Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Live Blogging: 6/15 Giants vs. Twins

Can't do the whole game, but I'm home and I'm bored, so here I go. Updates after each half inning.

Top of the 1st:

  • Kyle Lohse just had the most obvious balk I've ever seen in my life. In the middle of his pitching motion, it looked like he just said, "Ah, forget it." Omar Vizquel to 2nd base after flaring a single into center.
  • My first viewing of a Todd Linden at-bat in 2005 was unsuccessful. Fly out to left.
  • J.T. Snow, as always, working the count. He kept fouling off offspeed stuff, and Lohse won't throw a fastball...oh, man, are the Giants snakebitten again? Snow takes a breaking ball right off the the front of his kneecap, but doesn't seem to be too hurt...he's staying in the game. You could hear the impact off of his bone. Ick. Makes me want to...go and make some chocolate milk.
  • Son Alou has been a pleasant surprise for me this year. I didn't really think he could put up a 900+ OPS, but he's done it thus far. 2-2 count, and Alou ends up out in front, but still puts the ball through the middle for a single, plating Vizquel. 1-0 Giants.
  • Quick out -- Ray Durham flies out to left. I'm much more confident with Durham batting left-handed than right-handed. He seems a lot more natural and easy at the plate.
  • Michael Tucker gets the start vs. the righty pitcher. Tucker's been good at drawing walks for a while...and with a 3-1 count, Tucker gets a fastball and torpedoes it into right off the glove of Jacque Jones, who almost made a specktackaler play. It plates Snow and Alou. Alou probably shouldn't have scored, but Michael Cuddyer didn't check on him so Alou kept running. Tucker smartly moves into 3rd base. 3-0 Giants.
  • Pedro Feliz, quickly singling into left on the first pitch to plate Tucker. 4-0 Giants.
  • Quickly again, Jason Ellison only takes two pitches to record a ground out to 1st. Inning over.

Bottom of the 1st:

  • Noah Lowry starts off looking good, putting away Shannon Stewart on three pitches. Fastball, changeup, fastball.
  • Gets ahead of Lew Ford quickly -- fastball for a called strike, changeup taken, then a changeup catching the outside corner. Down 2-1, Ford gets jammed and Lowry catches the soft liner.
  • Joe Mauer flies out harmlessly to left after three pitches, taking a big swing up 2-0 in the count. That's easily as impressive of an inning as Lowry's had all year. Looked in control and confident. Hm.

Top of the 2nd:

  • Mike Matheny looking absolutely horrible on a three pitch strikeout. That at-bat looked like a guy who's hitting .229.
  • Vizquel back up, and now I'm remembering we're in an American League park. Sucks here, because my suspicion is that Lowry is actually a better hitter than Matheny. Vizquel quickly goes down looking, and all of a sudden Lohse looks loose.
  • Starting off ahead of Linden with a quick strike and line shot foul, and Linden is down 0-2, which becomes 0-3 after Linden is caught looking at a fastball. Ouch. Starting 0-7 with 4 strikeouts is not the kind of start I envisioned for Linden. The kid's going to have to get a positive at-bat quickly, or all his Fresno hotness will matter not one whit. He'll forget how to hit in a hurry. Inning over.

Bottom of the 2nd:

  • Snow came out of the game, and the Giants insert Deivi Cruz at 3rd while moving Feliz to 1st. Torii Hunter with a flyout to Elly on the 1st pitch.
  • Lowry still looking good, getting Jacque Jones reaching for a groundout to Feliz at 1st.
  • Justin Morneau's got a good looking stride before he swings -- pretty short foot plant, not a lot of extraneous motion in his swing. Lowry gets Morneau on a lazy fly to right, with Morneau just getting a bit under it. Inning over.

Top of the 3rd:

  • Deivi Cruz is falling back to Earth fairly quickly -- he's another guy who could fetch something in a trade, but he'd have to get back to that 800+ OPS thing he had going a couple of weeks ago. Soft ground out to shortstop.
  • Moises quickly on with a solid single to left.
  • And Durham follows almost as quickly with a solid oppo single to left. Nice looking hit -- his eyes were locked in on the ball the whole way to the plate.
  • I'm thinking that Tucker is seeing the ball well out of Lohse's hand. Mauer lost a breaking ball in the dirt for a sec, and Old Man Alou took advantage by taking 3rd base. That play ends up being huge, as Tucker sends on to the track in center right afterward, scoring Alou. 5-0 Giants.
  • Feliz just can't wait to get back out to play some defense at 1st -- first pitch swinging, ground out to 3rd. Inning over.

Bottom of the 3rd, and I now have chocolate milk. I'm a happy man...

  • Lowry is really working the change, putting it in different spots, showing it in different counts, and not falling into a rhythm. Good stuff. Working the fastball in the same fashion, and the mix of the two is putting Twins hitters off-balance. Gets Cuddyer swinging.
  • Glen Williams takes a MIGHTY foul it back, thens fouls another to get down in the count 1-2. Lowry catches too much plate on the next pitch, though, and Williams jumps on it to single into left. Twins first hit of the game, and now we get to see if Lowry can keep his rhythm while in the stretch.
  • Juan Castro is next up, and Lowry still is keeping 'em off-balance. Castro seemed to be leaning out a bit to cover the outside part of the plate where Lowry had been doing some painting, and Lowry busts him high and inside for the strikeout. Nice, nice pitching.
  • Stewart comes up again, and Lowry gets him way out in front...but like Moises' first hit, Stewart stays with it nicely and bloops it into center.
  • Lowry is getting out ahead of a lot of hitters with first pitch looking strikes. Works Lew Ford outside/inside to get ahead 0-2 without a swing, leaving him with opportunities to work outside of the strike zone. Throws some high heat and gets Ford swinging, changing what Mike Krukow likes to call "sight lines". Two singles given up, but Lowry strikes out the side. Inning over.

Top of the 4th inning:

  • Elly up again, and out on a slow bouncing ball to Castro, who looks oh-so smooth in throwing Ellison out.
  • Matheny takes two pitches to ground out to Castro, who looks oh-so smooth again while ranging to his left. No, not as smooth as Omar, but still pretty smoooooooth.
  • Lohse is rolling along now. After 31 pitches in the 1st, he only takes 30 pitches to get through the next three innings. Vizquel out on a lazy fly to right-center. Inning over.

Bottom of the 4th...I may have to quit pretty soon to get dressed to go run a quick errand. Somehow, I doubt that happens to Duane Kuiper or Jon Miller.

  • Mr. Mauer works the left field line nicely for an oppo-field double.
  • Lowry gets ahead of Hunter 1-2...and leaves a changeup over the plate, which Hunter promptly lines out of the park to plate himself and Mauer. Can't catch that much plate with a few pitches to waste, to Hunter, who recognized the pitch quickly and stayed back long enough to put a nice swing on it. 5-2 Giants.
  • Lowry comes back quickly on Jones, throwing him a changup on a 3-2 count to record another strikeout.
  • Morneau up again -- I'm wondering if the Twins have made the adjustment to Lowry and have started looking for the changeup. Lowry's still got 'em reaching, though -- Morneau's lazy fly to Linden in right gets out #2. Kruk and Kuip observing that Linden does not seem to like this park -- he seems close to losing the ball in the white roof of the Metrodome on just about every opportunity.
  • I guess the Twins haven't quite made the adjustment. Cuddyer, up 3-1 in the count, gets a changeup about letter-high and pops out. Inning over.

Top of the 5th:

  • Linden leading off, and again, quickly down 0-2. It's becoming a bit of a theme with him in the early going. After taking a high fastball, he goes fishing after a pitch low and outside. Ouch. 0-8 with five strikeouts...not that I'm keeping track or anything.
  • Lohse very, very much in command. Deivi Cruz out on a slow grounder he almost managed to beat out.
  • Moises simply looking locked in, as another solid single has him 3-3 on the day. All three hits have been to left field.
  • Durham blows the feel-good-2-out-knock with a first-pitch-stupid-flyout to Hunter, who hardly had to move to use up one of the Giants 27 outs. Hardly seems fair. Inning over.

Bottom of the 5th:

  • Greg Williams up, then down swinging on four pitches. Lowry didn't take long to get settled back in after giving up the bomb to Hunter.
  • Lowry quickly up 0-2 again, but makes sure to not catch any plate in getting Castro to pop out in foul ground to Matheny.
  • Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good -- Stewart getting another excuse-me hit for the Twins, this one a broken bat, jam-shot double to left. If he scores, it's gonna piss Lowry off.
  • Well, I guess Lowry's pissed. Ford shoots one down the left field line and plates Stewart on the first pitch. You see how these things happen -- Lowry's pitching a great game, but a couple of flares and one large mistake to Torii Hunter has seen him give up three runs in 4.2 innings. Doesn't seem fair, really. 5-3 Giants.
  • Lowry still coming back and getting up in the count, but again is unlucky as Mauer fights off a pitch in his kitchen to get a hit. Jason Ellison with another one of his ill-advised attempts to be a hero and turns a single into a double with a silly dive for the ball. It could've been an inside-the-parker if Mauer hadn't fallen down rounding first base. 5-4 Giants.
  • Dangerous at-bat here against Hunter. Again up 1-2 in the count, he works way outside in two consective pitches to run it full. I got to think he needs to stay away...and he does, getting Hunter reaching for the punchout. Boy, Lowry's showing some mental toughness here after the way Minnesota put their four runs on the board. Easy to get frustrated, but he's stayed around the plate and effective. Inning over.

Top of the 6th:

  • If the Giants didn't think they'd need any more runs than those first five, they're mistaken. Tucker up, and down on a high strike in a 1-2 count.
  • Feliz looks so overmatched against breaking balls...doesn't he get tired of being out in front leaning on his front foot? Stay back, dude! Fly out to Hunter on a pitch that was in on his hands.
  • Nice spot for an Elly round-tripper, here. Two out home runs are...heh. Nevermind. Ellison showing how to change momentum with a nice, nice bunt that Williams could do nothing with.
  • Of course, Mathney is now up, and all Hope is dead. Ellison probably should be looking to steal, here, especially after how horrible Matheny looked on that slider. Matheny looks horrible on another slider, and Ellison does try to steal 2nd...but is thrown out fairly easily by Mauer after a well-nigh perfect throw. Only the 2nd time Elly's been caught this year. Inning over, and now Matheny will get the opportunity to look bad again leading off the next inning. Oh, joy.

Bottom of the 6th:

  • Lowry starts off the 6th with a four pitch walk to Jacque Jones. Yeah. If we can't read the writing on the wall here, weez be i-llit-rate. A double play would ease my fears, however.
  • Heh. Call me guru. 6-4-3 double play on the grounder from Morneau.
  • Another walk, and Scott Munter is now ready in the 'pen. Lowry is up over 100 pitches, and Father Alou makes the move. I'd have loved it if Felipe had allowed Lowry one more hitter to get out of the inning, but I can't really fault the change.
  • It takes Munter one pitch to get a ground out to Durham to end the inning. If I was Lowry, that'd put me in a surly mood. One pitch. Heh.

Top of the 7th...I'm going to be heading out any moment now...

  • Giants got to somehow knock Lohse out of the game. The Giants are so good at getting a few runs early, then doing absolutely nothing the rest of the game. Matheny is still up, and wonder of wonders is down 1-2 in the count, looking like he's some 34-year old catcher that can't hit (yeah, I know, don't remind me). End up hitting a one-hop piece of crap back to Lohse. Egads, man, at least get the ball to the outfield!
  • Vizquel with a liner through Lohse's yuck-a-muck for a single up the middle.
  • Linden's up, and gets to watch as Vizquel stupidly tries to steal before Lohse even starts his freaking motion towards home. At least Linden's got a batting average after a nice inside/out swing for a line drive single to left centerfield. This is where Deivi Cruz gets one of his clutch doubles to plate Linden. I can feel it, I'm tellin' ya!
  • I lied, Cruz ends up flying out high to straight away center. Inning over
  • Newsflash: Jose Lima, posterboy for the Law of Averages, is pitching a great game in Kansas City against the Dodgers. Only one run allowed through seven innings pitched.

Bottom of the 7th:

  • Twins with a leadoff single. Sorry, I'm a little behind.
  • Stewart with a nice game with a 2-3 going, but let's see how he does again Big Ol' Munter. Munter is like 6'5", but the way he pitches I'm surprised it gets over 90 mph. He looks like somebody's Dad throwing to the kids in the backyard...except that he's 6'5". Hm. Nice, professional turning of two by Vizquel and Durham again, 6-4-3 -- except that it really looks like Stewart beat out the throw to 1st, and it looks like it was a fairly easy call. At least, in slo-motion it does.
  • Stinky Lew Ford spits on a back door pitch almost on the outside corner for a 2-2 count, which becomes 3-2 on the next pitch. Wow. Durham with a nice, nice play on a slow, tweener groundball around the bag at 2nd base and barely gets Ford. Inning over.

Top of the 8th:

  • Moises got some mojo workin', lemme tell ya. Soft single into center, and he's a perfect 4-4. Can you say insurance run? I knew you could!
  • Ouch. One, or two good double plays deserves another. Durham grounds to short, Twinkies turn two. Looks like Ron Gardenhire might go to the 'pen with the lefty Tucker on deck.
  • Lima update: if you don't believe in God, believe now. Lima's gotten through 8 innings giving up only one run and one walk.
  • Tucker grounds out to 1st, and that's the inning. Scott Eyre will pitch the bottom of the 8th. Best man for the job.

Bottom of the 8th, or, in a game this tight...Crunch Time. Heck if I know what exactly is crunching late in close games, but nevertheless...Crunch Time.

  • Distractions...Eyre with the strikeout on...heck, I don't know. I got a phone call, man. Oh, it was Mauer.
  • Hunter with a fly out to Ellison in straight center.
  • Eyre overpowering Jones with the high heat. Easily the best reliever in the Giants 'pen. Inning over.

Top of the 9th:

  • This is why I have faith in Ellison -- he's always trying to make some sort of impact, and he does more often than not. Double down the line, and a day that seemed to start poorly for him ends up as a two-hit day.
  • Matheny. Again. Did I mention the law of averages? No more Lohse, and Matheny doubles down the left field line. Lovely, and it plates Ellison. 6-4 Giants.
  • Vizquel...pokes a ball out of the park, if that's possible. Omar's a strong little dude, but that was a weird way to hit a ball out. He looked to be on his toes a bit while turning -- one of those swings that ends up in a hard hit ball hit way foul nine out of 10 times. 8-4 Giants, and those insurance runs I asked for finally come through. Neat.
  • Deivi grounds out to 1st. Inning over.

Bottom of the 9th:

  • Tyler Walker on, in one of those bothersome non-save situations. Just sit 'em down, Tyler. I lost an out somewhere...if you find it, e-mail me with it, alright?
  • He gets a pop out on...Cuddyer, I believe. He got ahead of him, which is a good sign.
  • Walker gets ahead of Williams 0-2, another good sign. After a foul out of play, he gets him swinging for the last out of the inning. Inning over, game over.

All in all, a nice, professional-looking road win for the Giants. They didn't look like a team that had lost 15 of 17, but I've spoken of the Law of Averages a few times already, so there you go.

Winning is undoubtedly superior to losing.

Good night, folks!

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