The Giants offense once again hid under a shell for Madison Bumgarner in Wednesday night's mini 2-game series opener vs. the Cardinals. However, they rebounded just in time in Thursday afternoon's match-up to avoid being swept by the reigning World Champs.
|Crawford's 2-Run Single|
Matt Cain did not provide one of his better starts of the 2012 campaign, but the Giants offense showed up in bunches throughout Thursday's game in order to overcome an early deficit and take the game over in the late innings. They took big advantage of some defensive mistakes by St. Louis, and it was finally good to see the opposing team struggle in the field for a change. The Cards put up two early runs against Cain in the first, but as he does so often, he got stronger as the game wore on. He left after 6 innings, allowing 4 runs on 8 hits with 6 K's, but the Giants did manage to score enough for him to provide him the victory. The two Brandon's each really stood out in this ballgame, as they combined for 3 doubles and 3 RBI. It was especially nice to see Belt hit with a little bit of authority. I know he's had some moments here early on in 2012, but for the most part, he hasn't been driving the ball like the Giants were hoping, and that changed Thursday with his first career multi-double game. Also, looking for some way to spark the Giants stagnant offense, Boch made some moves in the order Thursday, and I'll be curious to see if they stick moving forward. Brandon Crawford was moved up to the two spot in the order, and despite his low batting average, I'll tell you what I like about that move. The one component Crawford has displayed as a young big leaguer, is the ability to take some pitches, and the Giants were getting too many quick outs from the top of their order since Pablo went down and changed everything up. I wouldn't mind seeing Crawford in the 2-hole a few more times after the solid performance Thursday. Until the surging Angel Pagan can get back into the top of the order, they need production there, and Blanco has provided it out of the leadoff spot, but that 2-hole has been a problem since Cabrera was moved to the 3-spot.
|Casilla: 9/10 in Save Situations|
Also, I must say, I was thinking that Santiago Casilla would only be a short-term answer at closer, and that the Giants would have a different man in that spot by the trade deadline, but he's been brilliant in the role since the Giants lost "The Beard". So good in fact that he'll likely get some All-Star votes. Most of these Giants wins have been close ballgames, nail-biters, and Casilla has surpassed all expectations in my book. The Giants bullpen is still not quite clicking on all cylinders, as they still haven't adequately replaced Guillermo Mota and need to get Jeremy Affeldt back in a groove, but other than that, the pen has held up decently for losing two key cogs early on. Thursday may have been a move in the right direction for Affeldt, as he had his second consecutive perfect outing after a pretty rough April. The good thing about Affeldt, is he has a rubber arm and can go 2-3 innings when needed, plus when he's on, he's just as effective vs. righties as he is vs. lefties, and could be huge if he could lock down that 7th inning bridge to Romo/Lopez./Casilla. I still think Heath Hembree will be up at some point before September, probably not as closer, but with the Giants lacking some in middle relief now, he could be their savior if they can't find a reasonable arm on the market.
: It's been over a week now since Aubrey Huff was recalled from the DL, and he hasn't gotten a single start since and has only 1 hit in 6 at-bats. I have no idea what the Giants plan is for Huff, but at this point, he's really serving no purpose other than a left-handed pinch hitter who isn't doing all that much off the bench. He managed to make contact in a key spot in Thursday's game, but hit a weak grounder to third that David Freese made a throwing error on. I wonder how much longer the Giants will give Aubrey to work through things. One factor that is favoring him is that none of the Giants young hitters are coming up and making a statement. Charlie Culberson hasn't shown much of anything, Gillaspie did nothing and Joaquin Arias and Manny Burris are not MLB starters. It's amazing how much one injury (Sandoval's) effects the whole outlook of a roster.