Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Nothing like a win

And a few DFAs to make me feel better. Madison Bumgarner was outstanding and the Giants won a game. They also cut ties with Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada. Both moves were overdue. In Rowand's case, the Giants are on the hook for his 2012 $13.6M.

Hope springs eternal in baseball. The Giants are still contenders despite the injuries and poor play. Last year the Giants gave up 50 runs in the month of September. Fifty. Total. That was in 26 games. Imagine if they do that again.

--M.C.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

And you thought it couldn't get worse

OK, so I thought that. And then it did. Get worse, I mean. Couldn't hit before, no reason to expect they can hit now, but with the pitching falling apart the wheels are really coming off. At 3-0, the Giants had some "chances" and even got it to 3-1 and another "chance." Carlos Beltran was the goat both times, getting dispatched on six pitches by Matt Garza. Then WillyMo and Ramon Ramirez gave up the ghost and that was the game. The Giants were in a desperate offensive state when they went out and got Beltran. They gave up a lot for a two month rental. He was hitting .289/.391/.513 at the time, so it wasn't unreasonable to expect he could help the lineup. He not only went into the tank, he got hurt, and it appears he won't be getting much out of the tank soon. Even if he has a .900 OPS in September, it won't matter. The Giants need his bat now, and they needed it as soon as they traded for him. It is one of those things that I can't get too upset about. Sometimes you have to "go for broke." Guess what? It doesn't always work. (Read Grant Brisbee's "Assigning Blame" for a bit of perspective.) The much-maligned Giants brain trust took a bold step to help the team and it has been a bust, plain and simple. You can argue about the cost, but the idea that Beltran would revert to Aubrey Huff as soon as he put on the orange-and-black was pretty far-fetched. But it happened. You know something? Shit happens. Tim Lincecum gave up three home runs in a game for the first time. Ever. (He still the best in baseball at preventing homers.) He also quit. Right there on the mound, in front of 40,000-plus and a hell of a lot of TV viewers, he called it a night. Never thought I'd see that. (I expect he'll get over it and bounce right back and I bear the lad no ill will.) The Giants have lived on magic and gumption and defying the odds, so it shouldn't surprise us too much that the regression gods got pissed off and spewed wrath and venom upon the team and the faithful.

The 2010 Giants taught us that if you pitch like hell and play good, solid ball in the field you can win with a below-average lineup. The 2011 Giants taught us that you can't ignore the rest of the equation when you build a team around pitching. You still have to have good fielders. And you can't have the worst offense in the game. You can't. It doesn't work. Losing 2-1 or 3-2 is still losing. The Giants had some great luck last year with injuries--not that they didn't have them, just that they were never catastrophic, and the bulk of the key guys were healthy at the end. We all know this year's club can legitimately claim a mulligan on the DL front. It has been an astonishingly bad year for injuries, and they've sapped the club's ability to bounce back in the second half. You can bitch, fairly, at Sabean for a few shoulda-coulda off-field moves, and you can bitch, fairly, at Boch for some shoulda-woulda on-field moves. But through the cold, hard lens of fact, it is clear that the players have simply not performed or not been able to perform to the level required. I hate facts. They can't be argued with. And I'm good at arguing. But there ain't no arguments left. The Giants are not playing winning baseball and they are not playing winning baseball because they aren't good enough.

And that's disappointing. I expected a tenacious defense of the crown. I can't get angry--these are my beloved Giants and they are wearing World Series Champion patches on their uniforms. I've wanted to see that my whole life! But this team is letting the division slip away. The D-Backs could come to town this weekend six games in front which would make the outcome of the three games almost moot. That is not what I expected. There are 26 more games. It ain't over. We've all seen crazy shit happen in the last few weeks of a season. No team is ever really eliminated until the math says so, no matter how improbable the turnaround. But at this point the Giants need Arizona to take a huge dump, much like San Diego's fabulous 10-game skid in 2010. It gets hard to keep the faith when it depends on such an unlikely event. Just for shits and giggles, and since I'm on a roll, lets do a little math. Say the Snakes stumble and go 10-16 or even 8-18 from here on out. The Giants would have to play .615 ball in the first case (16-10) just to tie. They'd actually win by two games in the second case, but that's .308 ball from the opposition making that happen. Those odds just look too long for me to be hopeful. Here's another thought--the Giants have given up over 100 runs (actually 104) in August, the only time this season that they've given up that many in a month. The previous high was April with 96. (Compare with 2010.)

I'm a big fan of Dos Equis Guy and his "stay thirsty, my friends." It gets me through the tough times. I know that's a non sequitur, but it's my coda, and I'm sticking with it.

--M.C.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Rattled Tim

He isn't wrong often, but I think we can all agree that my esteemed colleague, M.C. O'Connor, was quite premature when he called a game 10 days ago "the nadir." Oh yes... tonight's debauchery was much worse. Much , much worse...

Tim Lincecum (12-11) finally showed signs of breaking down under the pressure of carrying an historically anemic offense. Ugly (game score 42) barely describes it. The date will be remembered in the mass media as the first time Tim has ever given up three home runs in a game, but I will remember it as the first time I've seen Tim get truly rattled and throw away a game. Could it have come at a worse time?

Of course, we never had a chance against the dominating talent of Randy Wells (game score 89!!). I mean, come on....he lowered his ERA all the way down to 5.04!! Don't they really have to start adjusting pitcher's stats to reflect just how lame we are?? At least there should be an asterisk, right??

Sorry, I wish I thought this was the lowest point of the season. But I fear it can still get worse....

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pitchers fail again

Matt Cain still hasn't learned despite the many hard, cruel lessons. 'Very Good' (Game Score 69) is not going to cut it. You have to be damn-near perfect to be a winning Giants pitcher. Matty lost a two-out, nine-pitch battle with young lefty leadoff hitter Jordan Schafer and the Astros tied up the ball game in the 8th inning. The Giants had fashioned an unlikely rally to take a 2-1 lead after being one-hit through the first six innings by local boy Bud Norris. This time the trip to extra innings was unlucky--Jeremy Affeldt gave up the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th and things looked bad for the local lads. But Mark DeRosa, or Magic Mark as he's known these days, got a huge hit to score Andres Torres (nice to see him back and making a contribution) and even things up. Unfortunately, it was only to prolong the agony. Ramon Ramirez gave the lead back in the 11th and the visitors closed it out. The Astros executed better than the defending champions and won the game and the series. Depressing thought, that.

--M.C.

Way to look, rook!

Eric Surkamp wasn't exactly smooth and polished, but he showed grit and fortitude aplenty. Toss in a little luck and some help from the fielders and you get a Game Score of 57 for the rookie's debut. More importantly, it was a win. The Giants got a hit from Mike Fontenot on the first pitch of the game and had to wait until the sixth inning (20 batters later) for Carlos Beltran to get the next one. Yet they still won the game. Surkamp showed poise and a good breaking ball, but had to battle every inning, giving up six hits, three walks, a hit batter, and Clint Barmes reaching on a error by Pablo Sandoval on an infield pop fly. The Giants finally got to the Houston bullpen after looking feeble for seven innings against Brett Myers. I can't decide if the 73 Game Score is a result of his studliness or the wretched state of the Giants lineup. Guillermo Mota, Santiago Casilla, and Jeremy Affeldt gave the Giants four scoreless innings, giving up only a two-out single and a one-out walk (both to Carlos Lee), and that gave the team enough time to find some guys who could get a hit. It turned out to be yesterday's hero Jeff Keppinger and given-up-for-dead Mark DeRosa. After he re-injured his wrist I figured his season and likely his career were over. I was wrong. He has shown remarkable persistence and determination to get back on the field. I keep saying the Giants need a lift, and those things often come from the most unlikely places. A grizzled old vet on his last hurrah? A fresh-faced, soft-tossing southpaw from the Richmond Flying Squirrels? Hey, why not?

--M.C.


p.s. Surkamp was drafted in the sixth round of the June 2008 amateur draft (#177). Brandon Crawford went in the fourth round (#117). Buster Posey was the 7th pick overall that year and Conor Gillaspie the 37th.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Winning! Yes, yes, I remember that feeling

I'm handing out the RMC Croix de Awesomeness to Ramon Ramirez for his game-saving performance last night. He threw 23 pitches and got five huge outs, three of them the "grab some pine" variety. Madison Bumgarner crafted six scoreless but ran out of steam in the 7th and left with men on first and third with one out and one run in. Ol' Boch summoned Ramirez and he promptly struck out pinch-hitter Brian Bogusevic and got leadoff man Jordan Schafer to ground out to short. A three-up, three down 8th with two more strikeouts (the last one to get Carlos Lee looking was sweet) and the Giants got back to the winning formula. Nice to see Ramirez step up with a big effort after the blown save on Tuesday. Santiago Casilla again filled in admirably for Brian Wilson and closed it with an effortless 11 pitches. Jeff Keppinger won the clubhouse lottery for this week's extra-base hit with men on base. I was also happy to see Carlos Beltran look strong and healthy at the plate. His two hits, one walk, and a line drive out didn't figure in the scoring but certainly helped me feel better. The Giants--uncharacteristically--went out and got the best player available at the trade deadline. He's been terrible, and then injured, and now the rest of his season is a steaming pile of uncertainty. The baseball gods are cruel. When you get Shea Hillenbrand you should not be surprised when he plays like Shea Hillenbrand. But when you get Carlos Beltran it is reasonable to expect that he won't be Shea Hillenbrand. I make no claim to understand this game. I'm just happy when the Giants win. And I'm excited about seeing Eric Surkamp make his debut tonight. Let's hope they toss a few runs his way.

--M.C.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I'm running out of things to say

C'mon Giants, you're making it tough on me. That was a damned depressing display last night. The Astros are the worst team in baseball (88 losses!) but are 3-1 against the defending champions. What's up with that? The Giants have scored 12 runs against this collection of call-ups and have allowed 20 runs in the four games. Let's see, let me get the Windows calculator going here, and the NumLock key, OK, let's see, uh, divide, and uh, OK, clear, divide again, that's an average ass-whuppin' of 5-3 this season by the Houstonians. And to top it off the only game the Giants won took eleven innings. Now I recorded this little message to myself and I play it over and over again, you know, the one that goes there's over a [insert time frame] of baseball left and there's six games against the D-backs left and they are only [insert GB] back so no reason to get upset blah-blah-blah. Like I said, you know which one. I tried to soothe my jangled nerves last night with that message and it didn't work. Of course, I drank a lot and passed out on the couch. I did wake up to see the 9th-inning rally (a Beltran lead-off single). Then I went to bed. I really don't want to spend my evenings pickling my brain in order to stave off my despair over the frightening collapse of the club. The Giants were four games up on July 28th after taking two of three in Philadelphia. Since then they've gone 8-18 and lost seven games in the standings. It's like a big budget movie ("Repeat: The San Francisco Story") that went straight to video after a couple of bad reviews. Actually, it is worse than that. It's like a lottery winner pissing it all away on yachts and sports cars and then having to beg his friends for cash to make the mortgage payments on his mansion. Wait, that sounds really dumb. OK, fine. No comments from any of you unless you can come up with something better. The Giants going 8-18 and watching their season fall apart is like . . .

And they have to be funny and original and pithy with inside jokes and hip cultural references and cool enough for BoingBoing. Now get to work, you slackers. I'm tired of doing all the fecking typing around here.

--M.C.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tough Tim

One reason why I love Tim Lincecum is because he is tough. Not mean and grubby "Sons of Anarchy" tough. His own kind of tough. Here are two very specific examples from tonight's significant victory over the rather pathetic puds:

Pitch #119 : Probably Tim's best pitch on a rather long night. Clinging to a one run lead in the eighth inning, Tim had a full count on the dangerous Cameron Maybin. The poor guy really didn't have a chance against a perfect slider. Out #23.

Pitch #124 : The Freak's last pitch was a perfectly placed slippery fastball (up above the zone, 92 mph) that Jesus Guzman missed by a mile. Out #24. I jumped up and preceded to pump my fist and march silently around my home for about three minutes. (Don't worry, only my pooch witnessed the impromptu parade. He's seen worse.)

We needed him and he delivered. Tim's blazing summer continues with some slick numbers (game score 72):

8 innings...4 hits...1 run...5 walks...7 strike outs

A great night for sure (I mean, shit, the dude lowered his ERA), but I bet Tim is still talking about his RBI single. I joke (?) all the time that the best way for us to win more is for the pitchers to hit better. Well, tonight it turned out the beautiful solo homer delivered by Carlos Beltran (a.k.a. Voltron) was not quite enough. Timmy was the true difference maker on this lovely evening.

Hmmm, Ryan Vogelsong swings the bat pretty good....Maybe things are looking up.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Agony and the Ecstasy and the Agony Again

Matt Cain had a shitty night and that was nearly the game story. The Padres did to Cain what the Giants should have done Mat Latos. The first six guys in the Padres lineup all had a hit and four of them had RBIs. San Diego actually has an offense. The Giants were damn-near doomed after the home run by Kyle Blanks in the second inning. Matty had not yielded a home run in his 12 previous starts.

Then, Orlando Cabrera. He had the hit of the night for the Giants, one of those Veteran Savvy Clutchness moments that just can't be explained. The OC is not amenable to rational analysis! Rookie Hector Sanchez got it going with his maiden knock and the Giants, improbably, tied a game up late and gave themselves a chance to win. Aaron "It Only Looks Like I'm Shitting" Rowand was in the lineup all evening and spread much futility, including inducing errors from the Padres (he was on deck when the Jesus Guzman gift-of-the-gods gaffe happened). How a club can contend with ABs from that guy is beyond me. Then again, Orlando Cabrera.

It was all for naught of course as the Padres trashed Ramon Ramirez and won the game in the ninth. It hurts not to have Sergio Romo and Brian Wilson available.

Giants are now 7-14 in August, having scored 62 runs (2.95 per game) and allowed 82 (3.90 per game). Their season averages entering tonight were 3.43 runs scored (last in NL) and 3.55 runs allowed (2nd in NL). Time to turn it around and start winning some games, especially at home against a last-place team.

--M.C.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

That's a relief!

Another exceptional effort by the Giants bullpen led to a much-needed victory in Houston. I said yesterday's game was the nadir of the season and I stickin' to that, by gum! Poor Dan Runzler couldn't get the ball over the plate and nothing gets Ol' Boch fumin' faster than a crack-addled flyin' squirrel than bases on goddamn balls. The Runzinator was out by the second inning. Naturally my man WillyMo got the call and he put out the fire with a little gasoline of his own, but settled down and got the outs. Guillermo Mota is a valuable guy! Farmhand Steve Edlefsen made his major-league debut and impressed everyone with some nasty-sinky stuff. Giants need a lift and anyone can be the guy--go Effie! Eddie! Edlie! Whatever-the-Fuckie! Brandon Belt awakened from his slumber and delivered big time for the team, family, and friends. Save us, O Baby Giraffe! Pablo Sandoval gets my inaugural RMC Croix de Awesomeness for the game-winner and general all-rounder gnarliness, playing through injury like a manly-man. Nate Schierholtz and Aubrey Huff get kudos, too, for making it happen in Chips-are-down Time. My most hilarious moment was Mega-Cranium pinch-hitting Miguel Tejada for Mike Fontenot. "Way to Go" was hella pissed about it, with good reason as he'd had solid PAs and the game-tying RBI, but The Noggin was not to be denied. Te-nada then hit a dinker that never left the infield but was a hit nonetheless! Bochy is a genius! I love this game. I love it especially much when the Giants win. Arizona loses in Atlanta--hah! Giants are only 1-1/2 back. C'mon, lads, take it away from those ocher-clad wankers!

--M.C.

Beer and Baseball Go Together, Right?

1. On the Lufthansa plane I was served a bottle of Warsteiner Premium Verum.
2. At my hosts' home I had a bottle of Waldhaus "Ohne Filter Extra Herb." (unfiltered, extra hops)
3. Then a bottle of Rathaus Pils Tannen Zaepfle (this brewery is owned by the state of Baden-Wurtemberg)
4. During a day trip to Colmar, France I had glass of Kronenbourg draft.
5. Freiburger in Freiburg, From the Ganter brewery.
6 &7. One evening in Freiburg we went to two brewpubs which served the beer made on the premises. First Feierling unfiltered, then Martin's Hefe Weisse.
8. At a cafe on the way to Bavaria I had a glass of Koenig Ludwigs Dunkel.
9. At Neuschwanstein Castle I had a glass of Hofbrauhaus Munchen Helles.
10. Lowenbrau Pils draft.
11. (See photo) My beer-drinking highlight- in the beer garden of the Englischer Garten in Munich a glass of Hofbrauhaus Munchen Hefe Weisse, with a grosse pretzel.
12. Spaten Pils draft.
13. Lowenbrau Urtyp (old style) from one of those funny bottles with the flip-off top.
14. Rupaner Pils, from Constanz, while on the ferry boat to Constanz.
15. Feldschlossen in Zurich
16. Radeberger at the Frankfurt airport
17. Yuengling in Philadelphia (does this count?)

MC, you may hate me for this, but I went to the Hofbrauhaus in Munich, the Mecca of beer, and walked through it like a tourist and took pictures but didn't have a beer. I hope I made up for this later by my beer and giant pretzel in the beer garden. It was a family situation and moderation was required.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

The nadir

At some point, I keep telling myself, the Giants will "bottom out." Once they hit that bottom, I reason, they will start to climb out of the slump and start winning. I have decided to declare this evening's game "the nadir" so that the team will end its losing ways and rediscover its winning ways. After all, getting whipped by a bunch of rookies in Houston is pretty bad. Everyone OK with that?

The Atlanta Braves seem determined to lock up the wild card race as today's win over Arizona gives them an eight-game lead over the Giants. The D-backs have now lost four straight--that has taken a bit of the luster off their seven-game win streak. The Giants are fortunate to be only 2-1/2 back. The good news (I'm always looking for good news) is that even after the poor outing by Madison Bumgarner the team is still second in all of baseball in runs allowed with 450 (the Phillies are the best with 405), just a little better than the third-place Braves (464). The D-backs are fortunate to be where they are as well. They've allowed 556 runs on the season--20th on the list of MLB teams. By any measure--ERA+, FIP, xFIP, WHIP, WAR, QS, BAA, SO--they are a mediocre staff, despite the presence of some fine young talents like Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson. The NL West race is just starting to heat up. C'mon Giants, win some goddamn games and get these pretenders off the top spot!

--M.C.

Through seven

Last night was the 126th game for our beloved and beleaguered club. That means seven innings of the season have been played (7 x 18 = 126). There are two more innings (36 games) left in the season. The first third of the season saw the Giants put out a respectable 10-8, 10-8, and 9-9 for a 29-25 record on May 31st. The Giants were in second place (1/2 game out) to the Diamondbacks at that point. They improved to 10-8, 11-7, and 11-7 to go 32-22 and sit at 61-47 on July 31st. The team was two games up on Arizona, having held as much as a 4-1/2 game lead. The wheels started to come off at the end of the sixth when the Giants were swept in Cincinnati. The seventh inning has been a disaster (6-12) and included losing three of four to two potential playoff opponents. It was capped by a truly wretched effort in Houston last night. The Astros are playing .328 ball!! They are the WORST TEAM IN AMERICA!! Starter Ryan Vogeslong was a little shaky (four walks, two-out RBI hit to the pitcher) but deserved better. Of course "deserved better" is Matt Cain's career motto, and one that Tim Lincecum is learning more about every day.

Injuries have finally taken their toll on the team. That's the bad news. The good news is that there is still time to right the ship. The D-backs are only up by 2-1/2 and the Giants see them six more times. There are 21 home games left on the schedule. A little good health, a little good luck, they could finish strong and win the West. The current version of the team is not going to do anything. They've got to get Sergio Romo, Brian Wilson, and Jonathan Sanchez back. They'll need contributions from the likes of Carlos Beltran, Cody Ross, and Aubrey Huff. They'll have to figure out how to score a few more runs. You do actually have to score SOME RUNS to win in baseball. The outstanding pitching means you don't have to score a lot--just some. If the Giants do make the playoffs with this "offense" they will be the lowest-scoring team ever to do so. Regardless of baseball history, Pythagorean records, or personal belief in the importance of run scoring vs. run prevention, one thing is certain: no team ever won by being shut out.

--M.C.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Screwed Tim

Yeah, OK, he did put a couple pitches on a tee for Chipper Jones. One of which resulted in yet another gut wrenching loss to the Atlanta Braves. Maybe, Tim likes guys that are named after gardening tools. But BESIDES that, Tim Lincecum (11-10) was his usual masterful self :

7 innings... 5 hits (3 xbh!)... 1 run ...2 walks ....7 strike outs

That is a very nifty 68 game score, which is like the fourth time out of the last 5 starts with the same game score (and the fifth start was an 80!). I don't really know if that means much but it seemed like a neat statistical booboo. Tim deserved to win, he got hosed by a terrible offense, bbblah bblah BLAH! I have written this too many times for a lifetime, let alone a season.

I shall say nothing about the offense...except to mention that I noticed around the fifth or sixth inning that I was no longer even hoping for a hit...Heaven forbid, that would be asking too much of these frigging millionaires. I was just hoping they would have a good at bat. You know, foul a few off, take a close one or two. That's all I wanted. I was really rooting for them.

They didn't come close.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Stopper!

I'm not going to let an ugly 9th inning ruin a lovely start by the ever-stalwart Matt Cain. I'm going to fret a bit about the error by Orlando Cabrera on a play that should have ended things. Young stud Brandon Crawford has ruined me. I can no longer look at a Giants shortstop without comparing him to what we saw from the rookie. I almost don't care if he can't hit. I know that's a bit of blasphemy in the Bochiverse. Things aren't much different in the Sabeanisphere where Veteran Savvy Clutchness is valued to the point of fetishism. Orlando has the rings, baby. The proof that his VSC runneth over. Edgar Renteria is living proof that VSC matters when things matter most, and there's just no winning that argument. But I sure hope OC sits a bit when BC comes back in September. I'm glad Bochy gave Dan Runzler a shot to finish a 7-1 game even though it didn't work out well for him. With Jonathan Sanchez and Sergio Romo on the DL the team needs a fresh arm or two. I think Runzie is the man. Runz-feld, bringin' shock & awe! The Runzinator--stops runs before they start! Speaking of runs, I'm glad the Giants scored a lot of them.

Matt Cain snaps a personal losing streak and notches double digits in wins for the third season in a row. He ties Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels for the NL lead with 20 quality starts. Giants gain a game as the D-Backs lost in Philadelphia.  Big Tim Timmy Jim gets the ball tomorrow as the Giants battle for a split.

--M.C.

Post-Op Report: Zo Doing Well!!!!!

Akemi's report on Zo is good - that is the best news!!!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Giants' Make Things Even More Difficult

On the day that our beloved Zo-meister is in for his second surgery (supposedly, much shorter & easier than the last one - hopefully, he's doing REALLY well), the latest from Atlanta, per Baggerly:

- Nate Schierholtz may have broken his foot & is about to have an X-ray.

- Jeff Keppinger is having an MRI on his wrist.

- Carlos Beltran is finally on the DL.

- His replacement ... Miguel Tejada.

OK, we've finally leveled the playing field & given the Braves half a chance. Now, let's go & beat them anyway! GO GIANTS!!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

That's not the formula

Great start. Gift runs. Homer or two. Lights-out bullpen. That's the formula. In a rational universe, even Brian Wilson has a meltdown now and then. In my universe, it is an unthinkable affront to the baseball gods. Thou shalt not tinker with the formula! I should be raging. I should be breaking things. But there are forty baseball games remaining and I just can't get worked up enough. Get 'em tomorrow, eh?

--M.C.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Second Coming

Brandon Belt "served notice" today with two impressive home runs in consecutive at-bats. A very long one to center off Chris Volstad and a pull shot off tough lefty Mike Dunn. Much howling and hand-wringing ensued when the youngster was demoted, so today's display ought to make folks happy. Save us, O Baby Giraffe! The Giants scored all their runs with the big fly. Cody Ross spoiled things with a two-run homer, ruining the record streak of solo shots, but Nate Schierholtz, who hit the ball hard three times, smoked one and then Belt kept the new streak going with his two. Ryan Vogelsong was the story, though, with another fine start. He ran out of gas with two out in the 8th inning, but otherwise was on top of his game. He looks like Matt Cain out there with his fastball command and his ability to throw the curve ball for strikes in hitters counts. What fun it was to watch him do his thing! It has been a while since the Giants won a series and this writer has been a little cranky about it. Apparently both Sergio Romo and Brian Wilson were unavailable so Bochy had Santiago Casilla bat in the top of the 9th and then go out to close it. The plate appearance was his first and he cowered in the rear corner of the box but still managed to look at ball four. He got the first two guys in the bottom of the inning but needed help for the third out. Jeremy Affeldt took his shot and issued a walk, so Ramon Ramirez got the call and he carved out a five-pitch strikeout for the save.

The recent run of poor play by the Giants dropped them two games behind Arizona in the West and 4-1/2 back of wild-card leaders Atlanta. The Giants open a four-game set tomorrow at Turner Field and get the D-backs at home for three on Labor Day weekend. The final quarter of the season will be very interesting for the defending champs. August has been a cruel month with 45 runs allowed (and only 34 runs scored) in the 13 games. The 5-8 record is not surprising. Barry Zito sprained his ankle in a rehab start--no more "phantom injury" talk--so Jonathan Sanchez is the lefty on the spot. After the day off, the Giants went on the road and had three good starts, all of them winnable games. Now the southpaws have to hold up their end of the ro' and get that five-man groove-thing going again. A spark from the rookie, some freshness back in the swings of guys like Nate and Cody, a run of quality starts, and the month looks a lot better. Another 2010 post-season re-match coming up!

--M.C.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Stretchy Tim

Thanks to my good Pirate friend, David, I am finally getting to watch live video coverage of the Giants' games this week. ( I could tell you how but I would have to kill you.) As you all know, this has been a not so enjoyable few days...so getting to see it has been a bit of a mixed blessing. NOT TONIGHT! I got to see my boy, Tim Lincecum (11-9) lead his staggering Giants past the Marlins, 3-0 tonight.

One of the first things I SAW tonight was that The Freak threw every single pitch, all 119 of them, out of the stretch position. It is well documented that when Tim feels out of rhythm he will often throw from the stretch with no one on, but I can't ever remember him doing that from pitch #1 on. Do you think it was a way to conserve strength in the heat? Anybody hear about it in the post game rap? What the hell, it worked!

7 innings 2 singles ZERO runs 3 walks (1 HBP) and...10 strikeouts

That is a blistering 80 game score. He wasn't perfect...for example starting only 14 of the 27 hitters faced with strikes and letting that pitch count soar early...but, DAMN, he was just what this doctor ordered. And he LOOKED SO GOOD doing it!

Other Freaky factoids include:

* Tim lowered his league-leading road ERA to 2.08
* He has given up one run or less in six of his last seven starts overall
* His ERA since the All-Star break is 1.11

I suppose other people did good things, too...right? We scored after all. Maybe a save? Musta been one. Sorry, I'll leave that for the hecklers. Right now I'm going to bed and dream of flying hair, a twisting torso, and darting pitches.

No wind ups, though.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Giants continue to underwhelm

Last year the Giants were 13-15 in August. This year they are 3-8. Going 10-7 from this point forward for the rest of the month and finishing 13-15 would be something. Whatever it is the Giants are playing right now, it ain't in the "How to Defend a Championship" manual. So I'm ready for something. Not quite sure what. A few wins, perhaps. Thumping on some piece-of-shit nowhere ball club would be a start. Hey, I'm a patient guy. I waited many years for a championship team, so I know all about patience. I realize Arizona's lead is small, there is plenty of baseball left, even two series with the damn Diamondbacks! I get it. But this is some seriously ugly shit. The team is wasting good starts. They have no chance when there is a poor start. This we know. So they have to be really good at winning the close ones. This they have been. So this underwhelming stretch of play we've been treated to is especially hard to enjoy. This team has a lot of expectations. The fans--quite reasonably, I should add--anticipate a spirited defense of the title. Pry that fucking trophy from our "cold, dead hands" and all, not to go too Hestonian on ya. Don't you think so? Don't you feel like this run here right now and in the next few years with Tim & Matt & MadBum & Buster & Pablo & Brian is "the window" that every franchises chases? This team has a pitching staff that can lock down the NL West in a few weeks. Once Jonathan Sanchez gets his groove back they will be even more formidable. They, unfortunately, can't do it alone. They have to have some guys who can hit and catch and throw. And score some damn runs. And those guys need to get it going. 43 more chances, fellas--it ain't fookin' April anymore.

--M.C.



Thursday, August 11, 2011

Should We Have Tried to Get Ubaldo Jimenez?

After the sorry post-trade deadline performances of Barry Zito & Jonathan Sanchez, I've started reconsidering a fleeting thought that occurred to me before the deadline. Using the premise that 'you can never have too much pitching', I thought ... hmmm ... what about Ubaldo Jimenez? Would the Rockies have ever traded with us? Bad offense is something that we have patched over for a while now. An unreliable 5th starter is a bigger problem.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Run support!

Madison Bumgarner pitched beautifully and the Giants won for only the third time in their last 12 games. I imagine MadBum had to leave due to the long waits between innings, what with the Giants racking up the runs this evening, must have been difficult for him. Here's the list of runs scored by the Giants in all of the young lefty's starts this season:

1, 1, 5, 1, 0, 0, 3, 4, 3, 6, 7, 1, 0, 5, 2, 3, 4, 6, 6, 5, 2, 2, 0, and 6.

That's 24 starts and 73 runs, or 3.04 per game. The team has scored 405 runs in 117 games or 3.46 per game. It's not like he's being singled out with offensive offensiveness. The Giants spread the love around and hit like crap no matter who is on the mound. Tonight, though, the team found the bag of missing hometown mojo and were overcome with a desire to clog up the bases. I'm not sure what to think. I just want them to keep it going. A win tomorrow afternoon means a 4-6 homestand.

Here's something I like:









That's August for Aubrey Huff. With three hits and a home run tonight that's 11 hits in nine games. That
 4-1-3-2 line pushes his BA to .249! Come back to the happy time, Aubrey Huff, Aubrey Huff.

--M.C.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Nope. Not tonight.

OK, here's the deal: I'm not writing about this game. I mean, what's to say? Giants get shut out? Again? (That's the third time in the last nine games.) You want me to write about that?

No. I won't. And you can't make me.

Ryan Vogelsong gives up more than four runs for the first time since May 3rd in New York. You see? Another reason not to write about this game.

--M.C.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Good and Lucky Tim




I'm really not sure what attitude to open this post with...

sarcastic - "Tim Lincecum didn't throw a shut out today and the GIANTS STILL WON! Go figure."

shocked - "Thirteen hits total, four by Jeff Keppinger, a catcher(gasp) not named Buster (Chris Stewart) contributing a ton...in other words: a real offense."

So, I will just fall back on fecking grateful - "Thank Willie! We beat the damn Phillies, 3-1, avoiding the sweep and staying barely atop the NL West."

Lincecum (10-9) didn't really pitch much better than mates Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, but he comes away with the victory. Displaying that amazing ability to avoid big hits, Tim (game score 68) limited the impressive Phillies to nothing but singles:

7.2 innings 7 hits 1 run 1 walk 5 strikeouts

The best part of Tim's effort was that wonderful finish he so often displays, especially when a rare visit from the Run Fairy has graced our presence. Most of the hits came in the first few innings and his velocity actually hit a game high in the eighth inning. An interesting moment came when Tim got whacked by Chase Utley's bat on a foul tip. You don't see that too often...plus it was refreshing to see the two gentlemen act so classy out near the mound.

Special Tip o' the Hat to newbie Keppinger. A four hit day is something special. Runner-up: Aubrey Huff's two walks were like a breath of fresh air.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Matt Cain gives up runs

06 August 2011

To: Timothy LeRoy Lincecum, #55

From: Giants Management

Re: Sunday's game vs. Philadelphia



Throw a shutout.


And hope for the best.




--M.C.



p.s. Matt Cain has thrown 15 innings against the Phillies in 2011 and allowed seven hits and three runs, only one of them earned. He's walked three and struck out nine. His Game Scores were 67 and 76. He gets assigned a win and a loss for his efforts.

Phillies take their away series (and season series) against the Giants. Philadelphia has dominated on both sides of the ball in San Francisco, scoring 14 runs and giving up only three.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Attention Giants: plan not working

'Pitch like hell and hope you hit enough' was the mantra I was brainwashed into believing. Giants baseball is close, low-scoring games that the good guys pull out at the end because of superior superiority. And awesomeness. Don't forget the awesomeness. Awesome awesomeness, in fact. But that hasn't been working lately. They haven't done the 'pitch like hell part.' Well, some. But not every day. Too many other guys on too many other teams pitched better. And 'hit enough' hasn't happened since 2007 or something. The Giants, as a franchise, stopped hitting in the middle of the decade. I can't remember the exact date, somewhere at the convergence of Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Bruce Bochy. It's been pitching, pitching, pitching since then. OK, some defense and some big hits. But mostly it's about arms. Arma virumque cano and all that. (Vergil, you ignorant gobshites.) Like I said, there's a problem in the execution department. The theory is great. I'm down with the theory. I get the whole Pythagorean Runs thing. 'Runs prevented' is more important than 'runs scored.' Hey, I'm on board. You're preachin' to the fookin' choir here, laddie bucks. But ever since this team pulled in to Cincinnati on July 29th they have played some piss-poor ball. Now I understand that teams have slumps and whatnot, but you don't defend a title by watching the other team score. Or watching the scoreboard. C'mon Giants, win some goddamn games.

--M.C.

Gee, that was fun

The Giants scored eight runs on Wednesday but were soon cured of any notion of a resurgent offense by having to face Cliff Lee on Thursday. We often say around here that the Giants can make any pitcher look like Cy Young, and this past week we've seen Mike Leake, Johnny Cueto, Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, and now Lee look like Cy Young. At least in Lee's case you know he's really good--that was his fifth shutout this season. Madison Bumgarner had a rocky start, gave up back-to-back solo shots, and then kicked ass for the rest of the game. Sorry MadBum, you lose. The Giants can't afford to fall behind against most pitchers and certainly can't afford to fall behind against good pitchers. Losing six of seven will put a damper on any fan's spirits, but the Giants made sure to rub salt in the wound by announcing that Brandon Belt will be sent down and Mark DeRosa re-activated. I can understand the rook getting demoted. I'm OK with it--rookies get demoted all the time. He needs to play every day and get lots of reps at the plate. The roster will expand in September and both the Brandons will be back. But making a spot for DeRosa? Seriously? The guy has nothing left. It's not his fault--age and injuries have robbed him of what was left of his baseball skills. He can't do what the team signed him to do and should be released. I have no ill will here. DeRosa seems like a good guy and would have been a useful player if healthy. But the $12M is a sunk cost, like Miguel Tejada. Move on.

--M.C.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Streaks snapped

The Vogelstory has been one of the best of the 2011 season and one of the best SF Giants stories ever. He's the poster boy for perseverance and a reminder that drive and desire can overcome even the longest odds. You can teach an old dog new tricks--at 34 years of age Ryan Vogelsong has learned how to be a star in the major leagues. (Eat shit, Keith Olbermann.) The Giants improve to 12-6 in Vogelstarts and shake off the pesky Diamondbacks for at least another day. This is a much better club than most of us expected. I like the way they show patience and discipline at the plate and force pitchers to come in. Today they worked Vogie just like they worked Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. Fortunately the bats finally came alive with the FNGs contributing six hits, four runs, and four RBI. It is nice to see Carlos Beltran swinging the bat well, he makes a fabulous 3-4 combo with Pablo Sandoval. Let's hope they keep getting some help from the rest of the lineup. A few more runs last night and perhaps Tim's start isn't wasted and the Giants are two up and not just one. But that's milk spilled under the bridge, eh?

Philadelphia comes to town for four big ones. Roy Halladay pitched today and so once again the Giants will miss the ├╝ber-ace. Tomorrow night is the southpaw showdown with Cliff Lee and Madison Bumgarner. Rookie Vance Worley threw a complete game against the Giants last time and will face the re-activated Jonathan Sanchez on Friday night. He has his own colorful history against these Phillies. Speaking of history, the NLCS Game Three re-match of Cole Hamels and Matt Cain happens Saturday afternoon. The final game features another re-activated pitcher, this time Roy Oswalt. He has the luck of the draw and gets Big Time Timmy Jim in what I predict will be an epic Freak-on.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.


p.s. Giants snap the five-game losing streak and they snap the "can't score more than six runs at home" streak as well.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Waste of Tim

The Giants offensive woes continue and what should have been a good pitchers duel decayed into a reptilian lovefest, with Arizona taking the second game of this big series 6-1. Playing with some luck and tons of energy, the revitalized Snakes join us as leaders in the NL West, but they clearly have the lead in the "mo" department. Good thing it is August. The race is on! Come on, you had to know it wasn't going to easy.

Of course, when Tim Lincecum (9-9) pitches like this it should be easy to win. Jeesh, he only gave up hits in one of the seven innings he worked. Although he was a bit wild, his velocity and movement were in top form. The numbers are solid but one slip up blew it (game score 68):

7 innings 3 hits 2 runs 3 walks 8 strikeouts

I've already heard about Tim's "one mistake" six times in the post game blabber. I didn't think it was a bad pitch at all... it just happened to be in some unknown minor leaguers happy place. Can you imagine the boost it must be to have some kid (and, no, I am not going to mention his name) get a hit like that? Actually, I guess we know pretty much how sweet that can be....gad zooks I miss Buster!

I'm going to break my rule of not speaking of the offense to say:
1. It probably is going to be a lot of fun watching Beltran. He didn't light up the boxscore tonight but every at bat was a liner and a good at bat. He's good...not worth half what we paid, but good.
2. Any residual enjoyment from watching Beltran was quickly evaporated by suffering through Nate Schierholtz tonight. He clearly needs time off but more importantly, his everyday status must be reconsidered. I have never been sold on Nate. A good player but corner outfielders MUST hit MUCH. Nate hits SOME.

One quick note for those of you that want to panic (and I know you are out there): The last time we had a five game losing streak we followed it with seven victories in a row. Think we can do that again?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ugliest

The Diamondbacks have decided to make it a race. The Giants are now officially in a funk with a four-game losing streak. The sixth inning inning of the season (Sunday's loss in Cincinnati was game 108) saw the Giants toss away the mo' they had so brilliantly seized in Philadelphia. Inning number seven in San Francisco kept the ugliness alive as Matt Cain surrendered five runs. Giants pitchers allowed twenty runs in three games against the Reds. Cain had some bad luck on ground balls and got squeezed at home plate a few times, but he also made some poor pitches. The one to Ryan Roberts that drove in the second run was particularly frustrating with two strikes. An out there could have kept the wheels on the damn wagon. Arizona got a great start from Ian Kennedy--he allowed only six hits. It all started so well with Cain striking out Justin Upton to end the first and leadoff hitter Cody Ross belting a home run to open the bottom of the inning.  I was enjoying a bit of a "Bruce Bochy is a lineup genius" moment and thought maybe Matty could give the team seven strong with at least a shot to win. It was the fifth time in 23 starts that the big fella has given up five or more runs. Rotten timing for the club. Arizona won for only the third time in 10 games against the Giants this season. The 2010 Giants went 13-15 in August after a sizzling 20-8 July and before an historic 18-8 September in which they allowed only 50 runs. The 2011 team has been steady but not spectacular. The innings go 10-8, 10-8, 9-9, 10-8, 11-7, 11-7 (and 0-1). The months, after an 0-1 March, go 13-12, 16-12, 17-11, 15-11. After the loss tonight they are only one game up (61-48) on Arizona (60-49).

Let's see what Big Time Timmy Jim has going tomorrow because there's no joy in Mudville tonight.

--M.C.