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Sunday, September 09, 2012

Pence, Posey and Zito Beat LA

This was the biggest series of the year in terms of momentum in the NL West, and with 21 games left, the LA may want to start thinking about a wild card spot!

It seems like the mega-deal that netted LA Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett has sparked the Giants more than it did the Dodgers. San Francisco got their first look at the new Dodgers this weekend, including Josh Beckett on Friday night, and showed they weren't the least bit impressed. They hit a bit of an offensive wall Saturday afternoon, and never got anything going, but they looked like a team prime for a big postseason run in the opener and the finale. One of the things I thought was key to this series was that the Giants starting pitching, which had been stumbling a bit lately, had to get back on track, and that they did. They got a big outing from the guy they're hoping returns to ace-like form out of Tim Lincecum Friday night. Timmy walked 7 batters in 6 1/3 innings of work, which typically would have led to an early exit and an ugly all-around outing, but he flashed some vintage Lincecum in being able to tight-rope out of situations and ultimately giving the Giants a chance to win. Cain threw tremendously on Saturday but go no support. Then Barry Zito made it come full circle with what I believe was his best start of 2011 in Sunday's rubber match. Zito had a crisp fastball, excellent location and had the big break and outstanding command of his curve ball.

It really was a tale of two different teams heading in opposite directions this weekend. We saw the Giants play extremely well fundamentally, and the Dodgers not so much. The starting pitching stepped up exactly as it needed to, and the offense fed off of it. Pablo Sandoval's first inning sac fly, and then Hunter Pence's two-run double were a huge momentum gainer, and then Buster came up with the solo shot to really put the icing on the cake. They got out to an early lead in the first, taking the pressure of Zito, and Zito made it stand. They moved players from 2nd to 3rd with less than two out and actually hit with runners in scoring position. The Dodgers had some opportunities in Sunday's game, but went 0-8 w/RISP, and failed to do the small things the Giants have become so successful at. It certainly helped that the Giants didn't have to face Clayton Kershaw Sunday, who was scratched do to some hip soreness (I really don't get that move by Mattingly in a series of this magnitude) and the fact that Matt Kemp has been sidelined temporarily and missed the game. Still, the Giants had to take advantage of it like good teams do. The difference between this team and LA is quite apparent right now, and I don't even think the Dodgers themselves believe they have much of a shot at beating out the Giants in the West.

The starting pitchers got themselves back on track this weekend, but we can't forget about the bullpen. You rarely see late inning relievers used in a committee role, and be successful at it, but the Giants are. Sergio Romo has been masterful closing out games, and Javier Lopez has been a menace to the left-handed hitters he's being called upon to retire late in games. Also, I can't say enough about Santiago Casilla, who has taken over Romo's prior role and has not missed a beat. It's another example of how versatile and talented this Giants team is, and how every player on that roster has just one goal in mind... It's almost time to start busting out the magic number column, the Giants are smelling the finish line!
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2 Comments:

  • At 12:53 PM, Anonymous Carl said…

    The only differnce between this team and 2010 is they had to comeback in 2010 and win in the last day of the season. But everything else feels the same. I hope we can keep Scutaro and Pagan around next year.

     
  • At 11:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So what, is Zito better than vogelsong now? WTF happened to the guy, he's been terrible lately?

     

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