San Francisco Giants Lose Series Opener Against Los Angeles Dodgers, 1-0
Up against the young Dodgers' ace Clayton Kershaw, the Giants failed to score a run. Barry Zito, too, was dealing for a while until the sixth inning, when he hit Reed Johnson with a pitch and then walked Rafael Furcal and Andre Ethier. With the bases loaded and two outs, SS Juan Uribe bobbled a groundball, allowing Reed Johnson to score.
Zito was then taken out of the game because of bad numbers against Kemp in his career. His final line: 5.2 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 H, 3 BB, 5 K. The Giants reached base only four times in the entire game, but a few positives can still be taken from this:
First of all, Cody Ross wasn't hitless. The man playing center, Aaron Rowand, was hitless, however. If Cody Ross keeps hitting, which he is clearly capable of, and Rowand keeps struggling, which he is clearly capable of, Cody Ross will soon be the starting center fielder.
He's no Andres Torres, but he's certainly a big step up from Aaron Rowand. He plays better outfield defense, and his bat has a bigger upside than Aaron Rowand, who seems to consistently linger around a .230 batting average.
The second positive, and probably more important, is that Barry Zito pitched well for the second start in a row. This means that the Giants rotation is consistently serviceable from top to bottom. For a team that is built around their rotation, this is highly critical.
The third and final positive, once again, relates to Torres' absence. Of the Giants' four hits, Freddy Sanchez had two of them. With Torres gone, Freddy Sanchez needs to fulfill the role of a table-setter. Batting in front of Buster Posey, Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, and company, he needs to get on base, so he can be the one scoring those runs.
When the Giants score three runs or more, their record is 72-22. That's the best of any team in the majors, but they need to be able to score three runs. Tuesday night, they couldn't score a run. And it's excusable, because they were facing Clayton Kershaw, one of the best pitchers in the National League.
But the Giants will continue to face good pitching, though: Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Yovani Gallardo, Ryan Dempster, and the list goes on and on.
Tomorrow Matt Cain will face Chad Billingsley. It will most likely be a pitcher's duel, as most of the Giants games have been recently. The Giants, thus, will need to execute small ball: getting bunts down, taking extra bases, etc. If there's a runner on third with less than two outs, it's absolutely critical that they get that guy in. There's no excuse for not being able to hit a sacrifice fly.
The Giants are still in great shape. Only six remaining games against winning teams, 11 of their 17 remaining games are at home, and they have a couple of days of rest in the remaining weeks, which will hopefully keep them fresh. One and a half games back in the National League West, and one and a half games back in the National League Wild Card. They're in the thick of things right now.
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