Alright, maybe not “beautiful” but watchable baseball? Maybe.
This years incarnation of the Giants is never going to be a great one but they’ll win the occasional game. We must exercise caution and not get too excited, the Giants are not a playoff team and in no way should we get our hopes up. But, a lot of things went well last night in the 4-3 win over the Padres.
Leading off in the good news department was Tim Lincecum’s performance. I think we can all officially get off the ‘Lincecum Panic Bus’ for now. His start wasn’t perfect but it was resoundingly solid. After walking Marcus Giles to start the game, Lincecum K’d the side with 97mph heat and was on a roll for the game. The walks are a little high, 4 on the night, but you’ve got to love what you saw from Lincecum. When Lincecum throws strikes, he’s a good pitcher.
Despite Correia giving up the three run homer to Mike Cameron, the bullpen has been good on the whole this year. I can’t get too mad with Correia because the Cameron at bat was a battle. Cameron fouled off several very tough pitches in a row before hitting the home run. You’ve got to tip your hat to him and move on. Hennessey and Chulk both combined for 3 scoreless innings. Kline on the other hand didn’t look so hot but defense didn’t do him any favors. Cruz Jr advancing to 2nd on a single and fielding error by Nate and Adrian Gonzalez’s “double” which Winn got a horrible break on and would have been caught most nights.
The Chron notes that the pen has been solid this year
They went toe-to-toe with the best bullpen in the majors, by ERA, and emerged triumphant. It might surprise fans to learn the Giants’ bullpen has the fourth-best ERA.
The bullpen was an early fear of everyone this year, mine included. The Giants ranked 15th last year in bullpen ERA and it was important this year that the bullpen improve for the Giants to win. Guys like Correia, Hennessey, Chulk, Messenger, and Sanchez all have ERA’s under 4.00 and have pitched very well. Kline has been walking the tightrope for most of this year and Taschner has his moments. I’ve been particularly impressed with Jonathan Sanchez since his return from Fresno, he’s just been nasty. The Giants also have a deep well of relief arms to draw on from AAA (Wilson, Sadler, Misch, Giese, Atchinson) it’s a nice mix of veterans and younger guys. I’m liking the way the pen is shaping up for 2008.
The other crucial moment that I loved last night was the Dave Roberts pinch hit AB. The Giants come to bat right after the momentum has swung over to the Padres after the Cameron 3-run HR and have to face one of the toughest relievers in the NL, Scott Linebrink. Roberts comes to the plate with guys on 2nd and 1st. The Padres try to pitch Roberts aggressively away so that he can’t pull the ball. Linebrink is just pounding the outside of the plate and eventually Roberts ends up pulling a ground ball between 2nd and 1st for a base hit. Huge at bat from Dave.
A win can cover up some of the ugliness of a struggling team and that’s what happened last night. The Giants had some great opprunties that they squandered late in the game, opportunities that they are lucky didn’t come back to haunt them (such as Durham’s AB in the 8th with runners on the corners, a sac fly would have given the Giants the lead) this team is still not great but they aren’t as bad as they looked during the 8 game losing streak.