For a team that is supposedly in a pennant race, the Giants' look more like the Bad News Bears than they do a professional baseball team these days. San Francisco manages to find a new way to lose on a daily basis. On Sunday, it was Russell Martin's walk-off homer that proved to be the fatal blow for the Giants' as they fall 7.5 games behind the first place Dodgers'.
Like a punch drunk boxer, the Giants' have been beaten and battered over the past several weeks and are fading fast in the National League West. On Sunday Night, Dodgers' catcher Russell Martin
may have delivered the decisive knockout punch to San Francisco's faint playoff hopes.
Facing reliever Vinnie Chulk
(0-1), Martin slugged a walk-off homer in the 10th, as the Dodgers defeated the Giants' 1-0 to complete the three game sweep.
This latest loss is just another in a long line of poor performances by the Giants'. They are now 2-7 on what at least heading into it, was supposed to be the most pivotal stretch of the season with 19 consecutive games against divisional opponents. Instead of rising to the challenge San Francisco has wilted under the pressure against N.L. West foes. Losers of five in a row, and 16 of 19 overall, even the most optimistic of observers have to wonder if the Giants' have anything left in the tank.
Despite the poor record on the trip, heading into Sunday night's tilt against the arch rival Dodgers', San Francisco's team batting average through the first eight games was an impressive .340. That stat is a bit deceiving however, because despite the fact that the offense is racking up the hits, they were an abysmal 9 for 40 with runners in scoring position.
The Giants' first inning Sunday against right-hander Greg Maddux
pretty much sums up San Francisco's season in a nutshell. Following singles by Randy Winn
and Ray Durham
, Barry Bonds
stepped to the plate for a showdown with Maddux. The matchup marked the first time that a player with at least 700 home runs had squared off against a pitcher with 300 career wins. Initially it looked like Bonds would win round one as he lined a ball that was ticketed for center field, but, Maddux snatched it with his glove and threw to first to double off Durham who was well off the bag, and the Giants' squandered yet another scoring opportunity.
After that rocky first inning, the game turned into a classic Giants' Dodgers pitchers duel as both Maddux and San Francisco ace Jason Schmidt
were on top of their game. Maddux settled into a groove following the opening frame, retiring the next 22 batters he faced. Schmidt was equally impressive, limiting Los Angeles to just five hits over eight shutout innings, while registering nine strikeouts.
Los Angeles finally mounted a bit of a threat in the sixth. With two outs and nobody on, Nomar Garciaparra
and Jeff Kent
hit back-to-back singles, but Schmidt struck out the dangerous Andre Eithier swinging for the final out of the inning.
Schmidt escaped trouble again in the eighth. After James Loney
struck out swinging to begin the inning, Rafeal Furcal and Kenny Lofton
hit consecutive singles to set the table for the heart of the Dodgers' order. But, with his back up against the wall, Schmidt stepped up big time, striking out Garciaparra swinging and retiring Jeff Kent on a foul out to third.
Unfortunately, San Francisco could not mount any semblance of a rally against the Dodgers' pitching staff all night long managing just three singles for the game. After Maddux blanked the Giants' over the first eight innings on only 68 pitches, former Giant Brett Tomko
and closer Takashi Saito
(5-2) each pitched a scoreless inning to cap off the shutout.
The Stumbling Giants' will look to salvage what is left of this disastrous trip against San Diego tonight @ 7:05 pm. Brad Hennessey
(4-2, 2.93 ERA) makes his return to the rotation against right-hander Clay Hensley
SFDugout's Player of the Game: Schmidt tossed eight shutout innings, striking out nine batters in one of his best starts of the season
Notes: Omar Vizquel
entered the game on a tear with 25 hits in 45 at bats, but he went hitless in four at bats Sunday night…..Since July 22, the Giants' are 1-13 on the road and have dropped 12 games in the standings to the Dodgers'…. Reliever Mike Stanton
turned in another solid performance pitching a scoreless ninth.
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