Sadowski has winning debut for Giants
Rookie hurls six shutout innings; Downs clubs first homer
MILWAUKEE -- Whether one is throwing a birthday party, presenting a gift or achieving an upset in an athletic endeavor, the source of the surprise isn't surprised at all.Thus, right-hander Ryan Sadowski didn't find it unlikely that he contributed six solid innings to the Giants' 7-0 victory Sunday over the Milwaukee Brewers. After all, isn't it every day that an unheralded 26-year-old in his seventh Minor League season -- a sojourn that included a year lost to shoulder surgery in 2006 -- subdues the National League's fourth-highest scoring team in his Major League debut? Sadowski, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Fresno, was properly grateful to the Giants for the opportunity he received to replace Jonathan Sanchez in the starting rotation. Sadowski might not remain a Giant for long, since they're shy a position player with infielder Rich Aurilia on bereavement leave until Friday. That could prompt a personnel move as early as Monday. If Sadowski returns to Fresno, he'll probably take it in stride -- the same way he accepted his sudden promotion. "I think the only one who wasn't surprised was me," Sadowski said. "I've kind of been unspoken about. My mother reads the media like crazy, so I hear everything you guys get and everything that you guys write. But I feel like I've gotten better throughout the year and pitched better than my numbers were in Fresno. So I was very happy but I wasn't shocked." Sadowski was 5-2 in 13 starts at Fresno, but his 4.11 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings didn't suggest dominance. Yet he stymied the Brewers on four hits, relying mostly on cutting, sinking fastballs. In neutralizing Milwaukee, Sadowski was most responsible for reviving a Giants clubhouse that was stunned by Saturday night's demoralizing, come-from-ahead 7-6 loss. Bursts of joyful screams drowned out the rap music blaring in the clubhouse as players performed ritual beer showers upon Sadowski and second baseman Matt Downs, who hit his first Major League homer in the sixth inning. "We're not going to have any beer for the bus now," center fielder Aaron Rowand said. At least Sadowski gave the Giants plenty to talk about. He allowed only three Brewers to reach scoring position, mainly because he halted rallies before they reached fruition. Sadowski coaxed Jason Kendall's double-play grounder with runners on first and second base and one out in the second inning. With Brewers on second and third and one out in the fourth inning, Sadowski induced Mike Cameron's grounder to third base, enabling Pablo Sandoval to run down Prince Fielder between third and home. Corey Hart then flied out to end the inning. Sadowski proved tough in other ways. After Ryan Braun led off Milwaukee's sixth inning by smashing a single off Sadowski's right side, the hurler stayed in the game and, fittingly enough, prompted an inning-ending double-play grounder from the last batter he faced, Casey McGehee. Sadowski left Miller Park with triplicate souvenirs -- the ball he threw for his first pitch; the ball he flung past Mat Gamel, the initial hitter he faced, for his first strikeout; and the ball he lined into center field in the fourth inning for his first hit. Jokingly asked about the ball Braun hit, Sadowski flashed a quick wit by replying, "It's still in my leg." Sadowski's performance was no joke to the handful of Giants who played with him in the Minors. "Like I told Rags [pitching coach Dave Righetti], he's got some of the best stuff down there, in my opinion," catcher Eli Whiteside said. "He showed it today. He shut down a pretty good offense." Said right fielder Nate Schierholtz, who led the Giants' offense by homering in a 4-for-5 afternoon, "I've seen him dominating before. ... He's definitely a competitor." Schierholtz's first hit, a single, led off San Francisco's three-run second inning that gave Sadowski an early lead. Before that, Sadowski admitted feeling "more nervous than normal" as he took the mound in front of a crowd that included his parents, Arnold and Elaine, who flew in from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; his fiancee, Lindsay, who jetted in from Los Angeles; and a brother and his wife who rushed in from Palm Beach, Fla. Needing a calming influence, Sadowski found it in Downs, his teammate at Triple-A. "Matt told me, 'Throw the first pitch and you'll be fine,'" Sadowski said. That's exactly what happened.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.