ANAHEIM Matt Cain wasnt the only Giants pitcher to workwith an extra surge of adrenaline Monday night.
Shane Loux admitted he nearly jumped out of his chair whenthe bullpen phone rang and he was summoned to get loose with the Giants leadingin the fifth inning.
Loux took the mound after a laboring Cain barely made itthrough five. He retired all three batters he faced in the sixth, setting atone that held for the bullpen the rest of the night. Cain wasnt perfect, butfour Giants relievers retired all 12 batters they faced.
And Loux got credited with a hold in the box score. That might not mean much to me or youor to your fantasy team. It might not come with a trophy or a souvenir or anewspaper headline to frame.
But when youve appeared in seven games all season, eachtime entering with your team trailing, each time walking into a losingclubhouse at the end of the day well, you learn to appreciate a change ofpace.
Nobody knows their role better than I do, and Im OK withthat, said Loux, who hadnt appeared in the majors since 2009 with the Angelsbefore the Giants purchased his contract last month. Still, theres someadrenaline when the phone rings.
Its nice. I like getting work, but its nice getting workto help the team win, especially for Matt.
Just a few weeks ago, everyone assumed that Loux would goback to Triple-A Fresno the moment that Brad Penny was ready. It looked like itwould take a couple of tune-up outings for Penny in the minors. But even thoughPennys shoulder is healthy enough to compete now, its hard to argue theGiants would be better off with him over Loux. Theyve already got a long guywith good stuff who throws strikes.
Loux has a 1.35 ERA and hes unscored upon in seven of eightoutings.
Threw strikes, he said, matter-of-factly. Get aggressivehitters to hit it on the ground. Thats what you want to do as a bullpen: getquick outs. Obviously, Romo and Affeldt and Casilla have been doing it. It wasnice to be a part of a victory.
Maybe Loux will get his own victory one of these days.
Got a win in 03 and another in 09, he said, smiling. SoIll wait another few years and get another one.
Cain made a nice recovery on Mike Trouts comebacker in thefourth inning, but just as impressive was the way Buster Posey managed the playat the plate. He received the throw, swiped his tag on Maicer Izturis, thenkicked his legs out of the way to make extra sure that his lower half wouldntmake contact with the runner.
That is exactly, EXACTLY how Bruce Bochy and Posey worked tohandle these plays in the spring.
Yes, its amazing that Cain retired 32 consecutive battersbefore Trout broke his streak with a leadoff single. But lets not forget thatlast year, Sergio Romo retired 31 consecutive over 15 appearances.
I let Romo know that Cains last out of his perfect gamenudged him ahead by one.
Ah, he got me, huh? Romo said.
Romo had a rough one in Seattle on Sunday, but he sure didbounce back well. He retired all four hitters he faced, including AlbertPujols.
I havent seen Bryce Harper play yet. But if hes betterthan Mike Trout, Ill be a rally monkeys uncle.
There are some players who fall under the category of worththe price of admission. One game and Im convinced: Hes one of them.
The press box here at the Big A has changed a bit since Icovered the team last in 2001. They pinched around 15 feet from each end tocreate extra luxury boxes. Imagine my surprise when I glanced to my left anddiscovered Kobe Bryant sitting in one, intently watching the game just a fewfeet away from me.
The Giants players noticed, too. In fact, they see Kobeevery day.
Joaquin Arias is his stunt double.
Whenever he makes a good play we yell Koh-BEEE! ClayHensley said. We were wondering why he went up there to watch the game.Somehow he got dressed real quick, I guess.
On a more somber note, best wishes to former Giant JeromeWilliams, who exited the game in the fourth inning and then ended up in thehospital when he had difficulty breathing. Based on reports from Angelsofficials, he is stable and doing well but will be held overnight as aprecaution. Hes expected at the ballpark on Tuesday.
The uncertainty and scary nature of the news reminded me ofthe night on the Angels beat in 2000 when left-hander Kent Mercker fell to one knee on the mound and had to behelped off the field. None of us knew how he was injured or how serious it was.Mercker suffered a cerebral hemmhorage a one in-a-million shot and camevery close to losing his life. He ended up making a full recovery, and was ableto resume his career, too.
We shouldnt need reminders that life is fragile and thatevery day is a gift to be appreciated.