Thursday, May 23, 2019

L for the Blond Guy

So, after 13 innings, we lost 3 of 4 games to Atlanta.  The final score, 5 - 4 Braves.

We played 2 competitive games and 2 where the team really wasn't in it.  I guess that's an improvement over last year, and the year before that, when the team mostly wasn't in it, but it's not much of an improvement.  The Giants wind up 21 - 28.  Although, 49 games into 2018, the Giants were 24 - 25.

Madison Bumgarner was on the mound, he threw 102 pitches, got through 6 innings, gave up 2 (1 solo shot home run) on 6 hits.  He walked 2 and struck out 6.  Another fine effort.  Another fine effort to no avail.  Mark Melancon came in, pitched a scoreless 7th and Tony Watson gave up 2 in the 8th. That tied the game.

The Giants, meanwhile, showed some, although not a lot, of offense.  A single and a double by Belt and Longoria, respectively, put runners on 1st and 3rd.  A wild pitch by the Braves starter, Kevin Gausman, plated Belt and Longoria scored on a Donovan Solano sac fly.  The Braves got 1 in th e4th and a high pop-up that got blown out of the park in the 5th to tie the score at 2 each.  The Giants answered in the bottom of that inning with a Panik double and a Duggar single, and the Tyler Austin homered with no one on in the 7th.

Following Watson in the 8th, the Giants used Smith, Dyson and Gott for an inning each (which is probably a good thing, considering Arizona shows up tomorrow before a travel day Monday.  Reyes Moronta (who, by the way, dyed his hair yellow) pitched 2 and got the loss, but you really can't pin it on him.  Have you seen Atlanta?  Freddie Freeman, Brian McCann, Nick Markakis and a bunch of 21 year-old superstars.  Austin Riley has hit 5 home runs and has a batting average of damn near .400.  He's been in the major leagues since May 15.  Our rookie is 25 yo Steven Duggar who has a sub-.300 OBP.  You give Atlanta an extra four innings without scoring a run, they will beat you.

Unearned runs still count

ATL 9  SF 2
Jeff Samardzija and the Giants had a nightmare 2nd inning that included a botched double play, a runner safe at first after striking out on a wild pitch, and two homers. Baseball bookkeepers called those six runs unearned but I say the team earned every one of them. Derek Holland gave up a three-run homer in relief. Madison Bumgarner goes today at 12:45 PDT.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

WALK OFF WIN!!!

SF 4 ATL 3
Joe Panik got the game-winning hit, driving in two runs with two out in the 9th to shock the Braves and give the Giants a huge home win. Down 3-1 it looked bleak but Brandon Crawford got a hit and was driven in by Kevin Pillar who then stole second. The never-say-die Panda got on base with an infield hit, Pillar to third, and Mac Williamson, pinch-running, stole second. He and Pillar scored on Panik's hit which came on a 3-2 count, the 8th pitch in the at-bat. The Giants really had to grind it out and conjure up a miracle, and by golly they did. Panik has been hitting really well lately and looks very disciplined in the box. The Braves may rue letting the Giants run freely on them in that situation. Normally a guy like Luke Jackson is pretty tough to score on so perhaps that's what they were figuring. This time it didn't work out and the fans went home happy.

Shaun Anderson should not have come out to pitch the 6th inning. He had already faced Josh Donaldson and Nick Markakis twice, there was no reason to have him do it for the third time. They both got hits and both later scored. In the old days this was considered a necessary ritual to toughen up the starter for longer outings. Five innings with one run allowed, regardless of the pitch count, is a damn fine effort, especially for a rookie. Didn't we already talk about the Times Through the Order Penalty? But I'm happy to see Anderson out there earning his stripes. Let's hope he can keep improving.

A big win tonight--those are few and far between so let's savor it.

--M.C.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Braves Prevail

ATL 4  SF 1
The Braves stymied the Giants with their 21-year old phenom Mike Soroka on the mound (8 IP, 2 H, 0 W, 7 K) and their 21-year old star Ronald Acuna, Jr. (3 H, 2 HR) in center field. The game was not as close as the score. Andrew Suarez delivered a decent effort (6 IP, 3 R) but the team was over-matched in the talent department. The Giants could use a couple of 21-year olds like those guys.

--M.C.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Pitching & Defense

SF 3  AZ 2 (10)
A couple of old friends showed up today in Arizona and led the Giants to a series victory. Starter Drew Pomeranz walked five but didn't give up the long ball. In fact he made it until the 4th before they scored off him, and he helped the D-Backs out with a walk and two wild pitches. The Giants conjured up their runs in the 3rd, capitalizing on two singles and two walks. The bullpen was spectacular, and a spectacular play by Brandon Crawford saved the game in the 9th. Both Steven Duggar and Joe Panik made big plays in the field as well. Panda got to play the hero, hammering a pinch-hit homer off Yoshihisa Hirano in the 10th for the game-winner. Will Smith struck out the side for the save.

The Giants looked terrible on Friday night and yet they bounced back with two wins against a good club. They didn't have much of an offense today (5 H, 5 BB, 11 K) but those stalwarts, pitching & defense, made the difference.

Andrew Suarez was called up and he makes the start tomorrow night at home against the Braves.

Go Giants!

--M.C.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Yellow and Black, I Want my Logo Back

What's the deal with the Giants yellow logo hats?  Tribute to pollen?

Madison Bumgarner tossed another good game for the Giants tonight.  That has mostly led to speculation in our local rags that he will make a good trade candidate.  Which really irritates me, obvious though the trading potential may seem at first glance.  The assumption, of course, is that the Yankees, or some other team will be desperate for pitching and give the Giants the keys to their super good farm system in exchange for a couple months of rental.  But that's not how it works these days, there is too much data to quantify player value and teams are not going to trade away too much of their future.  Maybe the Giants, but they did that and look where it got them.

The Giants were in Arizona, and the theme, in contrast to last night, was to score early, keep the pressure on and put a few more runs on the board from time to time.  The Giants scored in the 1st, 3rd, 6th, 8th and 9th.  Arizona chipped away at the total, but the Giants were able to keep ahead of the snakes and win this one by a score of 8 - 5.

Madison threw 105 pitches and made it through 6 1/3 innings.  He walked 2 in the 7th, gave up a double to score 1 and then Sam Dyson gave up a run on a ground-out, which was charged to Madison.  He also allowed a solo shot in the 4th, after the Giants were up 4 - 0.   He struck out 6 and walked 4 (each of whom, btw, scored).  But only 5 hits on the night.   It was a team effort, and I must say, the team looked pretty good.  Joe Panik scored twice.  Steve Duggar had 2 hits and an rbi, Buster Posey had 2 hits and an rbi, and Brandon Belt had 2 hits and an rbi (on a solo shot into the chlorinated faux-asis in center field).  Evan Longoria and Mac Williamson each had an rbi and Pablo Sandoval had a pinch hit home run.  Brandon Crawford is carrying a .205 average, but had rbis in 2 innings, a sac fly that scored Buster in the 3rd, and a triple to score Longoria in the 6th.  That is the kind of team effort that is necessary for this team.  Want to hear something weird?  The Giants have scored the 2nd most runs in May per game of any team.  Who would have imagined?

Friday, May 17, 2019

TTOP

AZ 7  SF 0
There is this thing called the "Times Through the Order Penalty." It is a favorite topic among the saberistas. There is a fellow by the name of Mitchel Lichtman who is very smart and writes exhaustive analyses of baseball situations and he says this:
As you can see, the “times through the order” penalty is a significant effect that should be incorporated into a manager’s decision about when to remove a starting pitcher. In fact, it would behoove managers and pitching coaches to be much more mindful of a starter’s “times through the order” than his pitch count.
Obviously you have to read the whole piece to catch his drift. (I italicized the first sentence.) I remember being in a computer science lecture decades ago where the prof really got into some deep shit and lost half the class and then whipped out "as you can clearly see" before launching into a new arcane tangent. Even among that nerdy bunch there were chortles of derision. That's how I feel about some of this saber-stuff. But they are on to something. I'm not saying Boch should have pulled Smardj after five, but it's worth thinking about. I suspect Boch knows more than me about baseball, so I'm not complaining, just noticing that the game is always changing and I'm learning new things all the time. Here's more from Lichtman:
In an article I wrote two years ago about the benefit of “quick hooks,” I showed that a typical NL team could add from a half to a full win per season simply by removing a starting pitcher who is not an ace whenever he comes to bat in a high-leverage situation after pitching at least five innings, even if his replacement is a league-average reliever.
In the end, the players gotta play better and the coaches gotta coach better, and well, the goddamn owners gotta own better! (Thank you, George Scott.)

MadBum goes tomorrow. Go Giants!

--M.C.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Rookies Lead the Way

SF 4  TOR 3
Rookie Shaun Anderson had a perfectly acceptable debut: 5 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 5K. It took him 96 pitches to get through the 21 batters he faced. Not bad, really. He gave up a run in the 1st inning, but that just makes him a good teammate. You don't want to show guys up on your first day. There was a comical sequence in the 3rd where he walked a guy, wild pitched him to second, the guy went to third on an out, and then he wild pitched him home! He was victimized by an error and his own bad pickoff later, too, and that led to a run. But the youngster also had two hits himself, very impressive, and he showed some power and poise getting big outs. I'm looking forward to more Mr. Anderson. And I know you asked about Matt Cain's debut, didn't you? I thought so: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 K. And I'll answer the next question: Timmy's was 4-1/3 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 K.

Good bullpen work (Melancon/Dyson/Watson/Smith) and some nice defensive work to make up for the earlier sloppy stuff kept the Jays off the board the rest of the way. Panda got things started with a run-scoring double in the 1st, and rookie catcher Aramis Garcia's two-run homer in the 2nd put the Giants on top. After the Jays tied it in the 5th, Brandon Crawford's solo shot in the 6th made it 4-3 and that's how it ended. Will Smith struck out the side in the 9th--that's 11-for-11 in save opportunities.

Off-day tomorrow. They'll be in Arizona Friday night, 6:40 PDT.

Go Giants!

--M.C.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

That didn't go as planned

TOR 7  SF 3
The Giants give up runs in the 1st inning. That's a fact. It matters not who is pitching! Opener Nick Vincent gave up four hits and three runs (including Vladito's--that's Vladimir Gurrero, Jr.--first ML homer) after getting the first batter on a fly out. It took him 31 pitches to get three outs from the seven batters he faced. Maybe next time. Tyler Beede flashed some pop with five Ks but also had four hits and three walks. Travis Bergen and Trevor Gott (opener candidates, don't you think?) pitched well but Reyes Moronta got tagged again. That's six hits and five runs in his last 3-1/3 IP. OK, it was another homer from Vladito! Derek Holland pitched the 9th and walked two but did not give up a run. The Giants offense was a two-run homer by the irrepressible Panda and an RBI double from Mac Williamson.

--M.C.


update: Beede optioned to AAA, RHP Shaun Anderson makes his debut today.

Opener Day

Many years ago I remember thinking that a team ought to try a 3-3-3 approach. Get three guys to throw three innings apiece. Heck, you could have three sets of those guys on your staff and pitch every other game that way. Anyway, it was a notion no one took seriously and that's probably good.

Despite the disappearance of the complete game every team still wants a rotation of five Max Scherzers. Of course there is only one of him and maybe a handful of guys just as good as him. There aren't 150, that's for sure. Thus we have killer bullpens and five-inning starters. The so-called "opener" has come to the fore and teams are giving it a try. Why not? If you have LOOGYs why can't you have openers?

Is it a gimmick? Will it wind up in the dustbin of baseball history? Maybe. But teams are playing baseball RIGHT NOW and they need to win ballgames RIGHT NOW. We can worry about the history books later. I say do what works. If the opener gives the Giants a better chance to win then what's the problem?

Nick Vincent gets the call today against Toronto. No, this outing is not a referendum on the new-school, analytics-driven baseball of the 21st century. It's one game. It's not going to make or break Farhan Zaidi's tenure as PoBO. But it does say something, and it's pretty simple: do what you have to do to win. Get the best matchups for your players. I appreciate that Mr. Old School Himself, Bruce Bochy, is smart and adaptable and willing to risk opprobium in order to try to make the team better. If a guy like Boch can embrace the opener, shouldn't we all?

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.