The Bonds factor

Barry Bonds has resumed hitting home runs like it’s 2001, and the other shoe _ names the bases on balls _ is starting to drop. And once again, we’re being reminded of the impact that Bonds can have just by standing in the batter’s box.

On Friday against Philadelphia, Jamie Moyer was cruising along with a 2-0 shutout when he walked Bonds to start the seventh. Moyer was clearly in control to that point, but it was clear from the way he pitched to Bonds that he wanted no part of him. He tried to put each pitch on the outside corner, and he really didn’t come close with any of them. It was a clear example of defensive pitching, and the net result put the Phils on the defensive. Moyer appeared to lose his rhythm, and the inning ended with Eliezer Alfonzo’s three-run double that erased Moyer’s lead.

An inning later, Bonds was issued an intentional walk with two outs, and the Giants eventually scored three more times.

The point is, it’s never a good idea for a pitcher to avoid the strike zone purposely, because it’s awfully easy for him to lose sight of the zone afterward. It also forces him to go to a stretch, which is completely different from a wind-up, and it causes the pitch-count to go up and makes for high-stress innings. That it also forces the pitcher to come into the middle of the plate (as opposed to staying on the corners) is an advantage to the hitters that follow Bonds in the lineup. Bengie Molina and Ray Durham already have been major beneficiaries, so far.

This is the reason we saw so many innings similar to the two on Friday evolve again and again when Bonds was in his homer-hitting heyday.

The downside for the Giants of having Bonds walked so much is the possible ramifications to Bonds’ legs. So far, they have held up nicely, and perhaps this won’t be an issue. But the more Bonds stays on his feet, the greater the likelihood he may tweak something.

So far, though, he’s healthy, and as a result, the Giants’ offense looks hearty, too.