20 July 2009

As the Worm Turns

Recapping the weekender in Pittsburgh...

Friday, July 17
Pirates 2, Giants 1 (14 innings)

WP: Meek (1-0); LP: Howry (0-5)
HR: PIT - G. Jones 2; SF - none

Oh, the pain of being Bob Howry. The offense goes 0-6 with RISP and fails to plate an earned run over 14 innings, but who gets all the blame from post-game callers and Saturday morning pundits on the 50,000-watt juggernaut? Even after this outing, Howry sports a 3.55 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, very respectable numbers for a reliever, especially one consigned to entering into losing efforts or extra-inning logjams such as this. But because he always seems to be the guy on the hill when the other team walks off (hence the 0-5 mark), he tends to take all the heat, even though he hardly deserves it. Don't forget that career minor-leaguer Garrett Jones — on whom the Giants had none book — also took Timmy(!) deep in the first. But Giants fans are likely more concerned with another road L than the symmetry of Jones' bookend dingers.

Quote of the Day
"You're not going to win games without a hit with runners in scoring position unless you hit the ball out of the ballpark." - Bochy
Saturday, July 18
Pirates 2, Giants 0
WP: Morton (2-2); LP: Zito (5-10); S: Capps (20)
HR: None

The Giants can brag about their two ten-game winners, but now they have ther first ten-game loser, and like Bob Howry, Barry Zito can make the argument that he deserves better. Sure, the guy earns $5K per pitch, but he's (finally) posting some pretty decent numbers in his third year with the Orange and Black. The former Trojan has been slipping of late, but this game was more reminiscent of his April and May performance than his June swoon, and despite the loss, it bodes well for a strong second half. He still gets the lowest run support in the majors — a paltry 1.68 per start.

Once again, the offense fizzled against an unimpressive pitcher. The good news is they only went 0-for-4 with RISP. The bad news is, they only had four at bats with RISP. Even more tragic, two of those at bats came in the ninth when they put the tying runs at second and third with only one out. But Travis "Hapa" Ishikawa struck out and first half hero Juan "The Dictator" Uribe bounced feebly into a force play. Just another dreadful day at PNC Park, where the Giants have dropped their last five games and nine of 11 going back to 2006.

Quote of the Day
"I definitely need to have a better plan at the plate." - Ishikawa
Sunday, July 19
Giants 4, Pirates 3
WP: Cain (11-2); LP: Duke (8-9); S: Wilson (24)
HR: PIT - Moss

Breakfast with the Giants began on a sombre note as Kruk and Kuip relayed the passing of Giants majority shareholder Sue Burns in the early morning hours Sunday. She had been diagnosed with late-stage cancer last week, and her sudden loss reverberated throughout the organization. Bochy told the team during BP. Randy Winn led the team in prayer. Then, the Giants went out and won one for their "Team Mom."

Matt Cain put any doubts about his bruised elbow to rest with a dominant performance — a Brandon Moss home run notwithstanding — and the offense finally sprung to life with four straight doubles and a pair of sac flies in the top of the sixth to chase All-Star starter Zach Duke. Given their recent history, a sweep at the hands of the lowly Bucs would not have been surprising. This was, after all, the Giants first win in Pittsburgh since 2007 (a Noah Lowry victory). Still, a W on this getaway day was absolutely critical to keep them atop the N.L. Wild Card race and energize the players for the rest of this 10-game trip.

Franny Watch: Bellarmine/San Jose State product (and man crush of yours truly) Kevin Frandsen got the start at second base and collected his first extra base hit of the season with a double in the ninth to raise his BA to a blistering .128. He's 5-for-39 on the season.

Quote of the Day
"The Giants attack first pitches very well, and you have to make quality pitches from the first pitch of the at-bat." - Pirates starter Zach Duke
Stat of the Day
Matt Cain is a perfect 10-0 this season when he receives three or more runs of support.
On Deck

It's off to Hot-lanta for a brutal four-game set. Let's see which Jonathan Sanchez decides to show up tonight against Tommy Hanson...

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