Sunday, July 15, 2018

98

The Giants fall flat in the final two games against the Athletics, losing yesterday 4-3 and today 6-2. The offense has been absent for the entire month of July: they've scored only 51 runs in 14 games and are 6-8 over that span as a result. Brandon Belt's appendicitis looms large as he's yet to re-discover his spectacular pre-surgery form.

Yesterday Jeff Samardzija had nothing and as expected was returned to the DL. It seems five straight seasons of 32 starts and 200+ innings has taken its toll. The Shark's value as a pitcher is mostly due to his durability--even if he comes back and pitches effectively later it's a lost season for him. Andrew Suarez looked good again, but ran into some bad luck as the A's strung together a sequence of weakly-hit balls that derailed his day. The bullpen had to be overused in both games and in each case a nearly unhittable reliever (Tony Watson yesterday and both Reyes Moronta and Will Smith today) finally succumbed to the dreaded regression to the mean and yielded runs.

After 98 games the Giants are 50-48 (.510) which is good for fourth place in the NL West. There are eight other teams in the NL with a better record, and three are in the same division. They've got 64 games left and if they play .600 ball (38-26) they'll finish with 88 wins. After 98 games they've managed only that .510 pace so it may be a reach asking for such an improvement. (A .510 clip would yield an 83-79 final record.) At least we are getting a chance to see some great work by the youngsters (Suarez, Moronta, Dereck Rodriguez, Steven Duggar, Ray Black, etc.) and some surprise performances (like Gorkys Hernandez and Alan Hanson) as well as an All-Star campaign from Brandon Crawford.

Enjoy the Break!

--M.C.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Mad About Madbum, but Diggin' Duggar and Ravin' about Reyes

This was, perhaps, the best Giants game of the year.

The San Francisco Giants beat the Oakland Athletics by a score of 7 - 1.

The Giants pitching was superb.
Madison Bumgarner was the starter.  He got his 3rd win, which, perhaps, is a good illustration of how odd the designation of a W to a pitcher can be.  Madison threw 6 fantastic innings, he gave up a home run to Oakland left fielder Chad Pinder in the 5th inning, with no one on base.  That was Oakland's first run, and it tied the score at 1 each.  The Giants had scored on a balk the previous inning.  Apparently, the Oakland starter, Edwin Jackson, slipped or caught his cleats or something as he was in his motion.  It brought Steve Duggar in from 3rd base.  In those 6, Madison gave up 2 hits, 1 walk, struck out 5 and threw 84 pitches.  Madison also pitched in the 7th inning, and did not fare so well.  He threw 18 more pitches, gave up a single followed by 2 walks and was pulled for Reyes Moronta.  Reyes induced a strike out, a line out to the Panda, and a ground ball to Brandon Crawford.  If you could award a "win" based on sheer grit and savvy, Reyes gets the credit.  Innings 8 and 9 were handled perfunctorily by Sam Dyson (a 4-pitch 8th).

After that, it fell apart for the A's.  A series of relievers in the 7th culminating with Santiago Casilla (who also pitched the 8th) gave the Giants 5 runs for the final score.

The Giants hitting was timely.
Steve Duggar scored 3 times, walked, hit 2 doubles and picked up 2 rbi.  In the 7th, with the bases loaded by way of two singles and a walk, Duggar slammed a double to right to score 2.  Belt was hit on the hand (but stayed in the game), McCutheon hit a sac fly to score d'Arnaud and send Duggar to 3rd, where a wild Santiago Casilla pitch brought him in.  A Buster Posey double scored Belt.  Buster had 2 rbi, both coming with 2 outs.  The Giants had to scrap for opportunity early in the game, but took advantage of them when they came.

The Oakland A's had just beaten the world champion and AL West division-leading Houston Astros in 3 games out of 4.  Oakland, even with tonight's loss, would be in first place in the NL West.  Mark's hope is still alive.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Buster!

SF 5  CHC 4 (13)
Buster Posey got to play the hero this afternoon, roping a double off the right-field wall to drive in Brandon Belt with the winning run. Belt was walked with two outs and Andrew McCutchen singled him to second before Posey's walk-off blast. Dereck Rodriguez pitched the 11th, 12th, and 13th innings and faced only 11 batters, allowing no hits and just two walks while striking out three. Johnny Cueto struck out seven in his five innings of work and was staked to a 4-0 lead in the 1st frame (Chase D'Arnaud led off with a homer) but gave up a run in the 3rd and two runs in the 5th. He was pulled after five with six hits and three walks (86 pitches) on the tally. The bullpen was epic again, the only blemish a Javier Baez homer off of Tony Watson to tie the game in the 7th. But Watson can be forgiven, he has been nearly untouchable this year, and in fact it was only his second homer allowed.

The team kept it together, much credit having to go to young D-Rod for some clutch relief work. The winning rally in the 13th was by the big studs in the lineup and came with two outs as I mentioned. That's a hell of a win against a very good club! Giants take the series from Chicago and have three coming up with Oakland after a day off tomorrow.

--M.C.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Panda!

SF 2 CHC 1 (11)
The Giants hung on to beat the Cubs in extras after a mostly fruitless offensive evening. Kyle Hendricks had the local lads completely befuddled for 8-1/3 innings but good work by Andrew Suarez (6 IP, 3 H, 1 R) kept it close. The Giants superb bullpen added five shutout frames and that gave the lineup enough chances to put a winning rally together. The only run off Hendricks came in the 5th on a bad pickoff. Alan Hanson--who Jon Miller called "electrifying"--scored all the way from first base on the errant throw that went down the right field line. Second baseman Javier Baez hesitated after retrieving the ball and that was enough daylight for the speedster who clearly caught the Cubs infield by surprise. Pablo Sandoval delivered the game-winning hit in the 11th off Pedro Strop after Steve Cishek had loaded the bases with one out. Even when he was down 0-2 you had the feeling that Panda was the right guy in that situation with his excellent contact skills and sure enough he served one to left for the winner and the Giants had a dramatic victory.

Johnny Cueto tonight. GO GIANTS!

--M.C.


UPDATE: word from Baggs is that Holland may get the start to give Cueto an extra day

Monday, July 9, 2018

Giants Hit, Win

I was prepared to post a much more pessimistic missive, but then the Giants won in most uncharacteristic fashion.

Madison Bumgarner for the Giants in the 4th game of this home stand against the Cardinals that continues tomorrow with the Cubs.  Maddy wasn't sharp - it was probably the weakest outing since he returned from the DL, but he, and the Giants, got the win.  That hasn't happened nearly enough lately - we've been getting just the opposite - good pitching and a loss.

Madison's stats don't matter much.  He went 5+, gave up 4 and threw 101 pitches.  When he missed, it often wasn't close.  Dyson let in 1 and then Ray Black, given enough rope to nearly hang himself, let in 3.  The Giants scored 13, however, to make the final score 13 - 8.

Here, however are some of the hitters' stats going back through Colorado, take from them what you will:

Buster Posey, 4 hits in his last 17 at bats in the previous 6 games, 2 for 5 today.  Andrew McCutcheon, 3 hits in his last 16 at bats, 3 for 6 today.  Brandon Crawford, 1 hit in his last 17 at bats, 1 for 4 today.  Pablo Sandoval, 1 hit in his last 17 at bats, 3 for 5 today, including 5 rbi.  Gorkys Hernandez, 4 hits in his last 21 at bats, 2 for 4 today.  Alen Hanson, 5 hit in his last 19 at bats, 3 for 5 today.  Brandon Belt, perhaps our one bright spot lately, 7 hits in his last 23 at bats, 2 for 3 today.  The Panda hit a smashing home run to right.  Steve Duggar got 2 hits.

If the Giants can breathe easier because of today, great, but it doesn't get easier.  The Cubs have been playing well lately, as have the A's.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Trade Season

The Giants have started their trade season by unloading Austin Jackson and Cory Gearrin (along with A-level RHP Jason Bahr) to the Texas Rangers. It seems the Rangers wanted Bahr who has been dominating in the low minors (117-2/3 IP, 95 H, 34 W, 139 K) and had to take a package deal to get him. This frees up a couple of million bucks for the Giants to make--perhaps--a modest addition at the deadline and stay under the cap. Jackson's .604 OPS is the worst of his career and puts him in the bottom twenty of all MLB hitters with at least 150 PA.

The two roster spots will be filled by Steven Duggar who gets his chance to help in the big-league outfield, and Ray Black, he of the 100-mph fastball. We've all felt the team needs to get younger and with Duggar (24) joining Austin Slater (25) maybe that's starting to happen. They were forced to get younger in the starting rotation with all the oldsters getting hurt; seems like Dereck Rodriguez (26) and Andrew Suarez (25) have earned the right to stay. Black is 28 but replaces 32-year old Gearrin who was very effective last season but inconsistent this year. The rest of the 'pen has set a pretty high bar and Gearrin was at the bottom of the heap. Black, just to whet your appetite, has 240 strikeouts in 125-2/3 innings over five seasons. He's also got 87 walks!

Madison Bumgarner gets the ball today. Let's hope the Giants bats come to life and they can get a win behind their big star.

--M.C.

Friday, July 6, 2018

5th inning: 11-7

1st inning: 7-11
2nd inning: 12-6
3rd inning: 6-12
4th inning: 10-8
5th inning: 11-7

The Giants bounced back tonight with a clutch 3-2 win after an ugly four-game stretch of losses. It's hard to see the good when the bad comes in clusters like that, but the reality is that the team has now had back-to-back winning innings. That's something. Now we have to hope for back-to-back winning months: June was 18-10, they've got some time to turn around July's 2-4. Rookie Dereck Rodriguez had another fine start (6-1/3 IP, 2 R) to lead the way. A dramatic late homer from Pablo Sandoval along with a big hit from Andrew McCutchen backed that up. Once again some fine relief work (Reyes Moronta, Tony Watson, Will Smith) sealed the deal. The bullpen has not only been the most improved part of the club but the most valuable as well (with apologies to the Brandons).

After 90 games the 46-44 (.511) Giants are still in the hunt in the wide-open West. I like that Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner are back in the fold, the team will need all its weapons after The Break. The Dodgers I must admit are scaring me a bit, they survived all their injuries and now have the last year's pennant-winning band back together. The Diamondbacks are also showing some resilience after their big plunge. Those two teams aren't going away. The Giants will have to play some kick-ass baseball to keep up with them.

Jeff Samardzija, the other starter who went on the DL, gets the start tomorrow. He's yet to be effective this year after a spring injury. Let's hope he can get his game back together real soon. And that the lineup can start hitting and scoring with more authority again.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Switch Was Flipped

Goddammit.

The Giants won 7 of their last 8 games.   They won them by 1 and 2 runs, until the last couple in Arizona when they scored 16.  And they were looking good tonight.  A first-pitch home run by Gorkys and a 3rd inning rbi double by Buster that scored Brandon Belt put the Giants up 2 - 0.  Meanwhile, Madison Bumgarner was on the mound.  He didn't look real sharp to start the game, but got through the 1st inning unscathed.  He cruised through the 2nd, but loaded the bases before escaping with no runs in the 3rd.  A crisp 4th, 5th and 6th followed with only a couple hits, while Kyle Freeland stymied the Giants.

Then came the 7th, and the switch was flipped.  A pinch hit single.  Then a bloop.  Then an infield single and Madison was done, having thrown 22 consecutive scoreless innings up to that point.  Reyes Moronta was brought in but he had a real command problem.  A walk gave the Rockies 1.  Then a double play gave the Giants 2 outs but tied the score.  Then an easy grounder that Brandon Crawford inexplicably tossed way wide of Brandon Belt, and I knew that the Giants' run of good fortune (and good baseball) had been turned off.

The Giants put a couple men on base after that, but they didn't threaten.  The Rockies scored 2 more to make the final 5 - 2.  Fucking Coors.  The balls and strikes calls were shitty.  The theme unis look like crap, and as a side note, I do not give a flying fuck about the basketball feed on the bottom of the screen.  So what happens tomorrow?  Does the switch reset?  Or do we get Coorsed until we limp home Thursday?

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Giants Sweep Snakes!

SF 9 AZ 6
It took 16 hits, nine runs, and seven pitchers but the San Francisco Giants completed their three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The pitching staff was stingy in June, allowing only 84 runs in 28 games (exactly 3 rpg), but inaugurate July with a six-run stinker. Derek Holland could not get out of the 4th, Pierce Johnson lost it in the 7th after two perfect innings, and Mark Melancon allowed a run in the 9th and had to be bailed out by Will Smith. But the rest of the group got it done and the lineup was not to be denied, scoring in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 9th frames.

This is a huge win for the club, especially given their poor play on the road before this. The Giants looked good this weekend. I have to give a nod to Brandon Belt for two hits and three walks, not to mention superb glove work, as always. Brandon Crawford had two hits, an RBI, and a run scored. The B-Boys have carried the offense, don't you think?

Colorado next. 5:40 Pacific, Madison Bumgarner. Go Giants!

--M.C.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Another Win in the Desert

SF 7 AZ 0
The Giants thumped the Diamondbacks with a three-homer barrage that backed up a fine start from rookie Derek Rodriguez. Ty Blach and Cory Gearrin finished up and secured the team's tenth shutout which is tied with the Chicago Cubs for the most in all of baseball. Buster Posey and Andrew McCutchen led the way with three hits apiece and Brandon Crawford, Pablo Sandoval, and Joe Panik each added two RBI. Rodriguez faced 25 batters, throwing 102 pitches to get through 6-1/3 IP. Arizona is a tough club--they are in first place--and the youngster kept the lid on them with eight ground balls and five strikeouts. The boys have won 10 of their last 13 and notch an 18-10 record for the month of June. They are tied for second place with LA and 3-1/2 games off the pace. Derek Holland takes the hill tomorrow at 1:10 Pacific with a chance for a sweep.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.