Today's starter AJ Burnett seems to have tormented the Giants as much as any of the Marlins, especially this year. He's won six in a row, notching two wins against the Giants on two Sunday starts, the last coming on July 24. His 7.1 inning, no earned run effort then almost matched today's mark of 7 innings, one earned run and five strikeouts. He victimized Giants right fielder Todd Linden with the strikeout twice, one looking and one swinging.
Burnett's effort was outstanding despite the presence of wildness—one wild pitch and a few others that skipped away from his catcher--but the Giants only hurt themselves today, blowing multiple opportunities to score. Starter Brad Hennessey's up-and-down season looks to be consistent, if that makes any sense. He took a quick nosedive after a good beginning, retiring the first six batters he faced. Problems came in the third inning when Marlins catcher Matt Treanor doubled with one out. After Burnett grounded to second, leadoff man and resident pest Juan Pierre laced a ball into right centerfield and just kept on running. Treanor scored and Pierre wound up on third. Second baseman Damion Easley stepped in and on the first pitch brought Pierre in with a single.
Hennessey's afternoon unraveled further in the fifth inning. Pierre again made things happen by getting on with a base hit. Easley was retired on a fly ball to left, and the only noise left-fielder and superstar-in-waiting Miguel Cabrera made all day came off his bat—a hard hit ball to the deepest part of the outfield, the 434 marker in right center. The Giants thought they were saved by the ball bouncing over the wall. A ground rule double. As long as Hennessey didn't allow another hit, the Giants could get out of the mess.
He didn't. Instead Noah Lowry's control problems of a week ago found him. After an intentional walk to the fearsome first baseman Carlos Delgado he hit the next batter, right fielder Juan Encarnacion. Pierre jogged in from third. Then Mike Lowell stood in and walked on five pitches. Hennessey was quickly yanked and the bullpen took over. Last week's almost hero Brian Cooper was summoned to record the final out of the inning, and he did, striking out shortstop Alex Gonzalez.
After that, scoring calmed down a bit. The Giants bullpen benefited from the new blood in the mix, with Cooper throwing two and one thirds innings and recent call up Jeremy Accardo going one inning. They combined for three strikeouts, one hit and no earned runs.
The Giants didn't lack for chances to strike back at Burnett. Fourth-inning singles by Edgardo Alfonzo and Ray Durham were wasted in between fly outs and the ever popular Linden strikeout. Later in the sixth inning Jason Ellison turned a leadoff walk into a runner on third on a JT Snow fielder's choice and an Alfonzo sac fly. Pedro Feliz killed the scoring opportunity with a grounder to short. Pinch hitter Michael Tucker led off the eighth with a single. Ellison and Snow followed with base hits to knock Burnett out of the game. The six-fingered reliever Antonio Alfonseca got Alfonzo to ground into a double play at third on the first pitch. Tucker scored the only run of the afternoon on the play, then Feliz struck out. Linden and Deivi Cruz, subbing for regular shortstop Omar Vizquel, got aboard with back-to-back singles against closer Todd Jones in the ninth, only to be stranded by two pinch hitters; Lance Niekro's strikeout and Randy Winn's fly out to center. The victory pushed Burnett's record to 11-6, and Jones got his twenty-fifth save on the season. The series loss puts an end to their mini-roll, having gone 5-5 in their last ten games. The team limps into Cincinnati for a four-game series starting Monday night.
SFDugout Player of the Game: Burnett's efforts against the Giants have been nothing short of Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow's favorite phrase—"ownage." The second of two starts where he's shut down the team demonstrates how valuable he is to the Marlins and their playoff push.
Game notes: Catcher Yamid Haad collected his first Major League hit in the third inning, a single off Burnett. With the day off, Vizquel went to town on the ball, drawing all over it with his trusty Sharpie... popular, long-time Giant Kirk Reuter was designated for assignment before today's game. The team has ten days to trade him before he's released outright... catcher Mike Matheny will be on hand to sign autographs before the August 24 game against Philadelphia. The event will be held at the Giants Dugout Store at SBC Park and is limited to the first 250 fans.
Chris has been a Giants fan since her days in utero. She loves baseball and writes about whatever she can get her hands on…even the Athletics. She's a Bay Area gal through and through. This is her 23rd season of fandom and first where she's had the honor to write for the Giants on SFDugout.com. Love/hate mail can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, where the love mail gets top priority and the hate mail gets used for kindling.
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