With one more day for Sabes to pull a rabbit out of his ass before the non-waiver deadline, I’ll reserve all commentary on this week’s wheeling and dealing for a full recap tomorrow night.
In other news...
Monday, July 27th
Giants 4, Pirates 2
WP: Lincecum (11-3, CG, 15 K); LP: Maholm (6-5)
See my live blog for notes from this game.
Another gorgeous, foggy night at the Cove. Timmy had electric stuff, nearly untouchable, and the offense came through with early runs to give him a cushion. My fantasy stud Matt Cain has more wins and a lower ERA, but his teammate could sprint right past him in the Cy Young voting on the back of dynamic performances like this.
Quote of the Night
"If you don't give my old team a whooping, I'm going to beat your (expletive deleted)." - Barry Bonds to Tim Lincecum prior to the game
Tuesday, July 28th
Giants 3, Pirates 2
WP: Romo (3-1); LP: Morton (2-3); S: Wilson (26)
HR: SF - Velez (1)
What do ya know? Another Zito start, another lackluster offensive performance. Anyone familiar with baseball’s sick sense of humor knew as soon as “The Other” Barry was pulled for Serg with two out in the sixth that the G-Men would come up in the bottom of the inning and break the 1-1 tie. (Or that the Bucs would explode for five runs and put the game out of reach. Either way, a bum night for Baked Ziti.)
He was obviously frustrated with being yanked, but one thing you can say about Zito is he keeps his emotions to himself and sticks to the clichés when it comes time to talk to the media.
The 0-for-4 debut of Ryan Garko (nickname needed) was overshadowed by the hitting display of one Eugenio Velez, who’s putting his mark on this series in a major way. His big-boy dinger to the Arcade in the second and double in the sixth would’ve sealed the deal had Brabndon Medders stranded a Jeremy Affeldt baserunner in the eighth. As it worked out, Affeldt lost his streak of 28 scoreless innings — over 81 days! — and the insurance run knocked in by the Panda Express in the seventh proved to be the difference.
With all the talk of Freddy Sanchez swapping clubhouses before he leaves San Francisco, the outburst from Velez was more than welcome, but it provided a perfect example of why this team needs an upgrade at the cornerstone. If this guy is the best thing they’ve had at the position all season, a three-time All-Star and former batting champion would be a significant upgrade.
P.S. Looks like the Big Unit has himself a rotator cuff tear. Not a good prospect for getting him back in the rotation this year. Sabes might go looking for another arm, unless they’ve got a backup plan for “The Big” Sadowski, who seems more and more lost out there with every start.
Quote of the Night
"If you keep your eye on the ball, everything's going to be fine... If you play hard, something's going to happen... I just have to play my game." - Eugenio Velez, who must’ve taken cliché tips from Crash Davis while in the minors
Stat of the Night
The victory lifted the Giants back into a tie with Colorado atop the Wild Card standings and improved their record at the Cove to 33-15 (.688), moving them ahead of Boston (34-16, .680) for best in the Majors.
Wednesday, July 29th
Giants 1, Pirates 0 (10)
WP: Wilson (3-4); LP: Capps (2-6)
Ah, a fantasy owner’s dilemma: Pick players from your favorite team and you can celebrate twice as hard when they succeed. But you suffer twice as much when they don’t perform. This game was one of mixed emotions for my fake team, as much as it was for my “real” one.
Matt Cain’s been my top-of-the-rotation guy since day one. Brian Wilson has combined with Heath Bell and George Sherrill to give me the league lead in saves — by a comfortable margin. When Wilson saves a Cain victory, I score big time. When Wilson blows a Cain lead, I don’t get much sleep.
When Cain throws nine innings of shutout ball, I’d normally get a huge points payoff. When he cedes to Wilson, who gets the W in a 1-0 victory after Randy Winn sneaks one inside the first-base line in the 10th, I do very well, but there’s that nagging voice in my head that wishes the G’s could’ve pushed one across just an inning or two sooner.
I try to ignore the voice and tell myself to be happy for 10 scoreless innings to shrink my team ERA, which has ballooned of late thanks to the not-so-fine performances of Kevin Correia and Jeremy Guthrie. But I’m a Giants fan, after all. We want the world and we want it... now.
Quote of the Day
"It's nice to strike out a lot of guys, but I figured I'd waste a lot of pitches." - Cain, who doesn’t talk like he’s only 24 (He’ll be 25 on October 1st.)
Stat of the Day
Cain lowered his ERA to 2.12, moving him ahead of Arizona’s Dan Haren for the National League lead.
Pundits are bound to say this was a weak showing from the Giants. On the surface, I’d agree with them. Sweeping a lowly Pirates club in the process of shedding all its Major League talent while scoring only eight runs over three games does not compute to a landmark series.
But when you consider the Giants struggles with the Bucs over the past few years — 6-16 since 2005 prior to this series — this sweep is quite the psychological boost, for the fans if not the players. And when you have the hottest team in the league coming to town, you need all the boost you can get.
Meanwhile, the Hated Ones are grappling with their first full-fledged losing streak of the season. They dropped their third straight for the first time this season on Tuesday (10-0 in St. Louis), and yesterday blew a lead in the bottom of the 11th and lost to the Cards in 15.
This is the kind of demoralizing stretch that the Giants have already fought through more than once. If you come out of it with all limbs intact, you end up a stronger team. But if you hit your first speed bump this deep into the season, it could cause quite the crisis of confidence, especially in the midst of a trip like the Hated Ones are on now.
I'm not the team shrink. I'm just sayin'.