Sunday, September 14, 2014

Giants Come Up Short

Clayton Kershaw is the obvious NL Cy Young choice and is making a case for MVP. In the rubber match of the biggest series of the year the talented southpaw kept a lid on the Giants and the Dodgers won 4-2. The Giants had one task this weekend: gain ground. It looked good after an ass-kicking win on Friday, but yesterday's historically bad debacle put the pressure on for today's game and they couldn't muster enough against Kershaw. Yusmeiro Petit made one mistake to Matt Kemp but otherwise pitched well. His error in the 2nd that led to a run was a bit of a fluke but had unfortunately followed an error from Hunter Pence immediately before and that put the team in a hole they could not quite climb out of. Petit also had two good plate appearances resulting in a walk and a run scored and looked like the toughest batter out there. Andrew Susac and Joaquin Arias both mustered two hits against Kershaw but only Buster Posey and pinch-hitter Matt Duffy could drive in runs. It was nice to see a tense, mostly well-played game even if it was a loss. I don't think I could have stomached another blowout. At some point the Giants are going to pile it on against Kershaw--the law of averages, at the very least, makes me think so. Maybe next time.

The Giants are now three back with thirteen to play. It's a bit of a climb but they have one more shot--three games in LA next week (22nd-24th). What's more important is they get back to their winning ways on the road in Arizona and San Diego this week and keep the pressure on.

Vogie tomorrow night.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Terrible Tims

Worst game ever.

Get 'em tomorrow, though.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Friday, September 12, 2014

That's One

And a most gratifying one it was.  Madison Bumgarner on the mound, a full house, a beautiful night for baseball and that team from LA, the one we have to beat, down from the start.

Madison:  7 IP, 73 strikes among 97 pitches.  3 hits, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts.  No runs.  None.
Juan Gutierrez in relief:  6 batters faced, 6 batters retired.  Madison was a little rough at first, he walked the lead-off Puig, but soon settled down for another great game and his 18th win.

Hits?  Early and often.  2 home runs, 1 each for Brandon Crawford and Travis Ishikawa.
Joe Panik:  1 hit, 1 run
Buster:  2 hits, 1 run and 1 rbi
Pence:  2 hits, 1 run and 1 rbi
Arias:  2 hits, 1 run and 1 rbi
Gregor:  1 hit, 2 runs
Travis Ishikawa's home run scored Gregor and BCraw.  Brandon's home run scored Gregor, but he came up with the first of his 3 rbi in the first, a double that scored Joaquin Arias.  Brandon scored twice on 2 hits and a walk.  The Giants batted around in the first and scored 4 runs.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

81-65 with 16 to go

The Giants did what they needed to do which was sweep the lowly Diamondbacks and move within two games of the Dodgers ahead of the big weekend series. Both clubs have 16 games remaining with six head-to-head matches. I'm sure it will be a thoroughly nerve-wracking three weeks! Once again the team got contributions from the whole lineup--all the starters got on base at least once, eight different guys got hits, and five different guys scored runs. Since the Break the Giants have the highest-scoring offense in the NL and the fourth-best in baseball. I think we all knew this team could hit and it was just a matter of time before they found their mojo again. We watched some pretty feeble displays from the hitters for a long stretch (like June and July) so it's great to see them whacking the ball all over the Park. The Dodgers aren't the D-Backs and will present a much tougher challenge so it will be fun to see how the club responds.

Ol' Boch had the quick hook today for Jake Peavy who struck out eight in 5-2/3 but allowed six hits and a run on 92 pitches. It was 3-1 at the time and the right move. I particularly liked that Juan Perez came in on the double-switch and stroked an RBI double and later scored! Teamwork, baby. Peavy was a little peeved when he was pulled, you could see him shaking his head and saying "unbelievable" but after that weird rain-delay start in Detroit and yielding a double and a triple in the 6th it was perfectly believable the skipper would go to the 'pen. Peavy is a crackup to watch with all the muttering and twitchy mannerisms. With that horrid beard he looks like someone you would run away from on a dark street. Another good effort today, though. He's certainly filled in quite well for Matt Cain.

It will be Madison Bumgarner tomorrow night against Hyun-Jin Ryu in the biggest game of the season. They'll keep getting bigger after that regardless of the result.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Giants Keep Rolling

While the Arizona Diamondbacks are certainly a stinko team they still win 41% of their games. So it's not like they are pushovers. They're in the major leagues and it takes a major league effort to beat them. And beat them the Giants did. I love it when the rook gets the big hit, and tonight Matt Duffy in a pinch-hit spot in the 7th roped an opposite-field double to make it 2-0 and the Giants were on their way. Ryan Vogelsong bounced back from a horrid start in Colorado and gave the team 6-2/3 scoreless. He was wild (five walks), but effectively so (two hits), and got some help from his fielders as well. Is he the most under-rated or perhaps most under-appreciated man on the Giants roster? Ho-hum, just another clutch effort by the grizzled vet, his tenth quality start at home. Josh Collmenter matched him for six but the D-backs 'pen gave it up. Everyone in the Giants starting lineup--all eight guys--got on base via a hit or walk. And Duffy delivered in the ninth spot! It takes a village, man, but I want to mention one villager in particular: Gregor Blanco. His game has really picked up and with his glove work and speed on the bases he has been a huge contributor down the stretch. The injury to Mike Morse has given him a chance to shine and he's seized it. That's what it is all about, making the most of your moments. We've certainly seen that from Joe Panik, maybe Young Duffy will be the next one with the hot hand. A new hero everyday, that's what I say.

Jake Peavy tomorrow afternoon.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Yusmeiro Shines Again

Yusmeiro Petit channeled Greg Maddux tonight in San Francisco throwing an 84-pitch complete game to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks. That's remarkable enough, but when you consider he threw only 16 balls to 29 batters it makes your head spin. What a performance! Especially when you consider that this is it--this is pennant race crunch time. Every game is crucial and every start has a life-or-death feel to it. The Giants have now won seven in a row at AT&T Park improving their home record to 39-33. With the Dodgers losing to the Padres the Giants are 2-1/2 back in the West.

The Giants have played 144 games and have thus completed their 8th seasonal inning. They are 79-65 (.549) which is the fourth-best record in the NL. Here's how it's gone in 2014:

First inning, 10-8,
Second inning, 13-5,
Third inning, 12-6,
Fourth inning, 8-10,
Fifth inning, 6-12,
Sixth inning, 9-9
Seventh inning, 9-9
Eighth inning, 12-6.

If they can go 11-7 in the final 18 that will give them 90 wins. That may not be enough to win the division but will most likely lock up the Wild Card. Right now they are four games ahead of the Pirates for the top spot. The Dodgers played yesterday and have only 17 games left. The Giants obviously need to seize the moment this weekend and take at least two of the three games. They'll have three more chances in LA in the season's penultimate series.

Joe Panik continues to rake--he had five hits tonight! Angel Pagan kept the P-Power theme going with four hits and three runs scored. It was a big win. Let's hope they can keep it going.

Vogie goes tomorrow night. He's coming off perhaps his worst start ever so look for a big bounce back performance from the veteran righty.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Tigers Take Finale

Before the All-Star Break Tim Hudson made 18 starts: 119 IP, 112 H, 43 R, 78 SO, and 19 BB. That averaged out to about 6.6 IP, 6.2 H, 2.4 R, 4.3 SO, and 1.1 BB per start. The outcomes haven't been as good in his 10 starts after the Break: 59-2/3 IP, 67 H, 29 R, 34 SO, and 12 BB. So he's averaging just a hair under 6 IP per start, with 6.7 H, 2.9 R, 3.4 SO, and 1.3 BB. Huddy gave up only seven homers in those 18 pre-ASB games. Cabrera's two-run shot tonight that proved to be the big blow was the seventh he's allowed in the 10 post-ASB games. Huddy did manage to deliver his 18th Quality Start, only one behind team leader Madison Bumgarner. The lineup couldn't get anything going, unfortunately, and with the bullpen meltdown the Tigers avoided a sweep.

Here are Hudson's GameScores for the first seven starts of the season: 80, 62, 57, 57, 68, 72, and 72. That was quite a stretch. Maybe he can find that mojo again for the final push. Looks like two of his final three starts are against the Dodgers. Unfortunately LA won again and pushed their lead back to three games. Giants go to Detroit and get two clutch wins but lose ground! That's baseball.

Looks like Petit gets the start at home on Tuesday against the D-Backs.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Madison Bumgarner Not Sharp, Giants Win Anyway

The Giants took the second game from Detroit by a score of 5 - 4.  David Price pitched 8 2/3 innings against the Giants, and in most of them, held the Giants scoreless in the first time (I think) he has faced them.  The Giants got 5 hits for 4 runs in the first inning, all after the first two batters were out!  Detroit answered with a 2 run home run from Miguel Cabrera in the bottom of the first, then added a solo home run from Victor Martinez in the bottom of the third.  In the top of the fifth, Buster Posey added to the Giants score with a solo home run of his own to make the score 5 - 3.  Finally, in the bottom of the eighth, Miguel Cabrera hit the first pitch from Sergio Romo, a slider, over the fence for a final Detroit run.  He had been waiting for that slider for almost two years.

When Madison Bumgarner pitches, you think of these kind of descriptors:  dominant, efficient, damn near unhittable.  He was none of those things.  Here is a comparison with his last couple of performances:
Today vs. Detroit              6 IP,  10 hits,  3 runs,  2 home runs,  0 BB,  0 K,  100 pitches, 66 strikes
Aug. 31 vs. Milwaukee     6 IP,    5 hits,  1 run,   0 home runs,   1 BB, 7 K,   96 pitches, 63 strikes
Aug. 26 vs. Colorado        9 IP,    1 hit,    0 runs, 0 home runs,   0 BB,  13 K,  103 pitches,  80 strikes

I'm not suggesting that something is wrong with Madison, today though, he struggled.  Detroit hit the ball hard, and even the fouls were loud.  However, he picked up his 17th win.  It is popular these days to poo-poo wins for pitchers, but the Giants did not have any pitcher to achieved 17 wins in 2013.  Also in 2012, no pitcher achieved 17 wins.  That was true for 2011 and also for 2010.  The last pitcher to get 17 wins on the Giants was Tim Lincecum in 2008 (who, by the way, had an excellent inning last night).

Buster Posey is now 33 for his last 65 at bats dating back to August 21.  If you throw in the May 22 make-up game finished on Monday, September 1, he is 34 for 66.  Today, a single, a double and a home run.  Including today, 7 home runs since August 21.  Rbis for Joaquin Arias, Pablo Sandoval, and 2 for Andrew Susac, whose first inning double drove in Hunter and Pablo for the 3rd and 4th runs.  Tomorrow, Tim Hudson against newbie Kyle Lobstein.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Giants Fight Back

The Giants were staring into the Coors Field Hellmouth for the second night in a row but Rockies Slayer Buster Posey led the way and the visiting squad triumphed over the forces of chaos and evil. My goodness but the lad is hitting well lately. I blame it on Andrew Susac. You think Buster wants some whippersnapper whipper-snapping him? Certainly not. And if he has to slug .600 to prove it, by gum, he will. You have to love the other rook, too. Joe Panik is straight rakin' it! Last week the starters kicked ass, this week it looks like the 'pen's turn. Five innings, one run allowed. Meanwhile Colorado's 'pen gave up six runs in a mere 2-2/3--that sort of thing I like. What else do I like? How about an errorless game? And Gregor Blanco finding his stroke again after a slow start?

Vogie tomorrow afternoon. GO GIANTS!

--M.C.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Saaa - weeeeep!

The Giants completed a sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend who were first in the National League Central Division and are currently tied for first as a result of the Giants efforts.  That gives them 6 wins in a row and, in the past week, they have managed to gain 2 games on front-running LA.

The numbers the Giants put up were impressive.  Madison Bumgarner tied the league leaders with his 16th win.  He threw 96 pitches in 6 innings, gave up 5 hits and 1 run and struck out 7.  He knocked his ERA to less than 3.00.  He got into some trouble in the first, giving up two singles to the first two batters to put runners at first and third.  Then, Ryan Braun hit into a double play, Crawford to Panik to Morse.  Brandon Crawford has played some spectacular defense lately, and I'm thinking I could get used to watching a lot of BCraw to Panik double play pivots.

Behind 1 - 0 after the first, the Giants scored in the second to tie the game, added 3 in the third to take the lead and never looked back.  They also scored in the fifth (2), sixth (1), seventh (7) and eighth (1).  The final was 15 - 5.  For those who keep track of such things, that is a collective 31 - 8 whupping the Giants have laid on the Brewers.

1 home run (Panda).  3 triples (Panda, Pence and Panik).  6 doubles (2 for Pence, 2 for Susac, Blanco and Arias).  16 hits total.  3 rbi for Panda and Susac, 2 rbi for Pence and Panik, and an rbi for Pagan, Morse, Crawford and Arias.  The Giants got 15 runs without Buster Posey in the game.

In the seventh, Madison was relieved by George Kontos.  Kontos went 2/3 of an inning and gave up a home run to Martin Maldonado.  Javier Lopez relieved him for the final out.  Tim Lincecum came in for the final two innings.  It did not go well.  Tim gave up a solo home run to Ryan Braun in the eighth and hit Maldonado with a pitch and gave up an assortment of hits (including a past ball) to allow 2 more runs in the ninth.  So I guess Tim will not be starting in relief in the suspended game in Colorado tomorrow.

It is a good thing that the Giants are scoring well, finally, as they have the make-up game and three more to play in Colorado.  It does not look particularly easy after that.  They go to Detroit from Colorado, currently scrapping for the American League Central Division lead.  Then they play Arizona at home before our last home stand against LA.  Then a road trip to Arizona, San Diego and Los Angeles before our final 4 game series at home against San Diego.  San Diego is one of those kind of teams that worry me.  They are out of the race, as is Arizona, but have been playing well lately (they just took 2 of 3 from LA after taking 2 of 3 from Milwaukee).  It is the time of year when you get a bunch of young players who tend to swing for the fences to try to impress someone.

The Giants' starting pitching is going great.  Well, maybe not Tim, but there's still hope and Yusmeiro looks like a good fill in.  Their hitting is going great and just in the nick of time.  Their relief looks a little spotty, but really, they were nails until the last couple of games, so on the whole, still great.