Friday, May 31, 2013

Saint Louie Saturday DH Slated

There's an old joke goes something like this:

The high school English teacher struggled for weeks to reach a sullen, reluctant student. Later in the year, she noticed he always wore a baseball cap. She decided to make the next essay assignment about a baseball game, hoping to finally reach him. The day came when she collected the compositions, and she eagerly plucked his paper from the pile.
Rain. No game.


p.s. Matt Cain tomorrow at 10:15 Pacific, followed by Madison Bumgarner at 4:15

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Giants Finally Tame A's

It was looking a little scary for a while, contemplating a sweep at the hands of the Oaklanders, but the lads put together a big rally and pulled off the win. Props to Barry Zito for a fine start (Game Score 61), something that's been missing for much of the month. Hey, Timmy, how about you follow BZ around and see how he does it? After all, he was on top of the world at one point, and rock bottom not much later. Sound familiar? And he is the same guy with the same tools (only older) and now, somehow, he can be an effective pitcher, a stopper, and a big-game winner. If Barry can rediscover his mojo, so can you.

I don't mean to pick on Tim Lincecum. I will always love the guy, he will always be in the pantheon of all-time Giants greats. But he is NOT a lost cause. Zeets is living proof of that. But as much as I'd like to see The Freak be in orange and black next year and beyond, unless he delivers the goods he will hit the road in search of a "fresh start." The bullpen thing was great in the post-season, but I'm not sure it works over the long grind of June, July, August, and September. Tim needs to chew up innings and string together some starts. In fact, they all do. Matt Cain has not been up to snuff so far this season, and when you throw a hundred million bucks at a guy, you expect better. But I'm not worried about Cain, he is Mr. Consistency. He will "regress to his mean" and start pitching more like the Matt Cain we know and love. Madison Bumgarner has mostly been himself, with a few horrid outings, but I'm not worried about MadBum either. He's good. He's very good. He will deliver down the stretch. Obviously those two will have to carry the load for the other two, and hope those other two can find a groove where they can be positive contributors. As far as a fifth starter goes, I don't see the Giants doing anything rash anytime soon. They will stick with duct tape and band-aids until Ryan Vogelsong comes back. Now Vogie was absolutely terrible in his nine starts, but I think he will find his form again. Here's another guy who hit rock bottom and then became a champion. I like that sort of mental makeup in a player--it gives me confidence that they can "turn it around."

Let's look at some numbers. First, the good: the Giants are fourth in the NL in runs scored (243), and first in OPS+ (112). They are tied for first in wRC+ (104) and are fifth in wOBA (.318). They don't hit a lot of homers (42, 12th), but they do hit a lot of doubles (101, 3rd). Doubles were a big part of the offense today. They are only 8th in walks (155), but they are tied for first in sacrifices (46). The offense has been carrying the load. This is not the San Francisco Giants we are used to watching, although we should remember that this was the best-hitting road club in all of baseball in the second half of 2012. Now for the bad, and brace yourselves: the Giants have allowed the second most runs in the NL (245) and rank last in ERA+ (82). They are 10th in FIP (3.95) but only 8th in xFIP (also 3.95). If you use FIP- (FanGraphs version, roughly, of ERA+, but flipped over so below 100 is good and over is bad), the Giants are third from the bottom (107), topping only the Brewers and Padres. Here's a simpler look: San Francisco pitchers lead the NL in walks (185!!) and have allowed the fifth-most homers (53). Obviously that has to change if the Giants expect to stay in the hunt.

Today was Game 54, and that's the first third of the season. Three innings are in the books. Here's what they've done:

1st inning: 11-7
2nd inning: 10-8
3rd inning: 8-10

That's 29-25, .537, 1-1/2 games back. I did not talk about the terrible fielding we've seen so far, mostly because we saw it last season, too, then it turned around and they caught just about everything in the second half. I'd like to see more quality starts going forward. I think we all would, and we know that's the backbone of this team and their two championships.

Keep the faith, me buckos. Lots of baseball left.



Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Same Old New Tim

Interleague play is clearly a bad idea. At least, I'm sure the Giants think so. Tonight, our beloved boys lost a crazy one, 9-6 in favor of the A's. That makes it their fifth straight loss against an AL squad and this one was especially painful; we were home and we hit the snot out of the ball. But six runs and 13 hits aren't enough for this pitching staff and defensive squad to protect right now. Especially with Tim Lincecum starting.

Not much analysis is really possible, or needed, when discussing the man we once called The Freak. He just doesn't really know where he is throwing the ball anymore. And by anymore I mean for , oh, a couple years now.  Nothing new. We have seen Tim do this crap ( 4.1 innings, 7 hits, 5 runs, 4 walks ) so many times now I am finally getting immune to the agony of watching it.  Heavy sigh.

Great nights for Blanco, Torres, and Scutaro. Homers by Pence and Pill. That should be a recipe for joy but when you add in three ugly errors, and some pretty skanky pitching, you end up with a foul taste in your mouth.

Guess that calls for a night cap!!  What better way to shake it off, sleep well, and come back for some new punishment tomorrow?  Cheers.

A's Kickham to the curb

Couldn't resist. If Mike Kickham has any kind of future in the bigs, we'll get to try out every variation on his name. Silly, I know, but coming up with titles is often the hardest thing I do. The kid looked like he had a nice fastball and could mix in the breaking pitches for strikes, but the Oakland lineup was patient and wore him out. He looked good in the 1st, striking out Chris Young and making a nifty play to cover first on a grounder from Yoenis Cespedes. The Giants had a shift on--Brandon Belt was almost playing second base, and if Kickham doesn't cover the bag it would have been a hit. Those 3-1 plays are easy to screw up but the Giants seem to do them consistently well. One thing the Giants have not done in the last two games is hit the ball with much authority. They could not solve Jarrod Parker despite getting 25 pitches out of him (and scoring a run) to open the game. He made brisk work of the lineup the rest of the night. Gregor Blanco is 0-for-leading off, and neither Buster Posey or Pablo Sandoval could manage a hit. The A's are hot--five wins in a row--after starting the month 4-10. The Giants are 0-for-AL, losing all their inter-league contests so far. Their 9-15 road record is a little ugly, especially considering they were 46-35 last year and scored 410 runs.

Tim Lincecum gets the ball tonight. Let's hope playing at home improves things.



Monday, May 27, 2013

Down One to Our Natural Rivals

I guess everyone is playing their "natural rivals" today, meaning, of course, their "natural rivals in the other league."  Of course to have this happen, the Houston Astros had to move to the American League.  They have apparently been assigned to be Colorado's "natural rivals."  I guess that would be "naturalized rivals."  It's kind of weird, Colorado used to have Seattle as the team they would play a bunch, but now Seattle is apparently San Diego's "natural rival."  And with Texas and Houston in the same American League, their natural intra-state rivalry has been expunged.  Texas is now apparently Arizona's "natural rival" while Houston is Colorado's.  Many of the "natural rivals" make some sense, New York teams, Chicago teams, Los Angeles area teams, Bay Area teams, Ohio state teams, Missouri state teams, Florida teams.  But Atlanta is stuck with Toronto while Boston plays Philadelphia.  Atlanta should really be Boston's "natural rivals" because at least the Braves were originally in Boston.  That would leave Philadelphia with Toronto, which kind of makes no sense, but without another Canadian team, Toronto makes no sense with anyone.  Meanwhile, Philadelphia has to play Detroit.

Meanwhile, there was a game in Oakland and it was a game which the Giants lost.  The game sold out, as Oakland-SF games tend to do.  Madison Bumgarner pitched pretty well for awhile.  He gave up 2 runs on a home run to Josh Donaldson in the 4th inning, then gave up 2 more on a double by Yoenis Cespedes in the 7th.   Madison was over 110 pitches by that point, but he had set the A's down in 3 in the 5th and 6th innings, so I'm sure that they wanted to get him through the 7th.  It might not have mattered.  The Giants scored one in the 6th on a ground out by Buster Posey, but, with the exception of a couple of well-struck balls that were fly outs, they never really threatened.  Sandoval, Posey, Pence and Belt were all 0-fers (although Posey did pick up the lone rbi).  Andres Torres got 2 hits,Crawford 1 and Scutaro 1.  But that was it.  The A's only got 5, but Madison also walked 5.  Tomorrow Mike Kickham makes his major league debut.  He is from St. Louis.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Cain and Giants Keep Winning

I got home today just in time to see Brandon Belt break a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the 5th with a double over Dexter Fowler's head in centerfield. Belt also walked twice and scored twice. I missed Matt Cain and his five walks in the first two innings, and I missed his three strikeouts of Carlos Gonzalez. He was gone after five and 107 pitches, and the Giants needed six pitchers and 73 more pitches for the last twelve outs. But after three runs in that big 5th inning they prevailed 7-3 and took the series from the Rockies. Four guys--Marco Scutaro, Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, and Andres Torres--had two hits apiece. It was Buster's solo blast that got the scoring going for the Giants in the 2nd after Cain gave up two in the 1st. The bottom of the lineup (Belt, Torres, and Brandon Crawford) scratched out a run in the 4th, and the fun didn't finish until the final two were tacked on in the bottom of the 6th. The sunny, windy conditions made it hard on the fielders, and Colorado had a couple of tough chances that got away from them and figured in the scoring. Both, naturally, were hit by Pence. He hits funny balls that spin funny and take funny bounces. He's funny that way.

Nothing funny about first place.



Saturday, May 25, 2013

Angelic Ending

Angel Pagan's inside-the-park walk-off home run with Brandon Crawford on second base rescued the Giants from a frustrating afternoon and squared up the series with the Rockies. Home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez made two bad calls that went against the home team: one cost them a run scored and the other wiped out a likely scoring chance. Ol' Boch took one for the team and got booted after angrily re-hashing the two mistakes with the Man in Blue. He missed being on the field for the crazy ending, and if history is any guide, he won't get another opportunity. New York Giants Hall of Famer Bill Terry was the last orange-and-blacker to do what Angel did today, and that was 82 years ago!

Starter Barry Zito got banged around a bit and the Giants were down 4-0 after four, but they strung together a rally in the 6th to get within one. When Buster Posey scored on an Andres Torres double in the 7th it looked like another great come-from-behind victory chance. Alas, closer Sergio Romo coughed up a massive homer to purple nemesis Troy Tulowitzki and the lads seemed done for. But this is a resilient club. Those shoulder patches mean something, and it is "you'll only get that trophy from our cold, dead fingers." We've seen these guys bounce back many times already here in the early part of the season, and each time the drama knob is turned up another notch. I wonder if it will go to eleven!

There's been a lot of call lately for more use of replay in baseball, and it is getting harder to lay out a valid case for sticking with the current system. One thing that seems obvious is to get the umps to talk to each other and find out if another guy had a better look at a play. When Marco Scutaro was called out on the phantom tag, it seemed like the second base umpire had a much better angle even though he was further away. The crew chief could have saved everyone some grief by ordering the group to "huddle up" and talk about the call before giving a final ruling. That change alone, which involves no replay at all, could fix a few broken circumstances. In the end, it is ridiculous that any clown on the street with MLB TV on their iPhone can see a blown call but the guys on the field cannot. Imagine if the crew chief had a radio and could ask an extra official (I think Seligula can afford it) who is in a booth with all the video feeds if a there is a clear look that could overturn the on-field call. It would not take a lot of time if the mandate was for a "clear look" that requires a call to be changed. In other words, assume the guy on the field is right unless the camera shows without a doubt he was wrong. Managers could ask the crew chief for the review on, say, plays at the plate, or some other limited set, that way there would not be too much delay from gamesmanship. You don't want every goddamn close call at first to be scrutinized, that would be torture. But it seems clear that something has to be done to reduce the frequency of blown calls. If changes do come, they need to be integrated into the flow of the game so that baseball avoids the clumsiness of the system currently used in the NFL, for example, which is an awkward, time-wasting exercise that tries the fans' patience.

But enough of that. The Giants won the game, and they won in pulse-pounding fashion. Tim Flannery ('It fly, men ran') is hard-wired to windmill that left arm, I wonder if he knows what the "stop" sign is. Vida Blue on the post-game show said he thought the Giants caught a break that Tulo was not the relay man (it was DJ LeMahieu), and the big shortstop might have made a killer throw to get Pagan. But it didn't happen that way, and we all get to enjoy another remarkable win by the good guys.

Matt Cain goes tomorrow since they are skipping Ryan Vogelsong's spot. There's a good chance I'll miss the action but I will have a report for you nonetheless, so keep your dial set to RMC.



Friday, May 24, 2013

Almost Quality Tim

The Purple Pukes, otherwise known as the Colorado Rockies, came to town for the  Memorial Day weekend and spanked us to the tune of  5-0.  Tim Lincecum, who did pretty well after a crappy first inning, was no match for Tyler Chatwood.  That guy did well against us last week and I am sure sick of his complete command of the bottom of the strike zone. Their offense also impressed me tonight. Several of their biggest hits off Tim were with two outs and off rather good pitches.  That young guy at third, Nolan Arenado, made a couple sweet plays and looks like a "natural."  Shit, listen to me . Gushing over the Pukes! Must be the full moon.

Timmeh's stuff looked fantastic at times, which accounts for the eight strike outs and he did gobble up seven innings. So, it is hard to be totally bummed about the evening. However, the idea that I can't seem to get out of my head is that we are watching the end of Lincecum's Giants career. What do you guys think? What are the chances that we keep him? What has to happen for him to stay? Would that be a good thing, if he did?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tight Game, Good Series

You say you want a well pitched game?  You got one today.  Here is the starter's line: 7 innings, 4 hits, 1 run (earned), 2 BB and 5 K.  Which starter?  Take your pick, the lines are the same (actually, the Nats' Gio Gonzalez went 7 1/3).    The Giants' Madison Bumgarner rebounded from a bad Colorado game and threw 115 pitches, 74 for strikes.  Gonzalez threw 116, with 73 reported as strikes, although it seemed at the time like most everything he threw was a strike.  Madison gave up a home run, though, to Bryce Harper in the 6th inning, and the Giants squeezed one across on when Gonzalez walked Angel Pagan in the 8th, then Drew Storen (Stanford man) walked Scutaro and gave up a run-scoring single to Buster Posey.  The Giants' relief was good, but not perfect, as Jeremy Affeldt, the sixth pitcher on the day, gave up a double to Harper and then a single to Ian Desmond in the 10th.  The Giants could not score against Rafael Soriano in the bottom of the 10th.

I think my blog-mates have expressed a great sense of relief in seeing a quality start.  The Giants (and Nats) played error-free ball today.  Gonzalez was dealing, tough not to see the Giants hit, but seeing good pitching made up for it.  Jeez, what is with this Harper guy?  He's good, and so are the Nats, in spite of the fact that they have stumbled out of the gate a bit.  The Giants have already beaten them more than they did all of 2012.  The Giants do not play tomorrow.  That allows them to start Matt and Madison on normal rest without another starter and gives Tim and Barry an extra day, then they will be on a 5th day next time around.  No real travel either.  So far, Matt and Madison have reacted well to the friendly enclave of ATT Park.  Let's show the Rockies some of the Giants that was missing at Cuurs.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Instant Classic

It's not easy being matched up with Baseball Jesus, but someone had to do it, and Matt Cain was the man on the spot. He got rocked a bit in the 1st inning but then put up six scoreless to keep the Giants close. Stephen Strasburg was a little wild, and had his own troubles in the 1st (31 pitches), but was ultimately quite stingy and kept the Giants quiet. Gregor Blanco had the best at-bats against him, and scored a run in the 2nd to keep the pressure on. Otherwise it looked tough for the home squad, trailing 2-1 after a great seven-inning duel. The Man They Call the Shark was not done, though, and roped a spectacular RBI triple over Bryce Harper's head in the bottom of the 9th off closer Rafael Soriano to tie the game. It was a 1-2 pitch! That was a seriously clutch hit! When Marco Scutaro got a hit with one out in the 10th to bring Pablo Sandoval to the plate, everyone watching the game had one thought: end it, Panda. And end it he did, blasting a monster shot off Yunesky Maya (why didn't they use Drew Storen in that spot?) to get the walk-off win.

It would have been a great game even without the late heroics. Both starters were brilliant in spots: Cain struck out four of the last six he faced and only allowed one hit after the 1st, Strasburg retired the last ten batters he faced. The Nationals turned two double plays early to snuff out the Giants chances, and the Giants pulled off a tough 3-6-1 double of their own in the 5th. Cain made a great play on a comebacker the inning before to get an out at the plate and save a run. Both teams played flawlessly in the field, a relief to Giants fans in particular after a long stretch of poor glove work. It was one of those classic match-ups of great pitchers that actually turned out to be a classic match-up of great pitching. The Giants bullpen deserves a lot of credit for three scoreless innings. Javier Lopez got two outs despite a hit and a walk, then Jean Machi, Sergio Romo, and Jeremy Affeldt retired seven straight. Lopez struck out Adam LaRoche looking with two on and Machi got a comebacker to end the 8th and turn it over to the big guns. The Nats have their own guns in the 'pen--Tyler Clippard was tough in the 8th and Soriano had a 15-inning scoreless streak going before The White Shark got it done in the 9th.

Somehow, again, the Giants found a way to win. Despite Panda's rocket launch, Blanco gets the game ball for his superb work against Strasburg and his ridiculous two-strike, two-out triple to save the day. Buster Posey led off the inning with a single that hit Maya on the foot, and Boch brought in Andres Torres to pinch-run, and he scored easily from first base. Guillermo Quiroz caught the top of the 10th and would have been the next hitter after Sandoval. Giants pitchers laid down nine scoreless innings after the 1st. Add the nine scoreless from last night and the Nats are hurting in the offense department. Let's hope that continues tomorrow afternoon. Madison Bumgarner gets the start against Gio Gonzalez. Two great lefties follow the two big righties.



Vogie TKO'd in Giants Victory

Ryan Vogelsong was getting the results last night that we are more used to seeing, like double-play grounders instead of doubles. He even pitched around a Marco Scutaro error (that's eight for him, if you are counting) in the 5th. Then he got hit on the hand by a pitch from Craig Stammen. Actually, he swung at a high, inside pitch and failed to put the bat on the ball--he used his pitching hand instead. (It was the kind of thing that makes you want the DH rule. Then again, Vogie laid down a beautiful RBI bunt in his previous plate appearance.) CRACK went the knuckles and just like that he needs surgery and will be out at least a month. It was great watching Vogie look like Vogie and it was terrible watching him get hurt. Giants starters have been remarkably healthy and have mostly avoided injuries these last few seasons and have been the mainstay of two championships. 2013 is shaping up a little differently in the early going as the hitters have carried much of the load. Let's hope Vogelsong can come back and be effective again. The part that worries me a bit is that he's 35 which is senior citizen territory for ballplayers. But if fortitude and desire were quantifiable, Vogie would lead the team, and that gives me a ray of hope. And despite leading the league in runs allowed (Tim Lincecum did that last year), we know what the guy can do when it's crunch time:

That's innings pitched in four games in the 2012 post-season, followed by hits, R/ER, homers, BB/IBB, strikeouts, hit batters, balks, WP, and BF. 99 batters faced, only 16 hits allowed and zero home runs. Damn! That was some fine pitching! Get well soon, man.

The good part about last night was very, very good. Brandon Belt hit the ball very well, as did Andres Torres. The Giants scored against all three Nats pitchers and Scutaro, Angel Pagan, Buster Posey, and Pablo Sandoval had two hits apiece. It was fun. Nice work from the 'pen, too, Javier Lopez in particular. The road trip from hell is now just a memory. Tonight Washington trots out Baseball Jesus--Stephen Strasburg--and the Giants counter with Matt Cain. Should be a great matchup!


p.s. At least we don't have to deal with this shite. Our guy broke his hand playing the game.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Feeble Giants Get Skunked in Denver

I'm not going to recap the game. You can do that here. Suffice to say Barry Zito gave the lads a fair chance in the first few frames, but they could get nothing going against Juan Nicasio. Alas, it all fell apart and the Colorado Rockies won their third in a row against the slumping Giants. What does one do on days like this when the team plays like puke? Why bar-be-cue a fabulous roast! Local beef, grass-fed, organic, it's mouth-wateringly good, me buckos, and I slow-roasted it, sitting on the patio in the soft spring sun, and listening to the soothing tones of Flemm and Miller as they put as positive a spin on the down-spiral as they could. You, Gee, 'ell, Why, they ain't got no alibi, this team is u-ug-LEE right now. Seriously. I mean ugly, man, really ugly. But a momma still loves an ugly baby, don't she? And tells everyone it's the cutest goddamn critter she ever seen, ain't it so, lads? Why, 'course it is, otherwise parents would have killed off their offspring the first chance they got, wouldn't they? And all of us ugly muthafuckahs wouldn't have made it past our first birthdays, now would we? So take some comfort in that, eh? I mean, we are here, they are there, and the darkest hours are just before daylight, you know what I'm saying?

The mighty Washington Nationals, fresh off a 13-4 thumping at the hands of the San Diego Padres, bring their 23-21 record and -17 run differential to AT&T Park tomorrow. It's at home, fer chrissakes, so I like the Giants chances.




Saturday, May 18, 2013

Tired of Tim

The road trip through Hell continued with another ugly loss to Colorado, 10-2.  This game featured all the current glaring flaws of  the 2013 Giants; shitty starting pitching (Tim Lincecum, 3-3, 4.70 ERA) and troubling defense. Three errors today... isn't that like 12 errors in the last seven games? Please tell me that's wrong. I can only hope this is what a a fielding slump looks like, not sure I have ever seen one before. Certainly not one this bad.

Last time he was very good. This time he was very bad. What can I say? Tim Lincecum is tiring to watch. I'm sick of it. We could always chalk it up to Coors Field.  After all, his numbers are very "mile high" :  5 innings, 7 hits, 6 runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts. Sure, let's blame it on the the crappy ball park. I'm tired; tired of thinking about how shitty Tim's command is getting. I'm exhausted just reliving Tim's lovely error and spectacular balk.  Yeah, it was the frigging ball park.

Let's hope we play an error free game tomorrow. We must shake this streak of sloppy play before it defines us. Go Giants!

Coors Field

You knew it had to happen, the omens were all there.  The Giants had beaten the Rockies in 10 consecutive games.  The Giants had never before, since the start of divisional play, beaten a divisional opponent for 10 consecutive games.  Throw in the Giants recent propensity to play error-full ball and the Coors Field factor, where scores are high, and you get the result, Rox 10, Giants 9 at the end of a nearly 4-hour 9 inning game.

Madison Bumgarner did not pitch well, although his 7 earned runs could have, in a better world, been less.  He did not help himself with a throwing error.  He threw 102 pitches, and should have only thrown 101.  His last left the yard with the bases full in the fifth with 2 outs.  Bochy wanted him to finish the fifth so he could pinch hit for him as the first batter up.   Didn't happen.   8 hits, 4 K and 2 BB.

The Giants committed 4 errors in the first 3 innings.  There were mental errors that didn't show up as well.  Throwing to the wrong base to allow a runner to move up.  And why was Brandon Crawford bunting for a hit against DeLaRosa, who seemed vulnerable?  He bunted, but was easily thrown out in front of Madison.  Oh, and Coors.  Balls fly.  Like Pacheco's first home run, a grand slam.  We got some hitting, too, where we needed it to make the game close.  3 from Scutaro and Sandoval, 2 each from Posey, Pence and Pill (including a long home run from Posey in the 8th.  Marco Scutaro rested on May 1.  In April, he had 24 hits in 100 at bats.  Since then he has had 28 hits in 59 at bats, has hit in every game and has only had 3 games in which he has only had 1 hit. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Matt Cain is a Winner

It was damn close to being Return of the Son of the Vortex of Suckitude, but Matt Cain channeled his inner Jack Morris and the Giants prevailed. The Man Who Would Be HOF'd never roped a single up the middle for a two-out RBI, I reckon, but he is Veteran Savvy Clutchness personified, and that's what Matty had going tonight. Grit. Fortitude. The Will to Win. After three big, fat, BP cheese-puffs got blasted out to fucking Wyoming, VSC was the only thing to shoot for. What's with all the long balls? Those were straight up bad pitches! Buster would set up inside and the pitch would float outside and into the hit-me zone. Other than those two innings, Cain did a decent impersonation of himself. Final line: 6-1/3 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 6 SO, Game Score 37. Jeremy Affeldt delivered a six-up, six-down relief stint to secure the pitcher-win for Matty. Still think pitcher-wins are meaningful? Not that the baseball gods don't owe our lad a few.

The 2013 Giants are flashing some bat these days. They are 3rd in the NL in OPS and 4th in runs scored, but they have also given up the third-most runs, trailing only the Mets (15-23) and the Brewers (16-23). The first five games Matt Cain started this season ended in losses for the team. They next four ended in wins. I like wins, I don't care who gets the credit, but Brandon Crawford certainly deserves some for his clutch hitting. And did you see the barehanded grab he made in the 6th? Wow. That guy has some serious moves, and a cannon for an arm.



Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Son of the Vortex of Suckitude

More like the mutant bastard spawn, but that's a quibble. Another first inning and another egregious display of base-balling. The Giants made two errors--again--and that led to two runs. Then the hit parade started and never stopped. Here are Ryan Vogelsong's Game Scores (8 starts): 34, 42, 58, 49, 32, 20, 29, 21. He has allowed 44 runs, which is the most in the majors. I can't think about that too much or my head will hurt. Good thing the Giants are heading to a more familiar hell-hole for a four-game set. Nothing weird ever happens in Coors Field.

C'mon, Giants! Pull your collective heads out of your asses and get back to winning games.


p.s. Marco Scutaro extended his hitting streak to 14 games.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Vortex of Suckitude

Toronto is in Canada, and Canada is, like, weird. Case in point:

click to enlarge

All that green stuff? That's bad. They have green stuff in Toronto, but it's not grass. Canada is weird.

The Giants are normally a stalwart defensive club. "They catch everything" I always say. Good thing no one listens to what I always say. The blow-by-blow does not explain the Hunter Punce hee-yuk overthrow that failed to keep a double play possibility in order. It does not explain Nick Noonan and his concrete galoshes. Or his failure to turn the double play when one was in order. The whole mess, I'm trying to say, was not just Barry Zito's doing. I mean, two errors are actually listed up there, but that's not the half of it. The entire outfield and three-fourths of the infield looked bad at one time or another tonight. In Canada.

It must have been the Vortex of Suckitude. Good thing they pass over after a while. The team's titanium necklaces don't work inside one of those. R.A. Dickey, apparently, can conjure up the Vortex when he needs it. And Melky Cabrera, don't forget about him. He can, too. Ryan Vogelsong has his work cut out for him tomorrow. Maybe Brandon Belt will keep hitting, and Pablo Sandoval, too. After all, six runs is usually plenty.



Sunday, May 12, 2013

Tim-like Tim

The Giants closed out a nifty 7-3 home stand by throttling the Braves, 5-1.  I, of course, decided to miss today's game in favor of " a good walk spoiled," or a round of golf as some people call it.  It is a shame that I missed the homers by Belt, Sandoval ( into the bay!), and Scutaro.  But it is a frigging crime that I missed Tim being so damn good.

Seven shut out innings, two hits, NO RUNS, three walks and seven strikeouts. That's like the good old days.  Sure, the Braves are free swingers and probably exactly what Tim needed. None the less THEY ARE GOOD.  We will hopefully be facing these guys in playoffs, that's how good they are. A truly quality win.  Sucks that I missed it.

But, yes. I am willing to go golfing every time Tim pitches, if I have to. Just the kind of fan I am.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

What's Not to Like?

10 - 1!  14 hits for the Giants, a first inning home run from Pablo Sandoval, and 4 rbi (a personal best) for Gregor Blanco.  And he didn't even start the game.  Pitching?  We got some.  Madison Bumgarner allowed only 4 hits and one run in 7 innings.  He struck out 11 in 112 pitches, 70 of which were strikes.  Chad Gaudin finished the eighth and Jeremy Affeldt the ninth.

Everyone got hits.  Well, Brandon Crawford didn't, nor did Nick Noonan or Joaquin Arias, brought in late in the game.  Nor did Madison, for that matter.  But there were 14!  And did I mention 4 rbi for Gregor Blanco?  Seriously, much more fun that one of those tense last minute victories.

Matt Cain pitches like Matt Cain!

Matt Cain brought an end to the second inning of the season with a flourish, giving up only two runs on three hits to the powerful Braves lineup. The Giants finally solved their nemesis Tim Hudson, sending him to the showers with a six-run 4th inning. It was a good comeback for the club after a lackluster opening to the series. The Giants went 11-7 in the first 18 games of the season, and followed that with a 10-8 record over the next 18. Their 21-15 record overall puts them in a tie with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The .583 win percentage trails St. Louis (.647) and Atlanta (.600) in the National League. Last year the Giants never did worse than 9-9 in a seasonal inning.

After 8 starts, Cain's line looks ugly: 50 IP, 29 runs, 10 HR. Strikeouts (7.7/9) and bases on balls (2.7) are OK, within career norms, but those long balls are an outlier. Matt has averaged about 18 gopher balls per year since he became a full-time starter and his career number is 0.8 HR/9 (139 in 1586-2/3 IP). What does it mean? I don't know. It's a lot of homers. Then again, take a look at Jim Hunter, the HOF Catfish: 1.0 HR/9, or 374 in 3449-1/3 IP, including leading the league twice with 39 in 1973 and 28 in 1976. What does it mean? I don't know. Good pitchers can give up home runs and still be good, I suppose. It will be good to see Matt give up a few fewer going forward. Otherwise, he looks a lot like Matt Cain lately, and that's got to be good.



Friday, May 10, 2013

Braves Take Round One

Atlanta's 22-year old rookie starter, Julio Teheran, needed only 93 pitches to get 21 outs. He couldn't stop Buster Posey, but managed to keep a lid on most everyone else and that was enough. Ryan Vogelsong continues to miss his corner spots and find the middle of the plate, and you can't do that very long in the big leagues. The Braves have some hitters in that lineup and the return of Brian McCann makes them even more formidable. I don't know what's going on with Vogie--he seems to have plenty of velocity and movement. He also threw 93 pitches but could not get through the 5th inning. He was not hitting the glove consistently, and when he fell behind and had to groove one he got dinged. Last night was game 35, and everyone in the rotation has now logged seven starts. The two southpaws have nine quality starts between them while the three right-handers only have seven, and four of those belong to Matt Cain. We've all been scratching our heads over Tim Lincecum's struggles, but Vogie has been worse. Let's hope he figures it out before too long. The Giants could use a big start from Cain tonight as the bullpen is short-handed with Santiago Casilla sidelined. Not to mention the fact that the Braves are countering with Giant-killer Tim Hudson, who's given up just 49 runs in 122 IP (17 starts) in his career against San Francisco. Expect a lot of ground balls.

I'll miss the game and Matty's outing as I have a retirement party to attend, one I've been looking forward to for some time and should be a lot of fun. Last time I missed watching Cain he shut down the Dodgers. Perhaps I should miss more of his starts.



Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"The Trouble" Is Not With the Starters

At least not today.  The Giants avoided a sweep with a 10th inning score today after a strong 7 innings from today's starter, Barry Zito.  Zito's line: 7 innings, 4 hits, 1 run on a home run, 101 pitches.  That home run was by a guy who used to be a Giant, Kevin Frandsen.  However, the Giants got a home run from a guy who used to be a Phillie, Hunter Pence.

The Giants were up 3-1 going into the 9th after a scoreless 8th from Santiago Casilla and Jeremy Affeldt.  Sergio Romo blew a save opportunity in the 9th, and that is not good.  Jimmy Rollins doubled, then went to third on a pop out to right.  Michael Young walked.  Utley singled for an rbi and then the other Young, Delmon, sacrificed him home.  Javier Lopez shut down the Phils in the 10th.   Then, with Antonio Bastardo on the mound, Buster Posey, hitting for Brandon Belt, singled.  Joaquin Arias bunted him to second, and then he went to third on a wild pitch.  Crawford walked, Quiroz struck out, and then Andres Torres singled for the gwrbi.  Zito picked up another rbi himself, and Scutaro had three hits.

So, life looks better with a Giant victory.  Tim was not good, and Madison not up to snuff, but then again, we got an excellent performance from Matt and Barry.  Vogey up next, and that will be against the tough Atlantans.


Barry Zito pitched another great game today. The magic carpet ride continues for the Beezian One. My mom thinks No. 75's resurgence is due to his getting married. She's a big fan of marriage. She likes to see guys "settle down" and is convinced that Mrs. Zito is at least partly responsible for her husband's recent run of on-field success. Hey, I'll buy it. It's at least as good as my explanation: Veteran Savvy Clutchness. Barry Zito is now old enough to be gritty. And he takes the same tools he's always had and adds more moxie to them. That's enough to make him better. Grit + Moxie = Veteran Savvy Clutchness. Zito's pitching will never move the dials on any sabermetric indicators, mostly because he doesn't strike out a lot of hitters and he pitches in a friendly park. He's the same guy, he just seems a lot better. We shouldn't be surprised--baseball games are played by people, and when said people are happier and healthier they most likely will play better. Now add experience and maturity and you have a formula for an athlete to make the best use of his tools. And with a nod to the saberistas, you have to account for luck. What I mean is random variation. You know, streaks and good breaks and all that. Sometimes you just have to ride the hot hand and not question it, I suppose. Keep it rolling, Barry.

Sergio Romo doesn't blow many saves, so it's hard to get too upset. He's been close to automatic. I was impressed by Buster Posey snagging third base in the bottom of the 10th on that pitch Carlos Ruiz couldn't quite handle. Ballsy move, man, imagine if they'd nailed him. The Giants would probably still be playing and it would be the 22nd inning. It was nice to see Andres Torres contribute as well. One thing the Giants like to do is swing the bat, and he swung at the first pitch to get the walk-off win.

The Atlanta Braves (20-13, first place NL East) come to town for three starting tomorrow.



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Nothing Special Tim

The Phillies, once again looking like the much better team, took game 2 of the series by a score of 6-2.  Guess what? We fell behind early. That's right, this season's recurring theme of  generally crappy starting pitching once again reared it's ugly head.  Tim Lincecum delivered a rather feeble 7 innings, yielding 9 hits and five runs. Nothing special there. I still have a lot of faith in our rotation, yet it looks like a steady flow of quality starts may be a thing of the past.

If you really needed another indication that Tim is a shadow of his former self, Chase Utley's performance tonight might qualify.  Timmeh has owned Utley for years, something like 6 hits and 12 strike outs in 30 at bats. Tonight, he got three hits, including a big homer, in three chances.  I know it is a small sample size, but we all know Tim's magic mojo is no more.  He is actually looking very hittable. Nothing special. Heavy sigh.

Day game tomorrow! No time to think about it. Shake it off and let's play ball.

Maddy Gets an L

Madison Bumgarner picked up his first loss last night against the redoubtable Cliff Lee.   He deserved it, too.  Maddy struck out 7 and walked only 2, but gave up 5 runs in 6 innings.  He also threw 2 wild pitches, one of which led directly to one of Philly's runs.  The Giants picked up a second run in the 8th against Cliff Lee before Jon Papelbon shut the Giants down in the 9th for a final score of 6-2.  The outcome was never much in doubt, the Giants had only 5 hits on the evening, and Hunter Pence had 60% of them.  Maddy threw 100 pitches, 68 of them for strikes, with one of those hit for a home run.  Hunter hit a solo home run off of Cliff Lee, too, as well as a double, but, other than he, the Giants were outmatched.  On a good note, Maddy went six innings.  With the use that our bullpen has been getting lately, that's a good thing.

Rather than dwell too long on the box score and game accounts, I would encourage you to look at the NL West standings this morning.  There are elements of sublime beauty there.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Win By Any Other Name

I came home today just in time to see Javier Lopez take the ball from Bruce Bochy. I missed Matt Cain's 7-1/3 innings of being Matt Cain. Remember when the "Cain can't beat LA" shite was being bandied about? When was that? Who cares. Pitcher-wins are stupid. Teams win, teams lose. Today was case in point, the 'pen was teetering on the abyss of a colossal meltdown in the 8th, and we were all a bit tense, but four pitchers later it was all OK. Lots of opportunities to turn that W into an L or ND. Shit happens. And Hunter Pence. Let us not forget the big hits that led to big runs that made the difference. If Hunter doesn't Pence, Matt would have been Cain'd, and that 'first win' would have slipped away. But a win it was, and still is, and my penny-ante punditry cannot get in the way of some well-deserved high-fives and woo-hoos. If my muse Mike Krukow were next to me now, I'm sure he'd say that the Tennessee Stud "was happy to leave April behind" and follow that with some new Krukovian catch-phrase that will bore into my brain like a Khan-worm into Mr. Chekhov. But Matt Cain and the Giants swept the Dodgers, and that's better than everything else.

I had a great Cinco de Mayo, hope you did, too.

¡Vamos Gigantes!


p.s. Ron: check my Spanish!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

¡Adios, pelota!

Ho-hum, just another laugher, this one a walk-off win against the Dodgers. Tonight's hero was last man Guillermo Quiroz, who has racked up just under 300 PA in parts of nine big league seasons. The 31-year old from Venezuela has logged over a thousand games in the minors in his long career, and his new job has him backing up the best player in the National League. Big swing in a big AB for the big fella, and the Giants go home happy once again.

Perhaps Buster Posey is not quite perfect--in the bottom of the 9th with the bases loaded and one out he had a chance to win it with a sac fly but instead offered up an easy DP grounder. Of course, he probably knew his backup would get the chance to deliver the big bomb in extras, and being a gentleman, deferred to the other fellow. Buster can turn failure into success. What a guy.

Unlike last night, tonight was not about the pitching. Santiago Casilla came up with the best stretch at the best time, getting the last six outs and giving the team a chance for a walk-off. Marco Scutaro (on base five times), Pablo Sandoval, and Posey were a combined 7-for-11 with six walks and six runs scored, but it was almost all for naught because Ryan Vogelsong had a meltdown in the 5th inning. He was charged with seven runs! The funny thing is that he looked good in the first four innings, much like the guy we saw last fall smoking the best teams in baseball. Fellow starter Matt Cain has yet to put it all together this season as well, yet the team is playing .600 ball and tied for first place. I imagine Ol' Boch will push his horse tomorrow and expect lots of innings as the 'pen has been well-used in the first two games.

Congratulations to "Q" for his huge homer off a tough closer, and for inserting his own interesting story into the great LA-SF rivalry. I didn't think the 2013 Giants would be full of so many surprises, but that's what makes every season so much fun as you just never know what is in store. And there's lots more to come.



p.s. Tonight the Giants had a player hobble off the field as Angel Pagan tweaked a hammy. I hereby promise not to make any more cracks about the crippled Dodgers. Bad karma, man. Perhaps Francisco Peguero will get a start.

Fence-bustin' Buster

I used to have this card when I was a kid and later I carried it around with me in my wallet as a sort of good luck charm. Not that the Giants had much luck in those days, they always seemed to run out of it at the penultimate moment. I should have kept the thing in plastic or something because it eventually disintegrated. I'm from the era where we clothes-pinned our cards to our bicycle spokes or drew mustaches on guys from other teams. We didn't have the capitalist sense of later generations. Now this thing will cost me forty bucks on eBay.

These days, the Giants are lucky as hell. Lucky to draft Buster Posey after four teams passed on him, for instance. I'll bet those teams hate games like last night when Buster uses his super-powers to vanquish his adversaries. It's not like Buster blasted bombs off AAA call-ups--his double in the 6th was off Clayton Kershaw, fer chrissakes, who is just about the best around, and his homer to win it was off Ronald Belisario, probably the scariest guy in the bigs. I mean, he's huge, he wears those grotesque goggles, and he throws it a thousand miles an hour and no one is quite sure where it will go. But Buster is not troubled by such trivialities. His mother was an immortal goddess, you know.

I'll admit to a bit of gut-wrenching panic when our hero was thrown out at home. I don't like to see Buster + home plate + sliding & colliding and this time he was doing the sliding, but it was just another routine gun 'em out from CF kind of thing. Matt Kemp still has an arm, even if his bat looks like an overcooked macaroni noodle. He finally got a hit in the 9th, I think it was his first against the Giants in 2013. Speaking of hitless streaks, how about Hunter Pence finally getting a knock off the big lefty? He was 1-1, then 0-for-26 before the single that was almost an RBI. It's Ryan Vogelsong's turn tonight, but I'm way more interested in which Dodgers player will hobble off the field. I'm thinking of setting up an office pool. Those guys are dropping like flies! Let's hope the good guys stay healthy--and lucky.



Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Batting Practice Tim

The Giants completed the sweep in the desert with another huge late inning comeback and beat the snakes, 9-6.  Arizona's bullpen is truly atrocious. In the eighth, Brandon Belt played the role of savior this time with an unlikely three run homer on an 0-2 pitch. That was quickly followed by a couple of insurance runs in the ninth. Like I said, Arizona's bullpen is atrocious. The spectacular heroics makes it pretty easy to overlook a weak and worrying performance by Tim Lincecum.  Boy, I sure wish I could overlook this one.

Tim only faced twenty three batters and ten of them got hits.  His previous high this season was six! Three of those hits were for extra bases, including a three run ridiculous fecking homer to the number 8 hitter! Isn't it awesome that the game winner was a three run blast from our number 8 hitter!  Speaking of which, what the hell is going on with all the huge homers from shitty bottom of the order fodder.  Haven't we already given up three homers to pitchers?!  Yuck.  I suppose it could just be a small sample size thing, but I really wonder if  Tim (and a few others) aren't just head cases and lose their focus in the less tense moments. That could be something that bites us in the ass later.  Oh well, that is later. Now is yet another dramatic win.

Did I hear correctly when they said Hunter Pence's homer went 460 feet? That is HUGE.  I must have heard that wrong.


A pitchers' duel in the desert last night with the Giants winning on Pablo Sandoval's blast in the 9th inning.  Quick comment today.  Madison Bumgarner was fabulous, 7 innings, 3 hits, only 1 BB, 3 K and no runs.  Trevor Cahill must have a thing about the Giants.  He was also spectacular on the mound, 8 full innings before putting a runner on base in the 9th; and no runs and 3 hits through 8.  Angel Pagan got singled to start the ninth, whereupon Kirk Gibson pulled Cahill for his closer, JJ Putz.  Scutaro got Pagan to second base when Pablo hit a two run blast deep into the night.  Good thing, too, because after Madison's 7 inning gem, Santiago Castilla, he who looks so good at times and so bad at times, gave up a solo shot to nobody in particular by the name of Josh Wilson.  That left the Giants to bring in the much-heralded Sandy Rosario to finish the 8th and he garnered his first major league win for the effort.  Sergio Romo looked good in the 9th for the save.

Did you see where Arizona is advancing a bill to prohibit local police from conducting gun buybacks?  Jeez, guys, get a win and get out of that cracker state as quickly as possible.