Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Familiar Tim

Start #11:   Loss (2-6)    7 innings  4 hits   1 earned run   5 walks    6 strikeouts

Everybody knows that Tim Lincecum's 2012 starts have generally meant a loss for the Giants and tonight's 4-1 loss to Arizona is more of the same. He certainly didn't give this one away, more like he was just barely out-pitched, but that makes it 2-9.  Not good, but did you know this nasty trend dates back to last year and it stands at 3-14?  Yikes!

Speaking of last year, this game must have reminded Timmeh of his 2011 ordeal.  Remember, he received the least run support last year in all of baseball.  Also, it was a QUALITY START!!  Something that used to be a Lincecum standard.  Also, he held the snakes to 0-5 with RISP ... that is a very good sign.  He wasn't sharp, but he was familiar and that feels good. 

The good:  Melky's 51st hit in the month!!  Absolutely amazing ... the last time anyone got fifty hits in a month was Carl Crawford in August 2007.  I don't usually mention the other team much but you have to give some props to the Arizona starter, Ian Kennedy (another beleaguered ace).  He completely shut down the hottest hitters in our order.  I also have to give credit to snakes' Gerardo Parra; his defense had a big impact on the outcome.

The bad:  Some really weak relief pitching by Steve Edlefsen.  I can't see him staying much longer ... isn't it time for Heath Embree?  Another bad milestone:  Brandon Belt has gone 100 AB's without a homer.

Oh yeah,  that's the fourth time we have failed to finish off a sweep this year.  Does that mean anything?

Slick Vogie

Ryan Vogelsong wriggled his way out of jams all night long and the Giants prevailed over the Diamondbacks. He walked three guys and now has 26 in his nine starts (61 IP, 3.8 BB/9). He had a career-low 3.1/9 last season, and one has to think that was a big part of his turnaround. Throw in the five hits and a hit batter and there were red-clads all over the place. But Vogie got the big outs when he needed to and gave the team another superb start (Game Score 66). He racked up eight strikeouts, getting Justin Upton three times, bringing his total to 46 so far this year. That's 6.8/9, just shy of his career-high of 7.0/9 from 2011. Take a look at his innings pitched per start: 6-1/3, 7, 6, 7, 7-1/3, 7, 7, 6-1/3, 7. And his runs allowed: 2, 3, 4, 2, 1, 1, 0, 3, 1. There was a lot of pre-season talk that Vogie could not sustain his success, but I think he's answered his critics. FanGraphs gave him a rating of 2.4 WAR for last season and gives him a 0.8 so far for 2012.

The Giants got to young right-hander Bryan Shaw in the bottom of the 8th. Shaw is from Livermore and went to Long Beach State. It was an innocent little rally with a walk from Ryan Theriot and a hit from Melky Cabrera to start it, but a sacrifice fly from Buster Posey, a hit from Angel Pagan, and a beat-out-the-DP grounder from Joaquin Arias and there was a win. Cabrera now leads the NL in batting average. Excellent relief from Clay Hensley (another good Sabean pickup) and Santiago Casilla sealed the deal. NO ERRORS last night and some fine play at short by Brandon Crawford also contributed. This team is right on the edge of putting it together--if they can keep catching the ball they can take advantage of their great pitching and win close games. The biggest question mark of the year--Tim Lincecum--goes tonight with a chance for a sweep. When he turns it around and the lineup gets Pablo Sandoval back, look out NL West.



Monday, May 28, 2012

Zito in command

Barry Zito rebounded from a wretched start last week in Milwaukee to shut down Arizona at home today. It was his sixth "quality start" (out of ten) on the young season. By way of comparison, Tim Lincecum has one in his ten starts. That's why I love baseball--shit happens that makes no sense. But today is about Barry, not Timmy. He had command of all his pitches and he and Hector Sanchez mixed it up all afternoon and kept the Diamondbacks from a big inning. The Giants put up a crooked number right away on Trevor Cahill and that seems to be a tonic for the team as they tend to win when they score first. Brandon Belt got the big blow, a triple that drove in run with two outs, and we have to hope it is a sign of things to come. The lineup was without Buster Posey and that meant someone in the middle had to get a big hit. Gregor Blanco continues to impress and Angel Pagan is producing consistently after his rough start. The offense is showing some real life, and getting Pablo Sandoval back could be a huge boost. They aren't going to pound the cover off the ball, but they look like they can actually put together a rally and plate some runners. They scored their 200th run of the season (in 49 games) which puts them squarely in the middle of the NL pack. FanGraphs rates the offense as 11th in wOBA (.308) but 7th in wRC+ (93), while B-R says that their .705 OPS (11th) rates a 101 OPS+ (3rd). In other words, the raw numbers are suppressed a bit by playing in AT&T Park, but compare favorably to the league average. Ryan Vogelsong goes tomorrow night--he might be the best "fifth starter" in the league.



Sunday, May 27, 2012

M.C. squared

A little uncharacteristic for Matt Cain today, with high walks (three) and low strikeouts (four). He seemed to run out of gas in the 7th, also uncharacteristic for the big fella. It was interesting that Ol' Boch came and got him after Jose Reyes made it 3-2 and did not let him finish the inning even though he had two outs. We've seen the skipper push the envelope a bit with his starters lately, the tactic sometimes working and sometimes not. This time the call went to Sergio Romo and he was up to the task and struck out Omar Infante. The second run was ruled unearned as an extra base was gained on the no-excuse-for-it Angel Pagan error. Our new center fielder is a package deal--he made a real nice play to take away a hit earlier in the game, and also made a good adjustment on a tricky high fly by Giancarlo Stanton to end a threat the inning before. The Giants kept Stanton in the yard and were lucky to get hurt no worse than two walks and a run scored. It was another great job (Game Score 59) by Matty against a potent lineup. After ten starts in 2012, Cain's average line is 7.1 IP, 5.3 H, 2.3 R, 0.6 HR, 1.2 BB, 6.0 K, with an Average Game Score of 63 (his career average is 57). I like it. Speaking of what I like, how about Melky Cabrera? Four hits including a homer, two steals, and all three of the team's runs scored. He was ninety feet from a fourth run in the 8th but Buster Posey couldn't get the two-out knock. He also made a couple of nice plays in left field. That's one hell of an M.C. 1-2 punch. Great relief pitching preserved the win for Cainer, his fifth. Santiago Casilla showed some moxie with a four-out save. In close games, moxie is sometimes the difference, don't you think?


p.s. Boch made another unusual move today, trying a suicide squeeze in the 9th with one out and getting burned on a pitch-out. He doesn't use that play very much. Brandon Belt, the previous batter, needed to get the RBI and took a called third strike. That's a situation where you have to swing the bat and put the ball in play. He's still young--it was only his 101st big league game today and his 320th PA.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Another Heart-breaking Tim

Start #10 :   Loss  (2-5)    6 hits ( two HR's )    6 runs    4 walks    5 strikeouts

The Freakish Demise continues with yet another losing effort, 7-6 to the Marlins.  This marks the eighth Giants loss in Tim Lincecum's ten 2012 starts, a trend that we all know means the end of our chances.  This well deserved loss is especially irksome due to its remarkable resemblance to a previous horrible performance.  If he is going to suck, at least he should do it differently each time.  No repeats.

Both tonight and that early May loss to the doggers featured some classic Lincecum moments; good velocity and big pitches executed in big situations.  Thrilling stuff that gave one hope.  But then that flush and remembrance of the glory years was vanquished in a broken heartbeat.  A big inning. ( Early this season they came in the first, now its at the end.  Pick your poison? ) The final similarity between start #7 and start #10 is the most sickening:  a huge hit to one of the weakest hitters in the game.  This time is was a crappy breaking ball to a .104 hitter ( Chris Coghlan ) which resulted in the game breaking three run homer.  I know we battled back and an ugly seventh run was the de-facto difference, but we all know that Tim bears the load of this loss.  Again.

The good:  The top of the order (Gregor Blanco, Brandon Crawford, and Melky Cabrera ) was wonderful.  We actually look like a better offensive team than last year ... and that's with out the Panda!

The bad:  Some base running gaffes but the real bad continues to be all Tim.  No new answers, just more questions.  Patience is wearing thin.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hit happy in Miami

Ryan Vogelsong looks like he wants to be Matt Cain, and I can't argue with that. Another superb start by the righty kept the Giants in the game until they improbably broke it open against Anibal Sanchez in the 6th inning. Vogie put guys on (7 hits, 3 walks) but limited the damage with some big pitches. The solo bomb by Giancarlo Stanton was a little scary, but the young slugger struck out with a man on and fouled out with two on the next two times up. Vogie also induced outs from Hanley Ramirez in his first two at-bats, both times with Omar Infante on base in front of him. The skipper tried to tack on another inning, but the Marlins rallied in the 7th, scoring runs off Clay Hensley and Jeremy Affeldt (both charged to Vogelsong). Otherwise it was a beat-down, one the Giants really needed. The lineup strung together hits, ran like the wind, and took advantage of chances to pile up fourteen big ones for the first double-digit score of the season. FNGs Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan were the heroes, going a combined 5-for-10 with 4 runs and 8 RBI. Cabrera is now hitting .362! When you get a late-inning rally involving Emmanuel Burriss, Brett Pill, and Brandon Crawford, you know it is a good night. Let's hope this enjoyable stretch of opposite-field hitting and patience at the plate continues for the rest of the series.



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

No walks, no homers

Matt Cain is not used to pitching with a lead. With any run support, really. Since Ryan Vogelsong appears to be taking over the He Who Gets Cained Award, the team is now pushing runs across the plate when Matt pitches. And the big fella is having a little trouble with it. Eleven hits and four runs kind of trouble, and the seven extra-base hits were a career high. But ZERO walks and ZERO home runs helps a hell of a lot. Last week against the Cardinals he allowed a walk and a homer and four runs on eight hits, but the Giants scored seven runs. Two starts, two victories. What's going on? Buster Posey is going on, that's for sure, with nine hits (three doubles and two homers) in his last six games, with the team winning four. Without Pablo Sandoval, they need big hits from no. 28, and he sure did that last night. The home run off the facing of the upper deck in center field was a monster. The TV guys said 438 feet but it had to be further than that. Regardless, it was 'tatered, and even the usually self-effacing Posey said after the game he "got all of it." Melky Cabrera gets a nod for a hit, a walk, two runs scored, and an Olympian throw from left field to nail Norichika Aoki at home in the first inning. Sweet sweep tag by our whole and healthy catcher, too. Games like this make you feel good. Be nice to pick up a game or two on LA, who won last night with a huge comeback on the road. Thirty wins is the most in the majors, as is their seven-game lead.



Monday, May 21, 2012

Took a couple of tries . . .

 . . . but they finally got it right. Giants win a "gut check game" (Krukow's words) in the 14th with a big fly from Hector Sanchez and six outs from Santiago Casilla. Madison Bumgarner dominated the Brewers until two outs in the 8th when Ryan Braun clobbered a fat pitch on a 1-2 count that tied the game. The knives will be out for Ol' Boch who decided to stick with his young ace when he had Sergio Romo ready to go, but I'm not complaining. It was a ballsy move to show confidence in the lefty, he just didn't execute. Got the first two strikes but couldn't keep the breaking ball down and in, and the reigning MVP punished it. It was supposed to be, in Krukovian, a "back foot slider," but wound up looking like BP. Hey, this is the big leagues. Mistakes hurt you. Bumgarner will be a better man for it. I remember thinking at that point that the skipper was taking a big risk, but I wasn't screaming "put in Romo" at the TV. I was rolling with it, betting with the shooter, going with the flow, digging the adrenaline rush. The crash sucked, but the bhoyos had me back and won it anyway. Four runs on two homers and 6-1/3 scoreless by the 'pen. Not bad, lads, not bad at all.



p.s. Duty calls tomorrow and I'll miss Matty's start.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Clocked Tim

Start #9:   Loss  (2-4)   4 innings    5 hits   4 runs    3 walks   5 strikeouts

 Tim Lincecum continued his mastery of mediocrity by failing to secure the series sweep and letting the A's defeat our boys, 6-2.  The rather painful 90 pitch performance was cut short by an incident that actually looked quite painful; a collision at home plate in which Timmeh got his clock cleaned.  Besides slamming the ground hard (luckily they say he's fine); the ball popped out and the fourth run of the inning scored on a wild pitch.  It was hard not to flash on last year and Buster's ordeal.  Thankfully, Tim is OK.  Well, except for the fact that he's our fifth best starter now.  Shit, I can't believe I just wrote that.

Good stuff:  Melky continues his multi-hit game blitzkrieg with FOUR HITS today. You don't see that too often.  Another error free game, we seem to be stabilizing in that regard.

Bad stuff:  I guess we had to pay some price for the amazing run of walks (33 in previous 5 games) we have enjoyed this week.  Well, it came today ... only two walks but that went along with EIGHT strikeouts LOOKING. Brandon Belt did it three times.  Oh well, perhaps that comes with the new patience at the plate we have seen.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Giants double up Athletics

Friday night's ugly win was as much about the A's generosity (nine walks), as the Giants prowess with the two-bagger (Crawford, Pagan, and HSanchez). Steve Edlefsen poured gasoline on Barry Zito's 5-1/3 IP, but with an 8-1 lead it held up, thanks to a resurgent Jeremy Affeldt and an unhittable Sergio Romo. Javier Lopez delivered a similarly beautiful inning today in relief of the brilliant Ryan Vogelsong (seven innings, one hit, one walk, five strikeouts, Game Score 79). It was an agonizing day at the plate as the Giants wasted opportunities against Tyson Ross and his mates by hitting into four double plays. It all fell apart for Oakland in the 7th when Vogie was controversially awarded first base on an apparent HBP. It looked to me like the ball did indeed hit him in the chest, but I also heard what sounded like the ball coming off the bat (he was pulling back from a bunt attempt). Bob Melvin was tossed later when the inning imploded after Buster Posey's booming double and the red-hot Angel Pagan's two-run single. Buster's ball was a homer in most yards--it bounced in front of the track in CF and caromed off the bricks. It almost looked like the bleacher bums interfered with it, costing Buster a base and the team a run. Fortunately Pagan's two-out hit made it moot. The Giants got two double plays themselves, one in the 9th to help Clay Hensley finish it. Vogelsong has seven starts and he's gone at least six innings in all of them. He has four starts in May, going at least seven each time and giving up only three runs total. Not bad for a number five starter. Tomorrow the Giants number one guy gets a shot at the sweep. C'mon, Timmy! Find your inner Freak!



Thursday, May 17, 2012

Giants out-slug Cards

No, really. I mean, the Cardinals hit homers and stuff, but the Giants got more stuff and wound up winning. It helps when the other team gives up walks and, uh, errors. We are 2012 Giants fans, this we know only too well. Matt Cain got battered (eight hits, a walk, four runs) but came away with a 'W' for six innings of work (six strikeouts, Game Score 45). That's two anomalous events--the Giants scoring in four different innings and Matt Cain getting a 'W'. I'm still shaking my head over it. I didn't get to watch, so I don't know what was up with Matty today, probably his breaking ball. Still, when the stopper throws his second-worst start of the year against the defending champs and the team wins anyway, that's a good day. Nice to see The Brandons delivering some big hits, and Angel Pagan looking more like the hitter we expected (.296/.335/.454). Melky Cabrera is in a bit of a funk, only one hit in five tries today, but what's worse is the quick outs (only 11 total pitches). Heck, even MannyB chipped in an RBI with a sac fly. Like I said, a good day.



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Two down, seven to go

The San Francisco Giants finish their second inning of 2012 with another 9-9 record, putting them at .500 (18-18) for the season. Seven-ninths of the season remains, and that's a good thing. The first two-ninths were damn ugly. The Giants are lucky to be even, and it is once again the result of excellent pitching. Take a look at Obsessive Giants Compulsive--there's a nice breakdown of the April starts. (Matt Cain is a beast, but we knew that.) May (6-8) has not been as kind as April (12-10), but we know the team will live and die with starting pitching. That's reason for confidence going forward, despite, of course, reason #1 to be a little freaked out:

1. Tim Lincecum

Who are we seeing out there? It looks like Tim, sorta. I think he has an evil, twisted half-brother named Loki LeRoy Lincecum. LLL exists to tease us with glimpses of World Champion Cy Tim and then parade a substandard Tim before us and subject him to ghastly scenes. Real Tim needs to free himself of Loki's cruel curse. Guys have shitty years, even guys like Tim. But they also have crappy starts and finish strong. I'm on the optimist side here. Tim is a great athlete and is as prideful and competitive as anyone in the game. He will figure things out and perform more like Real Tim real soon. And speaking of ghastly, shitty, and crappy, that brings me to item #2 on the list of reasons to be a little freaked out:

2. Fielding

The Giants can't seem to. It is awful to watch. I mean it, I'm in awe of their wretched incompetence. I can't recall such a stretch of poor fielding for many seasons. Perhaps they were this bad a few years back, but I've blotted it out. This is stuff worthy of blotter--hey, it worked for Dock Ellis. Seriously, this is one stink-o outfit with the glove, something I'm quite surprised by. I thought for a while it was FNGs not used to playing together, too many rooks, Buster's long layoff, that is, it would improve with time. It has not. They still suck on D. That has to change. A pitching team needs to play well in the field. This lineup, even with a healthy Panda, is challenged enough. The team has to catch the damn ball or they will continue to give away runs.

Those are the biggies. Fix those two and the rest of the problems are just that, problems. #1 and #2 are much bigger than problems--they could doom the season. But the rest of the problems, like #3 the bullpen and #4 injuries, which overlap a bit, aren't so bad. Brian Wilson going down was a big blow, and the 'pen took another hit when Jeremy Affeldt hurt himself and had to go on the DL. Guillermo Mota may not have had impressive stats, but he was tough and smart and sucked up a lot of innings in ugly spots that kept the rest of the guys fresh. Losing him means trial-by-fire rookie rounds, so far not really working. Let's hope we find a guy with the grit and perseverance to embrace mop-up/long relief duties. Things are unsettled, but fixable.

The injury that's hurt the most, of course, is the weird one to Pablo Sandoval. Talk about a curse! The same injury, but in the opposite hand, cutting short a brilliant season and crippling the lineup. What have we done to offend The Baseball Gods? How could this happen twice? The good part is that he is young and determined and will be back later. That will be a big lift. Buster Posey looks like he's still recovering some from his horrible injury last season. I'm glad the Giants are working him at first and giving him off-days with Hector Sanchez. Like Sandoval, Posey is young and determined and I think he will be fully healthy down the stretch.

I have decided not to add a #5, as it is too tired of a topic. We know the offense is bad. Really bad. Like fourth-from-the-bottom runs scored in the NL bad. So I won't mention it.

There's a lot of baseball left to play. The Giants can get better. Two games against the reigning champs are up ahead. They score a hell of a lot of runs, it will be fun to see if Giants pitchers can shut them down.



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Not Yet Tim

Start #8:    ND (2-3)    7 innings    7 hits    4 runs   3 walks    7 strikeouts    

If you are looking for the return of Cy Tim, come back next time.  Tonight, in a sad 5-4 loss to Colorado, it was the 2012 version of Tim Lincecum once again.  Maybe a little more effective, almost "quality", but still far from the Ace that we desperately need.  His pitch count remains ludicrous ( 122 tonight!) and his velocity remains suspect ( lots of 89 mph fastballs).  I'm at a loss ... is it mental or physical?  All I am sure of is that we  probably can't contend if Barry Zito is better than Tim Lincecum.

The Good:   Bases on Balls!!!  We actually got a BOATLOAD of them ( ten for the game ) and without them we didn't stand a chance.  Aubrey Huff's pinch walk to start the three run seventh was a thing of beauty.  We got three in the eighth inning alone ... Think we scored ?

The Bad:  More bad defense!  When will it end?  WILL it end?  The other truly bad aspect of tonight was the injury to Joaquin Arias.  Not that it is serious ... looks like no break ... just that it exposes how thin we are.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Giants even things up

Charlie Culberson replaced Conor Gillaspie in the Giants continuing infielder-go-round saga, and he was a lucky charm as the team played one of its best games of the young season. Lots of hits, a big bomb off a lefty by Brett Pill, a phat QS from Barry-Z, what's to complain about? Melky Cabrera likes the desert--after his four hits today he has 49, good for third, and a .348 average, good for fourth in the league. We don't often see Giants crack the .900 OPS barrier, but the Milkman is sitting on that very figure in the 16th spot in the NL, right behind Pablo Sandoval (.912). He's been a nice addition to the club. Here's a look at his full-time seasonal WAR (Baseball-Reference) numbers:

Year   Age  Tm Lg   G  PA  WAR
2006    21 NYY AL 130 524  2.7
2007    22 NYY AL 150 612  1.3
2008    23 NYY AL 129 453  0.2
2009    24 NYY AL 154 540  0.9
2010    25 ATL NL 147 509 -0.5
2011    26 KCR AL 155 706  4.1
2012    27 SFG NL  33 149  1.5

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/13/2012.

I like the way this is trending. Melky doesn't walk a lot, and doesn't really look to walk, but he does try to get a good pitch to hit and he tries to hit it hard. He seems to square up a lot of balls and gets hits with grounders as well as line drives. He has stretches of bad luck where those balls don't drop for hits, but his approach seems really consistent and he gets a lot of good swings. Let's hope he keeps that up all season long. And speaking of that, let's hope Barry Zito keeps this thing going on all season as well. It ain't pretty, and it is damn agonizing to watch, but outs are outs and the lefty seems to get them with more frequency these days. Ah, .500, it's a good place to be.



Saturday, May 12, 2012

Stopper Cain does it all

Sometimes a guy has to step up and deliver a performance that will lead the team to victory. The Snakes worked Matt Cain hard tonight and forced him to throw a lot of pitches, but he kept the balls in the yard, the runners off the bases, and the runs to a minimum. He struck out eight in his six innings of work and racked up a Game Score of 68 and his second 'W' in seven starts. But it was the two-out, two-RBI double (Matty's second hit of the night) in the top of the 6th that broke the dam and did the damage. When you have the worst run support in the history of baseball, you have to go to extra lengths. Way to go, big guy, way to take care of business! Some disturbing fielding lapses took place, and some quick and ugly PAs as well, but there was enough on the board to keep the bad guys at bay. An insurance run from rookie Brandon Belt (nice-looking triple to right-center) and Mr. Consistency Melky Cabrera (three hits total) had me making joyful noises. It was a night for M.C.'s!

The Giants are a maddening bunch, to be sure. You watch a win like this and think they can do it every night, then they go out there and fall flat. But I'm going to stay positive after the first win of the season in Arizona and the first against them in the last ten tries.



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Heart-breaking Tim

Start #7:   Loss  (2-3)     5 innings   8 hits   4 runs   2 walks   8 strikeouts

This game, a sickening 6-2 loss to the doggers, will unfortunately be remembered for one pitch.  Not just any pitch, mind you ... the worst pitch of Tim Lincecum's wonderful career.  Actually it might qualify as the worst pitch EVER.  Nah, that's harsh. After all, no one died.

It looked so good early.  Not only was Timmeh humming through the first 3 innings with a fastball hitting 94 mph, he got a frigging RBI single and executed a perfect sacrifice bunt! Life was good. Then the wheels came off in the fourth:  three hits in a row for a run, a ridiculous wild pitch, a walk, and then ... the aforementioned atrocity of a pitch: an 0-2 changeup over the heart of the plate. Even the weak Tony Gwynn Jr. saw it for what it was ... a gift.  His three run triple was the death blow to our hopes of a "significant victory."  I know it is early but my heart felt like we really needed this, hence the title of this post.

The Good:  Matt Kemp took an 0-5, including getting K'ed by Tim three times.  Brandon Crawford got a couple hits and didn't make any stupid errors.  Actually, against Billingsly several Giants had long, good at bats. Too bad they were allowed to change pitchers.  Their bullpen schooled us.

The Bad:  Tim dominates this category tonight, however there were some other noteworthy contributors. Our "bottom" bullpen, for example.  What a group of meh.  Oh yeah,  Nate Schierholtz screwed up majorly in a way you don't see too often. Kemp threw behind him at second right before Belt crossed the plate.  Literally cost us a run. Pity it didn't really matter.  We blew early chances and then got blown away late. Bad combination.

Tomorrow will be a tough off day but maybe it is best to take a break.  After all, one day is plenty of time for a heart to heal. I'm sorry to say I know that from experience.  Let's get the snakes this weekend!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pitching, defense, two-run homer

Every time Brett Pill gets up in a game I say "this guy has one job--hit the ball hard off a left-hander." It seems young Mr. Pill took my admonition to heart this evening in Los Angeles, stroking a home run off the previously unbeatable Clayton Kershaw. It was the big blow in the game, and it was the first four-bagger by a Giant since the first of the month. I'm still reeling over the four double plays, the 2-5-3 in the 7th started by Buster Posey and finished with a nice little sell job at first by Brandon Belt was particularly fun. Brandon Crawford and Joaquin Arias made a nice combo over on the left side of the infield--I was happy to see that Bochy went with both Brandons tonight even against the lefty. Belt's scoop on that final DP in the 8th to get Andre Ethier was also a huge play by the rook. He managed to work a walk against Kershaw, and the other Brandon got a base hit. Good move by the manager to count on those guys' gloves and give them a chance to battle a tough pitcher. Ryan Vogelsong did his thing: changing speeds, locating the fastball, inducing grounders, keeping it in the park for a Game Score of 56 and his first 'W' of the season. It's not often the no. 5 matches up the no. 1 and leads his team to a win. Javier Lopez was spectacular, getting four huge outs on only eleven pitches to bail out Vogie and hand off an easy save to Santiago Casilla.

Wow, what a win! The Giants needed to show they could play good ball in a big game especially after playing so poorly the night before. But they stepped up and beat the ace and have a chance to take the series. Let's hope The Freak smells Dodger blood and goes for the kill tomorrow.


p.s. Do you really bunt with Mark Ellis and two on and no outs with Matt Kemp on deck? All the world knew (except for the locals in Chavez Latrine) that Mr. .400 would be walked. Why take the bat out of his hands? If you are afraid of the double play in the first instance, wouldn't you still be afraid of the double play in the second instance (bases loaded and one out)? I don't know, all I know is it worked out for the good guys.

Giant pratfall

The Giants featured a lineup with three rookies--Hector Sanchez, Conor Gillaspie, Brett Pill--and near-rookie Joaquin Arias. Other than Arias, who is serving notice, it was not pretty. Gillaspie made some poor plays at third as well as three outs with the stick, while HSanchez and B-Pill were over-matched at the plate, tallying five strikeouts and stranding eight runners. Two more rookies, Steve Edlefsen and Travis Blackley, poured gasoline on the fire in the 7th and 8th innings turning the whole affair into a rout. Starter Barry Zito somehow managed to get 18 outs. Walking Juan Uribe, one of the world's hackiest hackers, with one out and a man on in the 6th was a huge mistake. Youngster A.J. Ellis then got the hit that broke the tie and that was that. Ted Lilly has embraced the Jamie Moyer Aging Curve For Veteran Lefties, and like many journeyman, looked like a Cy Young candidate against the Giants. I think Barry Zito needs to stop pretending he is that guy from Oakland back in the day and get on the same program as Lilly. The sooner he starts thinking and acting like the ancient Mr. Moyer the sooner he can turn his career around. I know he pitched a "quality start" but 12 baserunners meant he was dodging bullets all evening. It was only a matter of time before he got smoked.

Speaking of The Ancient One, it is a sad day at RMC. Guillermo Mota is one of my favorites--it is like watching one of those Polynesian stone statues come to life when he pitches. What a fabulous face! And his whole mien and manner out there is fantastic. That is one gnarly dude, and his bubblegum schtick is absolutely hilarious. I'll miss you, WillyMo, and I think the Giants will, too. He has pitched 726 games in his career, all in relief. He turns 40 next July. This 100-game suspension may be it for him. Clenbuterol was the offending substance. (You can buy it at Sears.) Alberto Contador of Tour de France fame (or infamy, perhaps) was busted for "clen."

Giants need to figure out how to win a game in LA. Any suggestions?


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Hector is heroic in walk-off win

The last time the Giants hit a home run was May 1st, Tuesday night against Miami. Pablo Sandoval did the honors, and it was the only run the team could manage for Matt Cain who was tagged with a loss despite a solid eight innings and a Game Score of  65. The Giants could have used a late dinger today, but that's not how this Panda-less lineup rolls. They did get some runs on the board for Matty, but Santiago Casilla could not close it out in the 9th despite two outs and two strikes. Angel Pagan, still looking shaky in center, was two feet too late to squeeze the last out and the fly ball hit by former Giant and pinch-hitter supreme Travis Ishikawa wound up tying the game instead of ending it. It was a deflating moment. Cain was once again denied a win even though he struck out ten guys in his seven innings of work (Game Score 66). It was a win, though, and it really doesn't matter who the "W" is assigned to, as long as it gets added to the team total. The whole concept of an insurance run or, like I said earlier, a late-game jack, is off the table with this bunch. They score runs like insurance companies pay claims--with great reluctance. One-run games may suit the purist, but there's just too little wiggle room for my taste. Every event is magnified (like Conor Gillaspie's failure to field Corey Hart's smash and the aforementioned poor route by Pagan) and the outcome can turn in an instant. You've got to have a little padding, you can't expect the pitchers to do all the work and put up zeroes every time. Giants have scored 108 runs in 28 games (3.86) and allowed 105 (3.75). That's how you play .500 ball, my friends. Kudos nonetheless to Hector Sanchez for the clutch hit in the 11th and to Buster Posey for leading things off with his only hit of the day. Team 3-10 RISP, things just might be looking up.

Now the club gets to go to LA where the hottest team in the league has won ten of twelve. This would be a good time in this young season for the lads to step up and play great ball. An emotional win at home ought to give them a little mo' against the Dodgers who blew a save in the 9th in Chicago today with a 3-2 lead and are going to extras. Go, Cubs! Finish them off!


p.s. 4-3 Cubs in 11; LA 18-10, SF 14-14

p.p.s. Rory Paap at Bay City Ball does some research focusing on Matt Cain getting Cain'd. Check it out.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

At last, the sweet taste of victory

Watching the ballclub today I was reminded how young it is. Rookie Brandon Crawford did not start, nor did rookies Brandon Belt and Emmanuel Burriss. But rookies Hector Sanchez, Brett Pill, and Conor Gillaspie did. Joaquin Arias is not a rookie, but he has what, 300 plate appearances in the majors? Buster Posey, despite his skill and savvy, is still shaking off the rust from his long rehab.  It should not surprise us that the club is struggling in the field. Angel Pagan is not a rookie either, but he is an FNG and it looks like he has not taken charge in center field. Angel, brah--carpe diem. Mark your territory out there in the greensward and cover it. Madison Bumgarner, thankfully, is a god among men, a compliment I usually reserve for Matt Cain. The young lefty is The Stopper, Da Man, the Big Arm, and The Horse these days. But this is a raw, unpolished bunch. The organization made a commitment to youth in 2012, and when you do that you get a lot of raw, unpolished play. The guy displaying the most VSC, and a joy to watch, is FNG Melky Cabrera. Fine work at the plate, on the bases, and in the field. He has a dozen multi-hit games already. Young 'uns HSanchez and B-Pill both hit a couple of balls really hard and were rewarded, and CMG managed a smart RBI with a ground ball to the right side. We are going to see a lot of ups and downs with this bunch. The vets--the starters, in particular--will have to be rock-solid. The injuries have also forced Ol' Boch to stock the 'pen with rooks like Travis Blackley and Steve Edlefsen (with Dan Otero and Eric Surkamp in the wings). It's a young bunch, my friends. Regardless of how you feel about The Sabester, he has--so far--overcome his veteranophilia for 2012.

Pitch well, lads, and catch the bloody fecking ball, eh? That will get you back to winning ways. And t'anks and glory be to Bog and All His Holy Angels and Saints for Madison Bumgarner, for he not only can throw a world-class slider, he can rake in the clutch, too.


p.s. Hitting streaks are weird: Angel is up to 19 games but is still hitting .259 with a .284 OBP.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Lame Tim

Start #6:  ND (2-2)  5 innings  2 hits  3 earned runs   4 walks   4 strikeouts

The numbers really don't capture what a poor outing Tim Lincecum had against the Brewers this evening, a gut wrenching 6-4 defeat.   It was scary bad at the start.  Yep, that's right, this year's demon reappeared: the shitty first inning:  That makes 12 first inning runs this year. Luckily he settled down and retired the last ten men he faced but for a minute there he looked like he was getting the hook in the second inning.  Same problem; his fastball was all over the place, even though it rarely topped 90 mph.  I'm getting worried that something may be up.  Even the Brewers announcers were saying that Lincecum's follow-through looked different to them.  Hmmm, has something really changed?  Or is all this low quality crap just a "bad streak?'

The good: We knocked Zack Greinke out in the sixth with a nice little rally. It tied the game and got Tim off the hook. Yeah, I know the bullpen gave it back right away, but it felt good for a minute. Melky seems to be heating up again and man, do we need it.

The bad:  Too many horrible details to discuss.  My least favorite moment was after Tim gave up the damaging hit in the first and just stood there on the mound, completely failing to backup home. In fact, he actually cut off the throw home, right in front of Belt, the actual cut off man.  It looked lame and immature, like he was totally rattled.

Oh yeah, I'm pretty sure Nate had the worst pinch hit appearance ever.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Swept by Terrible Motif

Or maybe the title should be: Terribly Swept by Crappy Motif.  An error leading to a run for the Marlins to start the game.  Two runs on nine hits for the Giants.  Teeny little ball.  Cabrera grounded into a double play with (fortunately) no outs for the firstGiants run, and grounded out to third for the second run.  Vogelsong threw seven, gave up two (one earned) and got a big L for his efforts.  After a 2-1 loss, followed by a 3-2 loss, why should this one be any different?  What someone seriously thought they could go out and win one for the gipper?

Deeply disappointed.  Terrible logo.   Terribly disappointed.  A need for many Lime-a-ritas.  I hope this isn't going to be one of those years where all the sick teams get better against us.

The good, the bad, and the ugly (plus some weird)

The good: Giants go 4-11 with RISP.

The bad: they score only two runs. (That's what happens when you get only one extra-base hit, and that was leading off an inning. I swear the Giants must practice infield hits.)

The ugly: Barry Zito and his SEVEN walks. And more fielding lapses.

Giants survived Da Beezy's nonsense with some good relief work by the rooks and The Ancient One, but an inability to mount a threat or get a big hit ultimately doomed them. Ten hits, nine singles (three of the infield type), two measly fucking runs. Giants have allowed 11 hits and five runs in 19 innings and have two losses to show for it. That's great team pitching going to waste once again because of nostalgia for a 2011 offense-like product (you can't call 570 runs a real offense). What happened to the new and improved 2012 lineup? All these guys have to do is BE AVERAGE. The NL slash line is .249/.315/.386 and the Giants are .259/.310/.405 which is damn average, thank you very much. But they only have 93 RS (NL ave 100) and 89 RBI (NL ave 95). That ain't gonna work. And don't waste my time with dink-ball, the Giants are 13-21 in SB. Spare us the extra outs, please. This team has to do two things: (1) catch the fucking ball and make the fucking plays, and (2) get extra-base hits with men on base. The arms are there, it's arma virumque cano here at RMC, all day every day, with Matt Cain as Aeneas and me as goddamn Vergil.

Here's the weird: the Giants have the fewest batter strikeouts in the NL (138) and the fourth-fewest batter walks (62). The Giants make a lot of contact and put a lot of balls in play. They don't call Sir Meulens "Bam-Bam" for nothing, eh?

Oh, did I forget the injury to Pablo Sandoval? That helps.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Matt Cain pitched another great game blah-blah-blah run support blah-blah-blah RISP death blah-blah-blah anemic offense blah-blah-blah I've written this post too many times before blah-blah-blah.

I'm only going to say this once: fuck, shit, goddamn motherfucking shit.

There's a few throwbacks out there who will get excited about speed and bunting and stolen bases and little ball and execution and the rest of the little things and playing the right way and blah-blah-blah but that ain't me by a long shot. The Giants needed another long shot tonight, one was not enough. The double is a fine thing, but it doesn't work in San Francisco, it is only two bases and not four and thus not a run-scoring hit. A double followed by a double is a lovely thing, no doubt, but that's just not how the Giants roll. A double play is more their style, blah-blah-blah.

Lame, Giants. Get a fucking RBI hit, fer chrissakes.

Lame, lame, lame.