Rewind: Giants at Astros, Game 1

This is starting to sound like a broken record, but the 2006 San Francisco Giants seem to fare the best when the odds are stacked against them.

After not scoring enough and giving up late inning runs to lose two out of three to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the sleepy San Francisco Giants limped into Houston braced for the worst.  Instead, a slumbering offense and timely pitching and defense resulted in the biggest margin of victory this season, defeating the Houston Astros 10-1 at Minute Maid Park.

Funny how things work out.  Let’s start with the offense.  The Giants cruised to an 8-0 lead after three innings, scoring in a myriad of ways.  The Giants scored their first two runs off of a shaky Astros starter Taylor Buchholz in the first inning, via a Randy Winn leadoff home run, an Omar Vizquel triple, and a Steve Finley groundout.  A Mike Matheny sacrifice fly in the second inning scored Pedro Feliz, who doubled to lead off the inning and moved over to third on a Ray Durham sacrifice.

The 3-0 lead after two was nice, but Giants fan and Giants brass alike had to really like the top of the third inning.  After a Winn double and a one-out walk by Finley, Barry Bonds didn’t homer, but his liner to right field bounced over the head of Astros outfielder Jason Lane, allowing Winn to score easily and Bonds to reach second.  Then with first base open, the Astros elected to give Mark Sweeney the Bonds treatment, walking him intentionally to load the bases for Feliz.

Whether it was a factor of Buchholz (2-3) missing his location, the Astros ignoring scouting reports, or a combination of both, what happened next completely foiled the Astros and made Feliz look like Moises Alou – the Giants slugger blasted a first-pitch fastball off the leftfield foul pole for a grand slam and a commanding 8-0 lead.

Initially, it seemed the game was going to be high scoring for both teams.  Filling in for an inconsistent Matt Cain, Giants starter Brad Hennessey was not particularly sharp, needing 103 pitches to complete five innings.  But for the most part Hennessey (3-1) got out of trouble when he needed to, and he was also aided by a flawless Giants defense – including a nifty pickup and throw by Feliz that resulted in a tag out of Craig Biggio at home in the third inning.

After not scoring in the fourth inning, the Giants capped the scoring with single runs in the fifth and sixth innings.  Houston scored their lone run in the bottom of the fifth inning with a Mike Lamb double that scored Willy Taveras, but they could do little against Hennessey and relievers Jeremy Accardo and Kevin Correia.  Having a huge lead and limiting walks help… sounds like a great recipe for the rest of the way, no?

SFDugout’s Player of the Game: Feliz.  Peter Happy sure pleased a lot of Giants fans today by driving in five and playing stellar defense.  With Alou still out, the Giants could really use consistent production out of him.

Don Shin eats, breathes, thinks, and bleeds in Orange and Black. Pac Bell Park officially opened on his 25th birthday (the one year he decided to move out of the Bay Area!!!). For the 2000 playoff drive, he dyed his hair orange while studying in Korea. He watched Game 6 of the '02 World Series at a restaurant in LA, and couldn't finish his meal afterwards. Feel free to write him at to commiserate, cheer, and complain.

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