Thursday, May 28, 2015

Fourth Straight Home Shutout

The Giants lead baseball in team shutouts with nine, just ahead of the Dodgers who have seven. Rookie Chris Heston bounced back with 7-1/3 scoreless, allowing only four hits and one walk. The closest thing the Braves had to a rally was Nick Markakis batting with runners on the corners and two outs in the 6th. Brandon Belt homered in the bottom of the 7th off a very tough Shelby Miller to make it 1-0 Giants. It looked to be another nail-biter until a six-run explosion in the 8th, one of those "hitting is contagious" events where the team batted around. The final was 7-0 and the Giants gain a half game on the idle Dodgers. That's the team's twentieth win in the month of May against only seven losses.

Heston gave up eleven runs in the two starts following his complete game gem in Houston. Tonight was the first time this season he has not allowed a run at all. The Giants beat Miller in Game Four of the NLCS last season when he was the starter for St. Louis. He also pitched in the 2012 NLCS against the Giants when he was only twenty-one. He went to the Braves as part of the Jason Heyward deal.

Tim Hudson tomorrow night. GO GIANTS!

--M.C.



p.s. Word on Jake Peavy is that he will require at least two more rehab starts.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Vogie and Giants Complete Sweep

That's 11 wins in their last 13 games if you are counting. The hirsute Ryan Vogelsong was a disaster, the de-whiskered version has been a beast. That's five consecutive starts of two runs allowed or fewer and five wins by the ballclub. Number 32 allowed 22 runs in his first five starts and only five since. One of those first five was a good one against the Dodgers, in the other four he failed to get past the 5th. If he can hit those spots low on the outside corner with his two-seamer he can get grounders instead of fly balls and it sets up his slow breaking stuff for swing-throughs. That worked well today--he got outs on the ground and key strikeouts as well. Walks have been a bugaboo but no freebies were issued this afternoon. That's three straight effective starts on the road in hitters parks. We know the Giants can keep the lid on things in their big yard so it's extra sweet to see them do it in the bandboxes. When Jake Peavy gets activated, I don't think he's going to bump Vogie.

Big blast today from Joe Panik right after the Brewers scored their only run. His two-run bomb came after Nori Aoki's leadoff single. Angel Pagan, hitting in the 7th spot, doubled and scored in the 9th for insurance. All the regulars, including Gregor Blanco, are positive WAR for the season and the lowest OPS of the bunch is Pagan's .728; the ML average is .709. The worst OBP in the lineup today was Matt Duffy's .333, he hit eighth (the ML average is .315).

Giants don't get a break until next Thursday--they come home for four against the Braves and three against the Pirates. Chris Heston gets the ball tomorrow night.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

p.s. Outstanding work, again, by the 'pen. My only concern is the usage--those guys are seriously racking up some innings! Let's hope Hunter Strickland can pick up some of the load. He looked good today and has done well (keeping fingers crossed!) since he was recalled to the bigs.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sergio Romo Really Needs to Work on His Batting

Another win!  Another W for Madison Bumgarner, although, perhaps, not his best outing.  He went 6, 99 pitches worth, and threw 61 strikes.  Madison gave up 3 runs on 4 hits, uncharacteristically walking 2 and gave up a home run.   Madison also got a hit and scored a run.  After a solo home run in the 4th by Aramis Ramirez, the damage to Madison was done in the 6th.  George Kontos pitched the 7th, and Sergio Romo found the last out in that inning and then went through the 8th.   Santiago Casilla got a save for a 2 hit, 2 K 9th.

Nori Aoki had another fine night with 3 hits.  7 other hits were scattered throughout the lineup, with Matt Duffy delivering a 2 run homer and Brandon Belt adding a solo shot in the 7th to top off the score at 6 - 3.

In the 8th, Sergio Romo came to the plate.  No doubt Ron was apoplectic.  Sergio had a chance to tie Madison Bumgarner for home runs in 2015, but, as it turned out, he did not get a hit.  Nor did he hit into an out.  In fact, he struck out looking.  No matter, though, as he held the Brewers scoreless in the bottom of the 8th.  I personally believe the man has a hit in him somewhere, but perhaps tonight was just not the night for it.  Sergio will make it known when the time is ripe.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Well Supported Tim

Escaping last week's oppressive rains to shine again under Miller Park's shelter, the Giants dominated the Brewers 8-4 with plenty of offense and major contributions from Nori Aoki.  Lincecum picked up his 5th win of the season, benefiting from an outrageous bat-around, 7-run 6th inning. 

Tim Lincecum's performance was far from spectacular (5 
Innings, 5 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts) and the noteworthy aspect of this win was probably not his favorite.  Until tonight, aggressive hitters had only claimed one home run in the 47 innings pitched since opening day, and tonight in 4 innings they bagged three; fortunately these were inconsequential.  Is it just the odds catching up with Tim, or a trend to be worried about? Only time will tell.

Game quirks:

Khris Davis was almost denied a home run due to celebrating with a "skip-step" which may have caused him to miss contact with home plate. The replay group in New York disagreed, but ultimately the home run didn't matter.  Curious. 

Nori Aoki had a  splendidly productive 4-4 game, inspired no doubt by my wife's recitations of the "Aoki Fight Song," which also made a guest appearance in Freshman English last week as an example of Japanese poetry in pop culture.  "Take your chances/Hit! Hit! Aoki!" Worked every time.  This same chipper cheerleader is ghost authoring today's Tim post, as our usual author is driving through our Golden State's parched Central Valley, partially dictating and musing about the game.

 All in all, a memorable Memorial Day victory. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Long and Rainy Road

Four games in three days and seven hours of rain delays nets the Giants a split in that chamber of horrors otherwise known as Coors Field. Friday night Ryan Vogelsong was in superb form, hurling six shutout frames, and the lineup went ape shit and scored eleven runs. A good thing as the bullpen gave up eight in their three innings. Nonetheless it was that rare of 2015 events, a win against the Rockies. The Giants made it eight straight wins the next day, taking the opener of the doubleheader by a 10-8 score. Again the lineup got the big numbers on the board early but a shaky Chris Heston and the 'pen made it a close affair. After that it was all Colorado. Yusmeiro Petit didn't pitch badly in the late game, but the offense was no help and they lost a close one, 5-3. Today Tim Hudson had nothing and got hammered and the bats didn't create any runs until the last inning. It finished 11-2, the only bright side to 11 runs is that Dodgers gave up 11 today as well and lost to the Padres.

It was a split in Colorado and that is generally a good thing. It's no fun to see the team, fresh off the three shutout wins at home against LA, give up 32 runs in a weekend. The fact that they won two of those games is a bit of good fortune. They scored 21 of their 26 runs in the first two, and that was enough.

It's an afternoon game for Memorial Day tomorrow in Milwaukee, 11:10 a.m. our time.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Casey McGehee has been Designated for Assignment

Yesterday, Hunter Strickland was activated, and pitched in Saturday's first game.  The Giants and Rockies were allowed to add an extra person to the roster for the make-up double header.  Today, the Giants, needed to get back to a 25-man roster, so they designated internet whipping-boy Casey McGehee for assignment.  Because McGehee is a veteran, he has the option of becoming a free agent.  Or he can accept an assignment to the minor leagues or be traded (which seems unlikely because he kind of sucks).  The Giants retained Hunter Strickland.

So, the net as of right now is that, of the Giants' two off-season acquisitions, only Nori Aoki is still with the team.  It's only May.  I know that Matt Duffy has been doing a terrific job.  I know that Casey McGehee is batting .200 only because of a recent "surge."  I know that he managed to slide into home yesterday but not touch the plate (one of two dumb baserunning mistakes by the Giants in a 5 - 3 loss).  Still, I'm not so sure this is such a good idea.

Casey McGehee had 177 hits last year.  Were he to get to 170 hits last year, that would mean he would hit about .300 the rest of the season.  Matt Duffy might not continue hitting at his current torrid pace. He is, after all, a very young player.  That means that the Giants have 13 pitchers and 12 position players (besides the starters, that now include Duffy, that is Joaquin Arias, Andrew Susac, Gregor Blanco and Justin Maxwell.

My guess is that the Giants are gambling.  They have 10 games in the next 10 days after today's freak show in Coors.  3 in Milwaukee, then 7 at home against Atlanta (4) and Pittsburgh before their next day off June 4.  They may figure they need a pitcher more than a hitter just now and hope that McGehee is willing to accept an assignment to the minor leagues and still be there after that.  I'm guessing, of course.  Generally, though, going with the lunatic fringe's rant-du-jour is not the way to build long term success.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sweet Sweep

I imagine the doggers are pretty tired of AT&T Park this season.   There are several reasons for this:
 1) It's cold,
 2) Most spectators are not supportive of their efforts,
 3) They don't score runs for like, 3 straight games,
 4) Madison Bumgarner hits home runs off of their ace, and
 5) They haven't won a single game.

That is, they haven't won a game in 6 tries at AT&T, for 7 - 2 record against LA half way through the season's match ups.  Madison Bumgarner was on the mound today, and sometimes, in the batter's box.  Can you say that a guy who throws a shutout struggled?  Madison was missing with his sliders and curve balls to start the game, he got the sliders to start working about the end of the 2nd inning, and it was until the 4th when his curve balls were consistent.  He walked 2 and gave up 7 hits, and an error put people on base when they should have been out of the fourth inning.  He threw 107 pitches and was out of the game with one out in the 7th inning.  Madison struck out 6.  Clayton Kershaw, of course, was matched up against Maddy, and he seemed a bit more comfortable on the mound, although he also gave up 7 hits and 2 runs and was responsible for the baserunners that scored the other 2, and was tagged for the loss.

About those runs:  Madison Bumgarner also hit the game-winning rbi, a rocket shot home run into the left field bleachers on the first pitch he saw from Kershaw in the 3rd inning.  That was reportedly the first home run Clayton Kershaw had ever given up to a pitcher.  Hunter Pence, who, for some reason, has a horrible track record against Kershaw, singled in Angel Pagan in the 4th.  In the 8th, after Buster Posey had finally solved Kershaw for a hit, sending Pagan to 3rd base and ending Kershaw's afternoon, Pence hit an rbi single to score Pagan, that, had not Chris Hatcher deflected the ball as it bounced over the mound, might have been a double play.  Brandon Crawford also singled in the 8th to score Posey.

Let us pause here to consider the bullpen.  During these three games, we have seen some great starting pitching, but also: Machi, Lopez, Romo, Casilla, Machi, Lopez, Affeldt, Kontos, Lopez, Romo, and Casilla.  6 1/3 innings, 0 runs allowed.  The doggers stranded 17 RISP.  The Giants have won 6 straight games and 7 of their last 9.  They are 14 - 5 in May.  Did I mention that Madison Bumgarner hit a home run?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Home Fog Advantage Tim

The only thing better than completely shutting down the first place doggers, is turning around and doing it again.  Tonight's version,  a 4-0 result, featured a fantastically effective Tim Lincecum, the usual tough bullpen, more than enough offense and a lovely foggy evening. The slightly wet home crowd even got treated to a massive Buster Posey homer when a close game erupted in the bottom of the seventh.  Life is good. Unless you are a dogger.

There was nothing foggy about our beloved Freak this night. Tim Lincecum came out throwing strikes and kept it up for seven strong innings, giving up three hits, NO RUNS, 2 walks and 4 strike outs (game score 73).  The highly regarded L.A. offense was totally muzzled once again.  Tim looked super tough, especially against Gonzalez.  On a wet and foggy night, Tim seemed very comfortable.

Key Moment: Grandal crushed a double (one of the only hard hit balls off Tim) and then went to third on a wild pitch. It seemed that Lincecum lost his focus and I feared the worst, but he got Ethier to groundout, Uribe to pop up - then he walked the pitcher, of course, because he wants us all to have strokes - and got the impressive Pederson to groundout.  That was really one of their only chances, as they finished 0-4 RISP.

Great game for Brandon Crawford AGAIN.  He looks ready to put together a great season at the plate.  Another RBI (#26) and three hits.  Isn't he the best SS around now? Or am I biased?

Round 3 : MadBum vs. Kershaw tomorrow.  SWEEEEEEEEEEEP!!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Giants Blank Dodgers

Tim Hudson held the line for 6-1/3 with his usual array of sinkers away and four Giants relievers combined to hold off the Dodgers the rest of the way for the team's sixth shutout. It was a nail-biter's dream as the potent LA lineup kept creating chances and their pitchers kept it close all night. Buster Posey poked a single to left to give the home town boys a 1-0 lead in the 3rd, driving in Joe Panik who was on base three times. That was the only scoring until the Dodgers defense gifted the Giants an insurance run in the 8th. Utility man Enrique Hernandez had pinch-run for Adrian Gonzalez and then went to left field on a double-switch where he couldn't handle Brandon Belt's deep fly to the track. It wound up a two-base error and Belt later scored on a wild pitch from Chris Hatcher. Starting LF Scott Van Slyke, moved to first base when A-Gon was taken out, had been picked off by Sergio Romo for the third out in the top of the inning, snuffing a potential rally. Beautiful stuff, man!

Huddy wasn't overpowering, but he kept the ball down and refused to give in and got lots of help from his big park and stellar fielders. He left after a one-out hit from Alex Guerrero. Jean Machi got his batter, Justin Turner, to hit a grounder but they couldn't turn two as Panik made a rare poor throw. Javier Lopez then walked both Joc Pederson and Jimmy Rollins to crank up the intensity but Sergio Romo got a comebacker from Howie Kendrick to end that threat. The Dodgers put two on in the 9th with two outs against Santiago Casilla but Rollins grounded out to Belt and the win was secured.

Tim Lincecum tomorrow night.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Winning Weekend

The Giants rack up another big number--this time it was nine--and close out the weekend with their third straight win. Chris Heston couldn't get out of the 3rd, but Yumseiro Petit kept enough of a lid on things to hand it over to the late-inning crew and they got it done. Jeremy Affeldt had a challenging time, but Santiago Casilla made up for it with an overpowering nine-pitch save. In the end the Giants scorching hot lineup scored on every Reds pitcher except Aroldis Chapman, and they created an opportunity against him with two hits. There were heroes up and down: three hits and three RBI from Aoki; three hits (including a clutch late homer!) and three runs scored from Belt; two hits and two RBI from Pence; two hits, three RBI, and a run from BCraw; a hit, walk, and a run from Blanco; and two hits and an RBI from Duffy. They needed every damn run today, that's for sure. I'm happy to see that the hitters can take advantage of a offense-friendly park and match up with these bandbox brigades. We know they can play their special brand of walk-off bad-bounce one-run win at home, but a great team has to win those slug-fests on the road now and again as well. A good club has lots of dimensions, and we saw that this weekend with thirty runs scored.

The Giants return to San Francisco for a quick three with their SoCal rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers before hitting the road again. Thursday we get to see Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw. The Tims man the other two starts.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

p.s. The Giants have now scored 145 runs which equals their 145 runs allowed.