Friday, July 22, 2016

Finding New Ways

What do you say about a game in which Carlos Beltran has the defensive gem and Brandon Crawford errs?  Giants lose, yet again, to make it 6 in a row.  This time, to the Yankees, 3 - 2.

Madison Bumgarner taking the hill for the Giants in New York.  So far, this swing through the ballparks of the eastern AL has been anything but fun.  Madison pitched all right, he gave up 2 runs in 7 innings, 7 hits, struck out 6 and walked 3.  Josh Osich gave up 1.   The Giants did not score until the 7th, on a wild pitch, and then Williamson batted in Trevor Brown with a double in the 8th.  That tied the game until Brandon C threw the ball past Brandon B at first.  Buster banged a ball off of his foot and had to leave the game.  So the offense, which seemed to come alive during the last game in Boston as the pitchers were throwing batting practice, went back to sleep and a pretty well pitched game was wasted.   Well, here is something positive.  As I type this, the Cardinals have beaten the doggers in the 16th.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Silver Linings

11-7 loss at Fenway
The slumping Giants rapped out 15 hits including two homers and scored seven runs so at least there is a silver lining to this five-game losing streak. The first four losses featured ten runs total--perhaps this means the bats will come to life in New York. And the Dodgers lost, always a silver lining in a dark Giants cloud. Matt Cain got hammered in his return to action, sadly, and it looks like he's a long way from helping the club. During a losing streak, when you are a fan like we are, you have that terrible nagging feeling that they will never win again. It's ridiculous, of course, but when one devotes the kind of energy and emotion to a team like we do, those kinds of irrational waves come and bury you now and then. I KNOW the Giants will get back to winning. That's a sure thing. But I'm not so sure about Matty. He looks so lost out there--a shadow of the ace we once knew. Every time he makes another comeback something happens. It seems he gets hurt or he gets rocked--there have not been a lot of other outcomes for the big righty this year.

Off-day tomorrow. Yankee Stadium Friday night with MadBum on the hill.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

p.s. The last time Matt Cain pitched in Boston he lost 1-0.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Vlog 22 "A Rotten Weekend in San Diego"

5-3 loss in SD   

The All-Star break may give our boys a nice rest but it has also caused a break in the JohnnyC Joy and, well....winning.  I sure hope this is a brief break but a nasty Roadtrip ahead could be ugly.  Stay calm and watch the Vlog:

Vlog 22 "A Rotten Weekend in San Diego"


Balk-off Blues

7-6 loss (10) in SD
Things I was hoping to see less of in the second half of the season: Jeff Samardzija throwing batting practice and Santiago Casilla blowing saves. Things I was hoping to see more of in the second half: homers. I got my homers but as we know it's not how you score runs that matters. Keeping the other team from scoring runs is what matters. That didn't happen and the Giants lost two in a row for the first time since the Oakland series. The Padres, you have to figure, were hungry for a win--the Giants won the first nine contests this season, losing the tenth Friday night. I still like 9-2 but I'd like 10-2 a lot better.

Johnny Cueto this afternoon.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Padres Return from Break. Giants, not so much.

After what some refer to as the All Star game, and what I refer to as the mid-summer time period in which there is no meaningful baseball, the Giants returned to action tonight in a losing effort against the Padres.  Well, action is a bad choice of words here.  Inaction is more like it.

Andrew Cashner was on the mound for the Padres in one of their awful baby-poop colored uniforms.  Did they forget that they got rid of those for a very good reason?  You will read about how good he was.  I think that the story is more about how the Giants were there in body, but not spirit.  They were asleep or maybe still on break.  At least, that's what the energy level they were displaying looked like.   So the Giants lost 4 - 1 and looked pretty bad against the team they have beaten all season.

Madison Bumgarner was on the mound for the Giants, and he was part of the problem.  He gave up a run in the 1st, which the Giants matched in the top of the 2nd thanks to back-to-back hits from Brandon Crawford and Conor Gillaspie.  Then he gave up another run in the 3rd, then a couple of solo shots on fat pitches in subsequent innings.  Maddys' line: 6 IP, 4 runs, all earned, 7 hits, 1 BB, 9 K.  Meanwhile, the Giants got 1 hit after that 2nd inning.  At least Mac Williamson got it on his birthday.  The umpire's strike zone was terrible.  He seemed to think Brandon Belt, in particular, had a strike zone at least twice as big as any other human.  Brandon Belt struck out as often as Buster Posey grounded out (4 x each).  All Stars.  Belt got thrown out (a first for him!) as did Bochy.  At least that was something.

In the 9th inning, Yangervis Solarte, the Puds 3rd baseman, made the 1st out of the inning with a catch of a Angel Pagan foul ball which sent him tumbling over the rail.  Here is a replay, but not of the best part.  Solarte came up with the ball and it was covered with nacho cheese.  Inside the glove.  Someone find this and post a link in the comments, please.  So if he did not drop the ball, exactly how did that nacho cheese get all over it?  As with the strike zone though, it wouldn't have mattered.  Someone leave a wake-up call for the team tomorrow, OK?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

5th inning: 12-6

The Giants have played 90 games (five 18-game innings) and have 72 games remaining. They have completed 5/9 (about 56%) of their season. Here's the tally so far:

1st inning: 8-10
2nd inning: 10-8
3rd inning: 15-3
4th inning: 12-6
5th inning: 12-6

That's a 57-33 record (.633), the best in baseball. They opened the season playing .500 ball (18-18) but since then they've played at a .722 clip (39-15). Pretty impressive, wouldn't you say?

A look at the numbers shows the Giants are 12th out of 30 teams with a run-scoring rate of 4.71 per game (league average is 4.51). Breaking down the team slash line their batting average (.263) is 11th-best, their OBP (.336) is 4th-best and their slugging percentage (.406) is 21st. Their wOBA (.320) is 15th, smack dab in the middle, but their wRC+ (104) is 7th-best. The Giants are good at bases on balls (4th-best) and very hard to strike out (3rd-fewest). This is not surprising, we see that every day. They don't hit many homers (only the Braves are worse) but they are 9th in doubles and 2nd in triples.

On the pitching side they are allowing 3.90 runs per game, behind only the Nationals, Mets, Dodgers, and Cubs. The league average is 4.51 so the Giants have the run-prevention thing down pretty well despite the shaky bullpen. In team FIP (3.69) they trail only the Dodgers, Nationals, and Mets. They are middle-of-the-pack in strikeouts but excellent (3rd-fewest) in both walks and homers. Only eight teams have given up fewer hits.

Team position-player fWAR (19.4, includes fielding) is 3rd-best and team pitching fWAR (10.1) is 9th-best. One metric from B-R (Defensive Efficiency) gives the team a .700 mark, 6th-best. We know this is a good-glove team, and that synergy with the leather behind the pitchers makes a big impact. On the whole, it seems the Giants are a little better than the sum of their parts. They do a lot of things well and have good leadership, not to mention some championship DNA.

Individually it is hard to miss the 1-2 punch of Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto. The team is 29-8 when they start. Those two are doing everything right and leading the club with consistently dominant pitching. Jeff Samardzija has had his ups and downs but overall is a fine number three and the recent rebound from Jake Peavy has been a big lift as well. Albert Suarez has done a solid job filling in for Matt Cain but I think we all want to see the big righty return ASAP to bolster the ro' for the second half run.

Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, and Brandon Crawford have been the big performers with the bat and all three have been excellent defensively, with BCraw dazzling nightly with his impossible plays. That guy is under-rated at 4.2 fWAR (7th-best in baseball)! The super-subs (Green, Peña, and Parker in particular) have filled in remarkably well and there have been contributions up and down the roster. It will be nice to get our fabulous infield back together (Panik probably sooner than Duffy) but the organization has been well-served by the backups.

The weak link has been the bullpen but when the team has the most wins and fewest losses it is hard to get too worried. I believe the return of Sergio Romo will help settle the roles and we will see more consistency. George Kontos may be a key guy here. I've said it many times before I think we will see a new arm or two (a lefty, probably) for the stretch run, but no one famous or expensive. Think about how valuable Cory Gearrin has been--he's a scrap-heap reclamation. The Giants won't get Andrew Miller but they will find a diamond-in-the-rough who can help. Despite some hiccups both Santiago Casilla and Hunter Strickland have been solid and will get the pressure outs in the big games to come.

Imagine this team taking a dump and playing .500 ball (36-36) the rest of the way. That's 93 wins! I don't think that will happen: 40 more wins (.556) means 97 total, which should mean a West Division title and first or second seed in the playoffs. With Pence coming back and perhaps an uptick in performance from both Span and Blanco (Pagan has been looking much better, don't you think?) it's easy to feel confident. Of course disaster could strike. The baseball gods could mock us and torture us and humble us. This we know, and have experienced. But this is a good team. They won't keep up the .700 thing, but they don't have to. Keep grinding, avoid the big losing streaks, make LA feel the heat--this they can do.

One thing we can count on as fans is a top-notch front office. You can bet they will plug any holes they see in the next month or so. I'm happy with the status quo but August is the cruellest month (sorry TSE, April ain't nuthin') and the team won't be able to ride two starters and three hitters the rest of the way. The remainder of the rotation will need to be steady performers, the other guys in the lineup will have to pull their collective weight, and the hurt guys will have to get healthy. But the team is in a great position for the second half and ought to be able to turn that into a post-season berth.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Vlog 21 "All-Meh Game 2016"

NL All-Stars 2 AL All-Stars 4 

A couple Royals wrecked the night for JohnnyC and the American League will have home field advantage.  I hope we find that very irritating later this year.  Otherwise, it wasn't really a fun or memorable game.  Not much to talk about... check out my wild shirt though...

Vlog 21 "All-Meh Game 2016"

Sunday, July 10, 2016

All Star

Madison Bumgarner left no doubt.  He will not be pitching in the All Star Game, but he will be there and tonight slammed the door on the first part of the season with a decisive 4 - 0 victory over the snakes.

How decisive, you ask?  A complete game.  14 strikeouts.  1 hit, 1 BB.  He had a perfect game going into the top of the 5th, when Gregor Blanco dropped what would have been a tough catch to put a man on.  He still had a no hitter, though, into the 8th, when Jake Lamb singled.  Lamb was the guy who was on base from the Blanco error.  14 strikeouts ties a career high for Madison.  He looked for awhile like he was to challenge the strikeout record, 11 K's through 5.  No matter, though, it was a thrilling victory to sweep the snakes and send the Giants to the All Star break with the best record in baseball.  Brandon Crawford, the guy who is not going to the All Star game (but should!) is tied for 6th in rbi in the National League.  He had three tonight.  Buster Posey, who is going to the All Star game (and definitely should be there) had three hits.  Maybe he will catch Johnny Cueto as a starter there.  All in all, this was a great game for a Giants fan.  San Diego is probably thinking, "Holy crap, this guy is going to start after the break, too?"

So here is the way I see it.  Remember back when the Giants went to St. Louis at the beginning of June?  They dropped 2 of 3 there.  Then they came home, split 2 games with Boston and turned around and dropped the first game to Kershaw.  So, 4 losses in 6 games.  But they turned around, took the next 2 games from LA, then swept 3 from Milwaukee at home, swept 3 at Tampa Bay, took 3 of 4 at Pittsburgh and, back home, 2 of 3 from Philadelphia.  They stumbled against the A's, losing 3 of 4, before taking 2 of 3 at Arizona, 2 of 3 at home against Colorado and sweeping the snakes in this series.   23 wins in 34 games.  Amidst all the cries of a shoddy bullpen, they have done an awful lot of winning.  When they have stumbled, they have righted themselves in a hurry.  That says to me that they are more likely to make minor moves than major ones.  We have some of our starters coming back soon.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Home Cookin'

6-2 win in SF
Jeff Samardzija was at his Samardziest tonight, wobbling through a 31-pitch two-run 1st inning, playing with fire in the 2nd, mowing them down in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th, and finally running out of gas in the 7th. Oh, he also hit a double and scored the go-ahead run. The much-maligned 'pen stepped up with Derek Law (2/3), Sergio Romo (1, 3K), and Hunter Strickland (1) all putting up zeroes. Brandon Crawford was the hitting star and Brandon Belt had four bases on balls. I note that the Giants were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

Boch got ejected, that was also noteworthy. Apparently there were a few close ones to Buster after Samardzija plunked Segura. I missed it, I only saw the last half of the game.

Hey, I like it. Jake Peavy tomorrow afternoon.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Vlog 20 "Historic Johnny"

5-1 vs. Col 

Johnny Cueto's level of achievement, consistency and flair are all throwbacks to an older age of baseball.   While at the same time, he truly is like nothing we have ever seen before. Isn't that totally cool?  Click below for yet another installment of Johnny Joy:

Vlog 20 "Historic Johnny"