San Francisco Giants: Sole Possession of First Place
Things did not get off to a great start on Thursday night. Rafael Furcal led off with a double, and Juan Uribe made an error on a Theriot sacrifice bunt, allowing the Dodgers to take an early 1-0 lead. The Giants quickly answered, however. Huff hit a two-out triple in the bottom of the 1st, which was followed by a Buster Posey RBI double.
The Giants would continue to add on throughout the night: In the 3rd inning, Renteria laid down a bunt single, followed by a Freddy Sanchez double, and an Aubrey Huff three-run shot to right field. The next batter, Buster Posey, crushed a solo shot to deep left field.
Ted Lilly would last only 3.1 innings. After allowing a leadoff single to Jose Guillen in the 4th inning, he got Aaron Rowand to fly out, but was then taken out of the game after hitting Jonathan Sanchez with a pitch. The bases loaded after an Edgar Renteria single and Freddy Sanchez walked to give the Giants yet another run.
In the 6th, Jose Guillen hit a two-run homer. In the 8th, Freddy Sanchez hit a two-run double to left field. All in all, the Giants scored 10 runs, more than they had scored in the previous five games combined (nine runs).
The offensive explosion, however, overshadowed yet another fantastic performance by Jonathan Sanchez, who seems to be showing consistency for the first time in his major-league career. His line: 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 12 K.
He struck out a career-high 12 batters. Even more amazing, he was able to keep his walks to an absolute minimum—zero—quite an improvement upon his seven walks in his previous start. At this point, I think he's guaranteed a spot in the postseason rotation—or at least, he should be. He's got some of the best stuff in the majors, and when he's able to exercise control, he pitches like the elite stars of the game.
- Huff and Posey's back-to-back home runs marked the seventh time the Giants have done so this year. The last time they did it was also against the Dodgers, when Renteria and Burrell hit back-to-back shots in LA on September 4th as part of a 5-4 comeback win.
- Jose Guillen finally homered. The whole purpose of his acquisition was to add a little pop to the Giants' lineup, and he has not shown much of it since coming here. The last time he hit a home run was almost a month ago, on August 17th against the Phillies. Let's hope this is the start of something...
- Jonathan Sanchez continued the incredible Giants starting pitching: Giants starters now have a 1.99 ERA over their last 17 games, during which they've tossed 13 quality starts.
- The Giants have a team ERA of 1.58 for the month of September, which is already halfway done. This leads the majors by a significant margin.
- Edgar Renteria had four hits in the leadoff spot. I don't think anybody saw this one coming—a bold move by Bruce Bochy—not necessarily surprising for a manager whose philosophy centers around using veteran players. Nevertheless, it was a bold move. The last time Edgar Renteria had four hits was way back in the beginning of the season on April 7, the third game of the season, going 5-for-5.
- Huff, Posey, Sanchez, Guillen, and Renteria each had multiple hits. It's not surprising to see the team score 10 runs when their 1, 2, 3, and 4 hitters each have a multi-hit game.
Tomorrow: Another battle of southpaws. Bumgarner will face off against Randy Wolf. The Giants bat a collective .221 (36 for 163) against Wolf in their careers, although he's not a particularly great pitcher. He's got a 4.53 ERA on the year, but over his last nine starts he's had an impressive ERA of 3.07.
Bumgarner doesn't pitch as well by the shores of McCovey Cove, but his best major league start ever was against this Brewers team. On July 6th, he went eight scoreless innings at Miller Park allowing just three hits. He'll look to continue the recent dominance of the Giants rotation.
The Giants are back in first place. They have a 0.5 game lead in the NL West, and are tied for the lead in the NL Wild Card. This is a legitimate run at the playoffs, and if they can consistently get even three runs of support every game, they will surely get a ticket to October baseball.
Jonathan Sanchez, August 8, 2010: "If we get to first place, we're not going to look back."
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