The Giants went into LA a half game back of the Dodgers in the West but they'll be heading back home with a firm 2.5 game lead after sweeping their SoCal rivals.
First of all, I know there's still 6 weeks left in the season, but the Giants need to seriously be considering keeping Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro around beyond this season. The Giants 1-2 hitters again got the train rolling Wednesday night, as both singled to start the game and both ended up scoring in the first inning to again help the Giants set the tone. Angel wound up going 2-3 with a walk and a couple runs scored, and Scutaro had another multi-hit game and scored a pair. Number 16 didn't just do it with the bat this series either. The play he made Thursday night to gun down A.J. Ellis at the plate was, in my mind, the play of the series for the Giants. If he doesn't come up with that throw, the Dodgers are sitting pretty with Lincecum on the ropes in a close ball game. That kept momentum on the Giants' side that they carried into game three. Then on Wednesday, the Giants got another huge defensive play by Joaquin Arias, taking a hit away from Shane Victorino early on and helping the Giants keep the Dodgers off the board.
The more Arias has been playing lately, the more he's starting to grow on me, and that was evident Wednesday when the utility man went 3-4 and drove in 5 RBI. He helped pick up the slack for a lineup that was minus Buster Posey, and provided further testament to how well the Giants are playing right now! It seems like everyone they're putting out there is contributing in some way and this type of play was what helped carry them at the end of 2010.
Now, as good as the Giants looked in their set with LA, they still have a couple of issues that they have to decide on as we close in on the waiver deadline. Gregor Blanco has done an adequate job in place of Melky Cabrera since he's taken over in left field, but I said a week ago that Blanco was much better served as the 4th outfielder for this team. Also, Justin Christian may be one of the worst hitters in the major leagues right now and isn't helping the offense whatsover when he's put out there vs. the lefties. Defensively, both guys are brilliant, but without Hunter Pence really cooking, the Giants need all the offense they can get. A few names that have been mentioned in connection with San Francisco lately has been Jeff Franceuor and our old friend Cody Ross. Now Franceour has a much better chance at clearing waivers, but Ross would obviously be the first choice out of those two, not only for his great play in 2010, but also the tremendous job he's done with Boston this season. And then there's also the closing spot, which we still haven't seen anyone really grab hold of and claim yet. I don't mind the closer-by-committee deal right now, but down the stretch, these guys need defined roles. If Casilla keeps throwing like he did Wednesday, he should get the job back.
Mike Krukow summed up this series in a few words Wednesday night, saying "The Giants simply outplayed the Dodgers" during this three game set, and it wasn't even close. The starting pitching was on point, the defense picked up the slack and the offense hit with runners in scoring position like their season depended on it. They're playing confidently and with a sense of urgency and I can't wait to see what they do with LA in a few weeks back in San Francisco.
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