SF Giants Step it Up in July

The Giants are the hottest team in baseball!! Now, say that “Three times fast. July was a great month for the Giants. At one point, the Giants won twenty of twenty-five games, something that they’ve done only three times since they’ve been in San Francisco (1965, 1978, and now, 2010).

I was concerned with how the Giants would play coming out of the All-Star Break. They were hot going into it, and I thought that they might lose their momentum. This did not happen. If anything, the Giants got hotter. Their pitching has become excellent, more consistent. And the hitters– Buster Posey, Pat Burrell, Andres Torres and Aubrey Huff are all doing very well.

SP Jonathan Sanchez photo by Icon SMI

A lot of fans were looking for the Giants to make a trade– either Jonathan Sanchez or Madison Bumgardner for a hitter. And to their credit the Giants did not make a panicked move. I had two concerns if the Giants had traded for another hitter– who would take the place of Sanchez or Bumgardner in the rotation? and who would lose at-bats (Burrell or Huff)? There just wasn’t a need to trade for another bat.

However, the Giants did trade for some bullpen help, Javier Lopez from the Pirates and Ramón Ramirez from the Red Sox, who they did need. It was necessary to get bullpen help due to the injuries to Dan Runzler and Jeremy Affeldt. Former number five starter  Todd Wellemeyer is due back soon from the the disabled list, so that should help. The Giants will have to do some juggling on their roster when the healthy pitchers start coming back. It does become something of a numbers game, too. While I am sorry to see Joe Martinez and John Bowker get traded to the Pirates, I do think that they needed a change in location if they wanted to go further in their respective baseball careers.

It is also interesting to see what the other teams in the NL West— the Padres, and the Dodgers did to improve themselves in the fight for the division title. The Padres picked up Miguel Tejada and Ryan Ludwick, who may help them, but they are still a relatively inexperienced team as far as pennant-race baseball is concerned. The Dodgers picked up Ted Lily, Ryan Theriot and Scott Posednick. Given how poorly the Dodgers have played after the All-Star Break, I an not sure that these players will be able to help the Dodgers or if they are good enough to help the Dodgers. One of the things that has really hurt the Dodgers are the injuries and lack of run production by Manny Ramirez. As he goes, so goes the Dodgers. Being the Giants fan that I am it has been fun to watch the Dodgers sink deeper into the division. Sadly, I don’t think that they’ll reach the level of the Arizona Diamondbacks, but it will be interesting to see what happens the rest of the baseball season…

I do think that the highlight of the month of July was a three game sweep by the Giants of the hated Dodgers the last weekend of July. I was there on Saturday to see former Giants, Rich Aurilia and Shawn Estes be added to the Giants Wall of Fame outside the ballpark; it is always a fun occasion. Last year, I saw Jeff Kent, and the year before that was the inaugural season with forty one inductees.

One of the BEST games of the year was the Sunday Giants-Dodgers match-up between Matt Cain and Clayton Kershaw. Cain was 0-8, and had never beaten the Dodgers, and Kershaw is the Dodgers’ ace; it was a great match-up. One thing I heard from a lot of Giants fans was that it was time for Cain to beat the Dodgers. The Giants and Dodgers traded zeroes for the first five and a half innings. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Pat “the Bat” Burrell hit a one out double, and Travis Ishikawa was intentionally walked with two outs to pitch to Edgar Renteria. Renteria was 0 for 10 against Kershaw going into this at-bat and he hit a two run triple (see the video below) off the left center field fence to score the two runs. Cain went another inning, and then got bullpen help to finish off the game with a 2-0 victory. It was fantastic to be sitting out there in the bleachers with the whole stadium rocking to “Beat L.A.!! Beat L.A.!!” It did remind me of being at Candlestick Park in the late 80’s with beautiful weather and the great intensity of the Giants-Dodgers rivalry.

A couple other things that I did also loved about the game is that it was being broadcast as the Sunday Night Game on ESPN. One of the great moments was when the center field scoreboard showed a highlight from 1982 of Hall-of-Famer Joe Morgan hitting a clutch home run against the Dodgers to knock them out of the pennant race on the last day of the season. Morgan, now an ESPN broadcaster, waved from the booth, and acknowledged the cheers of the sell out crowd. The other thing that I did love was that it was a giveaway for Emerald Nuts Giants trading cards. I do have every Giants trading card set from different sponsors, starting with Mothers’ Cookies going all the way back to 1981. This is one way that I track my personal history and memories of being a Giants fan.

I cannot believe that it is now the beginning of August, and that the baseball season will be over in only two months. However, I do sincerely hope that it does go well into October for the Giants. This definitely is one fun team to watch and root for.

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