitting jack in the first week or more of the spring, suddenly his average is up over .360. Today he went 3 for 3 with a double, a HR, 3 RBI and a run scored. Pedro's HR was a hard hit shot, the opposite way to RF. I had quit scorekeeping by then......but I believe his double was also an opposite field job. Pedro has always hit better when he goes to RF........maybe he has finally learned that. OK...I don't really believe that......but it sounded good.