Sunday, August 30, 2009

Giants put on an Offensive Clinic late in the game to tie the Rockies in the NL Wild Race

When Matt Cain stepped onto the mound today, he was attempting to put his past pitching woes behind him. He tried to get number #13 out of his head so he could focus on helping the Giants move into a N.L. Wild Card tie with the Rockies. The Rockies jumped on Cain quick, running off a 1st inning run, a pair in the 5th, and then another lone run in the 6th inning. The Giants offense was quiet early, but managed to erupt after Cain was replaced with Henshaw in the 7th inning.

Coming out of the game down 4-1, Cain faced losing for the fourth time in 7 tries. Vowing to get his 13th win, Cain didn't look like his dominant self, as he gave up 4 runs in 6 innings pitched. He couldn't duplicate Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito's dominant effort on back-to-back nights during the Wild Card weekend.

Tim Lincecum was brilliant on Friday night in front of a sellout crowd, shutting out the Rockies in 8 stellar innings. Everything was working for Lincecum, including his fast ball, which was consistently topping out at between 95-97 MPH.

On Saturday evening, Zito picked up right where Lincecum left off the night before. pitching 0s' across the board until he gave up a solo shot in the 9th inning. Zito escaped with a mastery of pitches; his curve ball was looking as good as his vintage self when he was throwing it back in Oakland. He out-muscled the Rockies in 8 1/3 innings, giving up only 1 run in a noble effort to bring the Giants within 1 game of the N.L. Wild Card.

The offensive clinic was on display on Sunday. The Giants took 7 innings to wake up from their offensive hibernation. They started a late game rally in the 7th inning. With bases loaded, Edgar Reneteria hit a game changing grand slam, which put the Giants ahead 6-5. The offense wasted scoring opportunities in the previous innings before, but didn't come up short this time around. Renteria took advantage of the Rockies with a blast that erupted AT&T Park. Matt Cain was cheering, knowing that he was now off the hook for his sub-par performance.

Jeremy Affeldt arrived in the 8th inning just in a nick of time, pitching his way out of a jam with a pair of Rockies standing on the corners. Giants added to the total with a trio of runs in the bottom of the 8th. Their lead swelled to a 4-run advantage.

Brian Wilson came in for the second time in as many nights when he saved the Giants from squandering a 5-run lead in Saturday night's close win. On this very afternoon, Wilson manged to breeze through the first two outs, but things started to get shaky again, as two Rockies made it onto 1st and 2nd base.

The Monday night 14th inning meltdown played into the minds of Wilson and other Giant's faithful. Wilson torched what he does best, a high optimum fastball that made it right into Eli Whiteside's glove for the last out of the game, giving the Giants a deadlock tie in the N.L. Wild Card race.

Action continues yet again, as the Giants square off against the World Champion Phillies, which they last faced at AT&T Park, taking 3 out of 4 games. Jonathan Sanchez is set for a heavyweight bout against World Series MVP Cole Hammels at Citizen's Park.

Giants are hoping to capitalize on the Phillies poor home record mark. With a month left to play in the MLB season, the Giants have a chance to make the playoffs. They have their eyes set in making the postseason for the first time since 2003, when they won the N.L. West Division Title.

Quote of the day "Bochy mentioned that once the Giants have a few rallies like the one today, and three others in the month of August, then they will have many more in the late part of the season. I would hope that the Giants would find ways to get ahead instead of falling behind, hoping for some rally in the 7-8th innings to put them over the top. They are fun to watch, but expecting these late comebacks are not dependable. The Giants are more effective when they score first. Rather than rally to win in the late stages of a game, they need to focus on maintaining their pitching while also improving their offense. They squandered scoring opportunities many times before the surge. It was nice to get this win, but Cain didn't look like his dominate self. He could have easily cost the Giants a win. I'm sure Cain was cheering on Reneteria after he smashed one over the left field wall. More like a sigh of relief to get him off the hook for possibly costing the Giants a tie in the WC race." - JSmooth

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