These games aren't about baseball as much as they are for the fans, and for the players. While the Giants played nine innings of solid ball that raises hopes for the 2006 season, the aforementioned rookies as well as the veterans took the spotlight Sunday. JT Snow singled for the first hit of the afternoon, and also his career 1,500th hit, and removed himself from the game. It's been a rough, injury-filled year for the first baseman and maybe he knows something the rest of Giants nation does not. But he paused for a curtain call, usually reserved for the home run heroics of Barry Bonds, a nice gesture thanking the fans for standing by him in what might be his final season.
As for the game, the new guys destined to become fixtures in the coming seasons made it happen again. Moises Alou led off the second inning with a blast to left field, impressive because of its distance and because Arizona starter Brandon Webb threw very well over seven innings. Randy Winn was shifted to third in the order by edict of the elder Alou to get him RBI chances, and in a role he was born for—if you're going by what he's done post-trading deadline—he delivered with an RBI triple in the third, scoring pitcher Brett Tomko from second. The third run came from Lance Niekro, in the game for Snow. He reached base on Brandon Webb's error and advanced to second on Winn's single. Angel Chavez spelled Ray Durham defensively to start the inning and drove Niekro home. Winn was lifted from the game after reaching third base and the quiet, humble hitter turned fan favorite gave the crowd a curtain call before his day was done.
Warm and fuzzies didn't impress Tomko. In a display of maddening pitching schizophrenia that pushed his 2005 record to 8-15 but with three complete games, he threw brilliantly, going the distance and retiring the first eight batters he faced in a row. He allowed one run on the day, Chad Tracy's double turning into the lone tally on Arizona's side, scoring on Troy Glaus' single. His defense backed him up well, especially defensive replacement Jason Ellison and his diving grab in left to rob pinch hitter Craig Counsell of a hit to lead off the eighth inning. Alou left Tomko to finish what he started, and it's among the best he's looked all year. What does it all mean? Maybe that the Giants weren't as bad as they seemed, or maybe that with a little luck, fewer injuries, and better management, this team could have really done something. But it's October and when it's all said and done, all that can be said is, see you next year.
SFDugout Player of the Game: Brett Tomko made it look easy out there, cruising through a lineup without much bite and with the umpires using getaway day strike zones not withstanding. If Alou felt Tomko wasn't doing what he's paid to do he could have replaced him at any time. He left the pitcher in and was not disappointed. It's what a final start of the year should be.
Notes: Randy Winn regrettably closes the book on his 2005 season with the Giants with 51 hits in the month of September alone. With Alou testing his theory of better RBI opportunities with Winn hitting lower in the lineup, it bodes well that he'll return next season…JT Snow was selected by his peers to address fans after the game. Standing at the head of a cluster of Giants he thanked all those in attendance for the support and love they gave the team over the course of the season…Over three million fans per season have attended Giants games since SBC Park opened in 2000. It's a figure that's bound to repeat itself in the coming years, especially with Barry Bonds chasing Hank Aaron's home run record and with the 2007 All-Star Game coming to the city by the Bay.
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 email@example.com, where the love mail gets top priority and the hate mail gets used for kindling.
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