Three games. Three wins. You can't complain too much with that. Could it have been a prettier win? Sure. Are the Astros probably going to be competing in the basement of the NL Central with the Pittsburgh Pirates? Most likely. Nonetheless, it's good to see the Giants get off to such a great start in the first series of the 2010 season.
As for today, the Giants bats really came out in a 10-4 victory. Unlike yesterday, where singles and double plays ruled the day, the Giants actually put some oomph behind the ball. Like yesterday though, the Giants got sterling outings once again from their starting pitcher (Matt Cain) and bullpen (Jeremy Affeldt and newcomer, former Dodgers and Prince Fielder disturber Guillermo Mota went 2.1 IP and allowed only one hit, an infield single to Michael Bourne).
Here are some of the notes from today's game.
-- Cain didn't get the victory today in true Cain style. He pitched well the whole game with a tight lead, but had a bad inning in the seventh due to a couple of bad breaks (Rowand almost had Sullivan's triple). When Affeldt came in to hold the lead and get one out, Bourn got a huge break by Uribe not charging it more, thus, tying the game and costing Cain the win.
Other than the seventh though, there wasn't much more Cain could do. In 6.2 IP, Cain had five strikeouts and allowed only six hits. What's even more amazing? Cain had zero walks and threw 66 strikes out of his 98 pitches thrown today (67 percent).
(Incredible stat: in the Giants first three games, the starting pitchers have allowed only a combined one walk. One! Yes, it's early, and yes, it's only three games, but the Giants pitching has shown incredibly command so far in the season, which is surprising because usually this early, they're still working out the kinks from Spring Training.)
Another impressive note about today? Cain neutralized Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee today, as they went a combined 0-for-8 with two strikeouts (each having one). Yes, Pedro Feliz had two doubles, but when you neutralize the three-four hitters like Cain did today, chances are you're going to win.
Was it as impressive as Zito and Lincecum's starts? No, but Cain certainly proved today that he is capable of having another solid season in 2010.
-- John Bowker and Travis Ishikawa both went yard today, a good sign that the Giants young players aren't as bad as Henry Schulman likes to believe. Bowker's hit was an absolute blast, but more importantly, he had a pretty good day, though many would be cautious by his 1-for-4 performance. Bowker didn't strike out and from what I saw he looked very comfortable at the plate. This is a far cry from last year, when he was swinging at everything and anything in his callup mid-season from Fresno. Sure, Bowker might not be playing everyday, but I think Bowker is certainly capable of putting up solid stats in the Majors this year.
As for Ishikawa? Any other park and that's probably a fly out or off the wall. At Minute Maid, it's a home run, but I'll take it. The startling thing was that Ishikawa hit it out on a 1-2 count. Striking out was a big problem with Ishikawa last year (27.3 percent strikeout rate), so to see him not only make contact (72.2 percent contact rate, which was one of the lowest contact rates out of Giants regulars) but make good contact on two strikes is promising. I'm hoping that Ishikawa will get a start sometime during the Atlanta series. Nothing against Aubrey Huff, but getting Ishikawa at-bats wouldn't hurt, especially if he can show that he is capable of hitting like he did in the second-half of 2009.
-- Maybe I reverse jinxed him, but Rowand put up a solid line today. 4-for-6 with a triple and two RBI and a run score. That's a far cry from his 0-for-10 output that he put up in the first two games of the series. Does that mean Rowand should be the leadoff hitter for good? I'm not sure, but it's nice to see that he is capable of bouncing back in a big way after starting out the series so terribly at the plate.
Yet he wasn't the only "underachieving" veteran who had a big game. Renteria was great at the plate. Sure, he still doesn't hit with any power (he hit five singles, and drew a walk in his 5-for-5 performance today), but he showed much better plate discipline today in comparison to what Giants fans have seen from him before. In three games, Renteria has eight hits, three RBI and has scored two runs. Granted, it's only one series, but if Renteria can continue to stay healthy and continue his solid plate approach, then perhaps having him as the everyday shortstop won't be such a bad thing like it was last season.
Overall, a great way to start the year for the Giants. The team isn't winning pretty, but the promise of Bowker and the solid play from Renteria, the starting pitching and the bullpen these three games definitely bodes well for the Giants as they continue to progress during the 2010 season.
Now, the Giants come back home to AT&T for their home opener where they will face a very ballyhooed Braves team (Cox's last year; dark horse to make playoffs) who have a very ballyhooed player (Jason Heyward). Jonathan Sanchez will be on the mound in the home opener. Though I'm optimistic he can have a solid start, I'm not optimistic that he'll have less than two walks in Friday's opener. Sorry, I'm just not ready to believe that yet (though I wouldn't be surprised to see him have over seven strikeouts).
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