On the surface of it, there’s no reason to dislike the Giants. They boast one of the game’s unique starters in Tim Lincecum, a rising star in the injured Buster Posey, two feel-good stories from last year’s playoffs in Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff, and they won the first ever World Series as the San Francisco Giants in 2010.
Still whenever I see the Giants playing St Louis, my mind’s eye sees Jeff Leonard’s ‘One Flap Down’ rounding the bases. I guess old animosity dies hard.
I can no longer read a TV schedule. Sometimes I’m amazed I’m conscious of what day it is. After putting the Padawan’s to bed, I flipped the TV on to ESPN and found the Cards/Giants in the top of the seventh down 2-1. Just long enough to see Trever Miller come in, hit Brandon Belt, then fail to field his position on Cody Ross’ RBI single up the middle. 3-1.
Since 2002 there are only 3 NL teams with a winning record against the Cardinals: Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, and the Giants. Philly and SF also have a winning record in St Louis. So being down 3-1, I was resigned to seeing the Cardinals lose again. Sergio Romo comes in, he of the ‘2 runs allowed this season’. John Jay has been the Cardinals hottest hitter lately, taking the mantle from Lance Berkman. He rolls a hard grounder up the first base line.
Years ago it seemed the first and third baseman always hugged the line in the late innings, to prevent the extra base hit. Belt was at least 4 steps off the line during Jay’s at-bat. Maybe the Giant scouting report said Jay does not pull the ball. Last week in San Diego I watched Jay take the ball up the middle for hits on at least 4 occasions. Considering that Romo has thrown his slider on more than half of his pitches so far in 2011, however, that’s an odd way to position the defense. Jay’s hit started the inning off on the right foot. Albert Pujols followed by taking a meatball of a slider (up, out over the plate) and lining it up the Left-Center gap for an RBI. See ya, Sergio Romo.
Cardinals got a break with Javier Lopez in the game, but that comes later. After Berkman rolled over on a pitch, Allen Craig executed a beautiful piece of hitting, taking a tough low outside strike the other way for the double that scored Pujols and tied the game. Ramsus grounds out; Molina is intentionally walked; Schumaker hits a hard ground ball to Freddy Sanchez who stops it, then (as the Baseball Tonight guys said) throws in the vicinity of first base, allowing Schu to beat it out for a hit (Editorial comment: IF the throw is on target Schu is out because he slid. IF the throw is on target and Schu runs through the bag he beats the play. I’ve never understood why players dive into the bag at first; diving actually slows you down.).
Salas comes in and shuts the door, capping off a nice comeback win.
One other thing worth mentioning: Ryan Franklin got the win by striking out the side in the eighth. No one’s probably noticed, but that’s 4 2/3 scoreless innings for Franklin with 6K’s. It’s the longest scoreless inning streak on the season for him. Salas is doing a creditable job as the closer, having converted all 10 of his save opportunities, so I do not sense a change coming. Franklin has, in my opinion, started to work himself back into set-up type appearances for the Cardinals. Having that kind of experience at the back of games is a good thing – don’t you think?