Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cain Pitches, Giants Win

In a welcome new twist to the season, the Giants won for the first time when Matt Cain started the game. It wasn't pretty. For the first time in his career, Cain gave up three home runs in one inning. That turned a 3-0 Giants lead into a 4-3 deficit, but the lads battled back and got help from the 'pen and ended their losing streak with a 6-4 victory in Arizona. Matty had another dubious 'first' this season, giving up nine runs in one inning against the Cardinals in San Francisco. Our boy likes to make history, I suppose. At some point, you figure, everyone has a bad day, bad week, bad month, or even a bad season. Cain's had what I think we ought to call a bad month, leading the NL in homers allowed (9) and earned runs (25). Hey, you win a World Series and everyone comes after you. If you are going to 'serve notice' to the defending champs that you want their shoulder patches, you muscle up against their number one. I think perhaps this is a case of "in the crosshairs" blues--the Giants are the team you have to make a statement against if you want October baseball. The pretenders to the throne are lining up to take whacks at our guys. It's been a little rocky, but the orange-and-black are still standing, still taking shots, and getting off some counter-punches and a combination or two. Just wait until the later rounds, I say, and we'll see if these others have the stones to hang around.

Hunter Pence is going to have to get used to teams walking Buster Posey in front of him. He needs to make the most of his chances. Brandon Belt, it was good to see, got the late hit that plated the winning runs in the 8th. Marco Scutaro looked like the guy who hit .360 last year, Pablo Sandoval continues to rake (let's hope his injury is minor), and Gregor Blanco had a hit, a walk, and a run scored. Jean Machi looked strong in relief, he's going to play a bigger role with Jeremy Affeldt on the DL and Jose Mijares on bereavement leave. Javier Lopez got two strikeouts in his stint, and Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo did their jobs. The D-Backs scored all their runs in the 4th and only managed two hits the rest of the way. The Giants hottest pitcher, Madison Bumgarner, goes tonight.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Monday, April 29, 2013

5 For 5

We missed the first inning - 18 games in, so I thought now that each of our starters, on whom so much of our fortunes ride, has had 5 starts, we could look and see if we could ascertain anything from the numbers (mining data, I think they call it). 



         W/L   Team    IP      H      HR     ER      BB    K      WHIP     BAA

Matt     0‐2    0‐5    28.2    30      6      21      6    34      1.26    .261
Maddy    3‐1    4‐1    33.2    22      3       7      8    26      0.89    .190
Tim      2‐1    4‐1    29.2    23      3      12     17    32      1.35    .213
Barry    3‐1    3‐2    27.1    29      2      10      8    21      1.31    .242
Ryan     1‐2    2‐3    30.1    37      7      21     10    26      1.55    .303


Hope this is legible, I really don't know how to make a table on this thing.  What can we glean from this?  First, a disclaimer - it is a small sample size, so it is not worthwhile to parse this too finely.  Only the major distinctions are worth noting, and those can turn around quickly.  First - our starters have given us a pretty good effort.  They ahve averaged at least 5 innings per start, in spite of at least one big meltdown per pitcher (Maddy excepted).  Second - Matt has given up a few homers, but other than that, has not pitched as badly as his record might indicate.  His WHIP is lower than anyone but Maddy's, although is BAA is not what you want to see.  In a small sample size, particularly, it is not just how many hits, walks and home runs you might have given up, but where you have given them up relative to one another.  Still - earned runs, 21 is a lot for the young season (Matt and Ryan).  We all know Tim had a meltdown on April 14, but, overall, his walks make him look worse than any other stat.  Tim looks hard to hit - a lot of K, a lot of walks.  Fewer walks - Tim lasts longer - tends to win games.  Barry Zito has given up the fewest home runs, and not too many walks - that's good.  Ryan seems to be the one to worry about - although we expect so much more from Matt Aces Cain.  Is Ryan a bit fried from an abbreviated spring and WBC play?  Not sure, but here's hoping he can bring those hits and BAA down.

OK!  Keep the ball in the yard tonight, Matt, and tighten up that defense behind him.  He does not deserve Caining. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Padres Pile on the Misery

The Giants got their asses handed to them this weekend in San Diego. The Padres won a close, hard-fought pitchers duel, a close, see-saw slugfest, and one-sided Sunday beat-down. Ryan Vogelsong has yet to find his dominating October form and continues to be vexed by the long ball (7 HR in 30 IP so far). The failure was not exclusive to anyone in particular: there was poor fielding, bad pitching, and punchless hitting aplenty. The whole team has contributed to the five-game losing streak. The Giants worst month in 2012 was July. They went 12-12, losing five in a row (their longest of the season) from the 25th to the 30th. That included a three-game sweep at AT&T by the Dodgers by the combined score of 19-3! There's nothing to panic about here, of course. It's April. But there's lots to whine about. Five losses in a row stinks, no matter how you look at it.

I know I'm grumpy about the Giants losing, but I find myself almost unable to tolerate Mike Krukow on the CSN telecasts anymore. I realize he is a beloved figure in our world, but his constant repetition of the same stupid phrases ("down in the squ-aat, puttin' down the signs" or "getting greased up in the 'pen" or "I wanna get that, I wanna get that") and his inane, tiresome commentary about fans in the stands ("there's a gamer" or "they wear the colors well") are grating on my nerves so badly I sometimes have to leave the room. Add in his long-running pitching idiocy ("he's got a base to play with" and "there's anger behind that fastball") and his non-stop, hyperactive babbling and I'm worn out. I don't know if I can take it for another season. The radio guys are sooooo much better, and Duane Kuiper has, at least, the good sense to shut up now and again. It's TV, man, you don't have to read the stats on the screen to us! And I'm truly sick of the endless, lingering camera shots of people in Panda hats, people eating, little kids looking lost, yuppies playing on their goddamn meThings™, phony fans in costumes, and perfectly normal people becoming crazed loons because a foul ball gets close to them. Don't get me wrong--I'm thrilled the Giants have the best team in their San Francisco history going right now. It's a lot of fucking fun. But the clowns that populate my screen every night are enough to make me gag. It's not a ballgame, it's an event, and I don't need to watch a bunch of attention whores madly scrambling for their ten seconds of screen time. Sure, I dug the goofy celebrations for Opening Day and whatnot, what Giants fan couldn't appreciate what they've done these last few years? I remember those dark, cold nights at Candlestick when the team sucked and the fans stayed away and I don't want that ever again. But at least we could watch the game back then, and the broadcasts, even with goobers like Gary Park (may he requiescat in pacem), mostly focused on the action. It's a brave new world, I know, I'm embarrassed to be ranting like a cranky old-timer. If I ever see Kruk in person I'll probably make a fool of myself begging him to take some bloody Adderall before he goes on the air. I guess I'll just have to tune in to KNBR (via GameDay Audio) more often, or watch with the sound off. The radio, alas, is not synchronized to the TV, and is, in fact, a pitch or two ahead, most infuriating.

Like I said, I'm grumpy about the Giants. They've been lousy this weekend, and it's put me in a foul frame of mind. Appy polly loggies, then, me buckos, for subjecting you to this. At least I didn't subject you to recaps of the last two games, that would have been worse.

C'mon, Giants--pick it up!!

--M.C.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Damn Good Tim

The Giants suffered their third loss in a row; an anemic 2-1 smack down by the lowly puds. Perhaps they were counting on another ninth inning comeback but it was not to be. Tonight truly was a rude reminder of just how weak our offense can be.  And yet, it was also a reminder of just how good Tim Lincecum could still be.

Which is why I find myself with a bit of a shit eating grin.  Tim did damn good tonight; 105 pitches (64 strikes), 7 innings, 2 runs, 6 hits (all singles), 3 walks, and a nifty NINE strikeouts. His only failing was allowing 4 of those singles in the third inning.  Lincecum's stuff was as nasty as I can remember and with Buster behind the plate, Tim showed no hesitation to bring it.  He finished strong (two K's) and I always take that as a very good sign. Two quality starts in a row is not exactly something to wet your pants over, but believe me, I am starting to get excited.  Maybe, just maybe, very good times are ahead for Timmeh.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Giants Unable to Get Crawford to the Plate in 10th

Or: A Pitch (or several) Too Far

That was the story after Madison Bumgarner was left in to start the 8th after seven brilliant innings and Jose Mijares was left in to give up a double and a single after two outs in the 9th.  Chad Gaudin, normally reliable, was brought in for the 10th, got the first out, then gave up a walk, a double to Cody fucking Ross (who is not nearly as beloved as some claim), then intentionally walked the next batter to load the bases and was left in to give up a sac fly for Arizona's 11 inning victory, 3-2.

If only Brandon Crawford could have made it to the plate again in the 11th.  Brandon had himself a heck of a game, 3 hits in 4 at bats: a single, the run-scoring double, and a 9th inning home run to tie the game at 2 runs each.  In the 11th, after two outs and a Brandon Belt double, Joaquin Arias could not keep the game alive to get our sole rbi source to the plate.

I really do not like to have lost, again, late, to those Arizona motherfuckers.  They are like the dodgers, with sand.

Madison Bumgarner gave up 3 hits and 1 walk in 7 innings, before a double and run-scoring single in the 8th.  He threw 64 strikes in 101 pitches, sacrificed a runner to second and was allowed to bat in the 8th with one out, one run in and Brandon Crawford standing on third.  He's a pretty good batter for a pitcher.

We should have won this one 1-0 if our relief had done their job.  I will admit that Arizona is gritty.  Ian Kennedy was gritty through 6 before giving up a single to Gregor Blanco and the run-scoring double to Crawford.  They have talented pitching and a good group of young hitters.  But we should have won perhaps all three games, and certainly at least two.  Yesterday's conclusion was sloppy, badly pitched, poorly defended and badly coached (still don't know if Pablo blew a stop sign or not).  Today's was badly managed, for Bochy not having his mojo working to know juuuuuust when to make a move, and badly pitched.  Bad Giants.  No first place.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Not Quite Enough

Matt Cain had a little bad luck in the 1st, with a rare error by B-Craw and a bloop double that kicked up the chalk an arm's length from Hunter Pence in right, and it was suddenly 2-0 Arizona. The way Patrick Corbin was dealing it looked like that lead might hold up. The young lefty threw seven scoreless with only 80 pitches. When Paul Goldschmidt made it 4-0 with a massive homer in the 4th it looked like a done deal. But as we learned last night, the Giants don't quit. After a rally in the 8th chased Corbin, the Giants got the tying run to the plate in the 9th. It was none other than Brandon Belt, who once again sat to start the game but came in to hit in a clutch spot. He looked lost on two straight pitches from J.J. Putz before launching a spectacular bomb that bounced into McCovey Cove. It was the same mistake Cain made to Goldschmidt--the target was set up outside but the pitch bore in and the batter jumped on it. The Giants had a shot with two out in the 10th but Pablo Sandoval was inexplicably thrown out at home by a mile on Hunter Pence's hard single to right. Even more inexplicable were the defensive breakdowns that gave the game back to the D-Backs. Andres Torres looked like he had a shot on a ball in the gap, but pulled up to turn it to a single, then held on to the ball as the runner streaked to second. Belt's failure to grab a low throw from the Panda was the third error of the game for the normally sure-handed home team. Santiago Casilla threw a wild pitch and then gave up a hit and that was that--an ugly ending to a beautiful comeback.

The Giants are 0-5 when Cain starts a game. You know that can't last. Sure is annoying, though. The Giants are 4-0 when Madison Bumgarner starts a game. Let's hope that lasts--at least through tomorrow.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Gritty Giants Gut It Out

I was thinking about Joaquin Arias tonight, about how he is a wonderful player, the perfect utility infielder and super-sub. I was thinking, though, that he really shouldn't be the starting first baseman. Now and again is OK, of course, but the team is better when Brandon Belt is in the lineup. All the world knows the young lefty's struggles since the start of the season, so who better to come to the plate in the 9th, against a southpaw no less, to get the game-winning hit? It would not have come to pass without a tremendous two-run homer in the 8th by Buster Posey to tie the score. His mother was probably an immortal goddess--how else to explain his perfection? It was a massive blow, as it looked like the home town boys were doomed at that point in the game. I thought "D-Back Dingers Vex Vogie" would be tonight's storyline, but Pablo Sandoval got a rally started with one out and Buster delivered the big blast to breathe life back into the orange-and-black heart. One must mention the dynamite relief work from Jean Machi (5 pitches, three outs), Jose Mijares (two strikeouts), and Sergio Romo (one pitch, one out) to put up the two scoreless innings that gave the team the chance to come back. Ryan Vogelsong labored through seven, looking like he had trouble hitting the outside corner. Either the zone was tight, he was a little off, or Arizona was laying off the close ones, but he seemed to get himself in trouble with long counts. Wade Miley, despite a rough 1st, was machine-like for a stretch, putting up a string of zeroes, and I thought perhaps Kirk Gibson had too quick of a hook in the 7th. They do have some scary-looking guys in that 'pen over there, and they probably figured David Hernandez would blow away the side in the 8th and they could use J.J. Putz to close it out. Alas, they did not calculate correctly. One must always account for the Posey Factor:



The Giants will not quit. The Giants will not die.

--M.C.



p.s. I love Game Graphs.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sweet Sweep

The Giants like to throw shutouts, it seems. That's their fifth. One in LA, one against the Cardinals, one against the Rockies, and yesterday and today against the Padres. Nice of the division foes to oblige. Of those five games, Barry Zito has been the starter in three of them. I seek not to explain, merely to enjoy. Way to go, Zeets! A fine win today that featured Buster Posey hitting a home run. His first of the season, by the way. I note that Tim Lincecum threw to Buster yesterday, not Hector Sanchez. In Japan, I have heard, it is not unusual for a manager to change catchers during a game when a pitcher is struggling, rather than remove the pitcher. Who knows? Maybe they are on to something. Regardless, Zito racked up seven scoreless and Buster hit a homer. That sort of thing works directly on the pleasure centers, doesn't it? I liked seeing Andres Torres contribute. That platoon with Gregor Blanco might just work out. I like having three centerfielders: the Giants catch everything, that's a big part of their success. Speaking of catching everything, how about the start to the season for Brandon Crawford? He's a .300/.400/.500 hitter!

Arizona comes to town for three, it's Ryan Vogelsong tomorrow night.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.


p.s. Saturday was the 1st inning of the season, the first 18-game stretch, and the Giants were 11-7. Last year they 9-9.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

OMG Tim

I'm in a bit of a daze. Not because we won, but how.  The Giants took the second game of the series against the Pudres, 2-0, on the strength of a Panda homer and .... Wait for it  ... An excellent performance by Tim Lincecum. It was like a breath of fresh air from the past. If that makes any sense.

I hate to admit this, but I'm out of practice saying nice things about Tim Lincecum. It used to be so easy.  Praise rained down on him; shit, we called him "The Franchise" after about a month. But that was a long time ago, and, shall we say, a very different set of adjectives has been used to describe Timmeh. I'll give it a try.  Tonight, Tim was able to pinpoint most of his pitches. He threw over 60% strikes; which has become a rarity. The word is COMMAND.  That is a word I haven't used in a Tim post for quite a while. His line says it all really: 6.2 innings, 4 hits, no runs, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts. The word is QUALITY.  Another old mainstay of the vocabulary that has been on hiatus around here.

Well, here's to new good old times! Way to go Timmy, you were superb. I'm still kind of in shock. I promise to brush up on the positive vocabulary in anticipation of your next start.

Back Home, Back in the W Column

Madison Bumgarner back on the hill last night for the Giants after a three game set in Milwaukee that left them a bit shaken.  Some bad starting pitching, not quite enough of a comeback Tuesday, and not being able to hold a game, but the orange-clad home crowd Friday night tried their best to make the Giants forget all that.

Sometimes all you need is a win and some decent pitching to make things look brighter, Madison threw 6 innings, allowing 4 hits, 2 runs and striking out 10 in 99 pitches and no BB.  10 K's in 6 innings is pretty impressive, it means the Brewers only had 8 "chances" in that time.  Chase Headley made the most of those chances, though, with 2 rbi, his first in the 1st inning on a sacrifice fly and his second on a solo hr in the 6th.  Unfortunately, that put the Giants ahead and we would not be able to win until the 9th inning.

Buster Posey had matched Headley with a sac fly to score Angel Pagan in the bottom of the 1st to tie the game at 1 each.  The Giants went ahead in the bottom of the 3rd on a Hunter Pence double to score Posey.   The Giants had some chances that they did not capitalize on, they got 10 hits on the night.  Gregor Blanco had three, Brandon Belt had two and Madison had one.  Too many of these hits, though, came with 1 or 2 outs.

In the 9th inning, Santiago Casilla had already come into the game.  When Madison retired after 6 innings, Jose Mijares retired one batter, George Kontos had retired four and Casilla had retired the last batter in the 8th.  Santiago dispatched the side, striking out Headley and Yonder Alonso.  (Who's on first?  Yonder.  Not where....).  Gregor Blanco started off the bottom of the 9th with his third hit on the evening.  Andres Torres followed batting for Santiago, and promptly bunted right back to Luke Gregerson on the mound who put out Blanco at second.  Torres was able to steal second base, though, against a pretty decent Gregerson-Hundley combo.  That put Angel Pagan up, who looked like he knew how to be patient at the plate and roped a double into right past Chris Denorfia for the game ending rbi.  Andres probably would have scored anyway, but that kind of made it not worth chasing the ball.  Let's build on those hits today, guys!  Another fine outing for Madison, even without a W to his name.  The team got one, and it was a team win.  Fine defense and enough hitting.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Giants Fall Flat in Finale

Matt Cain has a 7.15 ERA after today's gopher-ball festival, and that's damn ugly. The last time he had an ERA that high was on May 10, 2006, when it was 7.04 after giving up 32 runs in his first seven starts. He was, if you recall, sent to the 'pen for a game and then bounced back with a one-hitter against the A's on May 21st. Matty has seen it all and done it all.

Here's his 2013 so far:


Four starts, four losses for the Giants.

Here's a snippet from 2010:


Yep, same guy. Four straight starts, four losses for the ballclub. That season turned out pretty well, if I recall. At least this season Matty sandwiched in a couple of good ones. And check out those walks!

Disappointing series in Milwaukee to say the least. Brandon Crawford continued his hot hitting, and Gregor Blanco had two hits and a stolen base, so there were two bright spots in an otherwise dismal afternoon. The Giants are certainly not "firing on all cylinders" but they do have more wins than losses so it can't be all bad. Let's hope the home yard will be better for everyone.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.



p.s. Not to be a stinker about Yovani Gallardo, who's a good pitcher, but I think DUIs are way worse than PEDs. DUIs put innocent people at risk--PEDs don't. I wonder if MLB or any of the other major sports will look at ways to curtail that sort of behavior. Hell, these guys are wealthy enough to hire drivers whenever they have a few too many. I like quaffing pints as much (or more) as the next guy, but I never drive afterwards. What's up with ballplayers? Do they think they can "maintain" better than the average Joe? And where are the angry moms on this one? We hear a bit too much about "protecting the children" when it comes to PEDs, but our "heroes" can slam all the Jaegers they want and tool around in their Hummers and no one gives a shit. OK, sorry, enough pointless ranting.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Brewers Get It Done

The Giants finally solved Kyle Lohse and tied the ballgame after six, but could not push across another run after that. The home team, on the other hand, wore down Santiago Casilla in the bottom of the 9th and walked off with a win. It was bottom-of-the-lineup blues as Carlos Gomez and Yuniesky Betancourt had four hits and three runs batted in between them. I was a little surprised Boch didn't go with Javier Lopez against the lefty pinch-hitter Blake Lalli, not so much for the matchup as I'm sure Ron Roenicke had a counter-move, but because Casilla had already faced nine batters and thrown over 30 pitches. Ryan Vogelsong looked more like the guy we saw last year and the year before. Vogie, though, always looks the same, even if the results aren't always there. It's a tough place to pitch and going seven and keeping it to three was a fine start. It's the kind of game the Giants usually win.

Matt Cain tomorrow in the getaway game--Go Giants!

--M.C.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Just a 3-run homer short of victory

I like that Brandon Belt got three hits, and Brandon Crawford two (including a homer). Funny thing about this game, the Giants had a shot. If they'd gotten a 3-run shot, that is. They piled up 8 runs on 12 hits and hung a Golden Sombrero on Ryan Braun and still lost. That's what happens when Barry Zito gives up an 8-spot of his own. Get all that ugly out early, lads. Then pitch better down the stretch, OK? Bruce Bochy got Chad Gaudin going just a wee bit too late and suddenly there was a grand slam and that was enough. Kept thinking it was Coors Field, not Miller Park. Hey! Let's name a few more yards for beers. I like that. How about Guinness Grounds? Michelob Meadows? Pabst Palace? Anchor Steam Stadium? Yeah, I think I'm on to something.

Giants had the bases loaded and nobody out in the 5th trailing 9-5, and scored one run on an out. They had the bases loaded with one out in the 6th trailing 9-6 and scored a run on an out. Hey, I'm all for productive outs, but that's taking it a little far. I was kind of hoping, you know, for an extra-base hit. But I like the way the team kept hammering away at those Milwaukeans, they seemed real eager to give up hits and runs. Giants 'pen: 5-1/3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K. Brewers 'pen: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K. OK, I'm grasping for straw-like things. Hard-hit balls, lots of hard-hit balls. Gregor Blanco (0-for-5, stranding 5) should have had four hits. Buster Posey and Hunter Pence were 1-for-9 and stranded 9. I'm looking for something better tomorrow.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Flags Fly Forever

Here's a photo from Opening Day:



The credit for all shots goes to my old pal and ex-roomie, the estimable Mr. R.H. Levine, who joined us in the nosebleed seats for the last half of the game. (T'anks a million, Rick!)

Next is the scene from View Reserve, Section 321, row 14:


Sure is a beautiful goddamn park.

No Giants photo gallery would be complete without Buster Posey, American Hero:



Fie upon you, foe! Buster shall vanquish you!


You get to party hardy when you win the World Series:



Remind yourself every single day that the Giants are the defending champs. Those guys in red know:



Check out Ol' Boch ambling in with the 2012 Trophy. Good times, man.


GO GIANTS!


--M.C.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Almost Terrible Tim

Even for a "light" hitting team like the Giants, it would be a bit surprising to go an entire four game series in Wrigley Field and not hit a home run. Especially if you end up winning 3 of the games, with the one loss being a rare blown save. Well, I guess Hunter Pence figured that out at the last possible second today as he blasted a game tying homer with one strike left in the game to help propel our beloved boys to a 10-7 extra inning victory.  The first place Giants (9-4) get a well deserved day off Monday before heading to Milwaukee to finish the trip.

Once again getting bailed out by his offense, Tim Lincecum did little to raise our hopes with a disastrous 4 run first inning. At least he doesn't make you wait long to see if the "old Timmy" has returned.  Sure, he settled down and (let's say it all together) IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE.  Five innings , 4 earned runs. That is totally #5 starter stuff, and, let's face it, that's exactly where Tim is headed.  If Zito and Vogelsong keep up what they are doing, Tim becomes our fifth starter; the guy who loses his turn whenever possible. I suppose he might be considered a very good #5 guy, but still... It makes me very sad.

Tip o' the cap to Nick Noonan! Dude is making the most of his opportunity with 6 hits in hits first 12 AB's. Sure, he's getting some breaks, but he does seem to have a nice level swing that should deliver a lot of line drives.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Another Victory at Wrigley with Balaclavas

If anyone had a notion that Madison Bumgarner was to toss a no-hitter today (and I don't know why anyone would think that) they were quickly dispelled of that when the first Cubbie to the plate, Dave Sappelt, slapped a single to center field for his first hit of the season.  Maddy held the home team, though, and quickly got through the inning.  In fact, both teams were scoreless through 4 with Maddy on the hill, and Angel Pagan resting after crashing the wall with all the ivy that provides no cushion at all this time of year in yesterday's game.  Andres Torres and Gregor Blanco filled in admirably, though, collecting 3 hits between them.   Both teams were scoreless until the 5th inning, when the Giants broke through for a run.  Torres led off the inning with a double and after a ground out and a fly out from Brandon Crawford and Maddy, Gregor singled him home for the first run of the game, but was thrown out at second.

The Giants scored again in the 6th.  Marco Scutaro singled, went to second on a wild pitch from the amply-haired Jeff Sarmardzija, and then scored on a Pablo Sandoval single to right.  The Giants went up 3-0 in a somewhat unconventional 7th.  Brandon Crawford led off with a single.  Madison Bumgarner hit into what was supposed to be a fielder's choice, but, due to the poor choice of the fielders, wound up being safe at first as Brandon Crawford was safe at second.  The Cubbies got it right their next chance, though, as Gregor hit into a fielder's choice that was successful at getting Crawford out at third.  Marco Scutaro hit a long fly ball single to Scott Hairston, patrolling right field today in place of Nate Schierholtz (remember him?, he was a Giant last year this time).  Madison was sent home by the prescient Tim Flannery as Hairston's throw completely missed the cut-off man and everyone was safe.

Maddy's game lasted through 2 outs in the 7th inning.  He had held the Cubs scoreless, in spite of the annoying Alfonso Soriano's three hits and a stolen base.  In the 7th, Alberto Gonzalez reached first, and the pinch hitting guy from last night, Dioner Navarro, hit another pinch hit home run.  Maddy left the remainder of the 7th to Jeremy Affeldt after 110 pitches (70 strikes), 6 hits, 2 BB, 6 K and 2 runs.  Santiago Castilla replaced Affeldt in the 8th, after Jeremy put runners on first and second, and wound up getting a 2 inning save.  It must be a tough decision for a manager when your closer blows chow one night and you are faced with a save situation the next.  Was Romo tired, or just unlucky?  Do you show confidence in your guy, or let him have a day off?  Castilla didn't give up a hit, though, and the good guys won, 3-2.

Marco Scutaro is back in the thick of things, scoring and getting a crucial rbi.  Maddy goes up 3-0.  Pablo picks up his 10th rbi and didn't seem to be hurt vaulting/falling into the stands to catch a 9th inning pop up.  Not sure the same could be said for the Cub's Steve Clevenger, who apparently strained a left oblique in swinging and missing strike three to end the game.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Romo is not a Robot

No, he's all too human, and sometimes closers blow saves. That was a hell of a streak he had going, and it was bound to end at some point. The Giants could not solve Carlos Villanueva, that was the real problem today. It was great to see the struggling Brandon Belt get a clutch hit, and the team was poised to pull off another big comeback win, but Starlin Castro spoiled things with a clutch hit of his own (his second big blow of the day). Villanueva was once a Giant--he was signed as an amateur free agent back in 2002, the year the Giants drafted Matt Cain. Speaking of Matty, he found himself in an all-too-familiar spot, pitching well but not getting the run support. That didn't happen much last season and he racked up a pile of those "pitcher-wins." The only ones I care about are the ones that show up in the standings, and usually the Giants get one of those when they get a good start. A Game Score of 59 ain't bad, but the big fella averaged 60.6 last season, and 58.9 the season before. So, seven innings, two runs, and six strikeouts is merely average for no. 18, which is hard to wrap my mind around. The guy's good. He had the worst outing of his career last weekend! How many other pitchers give up nine runs in an inning and everyone goes "no worries, just a bad day" instead of freaking out? Not many. The Cubs have Jeff Samardzija going tomorrow, and he's the one I was thinking would give the Giants trouble. Let's hope they swing the bats a little better behind Madison Bumgarner and get the team back in the win column.

--M.C.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Four in a Row

Marco Scutaro sits for a day and Brandon Crawford takes his no. 2 spot in the lineup and gets on base three times while his replacement at second base, rookie Nick Noonan, gets three hits. You have to like that. Ryan Vogelsong has a rocky time in his first three frames but mows 'em down in his final three. You have to like that, too. In fact, winning a day game on the road after a night game at home is pretty impressive, especially coming back from a 5-0 deficit in cold, wet weather! The Giants pulled it out today when all looked lost, and hung on when the Cubs clawed their way back. Sergio Romo got another save, ending another game with a strikeout, this time a lefty (Anthony Rizzo, who homered off Vogie) with his 89-mph four-seamer. Lots of good stuff: another impossible extra-base hit from Pablo Sandoval, practically scraping a ball off the dirt, and another fine catch from Angel Pagan, almost scraping a ball off the outfield grass, and a great PA from Vogie (walk on seven pitches) with the bases loaded in the 5th to make it a tie game. It was one of those un-pretty Wrigley things (four errors, nine pitchers), but it was a win, the Giants fourth in a row and seventh of the young season. Not much left to say but

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hey, guys, save a few for the close games!

Barry Zito was once again masterful, giving up 7 hits but 0 runs in 7 innings on a beautiful day at the Big Phoneyard.  He threw 108 pitches, and 76 of them were strikes.  See what happens when you throw strikes?  But, what do you know, it didn't really matter very much because the Giants lit up the yard with offense.

Think back on Giants teams of recent years and dig this: the Giants were up 7 - 0 after 2.  16 hits and 5 walks and 1 Colorado error for 10 runs total.  A triple and 3 rbi for Buster Posey, fresh from a day off.  Doubles for Scutaro, Posey, Belt, Torres and Crawford.  3 rbi for Posey, 2 for Torres, and 1 rbi each for Scutaro, Arias, Crawford and Zito.  Zito sacrificed and got two hits.  He can do it all!  13 runners were left on base.  After using Mijares last night, there were really no struggling guys to put into the game in the 8th and 9th inning, so they used Lopez and Gaudin who each set down the side in order.  Zito is still leading the team in hitting and has a 0.00 era.  Good season so far, Barry!  Also: Game time temperature reported at 78 degrees F.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Great Except Tim

The Giants showed some impressive weaponry in a 9-6 victory over the pesky Rockies to take the second game of the series. We sure have some ownage on their asses lately. An ineffective and ugly outing by Tim Lincecum was over shadowed by the uncharacteristic outpouring of runs. Great to get the come from behind win, but the evidence of  another horrible year brewing for Tim gets more real every day.

If you, like most other Giants fans, were desperately looking for signs of the "Freaky Resurrection" tonight, well, you were disappointed.  Of course, being disappointed by Tim Lincecum has become a regular feature of Giants baseball. The second inning was his undoing this time; five frigging runs on two hits! All three walks he gave up came around to score. Yuck! The horror moment of the nightmare inning was giving up a two out walk to the pitcher. Sadly, this type of self destruct crap has haunted Timmeh for awhile now. Needless to say, the ridiculous walk was followed by two solid hits that drove in four runs. Double Yuck!

Luckily, some unexpected offense made Lincecum's continuing descent tolerable and got him off the hook for what looked like a well deserved loss. The slumping Marco Scutaro awoke with a three hit night. Hunter Pence continues to look like an RBI machine with two more tonight. Gregor Blanco got on base three times, which keeps his OBP around .400. The biggest hit came when Brandon Crawford delivered the second home run of his career at AT&T Park;  a three run opposite field shot.  Throw in the usual stellar bullpen work (5 saves for Romo, all ending with a strikeout!), and it was a fine night at the park.

Except Tim.

Maddy Sharp Enough

Madison was back on the hill last night, and, much like Matt, was not quite as sharp as he was in his first outing, but that was OK, because he was sharp enough for a victory.  The Rockies were in town, and they have had a pretty good start, although they have not had to play the Cardinals as of yet.  A couple more wins against the Rox would be great!

The Giants took advantage of Jorge De La Rosa before he could get settled in.  Hunter Pence (most of our offense this year so far) homered with Marco and Pablo on base.  That put us up 3-0 and we would add a fourth run in the 8th on Buster Posey's first rbi of the year.  Colorado scored on a 3rd inning solo shot off the bat of Carlos Gonzalez that made it to the water and then chased Madison in the 6th inning with a single, stolen base and run-scoring single.  Our relief was once again stunning, holding the Rox scoreless for 3 1/3 innings,allowing one hit in the process.  We are winning games in our bullpen.

Madison threw 104 pitches, 62 for strikes in 5 2/3 innings.  Compare that with his last line of 101 pitches, 76 strikes in 8 full last time out.  But, the 4-2 result is a win for Maddy and the home team!  Tim, in a less-than-stellar season last year, beat the Rockies three times.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Matt Cain: Old School

When Robby Thompson was channeling Marco Scutaro long before Marco Scutaro was even a channel, I used to say "he's from another era." That was before we said things were "old school." You know, "old school" is great, it's one of those fabulous phrases that make you hip and hip-ly anti-hip at the same time, like so cool that you're too cool to care about coolness. "Oh, hey, whatchoo thank 'bout 'dat Ludacris, you know?" And you just drop like "oh, hey, I'm inta, you know, old school." And, you know, everybody's like "yeah, me too." That sort of street wisdom gets me out of a lot of awkward situations, you know what I'm saying? I mean, you have to have a repertoire, you know, otherwise what are people going to think? School up, yo, what I'm puttin' down is for reals. And it was for reals today at the old ball yard, and the Giants were like, dude, it's a party, we gotta, like, play? And Matt Cain is so old school he pitched a perfect game last season, something the Giants had not done in the entire 21st, 20th, and 19th centuries. Today, though, he gave up nine runs in one inning. That's right. He retired the first nine guys in order and then gave up nine runs and could not finish the inning. Old school? Damn right, it's old school, the last Giants pitcher to do that was in New York and it was in 1902. That is before they even had a World Series, man. The guy was Jack Cronin and it was September 27th against the hated Brooklyn Superbas. Of course, that Giants team really sucked. This one doesn't. But Matt "Old School" Cain can keep it all in perspective:
"The baseball gods find a way of evening things out."
That's it, it was the gods. It wasn't Matt's fault. Come on, that's like blaming Robby Thompson because he was from another era. The space-time continuum does not work that way. Trust me, I have a degree in science.

--M.C.



p.s. Hey, if you are going to fuck up, fuck up spectacularly. Look good winnin' and look bad losin'. You da man, Matty.


p.p.s. My lovely bride and I had a splendid trip to the Bay to see the Home Opener and friends and family. B & C: you rock for putting us up and showing us a good time. D & A: you rock for the tix and the ten a.m. bar table. RHL, you rock for the rendezvous. Z & A: you rock for the fabulous time. First, there was the "Dan-hattan." Then, there was the "Zo-tini." Kanpai!




Saturday, April 6, 2013

Giants Serving Beer At ATT This Season*

"Then we probably get to be pulled through the ringer once again by Zito."

Wrong, Bob.  The Chron has made much about how we have now won the last 15 of Zito's starts, although, given that there was an off-season in between yesterday's and the previous 14, that means nothing.  But yesterday, following what was purported to be a highly festive 2012 World Championship flag raising ceremony (didn't get to see it myself, although I did get a first hand account), Zito kept the Cardinals scoreless through 7 innings, yielding only 3 hits.  Has Mr. Zito found a zen-like space in which to pitch that brings success?  Has he become more confident, made a mechanical adjustment, or learned some variation on his pitches?  I don't know, but could not be happier about the results.

About that "holding the Cardinals scoreless" part - good thing, because the Giants only managed 1 run, when Jake Westbrook walked Angel Pagan with the bases loaded in the 4th inning.  The Giants only scratched up 6 hits on the day, 1 of them from Barry Zito himself, who also put down 2 sacrifice bunts, including one in that 4th inning that was not picked up cleanly by Bengie Molina's little brother, Yadier.  That loaded the bases for Angel's at bat that produced the lone run.  Zito is leading the team in batting!  Posey and Pence each had a hit, Gregor Blanco got his season started with one and Brandon Crawford had a pretty good day at the plate, 2 for 4 after getting only 1 hit in his first 10 at bats this season.  Affeldt and Romo were efficient in the 8th and 9th, facing a minimum number of batters each.

Other thoughts:  No new Chevron commercials.  I know they are busy making money and fixing the refinery and all, and the radio commercials are pretty good, but they get stale after the first 600 hearings or so.  I still can't see Yadier Molina's name in print without thinking it's backwards.  We turned more double plays than we hit into!  I'm betting Ryan Vogelsong would give anything to make the Giant's early season record .800.  Shelby?  Did they run out of guys named Chad?

* They did not loser their opener.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"Good Start" Tim

You didn't really think that Tim Lincecum would make it easy in his 2013 debut, did you?  Well, he didn't.  But he won ( something he failed to do much of last year ), and that is all that counts. The Giants took the rubber match over the much ballyhooed doggers, 5-3, and we can now officially say we are off to a "good start."

Tim's performance sure did nothing to address any of last year's demons. Quality start? Who am I kidding. Five innings, three of which were nightmarish.  Get used to Timmeh's games featuring the ENTIRE bullpen. To be fair, he didn't give up an earned run, and that is ALWAYS a good thing. Command? Yeah, right.  Seven walks says it all. First inning woes? Could have been way worse, but the gratuitous run was coughed up.  Actually, "could have been way worse" pretty well sums up the whole night for Tim.  Not inspirational, but it worked. Except for his RBI groundout, that was a little inspirational. Good AB, Tim.

Good night for some offensive highlights! Pablo Sandoval hit the first Giant homer of the season with a tomahawk job off Josh Beckett.  Hunter Pence followed that with a beautiful opposite field shot. Exactly the type of hit that we all dreamed he would deliver.  However, my favorite hit of the night was the first extra base hit of the season, a two strike double by Brandon Crawford that led to our first couple runs. He may be the offensive surprise of the year.

New guy Chad Gaudin looked strong in some very high leverage situations.  His last pitch to sit down Matt Kemp was big time NASTY. We may have two or three guys that can handle the eighth inning responsibility. Sweeeeeet.

The dogger defense looked stanky. I sure hope that is a season long problem for them.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

You got a shutout? We got a shutout.

Madison Bumgarner, 23 year old owner of two World Series rings, started his 2013 baseball season with a masterful performance.  Madison threw 101 pitches in 8 innings against Hyun-Jin Ryu, won 3-0, and the only doubts about the outcome of the game came from the offense.  Not that the Giants didn't get their hits, there were 10 of them, but the G's racked up 4 double plays to erase much of their scoring threat.  Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched 6 seasons with the Hanwa Eagles of the Korean Professional Baseball Organization.  He was the first Korean player to come to US Professional Baseball under the posting system, similar to Japan's.  The Eagles accepted over $25 million for the rights to Ryu, who then signed a six year contract for $36 million.  He's a loser to the lefty from North Carolina, though as the Giants pick up their first victory of 2013.

How good was Madison?  76 strikes in 101 pitches.  2 hits total.  18 guys retired consecutively between hits.  No walks.  One 2-ball count on the night and two 3-ball counts.  6 K.  Oh, a hit and an rbi.  Sergio Romo finished with a 3 up, 3 down ninth.

I'm thinking Madison could well have a break-out year.  How, you might ask, much more can a guy who has two World Series rings break out?  I'm thinking a serious conversation about a Cy Young award.  He has a low-90's fastball but it must be "sneaky-fast."  Those long arms and smooth motion probably lull hitters into thinking that it is not as fast as it is.  But the main reason he remains impressive is his ability to locate pitches and mix them up and that is what he did tonight.    Honorable mention to Joaquin Arias, first Giant rbi of 2013, first game winning rbi and a terrific job at 1st base to fill in for an indisposed Brandon Belt.  No errors tonight!

Monday, April 1, 2013

It's Kershaw's Day

Matt Cain pitched well. Six innings, no runs, eight strikeouts (Game Score 71). Clayton Kershaw pitched better (Game Score 86), and he added a booming solo shot in the 8th for the coup de grĂ¢ce. The Giants cannot solve that guy. In retrospect, asking George Kontos to get more than three outs was a bit of a reach, then again, the fourth guy was, uh, the pitcher. Obviously rattled by Kershaw's bomb, he gave a up a long hit to the next batter, Carl Crawford, then Buster Posey could not field a bunt pop-up from Mark Ellis and suddenly there were runners on second and third with no outs. It was not a good day for the bullpen: Santiago Casilla wild pitched a run home while walking Matt Kemp, then Jeremy Affeldt hit Adrian Gonzalez, loading the bases. Two more scored (on outs), and the tight pitching duel ended ugly. It was a good day for Kershaw, who blew the Giants away with his ridiculous assortment, including an arsenal of impossible breaking pitches. The lefties were particularly over-matched. It took only 94 pitches total--I think he had two six-pitch innings--for him to get his third career shutout against San Francisco. If I see that same game in September, I'll expect the Giants 'pen to hold the line and take the scoreless tie into extras. The only way to win today was to get Kershaw out. He didn't let that happen and the Dodger fans go home happy.

Madison Bumgarner gets the ball tomorrow against Hyun-jin Ryu, who is making his debut.The lefty was a big star in Korea with the Hanwha Eagles, who have an orange-and-black color scheme.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Twenty-five Guys, One Purpose: Beat LA!

It's Andres Torres in LF today, not Gregor Blanco. I'm not sure either of them can hit Clayton Kershaw, but then again, very few can. He's absolutely owned the Giants (118 IP, 77 H, 21 R, 127 K) in 16 starts yet is "only" 8-4, mostly because his teammates couldn't score enough runs. Of course, the San Francisco pitching staff has been pretty good these last few years. The Giants, collectively, are hitting .185/.237/.257 against the big southpaw, and it would be nice to see that change this season. The Dodgers are on everyone's pre-season pick list with their superstar-laden roster and bloated payroll. The Giants, meanwhile, are merely the defending champs, but that don't count for nothing once they throw the first pitch. I like to think the weight of expectations on the LA squad will take its toll. When daddy buys you the fastest car you should win all the races, right?

The Giants are only carrying four outfielders (Blanco, Torres, Angel Pagan, and Hunter Pence), but one presumes Brandon Belt will get some starts in left. After all, the team is carrying three catchers. Guillermo Quiroz is the backup for Hector Sanchez who is the backup for Buster Posey. Sign a guy for NINE YEARS and a zillion dollars and get him TWO backups? That's a valuable dude. But I defer to Boch & Sabes, they've got their reasons. And it's not like the team is short-handed somewhere. There's that great infield of Belt, Marco Scutaro, Brandon Crawford, and Pablo Sandoval. Joaquin Arias is the veteran utility guy and Nick Noonan is the rookie utility guy. Nice combo, eh? So that's four plus three plus six for 13 spots. That makes for a 12-man pitching staff with Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, and Ryan Vogelsong doing the heavy lifting. The three lefties in the 'pen (Jose Mijares, Javier Lopez, and Jeremy Affeldt) balance out the three righties (George Kontos, Santiago Casilla, and Sergio Romo), and FNG righty Chad Gaudin gets the "last man" duties.

Last year the Giants opened in Arizona and lost three straight one-run games as Timmy, Maddy, and Matty each gave up two homers in their starts. The season turned out OK anyway. I'll try to remember that when I'm screaming at the TV this afternoon. It's a marathon, not a sprint, right? Still, spoiling the fun for all those fans in Chavez LAtrine would feel pretty good.

GO GIANTS! BEAT LA!

--M.C.