Tag:Brian Wilson
Posted on: May 20, 2010 2:49 pm

Kaz, we hardly knew ye ... but for one loooong AB

Scuffling badly and sinking quickly, the Astros on Tuesday bid farewell to infielder Kaz Matsui, releasing him into the great beyond.

Matusi's Astros legacy?

Well, he said hello in the spring of 2008 by missing several days after being unforgettably diagnosed with, and it pains me to type this, an anal fissure.

He essentially said goodbye last Saturday in San Francisco with a memorable 15-pitch battle with Giants closer Brian Wilson.

It was the longest at-bat in the majors since last July 16, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, when Luis Rodriguez, then of San Diego, battled Colorado's Matt Daley for 16 pitches.

It also was a duel that Wilson, who eventually got Matsui to fly to left with two out and the bases loaded to nail down the save in a 2-1 Giants win, will not soon forget. Even as Matsui fades away and searches for his next job.

"It was definitely the longest at-bat I've gone through at any level," Wilson said. "I've probably gone eight or nine pitches a few times, but to have someone foul off eight pitches in a row. ..."

The at-bat also was a textbook illustration of how, while starting pitchers need three or four pitches to work through lineups, relievers -- closers especially -- usually work with just one or two pitches. Wilson threw 14 fastballs to Matsui, mixing in just one other pitch: A slider at 2 and 2 for the eighth pitch of the at-bat.

I talked with Wilson the other day about the at-bat and we ran through it:

"I went to 0 and 2 right away with fastballs up and away," Wilson said. "Then I threw another fastball up for a ball, and then another up for a ball."

Three of those fastballs were clocked at 98 m.p.h., the fourth was 97.

Wilson's strategy was simple: Blow the ball by the light-hitting (.141) Matsui.

However ... Wilson pumped three more 98 m.p.h. fastballs, and Matsui fought off all three with foul balls.

After the first foul on the 2 and 2 count. ...

"When he fouled that off, I kind of laughed," Wilson said. "I was like, 'OK, let's put it in play.'"

Little did he know.

Seven fastballs into the at-bat, the count still 2 and 2, Wilson changed gears: His eighth pitch was a slider.

"I was going to try and sneak back door and try and catch him off guard," Wilson said. "I'm pretty sure I did. But he still got a piece of it."

Next pitch, back to the fastball, a 98 m.p.h. heater that missed for ball three.

That was it for any semblance of creativity: The next seven pitches were all fastballs between 96 and 98.

The thinking there?

When the slider missed for ball three, Wilson felt he was too close to the edge of the cliff to chance throwing another slider.

"I'm not going to walk in the tying run with a slider," he said. "No."

So with the runners going, Matsui fouled off four more fastballs.

Finally, he flied to left. Ballgame.

"It was fun," said Wilson, whose enjoyment of the moment undoubtedly was directly related to his success.

Funny thing was, very next day, the two staged an encore. Matsui came back to the plate as a pinch-hitter with two on in the ninth, two out and Wilson trying to preserve the Giants' 4-3 lead.

This time, he fanned Matsui on seven pitches.

"Of course he'd come to the plate against the next day," Wilson said, chuckling. "That's how it works, isn't it?"

Matsui was hitting .141 with just one extra-base hit in 78 plate appearances when the Astros released him. Chances are, Wilson will remember him far longer than Houston fans.

Likes: This look at Bryce Harper, the probable No. 1 pick in the draft this summer, from Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post. ... The Pepsi commercial, geared around the "Refresh" campaign, featuring "conversations" between major leaguers, such as Yankees ace CC Sabathia and pitching coach Dave Eiland meeting at the mound during a game. Sabathia suggests putting an organic garden in the bullpen, while Eiland counters with a suggestion of arranging a group hug for all New Yorkers. ... Throwback Pepsi and Throwback Mountain Dew. Real sugar, like the old days, instead of corn syrup. A far cleaner drink with no filmy aftertaste. I dig each of them and wish they would be permanently available in the grocery stores instead of just temporarily. ... The Rolling Stones re-issue of Exile on Main St. Haven't picked it up yet, but with special packaging and 10 bonus songs, it's gotta be cool. Will pick it up soon. ... Long bicycle rides.

Dislikes: Still not thrilled with interleague play, and here it comes again this weekend. ... Can't believe I haven't been to In-N-Out burgers since I've been home from spring training. That's so weak. ...

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Stacy, do you remember when I mowed your lawn?
"Your mom came out with just a towel on
"I could tell she liked me from the way she stared
"And the way she said, 'You missed a spot over there'"

-- Fountains of Wayne, Stacy's Mom


Posted on: March 23, 2010 5:19 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2010 4:08 pm

Wellemeyer close to lock as Giants' No. 5 starter

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- San Francisco's sole remaining starter's slot crystallized a bit more on Tuesday when the Giants optioned phenom Madison Bumgarner to their minor-league camp, all but officially anointing veteran right-hander Todd Wellemeyer as the fifth starter behind Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez.

Officially, right-hander Kevin Pucetas is still in the running for a starting job, but Wellemeyer's major-league resume appears to give him a clear edge.

"He's got the experience and he's done a great job this spring," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Wellemeyer. "We're very pleased with where we're at with Todd."

Bumgarner, just 20, debuted for the Giants last summer. The Giants' first-round pick in the 2007 draft arrived ahead of schedule, which probably served to raise expectations a bit too high for the kid this spring.

"We want him to work on some things," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Control the ball a little better. He's 20 years old. He's got a bright future. We think a lot of him."

Bumgarner had a 6.43 ERA in three Cactus League appearances, and had been expected to be sent to the minors. The only mild surprise was that it came with two weeks remaining in camp. The Giants thought Bumgarner was pressing too hard, and they wanted to remove the pressure and allow him to relax.

"We want him to work on his secondary pitches," Bochy said. "And with the way Wellemeyer is throwing the ball, it makes sense to let Madison go down and pitch."

The Giants signed Wellemeyer, 31, about a week before spring camp started. Their original idea was to use him as a long reliever, even though he spent much of the past two seasons starting in St. Louis. This spring, though, he's gone 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA over 15 innings pitched -- literally pitching his way into the rotation.

Sunblock Day? Just when you thought spring was here ... woke up to a hard rain in the desert. It was wet enough it forced the Giants to hit in the batting cages in Scottsdale and the White Sox to do the same in Glendale. Cloudy and mid-50s early morning, cloudy and low-to-mid-60s at game time.

Likes: Mets shortstop Jose Reyes back to baseball on Wednesday. At least, that's what the doctors are saying, and you can bet the happiest man in Port St. Lucie will be Reyes -- followed by Mets manager Jerry Manuel. ... Pablo Sandoval hitting for the Giants. He ripped a double into the right-center gap in a Cactus League game on Tuesday on a pitch practically at his shoe tops. ... Divorcing Dodgers owner Frank McCourt in Bob Nightengale's USA Today piece Tuesday: "Tiger Woods was fantastic for me." ... As my friend Ed Price, who writes for AOL/Fanhouse, points out, there could be three opening day starters who didn't throw one pitch in 2009: Toronto's Shaun Marcum, Cleveland's Jake Westbrook and Oakland's Ben Sheets. ... Quite a look for Giants closer Brian Wilson as he strolled into the clubhouse Tuesday morning wearing bright lavender pants, white sunglasses and a Mohawk. Newcomer Aubrey Huff couldn't help hooting. ... Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline remains terrific after all these years. ... I'm told Ghost Writer is fantastic. Looking forward to seeing it. ... The Cajun rib eye at Donovan's steakhouse. Talk about flavorful.

Dislikes: Nearing the end of spring training and no trips to Richardson's Cuisine of New Mexico, the fabulous Phoenix restaurant that burned last summer.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"It¹s not having what you want
"It¹s wanting what you¹ve got"

-- Sheryl Crow, Soak Up the Sun

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com