Up until now, the heavy rocks of the Giants’ 2011 MLB season have been carried up the hill by the team’s pitchers. Sure, Manager Bruce Bochy sends players to the plate every half inning, but that’s mostly because the game is set up that way and the rules make you do it. But on Tuesday June 28th, the Giants tried an experiment: what if the hitters scored a lot of runs, wouldn’t that also be a way to win some ballgames?
Well, yes it would. And yes they did. Winning a split game doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs 13-7 and 6-3.
Throughout the afternoon and early evening, the Giants batting line-up chased Chicago Cubs pitching all over the deteriorating confines of quaint Wrigley Field, scoring 19 total runs and featuring a 5 run inning in each game. This all came courtesy of 30 hits, 8 walks, and 3 Cubbie errors. Giant hitters got it done and maybe in the process the offensive light bulb has been switched on.
But leave it to the San Francisco Giants to insist that there also be a compelling pitching story in each game. First, the continuation of Ryan Vogelsong’s amazing oddessy to reinvent a second chance and make the most of it. This time Vogelsong needed some back-up because his streak of 9 starts giving up 2 runs or less ended quickly when the Cubs scored 3 runs in the second inning of the opener.
Vogelsong ended giving up six earned in five innings, but Giants hitters Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand and Aubrey Huff made sure that didn’t matter– they jointly knocked in 8 runs and scored 6. And Ryan Vogelsong’s overall numbers still look kickass after that dust up: 6 wins, 1 loss, a 1.15 WHIP and 2.09 ERA.
All Star Game here we come; and while you’re sitting on the couch watching the Midsummer Classic in two weeks, prepare to pretend like you have something in your eye when Vogelsong walks out on that field and you get a little misty-eyed.
The other great pitching story was the return of Barry Zito as a contributing member of the Championship Giants. For those with previous-year-memory-loss, Zito won 9 games for the Giants in 2010 without which they don’t make the playoffs and go on to win the Series. Zito was tremendous, his signature looping curve ball dropping down behind the plate, causing the Cub hitters to create a nice mix of 10 fly ball outs and 8 ground outs. Zito went 7 strong, giving up 4 hits, 2 walks, and two runs. The pitching-rich Giants just got richer.
I can’t let the story of these two great wins go without two comments about the defense. First the negative, sour, downer, do-you-really-have-to-bring-this-up? stuff: Miguel Tejada at short and Bill Hall at second base continue to look like they were just invited to come out of retirement and play in an old timer’s game.
Tejada leads the team with 7 errors and his range is just about non-existent. But he hit a home run in the first game, and that type of anecdotal performance usually dazzles Giants fans and allows them to forget Tejada’s otherwise dismal offensive contributions this season: .229 BA and a .257 OBP.
Worse is Hall, who is apparently no longer able to run or bend over. As a result, in the 5th inning of the first game Hall bobbled an easy doubleplay grounder then followed that by watching an easy three hop grounder glide by his glove. This after leaving the bases loaded twice in a weekend game against Cleveland and failing to cover first base on two bunt plays the past week.
The defensive good news is all Brandon Crawford all the time. Crawford was at short in game 2, going 2 for 4 with a two-run double. He also saved a run in the bottom of the 3rd inning after the Cubs’ Starlin Castro tripled with two outs. Aramis Ramirez followed with a hard hit grounder deep in the hole at short. From the left field grass, Crawford went to the turf, grabbed the ball, sprung up in an instant and rifled a throw to get Ramirez by an eyelash at first base.