In the second to last game of the spring the San Francisco Giants played another clean game, beating the Oakland A’s by a score of 3-0. It was the third consecutive sharp outing by one of their starters following the performances of Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija in the two previous games.
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These games still don’t matter. But finding your timing at the plate and a consistent arm slot on the mound are the most important factors leading into the season, as is health. And all three of those factors have really come into focus over the last week.
Quality pitching can be contagious. These athletes are all prideful individuals, and with that comes competition. That isn’t to say that they want their rotation-mate to falter. On the contrary. The previous start will act as motivation for the next man up to keep the good starts going.
Jake Peavy went for the Giants tonight and worked a very strong five innings. Peavy struck out three and only walked one in his scoreless outing, surrendering just two hits. The fourth inning did see a couple of balls hit hard, but the Giants defense was positioned correctly to squelch any sort of comeback by the A’s.
As is the case in most springs, pitchers who rely on movement are not going to see much on the desert. Balls that normally dip down, tend to stay up in the strike zone, and usually get hit out. But now that we are getting into the real air, and normal ballparks, the staff should see different results.
Cueto went six innings, walking none. Samardzija went five, also walking none. With Peavy’s one walk tonight, the Giants starters have thrown 16 innings with one walk. Throwing strikes is a major key to keeping the pitch count down, and staying away from the big inning. Matt Cain goes tomorrow in Oakland, and looks to keep the free passes to a minimum and continue his bid to be one of the most valuable fifth starters in baseball.
On offense, the Giants were paced by Buster Posey who was 2-2 with a 2-run double in the first. Posey is squaring up the ball well leading int the season, and should get a lot of RBI opportunities with Denard Span and Joe Panik hitting in front of him.
Speaking of Panik, he walked twice and scored on Posey’s double, once again showing his great eye and unwillingness to go out of the strike zone. That will be invaluable in situations when Span gets on ahead of him and needs a pitch or two to steal second base.
The bullpen came on and did a masterful job behind Peavy. Chris Heston, George Kontos, Hunter Strickland, and closer Santiago Casilla all threw a scoreless frame. Heston and Strickland gave up the only other two hits that the A’s were able to muster on the night, and again no walks by the bullpen.
Tomorrow’s game is at 1:05 pm and is on MLB.TV, MLBN, as well as Comcast California on the television side and KNBR 680 on the radio. Cain vs lefty Felix Doubront. Don’t expect to see too many starters in the game tomorrow as they get ready for the season opener in Milwaukee on Monday.