Wednesday, September 2, 2015

They Ain't Cuttin' Any Steps

You're in a hole you gotta cut some steps to get out, am I right? The Giants got Kershaw-ed tonight. Mike Leake pitched another excellent game but lost the matchup anyway. That guy's had some rotten luck. The Dodgers big southpaw had it all working and outlasted the Giants with an incredible effort. I really thought--I know I keep saying this--the Giants would get the game-tying hit in the 9th inning. It didn't happen but I thought up until the bitter end that it would. What can you say? The Dodgers were on a mission and they pulled it off. All the games were so close and they came down to the narrowest of margins. I'm numb at this point. They played a terrific game but just could not, once again, get the big hit. And of all people Chase Fookin' Utley got the game-winner off Leake. It just doesn't seem fair, does it? I've run out of things to say. The Giants needed to win the series and instead they got swept. As much as it pains me this is one of those times where you have to "tip yer cap" to the other guy. They got it done and you can't argue with the results as disappointing as they are. I kept the Giants light burning, as you can see, but 6-1/2 back with 29 to play makes for some shitty goddamn math.



Vogie gets the start in Colorado tomorrow.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Deeper

Tense game, many moments of hope and dashed hopes.  Giants needed a win and did not get one.  Madison Bumgarner pitched well, Zack Greinke pitched better.  Madison's line: 7 IP, 108 pitches, 2 runs, earned, 8 scattered hits, 1 BB, 1 hr.  Greinke: 7 1/3 IP, 114 pitches, 1 run, earned, only 5 hits, 1 BB.  2 -1 was the final score.

Giants hits went to Pagan, who looked pretty good at the plate; Duffy, who netted the lone rbi; Belt; Posey and Blanco in a pinch hitting role.  Gonzalez collected the first rbi and Pederson hit a solo shot in the 7th.  Giants have 30 games left to play, and are now beyond the point where they can control their fate - they have to get some help from other teams. I knew that we had picked up De Aza, and knew he was in the game, but on the radio, I kept hearing "Piazza" which is about right for how the game went.  He did not do us much good, although De Aza got burned on a bad strike call, and Bochy got tossed as a result.  The pitch was clearly well outside.

Tomorrow is scheduled to be tough, Leake against Kershaw, and then on to Colorado.  At least they have some extra people. 

Giants Dig a Hole

Will Rogers was reputed to have opined "if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging." The Giants are in a 4-1/2 game hole after last night's grueling 14-inning torture-fest and have now put even more pressure on themselves to win this series. It gets a little tougher with Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw on the mound for the Dodgers the next two evenings. Last night was all about missed opportunities, like this weekend in San Francisco the Giants just could not put it all together. They blew a 3-1 lead, managed to tie it late, but could not get the killer blow before they ran out pitchers. Rookie Mike Broadway was the victim at the end. He looks like he has deadly stuff if he could command it. The Dodgers used seven pitchers and all 13 position players and even used Kershaw to pinch-hit. They got a big effort from reliever Chris Hatcher who went the final three frames. (I only made it through the 12th.) The Giants used nine pitchers and all of their 12 position players. With the rosters expanding today we may see even longer box scores. Matt Duffy, Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, and Marvelous Marlon Byrd combined for 10 of the team's 13 hits in the 2-through-5 spots in the lineup.

Madison Bumgarner get his shot tonight. GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Lost Weekend

I was expecting a little more after the stirring walk-off win Friday night. But the St. Louis Cardinals had other plans and delivered a weekend ass-kicking over the Giants in San Francisco. Out-pitched and out-hit the team was behind right away in both games and never managed to get the game-tying or go-ahead blow. Ryan Vogelsong and Chris Heston were both sub-par and the 'pen failed to stop the bleeding. With the Dodgers winning last night the Giants fall to four back. LA takes on the Cubs in the finale tonight. There are only 32 dances left on the card--the Giants have put themselves in a spot where they really need to win the big showdown series in SoCal this week. At least it is the "A-Team" of Jake Peavy, Madison Bumgarner, and Mike Leake. The team has to play five games better than their chief foe over the final month. It's possible, of course, but it's just stretching the probabilities at this point. The Giants need more than a hot month, they need at least a mini-meltdown from the other guys. At least they have seven chances to take matters into their own hands, the first one at seven o'clock tomorrow night.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Bum Was Bum Today*

* Quote from Bruce Bochy, post game show, in answer to the question, "How good was Madison Bumgarner today?"  I'm not sure why they have the post game show.  It would be generous to call the questions from the reporters 'softballs', nerf-balls is more like it.  Cotton balls.  Cotton candy balls.  I'm sure it has to be trying on Bruce to think of ways to state the obvious.

Madison Bumgarner was effin'-a good.  6 IP (and that was simply to give him a bit of a rest), 98 pitches, 12 K, 2 BB and 2 hits.  Those hits were back to back in the 2nd inning, to Rizzo who went to 2nd on a wild pitch, and then to Castro for a run.  Madison then struck out a cub, walked one and struck out 2 more, and then did not give up another hit.   George Kontos, Mike Broadway and Josh Osich finished the afternoon.

The Giants won this game, 9 - 1.  Juan Perez, starting in center, answered the cubbies sole run with an rbi double in the bottom of the 2nd to score Kelby Tomlinson.  In the 3rd, Matt Duffy put the Giants ahead with an rbi single that scored Nori Aoki, who singled, stole second and advanced to 3rd on a throwing error by the rookie catcher, Kyle Schwarber.  Brandon Belt walked, and Marlon Byrd hit a 3 run shot to make it 5 - 1 Giants.

That wasn't all, though as additional thrills were in store on a warm San Francisco afternoon.  In the 8th, the bulk of the Giants remaining power was up.  Brandon Belt walked and Buster Posey doubled to put 2 RISP.  Marlon Byrd was intentionally walked to load the bases.  FNGlasses guy Kelby Tomlinson fought off about 9 pitches, and put one in the left field seats for his first major league home run, a grand slam.  He tried to be stoic when he took the field, but couldn't help but break into a grin.  Me, too.

The Giants put a line-up on the field that had 3 of the 8 position players they opened the season with.  The news on Brandon Crawford and Gregor Blanco is good, though, and Angel Pagan is close to ready to come back also.   Hudson could probably pitch if needed.  News from the smog suckers victory over the Reds today was that Gonzales hit a ball into his knee and Puig had a hammie issue.  But the guy that I want to mention is Buster Posey.   Buster had 2 hits today, and one was a double, as was yesterday's go-ahead rbi hit.  Buster Posey's recent little slump-inducing mechanical flaw, which he seems to have corrected, coincided exactly with the Giants' struggles, and now we are winning again when he is hitting.  Yeah, he carries the team.

Also, I think Jon should post for Leake.  Or any pitcher whose name starts with an L.  If we somehow wind up with a rotation of Leake, Locke, Lincecum, Latos and Lohse, Jon should do all the posting.

And finally, the media seems to have given up on the wild card because the Giants are 5.5 back.  What they are forgetting, is that the contending teams, Pittsburgh and the Cubs have to play each other the last month of the season when baseball is back to playing intra-divsion.  The cubbies have to play Pittsburgh and St. Louis each 6 times.  A lot can happen.  Like for instance, beating the Cardinals while the wonderful cubs beat up on LA. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

7th inning: 8-10

Boxscore
The Giants beat the Cubs tonight for the first time this season. Jake Peavy was gritty after a rocky 1st and might have made it through the 7th if Nori Aoki hadn't lost a ball in the lights. The team needed a win to keep pace with the Dodgers and a fine effort from the 'pen sealed the deal. Neither Brandon Crawford nor Gregor Blanco were available to play so the short-handed squad needed to step up. Let's hope both are back soon, this team is beat up enough.

The Giants 8-10 record in the 7th seasonal inning is in keeping with their up-an-down performance in 2015. Here's what we have:

1st inning: 7-11
2nd inning: 11-7
3rd inning: 12-6
4th inning: 8-10
5th inning: 9-9
6th inning: 12-6
7th inning: 8-10

67-59, .532 win pct., 2-1/2 games behind Los Angeles with 36 (two innings) to play.

Month-by-month it looks like this:

April: 9-13
May: 21-9
June: 12-14
July: 14-10
August: 11-14

The Giants are 21-16 since the Break, a .568 clip. Maintaining that will put them at 87-88 wins. To get to 90 they'll have to go 23-13 or a blistering .639 pace. They'll have to get healthy and string good starts together. The expanded rosters are just around the corner but there are five tough games against quality foes before then. Ace Madison Bumgarner will close out the series with the Cubs tomorrow and then the Cardinals have the weekend for three. Mike Leake and Ryan Vogelsong are penciled in for the first two and it's TBD for Sunday. Then they hit the road on Monday the 31st for a massive showdown against the Dodgers. If the rotation holds we'll see Peavy, MadBum, and Leake in LA.

At this point in the season every little thing matters. It looked like Matt Duffy might have hurt himself tonight but he stayed in the game. No more casualties, lads. I've thought all along that this thing--the West race--will get decided in the final week at home with four against the Dodgers and three against the Rockies. If they can right the ship a bit here in San Francisco before those ten away games to start the final month I'll feel a lot better. I'm sure they will, too.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Cubs Stomp Giants

Boxscore
I had to drink myself into a stupor after that debacle. I like a little George Dickel No. 12 when Matt Cain pitches, some Tennessee whisky for the Tennessee Stud. Lately these nips have been anesthetic rather than celebratory as Matty has played the Tennessee Dud instead. And the worse it got last night, the more I got. By the time he was done, so was I. Think about Tim Lincecum for a second. We watched him throw more and more breaking balls as he could not throw his fastball for strikes. Matt Cain is throwing more breaking balls for the opposite reason--he always throws his fastball for strikes. Unfortunately those fastballs are right down the pipe. In the wheelhouse. On a platter. Batting practice. T-ball location. Yikes, it's ugly. The Giants don't know what to do. They figure it's only a matter of time before he figures it out. After all, he's got a brand new elbow and has to learn to throw all over again. The problem is there is no time left. It's a pennant race and it's increasingly likely that the only way the Giants make the post-season is to win the West. So, what to do with Matt Cain? Like I said the Giants don't know. So I sure as hell don't. I do know that it's painful to watch him struggle.

Speaking of things that leave me speechless: Jeremy Affeldt.

Home cooking is supposed to be better for you, right? So let's see some championship ball from the home squad instead of from the NL Central.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Bucs Burn Giants

Boxscore
In the top of the 7th the Giants were trailing 4-2 with two outs and one on when Brandon Crawford hit a ball over the head of centerfielder Andrew McCutcheon, a feat in itself. It looked like a homer off the bat and when it bounced on the track it was at least a run and likely a triple. Alas, the ball went over the fence and into the stands and Andrew Susac, on first via a walk, had to turn around and go back to third base, taking a run off the board. Brandon Belt made the last out, stranding both runners. It seemed, at the time, emblematic of the game and the road trip. It finished 5-2 Pirates. I don't think the game was as close as the score--both Giants runs were gifted by poor fielding. Ryan Vogelsong got pulled in the 4th having allowed 11 baserunners. The three runs he gave up in the 1st were enough as the lineup could not get the big hit once again, and even when BCraw did it wasn't enough. Give Pittsburgh credit for being a good team and taking it to the defending champs.

Fortunately the Dodgers helped things out by losing again in Houston and the deficit is at 1-1/2 games. The Giants, mercifully, have an off-day tomorrow and open a home series, thankfully, against the Cubs and Cardinals on Tuesday. Matt Cain gets the call.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Byrd is the Word

Marlon Byrd.  I have to admit, I was less than impressed when I saw the news of the Giants' trade for Marlon Byrd.  I am more impressed now.   Madison Bumgarner was on the hill tonight in Pittsburgh.  He struggled for the first couple of innings - 50 pitches in the first 2, but then settled down.  The pitch count got to him, though, and he surrendered the hill with 1 out into the 7th.

Madison's line: 6 1/3 IP, 109 pitches, 6 hits, 3 runs, all earned, 1 BB.  Sergio Romo gave us 1 1/3 and allowed the 4th run, Osich an out, and Santiago Casilla, after a tense walk, got a 4 - 6 - 3 ground ball double play and the final out for a 6 - 4 Giants' victory.

Marlon Byrd made an immediate positive impression with a 1st inning, hitting a home run with Matt Duffy on board for the 2nd and 3rd run of the game.  Buster Posey tallied the 1st rbi with a sac fly to score Nori Aoki.  Byrd, batting 5th, had a 3 hit night.  Nori Aoki, in the lead-off spot had a 3 hit night.  Giants chalked up 14 hits, most of them (11) against Pittsburgh starter Jeff Locke, who was responsible for all of the Giants' 6 runs.  Brandon Belt and Gregor Blanco both had 2 hits, and Belt had an rbi.  And, oh yeah, Madison Bumgarner hit a 2 run home run.

So the Giants could actually put together a winning record on this 7 game swing to the midwest, but they will have to win tomorrow and Sunday to do it.  Then LA (who is, by the way, sans-hit in Houston with only 3 outs left.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Busch Blues

It was an epic series in St. Louis topped by a great game tonight. The home crowd got the thrills with the series win, capped by Yadier Molina's 100th career homer. The Giants battled back from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead in the top of the 7th but the Cardinals beat the youngsters in the Giants bullpen to prevail by a 4-3 score. Just when we gushed enthusiastically about lefty Josh Osich and righty Hunter Strickland they gave up the tying and go-ahead runs in consecutive innings. Welcome to the big leagues, lads. The Giants had plenty of chances and fought hard but couldn't quite pull it off. They scored 1, 2, and 3 runs in the three games. The Cardinals scored 2, 0, and 4 runs. I think you can do the math. It was frustrating in the end because the A's beat the Dodgers again in Oakland. The deficit stays at two games.

Two things were notable tonight. The first was the play by Juan Perez to take a home run away from Stephen Piscotty. It had to be one of the best catches of the year. Hell, as good a catch as a guy can make. He caught a ball that would have hit the top of the fence and gone out except that his glove was there before it came down. It wasn't just the long run, leaping climb up the wall, and two-handed basket catch. No, it was the effortless self-possession. He just knew he was going to make the play. It looked like he had worked on it before the game. "Hey Bam-Bam, hit me a few off the top of the right-centerfield wall, OK? I gotta work on my spectacular catches." Perez knew exactly where that ball was going and what he'd have to do to make the play and he executed it with grace and style. Way to go, Juan! It saved a run. Which brings us to notable item number two, Matt Cain. He got hammered in the first three innings and could have been behind by a lot more but he found a groove in the final three to conjure up a strong start. Matty even drove in the Giants first run with a long sacrifice fly to centerfield. That kind of result (6 IP, 2 R, 1 BB, 6K) is what we need to see the rest of the way.

Tough series coming up in Pittsburgh: four games starting tomorrow and spanning the weekend. Off-day Monday.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.