Monday, May 31, 2010

Overmatched Tim

The much awaited match up between Ubaldo Jimenez of Colorado and our own Tim Lincecum was pretty much over after the second inning. No contest. Timmeh is still struggling : 5.2 innings; 4 runs, 3 earned; six hits (only one double); three strikeouts and five walks (AGAIN - that's four games in a row!) and Jimenez is doing a real good vintage '66 Juan Marichal impersonation: a complete game shutout with 9 k's. Not only is Jimenez the better pitcher right now, but he's the more exciting pitcher. Pin point accuracy with a triple digit FB and a tight curve is even nastier than a change up out pitch. The kid is putting together the best start to a season of our lifetime. He looks like the real deal.

But I still bet you that Tim and our boys will get him next Coors Field, during the Fourth of July weekend. Why am I still so confident after such a disheartening performance?
Silly, it's a new era and one little loss doesn't change that.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

15 hits = 4 in a row

The Giants were relentless today, accumulating hit after hit until it was finally enough to outlast the Diamondbacks, winning 6-5 in the 10th on Andres Torres' fourth single. I'm a big fan of "stompin' 'em when they're down," and the Giants showed the ruthlessness I want to see from here on out. It was a tense, nail-biting, and ultimately dramatic affair, punctuated by some spectacular fielding, first by Freddy Sanchez (who dazzled the home crowd all weekend on both sides of the ball), and then by Olympic Nate, the San Francisco Cannon. The Giants have shown exceptionally good team defense so far this season, and that synergy with our world-class pitching is legit--we are stingy about runs! Arizona is a good-hitting team (wOBA .337, 3rd in NL) but they only scored six runs in the series. Huge comeback by the Giants, knotting up the game in the 9th with two runs off the closer Chad Qualls. Four in a row puts us two back, a half-game ahead of Colorado.

Tim Lincecum matches up with Ubaldo Jimenez at 1:05 tomorrow in a showdown everyone has been looking forward to. Should be fun.



Pouncing on the minnows

You've got to take advantage of mismatches in this game, and the Giants certainly did that last night. William Jennings "Billy" Buckner is not having a good season (7.03 FIP), and appears to be a borderline ML-pitcher anyway (173 H, 24 HR, 54 BB in 138-1/3 IP). The 26-year old righty got clobbered for nine hits and seven runs in four innings of work. He did strike out Aaron Rowand twice, which only highlights our erstwhile center fielder's current struggles (.283 wOBA). I wonder if Rowand is experiencing some complications (vision?) from his head injury in April. A .230/.263/.401 line is so bad it is hard to believe he's simply slumping. His BABIP is 60 points below his career mark (.259 vs. .319), so maybe things will improve. Even after last night's impressive offensive outburst, this team still needs all of its hitters to contribute, so I certainly hope Rowand will resurrect his season. The D-Backs have the worst pitching in the majors this year (5.29 FIP), so we better feast on the damn minnows before we have to battle the sharks.

Everyone was excited by the presence of Buster Posey in the lineup, and he responded with a fine game, stroking three singles and driving in three runs. I don't like Posey at first base and Huff in left field, I think that is an idiotic solution. Bengie Molina is slumping badly (.203/.276/.290 in May), and it's time to give Posey a chance to catch our big boys. He's a freakin' catcher, fer chrissakes, let him put on the pads and mask! Why is this team so afraid of letting our best catching prospect ever play catcher? I can see giving any good-hitting catcher an occasional start at first to reduce the wear-and-tear on his body, but we have a three guys (Huff, Sandoval, Uribe) who can play first, and Huff is currently delivering the goods (.291/.372/.455), certainly better than many expected when he was signed. Then again, after we see Pat Burrell play LF, we might wish for Aubrey Huff.

But I don't want to rain on the parade with more bitching about our inscrutable GM. Great win following a great win, that's just what the team needed to get back on track. Let's hope we keep it rolling.



Friday, May 28, 2010

Matt Cain's mama didn't raise no dummy

Lose a complete game on the road when you only give up one run? Simple solution. Don't give up any runs. Throw a complete game shutout at home and, by gum, you'll win. Matt Cain knows how it works. Give up runs, lose. Don't give up runs, win.

Tonight the Giants racked up the necessary runs, exploding for FIVE big ones including a CF bomb by Pablo Sandoval. It's nice to see him getting his stroke back. Freddy Sanchez also contributed a key RBI and showed off some slick glove work as well.

But the story of the night was Matt Cain, who threw the 10th complete game, 3rd shutout, and 2nd one-hitter of his career. He absolutely dominated a potent-hitting lineup, mixing a sharp, biting curve in with his usual Tennessee smoke, getting 9 strikeouts without a single walk. He obliterated the heart of the Arizona order, whiffing über-stud Justin Upton twice, hot-hitting Adam LaRoche twice, slugger Mark Reynolds (who got the only hit) once, and feisty, battling Conor Jackson once. Cain faced two batters over the minimum, the only other baserunner coming via HBP (Reynolds again). Cain's Game Score of 94 was the highest by a Giants pitcher this season. It was a brilliant outing by any measure. Matt Cain shouldn't have to throw a shutout to get a lousy freakin' W, but sometimes a guy has to do what he has to do. Seems like the lads felt obligated to put some numbers on the board tonight, scoring in four separate innings. Matt Cain himself managed a walk and a run. All in all, a damn good night for the orange-clads.


UPDATE 0828 SATURDAY: The invaluable Baseball Musings reports (1) that Matt Cain's Game Score of 94 was the best of the 2010 season (Dallas Braden's perfecto was a 93) and that (2) Buster Posey got the call-up. With Molina slumping, it was time. Let's hope they have the sense to play him and to let him catch!

Extra Baggs also reported the Posey story but called it "unconfirmed." Nothing on the team site yet.

Buster Olney confirms the story in a tweet (h/t Hardball Talk).

This kind of thing

is why we love Brian Sabean.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Don't it go to show you never know

I followed this afternoon's action on-and-off at work via Gameday--when it was 4-2 Nationals I was sure we were toast. Then I had to leave my desk, and when I came back the score was 5-4 Giants! Big hit by Freddy Sanchez off ex-Giant Tyler Walker. Brian Wilson struck out Adam Dunn to end it.

Matt Cain tomorrow. Score some runs, me buckos.



Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Generous Tim

A couple of weeks ago I joked to my wife about how hard it was to come up with new ways to describe Tim's domination of the league. I will never do that again. I can't tell you how much I wish I had to write another one of those.

Tim Lincecum pretty much gave away tonight's game against the Nats. His second consecutive low quality start only lasted 4.2 innings but took 96 pitches (first game below 100 this year). The anemic Nats scored 6 runs with 6 hits, but the real killing blows came from the 5 walks, one HBP, and FOUR stolen bases. Tim's obvious weakness concerning holding runners has never been more evident than tonight and it doesn't figure to get any better soon.

The bottom line was that it was painful to listen to Tim pitch tonight. I don't think I've ever felt that way before.

BTW: My "Let Timmy Smoke" shirt is now 5-1. It may skip the next start; a huge matchup on the holiday.

Gettin' Well'r

Todd Wellemeyer, stopper. That's a fact, folks. Well'r gave us six shutouts innings and started a two-out rally with a hit in the 5th that ultimately chased the pesky Livan Hernandez. The big blow was the double by Freddy Sanchez. The Giants got FIVE CONSECUTIVE TWO-OUT HITS: single by the pitcher, single by Torres, single by Renteria, double by FSanchez, double by Sandoval; suddenly it was 4-0 and everyone was feeling a lot better. The Giants got the hits they needed when they needed them. Here's Livan's take (from the Chris Haft game story):
"Unbelievable," said Hernandez, the former Giant whose 1.62 ERA entering the game was the third-best in the Major Leagues. "I threw good pitches and they hit it. Today, I feel very good and I lose the game with two outs. I can't say anything."
Well'r ran into trouble in the 7th, giving up three singles and a run, but Romo limited the damage (a sacrifice fly scored the second run), and the 'pen got the rest of the outs. Brian Wilson struck out the side in the 9th to get his first save since the 12th inning in San Diego a week ago. It was lots of fun for Bruce Bochy, who stuck Aubrey Huff in LF, Pablo Sandoval at 1B, and Juan Uribe at 3B, which follows the time-honored tradition of "shaking things up" when the team is slumping. Must have worked, eh? Andres Torres had a great night in the leadoff spot, and it looks like he should stay there until, uh, er, until  . . . he can't? I don't know what to make of Torres, who is laying out an impressive .299/.395/.486 line in 127 PA, a far cry from his career mark of .246/.313/.395. He's the best hitter on the club (.391 wOBA), and our most valuable player by WAR (1.7 to Pablo's 1.0)! Hard to imagine a 32-year old with more time in the minors (over 4300 PA) than the majors (just shy of 600 PA) is going to keep it up all season long, but that doesn't matter right now. Right now, the Giants need to win ballgames, and if Andres Vungo Feliciano Torres is El Hombre, more power to him.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Words of Wisdom From the GM

Great minds think alike. I think the players just need to play better and so apparently, does Brian Sabean.

"The starters need to throw some more strikes."

"...we've had a hard time turning double plays. That has to improve."

"...our baserunning in some games has been shoddy."

"We have to get our act together."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

No contest in the Coliseum III: nothin' but zeroes

Jonathan Sanchez gave up runs--what was he thinking? Hasn't he learned? He has to throw complete game shutouts to give us a chance to win. The bullpen imploded in the 8th inning today, which meant we wouldn't lose 1-0, so we can take some comfort in that. I don't think our offense is really this bad, but the problem is they aren't very much better, even at their best. But I'm tired of writing about our hitting woes, it is such an old and bitter topic, and there doesn't seem to be much the Giants can do about it at this point. Sure, Buster Posey will get the call eventually, and I genuinely believe his bat will help, but it's not like we are adding an offensive force on the scale of, say, Prince Fielder or Adrian Gonzalez. And even if we added Fielder or Gonzalez to the mix, it wouldn't make us the Phillies, although it would certainly make us better.

The best that we can say about the San Francisco Giants is that they won't be playing tomorrow. Perhaps going back to AT&T Park will improve things this week. The Nationals bring their 23-22 record and above-average offense (.334 wOBA, T6th; .759 OPS, 6th), that has so far failed to score an above-average number of runs (190 total, T11th; 4.32 per game,  T11th). They also bring a weak pitching staff, their 4.78 team FIP is tied with the Pirates for next-to-last, and their runs allowed (211, 4th most) and runs allowed per game (4.80, 5th most) are ugly. Speaking of ugly, Livan Hernandez returns to torment us with his guile and grit and Rueter-esque luck, matching up with Todd Wellemeyer. Perhaps throwing our worst pitcher at them is the best way to break the losing streak. C'mon Giants, you're making me ill. Score some runs.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

No contest in the Coliseum II: Cained again

Gio Gonzalez is 24-years old and has fewer than 200 innings of major-league experience, but he bedeviled the Giants today, coaxing comebackers, pop-ups, and a host of other unimpressive outs over eight innings. It's not that the Giants aren't hitting, they also aren't making loud outs. The lineup produced TWO hits today. TWO! Grant at McChronic says it better than I can:
Nuts to your "magic inside." Giants baseball: dribbler, dribbler, pop-up, whiff, whiff, dribbler, fly out, dribbler, double, whiff, dribbler, whiff. It would look just swell on a t-shirt.
And that was in response to last night's game, where we actually got a double or two.

Not much more to say about Matt Cain, who's Game Score today was 73, his second best of the young season. Over nine starts the Tennessee Stud has thrown 59-1/3 IP and allowed 46 H, 3 HR, 22 BB, 42 SO and 21 R (19 ER). It's not dazzling stuff, but it is damn good, certainly better than most NL starters and worthy of a better won-loss record than 2-4. The lack of offensive support for no. 18 is frankly ridiculous! Come to think of it, none of our guys get the run support they deserve. According to FanGraphs, Cain was worth 1.0 WAR after his first 8 starts, so he's projected to be close to 4.0 WAR in a full season, which is consistent with his last four years as a full-time starter (3.5, 4.0, 3.7, 3.6). We have this wonderful, valuable cog in a world-class rotation, and the best we can do is 32 runs scored in his 9 starts (3.56 per game). If you take out the 10 runs scored in his first start, that's 22 runs scored in his next 8 starts, or 2.75 per game. Like I said yesterday, that ain't gonna cut it.


p.s I tapped my latest brew today, hoping to break the losing streak with Giants Fever. Alas, it was to no avail. The beer was good, the boys in grey were not.

Friday, May 21, 2010

No contest in the Coliseum

Trevor Cahill, Brad Ziegler, and Craig Breslow combined to shut down the Giants in Oakland tonight. The lads looked feeble against a 22-year old with just over 200 major-league innings under his belt, a 30-year old who spent six seasons in the minors, and a 29-year old journeyman who's been waived by two different clubs. I don't like to attach too much significance to a bad stretch, but with the Dodgers racing past us this week I can't help but get depressed about the sorry state of our lineup. The Giants are 9-10 in May, scoring only 74 runs in those 19 games, which is 3.89 runs per game. My friends, that is just not going to cut it in the big leagues. I know it is early in the season (tonight was the 41st game, or about one-quarter of the way), but we have got to get some fookin' goddamn hits and score some fookin' goddamn runs! It ain't fun watching a bunch of no-names in green socks slap us around!

Matt Cain pitches tomorrow, and he has the WORST RUN SUPPORT of any pitcher in the big leagues (with at least 80 starts*) since 2006. Shake it up and score for Cain, will ya?


*q.v. Baseball Musings

Undeserving Tim

Let's start with the positves from last won't take long. Tim Lincecum was picked up by his offense and his worst outing of the year did not result in him getting the loss. So, Tim remains undefeated in the month of May for his career. A five run outburst featuring back-to-back homers by Uribe and Bowker and a huge Huff double was a thing of beauty. Umm, I guess Bochy's lineup move with Tim batting eighth was a positive, at least it gave the announcers something to talk about.

The negatives: It would be easy to say that the bullpen ONCE AGAIN blew a potential victory for Tim and his record should be a perfect 9-0. That is a fact but I think we all know Lincecum did not really deserve to win. For the first time this year he did not deliver a quality start and if he had we probably win. Lots of 5's in his line score: FIVE innings, FIVE runs, FIVE hits, FIVE walks and FIVE (plus one) strikeouts. Like last time, his command of his fastball was putrid...but this time he combined walks with homers and a triple. Oh yeah, it was the FIFTH inning that was his undoing. Kind of a tough night for a guy that wears number "55."

Isn't baseball wonderfully weird? In a game filled with power hitting, the final score was determined by a wild pitch. Sigh.

I fear we may start a real tough time here. We will learn a lot about our chances in the next few days. I've always said that the key to baseball is how well you bounce back from failure. I guess we need to count on Zito to right the ship....did I really just say that??

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Going, going, gone

Three times tonight in his five innings of work, Giants starter Todd Wellemeyer turned around and watched balls leave the yard. Adam LaRoche in the 2nd, Justin Upton in the 4th, and Stephen Drew in the 5th with a man on did the damage. Denny Bautista got in on it too, giving up a two-run blast to Chris Snyder to make an already out-of-reach 5-1 game into a 7-1 thumping. It got worse from there with Brandon Medders joining the gopher ball parade, serving up one to Kelly Johnson and one to Adam LaRoche in the 8th. The 13-1 whuppin' was the most lopsided defeat of the season.

They say Arizona has "power up and down the lineup" and they certainly flexed their bat muscles tonight. Then again, they did not see our best arms--we'll see if they can bring the lumber against Tim Lincecum tomorrow. They also say Arizona has one of the worst bullpens in the game. Good thing their starter threw eight innings of three-hit baseball, otherwise our veteran savvy lineup would have exploited that team weakness and made it a real contest. Three hits is damn discouraging. I realize that the thirteen runs allowed is a bit more significant this evening than the one freakin' run scored, but our feebleness at the plate is mind-numbing. We need to get some hits! I was happy to see the Panda find his stroke.

Ian Kennedy (the winning pitcher) came over to the D-Backs from the Yankees in that weird three-way trade with Detroit involving Curtis Granderson. He was the Yanks 1st-round pick (#21) in the 2006 draft. Tim Lincecum was the 10th pick, and Max Scherzer (who went from AZ to Detroit in the same trade) was the 11th. He's 25 and had ridiculous numbers in the minors. Tonight was only his 21st ML start.


update Mon 0705: Paul DePodesta's blog ("It Might Be Dangerous") is often interesting reading. Take a look at his season-so-far review of the Padres. Can you imagine our GM being this forthright and open with the lowly fans? Mr. DePodesta talked about one-run games and games decided by 5 or more runs. B-R has that data--the Giants are 6-8 in 1-run games and 6-2 in "blowouts" (5+ run difference). They were 21-22 and 21-18 last year. Also, John Perricone at OBM has a thought-provoking piece about good teams vs. pretenders, and contends that good teams dominate. Close games can go either way too easily, so the best teams can "pile on" and win comfortably. He quotes Bill James as well. Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk quotes Joe Maddon who describes his team's style as "the liberal arts form of playing baseball," that is, the Rays do all facets of the game well. I like a balanced squad myself--the Giants have great pitching and fielding but the hitting is just not up to snuff.

Good stuff, check it out.

Giants score runs, win ballgame

Scoring runs is good. Score more than the other guys, you win. That was the formula last night as the Giants finally beat the Padres. Unlikely heroes Andres Torres, Eli Whiteside, Matt Downs, and Eugenio Velez combined for 8 hits, 3 runs, and 6 RBI. I mixed up a big batch of Manhattans (Wild Turkey Rye, 50-50 sweet and dry vermouth) before the game, figuring it would fortify me for the torture sure to come. Alas, all it did was knock me out and put me to sleep, so I missed all the excitement. That's probably a good thing as I'd have given up when Mike Adams entered the game in the 8th--we had not scored on him this season and he'd only allowed 1 run in his last 11 IP. So, what happens? Lead-off double by Rowand and "the big fly" by Torres and the game was tied, just like that. Got to give the lads credit for soldiering on and getting the W in 12 innings. Arizona is next, and their pitching has been bad. So bad they lead the league in runs allowed (244) and have the highest FIP (5.07).  Even the great Dan Haren is struggling a bit, having given up 8 HR and 32 ER in 9 starts so far, despite whiffing 62 guys in 59-2/3 IP. He pitched Sunday so we'll miss him this trip. Tim Linceum goes for us on Thursday, Todd Wellemeyer tonight.


update 0830: Beyond the Boxscore has some articles of interest to Giants fans. First off, we are the best fielding team in baseball and the Dodgers are the worst. Second, Barry Zito's improved pitch selection explains his 2010 effectivenessBtB stuff is more than a wee bit into NerdLand, so be warned. But I think we can all agree that the Giants have brought their gamer gloves to the yard every day. Defense is especially important when you have a weak offense.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Adrian Gonzalez bunts, Giants lose

Adrian Gonzalez, the only real power threat on the field, bunted in the 7th inning with a man on 1st base and nobody out. (Never mind that that runner later scored.) Adrian Gonzalez, who had hit a homer in the 1st off Matt Cain, sacrificed himself with a bunt. That's your 2010 San Diego Padres: they are pesky and annoying and they win when their big slugger bunts.

How is it that a bottom-feeding .690 OPS offense makes our pitcher work like hell (28 batters and 119 pitches to get 18 outs) and give up five walks and six hits, yet our supposedly league-average offense can't do squat? THREE HITS off their starter? FOUR HITS total? Seriously? That's your 2010 San Francisco Giants: they think a scoring opportunity is seeing a cute girl in the parking lot after the game.

A tortuous but reasonably effective start by Cain--who labored in every inning but managed to limit the damage--was followed by some ugly relief work by Runzler (2 walks and a hit) and Romo (bases-loaded HBP) and the Giants were toast. Then we got treated to Eugenio Velez back with the big squad and pinch-hitting against Heath Bell. Oh boy, that's a confidence builder. A $12 M free agent goes on the DL and the very best the organization can do is replace him with Eugenio Velez. Chew on that, lads.

A lot of clubs would be happy if their starter gave them six innings and two runs. Normally, I'd be happy, too. But with the bad luck and lack of execution the Giants have experienced against the Padres this season (and last season, too), it was not good enough. Add another "L" to the long list, Matty me boy, this team does not know how to win for you.

LA won their 8th consecutive game so they are only a half game back of us. They are averaging 5.15 runs scored per game for the season and have rediscovered their pitching, giving up only 15 runs during the win streak.

Sanchez vs. Latos--again--tomorrow. Maybe the third time will be the charm.


Thump the chumps

And hold your own against the good teams--that's a winning formula. Tonight Matt Cain gets another shot at the stinkin' Padres. It's time we beat those pesky fuckers. This is a team with an OPS below .700--we're talking Pirates and Astros country here! They strike out a lot (306, 2nd in the NL) and they don't hit home runs (27, 15th). They do walk a fair bit (141, 6th) and steal a lot of bases (44, 1st), but that only translates so far to 150 runs scored (14th), or a bit under 4.2 per game. They've been pitching brilliantly, but having a worse offense than the San Francisco Giants is not a recipe for long-term success.

The Giants have played 36 games, that's 2/9 of the season. We've completed two innings of this nine-inning marathon (9 x 18 = 162), and so far I have to say the team has exceeded my expectations. I think the magic cut-off point for a winning offense is 4.5 runs per game, and the Giants have scored 158 runs in 36 games or just shy of 4.4, which isn't great, but it isn't terrible, either. Would I like to see a team that scores 5 runs per game (180 runs)? Of course, but unless we call up Buster Posey and trade Madison Bumgarner-and-change for Prince Fielder, that won't happen. But that club--with our pitching--would be a juggernaut! The starting pitching has been great, the bullpen not quite as dominant, it seems, as last season, but looking like it is coming together, and the defense has been solid. Freddy Sanchez will be in the lineup soon, and I must say I don't think the Giants will gain much. He's got no power and he doesn't walk. The team wOBA is .327, FSanchez' lifetime mark is .326! He's 32, his best season was 2006, if he hits his lifetime .751 OPS he'll be, at best, a league-average player. Ol' Boch, I've no doubt, will stick him in the two-spot and expect lots of bunts and hit-and-run plays, thus increasing the number of outs he makes per game. I think I'd rather give Matt Downs more of a shot, but he ain't gettin' $12 million.

Let's go boys, let's kick some Padre butt!


Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Clutch" Tim

We love to talk about the concept of "clutchness" here at RMC. The lack of or presence of this nebulous characteristic is often the first thing used to critique a player. Especially by the crowd of fans that are, shall we say, not so statistically inclined. How many times have you heard Molina defended by being called "clutch?" Anyway, that revered adjective is almost always reserved for hitters. I contend that The Kid, Tim Lincecum, has clearly earned it today as the Giants beat the Astros 2-1.

Lincecum produced his fifth victory and yet another quality start: (eight for eight this year!) eight innings, one run, 4 hits (one harmless double by Happy Pete), 120 pitches. Impressive numbers that we have come to expect from Tim but they did not come easily. It seemed that he started every batter with a ball and his fastball had a life of its own; hence the uncharacteristic 5 walks and 5 strikeouts. The number that really tells the story today ( and gets me back to our premise ) is:

0 - 10 RISP, giving him 5 -40 (.125) this year!!

That means that when ever a runner gets to second or beyond, Tim proceeds to make the next batter look like Brian Bocock. That sounds "clutch" to me. What do you think? Is this too small a sample size or is it a fact that Tim is better in leverage situations?

Tip of the Hat: The play by Ryan Rohlinger in the eighth was huge! And, of course, thank Jeebus for Juan Uribe.

Wag of the Finger: My life is probably a year shorter due to Wilson's "save" today. He sure did not "save" my sanity. All I could do for the entire FIFTEEN pitches of the final at bat was hold my head and moan softly. In a sick way, it was actually quite fun.

cool image from here

Bad team beat down

The Houston Astros are a bad team. They are last in baseball in wOBA (.266), last in walks (66), tied for last in homers (18), last in doubles (48), and last in runs scored (106). And that's cherry-picking, because they are 3rd in FIP (3.60), just behind St. Louis and San Francisco! Despite what seems like league-average pitching (16th in runs allowed at 144), they own the worst record in the NL and only have one more win than pathetic Baltimore.

Beating up on bad teams is a time-tested way to get to the playoffs. I'm happy to see that we gave the visiting squad a good thrashing last night. The Giants are 4-0 against Houston, 3-0 against Florida, and 2-1 against Pittsburgh, Atlanta, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Colorado (17-5). Throw in 1-2 against LA and NY and that's a 19-9 record against all teams not named San Diego.

The Freak goes today, I hope we can hit as well off Roy Oswalt as we did against Felipe Paulino.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Confessions of an Ex-Padres Fan

I lived in San Diego County for ten years, beginning in 1976, and was a temporary Padres fan. If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with.

The Puds were perennial doormats back in those days, but there was lots to enjoy about them. The big star was Dave Winfield. He never played a day in the minors. But he left for the Yankees after the '80 season.

Ozzie Smith's major league debut was in April '78. Of course it was a treat to watch him. He got traded to the Cards in '81.

The '78 season also featured 39 year old Gaylord Perry going 21-6 and winning the Cy Young award. The team had a rare winning record that year, going 84-78 for manager Roger Craig.

Tony Gwynn debuted in '82, and won his first of many batting crowns in '84. That was a breakthrough year for the Padres. They actually won the pennant, defeating the Cubs in a dramatic playoff. Then they lost the World Series to a powerhouse Detroit team.

My favorite memory from that year was a visit from my brother, JC. We went to each game of a four-game series against the Giants at good old Jack Murphy stadium. The Puds swept that series too.

But the all-time highlight of my Padre fandom occurred July 29, 1983. In a game against the Braves Steve Garvey slid hard into home and broke his thumb, ending a 1207 game streak. I instinctively stood and cheered when I knew he was badly hurt. It was then that I knew for sure that I was never really a Padres fan after all.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Beats 0-6

Fuck this.....another pitching gem from Jonathan Sanchez - one, count-em one hit by the midgets. Good thing we have that powerhouse Eli Whiteside on our team.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How's 0-5 grab ya?

Matt Cain threw balls when he needed to throw strikes, and he threw strikes when he needed to throw balls. That's how you come away with an ugly 6-2/3 with 5 ER. Getting those 20 outs took 32 batters and 114 pitches. It was a painful slog for the Giants, who were outplayed on both sides of the ball by a crisp and competent club. (They "play a clean game" in Krukovian.) Clayton Richard made us look pretty feeble, and their bullpen shut us down again. The Padres ran wild--the book on the Giants must be "their pitchers can't hold runners." I'm really getting sick of losing to San Diego. They win with pitching and no offense, and they are doing it better than the Giants, who are supposed to be the team winning with pitching and no offense.

Jonathan Sanchez tomorrow afternoon.



Just because I pay for Dish doesn't mean I have to watch

I've spent time waiting in dentists' offices that was more engaging and fulfilling than last night's turgid display by the two NL West front-runners. The Padres continued their mastery of the Giants by exploiting 12 walks, 8 hits, 1 error, and a perfect night by Grit-Meister David Eckstein, who also had a 2-run hit that broke the collective will of the local lads in the 2nd inning. For the Padres, it was an offensive explosion, highlighted in the 5th when their enormous left-fielder, the 6'-6" 270-lb Kyle Blanks, walked, stole second, and scored on a hit by Yorvit Torrealba. That was the finisher, the clincher, the soul-crushing moment when the Giants knew they had just been doomed by a bottom-feeding offense (.317 wOBA and .699 OPS, both 12th of 16 NL teams) that gives hope to teams like the Astros. I always liked that quote attributed to Earl Weaver about "pitching and fundamentals" winning pennants. Oh yeah, there was that extra part about "three-run homers" but we'll ignore that for now as both San Diego and San Francisco eschew that sort of old-school, esoteric baseball. I got briefly excited when the Panda roped one into Triples Alley, and later when Juan Uribe got the same hit to the same spot, but somehow those clutch, little ball, speed-and-savvy moments didn't turn into game-winning runs.

Here's my message to Matt Cain and the rest of the Giants staff: THROW FUCKING STRIKES. There is only ONE GUY in the Padres lineup that can hurt you! And to the lineup? How about a CLUTCH FUCKING EXTRA-BASE HIT WITH MEN ON BASE?? Is that too much to ask?


p.s. Ah, the Mark DeRosa Saga--what wonderful window into the mind of Brian Sabean. I feel for DeRosa, I'm sure he's frustrated, and he seems like a dedicated pro. But it was Brian Sabean who signed a 35-year old utility player coming off wrist surgery to a 2-year deal to be a "force" in the middle of the lineup. Chew on that one, me buckos.

p.p.s. Did anyone else notice Ol' Boch's brain fart in the 5th inning? Righetti had come out to talk to Zito, who promptly threw 2 balls to the next hitter. Ol' Boch then leapt to his feet and ran on to the field in order to  . . . we aren't sure, because the 2nd base umpire promptly ordered him back to the dugout! Kruk and Kuip then commented that after a visit, the pitcher is supposed to complete his pitching to the current batter before a change can be made. Zito then finished the inning--no pitching change made. The CSN camera showed Ol' Boch rummaging around in the dugout for a bit, with the coaches acting like nothing had happened. The big fella had a kind of "deer-in-the-headlights" look before resuming his normal expression, which is kind of like a wise, crafty old deer caught in the headlights. It was a weird and funny sequence that got lost in the rest of the ugliness.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Clash of the Titans

Who knew the Padres coming to San Francisco would be a matchup of the NL West's hottest teams? The Padres and Giants are both doing it with pitching. The Cardinals are tops in FIP (3.36), with our boys (3.47) right behind and the Friars (3.65) in third place. Which means, of course, we are in for some 10-9 slugfests! SF and SD are tied for the NL lead in runs allowed with 97 (Tampa Bay has only allowed 94.)

Barry Zito goes tomorrow against Wade LeBlanc and Matt Cain sees Clayton Richard on Wednesday. I'm not sure why there's a TBA for Thursday--I expect we'll see Jonathan Sanchez, don't you?


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Standardized Tim

Today you are going to take a test of what you have learned. Some of the questions may be easy, some may be hard...try not to spend too much time on any one question.

1) The performance of Tim Lincecum against the NY Mets today would best be described as:
A. Yet another quality start: 6 innings, 2 runs, 7 hits (all singles), 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
B. A bit of a struggle, but ultimately a display of Tim's new reliance on his curveball
C. The 3rd straight betrayal by the bullpen; denying what should've been Tim's win #7
D. All of the above

2) The only appropriate actions by Bruce Bochy from now on shall be:
A. Never use any member of the bullpen in a game that Tim starts
B. Tell all the members of the bullpen that it is a day off when Tim starts
C. Stop counting pitches and "Let Timmy Smoke"
D. All of the above

3) The author of today's post is best described as:
A. A some-what burnt public school teacher in California
B. A Freak-aholic that longs for worthy team-mates that can support Tim's ascent
C. A life-long Giants fan that "always liked" Aaron Rowand
D. All of the above

Correct Answers: ( hold down left mouse button and scroll over "hidden" answers on the lines below )
Happy Mother's Day!!

DUH, the answer is always "D" Why did you even look? Only 19 days of work left!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Back-to-back backstop walk-offs


Even more weird: Todd Wellemeyer pitches poorly against Johan Santana and yet the game is tied after 8 innings. Got to love Aubrey Huff's .286/.356/.476 line, let's hope he keeps it up. Eli Whiteside continues to defy the odds, getting on base 3 times today after spelling Molina, and hitting .409 for the season.

The Franchise goes tomorrow, and everyone in GiantsLand will expect him to be The Stopper. That's usually a safe bet, but things have been pretty weird at Citi Field this weekend.



Sometimes it's better not to look

The ONLY part of last night's game I saw was Rod Barajas' walk-off homer against Sergio Romo. I was late leaving work and thought I might grab a pint and catch the last few innings at a local establishment that I frequent on Friday nights. I walked in, said my hellos, looked at the TV and saw the game end. Like I said, sometimes it's better not to look.

I'm encouraged by Sanchez, falling behind early but fighting to stay in the game and keeping it close. The whole squad could have folded, in fact, but they didn't. Dare I say that seems characteristic of this team? They clawed their way back against a hot home club, thanks to a sizzling Aaron Rowand and a surprising Eli Whiteside. That was quite a feat by John Bowker, getting the game-tying bomb off Francisco Rodriguez in the 9th. Alas, Sergio Romo is discovering that major-league hitters can hit his slider. Rod Barajas is ridiculous right now--that was his third 2-HR game of 2010.

Denny Bautista got called up and pitched the 8th. Edgar Renteria was put on the DL and Eugenio Velez was optioned to Fresno. Todd Wellemeyer is back in the starting rotation today--let's hope we get him some runs to work with.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Matt Cain + Run Support = Win

And a sweep, to boot! Chris Coghlan broke up Matt's no-hitter with two outs in the 6th. A couple of hard knocks in the 7th produced a run. Two baserunners to start the 8th sent Cain to the dugout. His final line was 27 batters, 108 pitches, 4 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, and 6 strikeouts for a Game Score of 64. It took four relievers to get the final six outs, but the Giants held their lead and finished off the sweep. An outstanding performance by Olympic Nate (3-3 with a HR) along with big hits from struggling Mark DeRosa and surging Aaron Rowand produced a 6-run lead for the Giants. Lefty reliever Chris LeRoux gave up three in the top of the 7th and that was the margin of victory.

The Giants go to NYC to take on the Mets tomorrow. Jonathan Sanchez faces Mike Pelfrey, who's only given up 2 runs in 26 IP so far this season. The 15-13 Mets are tied with the Nationals for 2nd place in the East, two games behind Philadelphia. Your 17-10 Giants are back in 1st place in the West, a half game ahead of San Diego.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Barry Zito: better record than Tim Lincecum

That's right, folks, Barry Zito has MORE WINS than The Best Pitcher in the Universe, Tim Lincecum. And Mr. Zito's 1.49 ERA is lower than Mr. Lincecum's 1.70! The world has turned upside down, O My Brothers.

Another win on the road! SERGIO ROMO gets the nod for saving the game in the 8th: three-pitch strikeout of Hanley Ramirez, double-play grounder from Jorge Cantu. "That's big-league pitching" or some other Krukovian nugget seems appropriate here.

Matt Cain tomorrow.



I'm With Him

The great Frank Deford is NOT a fan of batters who take lots of pitches.

Read this fine rant.

"Hitters who can take pitches and get walks now seem more valued than hitters who can actually ... hit. "

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wasted Tim II

For the second start in a row, Tim Lincecum was dominating and left the game with the lead. For the second start in a row, the relief corps blew that lead. For the second start in a row, Tim gets a no decision.

Otherwise, there was not much in common with the two games. First of all, we won this one!! Mota just closed out the 12th for his first Giants save; 9-6 over the tough Florida Marlins. This truly terrific game featured clutch hits : Uribe's 2 RBI double, Rowand's tying HR with one out left, and Huff's game winner. The other guys had their share too: Hanley Ramirez's stunning 3 run homer off the previously untouchable Lincecum and an Uggla 3 run shot off Romo to deny Tim's victory. If you are a fan of the long ball (and most of us are), you loved this game.

Almost overshadowed by the offensive fireworks was the flashy job turned in by The Freak. Tim had everything working, as evidenced by an abnormally high number of first pitch curveballs. I counted at least five cases of very effective 76 - 80 mph curveballs for early strikes, most called. Tim finished with SEVEN INNINGS (that's 42.1 in six starts), THREE EARNED RUNS (that's a new high for this year), FIVE HITS (four singles and a homer by the incredible Ramirez), ONE WALK (8 for the year!) and a remarkable THIRTEEN STRIKEOUTS ( 56 for the year to date). His first five innings were as good as it gets. If not for one kinda mushy slider to Hanley, this would have gone down as one of Tim's finest.

STAT NOTE: Tim now has 22 career games with ten-or-more strikeouts, the most in the majors since 2007, Tim's debut year. In a distant second are Peavy and Santana with 15.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Winning on the road

We send the Big Three after the FloMars this week: Tim Lincecum faces Anibal Sanchez, Barry Zito gets Nate Robertson, and Matt Cain matches up with Ricky Nolasco. We miss ace Josh Johnson who got the win over the Nationals on Sunday. We all know the Giants pitching has been outstanding, but the Marlins 3.83 team FIP is nothing to sneeze at (6th in the league). With the bats, however, they are 9th in wOBA, showing even worse OBA and SLG than the Giants, which is hard to believe. At 13-12 they match their "expected W-L" exactly. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez is the big star, at only 26 years old he has four full big-league seasons on the back of his bubble-gum card, with a line of .316/.387/.530! Wow, can you imagine a bat like that in our lineup? What a 1-2 punch with Sandoval that would make.

The Giants need to prove they can win on the road against a decent team. It was a great homestand, winning 6 of 9 from three excellent ballclubs, but the bad taste of the sweep in SD is still lingering. The pitching matchups look good, of course, we know we can pitch against anyone. But the bats need to step up! Getting one hit off a rookie on Sunday was very discouraging.

Work will keep me late this week and I'm going to miss a fair bit of these East coast broadcasts (4:10 PM PDT start times).



Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sanchez Inning By Inning

1st inning- Sanchez begins with a sharp one-two-three inning, with a K and two grounders. He threw only 8 pitches, none of them called a ball.

2nd inning- Tulowitsky opens with a single but Sanchez bears down and notches a hard-won K to end the inning. Krukow declares he has that "good stuff" today.

3rd inning- Fowler gets a one out single. Sanchez does a good job throwing over to 1st repeatedly to keep him close. With 2 outs, Whiteside nails Fowler "caught stealing," partial credit to the pitcher.

4th inning- An UGLY inning. Sanchez thinks he has Gonzalez struck out and shows some bad body language to "show up" the ump. The next pitch is lined off his foot and he makes a weak effort to field it. E-1. Fortunately the next guy grounds into a DP or it could have been worse. Then Sanchez hits Giambi with a pitch. He ignores him so Giambi steals 2nd. Boo. Then the wheels come off altogether, he walks the next 3 batters to force in a run. All without giving up a hit. Sanchez threw 32 pitches this inning.

5th inning- The first two batters make outs but then Gonzalez walks and Tulowitsky singles. Out come Bochy, Sanchez is done.

4.2 innings, 94 pitches, 3 hits, 4K, 5BB

Medders comes in and is inadequate. Three runs are scored.

It probably didn't help that the Giants were hitless up to this point.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cain't touch this!

Matt Cain had to throw 123 pitches and eight scoreless innnings of 1-hit ball in order to get his first win of the season. The lads stepped up with some serious offense--three homers--to seal the deal. Who wants to play fookin' dink-ball? I like home runs myself, especially the 3-run kind, and especially early in the game, and Juan Uribe delivered that today. But the story has to be Matt Cain, who dominated (GameScore 85!) a potent Colorado offense and launched the surging Giants 3-1/2 games past the purple-clads and kept them a game back of early-season hot-shots San Diego. Message to Bud and the Friars: keep looking over your shoulder because we are gunning for you!



p.s. Read this.

The Zito Zone

Barry Zito continued his pitching excellence last night and the Giants won easily. Aubrey Huff's .244/.344/.403 is looking better all the time as the lefty provided the big hit that settled matters in the 5th inning. It seems like he's had a lot of good PAs lately but with nothing to show for it, so I was happy he got the clutch RBIs. Throw in another hit and two walks and that's a good night. He even made a nice play in the field, lunging for a low throw from the Panda (who'd made a slick bare-hand pickup) yet keeping his toe on the bag to make the out.

The Barry Zito of 2007-2008 started to disappear in the second half of 2009, and the 2010 version is something else entirely. FanGraphs tells me he's walking fewer batters than ever (2.80 BB/9, career 3.70) and getting more ground balls (44.7% of balls in play vs. his career 38.1%). You have to like that. He's yielded only 20 hits in 35-1/3 IP, with no home runs in those five starts. His 2.66 FIP is well below his career 4.27 and he's already racked up 1.2 WAR (his entire 2008 was 1.4 WAR). I just don't know what to make of it! More confidence? Better mechanics? New pitching strategies? Improved attitude and focus? It sure seems like his veteran savvy clutchness is savvier and clutchier, and his gamer-issitude has been cranked up to 11. Whatever it is, Barry, stay in this new Zito Zone and keep it going. There is one thing on the FanGraphs page that concerns me, though, and that is his BABIP. It's very stat-hip to toss around BABIP stuff, and RMC wants to be on the cutting edge of stat-hipness, so stick with me, lads. Zito's career BABIP is .273, but it is only .209 so far this season. In a full season, his BABIP has been as low as .248 (2003) and has been as high as .305 (2008). That's a swing of of about 30 points on either side of his lifetime mark. Here's a bit from Baseball Prospectus about BABIP:
Batting Average on balls put into play. A pitcher's average on batted balls ending a plate appearance, excluding home runs. Based on the research of Voros McCracken and others, BABIP is mostly a function of a pitcher's defense and luck, rather than persistent skill. Thus, pitchers with abnormally high or low BABIPs are good bets to see their performances regress to the mean. A typical BABIP is about .300. 
Wow. "Regression to the mean" is über-hip stat-speak, me buckos, so you've got some serious water-cooler B.S. to befuddle your co-workers with next week. Just be sure to thank me with tax-deductible donations (I take PayPal).

Despite the terrific, workmanlike win against a tough division foe (is it just me or does the Rockies lineup look like an ad for a freakin' fitness magazine?), there was some disturbing weirdness last night. Bengie Molina hit cleanup! This cannot continue. I don't care if he's "got the hot hand" or not. DON'T FUCKING PUT BENGIE MOLINA IN THE FUCKING CLEANUP SPOT. Also, Barry Zito was allowed to continue pitching despite racking up over 100 pitches through seven. Tim Lincecum was removed in the 9th inning with one out because he'd thrown too many pitches. Uh, Bruce? Tim Lincecum >> Barry Zito, OK? Like I said, weird.

I'm going to miss Cain's game today. He could use a little luck and some run support, don't you think?



p.s. Beat-the-dead-horse-department: I had a beer last night with a friend of mine who's originally from Philadelphia (and is a big baseball fan), and he was beside himself with mirth about Bochy pulling Lincecum against his beloved Phils. He kept going on and on about our "idiotic" manager taking out the "best pitcher in the game" and giving the Phils a chance when they'd "had no chance all day." His glee over the outcome and incredulity over the pitching change was right in line with JC's argument in his post on Wednesday. Let's just say I was happy when he left and let me finish my beer in peace--I certainly didn't need to re-live that game again. I'm glad the Giants put the loss behind them while the Phils got trashed at home against the Mets.