State of the SF Giants, June 23 Edition Part 2: Braves and Padres Series

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State of the SF Giants, June 23 Edition Part 2: Braves and Padres Series
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Subbing for Angel Pagan in center field, rookie Juan Perez has shined with his bat, glove, legs—and especially his outfield arm.

(Click here for Part One.)

Atlanta's outfield defense—as it had back in May—contributed to a Giants win in the opener. However, .160s-hitting B.J. Upton powered two home runs in the second game, which was ultimately won by Atlanta on Freddie Freeman's second walk-off RBI hit against SF in two years (it should be noted Atlanta's Andrelton Simmons slammed his helmet in the sixth inning after hitting into a double play and was not tossed).

Freeman and Upton teamed up again in the rubber match, as the Braves shut out San Fran on national TV. 

Road trip final record: 4-5. (Hey, I'm a writer, not a clairvoyant.)

During the first week of Yasiel Puig's major league career, which admittedly was impressive, many folks responded as if he were the second coming of Mickey Mantle. Again, after a week. 

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Normally steady reliever Jeremy Affeldt has hit hard times lately, coughing up two Matt Cain leads in two weeks.

I have been around long enough to remember the likes of Kevin Maas, J.T. Snow, Shane Spencer, John Bowker and others who burst into the big leagues like the Kool-Aid Man, only to come crashing back down to earth like the Fan Man. Because of this, I long ago learned to repress any premature excitement over rookies—I mean, when was the last time you heard Jason Jacome's name?

(Readers under 30, Google him—I'm not here to talk about the past.)

It's because of this that I refuse to jump into the Juan Perez phenomenon with both feet. The guy has played well (I'll detail just how well in a future article) under tough circumstances, especially shining in San Francisco's series victory over San Diego June 17-19.

He personally secured the middle game with an RBI single in the eighth—not possible if he doesn't throw out Mark Kotsay at home plate attempting to score San Diego's fifth run an inning earlier. Only an insane, Jim Edmonds-esque catch by counterpart Will Venable prevented him from being a 12th-inning walk-off hero in the opener.

Perez's hit followed yet another late-inning RBI extra-base hit off the bat of one Brandon Kyle Belt. He's still searching for consistency in innings one to seven—but there's no other Giant I want to see up to bat in a close game from the eighth inning on.

Padres' part-timer Jesus Guzman enjoyed his June 18 home run a bit too much for Madison Bumgarner's tastes—so he fired a fastball behind him the next day. When Guzman took exception, Bumgarner approached the box, daring his former teammate—who was still gripping his bat, mind you—to fight!

Though seemingly nothing came of it, something came from it: respect.

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Even announcer Mike Krukow openly wished for Madison Bumgarner to reach first base following his June 19 tiff with Jesus Guzman—the Padres first baseman.

Guzman did take Bumgarner yard later in the game, with a decidedly more subdued home run trot—anything else, and he knew he'd be eating dirt before reaching the plate. We've come a long way from the days when Shawn Estes can accidentally plunk Steve Finley and all but curl up on the mound when Finley barks at him.

This marked at least the third instance of clear retaliation for a "code" infraction this year by Giants pitchers (Chad Gaudin/Brett Lawrie, George Kontos/Andrew McCutchen)—and I like it.

(Note: during Bumgarner's previous start, announcer Mike Krukow shared a conversation with the Giants lefty in which he suggested "Big Country" as a nickname. According to Kruk, Bumgarner responded favorably, and I will be incorporating it into my articles moving forward.)

Off-topic: It seems there may be a behind-the-scenes conspiracy to have Marco Scutaro top the NL in hits this year. He ate up Pads substitute shortstop Pedro Ciriaco twice this series—both were charitably ruled hits. He was also incorrectly ruled safe on an infield hit in his first game back. If Marco whacks one into the dugout that's ruled fair, I'll officially be suspicious.

Parting shots: If anyone from CSN Bay Area happens to read this, you are giving Amy Gutierrez too much airtime. I have no problem with Amy herself, but when Duane Kuiper is unable to call a home run because an interview with a tertiary (at best) member of the Giants "family," or worse yet, someone not even directly connected to the GIants, has dragged on too long—something is wrong.

Two, maybe three tosses to Amy per game are sufficient. No one should be asked more than three questions or given more than a few pitches of airtime. We are tuning in to watch Giants baseball and hear Giants announcers—that's it!

Also available for viewing: State of the Giants articles from June 9, June 8, June 3, and May 30.

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