The last time the San Francisco Giants were in AT&T Park, Matt Cain pitched 7.2 scoreless innings in Game 2 of the World Series. Exactly five months later, Cain pitched well again, giving up a few runs to the crosstown Oakland Athletics, but for the most part looking ready for his start in Los Angeles later this weekend.
Here's what I picked up from the game
If Pat Burrell can keep up what he's done all spring, which is stay inside the ball and drive it the opposite way with power, he'll stay in the lineup. The Giants have seen it time and time again with players like Rich Aurilia, Randy Winn and Edgar Renteria. These guys are best when they're gearing towards that right-center gap. And Burrell can do it with power.
Cain's control tonight was outstanding. For someone who only threw 8.2 innings this whole spring, he was on tonight. He struck out six, walked one and was sharp from start to finish.
That's a good sign for the Giants, who were more than a little worried about Cain after his injury earlier in Cactus League play. In addition, I think Cain's days of flying under the radar and being in Tim Lincecum's shadow are over. He's not the ace, but he's the horse, and everyone knows it now.
Miguel Tejada was robbed twice tonight. He had a quiet spring, but he had loud contact three out of four at-bats tonight, and twice was the victim of exceptional plays on defense. This is encouraging.
Steve Edlefsen was Flat. Out. Dirty.
He's got a funky delivery, and just can't throw the ball straight. Once he gets his walks down, he'll be a great late-inning guy.
I'm not sure if anyone remembers, but Dan Runzler took a very similar path to the majors, pitching (and dominating) at every level in 2009.
Edlefsen pitched at three levels in 2009, and pitched very well in Fresno last year. Everything moves downward with him, which is not a bad quality to have in the slightest. He'll make his debut in 2011. I guarantee it.
Aaron Rowand just looks like he has no confidence at the plate anymore. Which is really too bad. He looked silly tonight striking out against Brett Anderson, whose curveballs were fooling people all night.
Sergio Romo closed it out. He got hit hard, but he got the job done. The other candidate to close, Jeremy Affeldt, looked like he was also locking it down. That forkball/changeup of his is nasty.
Aubrey Huff is a water buffalo. He doesn't look pretty running down balls in the outfield, but he can do it. But watching him try to throw out runners was a little painful.
That's one aspect that Nate Schierholtz will always have an advantage over any of the starting Giants outfielders, and on extra-base hits or plays at the plate, that arm in right field will someday be necessary.
I know that it's been the story of the offseason, but the difference between 2010 Pablo Sandoval and 2011 Pablo Sandoval is so much more than just the weight.
Losing that weight made him a totally different player. He's working out more, and embracing that just has to be part of his routine now. That last play of the game exemplified it better than anything so far. There's no way Fat Panda makes that play in 2010, and to make it in a spring training game is showing how far his efforts have taken him.
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