It is so much fun to beat Tim Lincecum. While I greatly respect his pitching, his nasty juiced-ball comments smack of sour grapes, and I really appreciate it when my guys can give the what-for to anybody with that attitude. Other pleasing things about last night's game: Double plays (4 turned, none hit into). Clay Mortensen's first win. A home run with actual men on base. And a 9-pitch, 9-strike outing for our lovable 9th-inning man.
The Rockies needed this win. Dropping series to the Mets and the Padres at home this past week was pretty demoralizing. They'd also gone 1-5 against the Giants so far in 2011, and they're going to need something much closer to a season split come September if they want to see Rocktober. That means winning at home, a LOT. With the winless and wild Ubaldo Jimenez coming to the mound today, a loss yesterday might have meant another sweep. Not good.
Clay Mortensen has shown great promise out of the bullpen and spot starting so far this season. Yesterday was no different, though he did see his ERA rise from 0.55 to 2.01. He would have held the Giants scoreless through 5 innings if not for the wild pitch he threw with Miguel Tejada on 3rd. One of the things I love most about Mortensen is his mental control. 10 Giants reached base during his outing, but only 4 of them scored because he dealt so well with the traffic. He induced three double play ground balls in 4 innings. He did give up two home runs in the 6th, which were responsible for the Giants' second, third, and fourth runs, but aside from those two pitches he looked great.
After a run of shaky outings, the bullpen finally managed to hold a lead. Franklin Morales and Felipe Paulino were conspicuously absent, and I suspect that had something to do with it. Of course, we can't expect the 5 competent relievers we have to pitch in every single game, so something's going to have to be done in terms of a trade or a roster move. But on a day when all 5 of those guys did pitch, they did a commendable job. Matt Belisle gave up a single but got 2 outs in the 7th, and Matt Reynolds relieved him to get the 3rd out. Although Rafael Betancourt made us all a little nervous by giving up a single to the lead-off man, the Rockies saved him by turning their fourth double play of the night. Another single and a walk chased Betancourt away, but Matt Lindstrom got a terrific backwards K to end the inning. And Huston Street? 9 pitches, 9 strikes, 3 outs. It was splendid. One of those strikes was hit a very long way by Miguel Tejada, but when you have Seth Smith in right field you don't worry too much about those.
Maybe my favorite part of the game, though, was the Rockies offense. Lincecum is absolutely unhittable when he's on, but he is frequently not on, and the Rox took serious advantage of him last night. He walked 6 batters and only struck out 3, very un-Lincecum-like numbers. And the Rockies made him pay: his one walk to our pitcher resulted in a run scored. And his attempt to adjust to his control problems and to the admittedly very tight strike zone the home plate umpire was using led him to throw a lot of pitches right down the middle. The left-handed hitters were all over those, especially Seth Smith and Carlos Gonzalez, who both went deep in the 6th inning. Cargo even managed to do it with men on base: Dexter Fowler and Jonathan Herrera, both of whom reached on singles. Fowler's single also netted him an RBI, since Jose Lopez was on 2nd at the time. Speaking of Lopez, wow. For the second game in a row he had two hits. I would love to think that he's finally figuring out how to contribute offensively!
Other notable contributions: A great bunt by Herrera in the 5th moved two runners into scoring position. Cargo walked and then Troy Tulowitzki reached way out over the plate to tap a single into right that scored 2 runs. THAT is how you have an inning, gentlemen! And Seth Smith stole 2nd in the 2nd inning, though he would be the only really quality example of baserunning the Rockies exhibited. Cargo was caught stealing once and Fowler TWICE. Dex actually managed to run all the way around the bases twice as well, so I'm inclined to be forgiving, but that's got to stop.
I'm starting to think that not only is this division going to come down to the wire, it's going to be quite the dog fight between the Rockies and Giants. Neither team is playing really spectacular baseball, and all their wins off one another have come from capitalizing on mistakes. I just hope that, when all is said and done, we make fewer mistakes than they do.