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Giants serve notice to Rockies

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Tracy Ringolsby

Tracy Ringolsby is a Hall of Fame baseball writer. He is in his 37th year covering Major League Baseball, is a co-founder of Baseball America, and is in his fourth year as pregame and postgame analyst for Colorado Rockies games on Root Sports.

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DENVER

The San Francisco Giants arrived at Coors Field earlier in the week looking to clarify a few things.

Before the first game against Colorado was even played, manager Bruce Bochy made it known that the Giants never complained about the Coors Field humidor, in which balls are stored. “We wanted to be educated on how the procedure works," Bochy said of an uproar last September that led to stricter in-game supervision of baseballs used at Coors Field.

HAVE A FIELD DAY

Come for the game, stay for the party. Find out everything you need to know to enjoy the grand old game.

By the end of their three-game visit the defending world champions had served the upstart Rockies with a reminder of the challenges faced in trying to claim an NL West title. While the Rockies reclaimed their dignity with a 10-2 win in the finale, the Giants made their statement with blowouts in the first two games of the divisional showdown.

“It was certainly important for us to come in and set the tone," said Giants outfielder Pat Burrell.

And the Giants did. Consider that in their first 15 games of the season, the Rockies outscored the opposition 18-1 in the first inning. The Giants pounded the Rockies 10-0 in the first inning during the three-game series, jumping out to leads of 5-0 and 4-0 in blowouts during the first two games. They even had a 1-0 first-inning lead in the finale, only to see the Rockies actually knock around Matt Cain, who has been a bigger challenge for Colorado than any other Giants starter.

Of course, it was only a three-game series in April in a 162-game season.

"We do have 15 more against them," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy.

It is never too early for a reminder to be sent. One game in a season can, after all, become the focus of a team’s postseason charge.

It was last July 3, after all, when the Giants showed up at Coors Field in fourth place in the NL West, just a game above .500 (40-39). They took a 7-1 lead against the Rockies, saw it morph into an 8-7 deficit and then rallied to win 11-8.

The Giants went on to win 54 of their final 83 games in the regular season, win the NL West and then claim the franchise’s first world championship since 1954.

“It was one of those turning points in a season," Bochy admitted.

These aren’t sleeping Giants this year, though.

A team that had its bullpen and offense built on the run during the course of 2010 only had two new faces from the postseason on their Opening Day roster — since-demoted rookie first baseman Brandon Belt and shortstop Miguel Tejada.

They did, however, feature seven players who joined during the season a year ago. Lefty Madison Bumgarner and catcher Buster Posey came from within. Outfielders Burrell and Cody Ross, infielder Mike Fontenot, left-handed reliever Javier Lopez and right-handed reliever Ramon Ramirez were in-season acquisitions.

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And Mark DeRosa, limited to 26 games because of a wrist injury after signing a three-year deal a year ago, is healthy again.

UPON FURTHER REVIEW

Slow down on the claims that Barry Bonds' conviction for obstructing justice should make it a slam dunk he is denied induction into the Hall of Fame. Truth of the matter is if the bungled court case against Bonds is used as a benchmark for his Hall of Fame eligibility, it should reinforce that the game’s all-time home run king gets elected in his first year of eligibility.

There was not affirmation that Bonds used steroids. His conviction was for providing evasive answers on the subject. He also faced four counts of perjury for lying about his use of steroids. One of the charges was thrown out by the judge, and the jury couldn’t reach a unanimous decision on any of the other three, which means legally, Bonds can claim that there was no proof he has used steroids.

Of course, everyone should also know that a court isn’t about what is right or wrong. It’s about who has the strongest legal representation. The ultimate statement of how inept the federal prosecutors were was that Bonds' defense didn’t even call a witness because it felt the feds had created such a mess in presenting their case.

RELIEF IN SIGHT

First, Minnesota decided to move Matt Capps into the closer role and use Joe Nathan, a year removed from Tommy John surgery, into lower-pressure situations.

Then came St. Louis moving Ryan Franklin out of the closer role, to Mitchell Boggs, who in his first save threw 15 pitches, 12 for strikes. Boggs has added a slider to his arsenal to negate left-handed hitters. Franklin is disappointed, but he blew four of his five save attempts.

Who’s next? The White Sox have only one save, but then Chris Sale, who filled the void created by the departure of Bobby Jenks, has only had two opportunities. The only Sox relievers with at least three appearances who have an ERA below 6.00 are Sergio Santos (0.00) and Jesse Crain (1.93).

ROLE REVERSAL

Cardinals reliever Jason Motte faced Washington outfielder Rick Ankiel in a matchup that underscores the unpredictability of baseball. Seven years ago at High-A Palm Beach, a Cardinals farm team, Motte was a catcher and Ankiel was the team’s prized starting pitcher.

NUMBERS GAME

9 times in 18 games this season the Cubs have been at .500 — 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6,7-7, 8-8, and 9-9 — for the first time since 1928.

7 names for the ballpark the Marlins have played since their inception in 1993 — Joe Robbie Stadium, Pro Player Park, Pro Player Stadium, Dolphin Stadium, Dolphins Stadium, Land Shark Stadium and Sun Life Stadium. The Marlins move into a new baseball-only facility in 2012.

7 consecutive Milwaukee Brewers batted without an official at-bat in the 12th inning of the Brewers 6-3 win against Philadelphia on Monday — Rickie Weeks (walk), Carlos Gomez (sacrifice bunt), Ryan Braun (sacrifice fly), Prince Fielder (hit by pitch), Casey McGehee (intentional walk), Yuniesky Betancourt (sacrifice fly) and Mark Kotsay (intentional walk). The inning ended when Jonathan Lucroy singled home Fielder and McGehee was thrown out at the plate.

Tagged: White Sox, Brewers, Twins, Cardinals, Giants, Ryan Franklin, Mark DeRosa, Pat Burrell, Mark Kotsay, Matt Cain, Prince Fielder

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