Rewind: Blue Jays at Giants, Game #1

The San Francisco Giants returned home (sweet home) on Tuesday from a taxing 14-game, four-city road trip to begin a three-game interleague series against the struggling Toronto Blue Jays.

The Giants sent their faithful fans home happy, making their June debut at SBC Park a triumphant one. Staff ace Jason Schmidt pitched beautifully and the San Francisco lineup provided just enough offense in a tight, tense 4-3 victory. Schmidt won his eighth consecutive decision, fanning twelve in a 123-pitch, 6 2/3-inning effort.

After striking out the side in order in the first, Schmidt ran into trouble in the second inning, giving up a one-out single to Gregg Zaun. Light-hitting third baseman Eric Hinske followed with a triple into the alley in right center field, scoring Zaun from first. With Hinske at third, one out, and one run in, Chris Woodward wasted an easy RBI opportunity with a swing and a miss at Schmidt's 3-2 offering. After an intentional walk to eighth-place hitter Frank Menechino, Toronto starting pitcher Miguel Batista struck out to end the inning and the threat.

The Giants struck back in the bottom of the fourth, manufacturing two runs to give Schmidt his first lead of the game. Batista walked Michael Tucker to open the inning and then wild-pitched him to second. Pedro Feliz drove in Tucker with his second triple of the year, tying the game at one apiece. After a walk to Barry Bonds, AJ Pierzynski stayed out of a double play on a weakly hit grounder, driving in Feliz to put the Giants ahead by a run. The score remained 2-1 Giants until the bottom of the sixth, when Edgardo Alfonzo followed Pierzynski's two-out walk with a double. Pierzynski beat the tag by Zaun – just barely – and some heads-up baserunning from Alfonzo gave the Giants a runner at third for Neifi Perez. On the first pitch of the at-bat, Perez hit a ground ball to the right side for first baseman Howie Clark. Batista broke late from the mound and Perez, running hard all the way, beat him to the base for a run-scoring infield single.

Schmidt, with 106 pitches through six innings, returned to the hill to begin the seventh. With one on and two out, Schmidt was lifted in favor of southpaw Jason Christiansen, who was summoned to face the left handed-hitting Clark. Blue Jays manager Carlos Tosca countered with pinch-hitter Chris Gomez. Gomez wasted no time falling into an 0-2 hole, taking the first pitch for a strike and then fouling off Christiansen's 0-1 offering. The 0-2 pitch looked good to the 36,000 fans in attendance but was called a ball by home plate umpire Ron Kulpa. After a collective groan from the impatient crowd and a walk around the mound by Christiansen, Gomez smoked the next pitch into the left field seats for a two-run homer, and the Blue Jays were suddenly within a run of the Giants. Tyler Walker, on in relief of Christiansen, saw runners occupy first and second before retiring Zaun on a fly ball to keep the Giants in the lead.

The Giants squandered scoring opportunities in the seventh and eighth, and shaky relief from Felix Rodriguez in the top of the eighth created the need for a premature appearance from closer Matt Herges. Herges entered with two out and a runner on second base in the eighth, looking for a four-out save. With a count of 1-2, Herges got pinch-hitter Dave Berg to ground out to first, sending the Giants into the home half of the inning.

After failing to score in the bottom of the eighth, the Giants headed into the ninth still clinging to a precarious one-run lead. With Scott Eyre warming in the bullpen, Herges surrendered a one-out single to Gomez. Catalanotto came to the plate representing the go-ahead run, but the Giants were not to be denied their scratch-and-claw victory. After taking the first pitch from Herges for a ball, Catalanotto swung and grounded the ball to Feliz, who spun and threw to second and then hustled over to first to receive the back end of a game-ending, win-sealing double play.

Players of the Game: Jason Schmidt, Matt Herges, and Edgardo Alfonzo. Schmidt – while not his usual dominating self, giving up seven hits in total – pitched an outstanding game, striking out twelve and picking up his eighth straight win since losing his first two decisions of the year. Herges recorded his 17th save in fine fashion, getting out of a jam in the eighth and coming back out to shut down the Blue Jays in the ninth. Alfonzo was 2-3 on the night with a huge run-scoring double and a smart baserunning play that resulted in the winning run.



Stephanie Moy is a diehard Giants fan, born and raised in the city by the bay. She welcomes comments, questions, criticism and praise at a_hole_in_the_bucket@hotmail.com.

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