Giants Look Strong vs. NL Elite
Although they just barely missed finishing a 3-game sweep of the 2008 World Series Champion Phillies, the Giants have handled their first real tough stretch of the season very well.
After struggling through that rough Southern California road trip last week, the Giants returned home in strong fashion, taking care of the Cardinals in 2 of 3, then followed that up with another 2-win series victory vs. the Phillies. They got timely hitting, and amazing starting pitching over the homestand, and have fought their way back atop the NL West because of it. The latest dominant start was delivered by Tim Lincecum on Wednesday afternoon, as Timmy went 8 1/3, allowing just 3 hits and 2 runs while striking out 11 Philly hitters. Unfortunately, Brian Wilson couldn't hold the 3-run lead and the Giants eventually lost the game in extra innings. It was a tough no-decision for Lincecum to take for sure, and definitely will leave a bad taste in the Giants' mouths for the moment, but overall, they have to be very pleased with the way they bounced back after their tough road trip. They are starting to swing the bats a little bit better and will be getting one of their catalysts back this weekend in Aaron Rowand. They aren't out of the woods yet though, as the Rockies come into San Francisco for a 3-game set starting Friday night.
The offense was what stuck out on this homestand for me, especially the way they handled Roy Halladay on Monday night. The Giants banged out 10 hits, including 4 extra-base hits, and put up a 5 spot against the guy everybody wants to call the best pitcher in baseball. A big reason for their recent offensive improvement has been the play of Andres Torres. Right after I posted about Torres needing to improve in a hurry, or else he'd be out when Rowand came back, the speedy center fielder got it going offensively. Torres is hitting .409 on the homestand, with 4 RBI, 4 runs, 2 steals and 4 2B. He's now hitting a respectable .275 for the season after entering the homestand at .111. It hasn't been all about the bat with him either, as he's really made some tremendous plays out in center field as well over the last week. Both Torres and second basemen Matt Downs(.308, 1 hr, 1 RBI, 2 runs, 13 ab's ), who actually took Rowand's roster spot, are both making an argument to stay on the team when Rowand comes back. Their play has caused there to be whispers about Eugenio Velez, who has 1 hit in his last 20 at-bats, possibly being sent down in place of Rowand over the weekend.
GBB Notes: Again, I'd like to apologize for the lack of posting over the last 2 weeks. Things have been pretty busy with school and computer issues. I should be back to normal though now, so we should be updated every other day or so like normal again.... We also haven't had a chance to discuss much minor league stuff yet, so be on the lookout for April's minor league report in the next week or so, as we take a look down on the farm and see what the likes of Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Darren Ford and Thomas Neal are up to!