October 2012

Affeldt jams left thumb in dugout mishap

Thursday, Oct. 11
CINCINNATI — The thumb on Jeremy Affeldt’s throwing hand, his left, became a mild concern for the Giants late in Thursday’s 6-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in Game 5 of the NL Division Series.

Affeldt fell in the dugout as he tried to avoid being hit by a foul ball in the top of the eighth inning and jammed his thumb. Otherwise, manager Bruce Bochy said that Affeldt, who pitched a scoreless seventh inning, might have begun the eighth inning, which would have eased the transition to Sergio Romo for the ninth inning.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Affeldt said of his injury. “We did X-rays. It seems to be clear. It’s just a little tight and a little stiff.”

*****

Sergio Romo often has modestly said that he can’t replace Brian Wilson as the Giants’ closer. Probably not, but even Wilson himself approved of Romo’s efforts, including his most recent outing Thursday.

Romo yielded a run but secured the final four outs, including a 12-pitch showdown with Reds slugger Jay Bruce that ended with a harmless fly to left field.

“To keep his composure shows a lot about his character,” Wilson said.

Wilson, who’s recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery and missed virtually the entire season, has been around in recent weeks to offer support and counsel to teammates such as Romo. Wilson has warned Romo, who struggled in the 2010 postseason, that the air becomes tougher to breathe in October.

“I keep telling him, it’s a different beast in the playoffs,” said Wilson, who recorded six saves and didn’t allow an earned run in 10 postseason appearances in 2010. “It doesn’t matter what you do in the regular season.”

*****

A few good lines:

Affeldt, on his seventh-inning confrontation against Cincinnati’s Ryan Ludwick which ended in a comebacker, thus stranding two runners: “That was probably one of the most honorable battles I’ve had all year with a guy.”

Center fielder Angel Pagan, relating how he felt as he watched Romo square off against Bruce: “I had my money on my guy.”

Cincinnati’s Ryan Ludwick on his team’s aborted comeback: “We rallied, you know? I think the main thing is we said we needed to answer, and we did. We answered with a couple of runs, but, shoot, it’s tough to beat Matt Cain four times in one year.”

Cincinnati’s Joey Votto on the same subject, including Buster Posey’s heroics: “I don’t really like saying that there are moments in games where you shift momentum, but when Buster hit that grand slam –- six runs is so difficult to come back from. That we almost came back was pretty impressive. But Buster totally broke our back with that swing.”

Chris Haft

Defining moment for Kontos

Tuesday, Oct. 2

LOS ANGELES — George Kontos became a Major League relief pitcher Tuesday night.

Admittedly, that’s a bit of an overstatement. Kontos must repeat what he did to end the seventh inning — preserving the Giants’ one-run lead by striking out the formidable Matt Kemp with Shane Victorino on third base — to establish himself further.

But this moment accelerated Kontos’ growth.

He learned to trust his stuff. He struck out Kemp on a 2-2 slider. There’s no way he was going to use a different delivery.

“My slider’s my best pitch,” he said. “I’m not going to change for anybody.”

He realized he can perform under more pressure than he faced in any of his previous 42 appearances with the Giants. Kontos spoke of his need to channel his adrenaline when facing Kemp and “just go after him like there weren’t 40,000 people yelling at me.”

He showed himself that he doesn’t necessarily have to overpower hitters. “I think one of the big things I’ve learned is not to try to do everything at 110 percent. Sometimes a little bit less is better,” he said.

If Kontos continues on this path, less definitely will be more for him and the Giants.

Chris Haft

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