Rewind: Cardinals at Giants, Game #1

The Fresno Express, which has made countless trips to San Francisco this season, dropped its latest passenger off Friday night, right-hander Brad Hennessey, before shuttling back yet another farmhand.

The 25-year-old Hennessey could not have come at a better time as he replaced the recently demoted Kirk Rueter in the rotation and stymied the St. Louis Cardinals, 2-0, Saturday afternoon at the ballpark on 24 Willie Mays Plaza.

“I’ve always felt that one man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity,” Fox Sports analyst Kevin Kennedy said. “You’ve got to get the young pitchers up to the big leagues and let them establish themselves.”

Hennessey (3-2) established himself after a rough first inning, in which he went to three 3-1 counts on the first four batters he faced. He would later retire 11 straight at one point, pitching through seven sensational innings of shutout ball.

“I was just trying to get ahead of everybody, mainly get the first hitter of every inning out and keep them off the base paths,” Hennessey said. “I think I was successful in that.

“I’ve been working on a few things in Fresno and apparently they worked out today.”

After a successful month in June when he went 3-0 in five starts for the Triple-A Grizzlies, Hennessey displayed to Giants fans his new compact delivery, which he starts off on the rubber at a slight angle.

"The mystery has started," San Francisco manager Felipe Alou said. "We know he has real good stuff, but he has had some problems with his delivery in the past. He looked like a different guy on the mound who was more relaxed."

Alou and the Giants (37-49) relaxed a bit in the fifth inning when Michael Tucker plated the first run of the ballgame on a single to deep right. Pedro Feliz then grounded into the extremely unpopular bases-loaded double play to score another run, giving San Francisco the only two runs of the contest.

Relievers Latroy Hawkins and Tyler Walker shut the door on the mighty Cardinals (55-32) in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, to hold the 2-0 lead and preserve the Giants eighth win in Hennessey’s last 10 starts.

When asked about Hennessey’s counterpart, Matt Morris (10-2), even St. Louis manager Tony La Russa had kind words for the Giants starter.

“I don't believe in taking something away from a guy who’s pitched well,” said La Russa, who will be managing the NL team in the All-Star game Tuesday. “Morris pitched well enough to win, but Hennessey pitched better. He was outstanding.”

San Francisco is now one victory away from an outstanding feat of its own. Their next win will give them 10,000 as a franchise, becoming the first team to do so in the major leagues.

“The Giants, if you believe it or not, are third in the National League in hitting; it’s the pitching that’s been a bit of a problem,” said Kennedy, who was hinting that San Francisco can still win the lousy NL West.

“When you get a good pitching performance like that from Brad Hennessey, who was called up last night, and he throws like he did against one of the better hitting clubs in baseball, that’s got to give you a lot of confidence.”

The G-Men will send left-hander Noah Lowry, another young starter, to the mound Sunday night in hopes of clinching the unprecedented accomplishment of 10,000 wins, before closing out the first half of the 2005 season.

“When these kids come up, there’s a lot more adrenaline running,” said Fox Sports anchor Jeanne Zelasko, “and maybe the team’s trying a little harder to get them some runs. That’s what Felipe is saying, in the second half, we’re going to see a lot more of the prospects being cycled through – not giving up the ship, but maybe trying to spark the club.”

The way the first half has seen prospects shuttled back and forth, the Fresno Express will be ready for it.

SFDugout.com player of the game: We have to select Brad Hennessey for a spectacular and surprising performance against the Cardinals. With the season in disarray, only flashes of brilliance like Saturday gives hope to an otherwise dreadful 2005 campaign.

Game notes: The Giants honored Robb Nen before the game, dubbing Saturday “Robb Nen Day” in San Francisco. Nen and his family rode around in a fire truck, waving to fans as he was cheered lustily by the sellout crowd of 42,423, the 10th sellout of the season. … Tyler Walker came out of the bullpen to “Smoke on the Water” as a tribute to the “Nenth” inning and the closer legacy that was Robb Nen, the greatest reliever in San Francisco history. … The game was completed in just under two hours (1:59). … Marquis Grissom was back in the Giants clubhouse after rehabbing in Las Vegas. He was evaluated by trainer Stan Conte and will head back Sunday to Sin City. … The Giants Wives Auction is under way and will end on 9 pm Sunday. You can check it out on www.sfgiants.com and, no, Brett Tomko’s wife is not up for bidding.



Phil Delacruz was a transplanted Giants fan, buried in the Southland. After four strenuous years in College, studying (read: partying), he's back in the beautiful "City by the Bay" – San Francisco. Do you think he should move back to LALA land? Or do you like him where he is now and appreciate the good reads? Either way, send him an e-mail at phildelacruz@aol.com to air out your frustrations or, more likely, songs of praise.

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