The Gifts That Keep On Giving 

Whew. I'm all wrung out. The Giants just beat the Red Sox 6-4. After watching the first two games of this series, it seems both teams have gotten advice from their accountants that they haven't been giving enough to charity.

After jumping out to a big lead last night, Jerome Williams couldn't help but walk Damon to lead off the miserable 5th inning, and two ugly errors -- a dropped popup by Deivi Cruz (that Bonds should have called for) and a dropped line drive by Tucker -- that led to a 7-run inning and turned the game around.

The Giants had a two-run rally late in the game helped by Bellhorn's second error of the game (thank you, Mark), but with one out, two runs in and Bonds on deck, Grissom hit a 1-0 pitch on the ground for a double play. Alan Embree, would you like that gift-wrapped? Grip has done this before and no doubt will again, and it drives me bananas. Why not take til you get a strike in that situation? The rally was killed, the Giants remained two runs down, and the Sox blew it open in the 9th against Felix.

Fast forward to today.

Wtih a 4-1 lead in the 8th, Jim Brower pitched badly, no doubt, falling behind every batter. But the big gift was Bonds's error, a barehand attempt to pick up a single when the damage was already done. Fileding it cleanly would have kept the lead. Instead, he muffed it and the tying run scored. Thanks for shopping, as my friend Jimmy Spin in Sacramento likes to say.

But the Sox had gifts of their own. After Alfonzo's two run homer in the bottom of the 8th off Embree, who must feel that Pac Bell is cursed, Herges came back for the 9th. One out, no one on, Manny Ramirez in the on-deck circle, and David Ortiz has a great at-bat, finally grounding a fair ball past first base and down the line. No doubt to the horror of most of New England, Ortiz turned and lumbered toward second as the ball caromed straight to Dustan Mohr. He was out by 10 feet, although it looked on TV as if Ortiz might have avoided the tag.

Now the Giants have a good chance to win the rubber match with Schmidt on the mound tomorrow in a pitching matchup reversal of today: the Giants ace versus a no-name guy (Bronson Arroyo, if you need a name).

A couple notes:

* Noah Lowry pitched great today. Hats off to him. He doesn't throw hard, but if he can harness his control, especially with that change-up, he could be good. And hats off to Wayne Franklin, who struck out 3 of the 4 batters he faced.

* Matt Cain, the minor-league phenom who was just promoted to Double-A Norwich, pitched 7 innings of 3-hit ball last night. Also 1 walk and 4 Ks. On the same night, their other golden farm arm Merkin Valdez continued his single-A dominance with 6 IP, 1 H, 1 BB and 5 Ks. I was going to make a trip down to the 'Hose to check out one of them, but at this rate they'll both be in the Eastern League by July.


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