Giants Insider notes: Battle of the bullpens

May 21, 2011, 6:06 am
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May 20, 2011

Our Giants Insider takes a look at the Giants' 2-1 extra-innings victory over the visiting A's on Friday night in the opener of a three-game interleague series at AT&T Park.Handy Manny: Emmanuel Burris, recalled from Triple-A Fresno in the wake of Mark DeRosa's latest wrist injury, had his first big moment of the season when he opened the bottom of the 10th with a seeing-eye single through the left side of the infield. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Andres Torres, and after Freddy Sanchez was walked intentionally, Burriss scored easily on a single to right field by Aubrey Huff to move the Giants' record in one-run games to 13-3 with the team's 12th win in its past 16 games.RECAP: Giants beat A's on Huff's 10th-inning walk-off hit
Another quality night: It's often been said that a professional athlete shouldn't lose his job due to injury, but Giants general manager Brian Sabean said during a recent radio interview that injured left-hander Barry Zito essentially will be competing for his spot in the starting rotation while making his rehab starts at Triple-A Fresno. Zito isn't expected back for about a month, but he better be sharp at Fresno if he hopes to reclaim the spot now held down by Ryan Vogelsong, who put together his third consecutive quality start Friday while holding the A's to one run on four hits and two walks while striking out five over six solid innings. Vogelsong didn't factor in the decision, but the only run he allowed came across on a double-play grounder, and he lowered his ERA to 1.93 while remaining unbeaten at 3-0 in five starts and two scoreless relief outings.AdvanceScoutingFail: Perhaps it can be excused given the lack of familiarity with their foes on Friday, but the A's had no business testing Nate Schierholtz's arm by asking Josh Willingham -- no speed-burner, he -- to hustle from first to third on Mark Ellis' single in the second inning. Schierholtz, as he's done so many times during his career in orange and black, made a baserunner feel blue with an absolute seed of a throw to third baseman Miguel Tejada, who barely had to budge his glove to drop the tag on Willingham for the second out of the inning. Schierholtz, who saved Thursday's game with a diving catch with the bags juiced and two out in the bottom of the ninth, also made another beautiful catch, running down Kevin Kouzmanoff's drive deep into the right-field corner to end the top of the ninth.They'll kill you every time: Leadoff walks, that is. A's righty Trevor Cahill, an early Cy Young candidate in the American League, issued a free pass to Torres in the bottom of the first inning, and it came back to bite him when Torres stole second base, took third when Oakland catcher Kurt Suzuki's throw skipped into center field, then scored on a groundout to second base by Sanchez to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.That man again: Righty Ramon Ramirez took over for Vogelsong to open the seventh inning and survived a leadoff walk of his own with the help of a spectacular defensive play from second baseman Sanchez. The walk was draw by Ellis, who stole second base and moved to third on a passed ball that Giants catcher Buster Posey disputed vehemently. Ramirez got a huge out by retiring Cliff Pennington on a popup in foul ground near off the first-base line, after which lefty Jeremy Affeldt took over and gave up a grounder that looked like it might sneak into center field and snap the 1-1 tie. Instead, Sanchez left his feet to flag it down and quickly uncorked an off-balance strike to first baseman Huff that beat pinch hitter Conor Jackson to the bag and sent both Affeldt and the pro-Giants portion of the 16th consecutive sellout of the season at AT&T Park into a fist-pumping frenzy.Mixing, matching: Affeldt stayed on to start the eighth and probably should have gotten through the frame, but Coco Crisp's leadoff high-hopper to third bounced off Tejada's glove for a generous infield single before Affeldt struck out Daric Barton and got David DeJesus on a fly ball to right. With Willingham due up, Giants manager Bruce Bochy turned to Sergio Romo for a righty-vs.-righty matchup that Romo won with a swinging strikeout that set off another audio explosion in the stands.Battle of the bullpens: In a game that highlighted the strengths (pitching, pitching and more pitching) and weaknesses (scoring, scoring and less scoring) of both teams, it all came down to which club's relief corps would blink first. Giants closer Brian Wilson followed Ramirez, Affeldt and Romo with a perfect top of the ninth, and Oakland's Grant Balfour, Michael Wuertz and Brad Ziegler each threw a shutout inning after Cahill left with a line of one run on one hit and two walks with six strikeouts over six innings, setting the stage for extra innings. Lefty Javier Lopez, against whom right-handed hitters were batting .346 this year through Thursday, retired three righties in the top of the 10th before Fuentes faltered in the bottom of the frame.Public-service announcement: To everyone thinking of buying a Giants home jersey with their favorite player's name on the back: Go with a gray roadie or the black batting-practice top. Home jerseys, in case you haven't noticed, don't have names on the back. You're ruining a clean, classic look. And if you're older than 19, show a little pride and put your own name on the back, big boy.

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