Thursday, July 23, 2009

The PG Beat: Giants avoid complete humiliation, finally win a game in Atlanta

Juan Uribe and the Giants kept the Braves in check this time around, unlike the previous three games where Jones ran them ragged.

Finally! A win! All is forgiven! Giants are going to the World Series!

Yeah, I know I'm being sarcastic, but after watching those previous three games it was nice to see the Giants getting some breaks this time around after getting none for the past week.

Granted, in the grand scheme of things, taking one of four isn't great. Yet considering how big that series with Colorado is, which starts tomorrow, the Giants simply couldn't afford to get swept in a four-game series by the Braves.

That's not to say that the game today was a marvel to behold. The Giants got really lucky in this one thanks to some sketchy calls from the blue, with the main gem being a borderline 3-2 pitch called strike three, followed by Molina throwing the runner out on a steal to complete the double play that ended up getting Bobby Cox tossed.

Furthermore, Sandoval's double was also a questionable call. First, whether or not it was a fair ball was debatable. Additionally, there is a strong chance (okay, 100 percent chance) that it hit the ballboy. If that was the case, then the hit would've been a ground rule double and Lewis would have had to stay at third and wouldn't have scored. You could tell the Braves knew it hit the ballboy for Jones and Diaz were harping and pointing at the kid, yet the umps didn't do anything.

Lastly, there was the pickoff on Winn which should've been an out and that proved to be the straw that broke the Camel's back for Atlanta. If the Giants weren't going to win this game after all the breaks they got from the umps, they would have had to send an apology letter to Bud Selig for not taking advantage of all the opportunities. I hadn't seen a game this badly officiated since the NBA Playoffs, and the first half of the Virginia State Semi-finals in the movie Remember the Titans.

Despite all those blemishes though, this was still a good win. The Giants once again are masters of the big inning, as a four-run outburst in the eighth sparked by poor Braves defense, and clutch Giants hitting, proved to be the clincher in this contest. It wasn't the prettiest way to win, but after all the lousy outputs for about a week, I'm sure Bochy and the Giants won't have any complaints with this victory.

Barry Zito also got a much needed win. After a shelling against San Diego, and the lack of an offense in Pittsburgh, Zito came back with a very good game, even though he flirted with trouble far too often. His control is very spotty at times, but the one thing about Zito is when he is on, he can handle runners on base. Even that though is very inconsistent, for he has times like today where he gets guys on bases and shuts them down, and then he has games like San Diego and Milwaukee where he gets guys on base and gives up home runs.

Nonetheless, it was good for Zito as well as this Giants team to get a much-needed W, especially considering the Giants haven't been able to catch a break with Lincecum on the hill the past couple of starts.

So...onto Colorado. This will be a huge barometer of how serious we are in the playoff race. We sweep this series, I say we're the favorites to win the Wild Card. Win the series, and we're back as contenders. Lose the series, and we're leaning toward pretenders unless a big-time deal is made. Get swept, and we better start thinking about 2010.

I hope it's not the latter. I'm not ready to give up on this year just yet, even with these current struggles.

Postgame box notes:

Winning pitcher: Barry Zito (6-10). 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 6 SO.
Losing Pitcher: Mike Gonzalez (3-3), 0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (pitched to only one batter in the eighth).

Giants standouts: Pablo Sandoval, 2B (26) and RBI (57). Randy Winn, 2-for-4, RBI (39). Travis Ishikawa, 3-for-5. Nate Schierholtz, 3-for-5. Fred Lewis, RBI (13) SB (7).

Braves standouts: Yunel Escobar, HR (11), RBI (57). Brian McCann, 2B (22).

Giants record: 51-44, 10 GB the Dodgers in the NL West, 1 GB the Rockies in the NL Wild Card.
Braves record: 49-47, 6 GB the Phillies in the NL East, 3.5 GB the Rockies in the NL Wild Card.

Probable starters for Giants' next game against Colorado: Cain (11-2) vs. Hammel (5-4). Note: Hammel takes Jason Marquis' place in the rotation, who is injured

Probable starters for Braves' next game against Milwaukee: Vazques (7-7) vs. Parra (4-8)

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