The Baseball Notebook

July 18, 2010 6:08 AM

San Fran Comes Out Swinging

Sandoval.jpgAfter doing it with pitching on Thursday & Friday, the San Francisco bats opened up last night. The Giants hung five runs on the Mets in the second inning and won their third straight out of the break, coasting to an easy 8-4 win. Matt Cain went seven strong innings and only the bullpen giving up a couple runs in garbage time made the final score respectable. Especially heartening for Frisco is the play of Pablo Sandoval. Last year, he was the NL's top third baseman, but hasn't gotten untracked this season. Against the Mets, he's gone 5-for-10, including a three-hit night on Saturday. San Fran needs him to hit consistently the rest of the way if they are to survive in the competitive NL West. In the meantime, they watched rivals Los Angeles & Colorado lose for the second straight night as well. The Giants are a contender moving off the brink and back into a neighborhood with a little breathing room.

Downstate in Los Angeles, the Angels have taken advantage of a home series with the Mariners, winning their own third game in a row. The 7-6 win came in spite of another strong offensive outing from Seattle first baseman Justin Smoak, over from Texas in the Cliff Lee deal. Smoak had three hits, including a home run and a double. There's a lot of pressure on the Rangers to make this deal stand up this year. By 2011, Lee will likely be in the Bronx via free agency and all they'll be left is facing Smoak 18 times a year.

Lee was on the mound for the Rangers last night and turned in a great outing, going nine innings and giving up just two runs in Boston. But it wasn't enough. John Lackey pitched very well for the Red Sox, and kept his team in striking distance. It was 2-1 in the ninth with two outs when Kevin Youkilis drove in the tying run. Youkilis then won the game in the 11th with a sac fly. When the Red Sox already 3 ½ back of Tampa in the wild-card race, a 10-game West Coast swing ahead after this and few healthy bodies to speak of, it's not too much to suggest that last night's rally might have saved the Boston season, at least for now.

Carl Pavano and Mark Buehrle put on an old-fashioned pitcher's duel in the Twin Cities last night. Each went the distance, with the Twins prevailing 3-2. The Yankees have to be wondering where this version of Pavano was where they doling out huge money to a guy who couldn't get off the disabled list. Both Minnesota and Chicago got help from an unlikely quarter yesterday--from Cleveland, where the Indians swept the Tigers in a doubleheader.

Trade talk...

Oakland may be putting Ben Sheets on the market, especially with Dallas Braden due back from the DL. Sheets is the classic kind of pitcher that teams make mistakes on at the deadline. He's just tantalizing enough to make you think he'll be a difference maker. And he's injury-prone enough to make you regret all that you gave up. The only way he works for anybody is if it's a team that truly has reason to believe they may not get another chance this good for a while (Cincinnati comes to mind), or can pick him up at minimal cost in terms of prospects.

Photo courtesy of San Francisco Chronicle

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