August is Noah Lowry’s month. He started his career with an unbeaten streak that spanned from August of 2004 to April 2005, winning three games in the eighth month of the year. He won the NL Pitcher of the Month award in August 2005 with incredible numbers: 5-0, 0.63 earned run average.
Lowry’s 5-7 win-loss record this season may not matter this month. He got the game started on the pace he’d keep most of the night when he retired the first three batters he faced. Matt Holliday doubled to lead off the second inning and scored on Todd Helton’s base hit, but that was all the Rockies would get from Lowry.
Rockies starter Jason Jennings put everything said about Rockies pitching to rest, in a season where the best thing about Colorado’s ball club is the pitching staff. He let an early run get through, as Lowry would later, when Barry Bonds brought Omar Vizquel home with a first inning double.
Jennings and Lowry put on a show from there. San Francisco’s offense is definitely dismal, and Jennings held the weak bats down for seven innings. Jennings allowed three doubles in the first two innings but after that, the Giants collected only two base hits.
Lowry found the form that has won him attention and accolades in the month of August. He got stronger as the game went on. Of his six strikeouts, he got five of them from the last nine hitters he faced. He showed his skill as an overall excellent athlete when he made a great play on a popup in the eighth inning. He pounced for the catch and then threw to first base to double off Luis Gonzalez in.
The left-hander also handled his pitches economically, a good sign from a pitcher who commonly expends 100 pitches in a five- or six-inning start. Saturday night Lowry went nine innings on 121 pitches.
He even had a little luck on his side. Catcher Todd Greene and Clint Barmes got crossed up on a sixth inning pitch out play, where Greene went outside the box standing up and Barmes swung around and hit Greene’s glove. Jamey Carroll was running on the play, and the call not only pulled him back to first but ruled Barmes out.
Catcher’s interference is usually called on a play such as this but home plate umpire Dan Iassogna wouldn’t have it. He tossed Rockies manager Clint Hurdle for arguing the call, although unofficial sources say Hurdle was given the thumb for discussing subjects other than that play. Perhaps the Bonds-Culpa argument that touched off the debacle on Friday night.
This could have been what the team has been looking for, the spark needed to kick away the dismal feeling of losing. Getting a call to go your way can inspire momentum when a team really needs it.
Frustration--or hope, it’s a matter of interpretationset in when the game went into extra innings. The score stood at 1-1 and the Giants had wasted the best scoring chance they’d had since the first inning. Ray Durham had popped out with Lowry at third to end the eighth inning. The Rockies couldn’t mount a threat against Lowry. Relief pitching had to overwrite the previous nine innings. It was anybody’s ballgame, and nobody seemed to want to reach out and take it.
Colorado trotted out their best from the bullpen. For one night at least, Jeremy Affeldt looked like something resembling the best. Maybe it was the stench of the Royals that tainted Affeldt before he came to the Rockies. Saturday night he kept the Giants guessing with curveball after hooking curveball. He had no problems with Giants hitters in two innings pitched, only allowing one batter to reach base, and that came on an error by shortstop Barmes.
The Giants asked three men to do the job in extras. Brian Wilson and Steve Kline faced one batter each before Brad Hennessey came in to halt the reliever roulette. Hennessey has excelled in relief this season, and with the advantage of a starter’s arm he could go more than one or two innings should the game extend that far.
Choo Freeman worked a walk from Hennessey in the eleventh. Pitchers are warned not to walk the leadoff hitter, and it became clear as to why with two outs. Freeman scored on Barmes’ double. The run stood as the difference in the game as the Giants stumbled through another frustrating inning to lose the game. Closer Brian Fuentes came on in the eleventh inning to pitch to Vizquel, who singled but was caught stealing. Bonds got a base hit and pinch hitter Eliezer Alfonzo struck out for the last out of a heartbreaking loss.
So much has been said about the need to take control of the division now. With the next seventeen games against NL West combatants, and the Giants still in this thing somehow, losing two of three every series is unacceptable. They can scrape together a win Sunday behind Matt Cain, but even then they have a lot of work to do to be a contending ball club.
SFDugout.com Player of the Game: Without question, Noah Lowry’s performance was the highlight of the evening. He is one of the players the team leans on the most, and through no fault of his own he had nothing to show for his exceptional outing. The young man shows poise and strength even in the worst situations, qualities needed to survive with the current Giants team.
Notes: Pennant race update: With the win the Rockies are 2.5 games behind for the Wild Card, with the Giants 5 games back. Same figures in the West race, too…Scott Munter is slowly making his way back. He’s regaining his sinker while working in AA Connecticut, and the idea is to get him to AAA Fresno soon. Seeing him on the big club’s roster come September 1 will be encouraging for everyone…Jose Mesa pitched the eighth inning and faced Vizquel. Nothing happened to perpetuate their drama. No brushbacks, no bean balls, no jawing. Just a groundout to second.
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 24th season of fandom. 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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