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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Giants Starting To Feel It, 1 Win Away

Just one victory separates the Giants and their first World Series tittle in their San Francisco era after rookie left-hander Madison Bumgarner baffled the Rangers with 8 shutout innings, and the Giants have to be sensing something special.

I said it after his relief outing in game 6 when the Giants clinched the NLCS, Bumgarner's nails in pressure situations, and looked to really get back on track in that outing, and it definitely showed in Game 4 in Texas Sunday. Bumgarner held the high-powered Rangers offense to just 3 hits, none for extra-bases, and struck out 6 Ranger hitters on the night. Offensively, all the Giants really needed was Aubrey Huff's 2-run bomb in the 6th, but for good measure, Andres Torres drove in a run with a double, and Buster Posey hit a solo homer off of Darren O'Day to push the Giants lead to 4 runs. Though the offense looked good, the defense was dominant, as Bruce Bochy fielded his best defensive club, and they really came through for Bumgarner. Freddy Sanchez was great at 2nd base all night, as he's become a wall over there at second, and is finally showing Giants fans his full abilities. Cody Ross also made a few catches in left that Pat Burrell may not have gotten to, and had that been the case, who knows how this game transpires. Also, Buster Posey was once again brilliant behind the plate. The 23-year old hasn't had the best offensive series against Texas yet, but he sure has been brilliant behind the plate, and has come up with the clutch hit when needed.

Now, I can go on and on about this game, but chances are, most people got to watch or listen to it, so I don't really have to recap anything for anyone..... The Giants, fittingly, get to send Tim Lincecum to the hill in game 5 as they take their first shot at clinching the 2010 World Series. It will be a re-match of game 1 as the Rangers will counter with Cliff Lee again in the match-up of aces. Again, it's going to be key for the Giants to get on the board first and put Texas into panic mode. If Texas gets Lee an early lead, I think the lefty will do anything in his power to will himself to victory, so the Giants have to disrupt him early like they did in San Francisco. It's also key that Lincecum doesn't come out over-hyped and over-throwing.... That said, I don't think nerves are going to be a problem for this Giants team as they are now in complete control of this series... I'd also look for Pat Burrell to be back in the linuep, but it wouldn't surprise me to see Ishikawa at first and Huff at DH again, even against the lefty.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Saturday, October 30, 2010

World Series: Rangers Back in it With Game 3 Win

The Rangers really had to win Saturday's game 3 in order to avoid going down 3 games to none to the Giants in the World Series, and they did just that, getting to Jonathan Sanchez early, then shutting down the Giants the rest of the way to hold on the win.

Sanchez once again had a rough start, as he's really hit a wall after finishing the year so strong, then dominating the Braves in his lone NLDS start in Atlanta. He struggled in his 2 starts in Philly, looking very bad in his last on in game 6, a game in which he failed to get out of the 3rd inning. He didn't throw particularly bad Saturday, but gave up a huge 3-run bomb to Mitch Moreland in the 2nd inning. After that, Sanchez really cruised into the 5th inning, until, once again, he was taken out of the yard by Josh Hamilton. That AB by Moreland was a tough battle, and you kind of have to tip your cap to the Rangers' first basemen for fighting off those tough pitches until he got that low fastball in the zone where most left-handed hitters can crush the baseball. The homer he gave up to Hamilton was really a mistake on his part though, and it was a big blow, moving the Rangers up 4-0 on a night when Colby Lewis was dealing. The Giants have to really hope that shot by Hamilton doesn't awake the beast, cause he was really quiet in SF after carrying the Rangers offense past the Yankees. If he gets going, along with Nelson Cruz who had a big game, the Giants are going to be in some trouble. With the way the Giants rotation lined up, Sanchez would be set-up to take the ball in a possible game 7, and although it would be played in San Francisco and not on the road where Sanchez has struggled the last few outings, Bochy has to really consider using Timmy on 3-days rest. Again, this is getting way ahead of things, but after seeing the Rangers wake up on Saturday, I'm thinking this series is coming back to San Francisco.

On a positive not in Game 2, Cody Ross continued his postseason brilliance, with his 5th postseason home run which put the Giants on the board in the 6th. It's too bad the 2 hitters in front of Ross haven't done more this series, cause this dude continues to hit, and needs to have runners on when he's up there. Speaking of the 2 guys in front of him, Pat Burrell and Buster Posey, they have been having a real rough go of it through the first 3 games. Burrell went 0-4 with 4 k's on the night, dropping to 0-9 on the series with and astonishing 8 strikeouts. That's pretty brutal right there out of your #5 hitter. Still, it's tough for Bochy to do much else, as the Giants don't really have another power hitting outfielder on their bench to spell Pat, and even though he's struggling, he's still very capable of hitting that huge 3-run homer when they really need it. I'd just think about maybe dropping him down a few spots and moving Ross and Uribe both up a spot. Posey hasn't been quite as bad as Burrell, but he just looks tired, as he's played the most baseball of his life this year. Posey's gone 3-12 in this series, and even has an RBI, but he's struck out 5 times, and all 3 of his hits have been off balance little bloopers barely over the infielders heads. His timing just looks a little off, but he's still getting it done behind the plate, and like Burrell, you never know when this kid will break out with a 4-hit game.

A Glance At Game 4: Now, even though Giants are still in pretty good shape at the moment, Game 4 becomes a pretty big one, because if the Giants lose, they face Cliff Lee in his home ballpark with a chance to put his Rangers ahead in the series. Not to mention, if they win tomorrow night, they'll have all the momentum on their side, and have their fans in a ruckus in game 5. So, this makes it a huge game for the rookie, Madison Bumgarner, who's last appearance came in relief in game 6 of the NLCS and was a big part of that series clinching game. I'd give him the slight advantage over the Rangers' starter Tommy Hunter, who's struggled this postseason, but I thought the same about this match-up tonight, and look how that turned out. You can just never count out that Texas offense.... The Giants bullpen did look very well in relief of Sanchez, going 4.1 shutout innings... Speaking of good bullpens, Rangers' closer Neftali Feliz is a freak of nature and reminds me very much of Francisco Rodriguez when he came up with the Angels in 2002 (knock on wood). What makes him even more tough and gives him an edge on most flame-throwing closers, is that he's a former starter, and can get 6+ outs in a pinch if needed.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Thursday, October 28, 2010

WORLD SERIES: Giants Move Up 2-0 on Texas

PreGame

After taking game one in a surprising slug-fest, the Giants look to go up 2-0 on the Rangers in the World Series on Thursday night.

The Giants are sending out Matt Cain, a guy who I'm sure every Giants' fan is pretty confident in. He'll be a opposed by C.J. Wilson, who's in his first year as a full-time starter, but has been brilliant in the role. He did struggle his last time out though, so hopefully the Giants can get to him early and get into his head a bit. I'm going to do something I've never done here on this unique occasion, and sort of do an in-game post. updating this post every time I feel I have something to add. So go Giants, and be sure to check back throughout the game, and after, to vent or whatever! As long as Matt Cain keeps rolling, and the Giants keep coming up with those clutch 2-out hits, we should be OK. Texas has that high-powered offense that can score in a hurry, as we saw last night, so the Giants cannot let down and have to take advantage of every run scoring opportunity they get.


In Game Notes

*Through 1, both pitchers look pretty good, no baserunners, although Sanchez came close on that grounder to Kinsler... Wilson reminds me a bit of Jonathan Sanchez, when Sanchez is keeping the ball down. Giants hitters have to make him get the ball up.

*Nice work by Cain to pitch by that missed called strike by the umpire there in the third. Cain looks really sound rignt now... The Giants need to give him a few runs... Cody Ross is giving the Giants every reason to make him a mainstay in this lineup for the next couple of years... The dude can hit when it matters the most, just too bad they weren't able to get him him from second, something they have to do if they want to beat this team.

*A run... Finally! What a shot by Renteria! He's quietly been huge this postseason, with great glovework and some timely hits/walks... I love that Cain now has the lead, but something tells me the Giants need more than 1 to win this game. They can't let up, and I don't think they will. Get into Texas' bullpen!

*Cain gets through the 6th untouched despite allowing 2 RISP with less than 2 out... That just shows you how locked he is, but still, the Giants need insurance... Big play by. who else, Cody Ross, with that smother, keeping Michael Young from going to 3rd. The Giants are making their own luck right now, and they are looking like a Championship caliber ballclub!

*UUU-REEE-BAY, another clutch hit. This one an RBI blooper to give the Giants a 2-run lead. Now they need to preserve that for 6 more outs, and they'll find themselves up 2-0 in the World Series!
Postgame

The Giants busted it open in the 8th, taking a 9-0 lead, and finishing off the Texas Rangers in game 2! The Giants are now 2 wins away from bringing home their first World Tittle in their San Francisco era. There's not much to say since I made most of my points in-game. You can sum it up in a couple of sentences. The Giants look damn good right now. Championship good! That play that Uribe made in the top of the ninth on that weakly hit grounder shows you just how focused this team is. In a 9 run game, most 3rd basement play that safe and eat it, but Uribe made the perfect throw on the run and put away that ever important leadoff hitter for Guillermo Mota. They got the great starting performance, they played really good defense, and they hit the ball (and took pitches) when they had to. Again, I hate to jynx things, but Texas looked overwhelmed in San Francisco, and right now, the Giants are the better team, by far... We'll have some more on this game, as well as a look at the series shift to Texas for game 3 in Friday's Post. Right now though, Giants up 2-o, and have really put Texas' backs against the wall.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Monday, October 25, 2010

Giants and Rangers Set for World Series

The Giants are now past party mode, and have re-focused on baseball, as they prepare for Wednesday's Game 1 showdown at AT&T Park, as the Giants send Tim Lincecum to the hill vs. Cliff Lee.

Both Lincecum and Lee have been very good this postseason and their numbers in their 3 starts are nearly identical. In 3 starts and 24 innings, Lee's gone 3-0 while allowing just 2 runs, 13 hits and 1 walk. He's also struck out 34 batters, and allowed just a .151 BAA. In Lincecum's 3 starts this postseason, he's gone 23.1 innings, allowed 5 ER and 14 hits with 30 k's, good for a .145 BAA... Game 1 is going to definitely be a good one and are just as enticing as the Lincecum-Halladay match-up's were, especially since it's the World Series. After Lee, the Rangers starters drop off a little, but not much. The Giants will probably face C.J. Wilson (15-8, 3.35 era, 170 k's in 2010) in game 2, Tommy Hunter (13-4, 3.73 era, 1.24 WHIP) in game 3 and Colby Lewis (12-13, 3.72 era, 192 k's) in game 4. The Giants definitely have the advantage, starting pitching wise, on paper, but the Rangers high-powered offense obviously surpases the Giants' starting 8. Many people are hyping this series up as the Giants dominant starters vs. the Rangers high octane offense. We'll truly get a gauge as to what wins in the postseason, offense or pitching. These teams match-up very well. The Rangers starting pitching has been very good in the playoffs, and the Giants offense has been very clutch, so it's going to be good match-ups all around.

The real wild card for me in this series, will be the Rangers speed. They have a bunch of guys in that lineup who can steal bases, and put pressure on defenses. Young Giants' catcher Buster Posey has a cannon arm, but you can run on the Giants starters, and I think Texas is going to work the running game into their gameplan quite often. We've already seen what's happened this postseason when the Giants don't play fundamental baseball, and the Rangers will try and get them to do just that. This Texas team really showed me something by not only defeating the Yankees, but doing it in a near dominant fashion. They won game 6 in a blowout, and really outplayed a Yankee team that was heavily favored. Now I'm curious to see who "experts" are going to favor in this series. I haven't really heard any predictions yet and I myself don't even want to make one because these teams are so darn evenly matched. If the Giants can get that middle of the order going (Buster Posey especially), play good defense and pitch well, then they can really beat anyone, as they showed against Philly.

Rotation Note: Bruce Bochy anounced his World Series starting rotation Monday, and there is a slight change from the NLCS. Matt Cain moves into the 2 spot behind Lincecum, dropping Jonathan Sanchez into the 3 spot. There was some talk that Barry Zito would get a look with his knowledge of the AL coupled with Sanchez's recent struggles, but Bochy said that was never seriously considered... As far as the DH goes, the logical choice, Pat Burrell, never faired well in that role with Tampa, so I don't think the Giants are going to use him there much. Tim Kawakami thinks it will be Pablo Sandoval getting the nod at DH and I'd say that's probably accurate. There is a chance we could see Aubrey Huff there for a game too with Travis Ishikawa moved out to first base as Huff has made a few defensive blunders at first this postseason.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Giants Win NL Pennant

The crazy ride the Giants have taken us all on in 2010 is going to the World Series, and the Giants have a legit shot at bringing home the first world championship in San Francisco team history.

First off, I'm in full celebration mode, so this post won't be a long one... Jonathan Sanchez wasn't on his game Saturday night, but just about everybody else on the Giants pitching staff, starters included, were. Both Jeremy Affeldt and Madison Bumgarner's performances out of the pen was what saved the game in my opinion. The Phills had the momentum going off Sanchez early, but Affeldt, then Bumgarner righted the ship and shut Philly down. Once again the Giants found themselves in a tie game going into the later innings, and as they've done so many times in this postseason, they found a way to get it done. Juan Uribe showed why the Giants fans are so found of him in San Francisco, even though he hit just .248 in the regular season. The dude comes up with clutch hits, and often, they leave the yard. He did that against Madson on Saturday night to give the Giants the 3-2 lead, and once they got that lead, I think this team was hellbent on keeping it.

Bochy even sent out Tim Lincecum in the bottom of the 8th in order to preserve the 1-run lead, and although Lincecum gave up 2 hits, he did strikeout a batter, and managed to get the ball to Brian Wilson and the NL Saves leader, once again, came through. It was another tight-rope walk by Wilson, as he allowed 2 runners to reach base in the 9th before sitting Ryan Howard down on a backdoor slider to end the game. Now, standing between the Giants and their first world championship in San Francisco are the Texas Rangers. We'll have much more on this series as well as World Series preivews in the upcoming days, but for now, time to enjoy this victory!
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Thursday, October 21, 2010

NLCS Heads Back to Philly For Game 6

Roy Halladay didn't have his best stuff, and Tim Lincecum actually looked better than Doc again out there Thursday night, but the Giants defense cost Lincecum the game. They also didn't do a whole lot at the plate, but if they make a few plays that they didn't, they very well could have taken this ballgame.

The big play that comes to mind was Aubrey Huff's blunder on that ground ball off the bat of Shane Victorino in the second inning. A play which led to the Phillies scoring 3 runs rather than the likely goose egg that would have gone up had Huff fielded that ball cleanly. That was all the Phillies really needed though, as the Giants wouldn't score more than 2 runs on the night, even though Roy Halladay didn't have his uncanny control, or his sharp breaking pitches really working for him throughout the night. The Giants collected just 7 hits on the night, as the middle of their order (Huff, Posey, Burrell) went a combined 1-11, and series superman Cody Ross k'd three times on the night, although he did have a big RBI double to make the score 3-2 in the 4th. At that point, I had a pretty good feeling about things, as I knew Halladay was hittable, and the Giants looked like they were ready to rally, but they never were able to get anything going after that. Halladay settled down, then Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge took care of business in the 8th and 9th innings respectively, and the Phills showed Giants fans why they've been in the World Series for 2 consecutive seasons ('08, '09). For good measure, Jayson Werth added a sold homer of Ramon Ramirez, who's been atrocious this postseason, to give Lidge a 2-run cushion in the 9th. Doesn't seem like a huge deal since the Giants didn't score, but I think the 2-run lead definitely allowed Lidge to pitch differently (with slightly less pressure, for an occasional choker) in the 9th, no doubt about it.

Even though the series is headed back to Philly, I'm still very confident in this Giants team, but I'm starting to grow a tad leery of this bullpen. Outside of Brian Wilson and Javier Lopez, there aren't a whole lot of guys who I'm %100 confident in right now. Sergio Romo has looked better in this series than he did in the NLDS, but he's still a bit wild, and has been hanging that slider a little too often. Ramon Ramirez has turned into a launching pad though, and I think he has to be relegated to long relief at this point, and I'd use Guillermo Mota in the 6th/7th inning if needed in game 6 in place of Ramirez. I still like Santiago Casilla as the right-handed set-up man to Wilson, but even he gave up a big hit in game 2 which allowed a few runs to score. Still, at this point, Casilla, Lopez and Wilson seem to have the best stuff, and those are the only 3 guys who I'm really confident in handing the ball to after the 7th inning in close 1-2 run ballgames. With Jonathan Sanchez set for game 6, the bullpen has to be ready for anything too, cause Sanchez is a guy who typically won't go much more than 6 innings (because of pitch count), even when he's throwing really well.

Now, I'm confident this team will rebound offensively against Oswalt, who shut them down in game 2, but had to pitch in relief in Wednesday's game and threw over 20 pitches in that outing. I think the Giants are ready for him this time around. The thing I'm worried about, and the area that was pointed out after game 2's loss, was the Giants defense. They don't have the firepower to hang with Philly when they commit costly mistakes and errors like they did Thursday. The only 2 games they lost where games in which the defense put them behind the 8-ball early, and they were never fully able to recover from it. And you can't necessarily blame the offense, as they're going up against one of the best pitching staff's in all of baseball. If the Giants give the Phillies extra outs, and free base runners, they won't be able to beat them. They have to play their A-game and force Philly to make the mistakes, and that becomes even tougher now as they head back to that raucous Philadelphia environment.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Giants 1 Win Away After Taking Game 4

The Giants have looked like a team on a mission all postseason long, and have moved to within 1 win of making their first World Series trip since 2002.

Madison Bumgarner was on early, but ran into some trouble in the fifth abd couldn't quite hold the 2-0 lead the Giants gave him. Bruce Bochy didn't really give him a chance to pitch out of it though, as he went to the Giants bullpen early. Santiago Castilla proceeded to allow 3 runs, and forced the Giants to come back for the first time in the series, and they did just that. The bullpen really took care of business after that hiccup in the fifth, and the Giants offense took it from there. Buster Posey had his big breakout game that the Giants have been waiting for this series, going 4-5 with 2 big RBI. Aubrey Huff also had a big night, something the Giants really need out of him after he started 2-20 this postseason, going 3-5 with an RBI and of course got that game-winning rally in the 9th started. The Giants also got a huge hit out of Pablo Sandoval tonight, which put the Giants on the board early, and really set the tone for the night. Sandoval did ground into an inning ending double play with them loaded in the 8th, but he still had a big impact on this game. He had a few nice defensive plays throughout the night as well, and should be out there again tomorrow night vs. Halladay. Speaking of big defensive plays, Juan Uribe made a huge play in the top of the ninth on a sharply hit grounder up the middle for the first out, just before sending everybody home happy with the game winning sac fly in the bottom half.

Now the Giants head into play Thursday with a chance to put themselves in the Series, and there's nobody they'd rather be sending to the mound in this situation than the kid who's become the face of this franchise in the post-Barry Bonds era, Tim Lincecum. It will be a rematch of game one, as the Phills counter with an ace of their own in Roy Halladay. The national media has been making a case for the Phills that even if they go down 3-1 like they have, they're not at all out of it, with Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels set to got on full rest for the remaining 3 games. However, the Giants got into Philly's bullpen early, and ended up forcing Charlie Manuel to use Roy Oswalt, the potential game 6 starter, in relief.

Even though the Giants are up 3-1, game 5 is a tremendously important game for them. If they fail to finish off the Phills Thursday night, then this series goes back to Philly, and all bets would then be off. The pressure is certainly on the Phillies, as they have their backs to the wall, but Bruce Bochy should manage Thursday's game 5 like it's game 7!
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Giants in Drivers Seat For Game 4

The Giants are now up 2-1 vs. the Phillies, and now have perhaps their most favorable pitching match-up of all set up for Wednesday night in San Francisco. The Giants will send out rookie Madison Bumgarner against the Phills' Joe Blanton.

Bumgarner has been awesome down the stretch, and pitched very well in his start vs. Atlanta in the DS, and once again, like with the rest of the starting pitchers in this playoff rotation, I have complete confidence in the kid. The Phillies sport that left-handed heavy lineup, so the fact that Bumgarner throws left-handed is just icing on the cake. Now, the Giants can't take Blanton lightly, and they should know that by now. He's made the Giants look foolish on more than 1 occasion, and has turned in some gritty performances during the postseason in the past. Still though, it's the first pitcher the Giants will be facing that isn't some sort of all-star (Hamels, Oswalt, Hudson, Hanson) Cy Young winner (Halladay), or some legendary postseason performer (Derek Lowe), and they should have they're shot to really get that offense going.

That lineup will have another new look in it Wednesday as well, as Pablo Sandoval get's his first NLCS start. Sandoval has had plenty of time to work things out, so I'm really hoping and expecting big things out of him. As I said very early in this series, he could really be an offensive catalyst, in the same mold as Cody Ross, Pat Burrell and Buster Posey have all been, if he can just get going. People seem to forget 2008 and 2009 so easily. I'm pretty convinced 2010 was just and "off year" for the Panda, and this is his new shot. Either way, I think Mike Fontenot was starting to lose some confidence (not only offensively, but defensively too), and with Uribe hurting, the Giants really didn't have another option anyway... Outside of Sandoval, Rowand will be in their for his 2nd consecutive start in center, and again, Renteria will be at short and leading off once again. The Giants' finally got a little something going with the top of their lineup on Tuesday, and although Renteria isn't necessarily your prototypical leadoff guy, he has the postseason experience over Torres and maybe better suited for the top of the lineup in this atmosphere anyway. Still found it surprising that Boch didn't just move Torres down in the lineup though. I know Rowand played a nice game yesterday and came up with a big double, but he did k twice after that, and I really liked this match-up for Torres (1-3 with 1 hr career vs. Blanton).
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Giants Change Lineup Drastically For Game 3

Well, I think everyone knew at least a change or 2 where on the way after the team was stymied by Roy Oswalt in Game 2 of the NLCS Sunday, but I don't think anyone anticipated the huge shake-up to the lineup that Bruce Bochy ended up applying.

There is almost nothing the same carrying over from game 1 and 2, as the Giants will leadoff with Edgar Renteria, and will send both Mike Fontenot and Andres Torres to the bench. Also changing, will be Buster Posey moving from cleanup to third, Burrell to cleanup, Cody Ross up to fifth, and Huff into the 6th spot. Perhaps the most surprising though, was seeing that Aaron Rowand will get his first start of the 2010 postseason, but again, I think Boch had Rowand on the roster with this game in mind. Rowand will hit 8th. I like that Bochy realized that he had to mix things up a bit. This team is focused enough to not let the changes bother them, and maybe it will get a few guys jump-started. I'm curious to see how Renteria and Uribe handle the left side of the infield. Neither of them are %100 health wise.

Other than that, not much else I have to say at this point. The Giants had to take 1 of 2 in Philly, and they did that. They didn't look very good in game 2, but I'm not worried at all about that having a carry over effect into this game. The team's back home and they'll be here for the next 3 games, no matter what, after spending a ton of time on the road over the last 2 weeks. Time for them to get back into their comfort level and play their baseball, and if they do that, I have all the confidence in the world in Matt Cain. They can't give the Phills those extra outs, and must get something going early vs. Hamels, otherwise they'll find themselves in the same spot they were in Sunday.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Giants Take Game 1

It was another nail-biter, like most of the Giants games have been here in the postseason, but the Giants got the job done against Roy Halladay and the Phillies in game 1 of the NLCS Saturday night.

It was a much anticipated battle of two of baseball's premiere right-handers, and they didn't really disappoint. The real difference was Roy Halladay's repeat mistake he made to Cody Ross after Ross took him deep in the 3rd. Lincecum, who was battling a blister problem on his throwing hand showed no ill-effects, as he went 7 strong innings, and threw well over 100 pitches. The Giants just look like a confident bunch right now. They're capitalizing on opportunities, for the most part, and they're doing just enough to win these close games. They did have a big chance in top of the 9th to cushion their lead with the bases loaded and only 1-out, but Brad Lidge did some tight-roping of his own and got out of the mess without allowing a run. With all the attention on this game, and most of it will be all praise about the Giants. So instead, I want to make a couple of points about this series moving forward, and a few areas in which the Giants could "tune-up":

Play Pablo: I like the way Mike Fontenot is playing, and the Giants are winning, so it's tough to really complain about what lineup Bochy is using, but I'd really like to see Pablo Sandoval, who if they can manage to get hot could have a big impact on this series, put together a few at-bats. He's kind of the wild card right now as he hasn't gotten any PT since game 2 of the NLDS.

Stop Using Wilson Before the 9th: I know Wilson got it done tonight, but it was close, and I think Boch should really consider not using Wilson before the 9th inning unless in a dire situation. It just seems like it's taking a bit of toll on him, throwing all those pitches, not to mention, he's not used to pitching after taking such a long rest, like the Giants gave him in the top of the 9th.

Top of the Order has to get going: Again, the Giants won game 1, so it's not going to get too much attention, but the Giants top-2 in the order are struggling mightily in this postseason, otherwise I think the Giants would be putting up a lot more runs. Torres and Sanchez have just 5 hits between them in 5 post-season games, that's not going to get it done much longer.

Finally, move up Ross: Tough to argue with the results of using Ross in the 8th spot, but moving him up in the order could help jump-start the offense a bit. Maybe even move him into the 2-spot, or leadoff like Boch was doing for a bit while Torres was down. Still though, it's a tough call moving around a hot-hitter like Ross has been.

Game 2 Glance: Jonathan Sanchez takes on Roy Oswalt in what should be another fine pitching match-up in Sunday's game 2. It's a game in which many are overlooking Sanchez, who isn't as much a household name as Oswalt, but Sanchez has been nails over the 2nd half. So has Oswalt though, but he struggled in game 2 of the NLDS against Cincinnati, so I think the Giants will be plenty confident. Like always for Sanch, the key will be to establish his pitches and his zone early, and to stay in that strikezone. When he does that, he's really tough, and I think his teammates behind him will be plenty confident, relaxed and ready.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Giants Off to Philly for NLCS

In another tight, tense game, the Giants took care of business and Braves' mistakes in game 4, clinching themselves the series, and a spot in the NLCS!

Once again, the Giants got another great outing out of their starting pitcher, as rookie Madison Bumgarner went 6 strong, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits while striking out 5. The bullpen actually did their job this time (Romo was not used), and held the game for the rook, as Santiago Casilla was brilliant, going 1.2 innings, allowing just 1 base-runner while striking out 2. I think Boch has to roll with him in the 8th inning set-up role to Wilson until he proves otherwise, as he's been downright nasty lately. Over his last 7 innings, he's allowed just 2 hits and a walk with 7 strikeouts, and was really nails all season long. Both Bumgarner's start, and Casilla's relief effort were somewhat overlooked by Brian Wilson's tight-rope save, and the clutch game played by Cody Ross, who went 2-3 with a homer and 2 RBI, and in my mind, was the series MVP. Ross has gone from a late-season pick-up in which kind-of caught people off guard after they just added Jose Guillen, but Ross has worked his way into the lineup and is now one of the teams most important pieces. That said, he better be hitting higher than 8th in game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday. Not that I think Boch should make a bunch of lineup changes, but I'd like to see him move Ross into the 6th spot behind Burrell, and just drop everyone else after that down 1 spot (Uribe to 7th, Fontenot/Sandoval to 8th).

Now, Bumgarner has given Bochy, and himself the confidence that he can pitch in the postseason, and that may be the leg up the Giants have on the Phillies. The Giants have 4 really tough starters and can use the 4-man rotation in the postseason, whereas the Phill's might go with the 3-man rotation, using everyone on short rest. Not too mention, the Giants will be bringing two strong lefties, against a left-handed heavy Phillies lineup. Otherwise, this series is lining up to be a tremendous one in terms of starting pitching match-ups. Not too mention, both of these teams will try and beat you the same way, and that's with the long ball. I'm a little worried about the Giants' offense, who will be going up against a tougher starting rotation than what they saw in Atlanta's (which isn't a bad 3 by any stretch), cause they seemed to have trouble getting to the Braves' starters. The Phills bullpen is a pretty good one too, and is slightly stronger than Atlanta's as well, even with a healthy Billy Wagner.

NLCS Roster Decisions: I'm curious too see if Bochy may want to add either Barry Zito or more likely, Dan Runzler to the roster in order to have another lefty for all the Phillies tough lefties (Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard). And I may think about replacing them with Sergio Romo, who I'm sure Boch has no confidence in using in a tight game right now. For more flexibility, they could go with just 1 catcher in Buster Posey, and use Pablo Sandoval as a back-up if needed for Buster. I don't foresee Eli Whiteside getting any PT in this series anyway. Only thing is, Sandoval has caught just 3 games since the start of 2009. Still, as I said, I don't think the Giants will be needing a back-up catcher all that much as Posey is pretty much going to play every inning of every game... The next roster question would be whether or not Jose Guillen is ready to play or not. If he is, even at just a pinch-hitting/part-time level, and if they have to drop Rowand to add him on, then I'd do that in a heartbeat. There's positives to having Rowand on the roster like his career #'s agains Philly, and the fact that he played there for a few years and knows Cole Hamels and a lot of their relievers... Other than that, I think everything else is fine. So here is the 25-man that I'd roll with If I were Boch and Guillen/Runzler are healthy:

OF: Torres, Schierholtz, Ross, Guillen, Burrell, Rowand

IF/C: Huff, Sanchez, Uribe, Sandoval, Fontenot, Renteria, Ishikawa, Posey

SP: Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner

RP: Wilson, Casilla, Lopez, Ramirez, Affeldt, Runzler/Romo, Mota
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Monday, October 11, 2010

Giants Capitalize in Game 3, Up 2-1

The Giants definitely got some help by the Braves, mainly 2nd basemen Brooks Conrad, as I'm sure everyone is aware of by now. However, what is getting overlooked, was the dominant, gritty performance turned in by Jonathan Sanchez, and the fact that the Giants refused to lose that game for him.

Now, I'm sure everyone has read plenty of recap on game 3 and I don't need to hash out detail for detail what went down, but I did want to point out a few specifics. First off, I love how Boch mixed things up by adding Mike Fontenot to the lineup, stronger defensively for sure, and it gave Pablo a full game to take in from the bench. Hopefully that will calm him down a bit and he can relax. At the time of typing this, the game 4 lineup has yet to be released, but it wouldn't surprise me to see Fontenot right back out there again tonight, although both he and Sandoval have had pretty good success lifetime vs. Lowe... Another thing, I don't know who was calling those pitches when Sergio Romo was facing Eric Hinske, but slider after slider? C'mon? What big league hitter isn't going to adjust to that, I don't care if it is your best pitch, mix things up a bit. That was huge after Sanchez had just pitched his heart out (7.1, 11 k's, 2 hits, 1 er, 1 bb). He looked every bit the Jonathan Sanchez that Giants fans where always hoping they'd get, and this is becoming quite common for the 27 year-old lefty. I think he's finally taken that next step, as he's absolutely been nails over his last 2 "big-game" starts.

Now, on to game 4, where we get another playoff rookie, and a 2010 rookie at that, Madison Bumgarner (who had a 1.91 road era in 2010), taking the ball for the Giants. So far, it's been all good for the other 3 Giants starters in their first career playoff starts, and MadBum has been dealing down the stretch. I'm very anxious to see how Madison handles this pressure, but I think he will take it very much like the first 3 have. Still though, the Braves will be fighting off elimination in their own ballpark, so they're going to be playing all out. The Giants failed to take advantage with RISP a couple of times in yesterday's game and it almost cost them big. They have to take advantage of those opportunities, as they won't get an error to get them off the hook every time. One guy who I'd really like to see step it up with RISP in particular is Freddy Sanchez. He's supposed to be one of the Giants money hitters, a batting champ and all-star, and I expect to see him turn in that 2-out RBI hit.

So here we go in game 4. Get ready for another edge of your seat type thriller, as all these Giants-Braves playoff games seem to be, cause you know it's probably going to be a low-scoring ballgame decided by a run or 2. If the Giants can hit a little better with RISP, and Madison gets into a good rythem early, then they should be able to end this thing tonight and get ready for Philadelphia. Also, if the Giants manage to get have a lead late in the game, I hope Boch lets Santiago Casilla set-up Brian Wilson, and not Sergio Romo, who the Braves are having no trouble seeing. If they're over-aggressive at the plate, grounding into double plays and don't give Bumgarner some support early, then this series will come back to San Francisco. I think it ends tonight though, 4-2 Giants!

Game 4 Lineups In: The Giants game 4 lineup looks exactly the same as their game 3 one did, still no Pablo, but the Braves are of course making a switch. They'll be moving Omar Infante over to 2nd base in place of Brooks Conrad, and move Troy Glaus (remember 2002, Giants fans?) in to 3rd base with Glaus hitting 7th.
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Saturday, October 09, 2010

Giants' Pen Costs Them Game 2

The Giants were cruising, and on their way to a 2-0 lead on the Braves, up until that top of the 8th inning, when the Giants bullpen came unraveled, including Brian Wilson, and allowed Atlanta to get back into the game.

The Giants had a 4-1 lead entering that dreaded 8th, and once a few runners got on base, Bruce Bochy, to my surprise, went to Brian Wilson. It was funny because Boch had just said a day earlier that he really wanted to avoid using Wilson to get 6-outs unless it's do or die. Anyway, I think bringing in Wilson that early ended up biting the Giants, throwing Wilson off kilter a bit and throwing off the whole rhythm of the bullpen. Not that you can blame a loss on one move, one play or one player, I just didn't think going to Wilson at that point was the right move, even with the tying run coming to the plate. Brian Wilson was used heavily in 2010, especially towards the end of the year, so asking him to get more than 3-4 outs per night in a playoff setting right now could be playing with fire. Again though, it wasn't really Wilson's fault. If Pablo Sandoval makes an easy throw to second to turn a double play in that 8th, it would have probably taken a lot of life out of Atlanta's comeback, and I think that is the one play that swayed the momentum of that game. The Giants looked like they were really in control up until that point, like they had the momentum and were playing with confidence, then things sort of came unraveled.

Other than going to Wilson so early, I was a little surprised that Bochy decided to remove Pat Burrell so early (after 6th inning) in a 3-run ballgame. That ended up costing Burrell 2 potential at-bats as the game ended up going extra-innings. I had a bad feeling about that one right away, it kinda reminded me of when Dusty Baker took out Russ Ortiz so early and handed him the game ball. It almost signaled to the Braves that we think we have this game in the bag, and it ended up biting them in the backside. But other than that, it's not really fair to go back and review every single move in hindsight, it's just that those 2 moves really raised some flags for me at least.

Once the Braves tied the game, I think it became apparent that they then also claimed the games momentum. Even after Braves' ace closer, Billy Wagner, had to leave the game because of a strained oblique, the Giants just couldn't get to Atlanta's bullpen. It looked to me like everybody in the Giants lineup wanted to be the hero and everyone was swinging out of their cleats in order to try and end the game, and the results weren't good. The Giants collected just 2 hits over the last 4 innings of the game, and took only one walk. That's a sign of an overly-aggressive team. That's a sign of the lack of playoff experience as well. I did think to myself towards the end of that game too, that it would have been nice to have Jose Guillen available to pinch-hit. I know Boch kept him off the roster cause he thought his neck injury was costing Guillen at the plate, but still, I think having him as a presence on the bench as a potential pinch hitter in a game like last night's definitely would have helped out. Aaron Rowand's post-season experience ended up being a positive, as he came up big with a pinch hit in the 7th, and it looked like the Giants were going to add onto their lead, but once again, the double-play, which has killed them all year, got to them Friday night.

Game 3 Preview

Now, with the series knotted at 1 game apiece, the ever so important game 3 takes place at Turner Field on Sunday evening as Jonathan Sanchez goes up against Tim Hudson. This is the one pitching match-up that favors the Braves in this series, so the Giants are going to need Sanchez to be on in order for him to keep pace with playoff-grizzled Hudson. Still, this pitching match-up should be a dandy. Sanchez has been nearly untouchable at times over his last 7 starts ( 44.2 IP, 0.11 era, 23 hits, 48 k's) but Hudson has that experience, and was tremendous in 2010, sporting a 17-9 record with a 2.83 era in 228 innings after missing most of '09 and much of '08. Of course, the key with Sanchez will be to keep the ball in the zone and get ahead of hitters. His last start basically showed his abilities in a nutshell, 5 shutout innings with 5 k's and 2 hits, but had to leave after just 5 innings cause he walked 5 batters. The Braves have a patient, professional hitting team that will not chase Sanchez's pitches out of the zone, so they'll make him throw strikes... For the Giants hitters, they have to approach Huddy much like they did Derek Lowe in game 1. Hudson's a sinker-baller and wants the Giants to beat the ball into the ground, so they have to make him get the ball up. Many of the Giants hitters haven't had much success vs. Hudson in the past, with the best success coming from Rowand (8 hits, including a homer, in 21 career ab's). With Cody Ross a career 2 for 25 vs. Huddy, Boch needs to seriously consider making that lineup switch for Sunday's game.
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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Lincecum Dominates Game 1

The Giants took care of business in game 1 of the NLDS at AT&T Park Thursday night, as Tim Lincecum defeated Derek Lowe and the Atlanta Braves in a hold-your-breath type pitchers duel to give the Giants the 1-0 series lead.

The only run of the game came on a Cody Ross RBI single in which the Giants got a break because Buster Posey, the runner who scored on the play, should have been caught stealing second base moments prior to that hit. Still though, I think the Giants would have found a way to pull this one off. Lincecum was absolutely on, striking out a Giants' playoff record 14 batters in a complete game 2-hitter. Talk about a way to start a Postseason, and a way to make a statement.

Now, the Giants can't treat lightly in game 2. The will send Matt Cain to the hill, and there isn't a pitcher on the staff that's throwing better than Cain right now. Problem is, he's opposed by a guy in Tommy Hanson, who has been awful Cain-like himself in 2010 (3.33 era, 177 k's, 117 WHIP). As a matter of fact, if there were pitcher I'd compare Cain most to on that Atlanta staff, it would be the 6'6" Hanson, who brings much of the same repertoire to the table as Matt C. Either way, it's going to be another fun one, and although I would expect a few more runs to be scored tomorrow than what we saw tonight, but I wouldn't say much. I again have to go with the Giants Friday night though, as they're young players now have a playoff game under their belt, and some of the jitters out, and I think they'll really show up Friday night ready to play, already up 1-0 in a best of 5 series!

GBB NOTE: We'll do a bunch of these short post/updates after and during games (including multiple posts in a day like today), so as I've been mentioning in all recent posts, make sure your checking in at least once a day.
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Game 1 Lineups In; Zito, Guillen Out

We're less than an hour from the scheduled first pitch of the NLDS game 1 between the Giants and the Braves here at AT&T Park, and the lineups for both squads are in.



No real head-scratchers in the lineup tonight, but I was a little surprised to see that Jose Guillen did not make the Giants 25-man roster for this series. Apparantley, he's not at %100 (neck/back issue) and it's been showing lately, so I agree with rolling with Ross in right for this series under the circumstances. Anyway, enough pre-game blabber. Stay tuned during the game as we'll try and do a few in-game menions here, but regardless, here is the lineup (w/key '10 stats) the San Francisco Giants will be sending up against Derek Lowe, as well as the lineup that will oppose Timmy Lincecum:

BRAVES

3B Omar Infante
RF Jayson Heyward
1B Derek Lee
C Brian McCann
SS Adrian Gonzalez
RF Matt Diaz
2B Brooks Conrad
CF Rick Ankiel
P Derek Lowe (16-12, 4.02 era)

GIANTS

CF Andres Torres
2B Freddy Sanchez
1b Aubrey Huff
C Buster Posey
LF Pat Burrell
SS Juan Uribe
3B Pablo Sandoval
RF Cody Ross
P Tim Lincecum (16-10, 3.43)

Final Pre-Game Notes: Of course, the Giants have to get to Lowe early, he's a sinker baller and gets stronger as the game goes. If the Giants can make him get the ball up, they should be fine. For Lincecum, it's attack the zone early, trust Buster and trust your stuff. As long as he's not giving away free passes and putting himself in bad counts, he should be in control! One big key though will be to limit the damage of the Braves' top-3-4 hitters, as they do drop off drastically after that. I wanted to reframe from giving my prediction, for supersticious reasons, but I take the Giants tonight, 4-2.
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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Giants Prepare For Atlanta

As I'm sure you'll well aware of by now, the Giants will be playing host to the Braves in this upcoming National League Divisional Series, so they first 2, as well as any potential game 5 will all be played in San Francisco. And Game 1 is just over 24 hours away!

The Braves, who had a near identical record as the Giants at 91-71, have a team that is somewhat similar to the Giants' bunch. They both had a 2010 rookie breakout and become one of their leaders, and they also used a few in-season additions (Derek Lee and Alex Gonzalez for Atlanta) which really put them over the hump. They'll also rely heavily on an above average starting rotation and bullpen to help get them through games, much like the Giants do. The three-game pitching match-ups are setting up to be incredible, with Lincecum/Lowe on Thursday, followed by Hansen/Cain, then Hudson/Sanchez, as there really isn't an arm in that bunch that isn't throwing with confidence right now. However, the one area in which I think the Giants, surprisingly, have a leg up on Atlanta, is their offense. After bringing in Pat Burrell, Jose Guillen and Cody Ross and with the arrival of Buster Posey, the Giants lineup was inserted with a bunch of guys who can hit the long ball. I mean, I've been going over the lineups that Bobby Cox has been trotting out there lately, and it's far from the Raffy Furcal/Jones' Bros. days, I'll tell you that much. Where the Braves do certainly have the Giants though, is in the playoff experience department, which the Giants have very little of.

I've always been one to try and downplay playoff experience, but there's no doubt, it can play it's part and take it's toll during crucial points of games. What I am trying to focus on rather, is the Giants huge offensive advantage they'll have over Atlanta (still feels werid to type that the Giants have an offensive advantage on teams now), and have looked like a playoff team over the last couple of weeks. This 3-day break will hopefully give Andres Torres some extra time to heal, as the Giants are going to need him at the top of his game leading off and in center. Other than that, I'd assume that we'll see the rest of the lineup composed pretty much the way it was over the last few weeks with Sanchez 2nd, Huff 3rd, Posey 4th, Burrell 5th, Guillen 6th, Uribe 7th and Sandoval 8th. I've been waiting for Sandoval to catch fire all year, and if he could do it now in the playoffs, how fitting would that be? As you can probably tell, I'm pretty fired up about the Giants' chances in this series, but I am cursed when it comes to predicting outcomes, so I'm going to hold off on that part for now.

Giants Roster Talk: Obviously, the Giants won't be able to carry all those players that finished the season off with them and need to trim the roster back down to 25. With the lack of production they've gotten out of Aaron Rowand and Bary Zito lately, it leaves them as two of the bigger named players most likely to sit this best-of-five game series out. The dilemma is tougher than you think on Bochy, as he has to factor in the post-season history (and success) of both players, and remember, playoff baseball can bring out a whole new side of a player. I've seen players enter the playoffs after hitting .220 in September, then go off and hit .450 in the DS. For that reason, and the fact that Rowand tore up the DS last time he was there with Philly, I think he'll stay. Of the names Giants fans have gotten accustomed too over the last month of 2, the four guys that I think will be left off the Giants post-season roster are Guillermo Mota, Chris Ray, Barry Zito and Travis Ishikawa. Leaving off Ishi could bit if the Giants need a defensive replacement at first late in a game, but he just hasn't been doing enough with the bat to warrant a spot..... We'll have the official 25-man roster for the Giants once they make it public, either late Wednesday night, or just prior to Thursday morning's deadline.
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Sunday, October 03, 2010

Giants Win National League West

It took them until the season's final day to do so, but the San Francisco Giants will be playing October baseball for the first time since 2003, after defeating the 2nd place San Diego Padres Sunday.

Jonathan Sanchez got the start, and although he was a little wild (walked 5 batters in 5+ innings), he kept the Padres off the board, and allowed the Giants offense to give themselves an early cushion. Freddy Sanchez and Aubrey Huff each had RBI base hits in the third inning, putting the Giants on top 2-0, a lead they would not relinquish. The Giants bullpen did an epic job, once again in holding down San Diego for the second half of that ballgame, starting with Santiago Casilla's inducing double play with 2 on and nobody out in the 6th inning after relieving Sanchez, who at that point was having trouble finding the strike zone. Casilla ended up going 1.2 scoreless with a couple of k's, was followed by scoreless outings from Ramon Ramirez, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo. Then, for good measure, Buster Posey added some insurance with a solo shot in the bottom of the 8th inning to make it 3-0. I think at that moment it kind of sunk in; the Giants are going to the playoffs. That's the first time I've been able to type those words since I started this Giants Baseball Blog at the end of the 2005 season, and man does it feel good to finally be able to do so. Brian Sabean came on in the 9th inning to cap off what was a great season for him personally, and officially put the Giants into the playoffs with a 1-2-3 inning for his 48th save of the season.

So, the Padres made Giants' fans hold their breath a bit there by winning Friday and Saturday, but I think in the end, we all knew that there was something special about this Giants team, and I don't think they're quite ready to stop playing yet in 2010. Now, instead of worrying about any 1-game playoff situations, the Giants get to focus solely on the Atlanta Braves, who they'll be facing in the upcoming NLDS. Also, by avoiding having to extend the season for any 1-game playoff, it allows the Giants to set-up their rotation in the best possible way to face Atlanta. I'm going to assume that Tim Lincecum will go in game 1, followed by Matt Cain then Jonathan Sanchez. Bochy could go with Zito in game three, seeing that Zito has all that postseason experience, but Sanchez is going through a stretch in which he's been extremely tough to hit. He's allowed just 20 base hits over his last 38.2 innings of work, and has an overall BAA of .193 since the All-Star break. The Giants other young lefty, Madison Bumgarner, needs to get some consideration also, as he's been on point lately as well. The left-handed rookie has allowed just 5 runs over his last 6 starts, a span of 38 innings... However Boch determines to lineup the rotation, he has a few days to do so, as the Giants won't play their first game vs. Atlanta until Thursday night in San Francisco.

Stay tuned here to GBB, as we'll be one of the more active websites covering the Giants playoff run, as we'll likely be updating the site daily (after a day off Monday like the Giants players are getting), with at least something, during the playoffs. And we'll have much, much more in regards to previewing this upcoming Giants-Braves round 1 match-up, but right now, it's time to take in and enjoy the feat this team just accomplished. After struggling to stay afloat around mid-season, at which time they were consistently about 7-9 games out of first place, this team really finished strong to make it to where they're at. What surprised me the most, is that they did this without their highest-paid free-agent signees of the winter in Mark DeRosa, they received a huge drop off in production out of Pablo Sandoval from '09, and saw Tim Lincecum go through a 2-month stretch in which he looked like an average/below average ML pitcher, and not the 2-time reigning Cy Young winner that he is. Just goes to show how important those in-season acquisitions of Pat Burrell, Jose Guillen, Mike Fontenot, Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramierez were. Oh yeah, that kid named Posey helped out a bit too after arriving in May too, in-fact, as good as Huff was, Buster Posey was the Giants' MVP in 2010, and they would not have won the West without him.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Padres Refuse To Quit, Giants Getting Nervous?

The Padres took care of business Friday night, and have begun Saturday's game in similar fashion, getting to Barry Zito for 2 quick runs in the top of the first inning.

Everyone was getting excited coming into this series thinking that it was basically a done deal as far as the Giants winning the West is concern, but the Padres look determined to defy the odds. It's only the bottom of the 1st inning in Saturday's game (as I type this), but the difference in the way the two teams are playing is already evident, and the Giants better get it together, or else they could lose their grip on this thing. The frustrating part of it was watching Zito struggle through a nasty, 30+ pitch inning to start the first inning, then watching the Giants offense come up in the bottom half and go down in just 8 pitches. The reason why the Giants offense had been clicking lately, is because they weren't being so over-aggressive at the plate. Now all the sudden, they must be feeling the playoff fever, and it's making them antsy, because it looks like they're just trying to speed/get through these games rather than actually winning them. Now the Giants are only down 2, and there is still a ton of baseball left today, so I'm nowhere near ready to declare the Pads the victor's just yet, but the Giants have to answer back here in the early innings, otherwise this division's going down to the season's final day.

Keep posted here at GBB as we'll make various additions to this post throughout the day as the game draws to an end. At least Zito looks a little more settled here in the 2nd inning, let's hope it holds up and the offense gets going, I don't think I can take another Tim Stauffer shutout.

Sunday's Game Now Matters: Well, it's official, the Giants couldn't quite make the comeback Saturday vs. San Diego, and the Padres are now just 1 game behind the Giants heading into the final game of the season on Sunday. Barry Zito's horrendous 2nd-half luck continued Saturday, as the Pads got to him for a few early runs in the first, then the defense let him down again, and he ended up with his 10th loss since the all star break. He's not 9-14 on the year, despite pitching quite better than his record would indicate. Pablo Sandoval and Juan Uribe tried did their part, as Uribe hit a bomb in the 7th to get the Giants on the board, then Sandoval got them to within 2 runs in the 9th and really gave the Giants hope with a pinch-hit RBI single. Then, with runners on the corners and just 1-out, Jose Guillen pinch hit with the tying run on base, but grounded into a game ending double-play.... So this sets things up for Sunday's showdown, in which the Pads will try and force a 1-game playoff, and the Giants will try and end their 8-year playoff drought. The pitching match-up is a dandy too, but it slightly gives the Padres the edge as they throw they're young ace, Mat Latos, vs. the Giants' nasty lefty, Jonathan Sanchez. All I can say, is the Giants better be playing, and Bruce Bochy better be coaching, like this Sunday's game is the 7th game of the World Series though, and pull out all stops in order to avoid the 1-game playoff.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________
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