Sunday, September 28, 2014

O/U 90

I'm one who'd have taken the over on 90 wins. That was predicated on Matt Cain being a 3-WAR pitcher (32 starts, 200 innings, 120 ERA+). It was also predicated on Tim Lincecum finding some consistency and delivering more quality starts. The first assumption was reasonable, the second hopeful, neither came to pass. It was also predicated on Brandon Belt being healthy for a full season and running out a 2013-like line (.289/.360/.481). That's a 4-WAR player. You add seven wins from Cain and Belt and that's the top of the heap or damn near. Ryan Vogelsong is a 1-WAR pitcher, I thought Timmy could do at least that well. That's eight more wins. I know it's not that simple--Peavy and Petit combined for 3 WAR and neither would have made those contributions if Matt and Tim were Matt and Tim. Even so, the club would have been a least a few games better. I believe the loss of Belt in the lineup was the single biggest thing that hurt the offense. I know about the Angel Pagan Effect, but I think Belt's a better hitter and certainly has more power. He's managed to contribute 1 WAR despite only playing in about a third of the season. Pagan is credited with 1.4 WAR for his 96 games--imagine the impact he would have made over a full season.

That being said, the Giants came up short. And they came up short because they played some damn poor baseball for long stretches of the season. Slumps are part of the game, I know that. From June 9th to July 18th they went 10-21, for example. That's .323 ball. That's not a slump, that's a nosedive. The team did not win the games they could have (and should have) won with the people they had. Every team has injuries. On the other hand, considering the decimation of the roster, the team still managed to make the post-season. You have to acknowledge that. It's been a confusing and frustrating season. "Who are these guys?" was my favorite refrain. When they were smoking hot in April and May and when they were icy cold in June and July the same question applied.

The Dodgers, the West champs, did not have a losing month. If the Giants lose today, they'll have three (if they win, two). That's how you win a division--being consistent. The Giants have been very good and very bad but they've ultimately lacked consistency. That's what makes this post-season chance so difficult to evaluate. Yeah, we know anything can happen in one game or one series or one month. But this team is hard to get a handle on--which one will show up next Wednesday? At least we know that Madison Bumgarner will get the start, and he has been terrific all season. If the team has any kind of chance it will be because they have their best guy on the hill. I can get excited about that.

Rookie Chris Heston makes his debut today. That's cool--maybe he'll get a shot to crack the rotation next year. After all there is a good chance Ryan Vogelsong will not be back and there's no guarantee Jake Peavy will be, either. And what they'll do with Tim Lincecum is anybody's guess. So show us what you got, kid.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Friday, September 26, 2014

It's official

Last night's game was like a thumbnail sketch of the season. They took an early, seemingly insurmountable lead. Then they blew it, free-falling to an apparent defeat. Finally they recovered and scratched and clawed their way to victory. A post-season berth, no matter how ugly the means to get there, is a victory. The Giants had already clinched a spot before the game but they picked up the win they needed anyway and got to celebrate. I can't watch those visquine-and-goggles things anymore but I was happy the team got to whoop it up. We'll see if they can get back to the business at hand tonight.

I started thinking about the 25-man playoff roster. Angel Pagan's injury opens up an outfield spot. I get the sense that Mike Morse won't be available, either. Boch used Travis Ishikawa in left field--I wonder if that was a post-season audition. Tim Lincecum got a win by throwing two pitches, I think he's going to be the swing man. Hunter Strickland cranked up his 99-mph cheese and got a big out. I think he'll have a spot.

IF (5): Belt, Panik, BCraw, Panda, Posey.
OF (3): Pence, Blanco, Perez.
Bench (4): Susac, Arias, Duffy, Ishikawa.
Starters (5): MadBum, Peavy, Hudson, Petit, Vogie.
Bullpen (7): Lopez, Affeldt, Machi, Romo, Casilla, Strickland, Lincecum.

That's 24. I know that it's a four-man ro' in the playoffs, but I don't see them leaving Vogelsong off the roster. And I don't think you need Gutierrez if you have two starters who could be called upon in garbage time. And that leaves out Kontos as well. So the 25th man would be Dominguez? Duvall? Am I missing someone or something? Help me out.

Vogie makes his career-high 32nd start tonight.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Giants need a win

The Giants will take the back door to the post-season after getting whipped in LA. The division was a long shot, but I thought they might have some fight left. Instead they got smoked two nights in a row and got to watch the Dodgers celebrate. The Giants will most likely have to go to Pittsburgh for the sudden-death game--I don't suppose it matters. They actually have a better road record than home despite the recent trip. In the context of all the injuries, it says a lot that they still have a winning record and a chance to play for the big prize. Nonetheless this is a disappointing season. They obviously weren't as good as their 42-21 record in early June, I expected them to cool off. But they dropped into a deep freeze and played the worst ball in the majors before finally getting their shit together in August. And September has been mediocre at best. A strong finish, taking three of four from San Diego, will give them a winning record for the month. But losing four of the last six to the Dodgers at crunch time was a cruel blow. LA came up big down the stretch and took the West easily. Getting swept in San Diego right beforehand was particularly galling. The team looked feeble and lifeless. It's been like that in the second half--just when they start to look great they follow it with anemic, wretched ball. Who knows which team will show up in San Francisco? I expect they will get the one win they need, but it would be nice to see some verve and spirit.

So, do you save Bumgarner for the playoff game? If they win tonight they could rest Peavy as well and have him ready for the LDS. Giants need to get the business done, and the sooner the better. They owe the Padres a beat-down at the very least.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Horrible

Madison Bumgarner was responsible for all of the RBIs tonight.  Unfortunately, he gave up twice as many as he produced.  Giants fans who choose to tune in to tomorrow's television broadcast stand a very good chance of being treated to the sight of the doggers celebrating their division-clinching victory.  And I bet Puig is a big asshole about it.

As a kicker, the Giants will probably travel to Pittsburgh for the wild card game, probably Madison Bumgarner's next start.

Why don't we start Madison in left field on days that he doesn't pitch?  His home run to at bat ratio is better than anyone else's on the Giants. 

Lucky 13th

Giants cling to life with an extra-inning win in Los Angeles. Andrew Susac got the big hit and four Giants relievers kept the Dodgers hitless over the final six frames. Pittsburgh and San Francisco are tied for the top Wild Card spot and lead Milwaukee by five. Both teams will clinch a post-season spot with two wins (or one win and a Brewers loss). Giants have to complete the sweep in order to have a shot at the West title. LA's magic number is three--they've clinched at least a Wild Card spot. The Washington Nationals have clinched the East. The St. Louis Cardinals are up by 2-1/2 in the Central and have clinched at least a Wild Card spot. Their magic number is five.

Madison Bumgarner tonight.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Monday, September 22, 2014

This is it!

Barring a sweep of the Dodgers, the Giants have to think Wild Card. Being swept in San Diego means the Pirates are now tied for the top spot. The Brewers are 4-1/2 back with six to play and are damn near out of it. The Giants and Pirates each have seven games left. Obviously they want to host the sudden-death game in San Francisco rather than travel to Pittsburgh, so that means winning some damn games. It hasn't been pretty against the two remaining opponents. I don't know who the Pirates play nor do I care. It's all up to the Giants. With two spots, they could continue to play ugly ball and still make the post-season. But that's no fun. Let's go, Giants. Get it together!


Saturday, September 20, 2014

3-1/2 back

Giants are going to have to figure out how to beat the goddamn Padres.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Good Day

Amazingly, improbably, the Giants now find themselves 2 games behind the doggers with today's victory over the snakes.  That is exactly where we were last week at the start of the series against LA at home.  There are 10 games left as Los Angeles lost badly (16 - 2, ha!) in Colorado to drop the series there as the Giants pulled out a 2-run ninth inning to win 4 - 2.  The Giants have a day off while LA goes to Chicago to play the Cubbies in a 4 game series.

Madison Bumgarner was on the mound, and he pitched well, but not comfortably.  Madison threw 101 pitches, 71 of them strikes, in 6 full innings.  He gave up 2 runs, 7 hits, 2 walks and struck out 6.  Jean Machi got through the 7th, after giving up 1 hit and 1 walk.  Sergio Romo gave up a hit, but made it through the 8th and Santiago Casilla did not allow a baserunner in the ninth.  Arizona took a page from the "How to Befuddle the Giants" playbook and started a rookie pitcher, Andrew Chafin.  He did a good job, also throwing 6 innings and allowing 2 runs.

The Giants only had 6 hits, although they received 7 baserunners via walks.  The 1 through 6 positions in the order were hitless.  Madison had 1 hit.  Thank goodness for Brandon Crawford, he had 4 hits, a double and 3 singles.  BCraw also had an rbi, as did Gregor Blanco (on a walk).  In the ninth, with ruddy Addison Reed on the mound, Pablo drew a walk, Susac struck out, BCraw singled to right in front of Cody Ross so that Pablo couldn't advance beyond 2nd base.  Brandon Belt, back on the team and pinch hitting for the hapless Juan Perez, also walked to load the bases.  The slender FNG, Matt Duffy, pinch hitting in the pitcher's spot, worked the count, fouled off a couple of pitches and coolly roped a line drive into center field to score Pablo and BCraw.  Well done, youngster!

The Giants play three, starting Tuesday, in San Diego.  These are, of course, all must-win games.  We should have Peavy, Madison and Tim Hudson lined up when we meet the doggers again in LA.  Today, Carlos Frias, starting for Ryu, gave up 8 runs in two-thirds of an inning.  LA plays four in Chicago and returns to LA without a break.  The Cubs have a bunch of free-swingers with nothing to lose.  Go Cubbies!

The Peave-a-tron

Jake Peavy has been pretty consistent lately. Here are his last seven starts (since August 13):


You have to like that. Last night the Giants couldn't get much going offensively and just barely squeaked out a win. If they want to make some noise in their final eleven games and in the post-season they better find those bats again. And they need to hook Tim Hudson up to the Peave-a-tron and see if he can find that mojo he had going earlier in the year.

So, you think the Giants ought to go after Peavy for 2015? He's a free agent. My two cents? Yes.

MadBum this afternoon.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bad to Worse

The Giants got blown out Saturday evening in a game that only netted the blue goo one game, and then lost Sunday in a game that they fought to the end.  The Giants made some mistakes, all at once, and it cost them, ultimately the deciding difference in the game, but they fought hard.  Russian River, in response to the previous post, said the Giants looked flat.  Not as flat as they did yesterday, though.  Los Angeles is a good team, loaded with talent.  Arizona is not a good team.  The Giants out-hit the snakes, 11 - 9, although they also gave them 4 baserunners via walks.  The Giants played without Angel Pagan, and it looks like Pablo Sandoval has back issues as well (although he got 2 hits).  Multiple hits, also, from Joaquin Arias and Joe Panik.  But so often (it seemed like almost every inning) they Giants had men on base and didn't/wouldn't/couldn't capitalize.

2-out rbi for Arizona: 6.  2-out rbi for San Francisco: None.

The "oh, well, you can't win them all" time is past.  The Giants realistically have to content themselves with the wild card, and yesterday, they played like it was a done deal.  It's not.  They could lose both the home-field advantage and the wild card itself with a string of losses (currently at 3).  Arizona and San Diego would like nothing better than to knock San Francisco out of the playoffs.