After the pitching debacle Sunday, the San Francisco Giants have had an unexpectedly stellar week of starting pitching. Madison Bumgarner came within one batter of a perfect game. Tim Hudson came within one batter of a no-hitter. Then in a start replacing the erratic Tim Lincecum, Yusmiero Petit set a major league record by retiring 46 consecutive batters (though he did so mostly as a reliever over many games) and gave up only a single run. The Giants won these three games against a club they should beat that was nevertheless a nemesis this year, the Colorado Rockies. It took a walk-off homer to win one of them, after again losing the lead in the late innings.
Update: And the incredible starting pitching continued. A day after Ryan Vogelsong pitched 7 strong innings in a 13-2 laugher, Jake Peavy took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, and wound up with a 1 hitter and the victory--both of these games against the NL Central leading Milwaukee Brewers.
Position players were at last getting some timely hits. If nothing else, this year's adversity has given some rookies a chance, and so the Giants have some young players proving themselves in what had been an aging lineup. One of the Giants' announcers made a good point after their 13-2 victory: with rookie Joe Panik hitting second after a reasonably healthy Angel Pagan, the Giants have a pretty solid lineup (even absent Brandon Belt.)
Meanwhile, the Pirates took 2 of 3 from St. Louis, so winning the second series in a row against the two teams ahead of them in their division. Then two straight over the Reds.
In my tape review of the 2004 Lakers playoffs, I'm now on the 5th game of the second round, with San Antonio. After defeats in the first two games, the Lakers blew out the Spurs in the third, and in the fourth they eventually won handily propelled by a remarkable game by Kobe Bryant, scoring 40 points and dominating the action. They won the 5th on the miracle shot of all miracle shots--Derek Fisher's swish as the ball was inbounded with .4 seconds on the clock.
Once again, the tragic dimensions hover. Not just that again Karl Malone is identified as the key player, or that the rumbles of discontent among the Lakers threaten to intrude. Kobe played this game hours after flying back from Colorado where he entered a not guilty plea on the charge of sexual assault. After the game he talked about playing basketball since he was three, and how great it feels to be on the basketball court. He said the key to the Lakers success was playing every possession as if it might be their last. Clearly he was talking about himself. He was facing the possibility of jail, and the end of his basketball career. Every moment on the court was probably heightened, and precious.
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