Its been a rough month for Jason Ellison.
After starting the season red hot, Ellison has found himself slumping in June and July. Hes been demoted from the leadoff spot he claimed from Ray Durham early in the season, batting behind even perennial #8 hitter Mike Matheny for much of July. His average has free fallen from over .300 to under .270.
Which only made his last base hit Tuesday night that much sweeter.
Ellison singled in front of Atlanta Braves left fielder Kelly Johnson in the bottom of the 9th to score Deivi Cruz from second, and send the San Francisco Giants to a much needed win, 5-4, over the Braves in front of a sellout crowd.
The dramatics in the bottom of the 9th took the pressure off of Tyler Walker, who blew his 2nd save in a week by allowing a home run to Adam La Roche on the first pitch he threw in the 9th to tie the game at 4.
Its been a rough season for Jason Schmidt, as well.
Schmidts struggles have been well documented the past few months, with rumors of trades or the Giants not taking his option for 2006 swirling around him. With his velocity and control of his fastball abandoning him at times, this year has not been what Schmidt wanted for 2005.
For him, the game had not started well. Schmidt struggled at times and allowed a run before the Giants even got to bat. That wasnt the way the game would go. Though Schmidt had some problems with walks every couple of innings and scattered 3 runs over 7 innings, when his control was there he was dominating. Schmidt struck out 10 batters in his 7 innings, which had the fans cheering loudly as he walked off the mound at the 7th inning stretch. The stadium gun indicated hed hit 96 MPH several times during the evening, suggesting that at least Schmidts velocity has return.
At that point, it looked like Schmidt would be in line for a loss, as the score was only 3-1 in favor of Atlanta at that point.
Its been a rough couple of days for Pedro Feliz.
Feliz leads the team in RBI, but his spirits were down after Monday nights loss to the Braves. Twice Feliz came up to bat with the bases loaded. When he came up with the bases juiced and two out, Feliz struck out looking to leave 3 men on. When he later came up with a pond full of ducks and just 1 out, he grounded into a double play to end the inning and leave 2 more on. And the San Francisco fans had let him know what they thought about that.
But on Tuesday, in the 7th, with runners on the corners, one out, and the Giants down by 2, redemption came. And redemption also went, as in halfway up the bleachers as Feliz hit a 3 run home run to put the Giants in the lead and Schmidt in line for a victory (that he would unfortunately not get). And in one night, Feliz went from goat to hero for Giant fans.
Finally, its been a rough time for Giant fans.
The Giants have been maddeningly inconsistent, and very rarely seem to find a way to put it all together for a win. In a year where fans were expecting a title run and have gotten a team several games under .500, things to cheer about have come few and far between.
But after taking 3 of 4 from the Dodgers in Los Angeles, and taking game 2 against one of the NLs top teams in dramatic fashion, as well as gaining ground on the enticingly reachable three teams in the standings ahead of them (The Giants are only 8.5 games out, and are tied for third with the Dodgers after Tuesdays victory), Giant fans have at least a couple of things to be happy about tonight.
SFDugout.com Player of the Game: Jason Schmidt. One could easily go with Jason Ellison or Pedro Feliz for clutch hits, but its got to be Schmidt. The teams clear weakness before the break was its starting pitching. Well, since the break, the rotation has stepped it up for the most part, but the most important guy remains Schmidt. And while Schmidt didnt have his best performance, seeing his velocity back and Ks in the double digits is the kind of sign that hes ready to anchor the rotation again, and let the other guys follow his lead. If the Giants are to succeed this year or next, that needs to happen.
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