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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Back To .500 And Climbing

For the second straight year, the Giants are saving their best baseball for the last weeks of the season as they have finally gotten all their starting players healthy and rolling. The Giants have played the last couple weeks like most people including myself thought they would play all year long. I didn't expect this team to win 95+ games, but I definetly didn't expect them to be just a .500 team as they have been. It's no coincidence that Barry Bonds also happens to be playing his best ball of the season as well. Barry Bonds is the leader of this team and how he goes, so go the Giants. When Barry was hitting .235 with little power and run production, the Giants where a team playing well below .500 baseball. Bonds has raised his average to .260, and he's hit 5 home runs over the last 7 games. It just goes to show you that he still impacts a team that much, even at age 42. It doesen't hurt that the guy in front of him (Shea Hillenbrand) and the guy behind him (Ray Durham) are scalding the ball as well. Giants are now only 4 games back in the NL West, and 3 back in the Wild Card race. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say the NL Wild Card winner will come from the NL West, and if that's the case, the Giants need to at least leap over one of the teams ahead of them. The Dodgers are starting to lose some games again, and the Padres are on fire so it looks like the NL West standings could shuffle big time in the next week or so. The Padres have the best bullpen in the division, and have a ton of speed, I think they will make the playoffs somehow. This weekends series at SBC Park will be a huge test for the Giants starting Friday with a premier pitching matchup between Jake Peavey and Matt Cain.

The September call-ups are almost all up and they are already paying dividends big time for the Giants. The latest being Wednesday in Cincinatti when Jonathen Sanchez was called upon to take Noah Lowry's turn in the roation due to a sore shoulder. Sanchez was brilliant over 5 2/3 innings as he was shutting the Reds down with 75% fastballs. Sanchez was in the strike zone all day and didn't allow a hit until the 5th inning which tells you how good his stuff was. He struck out 7 and only allowed 1 run on 3 hits. All as I can say after watching that performance is look out Brad Hennessey. Hennessey was having a great season as a reliever/spot starter until he got inserted into the rotation full time for Jamey Wright. Since then, he's added about a run and a half to his era, and has had only one quality start in 5 tries. Hennessey value in the bullpen may best suit the Giants at this point in the season. I'd give Sanchez the ball untill he proves he shouldn't get it, and I'd put Hennessey back in the bullpen in the set-up role. Just a thought, but I really don't see how you could watch Sanchez turn in a performance like that in that type of ballpark, and then send him back to the pen. Speaking of september call-ups making impacts, Lance Niekro and Jason Ellison both had hits in Wednesday's game, a day which the Giants gave most of their veterans off, and still where able to win the game. The Giants now have a few more major league calliber bats coming off their bench. Jason Ellison and Lance Niekro both had periods where they where starters at this level, to be able to call have that type of experience brought up in September is huge.
The Giants Baseball Blog


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