SATURDAY, JULY 28
Say it with me. MARCO (clap clap)... SCUTARO (clap clap)...
Ex-Athletic Marco Scutaro is back in the Bay Area, acquired from Colorado on July 27 and debuting for the Giants on July 28; he will be asked to fill the injured Pablo Sandoval's 3B position. I'm very pleased that Brian Sabean realized Joaquin Arias, useful as he's been, cannot be the everyday 3B going forward. Much like Gregor Blanco, Arias started very well but lost impact with exposure; he can still contribute to the Giants off the bench, however.
Scutaro's debut was one to forget, almost from start to finish—it's rough when your team's highlight is an impressive snag by a wheezy balldude. History will show Barry Zito and the Giants lost 10-0, but this wasn't all on Barry. Matt Kemp went yard on him in the first, but if Kemp hadn't wrecked his hamstring in May he'd have about 68 home runs by now. You can't pin that on Zito any more than you can pin crying babies on parents; it's what they do. Going yard is what Kemp does, especially against left-handers.
Quick slant on Kemp: I used to hate this guy. Not just because he was a Dodger; James Loney (until today...read on), Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton, etc. never bothered me, and I was truly disappointed when Eric Gagne's comeback failed. It wasn't Rihanna jealousy. What irked me about No. 27 was his excessive swag. It was undeserved swag from a player who, though talented, was an "ordinary star" in his initial seasons—not the franchise player of today. Plus, Lincecum plunked Kemp a couple of years ago and he briefly sauntered toward the mound, where a pitcher five inches shorter and at least 60 pounds lighter stood. I remember begging Sandoval to run in from first base and just dismantle him. Like a lion would a hyena. But Kemp regained his wits and took his base, forcing the Panda back into his cage.
Kemp has since evolved into a truly great player. Much like LeBron James of the NBA, Kemp's talent and maturity forced me to put the hate on the backburner and appreciate a superstar player dominating his sport like few (if any) others. Go ahead and inundate me with vitriol, fellow SF fans, but the baseball fan in me was disappointed that Kemp's potentially historic 2012 season was wrecked by injury (as the Giants fan in me rejoiced).
Now, about Loney: As alluded to in a previous article, Brad Penny brings more than a quality arm to the staff—he brings some quality macho. When Loney dawdled outside the box a bit too long during his ninth-inning AB, Penny barked loudly at his ex-teammate. It probably went something like, "How much focus does a .250 hitter with no power need? GET IN THE BOX!" After grounding out, Loney and Penny briefly "chatted" before things fizzled out. (Note: I'm unsure if this shortened Brad's fuse or if he even remembers, but the Dodgers were the only team to touch Penny at all during his 2009 Giants stint; Loney was 2-for-2 with a bomb off Penny in that game. He hadn't faced LA since.)
Chad Billingsley, whose only two career shutouts came against the Giants, went 7.1 scoreless innings. Zito dropped to 8-7, and the Giants' NL West lead dropped to a game going into the Sunday finale. And Aubrey Huff took his first at-bat since returning from the disabled list, with a Sgt. Slaughter result.
Ok, I'll pretend my readers can't unscramble every reference I make. Sgt. Slaughter was a badass pro wrestler back in the '80s. Sometime around 2000, an aging, out-of-shape Slaughter took on one of the WWE stars, Triple H—and was wholly embarrassed. It was almost tragic watching a former top dog be reduced to pitiful as he was that night (staged as it may be). Watching Huff get blown away in a spot in which he previously delivered evoked Sgt. Slaughter memories. He was such a hero for the Giants in 2010 (the only reason he isn't greeted with deafening boos) and now, it's a struggle for him to even make solid contact. Aubrey's career is ending right before our eyes.
We all want him to still be the 2010 Huff Daddy—San Francisco would be five or six games up in the division were that the case. He looks and sounds like Huff Daddy. But he's not. His body is falling apart and he probably hasn't been fully fit since that 2010 season. In retrospect, do I still pay him $22 million? Damn straight. The Rally Thong removal alone earned that paper.