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MLB playoff schedule, National League


MLB Playoff schedule.

National League Division Series  (American League schedule here)

The San Francisco Giants and the Atlanta Braves were able to clinch a playoff spot on the final day of the season and the two teams will meet in a playoff series beginning on Thursday this week. The entire schedule for both NL opening round series is below.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS vs. ATLANTA BRAVES

Game 1: ATL @ SF Thursday, October 7 9:37 p.m.

Game 2: ATL @ SF Friday, October 8 9:37 p.m.

Game 3: SF @ ATL Sunday, October 10 TBD

Game 4*: SF @ ATL Monday, October 11 TBD

Game 5*: ATL @ SF Wednesday, October 13 TBD

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES vs. CINCINNATI REDS

Game 1: CIN @ PHI Wednesday, October 6 5:07 p.m.

Game 2: CIN @ PHI Friday, October 8 6:07 p.m.

Game 3: PHI @ CIN Sunday, October 10 TBD

Game 4*: PHI @ CIN Monday, October 11 TBD

Game 5*: CIN @ PHI Wednesday, October 13 TBD

*If necessary

Copyright © 2010 Sports Climax, LLC

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“Bark in the Park” in MLB


Bark in the Park will make its debut at Dodger Stadium and for those of you who have not heard of it, it has nothing to do with the performance of the players on the field.

In conjunction with their sponsor Natural Balance Pet Foods, Inc. the Los Angeles Dodgers are selling seats for pet owners and their dogs. Canines will gallop through the turnstiles after their owners have plunked down an additional $25.00 for a pet ticket with a portion of the proceeds going to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Los Angeles branch.

The Dodgers’ Bark in the Park Day on August 21, 2010 is one of three for the month of August in the MLB. The Dodgers are joined by the Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants who have theirs scheduled for August 29, 2010. The Cincinnati Reds are closing out the event with the final one of the season scheduled for September 14.

In L.A. there will be a rally where ticket holders will be invited to join in the Pup Parade. All pets and owners will be given the opportunity to stroll along the warning track inside the stadium prior to game time.

Some rules for attendees: All dog owners must bring a copy of a current vaccination documents from a licensed veterinarian. Pet must wear an identification tag to gain entrance to Dodger Stadium. Each dog must be accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older. Attendees must bring a signed copy of the Bark in the Park release waiver to gain admittance to the ballpark.

If any of the fans situated in the designated Right Field Pavilion where the animals will sit aren’t happy about sharing the space with dogs and their owners, they will be moved to another section.

Concerned about stepping in a doggie accident?

These stadiums have made plans for that as well. Natural Balance has experience in staging these events and will provide clean-up service.

For more information on the Dodgers’ event, to view a copy of the release waiver and check out details on “Bark in the Park,” check out the Dodgers website, here.

Fans of the Chicago White Sox, Florida Marlins, Houston Astros, NY Mets and Oakland A’s will have to wait for next season since those event dates have passed but details for the other remaining dates throughout the league can be found below.

Atlanta Braves – Bark in the Park: August 29 vs. Florida

San Francisco Giants – Dog Days of Summer: August 29 vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

Cincinnati Reds – Bark in the Park: September 14 vs. the Diamondbacks

Used with permission of the author.

Paula Duffy is a national sports columnist for Examiner.com and the Huffington Post and regularly comments on sports/legal matters for radio affiliates of ESPN and Fox Sports. She founded the sports information site, Incidental Contact, is the author of a line of audio books designed for sports novices and in her spare time practices law in Los Angeles. 

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax, LLC

Posted in Features, MLBComments (0)

Mattingly taking heat for Dodgers embarrassing moment


Donnie baseball is catching his share of heat after Bruce Bochy enforced rule 8.06 to force Dodgers’ closer Jonathan Broxton off the mound, and spur the Giants to a come-from-behind 7-5 win in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

While it was Mattingly’s untimely two-step that is catching the headlines, it was Matt Kemp’s Rude-boy behavior that sent the dominoes tumbling.

First of all, there was absolutely no fiber in Kemp’s body that actually wanted to fight – even if his opponent was going to be the diminutive Tim Lincecum. Boxer’s don’t come out of the corner and position themselves between their trainer, the referee, and the other fighter. But instead Kemp gave everyone – in particularly Pablo Sandoval who rushed toward his teammate like a bounding rottweiler – ample opportunity to prevent the fisticuffs from developing.

Here’s an excerpt from Bay Area News Group Giants beat writer Andrew Baggarly’s blog. And remember, Baggarly covered the Dodgers for many years, too.

“Let’s get this out of the way: Kemp is a headcase. He’s a tremendously talented baseball player, but he’s had his share of run-ins with teammates over the years. Lord knows how many times Joe Torre has reached for his favorite migraine medicine on Kemp’s account.

So I wasn’t entirely surprised to see Kemp make like Billy from Family Circus and take a rather curved path toward first base. But like a good college basketball team, it was really interesting to watch everything that happened away from the guy with the ball, er, beef.”

Kemp took exception to a pitch that “clipped” his jersey. This is when the wheels began to loosen.
Home-plate umpire Adrian Johnson was forced to issue warning to both clubs simply because of Kemp’s overreaction.

Also irked by the pitch’s proximity was Joe Torre’s bench coach Bob Schaefer, who began to fume, and was later ejected when Giants reliever Denny Bautista came up and in to Russell Martin. An ejection that would prove critical.

In the sixth inning, Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw was kept in to bat for himself — during a one-run game — then hit Aaron Rowand with the first pitch in the top of the seventh. Rowand took his base without a scene as both Kershaw and Torre were ejected.

As a result, instead of Torre’s second-in-command (Schaefer) taking the reins, it was the inexperienced Mattingly who became the acting manager – all because Kemp couldn’t distinguish between a bad outing for Lincecum and a pitch with intent.

This all resulted in a thrilling win for the Giants, and a frustrating moment — if not extremely embarrassing — loss for the Dodgers.

Used with permission of the author.

Theo is a staff reporter and feature writer for the Marin Independent Journal where he covers local prep and college sports. As an Associate Production Manager for ESPN, he helped produce Sunday Night Baseball among other national ESPN and ABC Sports telecasts. In addition to his contributions to Sports Climax, he is a columnist for Examiner.com and is the play-by-play voice for Sonoma State University baseball and softball.

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax, LLC

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Giants fans, take cue from World Cup fans!


Sitting in a bar with a frosty pint at 7:30 a.m., you tend to learn a thing or two. The heightened awareness that comes along with rising with the stark morning sun combined with ordering several foreign beers amidst a crowd chanting “U-S-A!, U-S-A!” opens you up to new experiences.

For me, it was the beauty that lies within America’s torrid love affair with soccer. (I’m not sure when we voted on this, but apparently we all decided that we were going to become soccer fans – if only for a month.)

The low-scoring nature of soccer has caused its fans to evolve, to move the goal line, so to speak. Sitting at a sticky counter, elbow to elbow with this guy, I learned that the joy in watching soccer isn’t in the goals, but in the chances your team has to score these evasive goals.

To make life easier, I’ve adopted this philosophy with the San Francisco Giants.

The shortcomings of the Giants offense has been well documented – honestly I’ve seen more scoring take place in line for a Star Wars movie. And the agony the lack of runs cause, seemingly on a night-in-night-out basis (see Dodgers 4, Giants 2), has spoiled too many opportunities to celebrate.

To amend this dire ineptitude of scoring, try this the next time you’re at the yard – third base is the new home.

A base runner that safely advances to third is the baseball equivalent to a “scoring chance” – and the Giants have a lot of these. So the next time you see Giant on third, stand up, cheer, raise your arms in victory, hug the nearest stranger next to you, and blow your Vuvuzelas. Honor the beauty, the physical poetry that is a near-run, and then imagine the bliss of an actual run.

Once we learn to re-frame the archaic goals we have had in place as baseball fans and look to the progressivism of soccer, the pesky runner stranded at third won’t seem like a missed opportunity, but instead it will stand as a time to cheer — at least until the next double play.

My World Cup is half empty – Schuepp’s Scoop

Fixed game in 1982 World Cup creates schedule change – Sports Climax

French World Cup team continues their circus act – Sports Climax

Re-printed with permission of the author.

Theo is a staff reporter and feature writer for the Marin Independent Journal where he covers local prep and college sports. As an Associate Production Manager for ESPN, he helped produce Sunday Night Baseball among other national ESPN and ABC Sports telecasts. In addition to his contributions to Sports Climax, he is a columnist for Examiner.com and is the play-by-play voice for Sonoma State University baseball and softball.

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax, LLC

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Will Barry Bonds’ perjury trial be dropped?


Barry Bonds took another round from the U.S. prosecutors who put his trial on hold in March 2009.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding the ruling of the lower court, determined that Bonds will not be faced at his federal trial for perjury and obstruction of justice, with positive results from certain urine samples.

That’s because the tests were administered privately by Bonds’ BFF and former trainer, Greg Anderson, not Major League Baseball.

The evidence would have to be introduced in court by the person who was responsible for them and knew the results, and Anderson has refused to testify.

His refusal has been consistent over the years. Read about Anderson’s undying loyalty. Anderson, served more than a year in jail during the course of two periods of incarceration. He chose punishment for contempt of court citations rather than spill what he knows about Bonds.

It’s not as if the government didn’t try every way it could to gain his cooperation. Anderson’s wife and mother-in-law have been implicated in a tax evasion scheme that the former trainer believes is a bold attempt at trading his testimony for lightening up on his wife. Anderson’s lawyer said the IRS was worse than the Mafia.

The case against Bonds is the final one on the calendar that stems from athletes testifying in front of the grand jury that investigated the now defunct BALCO Lab. Bond’s testified that he unknowingly took steroids supplied by BALCO.

The government has one positive urine test to use in its case. Interestingly, when taken in 2003 by MLB it resulted in a negative result. It was only a year later when the feds got a hold of the sample that they tested it for THG and got the positive.

Among the other evidence the government has and will use, is a tape recording taken secretly by Bonds’ former assistant, Steve Hoskins.

It reportedly contains statements made by Anderson during a 2003 conversation with Hoskins related to how and where Bonds got injected by Anderson.

The government took this fifteen month time-out because they believe the excluded evidence is crucial to a conviction.

It is anyone’s guess if the case will proceed after this latest setback. There is another appeal that can be made to the full Ninth Circuit bench and of course the ultimate arbiter of things such as this, the U.S. Supreme Court.

in the meantime, Bonds, who hasn’t played a game of baseball in three years has refused to officially retire. Bonds tells Giants’ fans “I haven’t retired.”

I certainly don’t speak for teams in MLB but I don’t think a contract will be forthcoming any time soon.

MORE: Roger Clemens Remains Under Investigation for Perjury

Re-printed with permission of the author.

Paula Duffy is a national sports columnist for Examiner.com and the Huffington Post and regularly comments on sports/legal matters for radio affiliates of ESPN and Fox Sports. She founded the sports information site, Incidental Contact, is the author of a line of audio books designed for sports novices and in her spare time practices law in Los Angeles. 

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax, LLC

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Zito suffers 1st loss of season


Twenty-six (26) runners left on base, 17 walks issued, and a grand total of five runs crossed the plate.

Yes, it was the Padres and the Giants at their finest, with the Padres being just a little finer in a 3-2 win in China Basin on Tuesday. San Diego took the first game of this three-game series that should be known as the “first to three runs wins.”

It was like watching the most recent season of “24,” but instead of Jack Bauer manipulating evidence out of suspects he uses the kids from “Glee” to draw out the valuable information with their catchy musical numbers. Or, as Duane Kuiper calls it, “2010 Giants baseball: torture.”

For the first time this season Zito was below average, allowing a season-high seven walks and suffered his first loss of the year. He also missed a chance to become the first Giants left-hander to win six straight games since Noah Lowry did it in ‘05.

Zito blamed his poor showing on an “inconsistent release point,” among other things:

“Timing was off tonight, didn’t have any command of anything. Sometimes it just happens where you just don’t feel as good as other times.

“It was a battle the whole night, starting with that first at bat (against Scott Hairston) that was 11 pitches or something. So they put up good at bats and I wasn’t throwing enough strikes and they worked their walks.”

It was a familiar tune for Zito, who has struggled against the khaki and blue of the Padres. In 16 career starts against San Diego, Zito is now 3-7 with a 4.23 ERA.

The Giants failed to beat the Padres for the fourth straight time in 2010, and now trail the NL West leaders by 1 1/2 games. But, even with the mini relapse, Giants; manager Bruce Bochy didn’t seem concerned with Zito’s effort.

“He’s been so good, you know, he’s gonna have an off night and even with that he gave us a chance,” Bochy said. “He battled, competed out there, and, despite the walks, he kept them to three runs and that’s not bad. We had our chances and we were just a hit away form taking the game.”

David Eckstein continues to haunt the Giants like a bad case of two-year $12 million dollar contracts to mid-level veterans.

The “Gift from God” went 2-for-2, drove in a pair with a two-out, second-inning single and also drew three walks and stole a base. As a team, the Giants have allowed a National-league leading 35 stolen bases. Only the Red Sox (44) and Royals (36) have been burgled more.

The Padres put 21 base runners on, and drew 12 walks from Giants pitching, but only managed to score the three runs. It was enough for San Diego’s stellar bullpen, which is the main reason behind the Padres’ fast start.

Ryan Webb, Luke Gregerson, Mike Adams and closer Heath Bell pitched 4 1/3 innings of relief, allowing just two hits and a walk. It was the necessary remedy after Padres’ starter Wade LeBlanc was inconsistent, too.

LeBlanc pitched a shaky 4 2/3 innings but, like his counterpart Zito, gave his offense a chance.

“They’re very underrated,” Bochy said, “if you look a the second half last year, how (the Padres) played, it’s a good ball club over there.”

Pablo Sandoval hinted that his hibernation may be coming to an end. The Panda laced a triple into the right-center gap and eventually scored on an Aubrey Huff single in the third. In the fifth, Huff singled in front of Juan Uribe’s triple to make it 3-2.

Still, it’s the week anniversary of the Giants win over the Marlins, so let’s celebrate by mocking a teenaged organization with two World Series titles.

Seriously, we’re mocking them, turn up the volume. Hope you liked Creed.

Re-printed with permission of the author.
 
Theo is a staff reporter and feature writer for the Marin Independent Journal where he covers local prep and college sports. As an Associate Production Manager for ESPN, he helped produce Sunday Night Baseball among other national ESPN and ABC Sports telecasts. In addition to his contributions to Sports Climax, he is a columnist for Examiner.com and is the play-by-play voice for Sonoma State University baseball and softball.
 
Copyright © 2010 Sports Climax, LLC

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Wellemeyer hurls Giants to 6-2 win over Phillies


Giants manager Bruce Bochy told his No. 5 starter Todd Wellemeyer that his next turn in the rotation would be mlb filesskipped due to off days the Giants have scheduled on Thursday and Monday. In other words, the skipper put his 0-3 right-hander who entered Tuesday’s game against the Phillies with an 8.16 ERA on notice.Wellemeyer heeded the call, and so did the Giants as they picked up a 6-2 win on the shores of McCovey Cove Tuesday night.

The perhaps prematurely maligned starter struck out Chase Utlley, looking, as part of a perfect first inning. It was evident that Wellemeyer’s pre-game discussion with pitching coach Dave Raghetti was already paying dividends, as he dodged in and out of a few jams, but turned in his best start as a Giant, by far, pitching 7-plus innings of two-run ball, while striking out four and walking three.

“I’v been working with ‘Rags’ and (Mark) Gardner and have been trying to iron some stuff out mechanically,” said Wellemeyer, who moved to the first-base side of the pitching rubber in order to open up the plate. “(I) just tried to stay within myself, … I knew I could pitch better than what I’d shown the last two games.”

Not only did Wellemeyer win the start, he also won over many of the 31,792 fans in attendance. Many of whom were presumably unhappy with his Giants tenure up to this point.

“It’s natural for them to think that way,” said Wellemeyer of the standing ovation he received when he departed in the eighth, and the early criticism he’s endured. “You know I don’t blame them, they can get on the bandwagon though if they want, they’re welcome.”

Despite the tune-up, Wellemeyer and the Giants were trailing 1-0 in the second when Aubrey Huff deposited his first “real homer” as a Giant in the arcade in right. A batter later Matt Downs hit a no-doubter out to left for his second career home run as a Giant, as the home team showed no mercy to 47-year-old Jamie Moyer. The only outs made the inning were a laser off the bat of Bengie Molina that was snared by Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco, a sharp Mark DeRosa groundout, and a strikeout of Wellemeyer, which followed Nate Schierholtz’s double off the top of the fence in left.

Schierholtz was impactful in the outfield too. In the first he made a diving catch on Polonco’s liner, which seemed to settle down his pitcher. In the second he threw out Ryan Howard, who was cruising into second base after what looked to be a sure double. Giants’ short stop Edgar Renteria gets credit for an assist, as he was standing, flat-footed, waiting nonchalantly for the throw, encouraging Howard to go in easy. Howard strolled in and was tagged out a step before he reached the bag. The decoy didn’t go unnoticed by the Giants either, as both Bochy and Schierholtz complemented the veteran infielder.

Later in the fourth, Howard smoked a pitch off the right field wall, and was more than satisfied to stay at first instead of challenging the arm of Schierholtz again.

“I’m sure they know (about Nate’s arm) it’s tough down there on that wall, you think it’s gonna be a double and Nate plays it as well as anybody and he’s got the arm to throw with,” said Bochy of his right fielder’s prowess.

The Phillies flashed some leather too. Juan Castro started a spectacular double play on Pablo Sandoval’s grounder up the middle with a diving stop, and issued a shovel pass with his glove under and across his body to second baseman Chase Utley, who grabbed it barehanded and threw to first where it was scooped by Howard. Replays confirmed that Sandoval beat the return throw, but the first base umpire clearly got caught up in the play.

Moyer, who joins the likes of Jack Quinn (47), Phil Neikro (48) and Satchel Paige (58) as the oldest hurlers to start a game in MLB history, hasn’t won in San Francisco since July 16, 1987. Considering the results of his most recent effort, Moyer’s unlikely to pick up another start, let a lone a win in The City.

For the second straight night the Giants touched up a Philly starter for 10 hits, and Moyer allowed four earned runs over his six innings. So far on this daunting nine-game homestand, the Giants are 4-1 against two playoff teams from a year ago, and have allowed just six runs.

“Pitching’s been there, timely hitting’s been there, you know, you just have to play your best ball against a team like this,” said Bochy, who admitted he would reconsider allowing Wellemeyer to make his next start. “‘Welly,’ he settled in there as he went, you could see him get more and more comfortable as the game went on, he was hitting his spots.”

Andres Torres continues to make loud contact, as he flew out to the warning track twice and had four solid at bats. But he wasn’t rewarded until his double in the fifth which set up a one-out second-and-third situation. Renteria, who was 3-for-4 and drove in a pair of runs, singled scoring Wellermeyer, who singled himself off of Moyer. Sandoval later smashed a base hit, this time past a diving Castro, scoring Torres, making it 4-1. The Giants would tack on two more in the seventh off reliever Chad Durbin, when Torres walked, stole second and scored on Renteria’s single.

Medders pitched a perfect ninth with help from Schierhotlz, who gunned down Utley trying to stretch a single into a double, in hopes of sparking some late-inning magic.

But, as the ads say, Chase, there’s magic inside, just none for you, at least on this night.

“We’ll keep it going and ride it as long as we can,” said Wellemeyer, “and (we’ll) take it through Colorado, and take it to Florida with us.”

BOX SCORE at MLB.com.

Re-printed with permission of the author.

Theo is a staff reporter and feature writer for the Marin Independent Journal where he covers local prep and college sports. As an Associate Production Manager for ESPN, he helped produce Sunday Night Baseball among other national ESPN and ABC Sports telecasts. Besides his contributions to Examiner.com, the I.J. and Sports Climax, Theo is the play-by-play voice for Sonoma State University baseball and softball.

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax™

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Giants hit Halladay early and beat Phillies


On any other night, Mark DeRosa’s first-inning single is fielded by the short stop, the Phillies get the two out bases-mlb fileloaded-hit they often threatened to unleash, Eli Whiteside’s blast down the left-field line hooks just foul instead of chiming off the foul pole, and Philadelphia ace Roy Halladay is his normal, dominant self.

But on this night it all adds up to a 5-1 win over the Phillies for the Giants in China Basin, and over the first four games of this daunting nine-game, 10-day homestand against three of the National League’s four playoff teams from last year, San Francisco is 3-1.

Sanchez (2-1) labored for five innings, but managed to keep the Phillie’s potent lineup at bay, allowing just three hits, one earned run, while walking five and striking out six. He also overcame an inconsistent strike zone by home plate umpire, C.B. Buckner, and a seemingly endless supply of base runners.
After an impressive showing against the likes of Chase Utley, and the newly minted $25-million-man, Ryan Howard – who were a combined 0-for-5, stranding six runners – Sanchez has yet to allow a hit to a left-handed hitter in 14 at bats so far in 2010.

“He really didn’t have his best stuff. That’s the first time all year he didn’t have all three pitches working,” said Eli Whiteside, who was 2-for-3 with a double, homer and two RBIs against Halladay. “They had their opportunities, but he battled. He kept us in it.”

If Sanchez kept the Giants in it, Mark DeRosa brought them there in the bottom of the first. With his team mired in a 5-for-54 slump with runners in scoring position, DeRosa knocked Halladay’s 3-2 curve ball for a two-out single to left, just past short stop Wilson Valdez, scoring Edgar Renteria and Pablo Sandoval, giving the home team an early, and unforeseen 2-0 advantage.

“We’ve been missing that, and it seemed like it loosened the guys up and sent some confidence through the lineup,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “(That was) one of our better at-bats of the year.”

The Phillies helped, too. Sanchez wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the third thanks to a nice running catch by right fielder Nate Schierholtz. And in the fifth the Phillies scored a run on Utley’s ground out, but stranded three more base runners when Sanchez got Ben Francisco to fly out softly to left. The Phillies – channeling their inner orange and black – were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position, and stranded 11, too. The Giants went 3-for-7 in such situations.

In the past, when Sanchez wasn’t on his A-game, it often meant he and the Giants were doomed. But the lefty persevered Monday, and though he left after a grinding 107-pitch outing (three more than Halladay threw in seven innings) Sanchez earned the win.

Though they’ve faced above average starters on each game so far through the homestand, San Francisco pitching has been even better. Giants hurlers have allowed just four runs through the first 36 innings to the Cardinals and Phillies collectively, reassuming a home dominance the team enjoyed in 2009. The staff also boasts a major-league best 2.68 ERA.

“It’s legit,” said Sergio Romo who pitched the final six outs of the game. “We just beat arguably the best pitcher in baseball, and we were able to do it convincingly. We came out today and took it to him.”

Re-printed with permission of the author.

Theo is a staff reporter and feature writer for the Marin Independent Journal where he covers local prep and college sports. As an Associate Production Manager for ESPN, he helped produce Sunday Night Baseball among other national ESPN and ABC Sports telecasts. Besides his contributions to Examiner.com, the I.J. and Sports Climax, Theo is the play-by-play voice for Sonoma State University baseball and softball.

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax™

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Padres Beat Giants on Eckstein Walk-Off Homerun


SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The San Francisco Giants know that in order to have success this season, they’re going to have to petco park san diegoendure their share of theatrics. And they won’t always be the ones playing the role of the gun-slinging hero in this 162-game live-action drama.As for the antagonists? It doesn’t get much different than Manny Ramirez and David Eckstein, who each took turns auditioning their villainous trot.

A day after Ramirez hit career homer 548 to beat Sergio Romo, Eckstein hit his 35th major league round tripper to vanquish Jeremy Affeldt (2-2) in the 10th inning, as the Padres handed the Giants a 3-2 loss in San Diego on Monday.

The defeat spoiled another good outing by a starting pitcher, and began what is the Giants first losing streak of 2010.

For Matt Cain, who allowed a pair of runs via sacrifice flies in his six innings of work, the outcome is far too unoriginal and overdone. The noted tough-luck righty got his third straight no-decision in 2010, and hasn’t won at Petco Park since Aug. 17, 2006.

Since then, in seven starts the Padres are hitting just .227 off of Cain. His ERA is 3.24, but he is 0-4 in the most important stat column – wins and losses. Remarkably, six times in his nine career starts at Petco, Cain has pitched six or more innings, allowing two runs or less, and doesn’t have a win to show for it in any of those half dozen outings. Somehow, Cain doesn’t mind.

“I like pitching here. I’m confident,” Cain told reporters. “It’s a great ballpark to pitch in.”

In a frighteningly similar fashion to Sunday’s game against the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, Monday, the Giants hitters were hand cuffed by Padres starter Clayton Richard.

The left hander scattered seven hits, struck out five, walked one, and allowing just one run, which came on a Pablo Sandoval infield single in the fourth. Were it not for Juan Uribe’s ninth-inning home run off San Diego closer Heath Bell that tied the game at 2-2, Cain’s night might have been even worse.

The Giants were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and have just one hit in their last 16 at bats in those situations, heading back to Sunday.

“It’s two games,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told the Bay Area News Group. “We were putting runs on the board until (Sunday). We did what we wanted and created the opportunities.”

The loss sent the Giants to 2-3 against lefties this season, and their offensive woes are perhaps being compounded by some key injuries. Aaron Rowand, who discovered his broken cheek bones will not require surgery, is on the disabled list until May 2, and Mark DeRosa didn’t start for the second straight day due to a strained right hamstring. DeRosa did come up as a pinch hitter in the seventh with two aboard, but struck out.

Additionally, Eugenio Velez – a career .213 hitter from the right side – went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts, and Andres Torres was unable to reignite the success he had against lefties in 2009, going 1-for-4. He also grounded into an inning-ending double play in the fourth with the bases loaded, and his only two hits this year have failed to reach the outfield. Torres is now 2-for-18 on the year, and has started just one less game, five, than has John Bowker, who won a starting job in Spring training.

But, ultimately, it was Affeldt who had to stomach this loss.

“Part of it was I couldn’t locate my curveball,” Affeldt said. “When they don’t have to respect the curveball they can look for the heater, and when you try to throw a heater away and it goes inside, the ball goes where it should have gone (out for a home run). I would have gotten lucky if it had gone foul.”

Re-printed with permission of the author.

Theo is a staff reporter and feature writer for the Marin Independent Journal where he covers local prep and college sports. As an Associate Production Manager for ESPN, he helped produce Sunday Night Baseball among other national ESPN and ABC Sports telecasts. Besides his contributions to Examiner.com, the I.J. and Sports Climax, Theo is the play-by-play voice for Sonoma State University baseball and softball.

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax™

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Manny Ramirez pinch-hit homer lifts Dodgers


Friday night the San Francisco Giants sustained a big blow from the Los Angeles Dodgers’ offense and starter Vicente mannyPadilla. Though Aaron Rowand may disagree, the Giants’ arch rivals waited until the eighth inning of Sunday’s rubber match before delivering the knock-out punch.

Pinch hitting with a runner on and one out, Manny Ramirez hit career home run 548 off Giants reliever Sergio Romo (0-1), lifting the Dodgers to a 2-1 win, and spoiling one of Barry Zito’s best career starts as a Giant.

Zito was masterful in 7 1/3 innings, scattering four hits, fanning three, and allowed just one run, which was a result of a walk to pinch-hitter Garrett Anderson – the last hitter he would face — who scored on Ramirez’s blast. Ramirez hadn’t played in the series since departing part way through Friday’s contest with a strained calf. It was also just the second pinch-hit homer in Ramirez’s 18-year career.

“Romo, he’s been throwing as well as anybody,” Bochy told reporters. “He’s one of our setup guys. I like him out there. He’s made some great pitches. I’ve got him and (Jeremy Affeldt). That is their role, to pitch in the seventh and eighth innings.”

Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw was nearly just as good. The 22-year-old Dodger lefty pitched into the seventh, allowing just four hits and a run, while striking out nine, and walking four. The lone run allowed was on a Juan Uribe (1) solo-homer in the seventh, which came after a long battle, from which Uribe fell down 0-2 before battling back in the at bat.

Without the presence of veterans Mark DeRosa (hamstring), and Aaron Rowand – who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday – the Giants missed two right handed mainstays in their lineup that may have proved to be helpful against Kershaw.

Eugenio Velez led off and played left field, while Andres Torres filled in in center, hitting eighth. The duo combined to go just 1-for-7 with a walk, and three strikeouts. The Giants also wasted a lead-off double from Aubrey Huff in the fourth, and they left the bases loaded in the eighth when Ramon Trancoso got Uribe to ground out to end the inning.

Second guessing is a part of baseball, and over 162 games a skipper is going to have plenty of chances to be questioned. Giants manager Bruce Bochy will no doubt receive some heat because of the fashion his team lost this one.

But there’s a reason Ramirez holds the record for postseason homers with 28, and is a likely first-ballot Hall of Famer – he’s clutch, and he’s really, really good.
And pitching match-ups, execution, and righty-lefty showdowns often stand out more than assigning blame where it may more easily fit.

The Giants stranded eight runners on Sunday, and had lead-off runners on in three separate innings, and none of them scored. The result was the first series loss for the Giants in 2010, and prevented Zito from improving to 3-0 for the first time in his career.

Re-printed with permission of the author.

Theo is a staff reporter and feature writer for the Marin Independent Journal where he covers local prep and college sports. As an Associate Production Manager for ESPN, he helped produce Sunday Night Baseball among other national ESPN and ABC Sports telecasts. Besides his contributions to Examiner.com, the I.J. and Sports Climax, Theo is the play-by-play voice for Sonoma State University baseball and softball.

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax™

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