Even before tonight's game started, the Giants and their fans could taste a tough loss. Jonathon Sanchez, who came into the game with a career record against the Dodgers of 0-5 with a 6.04 ERA in 13 appearances against the Dodgers, took on a pitcher who has been nails against the Giants in his career. The Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda was 2-1 against San Francisco with a 3.60 ERA in 6 career starts before tonight's game. The Dodgers clearly had the advantage tonight. Even Las Vegas had the Dodgers as heavy favorites. But, like so many times this year, the Giants beat the odds and once again stunned the crowd of 43,758 at Dodger Stadium with an impressive 3-0 victory.
Most of the game was a classic pitcher's duel. Jonathan Sanchez (10-8) began by striking out the first 3/4 hitters he faced. In all, this was arguably one of his best starts of the year (last week's was a gem as well). He went 7 innings, gave up 3 hits, 0 runs, 9 strikeouts, while only walking one (this is the key stat here). Kuroda allowed a run in the 2nd on a sac fly off the bat of Pablo Sandoval after Posey walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and was advanced to third on a Jose Guillen single up the middle. He would hold the Giants to the one run until the 7th inning where Juan Uribe carried on his heroics from last night. After a single off the bat of Pablo Sandoval (2 for 3), Uribe launched a long home run, his 19th, down the left field line that barely stayed fair a la Edgar Renteria (from last night). Uribe would later leave the game after appearing to foul a pitch off his left shin. Sergio Romo came into the eighth and pitched a perfect inning while striking out 2. Brian Wilson shut the door in the ninth 1-2-3 for his 40th save, including strikeouts to Ryan Theriot and Andre Ethier (who went 0-4 with 3 Ks).
With San Diego losing its 10th straight by a score of 4-2 against the Rockies, the Giants pulled to within 1 game of the Nation League West Lead. The Phillies were defeated by Milwaukee 5-2 allowing the Giants to pull within 2 of the Wild Card Lead. Atlanta, a team the Giants probably will battle in the wild card (I think the Phillies will leapfrog the Braves in the East), lost to the Marlins 7-6. They are really fading fast. Who would of thought just a week or two ago that the Giants would be closer to the division lead than the wild card? Also, don't count out the Rockies. They are now just 4.5 out of the division. Do they have another September run in them. Curious to know your thoughts. Please comment.
It seemed that tonight at the game, there was a strong showing of Giants fans down in Chavez Ravine. Clapping could be clearly heard on the ESPN telecast whenever the Giants would score or strikeout a Dodger hitter. It's about time Giants fans payback the Dodger fans by taking over their park, as too much Blue was starting to be seen at AT&T Park in recent years. If you were at the game or watched on TV, please comment about the amount of Giants fans down there and if they could be heard. I wish I could have been at UCLA for another month. Last night and tonight's game would have more than made up for all the heartbreaking losses I saw live at Dodger stadium.
For all you guys wondering about Juan Uribe, all indications say that he will be fine. According to Andrew Baggarly's tweet, after fouling a ball off his left shin, Uribe's shin was swollen but he said himself that he should be able to make the start tomorrow. I hope this is the case. His bat is really starting to come alive, and they need his clutch power bat down the stretch. 10 of his 19 home runs have either tied the game or gave the Giants the lead.
Why was Sanchez so successful? The answer was simple. He only gave up one walk and consistently pounded the zone with strike one. He started 18 of the 25 hitters he faced with first pitch strikes (one first pitch was put in play by Reed Johnson), which is a way higher percentage than his season-wide strike one frequency of 52%. If Sanchez can control his first class stuff, you get dominate outings like he showed tonight. To come up big in a rivalry game during the pennant race really showed me something about Sanchez. The Giants scored 3 runs for him, and he really made it stand. Even though the offense has been struggling, most of the starters have picked up the slack (Mr. Zito can perhaps learn a thing or too about being part of a team that picks each other up). This makes me think. If the playoffs started today, and the Giants were in, who would the starting four? Even though Zito has had playoff experience, and even beat Johan Santana in the 2006 ALDS, I would have to say they would have to go with their current best 4 pitchers. Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, and Bumgarner.
One more issue. What is going on with Jose Guillen? This guy was signed to produce much-needed power for this Giants offense. He is hitting .300 as a Giants, but the vast majority of those hits are either ground ball or low line drive singles. In order to justify his lack of speed out in right field, he needs to start hitting with more power or else the Giants would be much better off trotting Cody Ross out there. Could his hurt legs be affecting his hitting power? Also, tonight and last night, he for some reason is not able to turn around fastballs right down the middle at any speed. I will say this. He is starting to move a lot better in right field than the past couple weeks. But, he still is a professional hitter with a good track record, so I am willing to give him just a bit longer leash. I am curious to hear your comments on Guillen and whether or not he should be starting.
The Giants improved to 8-7 against the Dodgers this season. They are also 2-0 on Sunday Night baseball and 12-10 on Sundays. Brian Wilson is 2 saves away from a new career high in saves at 42. Mychael Urban is hosting a gathering for Giants fans traveling to San Diego, which gives me an extra incentive to go down there for a weekend game. Who knows, maybe I can tell him about this blog and have someone that matters read it. Gotta network in this business! Tomorrow, the Giants will take on the Arizona Diamondbacks. Madison Bumgarner (5-4, 3.76 ERA) will take on Ian Kennedy (9-9, 4.20 ERA). Vegas predicts the Giants to win tomorrow, so Giants fans will hope that this holds true. Game time is 1:10PM from the desert. Do not take this game lightly Giants fans. The hardest team to beat in September is often the teams who are out of it. For the Dbacks, this is their World Series. Have a good holiday everyone.