Tuesday, September 11, 2012

GIANTS      79-62    ...          Quality starts harder to come by lately.
Los Angeles  74-67    5 GB    In same postseason boat as crosstown rivals.

Giants lost at Colorado, 6-5.
LA was idle.

Giants at Colorado, 6:40 PM local time (8:40 EDT, 5:40 PDT). Madison Bumgarner opposes Jhoulys (how do you pronounce that?) Chacin, whom the Giants haven't seen since April.
LA opens a three-game set in Arizona. Clayton Kershaw against Ian Kennedy.

Last Night's Game
Ryan Vogelsong's string of substandard starts continues, and that's cause for alarm with Tim Lincecum likewise inconsistent. Actually, Vogelsong recovered reasonably well after a bad first inning, and the Giants rallied twice, which on many occasions would have been enough. It was in the sixth, after Vogelsong had departed, that the game really was lost. Pablo Sandoval's two-out nobody-on fielding error led to a two-run explosion, turning a 4-2 game into 6-2, and the Giants tried hard but fell short over the final frames. Buster Posey and Hunter Pence both homered in the losing effort.

Today, of course, is the annniversary of the 2001 attack on America. We read yesterday that the year-old Flight 93 Memorial near Shanksville, Pa., which opened one year ago, has been attracting more and more visitors. We're doubly glad that the finalized plans for the design have eliminated the odious 'crescent' shape in favor of a true circle, and that urban legends about the number of trees and wind chimes have been debunked. The heroes of '93' deserve a moment of reflection today, and their unflinching stand against evil stands as a reminder to those who still somehow believe appeasement and accommodation are appropriate responses to our enemies.

Monday, September 10, 2012

GIANTS      79-61    ...              Great day to be a 'Frisco sports fan.
Los Angeles  74-67    5.5 GB    Wild-card spot may be more realistic goal.

Giants defeated LA , 4-0, taking two out of three in the pivotal series, as Barry Zito pitched six shutout innings for his 11th win.

Giants at Colorado, 6:40 MDT start. Ryan Vogelsong looks to get untracked in the rarefied air of Coors Field.
LA has the day off. They open a three-game set at Arizona Tuesday.

Last Night's Game
Well, it's been a long time comin'. Six years after signing that embarrassingly large contract, Barry Zito finally won a crucial stretch-drive game for the Giants with a dominant pitching performance against a quality team. His oft-derided fastball settling in at about 85 MPH, the lefty made judicious use of his changeup and big curveball to hit his spots and blank the Dodgers into the seventh inning. The result? The defeated Dodgers trudge out of the 'Bell one game further back than they were upon arrival, with three fewer games left to do anything about it, an intimidating schedule ahead (Cardinals in a week, then road trips to Cincinnati and Washington, the other two NL division leaders), and an overall feeling that this just ain't gonna be the year. Zito's performance also has ignited some debate about the Giants' upcoming postseason starting rotation (assuming as always that the wheels stay on the ol' wagon). It was easy enough to dismiss him in 2010, but it won't be if he wins a few more games like this! The Giants benefited from a weird, possibly workout-related hip injury to scheduled starter Clayton Kershaw, and instead faced Joe Blanton, whom we all remember from the NLCS two years ago. Angel Pagan, Pablo Sandoval, and Hunter Pence dinged Blanton for two quick runs in the first, Pagan legged out his 11th triple in the fifth and later scored, and Buster "MVP" Posey led off the sixth with his 20th homer. That was plenty. In true Bruce Bochy fashion, five relievers followed Zito, with Sergio Romo getting the last two outs as the sold-out 'Bell erupted in jubilation.

The American League East continues to entertain. Yesterday, the stumbling Yankees righted themselves and slapped down the chasing Baltimore Orioles, 13-3, before a host of disappointed fans at Camden Yards, and regained their fragile division lead. Tampa Bay remains two back. Boston is out of it for a change, but they have a chance to really hurt the Yanks this week at Fenway... What a pleasure it is to listen to Orel Hershiser and Terry Francona talking baseball and pitching during the ESPN games. Both had insightful comments regarding Zito and the razor-thin margin of command and control that separates his strong starts from his weak ones... Kudos to this week's opponents, the Colorado Rockies, for rightly severing their promotional ties with the "Nickelodeon" TV network after its continued support of actor/thug Jason Biggs' bigoted and hateful public comments.

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