Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Now THAT'S how you close out a game.

The Giants won tonight 3-0 over the New York Mets. Some early runs through the timely hitting of Peter Happy and Rich Aurilia (breaking out of a killer slump), seven shut-out innings from Barry Gazillioinaire, and 1-2-3 eight and ninth innings by Jack Taschner and Brad Hennessey, who got the save.

I think last night's jaw-dropping meltdown by Armando Benitez might mark the end of his days as the Giants' closer. Benitez wasted no time in killing the Giants hopes when he came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth. Walked the leadoff guy, Reyes, known as an instant double. Instant courtesy of Armando, last night. Balk. Runner advances to second. Grounder to the right side, runner advances to third. One out, runner on third. Infield in, grounder to second. Runner holds. Two out. Giants one out away from victory. Balk! The runner scores. Reyes danced around on third and Benitez broke his motion. The oldest trick in the book, and one EVERY closer shouldn't fall for. It came as a surprise to no one at Shea or those of us listening at home that the next batter would crush a walk-off homerun off the rattled closer. BOOM. Bang goes the tie, bang goes the game. A friend of mine who went to the game last night (A Mets fan AND a Red Sox fan, but I still like him) was elated. He'd watched Benitez blow many a game for the Mets, and as soon as Armando came in, his hopes soared sky high. In fact, when one fan dispaired near him, Q turned to him and said "Hey--Benitez is pitching. This one is far from over." Good job, Kreskin. You called that one for frickin' sure.

Anyway, tonight before the game it was announced that Armando has a knee injury. I call bullshit for two reasons. One, I watched the ninth inning last night. He looked like he had his pitches, and he was laughing and grinning when the inning started. The only people hurting their knees last night were Giants fans who may have hit them forcefully while praying to God that Benitez wouldn't be Benitez. Two, this is standard-issue chicanery from the Giants office. Whenever a move needs to be made and they don't have options or wiggle room to work with, someone magically gets hurt and sent to the Disabled List. Someone on the Giants message board I frequent called it LAST NIGHT. Sure enough, it comes to pass. Benitez unavailable tonight due to "bad knee". Maybe the front office wants to give Benitez a chance to grow a pair (a pair being required equipment for a closer). Maybe they want to give Henny or Ortiz a chance to close a game or two. Russ Ortiz was a closer in the minors. Hennessey did the job tonight. He hasn't been consistently good, but bringing Armando into a game is telling the other team that you want them to go ahead and win it. So it was nice to beat a good team tonight. Without Benitez in there to make things "interesting".

GOOD NEWS: The Nervous Red Dog had his follow-up vet appointment today and as I expected, the Vet was VERY pleased with the way he's healing. Yesterday he ate like a pig, and today he chased the cat around the house for a few minutes. His wounds are still ugly though. But he gets his many stitches out next week, and then we just have to wait for his hair to grow back.

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