Monday, July 28, 2014

Yuck

If you saw the first half-inning,  you saw the game.  To say that Madison Bumgarner, coming into a desperate win-needing situation against Pittsburgh, was not sharp would be kind.  He was crappy.  4 runs before the Giants could get to bat aided by 2 walks among the first 3 hitters, a crappy strike zone and a crappy defense.   It took more than 40 pitches to get through the first as the Pirates batted around.  Madison gave up a home run in the 2nd, but then settled down and pitched pretty well, as did the bullpen.  Too little, too late.

The Giants, meanwhile, were their all-too-familiar feeble selves.  Vern Worley faced 29 batters for a complete game, and it would have been 28 if not for Hunter Pence's 2-out triple in the 9th.  That was the only Giants base runner to get past first.  I don't know about anyone else, but I am getting awfully tired of the unable-to-score-at-home theme.  It doesn't make any sense.  The Giants are a bad, bad team right now.  With this loss, we are under .500 at home.  A desperation trade for "someone with pop" is not going to help.  It sure feels like we are in another one of those slides where we cough up 9 games or so, doesn't it?

Dodgers Spoil the Weekend

I thought Jake Peavy pitched well. A little bad luck and some fielding lapses is all it takes to undo a decent start when it's against a good team. LA did everything right in the series and made an emphatic point in San Francisco. The Giants couldn't do anything this weekend. I was impressed by Dee Gordon going home on the missed third strike--that was opportunistic and a real "kick 'em when they're down" moment. The Giants had a nice little post-ASB thing going at 5-1 but losing four in a row takes the shine off. They did have to face Cole Hamels as well as Kershaw and Greinke, so it is understandable as those guys are as tough as it gets. And the rash of injuries and the rag-tag lineup certainly crippled the team ahead of the biggest series of the season, but it still stings. The team looked overmatched by their chief rivals.

I'm not sure what the Giants can do at this point other than get their collective shit together and start winning some goddamn games. No one wants Dan Uggla starting at second base, but three second baseman on the roster out with injury and the other (Joaquin Arias) having his worst season with the bat EVER doesn't leave the team a lot of options. Sure, it would be nice to sit Mike Morse down for some needed rest, but who plays in his place? He's one of the few guys who CAN play every day! I'd love to have Jake Peavy alongside Matt Cain not instead of him. Not much the team can do in that department. Maybe Cain will go under the knife sooner rather than later and be 100% for 2015. That's assuming that's what he needs, of course. Even if it is just arthroscopic surgery you can understand any athlete's reluctance to have doctors poking around inside. I had my knee 'scoped a few years back (torn meniscus) and despite it all working out just fine I must admit to trepidation about the whole concept. I like doctors better when they aren't probing and cutting--I'll bet most folks feel the same way.

Are the Giants done dealing? Supposedly they are still interested in Ben Zobrist who would be a terrific addition, but it seems what they really need is David Price, who would probably be unaffordable. When you look at the cost of Jake Peavy, Price would probably require twice that much, and the Giants would likely have to give up a major-leaguer as well. Who do we dangle? Brandon Belt? I don't see it happening. I think the team is what the team is and we have to hope they get healthy and get back to playing good baseball.

The Pirates are in town for three this week, games 106, 107 and 108 to finish the month of July and the sixth seasonal inning. I'll post something on Thursday--I hope it is joy after a sweep, or at least tempered excitement after seeing two wins out of three. August has 28 games scheduled and September 25, but the Giants have a suspended game to make up as well and that's your final 54. Six of those are against the Dodgers so it's not like they won't have their chances. And a 1-1/2 game deficit is nothing. If you had told me in March that the team would be neck-and-neck with the $230M boys in blue at the end of July I'd have been happy. So why ain't I happy? Maybe it's this:




77 divided by 23 is 3.35 and 79 divided by 23 is 3.43. I may be a retired schoolteacher but I can still tell you that 3.35 < 3.43 and that usually correlates to W < L.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Fourth Time's a Charm

When we are older and grayer we can say we saw Clayton Kershaw at his best. Of his nine career shutouts four are against the Giants with three of those in San Francisco. It seems the big southpaw from Texas likes pitching against our favorite team. The Giants never had a chance as the Dodgers got it done on both sides of the ball much like last night. They scored in four straight innings to back Kershaw and make the only drama whether or not he'd finish what he started. That's quite a one-two punch with Greinke, but it's not like we didn't know that already. What we do know is that despite the abundance of talent on the LA roster the Giants are still in a pennant race. They look bad right now, vulnerable, and the blue-clads can smell it. But there is still lots of baseball left to play, including a game tomorrow with Jake Peavy taking the hill. If you like "fresh start" stories, his is perfect. Perhaps "reunited with his old manager" or "familiar NL West settings ought to help" or "friendly confines of AT&T" are more your style. Take a look at this one:


That's Peavy's lifetime mark vs. LA. Pretty cool, eh? Maybe he's got some anti-Dodgers mojo that works like Kershaw's anti-Giants mojo. I just want the Giants to win and if it takes mojo manipulation, I'm all for it.

C'mon Giants, win a goddamn game.

--M.C.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Trashed Tim

Game Summary:
The smog-sucking scum took control of this one from the start and never let go. Final score: Scum 8    Us 1.  If you want the details... something about 19 triples in one game ...well, you may have to go somewhere else for that. Life is too short for me to write about that kind of toxic crap.

Tim Facts:
Start #21  Loss  (9-7,  3.96)  4.1 innings  9 hits  6 runs   6 earned runs  0 walks  6 strikeouts  0 hr

Timmy hung in there for a while then got trashed.  Not doubt some people will blame the relief appearance earlier this week, but that seems like an excuse you will never hear from Tim.  None of it mattered anyway. Greinke was unbeatable... for example, at one point he got 4 strikeouts in one inning.  That shit hardly ever happens. I'm so glad I saw it.

High and/or Lowlights:
As if the game itself wasn't putrid enough, the worst part was probably losing Hector Sanchez to an obvious concussion. I bet he will have to do that week off like Belt.
Dan Uggla made his debut and did nothing. I think we better get used to a lot more of that.

Gee, tomorrow we face their good pitcher. Fun.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

WAR Power

Giants go up in the West by two games after a stirring win in Philadelphia. Madison Bumgarner was dazzling and Hunter Pence delivered the big hit in the 9th to plate the go-ahead runs. Phillies ├╝ber-closer Jonathan Papelbon has to be wondering who the hell these guys in orange and black are after yielding soul-crushing 9th-inning extra-base hits on consecutive nights. Oh, they are just Buster Posey and Hunter Pence, nobody special.

Hunter Pence, according to FanGraphs, has piled up 4.1 WAR and leads the team by a wide margin. He's listed as 9th in the majors but the two fellows at #8 (Paul Goldschmidt) and #7 (Adam Jones) are in a tie with him. The only other NLers in the top tier are Troy Tulowitzki (5.1) and Andrew McCutcheon (4.5). Pence is a serious NL MVP candidate. There's no doubt he's the team MVP, and we don't need no steenkeen saber-stats to tell us that. Pence was the best player on the team last season as well. Currently he leads the league in games, plate appearances, at-bats, hits and runs scored. Funny, none of the defensive metrics seem to like his glove work. As much as I enjoy learning more about baseball by diving into the new statistics, I've yet to find a reliable fielding scheme. Pence is a great fielder and is right up there in PhoneCo prowess with Nate Schierholtz and Jose Cruz, Jr. Remember when he signed his contract and all the buzz was about "overpaying" him? Sheesh, the guy is worth every nickel!

Madison Bumgarner is of course the leader in pitching WAR with 2.4 and also rates 0.8 WAR as a hitter! A .500 slugging percentage will do that. He sits at #22 in that category for MLB but 6th in the NL behind Zimmerman, Cueto, Strasburg, Wainwright and Kershaw. Lofty company, eh?

Tim Hudson takes the ball this morning as the Giants look for a sweep. LA is traveling to San Francisco for the big showdown this weekend.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fourteener

Hunter Pence had EIGHT trips to the plate last night. Now that's entertainment! What a slog, man, but what a great win, too. Fantastic effort from the 'pen. And having rubber-armed Tim Lincecum sitting around doing nothing is quite a luxury. First career save--cool, eh? Just another wonderful tidbit on his remarkable resume. I'm really happy to see George Kontos making a contribution. With things the way they are, every arm counts. And Hector Sanchez caught all fourteen fookin' innings! That's huge. You think the Giants want Buster squatting for almost six hours? No way. You'd think he'd rake four hits if he did? Maybe, but his bat is much too valuable for him to take the daily beating behind the plate. No, Hanchez is the sacrificial lamb. Yes, his hitting has been woeful, but he's chewing up innings so Buster can be fresher when it's his turn. And he did get two hits and a walk last night, so maybe things are trending upward*.

Speaking of sacrificing your body for the team, it's time for the Giants and Matt Cain to come clean. He's apparently been pitching with "loose bodies" in his elbow for four years. He pulled off a perfect game, an All-Star win, and a World Series title with those floaters, but you can only dance naked in the cactus garden for so long before you get needles in your pecker. Lots of athletes play through pain and injuries--I get it. I'm sure Cain and the team think that with a little R & R he can grit his way through another dozen starts and deliver something like the latter half of last season. At some point he's going to need surgery. It's not ligament damage. We aren't talking Tommy John, most likely just arthroscopy meaning a faster recovery. As I said before I'm surprised he didn't get that done this past off-season. But we don't really know the whole story and Matty channels Gary Cooper when it comes to self-analysis so it's up to the Giants to deliver some straight talk. The bottom line is that we could be looking at a Cain-less stretch run, or a stretch run with a guy with no. 18 on his back who looks like Cain but can't get the big outs. Baggs runs down some of the starting pitchers that the Giants might take a look at. Bartolo Colon's name has come up as well. Imagine if he did this in orange-and-black.

Madison Bumgarner today, 4:05 Pacific.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.



*"That's one thing the kid can do is hit, but we've got to get that back," Bochy said. "He's just coming off the ball." (via Baggs)

Monday, July 21, 2014

First team with an XBH wins the game

The Giants won a game in which Ryan Vogelsong gave up eleven hits. That ought to be auspicious. It ought to be a sign that the team has found its mojo once again. But it's just more baseball random-onia, like Adam Duvall launching the game-winner off Cliff Lee. Just more crazy WTF shit, man. Wins come in all sizes and shapes, just like losses, and trying to figure it out just puts dents in the brain pan. The 'pen was mightier than the, uh, scored tonight, eh? I mean, they stopped the Phils from scoring any more runs after Ryan Howard's cricket-bat RBI hit that chased Vogie. So, way to go 'pen-ians! And The Pence-ian One was most Pence-ian: three hits, a run scored, two driven in. But Man of the Match goes to the rook for his big blast--that's what he did in the minors and by gum he oughta do it up here, too. Things in GiantsLand ain't exactly pretty right now, but they ain't Uggla, neither. At least not yet.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bad Pitch Tim

Game Summary:
The Giants lost a tense and rather poorly played game today, 3-2 to the Marlins.  Tim Lincecum's nifty little win streak died, yet he basically kept it close.  Although Buster Posey tried to win it alone, he got absolutely no help from the bottom two thirds of the batting order.  Costly wild pitches, terrible base running, silly balks, and some of the worst pitches you will ever see....this game had it all!  Yuck.

Tim Facts:
Start #20  Loss  (9-6,  3.68)  7 innings  5 hits  3 runs   3 earned runs  2 walks  7 strikeouts  1 hr

It is possible that the 0-2 pitch that McGehee crushed was one of the worst pitches Tim has ever thrown. I will let someone other poor soul research that one.  Lincecum actually threw MANY horrible pitches today and got away with almost all of them. I recall their 1B hitting 2 foul homers on hangers in the same AB.  Of course we lost it on a wild pitch, but that wasn't even a horrible pitch...exactly.  A tough loss, yet he hung in there, lasted seven and didn't crumble.  I'm still very optimistic that Tim will do well against the doggers next Friday.

High and/or Lowlights:
ONE for TWENTY ONE from the four spot down. Barely a hard hit ball! Our bench killed us tonight. In fact, it could be argued they have been a key reason for our collapse.  I've been trying to get a better attitude about Hector but right now I'm thinking TRADE BAIT.  He is young, so someone might be tempted.  Arias may be able to play many spots but none of them at replacement level. Obviously changing our bench around now is probably not sexy but if this comes down to one or two games, it could be the difference maker.

Brandon Belt out with a concussion for a week. More pressure on a weak bench! Great!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Giants Kick Ass

That was fun to write. The Giants got their post-ASB season rolling in Miami with a big win behind Madison Bumgarner. A quick check of the standings after the Dodgers lost in St. Louis shows the good guys in first place by .001! MadBum gave up a monster shot to Giancarlo Stanton after it was already 9-0, but was otherwise back to his usual ace-like self with six strong innings. That will be increasingly important heading into August and September as the news from Camp Cain is not so good. According to Baggs Matty has a "cranky elbow" from bone chips and/or other loose bodies. He is supposed to make his pushed-back start on Tuesday. I'm a bit surprised the Giants didn't push him to get surgery in the off-season, especially after his struggles last season. Apparently they knew about his situation after an MRI in 2010! I'm also surprised Cain himself didn't consider arthroscopy, but the big fella is not much of a talker and we'll all just have to keep guessing.

Regardless, the lineup came to life with big flies from B-Craw and the Panda, and three hits apiece from Buster and Mike Morse. The team was 6-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Man, keep that going! Hunter Pence got on twice and scored twice and made another one of his spectacular running catches. That guy is incredibly valuable--I can't imagine where the club would be without him.

Did you see the Braves released Dan Uggla? Think the Giants will take a run at him? He's not the hitter he once was, and his glove is suspect, but if Scutaro is iffy and Panik can't carry the whole load, he might be a useful piece, and could be a big stick coming off the bench as well. I'm not arguing for Mr. Biceps, just curious what you think. And thinking that the Giants are going to make some moves in the next two weeks, so I'm keeping my eye on MLBTR.

Hudson tonight. GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

By the Numbers

Runs Allowed

The Giants have allowed 350 runs in 95 games. The 350 is tied for fifth-best in the NL and the RA/G (3.65) is tied for fourth. Seattle and Oakland lead the majors with the fewest runs allowed, so bump everyone in the NL down two spots.

If you like saber-stats, the Giants rate fourth in the ML with a 3.47 FIP (tied with San Diego), and fourth in xFIP (3.57). Some of that is good pitching. Some of that is due to the run-suppressing environments the Giants play in (AT&T, PetCo, etc.). The Giants don't look good when the stats are adjusted: their FIP- is 100, good for the 17th spot, and their ERA+ of 102 is 14th overall. In those schemes 100 is league-average.

If WHIP is more your style, the Giants rate third (1.172) behind Seattle and Oakland. Teams bat .237 against the Giants, the fifth-lowest mark, and their BABIP of .284 is tied for fourth-best. The Mariners and Athletics are the best in both categories. Despite what seems like a lot of homers allowed, the Giants fare well (0.74/9, 4th-lowest). Their line-drive rate (20.7%) is middle-of-the-pack stuff, but they get a lot of ground balls (47.5%, 4th-highest) and few fly balls (31.8% 5th-lowest). Ground balls turn into hits more frequently than fly balls, but fly balls do the most damage when they are hits. So, make of that what you will.

I think the Giants have the pitching they need if Matt Cain and Sergio Romo return to the form we expected. The Giants 2012 pitching actually rates worse than this current squad--but that team could score runs (particularly after the ASB).


Runs Scored

I expected more offense from this club. They started hot but have since faded. They've totaled 373 so far which puts them 10th of the 15 NL teams and 23rd of the 30 teams in the majors. A little more production from the middle of the order (Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval in particular) might be all it takes to improve the scoring. Angel Pagan's absence has hurt, not so much because he was so valuable, more so because his replacement Gregor Blanco has been terrible with the bat. The Giants actually rate near league-average with an OPS+ and wRC+ of 97, so they aren't that far away. A little more luck with sequencing, some improvement at the top of the lineup, and perhaps a bench-bolstering bat and they can stay in the thick of it.


Wins, of course, are the only currency that counts. They Giants won a lot early on, and couldn't buy a win over the last month and a half. The real Giants have to be somewhere in that mix--not a .667 team (42-21) but certainly not a .313 team (10-22) either. If the season ended now, the Giants and the Braves would be the wild-card teams with the Cardinals, Reds, and Pirates just missing out. There are eight teams in the hunt for the five spots: two in the West (LA and SF), four in the Central (MIL, STL, CIN, PIT), and two in the East (WSN and ATL). Those eight clubs have the only winning records in the senior circuit. Certainly the Giants have their fate in their hands--if they play good baseball the rest of the way they have a great chance of making the post-season.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Giants Slam Diamondbacks

The World Cup is over and so is all that exhausting running around and that irritating lack of scoring. Right about the time Germany was collecting their one world championship goal Buster Posey was whacking a grand slam and Giants fans were having a much-needed cathartic moment. Madison Bumgarner added his own grand slam an inning later, and the Giants even loaded the bases again (for Joaquin Arias) in the same frame. That was the first battery in major-league history to hit grand slams in the same game. Buster and Madison each have two career slams, both of the Bumbino's coming this season. Buster had an iconic slam in the playoffs against the Reds in 2012 that I imagine none of us will ever forget. In soccer, you score a goal and you win. At least in these big-time matches. It's not so easy for the Giants. You'd think two slams would be enough to send the visitors packing, but they were pesky and chased MadBum with three in the top of the 7th. It took some strong relief to finish the job. The young southpaw's last four starts have not been up to his usual standards, but the team got a win and that's what matters the most. I expect we'll see more ace-like performances from him in the second half.

The Giants go to the All-Star Break with a 52-43 record after 95 games. The 52 wins is tied with Atlanta and St. Louis for third-best in the NL, trailing only Los Angeles and Milwaukee. Detroit, Oakland, and Los Angeles-Anaheim have more wins in the AL. The Giants .547 win percentage is tied with Atlanta for fourth-best in the NL and the eighth-best overall. San Francisco would finish with 89 wins at this pace (37-30). With 67 games remaining they have to play .600 ball the rest of the way (40-27) to get to 92 wins. The Dodgers stand atop the NL West by one game after consecutive 1-0 wins against the Padres. Their 54-43 record and .557 win percentage is the best in the league and only the AL West's A's and Angels are better.

Enjoy the Break, me buckos, relax and save your strength. It will be both tortuous and torturous from this point on.

Giants baseball resumes on Friday at 4:10 Pacific in Miami.

Lest I forget: "Go NL!"

--M.C.


 p.s. Lots of great moments in today's game like Pence's catch, Pence's assist, the pickoff that was almost a double play, etc. Discuss.

p.p.s.  MVP (for the season so far): Hunter Pence. Best pitcher: Madison Bumgarner. Discuss.

p.p.p.s. Under-performer Award: Matt Cain. Hit-like-you-did-today-the-rest-of-the-way Award is a tie: Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval. Discuss.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Midas Tim

Game Summary:
Although it is too early to know for sure if the Giants are truly the team we hoped for, they sure as shit play like it when Tim Lincecum pitches! The Freak racked up his fourth straight win with 7 strong and the offense, well, did as well as they can do and the Giants won 5-0 over the Snakes.  The doggers lost, so we go back into first. Somehow, with a combination of luck, timing and brilliance, Tim has kept us alive again.

Tim Facts:
Start #19  Win!  (9-5,  3.66)  7 innings  3 hits 0 run 0 earned run  2 walks  6 strikeouts  0 hr

 That makes 30.1 innings with ONLY ONE RUN ALLOWED!  Sheesh, that is a 2010 type streak, although he sure does it differently now, doesn't he? His curveball seemed to be the dominant pitch today, although he obviously is able to get them all across right now.  (What a great phrase to write!) His ERA, perhaps meaningless, is lower than it has been in a couple years. Most importantly, we win with Tim now.  Everything he touches turns gold now and the team knows it.  Wow, what a turn around. Confidence is an amazing thing.

High and/or Lowlights:
Pablo had a great game with a homer (#11) among his three hits. Brandon Belt reached three times as well.  His return is definitely helping a resurgent top of the order.  The bullpen is quietly doing its thing again.  Face it, that was a fun game!

The biggest highlight: not mentioning Goldschmidt once in a Lincecum post.  That could be a first!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cain and Giants get a "W"

Matt Cain wasn't overpowering, but he called upon his deep reservoirs of VSC and kept the high-flying A's offense from putting up any crooked numbers. They are patient and be they .220 or .320 hitters they seem to be able to work counts and wear down pitchers. If you can keep the highest-scoring team in baseball to only two runs you are doing something right. It was enough as the Giants put together a few odds-and-ends to beat Oakland in San Francisco. The A's wild-pitched a run in, and Man of the Match Hunter Pence smoked one over the center-field fence and into the fancy-schmancy new section of the Park and added another run with an infield hit. That's just so Pence-ian, getting a bomb and an RBI squibber in the same game! Joe Panik and Buster Posey had run-scoring hits as well. Make that a habit, gents. And nice to see Sergio Romo whiffing two guys with the fascist groove thang working beautifully. Find your mojo, lad. And how about Santiago Casilla's 8-pitch save?

Cainer racked up a Game Score of 56 which is the 7th highest of his 15 starts this season. For those of you counting, he has two losses and four no-decisions in those six games. Matty blew a bunt chance tonight and made a throwing error. That's so not Cain-ian! He gave up a homer, which seems to be what he does these days--one gopher ball per game. As long as they are solo shots I can live with it. A little run support helps, too, and this time the lineup obliged.

Over in the East Bay, the A's slapped around the Giants like Germany did to Brazil.* At AT&T, it felt more like Argentina-Holland with extra time and penalty kicks and all that. You know, one of those wins. One where it looked like they had to work way too hard. I'm not picky, and neither is the ball club. The Giants will take any win at this point including forfeits due to sabotaging the other team's bus. Win, win, win, and keep winning. That's it. That's what the Giants need to do--win ballgames.  The Dodgers (51-42) lost and the Giants (50-41) are in a virtual tie for first. (They didn't get their 50th win until the first week in August last year.) The team has won only 8 of its last 28 games, but they are still in the thick of the race. God Bless America.

Tim Hudson gets his shot tomorrow afternoon.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.


*World Cup reference.

Fifth Inning: 6-12

Yes, it's bad. Here's how the fifth inning, games 73 to 90, went for the Giants: win two of three in Arizona (June 20-22); lose two of three to San Diego at home (June 23-25); get swept by Cincinnati (four games); lose two of three to St. Louis (July 1-3), win two of three in San Diego over the Fourth weekend; and lose both games in Oakland. Here's how the fifth inning, games 73 to 90, went for Giants fans: encouragement; disbelief; shock and outrage; despair; naive and foolish excitement; and brutal awakening to the truth. The team sucks. But, it's been worse. The club went 3-15 over the same stretch last season. That included a seven-game losing streak and two four-game losing streaks. That team was 40-50 after 90 games and in fourth place. This year's team is 49-41 and a game back of the leaders. So, there's hope. Stop the bleeding. Play some good ball. Keep close to the top spot. Maybe get a shot with a good run at the end, sort of like the way they opened the season. The team has 72 games left and if they play .500 ball they finish 85-77. If they play .600 ball (43-29) they finish 92-72.

First inning, 10-8,
Second inning, 13-5,
Third inning, 12-6,
Fourth inning, 8-10,
Fifth inning, 6-12.

Matt Cain at home tonight against the Oakland juggernaut and their shiny new bauble Jason Hammel.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bad Calls and Pratfalls

Sigh.  Another day, another L.  Madison Bumgarner was on the mound, and by the time he coughed up 4 in the 3rd inning, the game was over.  He was charged with 2 more in the 8th before he could manage an out.  That is 15 earned runs in the past 18 innings.  The thing is, he could have pitched much better and still come out with 3 L's in the past 3 games.  The offense is bad.

Tyler Colvin hit a home run, 1 of 2 hits for him and that was the Giants' sole run.  Michael Morse got 2 hits, so did Hunter Pence.  Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Crawford each got 1.  Angel Hernandez's interpretation of the strike zone is a much a fantasy as Anton Scalia's interpretation of the Constitution.  In two games in Oakland, it is 11 (A's) to 1 (Giants).  That's no fantasy, though, that's just bad.

Oddly, what with all the losing going on, the Giants are 1 game back to LA, who lost big to Detroit.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Relaxing Tim

Game Summary:
Tim Lincecum and some lovely insurance runs helped secure the series win by beating the camo-clad pudknockers, 5-3 at PetCo.  This game should have been a snoozer with us in total control but a dose of feeble Sergio made it a wee scary at the end.  Wee scared is much better than last week's suicidal depression, don't you agree?

Tim Facts:
Start #18  Win!  (8-5,  3.91)  3 hits 1 run 1 earned run  4 walks  6 strikeouts  1 hr

Timmeh's 23 inning scoreless streak went away but the wins keep rolling in.  The Giants have gone 12-6 when Lincecum starts this year, including the last three during the death spiral.  This rather dominating job was almost tension-free and "mellow."   Believe me, that is not an adjective I use to describe Tim with very often, or ever. He was a little wild and threw too many pitches but this is the new Lincecum quality start.  BTW that means the starters have posted NINE QUALITY STARTS OF THE LAST ELEVEN OUTINGS. Sweet!!

High and/or Lowlights:
Hunter Pence had a great game (3 runs scored!) and got rewarded with an All-Star birth. Well deserved, I would say.

Congrats to Madison Bumgarner (though he can't pitch in the game) for his All-Star assignment. Two in a row! No Hudson?! That sucks.  Oh well...

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Giants Win!

Oh, how sweet it is to write those words. The Giants pull off a dramatic and historic win, hitting home runs in both the 9th and 10th innings to beat the Padres in San Diego 5-3. They had not pulled off a feat like that since 1986. The Dodgers, bless them, lost to the Rockies. The Giants have played baseball about as poorly as it can be played at the major league level. The win percentage, the loss of a 9-1/2 game lead in mere weeks, and the futility on both sides of the ball reached epic status. The Giants didn't shrink from having a bad run--they embraced it fully, as a team, when it came. They wrote new chapters in the annals of losing. And after all that, after throwing away a month of baseball while their rivals were turning on the jets, they are a mere half-game out of first place. It seems inconceivable, but there they are. One win certainly does not stop a streak, and I really thought The Freak's no-hitter was that "spark" the team would respond to. But this was certainly a big win nonetheless. Speaking of The Freak, he goes tomorrow afternoon.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Cain, Giants Out of Gas

It seemed that Matt Cain had lost it by the 6th inning this afternoon in San Diego. He got the third out, but had nothing left for the 7th and was pulled after four hitters and one out. Thankfully Jeremy Affeldt got the magic double play ball and the Giants still had a chance. Actually the Giants, these days, only have a chance if the pitcher throws a shutout. Normally if a starter gives a club 6-1/3 and two runs you'll hear "did the job" and "kept the team in the game" and "quality start" and all that jibber-jabber. (Ain't that right, Ryan Vogelsong?) Normally teams score about four runs a game (the league average), too. But that's not how it works for the orange-and-black these days. Shutouts and no-hitters are the only way this team can win. So I reckon that his effort today makes Matty a choker. Zeroes only from this point forward, laddie! You give up runs you are a loser. Want proof? Check the box score: there's an "L" next to "Cain." For $20+M/year we want nothing less than "W" every time!

The Giants continued on their hell-ward spiral today. They couldn't hit and they couldn't string together the hits they got. They couldn't stop the other team from scoring. They were utterly feeble and over-matched by the second-worst team in the league. It's some kind of sick punishment by the baseball gods. Just shy of a month ago I retired from my profession of schoolteaching after 30 years. On Sunday, June 8th, the Giants swept the Mets and stood atop the baseball world at 42-21. Since then the team has gone 5-18. It's not just that they stuck a knife in our hearts, it's now they've decided to twist it, and prolong the agony.

I used to be implacably calm when Matt Cain pitched. You knew, over the long haul, that the Tennesse Stud would deliver. He would grind out quality innings after quality innings and give the team big starts time and time again. These days I'm scared when the big righty pitches. He's not the same as he was. He looks vulnerable, like the league has figured him out. Tim Lincecum fell off a cliff, remember? But here lately maybe, just maybe, he has started to make the adjustments and turn himself around. I never thought that he wouldn't. (How's that for negating negatives?) The same thing seems to be happening to Matty. He is no longer the same guy. He has to re-invent himself, just like Timmy. I believe he will. Athletes are prideful creatures--they like to play the hero and impress the crowd. I think Cain is made of that sort of stuff, too. He wants to be The Horse. The Man. The leader of the pack. It's weird to write this after a good start. It's not like Cain gave it up today or sucked big time. Far from it--he "pitched well enough to win" and in April and May the Giants would have won this game easily. But these June and July Giants are a very different animal, indeed, and it's hard to know what to expect from one day to the next.

The Giants stand at 47-39 or .547 ball after 86 games. I thought, when the season started, that this was a 90+ win team. A 90-win team is .556 ball. That means the Giants have to play, percentage-wise, better baseball from this point forward than they have so far. They have to go 43-33 or .566 just to get to 90, and we know that might not be enough. To get to 94 will take 47-29 or .618 which seems increasingly unlikely. Of course they could snap out of their funk at any moment and run off some wins--this is indeed a possibility. But watching today's effort makes it hard to be optimistic. After the team fell behind 2-0 in the 3rd it was like the air was let out of the balloon. They had nothing and did nothing the rest of the game. Please, Gods of Baseball, say it ain't so. Give me a sign the Giants are awakening from their .217 stretch and are still contenders.

I hope you all had a relaxing Fourth. Happy Independence Day, everyone!

--M.C.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Post Mad. Bummer.

Well, I had, if not hope, exactly, then expectations for something better.  But today the Giants and Madison Bumgarner dropped the series against the St. Louis Cardinals and Carlos Martinez.  The Giants have only won 1 of their last 7 games, 2 of their last 10 (both Tim's) and 5 of their last 22.  Madison didn't pitch well enough.  He gave up a home run after a walk that he did not agree with in the 1st inning.  Then in the 3rd, Adam Duvall threw away what should have been a double play, and the Cardinals wound up scoring 3.  Not to be outdone, Yusmiero Petit also threw away a double play ball in the 7th, allowing the Cardinal's 6th run to score.  But by that time, you had a sense that our punk offense would not mount a comeback.  In fact they did tease us with runners on base, but they consistently couldn't push them across.  Remember when the Giants would score first and get 2-out rbis?  Me neither.
Carlos Martinez kept the hitters off balance for the most part.  Madison Bumgarner was much less of a pitcher than he is capable of being, although he did pick up 50% of the Giants' rbis.  Madison's numbers: 5 innings, 5 runs (4 earned), 6 hits, 6 K, 3 BB.  That is his second start in a row in which he pitched less than 7 innings and gave up at least 4.  We need better from our #1.  So many holes in our line-up right now.  Blanco, bless his inconsistent little heart, got 2 hits today and scored the first run.  This team is driving me to drink and that is about the only good thing I can say about them right now.

Pre-Mad

Well, no one has posted here about Vogie's game and last night's loss to the Cardinals, 2 - 0, so I guess I will.  It might seem devastating in the wake of that dreadful June, but I don't really feel that way.  Adam Wainwright, one of the best pitchers in the major leagues, shut us down.  Our # 5 pitcher, Ryan Vogelsong, only allowed 2 runs and our relief did a pretty good job (actually, Romo was excellent in the 9th and was the only pitcher warmed up if the Giants would have scored).   So I think that today's game will be much more telling.  We have our #1 starter on the mound.  According to the Chronicle (Henry Schulman) Gregor Blanco will not be batting lead-off, at least not when Belt returns on Friday.  Hunter Pence will take his spot.  I think this is an excellent idea.

In other news, Marco Scutaro is making progress, playing in the Arizona rookie league and gradually increasing the number of innings played.  Angel Pagan is going to get another epidural injection in his lower back today.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Superhero Tim

Game Summary :
 JUNE IS OVER! Can we dream that the nightmare is over? Well, maybe if Tim Lincecum pitches every night! The Freak delivered a second consecutive dominant performance and beat the tough Cardinals 5-0. It all came together: huge starting pitching, good defense and, yes, a dinger.  A special dinger at that as Pablo got his 100th career home run! Add to that the doggers getting thumped (they hit into a triple play! what losers) and July is looking real good so far.

Tim Facts:
Start# 17  Win  (7-5, 4.09)  8 innings  4 hits  0 runs  0 earned runs  2 walks  6 strikeouts  0 hr

Not quite as awesome as the no hitter, but actually it was very similar. Once again, Timmeh had total command of all four pitches. Also, he seemed totally comfortable in the stretch. Case in point was the amazing job Tim did in the fourth to get out of a bases loaded no out jam. That is a HUGE difference from earlier in the year, as reported here repeatedly. Tim has really figured something out and HE CAN REPRODUCE IT. First time in his career to get back to back 8 inning scoreless games.  Let's see how long he can ride this pony. Isn't nice to be excited about Tim again? I can't wait to be excited about the whole team again.

Highlights and/or Lowlights:

Some nice offense from Pablo (2b, HR), Hunter (2 hits, 2 runs) and Buster (RBI). Pablo and Brandon  Crawford made a couple great plays. But the absolute hero, actually SUPERHERO, was totally Tim. If it wasn't for Lincecum, this last couple weeks would have been intolerable. Not just because of getting some wins but giving us some RESPECTABILITY.  Let's see if we can't rebuild and get this back on track. Tim has done his part, now it is time for every one else.