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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Giants Start Off Well On Road Trip

Last time the Giants where on the road, it marked the begining of a horrible losing streak and a fall from the top of the NL West. Now the Giants are going to have to reverse their fortunes this time around if they want to stay alive in this wide open NL West race. Yes the Giants are in last place in the division, but they are only 4 1/2 games back of the Padres, and as bad as things have gotten over the last 3 weeks, they are still very much in this thing. After the series in Arizona, they travel to LA, then San Diego. All 3 of these teams are teams the Giants are chasing, and with a good road trip, this team could amazingly find themselves at the top of the division. The starting pitching for the Giants has been absolutely fantastic. Matt Cain is starting to get comfortable and he's the hottest Giant pitcher going right now. 4 of his last 5 starts have been tremendous, with his latest being a career high 12 strikeout, 7 inning performance vs. the Rockies. The best thing about Cains recent success is that he's doing most of his damage with his 95 mph fastball. I am surprised at how many good hitters he gets to swing through the fastball with 2 strikes. Even when he doesn't hit his intended target, his late rising fastball sneaks by hitters bats'. Noah Lowery also looks like he's locked into a good grove lately. I was at his best start of the season Saturday night when he went 9 innings giving up only 1 run on 4 hits, but the offense could not back him. The only concern I am having is with Jamey Wright, who has been as inconsistent as of late. Over his last 10 outings he is 1-5 with a 6.10 era. It has been mentioned among Giants fans that Jamey Wright may be more effective out of the bullpen, because he always seems to do well the first time through lineups. He showed Friday that he could make that transition well if it comes to that and I think it will. Brad Hennessy has been throwing so well this season, and we all know he's not going to stay in the pen long if he keeps it up. He has a 2.84 era over his 6 starts this season, and he's been just as good in his 18 relief appearances as he has a team best 2.86 era (not counting Armondo Benitez). With the Giants trying to continue building momentum, Tuesday nights start is probably the biggest start of Wright's season so far, and if it isn't a solid one, it should be his last.

The offense has finally woke up in the first game of the series vs. Arizona Monday night as they hit a season high 6 home runs. Even Jason Schmidt got a hold of one and knocked one into the bleachers. Shea Hillenbrand also hit his second home as a Giant and that is one bat the Giants need to get going along with Barry Bonds. Bonds has been swinging the bat better lately. His series vs. Colorado was probably the best he's had all season long as he went 5 for 12 with a home run and a lot of loud contact. That being said, this late in the season, guys who are in their 40's rarely turn their season around, but you can never put anything past Bonds. The one guy who is going to need to stay healthy in the outfield is Moises Alou. If he can stay off the DL for the last 2 months of the season it will be key. He hadn't shown much power since April but has 2 home runs over the last week and is hitting close to .400 so far in August. Alou still has the bat that can carry a team if he gets hot, and if he can get back to his April form, this offense shouldn't have much trouble scoring runs. Ray Durham has continued to stay hot and Omar Vizquel is getting hot again as well. The offense is showing that it's ready to make the late season run, the bullpen needs to start showing the same.
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