When I got my first glimpse of the Giants 9-8 win last night vs. Arizona, I was little peeved.
You see, it was already the bottom of the 8th inning, and the Giants were up 8-7. Not only had I missed most of the game, but the Dark Side of the Force (a.k.a. my natural cynicism and sarcasm) told me that I was probably just in time to see the Diamondbacks tie the game.
Heh. I was right about that, but the Giants and D-Backs fit a lot of fantastic baseball around that tie (in addition to the aforementioned nail-biting). Points of late-game interest, starting with the bottom of the 9th:
- Luis Gonzales. Boy, I knew Jim Brower was in trouble against Gonzo in the 9th when the count ran full, but I was hoping he wouldn't catch too much plate with his payoff pitch. Walking Gonzo was out of the question as there were no outs, and lumberjacks Troy Glaus and Shawn Green were due up. While it's easy to think of the home run ball when dealing with the heart of the lineup, it's more realistic to think double -- and a double with a man on first is asking for a tie game. So, Brower comes plateward, and...catches too much plate. SMACK! Game tied. The funniest thing was that the tying home run didn't discomfit me too much. I knew if Brower made a mistake to Gonzo in that situation it would spell trouble, and my expectations were met. Kudos to Gonzales; he really laid into that one.
- I'm a stat-ish kind of guy. While I wouldn't consider myself a stat-head, I do have a tendency to look at the numbers first. That being said, numbers fly right out of the freaking window in tight games like these -- the mental and physical parts of the game takes over, and the why and how of a player's statline for the night takes place. All of this babbling is leading up to...
- Moises Alou went 2 for 5 with a double and a walk. The double...well, it was a thing of beauty. Brian Bruney had just pounded the outside part of the plate to right-handed batter Edgardo Alfonzo, but after getting a couple of calls on outside pitches to get to a two strike count, he went a little too wide on the next couple and ended up issuing a walk to Fonzie. What did M.Alou, right-handed batter, do after seeing this? Well, after seeing a couple of hard pitches on the outside in his at-bat, Moises promptly smoked one into the gap just out of the reach of the diving Shawn Green. Fonzie scored, and the Giants took a 1-run lead into the bottom of the 10th.
- Tyler Walker has the stuff to close games. That being said, Tyler Walker should not close games. I don't know what it is, but he can never seem to put it all together. That being said, with the bases loaded in the 10th after issuing a leadoff double, a walk, and then an intentional walk after a sacrifice bunt, he put it all together. Facing Glaus with the bases juiced and one out, Walker threw naught but mid-90's fastballs to Glaus, and got him swinging on three pitches. Then, he pounded Green inside with more mid 90's heat, mixing it up with one knee-buckling breaking ball (to Green's credit, he simply spit on the pitch like it was nothing). He ended up getting Green to fly out to shallow right-center to end the game. Some of you may have seen what scares me and entices me about Walker. He's got a closer's arsenal, but doesn't have tight control over it. Who knows? Perhaps Father Alou will see fit to have Ty close another game soon -- and take another year or two off of my life with anxiety.
As far as the rest of the game that I did not see, it's time to look at J.T. Snow. While last year's .958 OPS was great, I didn't reserve much hope that he could duplicate it given that J.T's 37 years old. Sure, he looked as good at the plate last year as he did in '97, his career year and first with the Giants, but again? Not likely.
Heh. Alright. This guy can still hit. Now running a svelte .354/.425/.462 line (with his power catching up -- his first 13 hits were all singles), Snow is productive, and will end up being an absolute steal for 2 million if he can keep this up. I, for one, am no longer doubting that he can.
Isn't it interesting the the Giants have put together this 6-game winning streaks while having two of those games starting with poor outings by Jason Schmidt? Of course, it's not good to see Schmitty struggle, but it's good to see the Giants finding a way to win without him having to throw 130 pitches and shut the opposition down.
Perhaps the rumours (uh, started by me) of the Giants offensive demise were premature. While five of their 25 games being played against the Rockies do skew things a bit, they no longer should be a point of contention. It could be that with a few new faces in the lineup and some dude named Bonds not being there, that it took the hitters some time to get into a groove, but they now look to be a competent group.
Mike Matheny is still looking like a hitter. I still think he's a bit over his head numbers-wise, but I will no longer cringe when he's at the plate. Grand slams are always good ways to contribute to this.
Okay, that's enough for now. It looks like I may be able to squeeze a Wednesday entry in here before shutting down for about three or four days while I'm doing this move. I'm hoping that by Wednesday I'll be able to do a little baseball-related movie review for y'all -- if not, it'll be up after I'm settled into my new digs.
One more tiny note: while the entry before this said "Monday" on it, it was really a Sunday entry that I dated incorrectly. I also said the Giants were on a four-game winning streak when they were really on a five-game winning streak. If this caused anyone any confusion, then that's too bad for y'all-selves.