True Schmidt returns

What a game! Schmidt goes 8 IP, 7 H, 1 W, 0 R/ER, 5 K and gets the win. That is the Schmidt we have been waiting all season for. Why he didn't change his tactics a month ago, I have no idea, but Halleluyah, at least he finally figured it out.

Now this might actually be a turning point. I heard some people in the press and public say that yesterday's game could be the turning point with how the Giants fought back from a 4-0 deficit after 1 inning and a disheartening tie at 7-7 before blowing them away with 7 in the 9th. But I disagreed: there's no way the Giants can get things together without their ace and a closer.

But this game exhibited both elements in good form. Besides Schmidt's sterling outing, his one big blemish was giving up 3 straight singles to load the bases in the bottom of the ninth, making the bases loaded with the Tigers 5/6/7 hitters coming up: I-Rod (5, 34, .287), Craig Monroe (8, 41, .268), and Chris Shelton (1, 6, .322 in 31 AB). And Tyler Walker came in and empathically showed that he's the closer, not the closer du jour: he struck out all three of them.

In addition, the offense seems to be waking up from its doldrums of the past month. Vizquel has been quietly building up a nice bit of hitting before totally waking up against the Tigers and getting 5 hits the other night. Tucker has also responded to regular play of late and been getting some key hits. Matheny appears to be starting to hit again after a bad multi-week period of Oh-fer's. And Feliz appears to be out of his hitting funk that he has been in for the past month and more. More importantly, it is a different player helping the offense out each game, something that marks an offense that is going good, instead of being carried by one player.

Without Bonds and other key contributors of the past couple of years, we need the offense, starting pitching and bullpen working in good form. And the past stretch of games showed that all three parts appear to be finally putting it together.

Now lets see if this is only temporary or if they can put together a good stretch like the Dodgers, D-Backs, and 'Dres have done so far this season and get back in the thick of things. None of the other teams have gone for the jugular, they would push forward to the front of the pack but then falter and fall back, so the Giants still have a chance with so many games to go. But for now, one game at at time, lets hope for one win at a time, that's the only way to go. Go Giants!


Sometimes bad things just happen

Title linked to nice article in the Contra Costa Times that basically mirror my thoughts: the Giants have had a lot of bad breaks this year. And perhaps it is karma that it is happening now, the Giants have been dodging the bullet the past few years in terms of playing older players and getting good production out of them, though as the author notes, Benitez and Schmidt were not the ones most people pointed at when complaining about the old team. And I would note that Herges and Brower were not either (how bad are the Braves scuffling to pick up Brower now? I wish him all the best though, except when pitching against the Giants). Plus I suppose karma might be in play regarding Bonds and his Balco connection, it seems more and more obvious that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg, not a molehill.

And my bad for my Vizquel rant in my last post. As one commenter noted, I should check my stats first to be absolutely sure, but I'm a pretty anal person as it is and I've been working on letting go checking things to the Nth degree, which I did for this one. My problem was that I had Vizquel as my SS on my fantasy team and he hadn't done anything for a month so I let him go and I just hadn't noticed that he's put together a pretty good hitting streak since then (though minimal SB, which was the main reason I dropped him, he didn't add HR or much SB for a whole month). So good for him, leading off and charging up the offense, and leading them to a win.

It's not the first time I'm wrong and it won't be the last, but hopefully I will keep them minimized. But PLEASE keep your comments clean - and I will too henceforth - I'm just experimenting and not sure where this will lead, I'm just a Giants fan and I'm doing this for fun and for the experience. I just don't want to be led to the "dark" side as I've gotten into dirty skirmishes in public boards before and I don't want to relive that part of my life again.

And feel free to dissent from my opinion, as that is all it it, and I get things wrong sometimes as I just shown here. Just as long as you remember that it is just your opinion too and you can get things wrong as well. Just lay off the old SNL routine of "Jane, you ignorant slut" and try to have a nice discussion.

Ultimately, though, this is not a democracy I'm running, it's my blog, if you feel the need to run off at the mouth or instigate a fight, Blogger is GREAT, it's FREE, use it to run your own blog where you can rant all you want, with all the foul, derogatory language that your brain can muster, just like I get to write whatever I feel like. It's kind of like that MASH episode, I can walk in, I can walk out, I can do whatever I please. Of course, then your name is out there for everyone to see and you can see how it feels like to deal with anonymous commenters.

But I prefer to leave commenting available because I know that I'm not right all the time, just lay off the name calling and foul language. Thanks and take care! And Go Giants!


Not again: Niekro injured

I was going to mention Niekro's penchant for injuries in my comment to the posters of comments to my last post but I thought I was being unfair to him. Lo and behold, minutes later I learn that Niekro hit a foul ball off his left big toe and had to be brought to the hospital. Hopefully it is just sore but if not, then Snow will be the beneficiary of this, maybe he can use this opportunity to get hot hitting like he did last season.

Oh, by the way, the Giants lost again.... I just realized that Barry's problems mirror the Giants woes. He had an infection so bad that he was just worried about surviving it intact, let alone recovering enough to play baseball. The Giants are losing so much that right now all we can think about is surviving it OK, let alone recovering enough to make the playoffs.

Not to sound Pollyannish, but the Giants are still not that far back that they cannot put together a good run and get back into the thick of things. Just like the past few years, the fast sprinters that took first slowed down and fell back to the pack for another team to sprint to take first place and so on. But it won't just happen, we need someone to lift the team on his shoulders and push them forward and upward. Hopefully Linden can continue his streak of hitting in AAA here in the majors, if he can put together a nice run of power hitting, it might just give the team a spark. However, like a infant, first we need to learn to crawl before we can think about walking and then running...

One thing I've been wondering is why Alou still hit Vizquel 2nd? He has usually been pretty good at discerning the cold hitters and moving them down but Vizquel hasn't done much in the 2 spot for a long while now and I was wondering how it would work if we led off with Durham again (now that he's hitting again) but hit Ellison 2nd? Then we bat Vizquel 8th to put speed down there and have sort of a leadoff hitter to get on for the pitcher to advance. Couldn't be any worse than what's been happening lately.


Giants going younger by the day, hopefully Alou will payoff now

And why not? The older players weren't doing their jobs. As Reuter said in an interview, you only have to look at the standings to see why the Giants management is mixing things up now.

Brower is the latest to be released, following on the heels of Al Levine and Matt Herges, who have been replaced by Jack Tauscher and Scott Munter, respectively. Brower was dropped to bring on Foppert to start on Tuesday, which frees Fassero to be the long reliever, which Brower had fallen to with his lack of performance. He hinted that perhaps the Giants used him too much last season which might have led to his problems this year in an interview, but wouldn't say that definitively.

In addition, Ellison has been essentially the starting CF, leading to speculation that Grissom is the next vet to go and Snow has been told that Niekro will be getting the majority of the starts going forward, even against RHP. Frankly, while Niekro hasn't done that well against RHP, neither has Snow, so the Giants may as well give Niekro consistent ABs against RHP and see what he can do. And, if as expected, Grissom goes, he might be replaced by Todd Linden who would take over LF while Feliz takes over 3B if Alfonzo goes on the DL for the injury he suffered Sunday hitting into, what else, a double play.

Here is where I think the Giants get the payoff from having Alou as manager vs. Dusty. Alou has had a lifetime of experience in bringing along young players and developing them. Alou is willing to give young players the chance to play and, if they play well, they get more prominent roles.

Dusty had no experience with young players and didn't exhibit much in his handling of them. Aurilla showed fans that he should have been the starter years before Dusty finally gave him the starter's role. I still cannot believe that Dusty just threw Feliz to the wolves and started him in the World Series after not using him much all season. And I still don't know how Dusty kept Jensen as the starter over Ainsworth at the start of 2002 when Ainsworth pitched so well - any Giants fan could see that Ainsworth was the future of the Giants rotation and that Jensen was a journeyman pitcher pitching above his abilities (though it ended up that both hasn't had much of a career, I am focusing on what was known at that point in time).

Sidenote: Snow in an interview on KNBR Friday basically complained (diplomatically) about the lack of consistent lineups, known roles, and consistent playing time, which leads to uncertainty in the players. What he didn't have the courage to note is that Alou would have been happy to keep the same lineup day after day IF THE PLAYERS WERE PRODUCING. And they haven't been, overall, including Snow. He isn't hitting much better than Niekro vs. RHP and he is as horrible as usual vs. LHP. Hence Alou fiddles with the lineup to try to find the right combination, the right spark. You want a consistent role? Hit and field well! And probably in that order, as Deivi Cruz showed last season.