After a rain delay of almost two hours the Giants took the drenched field of AT&T Park to take on the Atlanta Braves. And because of the rain delay, the Giants made numerous lineup changes prior to the first pitch at 9:01 p.m.
Barry Bonds and Moises Alou were scheduled to start in the outfield corners but were pulled in fear of possible injury. In their places were Steve Finley and Mark Sweeney, both were making their starting debuts for San Francisco. With those scratches, Manager Felipe Alou had to make minor alterations to his outfield. Normally a starter in center field, Randy Winn shifted over to right field to give way to Finley, a career center fielder.
Prior to the start of the game, starter Matt Cain visited the bullpen three times just to stay loose. Cain threw well over 100 pitches while waiting for the okay from the umpiring crew.
To open the game, Cain walked Braves leadoff man, Marcus Giles, but recovered getting Edgar Renteria to ground the ball to Omar Vizquel who started a 6-4-3 double play and forced a Chipper Jones ground out.
In the bottom of the first the Giants drew first blood. After a leadoff single by Randy Winn, Steve Finley blasted the ball into deep right center for a triple and scored Winn easily. Finley then scored shortly after, on a double by Bonds’ stand-in, Mark Sweeney. The Giants then added one more run for the inning after Lance Niekro blooped a single into left.
Cain struggled with his control early on. His first time through the Atlanta lineup he allowed one run on three walks and one hit. In the top of the third, after getting ahead on Renteria, one ball and two strikes, Cain left a fastball up in the zone which Renteria then deposited behind the center field wall. An impressive blast to say the least.
After three innings played, the Giants held a snug lead of 3-2.
In the top of the fifth, the Braves played catch-up with the Giants. After hitting a double down the right field line, Marcus Giles ended up on third on Renteria sacrifice fly. Not more than five minutes later, Chipper Jones drives him on line drive single to center to knot up the score 3-3. Up next for the Braves was the other half of the Jones duo, Andruw. Andruw followed up Chipper’s base hit with one of his own, this time to left, and advanced Chipper to second in the process. This got both Felipe Alou and Dave Righetti a little nervous, they then made the call to the bullpen to warm-up the recently called up pitcher, Kevin Correia. Cain, who appeared to be rattled, still had one out to go in the inning with two runners on base. Adam LaRoche continued to make the fifth inning a small nightmare for Cain, as he singled in Chipper Jones to give the Braves their first lead of the game, 4-3.
During the bottom half of the fifth, the Giants had opportunities to score but failed to do so. Braves pitcher Kyle Davies started off by committing back-to-back walks to Vizquel and Finley but quickly recovered by getting Sweeney to fly out and Ray Durham to strikeout for the last two outs of the inning.
However, the Giants picked up the slack in the sixth.
After new Braves pitcher Joey Devine walked Lance Niekro, Pedro Feliz stepped up to the plate. In typical Feliz fashion, he hacked at the first pitch and drove it to center for a double knocking Niekro in from first. With no outs in the inning, the score was locked up at 4-4. After a Devine wild pitch, Feliz ends up on third for pinch-hitter, Moises Alou. Alou worked the count in his favor and got a pitch he liked and drove into the left field bleachers giving the Giants the lead back at 6-4. Coincidentally, this was the first home run of the year for the Giants.
Alou’s two run shot forced Braves manager Bobby Cox’s hand and brought in Mike Remlinger to replace Devine.
Alou’s AB also marked the end of the night for Giants starter Matt Cain, who made way for reliever Tyler Walker. Cain left the game with the lead after six strong innings of work only giving up four runs on seven hits with five strikeouts.
Walker’s outing proved to be shaky. In 14 pitches, Walker loaded the bases and brought cleanup hitter Andruw Jones to the plate. On a check swing, Jones argued with first base umpire Greg Gibson’s call of a strike. However, it wasn’t Jones that got ejected for arguing the call but it was manager Bobby Cox who got the thumb. After that fiasco, Jones slapped a single to left to score Giles and Renteria. Easy come, easy go. The Giants’ lead was gone, it was now 6-6.
Felipe Alou had seen enough, and yanked Walker for Jack Taschner.
The Braves, with no outs in the inning and the bases loaded, watch Jeff Francoeur get pegged with a pitch to walk in another run. The game was once again in the Braves’ hands, 7-6. As if that wasn’t enough, Taschner walked in another run to push the Braves’ lead to two runs. And again Alou had seen enough. He pulled Taschner in favor of right hander, Jeremy Accardo.
Accardo didn’t have much success himself as he gave up a bloop single to Ryan Langerhans over the drawn in Omar Vizquel to bring in another two runs. It was now a 10-6 Atlanta ball game. Following that, the Giants had an opportunity for a double play, but a throwing error by Niekro adding another the Braves’ scorecard. In that horrific seventh, five walks were given up to just one hit with Atlanta ahead, 12-6.
The beating didn’t end there, in the eighth, Ryan Langerhans capped off his night with a two run home run to give the final score of 14-6 game.
The Giants started out the game hot but with the rain came the down side. Hopefully Saturday the sun can shed some light and bring a Giants victory.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Now I know he had only one at bat in the game but it did change the momentum for the Giants and if had not been for the collapse of the bullpen we’d be talking about how Moises Alou saved the game. This one’s for you, Moises.
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