Sunday, July 5, 2015

Opponents Hit More Homers and Giants Lose Again

This headline works well for every recent game.
The Saturday morning game was especially disgusting.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

HRs Sink Giants

The Marlins hit three three-run home runs in the series and won all three games. Rookie Justin Bour feasted on Giants pitching and notched the death blow in today's game off Matt Cain mere hours after his dramatic walk-off against Santiago Casilla last night. I'm happy the Giants are leaving Miami. I'm happy Matt Cain is alive and well. Only time will tell if he is pain-free and cured of his physical maladies. He looked a lot like Matt Cain despite the lousy outcome in his comeback from surgery. He hit 91 mph on the radar gun and looked good at the end of the 4th inning inducing a double play to end a threat. He unfortunately got hammered in the 5th with the long balls from pitcher Jose Fernandez (who hits like MadBum and was making a comeback from surgery as well) and the aforementioned Bour. I could live with the fat one to Fernandez, sometimes you have to bring the gas and see what the guy can do with it. The pitch to Bour was a clear mistake, missing the inside target and right over the middle of the plate. I would have happily walked the lefty there and pitched to the righty Marcell Ozuna with the bases loaded and a chance for a DP. And I thought Rags told Cain to pitch around Bour, but he didn't execute. Clearly that pitch was meant to be a ball and in on the hands--they got him that way on a pop-up in the previous at-bat.

Bit of a disappointment this morning after all the anticipation of Matty's return. Buster Posey hit another home run and Gregor Blanco launched a massive bomb (off Fernandez) as well. I thought the Giants looked good against the flame-throwing phenom, at least the lefties did, Panik, Crawford, and Belt all notching hits. But it was a crappy series, especially with the spectacular blown save last night. They should have come out of that game with a win, and they had a real shot today jumping out to an early lead. A rusty Matt Cain with a few command issues (four walks in his five innings) is still Matt Cain. If he is indeed healthy again I am sure he will start to string together lots of quality innings.

One thing I've learned watching this club is that they are resilient. This three-game tailspin is ugly, but they have a short collective memory and don't let poor performances cast a pall over their next game or series. Jake Peavy makes his own comeback tomorrow in D.C.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

On to July

Ryan Vogelsong wasn't sharp and the Giants got Latos-ed in Miami. They had a chance to un-swoon their June with a win: they finish the month 12-14. This team likes to tease us by inching ever closer to first place and then falling back. The Dodgers win instead and they hike their lead to 1-1/2 games. I say it all the time, but I'll say it again, if you had told me in March that the Giants would be within a few games of LA on the first of July I'd have been happy.

Buster Posey who homered in the 3rd, had a great sequence in the 6th when he hit a ball in the gap and went for two, much to the surprise of the outfielders. It took a spectacular head-first hook slide from our lumbering catcher to avoid the diving tag from second baseman Dee Gordon. Posey went to third on an out and then with beautiful anticipation dashed home on a wild pitch, just sliding under Latos' tag. He looked positively nimble there! It made a 4-2 game 4-3, giving hope, but that was all she wrote for SF. Just a reminder what a great ballplayer Buster is, as if we needed reminding. I was surprised Gordon's inside-the-park homer was his first. That guy should get one of those every month.

MATT CAIN PITCHES THURSDAY!!

Go Giants!

--M.C.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Traumatized Tim

The Giants tandem of very special catchers flexed their muscles yesterday on the way to a 7-5 comeback win over Colorado.  Buster Posey, looking real comfortable at 1B, did a typical Buster thing with a huge 2 run double in the third to tie the game.  But rather more surprising is the emergence of Buster's "back up",  Andrew Susac.  Susac continued his current 8 game hit streak with a single in the first and a game-winning 3 run double in the seventh, following an intentional pass to Posey, to finish 2-for-4.  This type of production from the bench is bloody beautiful, especially with all the annoying injuries.  If Susac keeps this up, he may not be considered "bench" much longer.

Now on to the bad stuff, i.e. Tim Lincecum. That was Tim's second shortest appearance ever; with the all time shortest being his last time out. Not a good trend for sure, but do trends really matter with Tim anymore?  Of course, this time we get to blame a line drive off Tim's pitching arm for the early departure.  But do we really?  That well hit ball was pretty much the end of Tim's day in any case, he was getting smacked around (1.2 innings, 4 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks). He was lucky to get an out at the plate on that liner off his arm.  The injury (luckily no break but a day to day bruise thing) got him out of the game (Thank Willie! We needed this win) and it made the decision for his "use" so very much easier.  Time off, maybe even a DL stint, and then the decision on the permanent disposal of Tim Lincecum begins.

Yuck, that did not sound good.  I need a better phrase for that.  Anyway....MADBUM today!!  Speaking of aces, did you see that Kershaw lost three starts in a row for the first time ever in his career?  Doesn't that perk you up?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Great Day at the Yard

To be more precise, today was a great day if you forget about the top half of the 8th inning. Excellent start by Chris Heston and 19 hits (four triples!) and 13 runs by the hitters. Core Three-Fourths™ Affeldt, Lopez, and Romo inhabited an alternate reality for eleven batters in that very half inning, and that was unsettling, but I can't allow that to spoil the fun. The Giants responded to that six-run episode with four of their own, and that's big boy pants stuff to be sure. Kudos to Hest-o who did his version of Vogie's pry-this-rotation-spot-from-my-bloodied-corpse act, a tough one to follow, but he did so superbly.

I asked for more run scoring at home and by golly they delivered. I asked for consistency from the starters and wouldn't y'know they lay out a string of studly innings. I have to like that.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Vogelsong and Posey Lead Giants

Buster Posey gets his second grand slam in a week and Ryan Vogelsong looks sharp again and the Giants beat the Padres 6-0, the 12th team shutout, best in the majors. I whined about the Giants not scoring enough at home and the starters not being consistent enough and sure enough the Giants score a bunch and Vogie lays down a string of zeroes and they get a big win. It's a day game tomorrow, 12:45 start. Chris Heston gets the call.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

4th inning: 8-10

Just finished Game 72 which is 4/9 of the season. The Giants have been in a swoon this June, last night's loss made them 8-12 for the month. The seasonal innings breakdown so far:

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

Overall they are 38-34 and a game back of LA in the West. Their .528 win percentage is the 12th-best in baseball and the sixth-best in the NL.

What's hurting the club right now is the home record. They just don't score enough runs in San Francisco. They are 17-19 at AT&T Park with 107 runs scored (and 120 allowed). That's just a hair under three runs scored per game. That's not a winning formula. You have to score four. You especially have to if you are allowing three (three-and-a-third to be exact). So Giants, I expect you to start scoring more runs at home. Can we get a memo out to everyone on this, please?

On the road the Giants are a different animal. Check out the record: 21-15. They've scored 184 runs in away games, that's a little over five per game! They've allowed 161, or about four-and-a-half. Note that the team has played half its games in away parks.

Overall the Giants have a league-average offense at 4.04 runs per game. It's a goofy offense, oddly adept at clogging up foreign basepaths, weirdly inept on domestic ones. I have to believe those things will even out a bit, that is they will get a little better at home and a little worse away from home. They've only a +10 difference (RS v. RA) overall at this point. We know they aren't hitting at home, but is also seems like the starters other than MadBum have not performed at a consistent enough level home or away. The 'pen, as a result, is getting overworked. Right now the team FIP is 3.87, right in the middle of the pack.

The good news is that two guys we thought would be delivering quality innings earlier this year are finally healthy and ready to return. That's Jake Peavy and Matt Cain. The bad news is that two mainstays in the lineup are now out. That's Hunter Pence and FNG Nori Aoki. Other than a few cockamamie baserunning moves, Aoki has been terrific. We are going to miss him the next few weeks. Pence--well, it's hard to say. We aren't used to this guy being on the DL. Let's hope he can be fully ready by the All-Star Break, if not sooner.

The bright spots have been the youngsters Joe Panik and Matt Duffy. Panik looks like a polished veteran. His fielding prowess is damn-near Crawfordian, and his hitting has been superb, a .302/.371/.458 line for a 135 OPS+ and a .362 wOBA. He's worth about 2.5 WAR. Not many guys come straight out of AA and play championship ball for half a season and follow it up with All-Star level production without missing a beat. This is a special player, rarely do you see him make a mistake. His infield cohort Duffy is not as fully-formed, but he's showing me a lot so far. I like his presence in the box, he's not intimidated by big-league stuff, and I like how quickly he's learning the nuances of his position. And speaking of Brandon Crawford he's still my MVP despite his recent struggles.

Changes are a-comin' for the rotation, I think we all know that. Let's hope they can find that elusive consistency. Two great innings (23-13) and two crappy ones (15-21) does not a champion make. Vogie gets the nod tonight.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

K K K K K K K K K K K K K K shit

Madison Bumgarner spotted the Giants nearly 5 innings last night, and they still couldn't get a win.  At least they got a couple of runs, which I guess you can say is directionally correct for his starts.  Those runs, though, were the product of a dribbler (to be kind) off of Gregor Blanco's bat in the 5th inning, scoring Matt Duffy.   The ball died as a productive swinging bunt and San Diego's pitcher, Odrisamir Despaigne, couldn't pick up the ball.  Gregor was fast enough to get to first, and then score on a Joe Panik double.  Were it not for the misplay (ruled a hit) it probably would have been 0 runs.  Again.  In 11 innings, the Giants could score no more and Hunter Strickland gave up a 3rd run to San Diego.

Madbum: 14 K, which ties a San Francisco Giants record, previously set by Atlee Hamacker.  Also 2 earned runs, 7.1 IP, 5 hits, 1 BB.  Those hits came together in the 7th for San Diego's 2 runs.
Despaigne looked pretty  good, but only lasted 5 innings.  I am not sure why he was pulled, but San Diego seemed to have plenty of relief pitching.  In his 5, he gave up 5 hits, 2 runs, walked 2 and struck out 2.

These losses, at home and against our division rivals, are galling.  I'm sure they are wearing on the team.  I may have to leave town myself to turn things around.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

End of Tim

It was the shortest outing of his career but it felt plenty long to me.  Tim Lincecum lasted a paltry 1 1/3 innings and picked up a well deserved loss as the doggers avoided the sweep and stayed in first with an easy 10-2 victory.  The highly vaulted LA offense broke out on a Father's Day matchup that is best forgotten but may well have long term ramifications. 

Lincecum sure did not give his father much of a present (1.1 innings, 7 hits, 5 earned runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts).  To be fair, Tim did look very good TO THE FIRST TWO BATTERS and then it all fell apart. Wild pitches, fat 0-2 pitches, basically pitches that he had no idea where they were going.  I'm not a pitching coach but I'm pretty sure that is not a good thing.  Considering two starters are likely to return this week, I can not conceive of a worse time for Tim to lay such a turd.  In what universe can we possibly leave Tim in the starting rotation now?  Granted Petit looked just as bad tonight (3.2 innings, 5 runs on 4 homers!) but Vogie, Heston and Hudson have all been sharp.  We just have too many starters for Lincecum to stay. However, we also have too much bullpen depth to find a place for Tim too. I mean do we really think that Tim can handle the current Strickland role? And we send down Strickland just because he has options left? I suppose Petit may have played himself out of a bigger role with the batting practice that he threw tonight. So Tim can take over the garbage/long role....except what about Vogelsong?  So many questions, so few answers.

I do not truly believe that the Age of Tim is over, even though I used the provocative title.  But I do think it is safe to say we are entering another era in the amazing career of Tim Lincecum. Is this the beginning of the end....or another exciting new role? What do you think?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Giants Take First Two Falls in LA

In the battle royale that is a Giants-Dodgers series the out-of-towners out-pointed the locals in the first round and pinned them flat in the second. On Friday we were treated to a Buster Posey grand slam in Dodger Stadium, a Ka-Bar to the throat of the Los Angeles horde. The final was 9-5 behind a ragged but effective Chris Heston. Rookie Mike Broadway had a few yips in relief, but you had to like his live arm and dazzling stuff. His nickname is "Bone Crusher."

Today we saw a rejuvenated Tim Hudson get staggered with a couple of big blows early in the match but counter-punch like a champ the rest of the way. The Giants pounded out two-run homers from Justin Maxwell and Brandon Belt in back-to-back innings to seize the lead and never look back. The final was 6-2. Hunter Strickland got five outs, three via strikeout, in an impressive appearance.

Third round tomorrow with Tim Lincecum for the orange-and-black.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.