Tuesday was a good day in the desert. It doesn’t matter that it’s just spring training. Any day the Giants beat the Dodgers is a good day.
And it was a good day for Barry Zito, despite what many skeptical Giants fans might think.
Fans may frown at Zito’s line on Tuesday: two runs on four hits in two-plus innings. But the bigger numbers are 28 strikes in 35 pitches.
“He was right around the (strike) zone, and that’s what he has to do — be aggressive early in the count,” catcher Eli Whiteside said.
The Dodgers did not hit the ball out of the infield in the first inning, which included an infield single and two strikeouts to end the inning. Andre Ethier hit a home run to open the second. There was also a walk, single, sacrifice and run-scoring groundout in the second.
Zito was clocked at pitching 81-83 mph, which surprised both Zito and Whiteside. Zito has been working with a new windup design to give his fastball more life. The pitcher told reporters he had been clocked throwing in the upper 80s in January.
However, the scouts’ radar guns were subject to question. They clocked hard-throwing Heath Hembree at 91-93 in the ninth, when Hembree has been clocked at near triple digits this spring.
As Giants fans are aware, bad starts usually develop in two ways for Zito. One comes when he can’t find the strike zone and big innings are fueled by walks. The other comes when he’s too much in the strike zone and gets lit up.
So for Zito to be in the strike zone and to get people out is a good early sign.
“I thought Barry looked great; Terrific job,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He should feel good about that outing.”
- Melky Cabrera went 2 for 4 with two solo home runs, one from the right side and one from the left side. “I don’t care if it’s Spring Training. That’s impressive,” Bochy said. Cabrera is hitting .455
- Brett Pill, fighting for a job at first base, kept swinging a hot bat, going 2 for 4 with a two-run home run. He’s hitting. 462.
- A couple of player who need to show they can hit in the bigs continue to hit well. Emmanuel Burris went 2 for 4 with two runs. He’s hitting .444. And SS Brandon Crawford went 1 for 2 with a walk. He’s hitting .571.
- Nate Schierholtz went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a stolen base, a part of his game he’s looking to improve upon this spring.
- Two key prospects got into the game. OF Gary Brown went 1 for 2, but was erased trying to steal second. 2B Joe Panik went 2 for 2 with a triple.
Tim Lincecum will make his second spring start when the Giants face the Rockies in Scottsdale at 12:05 p.m. PDT.
It’s the mantra: Win series at home, split on the road.
The Giants failed to earn the latter half of that mantra in their season-opening road trip. But after rallying for consecutive wins over the Dodgers Tuesday and Wednesday, the Giants finished a 4-2 home stand to even their season record to 6-6.
The home stand was like a mirrored opposite to the road trip.
In the six-game road trip, the Giants won two games by an average of 7 runs and lost four games by an average of 1.5 runs.
In the six-game homestand, the Giants won four games by an average of 1 run (yeah, four one-run wins) and lost two games by an average of 5 runs.
Now the Giants head back onto the road with another six-game trip, this time to Arizona and Colorado.
And hopefully, they’ll get healthy soon.
Mike Fontenot was a late insert into Wednesday when Freddy Sanchez was given a day off to rest a sore shoulder and Mark DeRosa had his wrist flare up in batting practice.
Neither injury was considered serious.
But Fontenot responded with a run-scoring double and a go-ahead home run.
Andres Torres took batting practice prior to Wednesday’s game and was to visit the doctor afterward. The Giants said they should have an idea of whether Torres can return to the lineup or head to the DL on Friday. It’s possible Torres could be back in the lineup Saturday in Arizona.
Cody Ross will travel with the Giants to Arizona and play some extended spring training games in Scottsdale over the weekend. Bruce Bochy said the outfielder could be activated by the time the Giants return home to play the Braves on April 22.
We’ve also seen video of Brandon Belt taking fly balls in the outfield. We could see Belt playing right field and Aubrey Huff returning to first base by this week.
We’re not sure how we feel about this. Belt hasn’t played the outfield since high school, but that’s not our concern. He’s an athletic kid, he’s got a great arm (he’s a former pitcher) and he can run. He’ll certainly cover more ground in the outfield than Huff, and we doubt the can look as lost on balls hit in front or over his head as Huff has.
But here’s the question: Will the runs Belt will save in the outfield offset the runs he has saved at first base.
Every time we’ve seen Huff stumble around in the outfield, we’re reminded of a dozen times that Belt has dug out low throws in the dirt from Tejada or Sandoval like they were nothing.
Would Huff have as much ease on those plays as Huff?
Well, that felt good.
After two frustrating losses to the Dodgers, the Giants finally broke into the win column in 2011 with a 10-0 win on Saturday.
Apparently, the Giants read MoreSplashHits most recent post in which we detailed how the Giants have struggled to score runs without hitting a home run going all the way back to the World Series.
Well, on Saturday, the Giants scored 10 runs and nine of those runs scored without a home run.
The Giants drew walks, slapped hits, got runners over and got them in.
If there’s anything that we can be critical about the Giants on Saturday, it’s that they scored 10 runs when they only needed one.
Too bad we can’t get a little run equity.
The Giants only needed one run because Matt Cain was again brilliant, shutting out the Dodgers over six stellar innings. Cain could have gone farther, having throw 87 pitches through six innings. But with the Giants up 8-0, there was no point.
Freddy Sanchez was the star of the game. Hmm, somewhere I read about how Sanchez was swinging the bat better than any Giant in the early going. Can anyone remember where I read that?
Anyway, Sanchez went 3 for 4 with walk, double and the Giants’ lone home run. He also scored two runs and drove in three.
Miguel Tejada, starting in the leadoff spot for the first time in 12 years, went 2 for 5 with two runs and two RBI.
Mark DeRosa, making his first start of the year, went 2 for 5 with two runs, two RBI and a double.
Even Aaron Rowand had a solid game, going 2 for 5.
It was a great day all around, and Bruce Bochy was able to get all 13 position players on the roster into the game and at least one at-bat.
Now, the Giants look to get the split on Sunday night. Remember, the mantra: “Win series at home; play .500 on the road.” A 2-2 open series in L.A. would be a good series.
The Giants send Barry Zito to the mound, just a few days after he was involved in a late-night auto accident.
Just got a peek at the Giants’ lineup for Saturday. Not exactly the kind of lineup that instills confidence for a team struggling to swing the bats.
But MoreSplashHits sort of saw this coming.
Managers often like to get their reserves into the starting lineup during the first week of the season.
So as Mark DeRosa and Aaron Rowand are right-handed batters, it figures Bochy would want to start them against at lefty. And as the Dodgers’ Ted Lilly is the only lefty the Giants will face over the next few days, we sort of saw this coming.
Also, Andres Torres and Pablo Sandoval are weaker hitters from the right side than the left.
So here’s the the lineup for today.
SS Miguel Tejada (R)
2B Freddy Sanchez (R)
RF Aubrey Huff (L)
C Buster Posey (R)
OF Pat Burrell (R)
3B Mark DeRosa (R)
1B Brandon Belt (L)
CF Aaron Rowand (R)
SP Matt Cain (R)
Doesn’t instill a lot of confidence, does it?
And what’s up with Tejada at the leadoff spot? I suppose the silver lining here is that Bruce Bochy has finally realized that Aaron Rowand in NOT a leadoff hitter. And if Rowand is going to be in the starting lineup, this is exactly where he should be in the lineup.
But Tejada leading off? Yeah, I don’t get that either.
If MoreSplashHits were making out the lineup, we’d make three simple adjustments.
Sanchez batting leadoff. He’s been swinging the bat as well as any Giant in the early going, so have him in the No. 1 spot.
DeRosa would then follow at No. 2. That’s where he often resided in the lineup last season before he went on the DL.
Then Tejada in his normal spot in the No. 6 spot.
But no one asked MoreSplashHits. Let’s hope that’s Bochy’s only mistake today.
MoreSplashHits is still trying to figure out what’s worse.
The fact the Giants still don’t have their first win of the 2011 season.
That both losses to open the season were to the hated Dodgers.
That they’ve wasted two solid pitching effort.
That the Giants aren’t hitting well.
That despite all that, the Giants still could have won if they had simply played with more focus on defense.
For the second straight night, the Giants basically gave a victory to the Dodgers, losing 4-3 Friday night.
If there’s good news, it was the performance of rookie Brandon Belt. Belt hammered a 2-0 pitch from Chad Billingsley in the fourth over the center-field fence for his first career home run, a three-run shot.
But the rest of the night, the Giants failed to deliver a clutch hit. Buster Posey struck out in the seventh with a bases loaded.
Here’s an interesting stat to note. Dating back to the World Series, 12 of the last 13 runs the Giants have scored have come via the home run.
There was Belt’s 3-run blast Friday, Pat Burrell’s solo shot Thursday, Edgar Renteria’s three-run homer in Game 5 of the World Series, Buster Posey’s solo shot and Aubrey Huff’s two-run shot in Game 4 of the Series and solo home runs by Cody Ross and Andres Torres in Game 3.
The only non-homer produced run in that stretch was an RBI double by Torres in Game 4.
But unlike in the Fall Classic, the Giants aren’t doing the little things to win so far in 2011.
On Friday night, the Giants were up 3-1 in the sixth when Matt Kemp led off with a single. Kemp then went from first to third on a slow chopper by Marcus Thames.
Sandoval charged the ball and never looked over to Kemp before throwing Thames out at first. Kemp never stopped to go from first to third.
The mental lapse came back to get the Giants when Kemp scored on a sacrifice fly by James Loney.
After Rod Barajas singled to left, Aaron Miles rolled a swinging bunt to Sandoval at third. Sandoval charged, bare-handed the ball, then threw wide to first, allowing Barajas to advance to third and Miles go to second.
Instead of eating the ball, as he had no chance of getting Miles, Sandoval compounded the situation by throwing the ball away.
But it looked as if the Giants might escape the game when Hector Gimenez hit a weak bouncer back to Jonathan Sanchez. But the lefty took his eye off the ball, and dropped it, allowing Barajas to score the tying run.
Guillermo Mota relieved Sanchez and gave up a single to Rafael Furcal, scoring Miles with the go-ahead run.
So, some dumb luck (three balls that didn’t leave the infield grass), bad decisions and bad fielding left the Giants 0-2.
The Giants turn to Matt Cain to help stop the slide on Saturday afternoon. Let’s hope the Giants play some better defense behind the right-hander.
MoreSplashHits would like to send prayers for a speedy recovery to the San Francisco Giants fan who was hospitalized after being attacked by Dodger fans in the parking lot at Dodger Stadium Thursday night after the Dodgers’ 2-1 win over the Giants.
L.A. Police said a man was sent to the hospital with a serious head injury after being attacked by two unidentified men wearing Dodgers clothing.
The fan’s condition was said to be improving to serious, police said.
The unprovoked attack occurred when the two assailants approached three fans in Giants apparel.
Witnesses said the two men attacked the three fans, kicking and punching them and shouting expletives about the Giants as they delivered the blows.
The assailants fled the scene as people tried to assist the injured man. Police said the incident was captured on a security camera, and witnesses were able to provide descriptions of the assailants.
The report really hit home with MoreSplashHits, who was a Giants fan who grew up in the L.A. area. I attended many Dodgers-Giants games at Chavez Ravine, and had to endure many taunts from drunken Dodger fans when I was young. And that was in the late 1970s when the Giants were not very good.
In fact, it got so bad that I stopped wearing Giants clothing to the games until the mid 1980s, when the Giants fielded better teams and I was old enough to defend myself. When I was younger, I was always afraid of my dad getting into a fight with these drunken idiots who would lob curses at a 9-year-old kid.
But MoreSplashHits hopes Giants fans don’t get caught up in this story and assault any Dodgers fans when LA comes to San Francisco later this month.
And there’s one important aspect of this story that you need to remember: These two idiots were not true Dodger fans.
True Dodger fans would have left the premises by the eighth inning.
It was the top of the ninth and Pat Burrell was dug in against the Dodgers’ Jonathan Broxton.
Broxton deals, and Burrell rips a laser to left that sails over the fence for a solo home run.
In my living room, I just shake my head and throw up my hands in disgust.
My wife looks at me puzzled.
“That was a Giant who hit that home run, right? So why are you upset?”
I tried to explain it was because the Giants had just allowed the Dodgers to score a second run a half inning before. But she didn’t understand, and I was in no mood to explain it her.
But I’ll explain it now.
When Santiago Casilla entered the game in the bottom of the eighth and the Giants trailing 1-0, I said “OK, guys let’s keep it a one-run game because that chump Broxton is in the bullpen and we can get a run off that Bozo.”
OK, I actually didn’t say anything because there was no one in the room at the time and that would be weird. But I thought it, loudly.
Then Casilla walked Kemp, allowed him to steal second and then score on a double to James Loney. Casilla was able to get out of the inning with no further damage, even though it took him a gazillion pitches to do the job. But in the end, that one run was enough. The Dodgers beat the Giants 2-1 on opening day.
Tim Lincecum took the loss, but I’m pinning this one on Casilla.
Actually, there was plenty of blame to go around.
The Dodgers scored their first run in the sixth without the benefit of a hit.
Lincecum walked Kemp, but then got Loney to roll a grounder to short. Even though the ball was not sharply enough for a double play, Miguel Tejada hastily tried to turn one. His errant throw shot past Freddy Sanchez into right field, putting runners on the corners.
After Lincecum hit Juan Uribe with a pitch (I had some mixed feelings there about that), Buster Posey tried to catch Kemp napping off of third base. But his throw was behind Kemp, allowing him to score.
The errors were not a byproduct of a lack of range or ability, but a result of the Giants trying to do too much. Those errors were as much mental errors as physical ones.
And then the offense struggled to mount much of a threat against the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw.
Ah well. A 2-1 loss. It’s not like Giants fans are not used to that.
A friend of mine once said the problem with baseball is that the season is too long and there are too many games. So many games, that a single result is not all that important.
But I feel that’s what makes baseball great.
A win can put a smile on your face for 24 hours. But even after a loss, you know that tomorrow can bring renewed hope.
So we’ll go with that, and try not to lament the fact that the Giants’ aspirations of becoming the first team in MLB history to go 162-0 have gone up in smoke. Guess, it’s something to aim for next season.