Sunday, March 9, 2008

Giants 6 Angels 6

Our second game was against the Angels over at Tempe Diablo Stadium -- a nice lil' ballpark a couple of miles south of our hotel. The weather was again bright and sunny, probably a couple of degrees warmer than yesterday (my unofficial guess is about 76 degrees at game time.) The weird score is due to the fact that they rarely play extra innings in Spring Training.

Plenty of action at the game today -- both on the field and off. The Giants played their new brand of baseball almost to perfection: scoring in the first on a single by leadoff hitter Rajai Davis. An error on Angels 3rd baseman Chone Figgins (who threw the ball past 1st baseman Casey Kotchman) allowed Davis to scoot over to 3rd. He came home on a sac fly by the next batter Euginio Velez. Velez hit the ball to medium deep right field and as Vlad Guerrero gloved the ball I said "this ought to be interesting" as Davis tagged up at 3rd and got ready to challenge Guerrero's legendary cannon arm. True to form, Guerrero threw an absolute bullet on target to home, but the speedy Davis beat the throw by plenty and scored standing up. Wow.

With the Angels batting in the bottom of the first, Gary Matthews Jr. launched a fly ball foul down the left field line towards our section of lawn seats. A guy got up from the lawn and camped under the fly ball, with his arms extended directly over his head. Bad move. The ball plummeted to earth, glanced through his outstretched hands and thwacked right off his face. Ouch. The medical staff came rushing down to him and he held a towel over his bloody nose a minute or two later and left the lawn up towards the concession area. He seemed ok and waved to our section who gave him polite standing applause as he walked out. Quite a sound that ball made as it went k-thwackk off of his cabeza. The crowd let out a collective "Ooohhhh" as he went down to the ground. Fortunately, as I said, he seemed to be OK, and that's one dude that's unlikely to line up his FACE right underneath the path of a fly ball ever again.

As for the rest of the game, it again featured very good pitching by the Giants. Starter Brad Hennessey worked 3 good innings giving up two runs and getting lots of ground ball outs to the infield. Rule 5 pitcher Jose Capellan gave up one run in the 4th and Osiris Matos, Jack Taschner and Vinnie Chulk all worked scoreless innings after that. Overall, the Giants pitchers gave up 3 runs on 5 hits with 4 strikeouts and no walks through 7 innings -- all against the powerful Angels starting lineup composed of all of their front-line players.

Things went wrong in a hurry in the 7th when Giants youngster Kelvin Pichardo came in to pitch and promptly walked the leadoff hitter, then gave up a single and a double which plated 2 runs to make the score 6-5 Giants. He then made things even worse by hitting the next batter and walking the batter after that to load the bases with nobody out. Bruce Bochy finally yanked Pichardo and replaced him with his countryman Bartolome Fortunado. Fortunado got a 4-6-3 Double Play which plated the tying run. He then got a groundout to second to end the madness but the lead was blown. Billy Sadler pitched a 1-2-3 9th inninng to preserve the tie. But the Giants deserved better.

The "meek" (scrappy) Giants offense looked lively, getting 3 runs in the 5th by translating a hit and two walks into a bases loaded chance for Ray Durham who smacked a 3-run double into the Right Center gap that plated Giants speedsters Davis, Velez and Fred Lewis who scored all the way from first. Chalk up another one for team speed. The Giants added another run in the 6th by translating a hit batsman, an error and a single into another run. That should have been enough. That it wasn't underscores the fact that the Giants will need shutdown pitching from their bullpen to make whatever runs the offense manages to scratch out hold up. The consolation may be that Pichardo will likely start the year in AA or AAA, where it is hoped he can learn how to translate his awesome AA numbers (4.17 K/BB ratio at AA last year) into success at the major league level.

Today's Picture is of Eliezer Alfonzo batting in the 6th inning against the Angel's Steve Marek. Marek would hit Alfonzo with a pitch and Alfonzo would eventually come around to score the Giants' sixth and final run of the afternoon.