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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Giants Now 3 Games Back of Rockies

Although the Rockies were able to salvage the series and win game 3 on Wednesday, the Giants won their 4th consecutive series, and are now just 3 games back of first place Colorado.

If you've been watching Matt Cain throw all year, then Wednesday's start had to take you by surprise a little bit. It was Cain's roughest start of the '11 season and really his only bad start he's had since the 2011 season started. Cain gave up 6 runs over 4.2 innings, allowing 9 hits and 2 walks along with 6 strikeouts, and the Giants bullpen didn't fair much better. After Tim Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez were so brilliant on Monday and Tuesday night, the bullpen probably grew a tad restless, cause they looked mighty rusty in Wednesday's game, especially Dan Runzler. Still though, after the Giants first two games, it's tough to get really upset about Wednesday's performance. Prior to the game, they also made a few roster moves, which I think a lot of fans saw coming, sending Brandon Belt down to Fresno and activating Cody Ross from the 15-day DL. Bochy didn't waste any time getting Ross out there either, immediately placing him in right field and in the fifth spot in the lineup. After Aaron Rowand was forced to leave Tuesday nights game when he took a Ubaldo Jimenez fastball off the right forearm, there was a lot of concern as to the severity of the injury. Rowand is known as a guy who won't come out of a game unless he absolutely cannot go, and by him taking himself out, it raised some flags. However, Rowand woke up in much better shape Wednesday, making his way into the lineup and allowing Ross to stick in right field.

Unfortunately, the Giants didn't have the guy who's been their most impressive offensive performer so far this year for Wednesday's series finale. Pablo Sandoval strained his triceps in batting practice and although the injury isn't supposed to be serious, Bochy didn't want to take any chances with the rejuvenated 24 year-old "Panda". Sandoval is leading all Giants regulars with a .328 average, 5 home runs and 13 RBI to go along with a 1.003 OPS through the first 3 weeks. He's also looked like a different man on defense as well, showing much more range and a lot more confidence. He's settled very nicely into the 5th spot behind Posey and Huff, and has finally allowed Bochy to use the same 1-5 order on a consistent basis. Now with Ross back, I'd assume that he'll slide into the 6th spot behind Sandoval and in front of Pat Burrell and Miguel Tejada, and that's probably the lineup we'll be seeing most of the time. A lot of people were speculating early on what would happen with everyone once Ross returned, but with Belt's struggles and Andres Torres' injury, things worked themselves out. And even though I agree 100% with the move, I'm certainly not down on Brandon Belt by any stretch. The kid just turned 23, and is only going to get better, but needs to be playing everyday in Fresno right now, fine tuning his swing and plate coverage.

Belt is taking a path very similar to that of Buster Posey's. Remember what Buster Posey looked like in his first stint in the bigs at the end of 2009? He didn't get quite the opportunity that Belt received over the last 3 weeks, only getting 18 at-bats in total at the end of September, but he hit just .118 in that short stint. Posey also had very limited experience beyond AA ball at the time, much like Belt did coming into this year. Posey then started the 2010 season in Fresno in very strong fashion, resulting in him coming up for good last May. I expect much of the same with Belt. He's got to cover that middle-in part of the plate, and get his confidence back, and believe me, he'll be back sooner than later.
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5 Comments:

  • At 4:48 PM, Anonymous Jason Billingsley said…

    The Giants are in a groove. Win 2, lose 1, I'll take that the rest of the way.

    What kind of year will Cody Ross have? He didn't get much spring training, but I think he's still going to have a breakout year. Maybe 25 homers, 90 RBI, .300 batting average. At least that's what I thought after the postseason last year. We'll see!

    Great to see the Dodgers in such turmoil, hahahahaha!

     
  • At 6:34 PM, Anonymous hitnrun said…

    The outfield defense looks much better with Ross in right, and when Torres comes back, centerfield will be covered. That just leaves left field, where Burrell may hit a homer or two, but he is too slow and has no arm to play this position. If Belt tears it up at Fresno, maybe he can take Burrell's place, who really should come off the bench.

     
  • At 12:22 AM, Anonymous TommyGunnz said…

    A Sweep would have been the ultimate, and 1 game back would have been the shiznit.

    Still, the Giants, yeah have off days once a week or so, look like that October magical team. Late inning wins, never say die attitude,

    Just wish Belt could have stayed ab it longer. Was really pulling for him, good kid, good bat and glove and very humble and hard working.

     
  • At 11:35 AM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    HitNRun,

    I've heard a few different people suggest what you have, about moving Belt out to left when he comes back, but I just don't see a whole lot of logic in that.

    Why take a great defensive 1b'men out of place for an average 1b'men? Huff wouldn't be any worse in left field than Burrell's been, and as you said, Torres' return and Ross back in RF will strengthen the unit as a hole.

    I'd rather have Huff stay serviceable in LF (where he'd be much better than he's been in right) and keep Belt at first where he's drawn praise from people like J.T. Snow and Will Clark.

    I guess we'll see how they use him in Fresno. I'm assuming he'll be at first base daily, but if they start playing him in the outfield, than that would surely indicate their immediate plans.

     
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