Sunday, August 2, 2009

The PG Beat: F. Sanchez shines in Giants debut, Zito gets win, strange thought on Hamels

New Giants second baseman, Freddy Sanchez, helped Giants fans forget all about Tim Alderson with a 2-for-4, 2 RBI performance in the Giants' 7-3 win over Philly.

Oh yeah! What a win! Way to take three of four from the Phillies! In your face, Philadelphia! In your freaking, Cheesteak-eating, Donovan McNabb-hating face!

Whoa...sorry about that. I'm just a little pumped from that victory. I mean, going into this game, as I mentioned in the preview, I was ready for the worst. Zito on the hill. Phillies coming off an embarrassing offensive performance. Hamels pitching for the Phillies, who is very similar to Cliff Lee, who in turn dominated the Giants on Friday night. As a Giants fan, there just wasn't a lot to look forward to on Sunday afternoon. Furthermore, when the lead was 3-1 in the fifth, all I could say to myself as we went into the bottom of the fifth was " least we split the series."

And then in the bottom of the fifth inning with two outs, Zito gets a base hit and the Giants roll from there. Velez hits a bloop single. New Giant Freddy Sanchez crushes a bases clearing double that ties the game. Sandoval hits a weird infield single that forces Howard to commit an error which scores Sanchez from second. It was absolutely beautiful to behold as a Giants baseball fan. It was the kind of breaks the Giants don't get very often, Zito especially, who seems to be more snake-bit this year in his outings than Thomas Jane and his acting career (In case you haven't read my Tweets, I don't like Hung).

Speaking of Zito, I may go out on a limb here, but I think this was one of his best pitching performances of the year stuff-wise. I mean, his pitches looked great. His fastball was hitting 90, something people thought would be unreachable for Zito a couple of years ago when he was barely topping 85. His curve seemed to resemble his curve of old (e.g. nasty) and he just had great command in general. Other than the Rollins home run, he was just great with his pitching approach and pitch location, and I think this start could bode well for Zito during these last couple months. Anybody who is worried with Johnson injured that we don't have much pitching depth behind Lincecum and Cain can forget about that statement. With Zito doing as well as he is, starting pitching is the least of the Giants' worries, even with there being no No. 5 starter in place with Sadowski getting demoted on Saturday.

After watching the game, I also came to a strange conclusion. Is it just me, or does Cole Hamels seem to be like a young Barry Zito, just with a better fastball? I mean, it's not that much better (it's only like 93, 3 more MPH than what Zito was throwing today) but it's still a livelier fastball nonetheless. Other than that though, the similarities between the two are just very uncanny. They have the same kind of pitching motion, have the same kind of approaches and except for the way they wear their pants, look almost identical on the hill. Maybe I'm just full of it, but I couldn't get that out of my head all day: "Why does Cole Hamels look so much like Barry Zito?"

Anyways, one big shot out goes to Freddy Sanchez, the newest Giant who made a sparkling debut as the Giants second baseman. I'm sorry, but after his 2-for-4 performance that included his 2 RBI double that changed the game in the fifth, I forgot all about who we traded away. Yeah, we may have lost a great pitcher in Tim Alderson, but Sanchez showed today that he is ready to play, and is ready to contribute to this Giants playoff effort. We saw it last year when Jason Bay went Boston and he helped spark their playoff run. For some reason, I have a feeling Sanchez is going to bring the same kind of spark to this Giants team. He's hungry, he gives the Giants what they need (stability at second base) and he was tailor-made to play baseball at AT&T Park. I don't know the exact average, but according to Comcast Sportsnet during the broadcast, going into the game, his average was somewhere around .360 at AT&T Park. We saw why it was so high today.

Really, I just can't explain how awesome this series and homestand was. We swept the Pirates and took three out of four from the defending World Series champs (not to mention shut down one of the most potent offenses in baseball today over a four game stretch). If Giants fans were worried after that ten game road trip to start off the second half, I think they should put those fears behind them. After this series, I think this Giants team has recovered the mojo they had in June.

And that can only bode good things as we enter the August swing.

Postgame box notes:

Winning pitcher: Barry Zito (7-10) 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO.
Losing pitcher: Cole Hamels (7-6) 5 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO.

Giants standouts: Freddy Sanchez, 2B (29), 2 RBI. Eugenio Velez, 2-for-5, 2 RBI. Aaron Rowand, 2-for-4, 3B (2). Edgar Renteria, 2B (15).
Phillies standouts: Jimmy Rollins, 2-for-4, HR (11). Ben Francisco, 2-for-4. Eric Bruntlett, 2B (6).

Probable starters for Giants next game against Houston: Cain (12-2) vs. Hampton (6-8).
Probable starters for Phillies next game against Colorado: Hammel (5-6) vs. Moyer (10-7).

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