PHILADELPHIA Nate Schierholtz hit two home runs, he camewithin a few feet of a third, he made a running, fence-crashing catch and henearly turned a single into a 9-3 forceout with a fine throw from right field.
Afterward, in a hushed clubhouse following a 4-3, 12-inningloss to the Phillies, Schierholtz pledged to put the team first and do myjob.
Does that mean he regretted his comments to the SanFrancisco Chronicle a week ago, when he said he would welcome a trade and anopportunity to wear another uniform as an everyday player?
No, not at all, to be honest, Schierholtz said. Its justpart of the business, I guess.
Schierholtz hit solo shots in the first and eighth inningsoff Joe Blanton, the second of which tied the game and helped the Giants forceextras. He nearly parked another in the 10th and was intentionallywalked in the 12th.
Hes the only Giant with a multi-homer game this season.Hes got two of them, actually. He hit two out April 11 at Coors Field. And hehad good at-bats while starting all three games in this series.
He said he didnt find it curious that he was gettingplaying time a few days after expressing a desire to go somewhere where hecould get an everyday chance.
Not really, to be honest, he said. Ive just been tryingto stay ready. Thats what Ive done the last four years. Just do my best forwhen the opportunity comes to start. Im just trying to put the team first anddo my job, get on base.
Weve got a great group of guys here. Thats all thats onmy mind and our minds is winning ballgames and getting back to the postseason.Its about the team, not me.
Schierholtzs comments couldnt have gone over well withinthe clubhouse or with management, so its no coincidence that he is taking ateam-first stance now. The bigger statement is what hes doing with hisat-bats.
Now Bochy has a decision to make. Hes likely to sit downGregor Blanco against Padres left-hander Clayton Richard on Monday. Does hestart Schierholtz over Justin Christians right-handed bat? Or could Bochy evenstart a quasi-platoon with Schierholtz and Angel Pagan, who has really beenstruggling from the left side?
Well talk about it, said Bochy, asked only if Schierholtzwould start Monday. He certainly did a great job today, didnt he? Hesthrowing out some pretty good at-bats.
The Giants failed to execute and missed a chance to sweeptheir first series in Philadelphia since 2004, when J.T. Snow memorably tickledthe flower beds with a three-homer game.
But Bochy wanted to make sure the casual-dress flight didntturn into a five-hour dirge. So he spoke to the club immediately after theloss.
These guys answered a pretty good test, said Bochy,answering a question about the improved pitching on the 4-2 road trip toAtlanta and Philadelphia. Really, the whole club did. A few guys arestruggling with the bat, but we found a way to win two series. A good job byeverybody, and I told them that after the game.
The Giants had a 2.78 ERA on the trip. Thats a hugeimprovement over the 4.85 road ERA third worst in the majors that theysported when it began.
Zito gave them seven solid innings in the series opener atAtlanta and he provided seven more on Sunday. For the trip, he held the Bravesand Phillies to eight hits, three runs, two walks and he struck out 11.
To be the guy who was able to get two starts on this tripand put up quality starts, thats good, Zito said. This team is obviouslybuilt on pitching and defense. The offense has been great. We just need to keepthe pressure off them and let them know if we can score three or four, wellcome out with a win.
Not to channel Charlie Manuel on you, Barry, but the Giantsoffense is good, not great. Actually, its a little less than good. Marginallysatisfactory? Thats more like it.
Either way, the Giants pitched extremely well on an EastCoast trip, and the Braves in particular were hot entering that series. So theydid what they needed to do.
Zitos next start will be against the Los Angeles Dodgers,and he was in a bit of a goofy mood while discussing it.
Theyve got their two guys back, Kemp and Ethier, right?he said. So itll be loads of fun -- loads of fun.
Speaking of goofballs, how about Jeremy Affeldt?
Since the All-Star break, hes thrown 6 23 scorelessinnings and allowed just one hit and one walk. Hes struck out four. Its thebest Ive seen him since 2009, when he was incredible all season long.
Brad Pennys bad outing in the 12th aside, thebullpen had a terrific trip as well.
Hector Sanchez began jogging and said his sprained kneeresponded well. He still expects to return when his 15 days are up Aug. 2.
The Giants are looking for right-handed power. So Im toldthey are not planning to express interest in Rick Ankiel, who was designatedlast week.
But I like Giambi for the Giants. Hes a threat regardless.
And plus, hes been known to wear a thong.