It would be an understatement to say that the Giants' 2010 season has had its ups and downs. The very first inning of Sunday's game served as a microcosm as to how this season has been for the Giants.
In that first inning, Barry Zito retired the side in order. The Giants came up in the bottom of the first where lead-off hitter Cody Ross hit a long drive to left field. As the ball was floating in the air on its way out of the park, the roar of the crowd of 41,113 at AT&T Park could be heard anticipating a home run that would jump-start the offense. However, the high would quickly turn into a low, as the Brewers' right fielder, Ryan Braun, leaped over the wall and snagged the would be home-run ball, quickly silencing the crowd.
Just as Giants fans were thinking "here we go again," the Giants showed their resiliency, as they have done all season after tough losses. Freddy Sanchez would then single, followed by a Aubrey Huff fly-out to center field. Buster Posey would then double to deep left-center, hitting it so hard that Sanchez had to stop at third. Pat Burrell came up, grineded out a walk with a little luck (the 2-2 pitch appeared to be a strike down the middle, but it was called a ball). With the suspense building up on whether or not the Giants would score, Jose Guillen stepped up and cranked a grand slam to deep left, giving the Giants a key 4-0 lead that they would not give back. Just as the Giants' fans were throwing their hands up in the air frustrated, they came right back and got some big runs.
This would be more than enough for Barry Zito, who hasn't picked up a win since July 16th. Coming into Sunday's game, Zito, who has received run support of 2 runs or less in 60% of his starts), was a career 109-6 when his team scored 4 runs or more for him. In the game, they scored 9 for him, upping that record to 110-6. He also threw out a quality start with his line looking like this: 6 innings, 3 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, and 3 strikeouts. This would be good enough for his elusive 9th win.
The Brewers' lefty, Chris Narveson, would not fare as well. After Guillen's grand slam, he would settle down and hold the Giants scoreless until the 5th inning. With the bases loaded and 2 out, Guillen came back up and ripped a single up the middle, scoring 2 and giving the Giants a 6-0 lead. Guillen would go on to have 6 RBIs in the game. All told, Narveson gave up 6 runs in 4 2/3 innings on 4 hits. He would end up taking the loss and falling to 11-8.
The Brewers would get on the board in the top of the 6th on a 2-run homer by Ryan Braun. The Giants, however, would bust the game wide open in the bottom of the 7th on a three-run home run by Pat Burrell, making the score 9-2. This score would hold up to be the final.
The Giants bullpen was once again fantastic, combining for 2 hits of shutout baseball.
With San Diego losing, the Giants leapfrogged them in the standings and rose to first place. Colorado lost as well, giving them a 1.5 game edge on the Rockies. With 12 games left, the Giants are heading toward the finish line, but to get there on top, the Giants must keep up the offensive production that they displayed during Sunday's game.
I am very worried about this road trip. The Cubs have been playing well, winning 6 straight, and the Rockies are very tough to beat at Coors Field. If they can come out 3-3 on this trip, I think they come out the division winner. Anything less, it could be trouble. A sweep at the hands of the Rockies would be disastrous and would surely be the knock-out punch for the Giants. Let's just hope they can hit.
As for the hitting, Jose Guillen needed this game. He was signed by Brian Sabean to be a big RBI producer and has had a slow start so far, a big reason why the offense has struggled. But tonight, his 6 RBIs might be just the thing to get him going. All we can do is wait and see how he does during the final two-weeks.
The catch by Ryan Braun in the first was one of the best catches I've ever seen. That ball had to be at least 5 feet over the fence, but Braun jumped up and brought it back. Duane Kuiper made a great point. If that ball is hit where the bleachers are, there's no chance Braun catches that ball. The fans there would have certainly reached for it and tore Braun apart. It's a shame too for Cody Ross who hit that ball. He needed that home run to properly acclimate himself to the Giants. Even though this guy hasn't shown it, Ross does have some serious pop, but is a streaky hitter. Even though he went 1 for 5 today, he can strike at any time as he did when he played the Giants as a Marlin (besides it's better than Rowand's standard 0 for 4).
This and That
I decided to change this segment of my blog up with a trivia question, rather than entertaining you with my random facts. Here it goes. Post a comment below on this blog entry if you know the answer.
When was the last time the Giants were swept by the Brewers?
A) 2007 B) 2008 C) 1992 D) 1996