Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Peavin'

I thought yesterday's decision by the umpires to call the game and award the win to the Cubs was a perfect symbol of the frustrations of the 2014 Giants. Then we got the news that Seligula & His Minions upheld the Giants protest (first since 1986) and the team gets a second chance! Sure enough they resume the game tomorrow before the regularly scheduled game. It just goes to show that one should not read too much into any one event in a baseball season. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Then again, the Giants could use quite a few more ballgames just like tonight's 8-3 win. Jake Peavy labored a bit on a warm, windy night in Wrigley, but with help from his fielders (three double-plays) he turned in seven strong with no walks and eight strikeouts. The Cubs whacked the ball around a bit (10 hits off Peavy including a two-run homer) but he pounded the zone (78 strikes) and got eight ground balls and good things resulted. The lineup put up a four-spot in the 1st and kept the pressure on, scoring again in the 3rd and the 4th. The botttom guys delivered as both Travis Ishikawa and Joe Panik had three hits apiece and Andrew Susac blasted his first big-league homer. Ishikawa was an inspired choice to play first base--he made several nifty grabs and helped pull off a slick 3-5-1 DP as well. I imagine we'll see more of those weird combinations as teams employ defensive shifts. Panda looked pretty good at shortstop, eh?

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Scraped By Tim

 Game Summary:
For the first time since early June, the Giants won back-to-back home games by defeating the feckless Phillies, 5-2.  More importantly, we gained another game on the blue goo (3.5 back). Today it was more of the red hot Mike Morse (which I admit surprises me) and the sizzling bullpen (which has been the only consistently great thing about this team).  Somehow that overcame another ugly and graceless Tim Lincecum start.

Tim Facts:
Start #25  Win  (10-8, 4.48)  5 innings  7 hits  2 runs   2 earned runs   4 walks   2 strikeouts  0 hr

It is hard to believe Tim made it to the fifth. His command was worse than usual, and that really is saying a lot, because...well, we are talking about Lincecum here.  Almost half his pitches were balls, he gave up 11 baserunners in 5 innings, and he walked in a run! How in the shit did he win??? Baseball is a weird game.

High and/or Lowlights:
Morse completed an excellent homestand (9-14, 4 xbh, 4 rbi) with three singles and two runs scored. Brandon Crawford drove in two big runs, Panik and Susac got two hits. So , the bottom half carried it today, something that happens very rarely with this team.
Big News: Lincecum and Susac threw out a base stealer! Not a slow guy on a missed hit and run either! Timmeh clearly looked like he was trying to improve on that. About time, huh?
Stars of the game are ONCE AGAIN the bullpen.  They threw nine scoreless innings over the last two games.  I'm pretty sure that I have mentioned bullpen success in this little segment WAY more than any other part of the team.

So we showed that we can beat a bad team...that is something...

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Giants Win!

Wins are few and far between these days--only six for the club in all of August--so they are certainly worth celebrating. Mike Morse kept up his hitting barrage with a perfect day that included a triple, two doubles, and a walk. Gregor Blanco chipped in two RBI hits including what proved to be the game-winner in the 8th (after Joe Panik's first-ever triple). The 'pen filled in ably for a mediocre Tim Hudson and delivered four scoreless frames to finish the Phils. The game-tying rally was a cringe-worthy cheapie-fest but we all know that getting runs by any means, no matter how ugly, is the whole point. It has not been a good year for Giants lineups. Take a look:



Yuck. Hit the link if you want to see pitching ranks. The Giants are pretty damn good on the "runs allowed" side of the ledger but they'll need an uptick in their "runs scored" if they want to turn this long stretch of losing baseball around.

Nonetheless today was a gritty come-from-behind effort by the team and that feels good.

Tim Lincecum tomorrow.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Giants Try to Give Game Away, Succeed

The Giants lost tonight by playing some of the stupidest baseball I have seen this year.  It wasn't easy though, it took a complete effort by players and coaches.  Madison Bumgarner faced off against Cole Hamels for the Phillies.  Madison pitched pretty well, although not efficiently, using 110 pitches to get through 7 innings.  He struck out 9 and gave up only 4 hits, although 1 of them was a home run, resulting in the only run while he was on the mound.  Jeremy Affeldt relieved Madison in the 8th, but gave up a 2 run home run, and the game went into extra innings.  The Giants got a big knock from Michael Morse off of Hamels in the 4th for 3 runs.

The thing is, the Giants should have been up at least 5 - 3 by the time the 9th rolled around.  However, in the 6th, Bruce Bochy stupidly decided to replace Morse with the speedy Gregor Blanco after Morse hit the ball twice better than he has in two months and drew a walk.  Blanco stole second, went to third on one of Joe Panik's two hits and then stupidly ran into an out on Brandon Crawford's weak contact.  Then, in the 7th, with Madison still the pitcher of record, Angel Pagan led off with a double and then stupidly decided to steal third with Buster Posey at the plate.  Just a note here, Buster Posey is a pretty good hitter.

Two hitters into the 8th, the game was tied.  Cole Hamels was relieved by Ken Giles, who gave up a single to Pablo Sandoval to lead off the bottom of the 8th.  After a sacrifice that put Pablo on second, Tim Flannery stupidly sent Pablo home on a Joe Panik single to shallow right field.  Pablo was out by at least 30 feet.  In the 9th, the Giants put runners on via walks and moved them up via a wild pitch, but managed to escape with the score tied.  They did not, of course, score. 

In the 10th, Javier Lopez rounded out the display of incompetence by barely hitting Chase Utley with a pitch with the bases loaded, before giving up a sacrifice fly to make the final score 5 - 3.

Candlestick Nostalgia

Some one bought this.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Killer P's

Jake Peavy got a monkey off his back with a fine performance this afternoon. The Giants scored seven in the 7th to back their new righty and stop their losing streak. Pagan, Pence, Posey, Panik, and The Panda all contributed to the win. I suppose we'll have to thank the umpires in NYC as well. I didn't get to see the play but I suppose if you block the plate without the ball you might have to pay for it. Robin Ventura got booted for arguing--I suppose the new homeplate collision rules are still a work in progress. That's OK, these things take time. I'm just glad they are working to eliminate that stupid linebacker nonsense we've watched for years. Adam Dunn giveth and taketh away with another homer but an error as well. I can't believe they put him in right two days in a row.

The Giants win a game. Feels good to say that, eh?

Great matchup on Friday: Cole Hamels and Madison Bumgarner.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

p.s. Way to go, Peav!


Giants Dunn in by Sox

It seemed crazy for White Sox manager Robin Ventura to put Adam Dunn, the prototypical DH, in the field last night. And right field, too, of all places--first base is more of Dunn's speed. Nonetheless it paid off right away for the Sox as the big slugger launched a two-run homer in the 1st off Ryan Vogelsong. The Giants looked like they'd go quietly, wasting another fine start by Vogie, but somehow they rallied to tie the game in the 9th. Getting Chris Sale out and the bullpen in made a big difference. Gordon Beckham dashed the home team's hopes with a slick double play in the 9th to curtail the rally and likely save the game. He also got the hit that beat Santiago Casilla in the 10th to send the Giants to their fifth straight loss. The team has scored nine runs in those five games.

The 62-57 Giants are six back in the West with 43 games to play. To get to 90 wins they'd have to go 28-15 or play .651 ball the rest of the way. The Giants have only won 20 games since June 8th when they were on top of the world at 42-21. They've lost 36 in the same stretch--a .357 pace. The 69-52 Dodgers are on pace for 92/93 wins, and even if they went 21-22 in their final 43 they'd finish with 90 wins. Pittsburgh and St. Louis are a nose ahead in the Wild Card standings. It might take only 87/88 wins to get a spot, but that still means the Giants have to play .600 ball. The math, like the team, ain't pretty.

Jake Peavy gets the ball this afternoon. It would be nice to see the team win a goddamn game.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Stolen Blind Tim

 Game Summary:

Tim Lincecum coughed blood early and the Giants got swept away by a red hot Royals club, 7-4.  A game that felt over after the first inning (and it was), finished off a road trip that started well but may have turned into a death spiral. Pretty dramatic, huh? Well, with the doggers winning we are now the furthest behind this year and the trends look real bad (20-35 over last 55 games).  With the ridiculous lineups we are putting out there now, I feel like we should just worry about staying above .500 at this point. Guess I'm not suppose to say that out loud, but it feels true.

Tim Facts:
Start #24  Loss  (9-8, 4.51)  3.1 innings  7 hits  6 runs   6 earned runs   3 walks   2 strikeouts  1 hr

Was this his worst start of the year?  (How come I think we are going to be using that phrase a lot when discussing Tim.) Hard to say, but 3 of the last four have been total shit. Many people are blaming the relief appearance. Others are pointing to the lack of Hector Sanchez, which totally cracks me up considering their funky history.  I don't think there is a certain cause outside of Tim's mental and physical inconsistencies. It will be interesting to see how he finishes up when (oops) if we slip out of the race.


High and/or Lowlights:
Seven stolen bases total, five off of Tim.  Sheesh, thats a good month for us!  I was surprised that the last time it happened was May 2009.  I figured it was way longer ago.
Best performance from a Giant clearly goes to the three RBI's from Susac.  He looked horrible "in the squat" but Tim does that to everybody.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Up to Date in Kansas City

I thought I would wait until today to post about last night's game to see if I might be able to put a more positive spin on things.  But I can't really.  We had our ace on the mound, our lead off man back, were on the road and a lot of hitters seemed to be, after such a long period of suckitude, getting it together.  But we lost to Kansas City, 4 - 2.

That puts us at .500 for this road trip, which might be OK, except that the road is where we are supposed to be making up ground for sucking at home.  After a great April and May, a horrible June and July, August is looking mediocre.  We got 12 hits, 2 each from Sandoval, Morse, Arias and Duffy, who were all grouped together, but managed only 2 runs.  Kansas City's defense if very good, the Giants made 3 errors.  Madison went 9 innings - I am not sure why, throwing 123 pitches, gave up 3 earned runs.  That Billy Butler guy isn't the son of Brett Butler, is he?  I never did trust that guy.

Brandon Belt is back on the concussion DL.  That really bothers me - I pray it is not one of those career ending kind of things - from such a freak injury.  We had our starting line-up back, for one game and we lost that game.  I am starting to wonder about Jake Peavy.  He seems like he pitches well, but then implodes all at once and gets hung with a loss.  With Morse starting to hit, Buster hitting and Sandoval hitting, we are only playing .500 ball.  Are we really capable of playoff-caliber baseball?  We could not take advantage of the Brewers win over the doggers, and it is that time of year when you can't just hope another team does your work for you.  We will have to beat the doggers head to head if we have any hope at all of playing in the post season.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bruce Bochy, Morse Whisperer

A struggling Mike Morse got a message from the skipper:
“I’ll remind him that we’re in this position with a lot of his help,” Bochy said. “At times he was carrying us with big hits, not just home runs, but big hits. He’s got to relax and back off and have some fun with this.”
Sure enough the big right-hander delivered two RBI singles to lead a resurgent Giants attack in a 7-4 win in Milwaukee. Ryan Vogelsong battled most grittily for six innings and kept the Brewers in check. A rare shaky inning by the 'pen let them back in the game, but a clutch blast by Pablo after a clutch hit from rookie Joe Panik sealed the deal. It took almost four hours, but the Giants got a big win against a tough opponent. This series has been like a couple of heavyweights leaning on each other, clinching, working the ropes, hoping to find an opening for a knockout blow. The final round is tomorrow and it's all even on the judges' cards. Jake Peavy gets the ball at 12:45 Pacific.

Henry Schulman had more to say, this time about Matt Cain:
In other pregame news, Matt Cain made a rather startling revelation. He said he has not been able to extend his right arm fully since as far back as high school, and he has learned to throw without full extension. The bone chips in his elbow, which will be removed in an operation Monday, have worsened the condition.
The Giants will have to win the West without Matt Cain. All of us were counting on Matt Cain to be Matt Cain, something he was not. Jake Peavy is better than the Matt Cain we saw in 2014. Matty has thrown 1800-plus innings including six consecutive 200-plus seasons. It took its toll. It's not as fun watching with my favorite player sidelined, but it has been an amazing run--30 or more starts for eight straight seasons--and it is noteworthy that he hasn't been hurt until now. When Cain came up he was the youngest player in the big leagues and doesn't turn thirty years old until this October.
 "It'll be nice to know going into next year that I should be good to go and won't have to worry about anything," he said.
Cain also said he didn't want to get surgery but realized he had no choice if he wanted to pitch again. So it's 2015 for Matty. Let's hope everything goes well and he can be back to full strength.

The team is 62-52 or .544 and will finish with 88 wins at that pace. To get to 90 wins means 28-20 (.583) the rest of the way and 92 wins will require 30-18 or a .625 pace. No matter the math they have to play good ball. Getting 14 hits tonight is certainly a start!

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.