Notes: Looking ahead to Philly
Durham could be ready for next series; Hennessey settling in
NEW YORK -- Manager Bruce Bochy correctly observed on Thursday that every year is different. But that hasn't been the case during San Francisco's recent visits to Philadelphia.The Giants lost all six games they played in 2005-06 at Citizens Bank Park, where they open a four-game series on Friday. Poor pitching has been the biggest shortcoming in this stretch for the Giants, who allowed an average of seven runs a game. "Then we're due for some wins," left-hander Noah Lowry said. The Giants have combined bad baseball with bad luck in the City of Brotherly Love. Only one of the six games was decided by fewer than three runs, with the Phillies holding a 42-22 edge in aggregate score. In last year's series opener, right fielder Moises Alou, off to a torrid start at the plate, sprained his right ankle and went on the 15-day disabled list. That disrupted the Giants' offensive continuity. The offense has resumed being erratic, but Bochy wasn't concerned.
"Every hitter will tell you that they like hitting in Philadelphia," he said.Bochy said that left fielder Barry Bonds, the Giants' primary offensive asset, tentatively will start on Friday and Saturday nights and rest on Sunday afternoon before playing Monday's series finale. Injury update: Bochy sounded slightly less optimistic about having Ray Durham back in the lineup for Friday's opener in Philadelphia, saying that the second baseman "possibly" would be ready. Bochy said that running remains an issue for Durham, who has missed the last four games with an abdominal strain. Right-hander Armando Benitez said that his right knee, which left him unavailable on Wednesday, remained sore but had improved. Bochy, noting that Benitez didn't have fluid removed from the knee, as reported earlier, had "a chance" of being available to pitch on Thursday. Bochy added that first baseman/outfielder Ryan Klesko, bothered by a sore back, felt "much improved" and could be ready to pinch-hit. Bonds weighs in: Just as several reporters asked Bonds about the controversy involving Alex Rodriguez's distracting shout at Toronto infielder Howie Clark on Wednesday, a television in the clubhouse showed a replay of the incident. "That's Toronto's fault," said Bonds, absolving the Yankees star from blame. "Too bad. Get over it." Pressed to elaborate, he replied, "Go ask Alex. Leave me out of it." Hitting tandem: Bengie Molina and Pedro Feliz frequently hit back-to-back in the Giants' lineup, so it makes sense that they'd be joined in other ways. Molina said that he and Feliz frequently share ideas on approaching opposing pitchers.
"I think we're learning from each other, since we hit so many times right behind each other," Molina said. "We're always talking about how they're pitching to us. For me, baseball is a learning thing, a watching thing. You have to watch how they pitch to certain guys, so you kind of have an idea of what they're going to do to you, and you go out there with a better game plan."Settling in: Entering Thursday's action, right-hander Brad Hennessey had appeared in five of the previous six games and six of the last eight. But the regular work didn't necessarily help him until Wednesday, when he pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn his second save. Hennessey issued only one walk in the six games, but he wasn't satisfied with his control. "I think [Wednesday] helped a lot," said Hennessey, the Giants' top setup man, who filled in as closer in place of Benitez. "The last couple of days -- three outings ago, and the outing after that -- I was getting the job done, but I just didn't feel right." Another former starter, Russ Ortiz, demonstrated increasing comfort by blanking New York in the 10th and 11th innings on Tuesday. Fans and talk-show callers have suggested that Ortiz might make a decent closer -- a role he filled 11 years ago in the Minors. "I don't know what it's like when you're up 4-3 or 4-2 and you're trying to hold it together to get a win," Ortiz said. But, he added, referring to his extra-inning stint, "It's definitely nice to be in more of a pressure situation like that." Although Ortiz has pitched in relief only three times since Tim Lincecum supplanted him in the rotation, the veteran right-hander hasn't felt uneasy.
"There's no sense of panic, of 'I can't fail,' " he said. "You can't worry about failing."Coming up: The Giants' four-game series in Philadelphia begins on Friday at 4:05 p.m. PT at Citizens Bank Park. Matt Morris will oppose fellow right-hander Adam Eaton.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.