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...