Monday, July 27, 2015

Heston, BCraw Rock the House

Chris Heston put his infield to work tonight and they delivered of course, turning three double plays. Brandon Crawford put the hurt into one for the game-breaking bomb, and the 'pen did the rest for another Giants win. They gained a half game on the idle Dodgers with the 4-2 victory. Hest-o was neat-o again, and just like our man carmot said he is up there with the league's elites. What a treat to watch--did you see those two strikeouts in the 7th? BCraw also walked later and scored on a clutch pinch-double by Gregor Blanco to earn hitter's honors for the evening. Blanco was batting for Heston. Hunter Strickland looked deadly in the 8th, and Sergio Romo took the 9th, giving the regular man a break.

Matt Cain tomorrow. Go Giants!


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Duffy Delivers, Giants Sweep

Another tense contest in San Francisco and another one-run victory for the surging Giants who are now only a game back of the Dodgers. Tim Hudson hung on for dear life and made it through five with a lead that held up thanks to some great work from George Kontos and Javier Lopez. We even got to see the slick lefty lay down a bunt for the first time in more than a decade (it was only his 13th career plate appearance). Santiago Casilla looked a little shaky out there, again, today he was helped out by a caught stealing on a weird play, I suppose he'll just have to work out the kinks and find that lost command. Jeremy Affeldt has that "I need an oil change" look as well, let's hope he can find his groove soon. Otherwise it was the young stud at the hot corner who supplied the thump, launching a two-run blast to left-center and roping a run-scoring single to right in his first two at-bats. He had three RBI in the 4-3 win.

The Milwaukee Brewers come to town for three starting tomorrow night. Chris Heston, Matt Cain, and Jake Peavy.



Saturday, July 25, 2015

Madistrongman Bumgarnergrander

As the commercial says, when Madison Bumgarner is on the mound, you've got to like the Giants' chances.  That is especially true when he can give you offense equal what he gives up.  Which is a good thing, as the hits did not come thick and fast like they have been for the Giants lately.  In fact, the Giants had a total of 6 hits on the day.  The 2nd of those 6 happened when Madison went deep in the 3rd inning with no one on base for the first run of the game.  Oakland scored 1 to tie the game in the 4th on a Josh Phegly rbi double (ed note: Who?).  The 4th hit was a double by Joe Panik in the 6th.  A single by Matt Duffy scored Joe for the 2nd Giants run, and the final run of the game.  Final 2 - 1 Giants.  Now that's more like what we're used to.  2 hits for Joe Panik, 1 each for Matt Duffy, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford, in addition to Madison.  Ben Zobrist of the A's had 3 hits himself, out of a total of 6 for Oakland.

Madison also pitched.  He was not very sharp for the first 4 innings, then breezed through the last 3 in 30 pitches.  Total: 101 pitches, 65 of which were strikes.  He gave up 5 hits, 1 run, walked 2, and struck out 7.  Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla pitched the 8th and 9th.  They each walked a batter and Santiago gave up a hit but no runs were allowed.   As I write this, the doggers are losing to the Mets 5 - 0 in the fifth.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cain and Giants Whip Padres

Matt Cain made a 3-2 mistake in the 2nd to Jed Gyorko and he jerked it out for a 1-0 lead. Padres starter James Shields looked like he might make that stand up for an old-fahioned Caining but the boys wore him down and he was pulled after five. Perhaps manager Pat Murphy didn't like the 96-pitch total, or had more faith in his 'pen, but it seemed weird since Shields had only allowed three hits, three walks and no runs. Regardless, it worked out well for the Giants as reliever Marcos Mateo gave up a solo shot to Brandon Belt in the 6th that tied up the game. Belt looked like he'd taken call strike three the pitch before, and Mateo had turned toward the home dugout, but the umpire said "ball three" and he had to throw another one. This one Belt belted to end his homer drought. In the 7th the Giants benefited from another friendly call that saved Matt Duffy from his fourth strikeout and he walked to set it up for Buster Posey who, naturally, delivered the game-breaking double. The margins between defeat and victory are small.

The Giants padded things with three more in the 8th off Dale Thayer to make it 7-1 and that's how it finished. Cain went six, with five hits and one walk allowed, and six strikeouts, a strong effort overall especially in a rubber match against a pesky division foe. The Giants now have a winning record against the Padres and a winning record for the month of July. They won five of six on the road trip and open a six-game homestand Friday with the first of three against Oakland.

Everyone in the lineup today had at least one hit, except Cain, and Justin Maxwell added a pinch-hit from the pitcher's spot in the 8th inning. Six different guys scored a run. Jeremy Affeldt is back, he looked a little ragged, but it's good to see him out there. Nori Aoki joins the team in San Francisco. Let's get the whole band back together for the stretch run, eh?



Tuesday, July 21, 2015

2-1/2 Back

The Giants win big in San Diego behind another suffocating start from Chris Heston who went 7-1/3 and allowed only one hit. Josh Osich was tagged with all the runs in the 9-3 win, the young lefty has looked terrific in his cup of coffee, he's sure got a live arm, but I imagine he'll get the axe when Jeremy Affeldt returns this weekend. Another body will have to be hacked from the roster when Nori Aoki is activated--that's supposed to happen Friday. Meanwhile the Giants send Matt Cain out tomorrow afternoon for the rubber match. Tonight they battered their erstwhile nemesis, Odrisamer Despaigne, with seven hits and six runs including a big bomb apiece from Hunter Pence and Brandon Crawford. Hector Sanchez, god bless him, delivered a grand slam is his first start off reliever Dale Thayer to make it a laugher. If we can get some solid play from the backup backstop while Andrew Susac is out that would be a big help. Buster Posey sat out tonight--the Giants need their superstar to be rested and healthy for the stretch run.

The Dodgers lost in Atlanta and the Giants closed the gap to 2-1/2 games with their 50th win. They have the 11th-best record in baseball.



Sunday, July 19, 2015

Giants Sweep Snakes

After 30 hits in the first two games this weekend, the Giants won today in Arizona, 2 -1 on only 5 hits.  A Justin Maxwell solo shot and a Hunter Pence double to score Joe Panik did the trick.  The Giants were out-hit by the dbacks, who tallied 9, but held on to win and complete the sweep.  It is their 6th win in a row going back to before the All-Star break.  The Giants had a few more well hit balls, including a Brandon Belt double off of the wall and about 4 more long outs from Panik, Duffy, Buster and Maxwell that probably added up to 2000 feet.  It as an extremely entertaining weekend to watch Pagan, Panik, Duffy and Buster smack the ball around.

Madison Bumgarner was on the hill and was not nearly as sharp as he can be.  He threw 93 pitches, 59 of them strikes.  He was pulled after 5 innings.  This appeared to have been by design, I'm guessing that Bruce Bochy hoped he would get six, but was going to pull Madison nevertheless.  He did work in the All-Star game.  George Kontos threw 2 scoreless, then Hunter Strickland blanked the snakes for the 8th and Santiago Casilla picked up his 24th save.

The Giants are now #1 in batting average in the major leagues and #1 in on base percentage, according to the TV.  That's pretty good, and it suggests that they are not in first place due to pitching struggles.  A quick glance at the pitching stats for the team confirms this:  Among the relievers, 6 pitchers have L's hung on them: Romo (4), Affeldt (2), Casilla (2), and Kontos, Petit, Strickland (1 each).  And of course, Hudson has a losing record.  He may be able to make progress towards correcting that tomorrow in San Diego.  Among the relievers, though, Romo has looked pretty good this weekend, Affeldt hopefully will be much improved when he returns from the DL, and Kontos and Strickland have also looked good after the break.  On to San Diego!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

5th inning: 9-9

The Giants played game number 90 last night and that marathon win marked the end of the fifth seasonal inning. Here's the season so far:

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

That brings the club to 47-43 (.522) with 72 games to play. If they maintain that pace they'll finish with 85 wins which probably won't get them a playoff spot. To get to 90 wins they'll have to go 43-29 which is .597 ball. So they have to be, within a game or two, a .600 team the rest of the way. Can they win 3 of every 5 games they play from here on out?

Last night Matt Cain got battered in his five innings of work and NINE relievers did the rest, allowing only one run in the final seven frames. The Giants had 16 hits but were only 2-19 with runners in scoring position. They stranded 15 guys! Cain looked like he couldn't hit his spots but he didn't walk a man. They had better luck hacking away--he gave up eight hits, five for extra bases, but did strike out five. The Giants will go as far as Matty goes, that is, if he can return to form and be the starter we know he can be then the team will have a strong second half. I don't think, short of some miraculous pitching acquisition for the stretch run, the team can make a go of it without a big contribution from Cain. Think about what Jake Peavy (who goes today) did in his twelve starts (78-2/3 IP, 3.03 FIP, 2.1 WAR) last year. That's the kind of thing the team will need--will Matty be that guy?

Giants have only won four of their eleven games against the Diamondbacks. They've got two more in Arizona this weekend and another three-game series there in September with three more to follow at home before the last road trip. That's what I call "opportunity for payback."

Andrew Baggarly brought up what is becoming an increasing concern: Angel Pagan's play in center. At least two of those deep flies last night would have been caught by Gregor Blanco. Sure, they were bombs, but that's what The White Shark does--turns hits into outs. Pagan's isn't hitting well, either, and perhaps a little outfield shake-up will be necessary when Nori Aoki returns.



Monday, July 13, 2015

This is Not a Book About Bases on Balls

This is a book by Bruce Bochy, manager of the 2015 National League All Stars.  He likes to take walks, by himself after a tough loss, with his wife in San Francisco and to get to the ball park.  The book describes some of those walks.  Not just here, but in Arizona and Cincinnati and other places.  The book reads like Bruce talking, you can almost hear the southern drawl.  And since there is a couple of days with no real baseball.......

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Rookies Take Care of Business

Chris Heston pitched well and Josh Osich came in to get four big outs and the Giants prevailed over the Phillies, 4-1. Andrew Susac's three-run homer was the back-breaking hit--he and Osich were teammates at Oregon State. Veterans Angel Pagan and Buster Posey were the rest of the offense with six hits between them. It was a good day at the yard. I like what I've seen from the flamethrowing southpaw. The 'pen can use a lift from a lefty with Jeremy Affeldt on the DL. The Dodgers got a late homer to fuel a comeback win in Milwaukee and close out the first half 4-1/2 games up on the Giants, that was the only blemish on the day.

Last night I went to a boxing match for the first time in forty years. Locals, all pros, we saw seven fights: two KOs, two TKOs, two unanimous decisions, and one split decision. Something for everyone. It takes some cojones to stand within arm's length of another fellow knowing he is going to hit you and try to put you down with blows. I had to admire their guts. In the end, if the fighters were even, the one with more stamina--more heart--prevailed. I kept thinking about the Giants. Our boys have shown tremendous resilience and determination in their championship campaigns. If they hope to prevail in the second half they will have to play their best ball. They've got 73 games left and the team ahead of them is on a pace for 92 wins. That means the 46-43 Giants will have to play .630, 46-27, to tie. Win as many games in the second half as the first. That's a tall order. Certainly the Dodgers could fade and fall like a glass-jawed amateur, but you can't count on that. No, the Giants will have to get in close and counter-punch. And no, I haven't forgotten how well that second wild-card worked out last season.

Enjoy the All-Star Break, everyone!


Saturday, July 11, 2015

How 'bout a little offense?

That's more like it. Let's see some more of that, lads.