Rewind: Giants at Rockies, Game 3

Wild ballgames are a Coors Field specialty, and Sunday afternoon was just another day in Denver. Conventional wisdom does not apply in the thin Rocky Mountain air where rallies can easily explode into big leads and your best pitcher can't even be counted upon to make it through the day. Looking at the events of the game, it's a fitting farewell to Coors for the season; with one Giant busting a slump and a solid Colorado reliever melting down to give San Francisco the win.

When is Randy Winn not making Giants news? Since the trading deadline he has ignited the club from the top of the order, and his improbably hot run continued with a leadoff home run against Colorado starter Byung-Hyun Kim. Putting the team up to an early lead is always appreciated, but a closer look at the match up shows Winn with a 0 for 7 lifetime record against the submariner before play started Sunday. A single in the third inning also against Kim, and Winn’s previous futility was erased.

Productivity from the leadoff spot came up big today, as the Giants got the first batter of their inning on base in seven of nine innings, and for the first four frames they had a runner on in the first at-bat. It became problematic when the team failed to score in all but two of said innings. Moises Alou showed no ill effects from his jerky calf injury when he slammed a ball into centerfield and wound up on third. He would score on Ray Durham’s sacrifice fly and give young Matt Cain a two-run lead to play with.

Once again Cain threw an impressive game. Nothing magnificent like his complete game victory over the Chicago Cubs on September 9, but he continues to pitch well and keep his team close. With six strong innings where his only error was sent flying into the bleachers courtesy of a Todd Helton home run in the fourth inning, he pitched well enough to earn the win. Especially after an almost catastrophic error by Moises Alou in the sixth threatened to unravel all his hard work. It was Helton again, on another hard hit ball to right, where Alou lost it in the sun. He fell and the ball got away from him, and Helton was suddenly at second. With one out, Cain walked the next batter, Matt Holliday, and things looked dire. But thanks to a pop-up to center and JT Snow’s reliable work at first Cain bailed his teammate out, and got a hug in the dugout as a reward.

When it comes down to the bullpens for these teams, it can get downright horrific, especially when playing in this monstrous ballpark nestled in the mountains. LaTroy Hawkins, so good for much of the season, coughed up a quick run to tie the game at two all. Following a triple by local product Aaron Miles, pinch hitting for the pitcher, and a walk to Clint Barmes, Felipe Alou had seen enough. He handed off to Scott Eyre, and the best man in the bullpen this year shut them down with back-to-back strikeouts.

In true Coors Field fashion it all came down to the ninth inning. Winn made his presence known again by leading off with a single. At this time unknown Rockies closer Brian Fuentes was on the mound, and his numbers look better than what Colorado has run out in this role before: thirty saves and a 2.47 earned run average in seventy-three innings pitched. The expectation of Fuentes to hold the line came apart at the seams when he pelted Omar Vizquel in the thigh. Pinch-hitter Julio Ramirez batted for Snow, thus creating a “who are these guys?” match up, one that would end favorably for Ramirez and the Giants. His RBI single scored Winn, and the team kept piling the runs on. Alou doubled and advanced to third on right fielder Brad Hawpe’s error, scoring Vizquel and Ramirez. Durham posted his second RBI of the day with another sacrifice fly, and pinch runner Doug Clark, ever the substitute, came across the plate to cap an emphatic top of the ninth for the Giants.

Thanks to the relievers who followed Hawkins the game remained one they could win. Tyler Walker’s 1-2-3 eighth set up Armando Benitez, pitching after missing a few days with leg problems, and it shows that he’s not right. A pair of singles didn’t hurt the 6-2 lead turned into a victory after the final out, a Barmes grounder to Durham, but it does cause concern for their multi-million dollar closer and his health issues.

Despite the gigantic disappointments of the season, at least the Giants can take solace in some things, like the performances from key guys in Sunday’s win. Player of the Game: You mean it’s not Randy Winn? It’s true. For once Winn doesn’t steal the show despite a 3 for 5 day at the plate. The honor goes to Moises Alou, error and all. Had the error stood to hurt the Giants, his clutch performance today would have been even more necessary. He even stole third in the eighth inning. Watching him play unhampered by injury and age is undoubtedly sweet to those who are looking to 2006.

Notes: Watching Kim “bat” is good for a laugh. He’s been caught swinging through strike three twice this year—spinning around like a top. Full revolution…Winn isn’t the only Giant with a previous 0-fer against Kim. Barry Bonds added to his 0 for 7 record against with two pop-ups and a walk…You can start penciling in those dates: According to Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow the Giants will open the 2006 season on the road in San Diego on April 3, then kick off their regular-season home schedule with the Atlanta Braves in town on April 6.

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 Love/hate mail can be sent to, where the love mail gets top priority and the hate mail gets used for kindling.

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