Have You Seen Junior's Grades? 

Last night, the remaining Jewish settlers left the Gaza strip peacefully, the Bush Administration promised it would no longer inject religious dogma and corporate spin into scientific research, Vladimir Putin got his nipples pierced, and Pedro Feliz walked three times in one game. Somewhere, Larry "Left Behind" Krueger weeps and falls to his knees.

Less miraculous but more weighted with significance, if, like me, you're straining to hear faint cries from deep within the concrete rubble of '05, is the performance last night of Kevin Correia.

His was an ugly pitching line:

5.0 IP / 6 H / 3 ER / 3 HR / 4 BB / 5 K

All in the span of 109 pitches.

But in the development curve of a young pitching dude, his outing could be more bodaciously awesome than a killer early-morning set at Huntington or a complete game shutout at Mays Field. Conditions were hot and humid, he was facing the league's top home-run team, balls were flying out of Great American Ball Yard, and he didn't have his best stuff. Could've been a disaster. Could've been the most indecent thing Cincinnati has seen in years.

But Correia only surrended three solo shots, then showed just like in his last start in Atlanta that he doesn't melt under heat of his own making.

Last night in the fifth, he walked the bases loaded to bring up Austin Kearns with two out. Kearns previously had hit one about 650 feet.

It was a battle. The bat kept slipping out of Kearns' hands into the stands, Correia's pitch count shot past the century mark, and Kearns managed to foul off several good 3-2 pitches. Instead of giving in, instead of giving up and walking him, Correia threw several excellent fastballs until Kearns popped up.

A great at-bat on both sides, but it should be a real confidence booster for Correia. Give due praise to Felipe for letting him finish the inning after walking the bases loaded. That's exactly what these final weeks of the season are for.

* More glimmers of hope from Todd Linden. He homered, always a good thing. But he also showed his speed as a weapon. His infield chop in the fifth drove in Feliz from second because Ryan Freel tried to make an all-or-nothing play, and the ball rolled under his glove. With a slower runner than Linden, perhaps Freel would have taken more time. Speed puts pressure on the defense. Linden's speed-power combo is tantalizing; we can only hope the Giants continue to play him regularly and let him get more comfortable so he can contribute in '06.


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