Saturday, July 25, 2009

The PG Beat: Retro-Sanchez night at Coors Field, Colorado's Troy Tulowitziki beats Giants by himself

Troy Tulowitzki: Good for my fantasy team "Bring Back Barry." Bad for the Giants' chances of making the postseason.

Well... the Giants' 8-2 loss provided some not-so-enjoyable surprises.

Jonathan Sanchez didn't do either option one or two in my pre-game analysis. Instead, he did something that may have proved to be worse than option two: he reverted back to his old, inconsistent self.

The thing about Sanchez that is frustrating is the guy just really gets rattled on the mound. He was absolutely dealing for three innings, looking great as he mowed down Rockies hitters the first time through the order. Then, like clockwork, things get ugly for him when he got through the lineup a second time. It started with b a cheap hit, a walk, some rain and then before you know it...Troy Tulowitzki hits a three-run home run and the game is suddenly 3-0 and Sanchez is throwing a hissy fit on the mound.

Look, I understand Sanchez. You let those at-bats get away in the fourth. I know you were probably ticked off on some of the calls you were squeezed on. I know that you feel that you just let one bad pitch get away and that's it. However, the only way you're going to improve as a pitcher is if you suck up, and take the game on, batter by batter. Seriously, seeing him out there on the mound, cursing to himself and losing his composure just made me sick to my stomach. It basically lost the game for him and this Giants team. His head was never in the game after that home run, and he only lasted five innings in a very forgettable performance.

To be perfectly honest, I'm a fan of Sanchez. I absolutely love his stuff. Stuff-wise, I think he can give Lincecum a run for his money. His pitching style is deceptive, his fastball is livelier than Lincecum's, and he's a lefty, which is always a bonus because of the sheer novelty of a left-handed dominating starter (seriously, a good lefty is like a good refrigerator with one of those ice/water machines. You can have the best refrigerator in the world, but when you have one of those ice/water machines connected, that puts it over the top. That's how great a good lefty can be over a good righty. A good righty just doesn't have that novelty a lefty does).

Yet in terms of mental makeup, Sanchez barely cracks this rotation. Zito looks like Greg Maddux in comparison. Sanchez gets down on himself, loses control and pitching coach Dave Righetti needs to come out once an inning to calm him down, and even then that seems to do nada. Until Sanchez can harness his emotions and composure on the mound, his great stuff and all the mechanical adjustments in the world, won't help him be a better pitcher. After tonight, I'm absolutely convinced that Sanchez's problems all stem from a need for a mental and emotional adjustment on the mound. I think physically the tools are there, but his lack of composure is what holds him back from being truly a great pitcher.

That being said, I'm not blaming this one totally on Sanchez. Tulowitzki killed us. There is no doubt about it. Granted, Sanchez could have walked a lot less guys, and could've been more composed on the mound, but Sanchez only made a couple of mistakes until the sixth inning. The thing that hurt the Giants in this loss was a familiar story: lack of run support.

Now, I'm getting tired of saying it, but it's the same swan song with this team: they string together a decent amount of hits, but they just can't bring the runs in. That's the biggest problem with this team, and that is one of the reasons why I can't fathom why Nick Johnson would be considered an improvement to this roster. He doesn't drive in runs, but rather gets on base and scores runs. Well...that's not our freaking problem! Our problem is getting RBI, and finding someone that can get a base hit with ducks on the pond. We don't need a guy who can draw walks! Seriously, if I hear one more "The Giants need to acquire Nick Johnson" statement from a Peter Gammons or Buster Olney, I'm going to go crazy.

So, bottom line, Giants did what they always did at the plate (bad at-bats, not coming through with runners on base) and they lost. Nonetheless, this one was kind of disappointing because I felt if the Giants could get something early going with the bats, Sanchez could have built on that confidence and had another good outing. Unfortunately, it was the Rockies that struck first and it was all downhill from there. Such a shame.

In other news, Merkin Valdez continues to befuddle Giants fans as the "most disappointing pitcher with seemingly good stuff" in the history of this Giants organization. I'm serious. On paper, Valdez has everything that could merit him being a lights out closer or set-up man. He has a high-90's fastball and a very good breaking ball. That being said, he can't finish an 0-2 count to save his life. Finishing hitters for him seems to be as arduous a challenge as television producers saying "No" to Paris Hilton being on television. Having him in the bullpen is such a waste, especially when really quality relievers like Brandon Medders lose opportunities to pitch because Sabean and Bochy think Valdez has the potential to be good down the road. Look guys, he's either going to become the next big closer or he isn't. So far it doesn't look that way. Let's cut our losses and move on. It's not like we're desperate for bullpen arms here.

Just a tough loss once again. There still is hope of course. There is hope Ryan Sadowski won't stink up the joint like his last outing in Atlanta. There is hope Edgar Renteria will finally learn to hit the ball out of the infield again. There is hope that somebody can drive in runs with ducks on the pond in a pressure-packed situation. There is hope that the Giants can still beat Colorado in this Wild Card race.

Unfortunately, like Alexander Dumas said in the ending of The Man in the Iron Mask, "We live in hope, only to die despair..."

I know. It's a little early for that kind of talk so I'm sorry. But after tonight, just for your information, I'm not feeling good in terms of confidence. A struggling Sadowski on the mound facing the ace of the Rockies staff, Aaron Cook, in the rubber game of this crucial series simply has just brought out the worst in me.

Postgame box notes:

Winning pitcher: Jorge De La Rosa (8-7) 7.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 7 SO
Losing pitcher: Jonathan Sanchez (3-9) 5 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 5 SO

Giants standouts: Randy Winn, 3B (5). Pablo Sandoval, 2-for-4, 2 2B (28). Juan Uribe, 2-for-4.
Rockies standouts: Brad Hawpe, 2-for-3. Troy Tulowitzki, 3-for-4, HR (18), 2B (14). Chris Ianetta, 2B (10).

Probable starters for next game: Sadowski (2-2) vs. Cook (9-3).

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