Sunday, July 31, 2011


Not much to say about three hits. Even less to say about nine runs allowed. The next ten games are in San Francisco. That ought to improve things. Just when I thought Barry Zito would put up some ML-average numbers again he dropped off a cliff. Let's hope Jonathan Sanchez gets back in the fold soon.

Giants finish July 15-11 for a .577 win percentage. Giants didn't get a catcher and nothing seems to be in the works. After today players have to clear waivers before they can be traded. Maybe they are going to stick with the Whiteside/Stewart combo.


Saturday, July 30, 2011


"This is baseball. There are all sorts of ways to lose."

That was Brian Wilson (via sfgate) talking about last night's game. Tonight's game was another sort of way to lose. MadBum had a first inning sickeningly reminiscent of the first inning from hell he had last month in San Francisco. This time he managed to get some outs. The Reds were up 5-1 in the fourth and scored a run on three straight squibbers. It was that kind of night. I was happy to see the Brandons out there. I was happier when the game was over.

Barry Zito goes tomorrow. Let's hope the Giants can score some runs.


p.s. The Colorado Rockies are throwing in the towel--Ubaldo Jimenez has been traded to the Cleveland Indians. At least he didn't go to the Arizona Diamondbacks--they had to settle for Jason Marquis. The Rockies are 11 games back with 56 to play. The Philadelphia Phillies sent four prospects to Houston for Hunter Pence.

28-14, 10-6, 15-9

The Giants have played 42 one-run games this season and have won 28 of them. They've played 16 extra-inning games and won 10 of those. That ain't bad. That's damn good, actually. It points out what we already know--they rely on great pitching. The Giants are interesting in that they have a great staff. It's not just about the starters. The bullpen is equally brilliant. Tonight was one of those games you thought they'd win after they tied it up late because the Giants usually win when it is "a battle of the bullpens." Alas, Wilson did not have the good stuff (he gave up a hit to a relief pitcher who hadn't batted in seven years) and the Reds and Edgar Renteria took advantage and pulled off the win. The Giants survived what was for them a mediocre start (Game Score 45 for Vogie) and had their chances to put the game away, but that Ol' Devil Offense just couldn't get the big hit. It is the team's weak spot, and FNG Carlos Beltran can't change it all by himself (especially when he strikes out three times!). Allowing only four runs in 13 innings is pretty damn good pitching when you get right down to it (2.77 ERA), and the team ought to be able to deliver the goods. Dontrelle Willis--a desperation reclamation project for a hurler starved club--looked like an ace, a familiar refrain for Giants fans. Despite the hiccup, the Giants have won 15 of 24 this month. That ain't bad, either.

Weren't the Dodgers lovely lads for whipping the D-backs tonight? The enemy of my enemy is my friend, eh?


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Utley Dominating Tim

Our beloved Giants took yet another series, this time from the "mighty" Phillies. And although the spotlight was on newly acquired Carlos Beltran, the real story for the Giants' 4-1 victory in Philly today was what it always is for the defending World Champions : pitching.

Following on Matt Cain's masterpiece yesterday, Tim Lincecum (9-8) completely nullified the highly regarded NL East leader line up. Tim was remarkably strong considering his recent bout with food poisoning and the muggy 85 degree weather. I guess he has something to prove to the rude Phillie fans. Well, he did.

6 innings 3 hits! ZERO RUNS 4 walks 6 strikeouts (game score 68)

The key to Tim's success tonight was his complete domination of Chase Utley. Every time Utley (who I consider the best all round hitter in the NL) came up against Lincecum there was a runner in scoring position. Normally, this is a recipe for a loss. Tonight it was as sweet as could be:

1st inning - runners on 1st and 3rd, one out: limp pop up to short
3rd inning - 1st & 3rd, two outs: got him out on called strike three, made him look bad doing it too
5 inning - 1st & 2nd, two outs: made him look even worse striking out on a ball in the dirt

Tim has done this to Utley for a while, something like 2 for 23 lifetime against The Franchise. Just another aspect of the Freak that is a little hard to fathom. By the way, Utley immediately roped an RBI double after Lincecum left the game. Dude's a stud...Tim's just better.

I guess I should make note of Carlos Beltran's debut. From first glance, it would seem like he really wants to fit in this lineup. After all, it would be rude to show everybody up right away. Personally, I think sacrificing a nifty 32 consecutive game streak of reaching base is a little too nice. Striking out twice against a guy he had faced 20+ times previously with only one strikeout was a nice touch though. Good job, Carlos. Today you looked like you've been batting third for the Giants all year long.

It's alright to stick out a little bit next game, OK?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Round two to the champ

Matt Cain is a fucking animal. That was filthy, beastly beastiliness in Phi-town tonight. Matty re-found that post-season mow-down mode and set the red-clads down. It was great. The Giants played Giants-ball. They got all old school Dead Ball like they like to do and scrapped and scratched and kicked and clawed and won themselves a fecking ball game. Last night? Well, last night was a "syphilitic goat turd" as my mate JC so aptly put it. But tonight? Tonight? Tonight! It was pure G-ball, baby, pure Bay Ball, pure as Virginal fookin' Mother's milk ball (they can do that, I know, I seen it, seen it all through the blue haze of the fuming incense stencher, laddie bucks, aye, I did, but that's a tale for another time, eh?). Pure as fucking baby snot, me bukcos, that's the G-game, that's how it is done, that is some defending bloody fracking championship ball. I was in a public place, a publick house no less, quaffing me bloody god-damned hard-earned bloody pints when Eli bloody Whitesde ran into Matty in the 8th and cost the team a runner and eventually a run and I slammed my hand on the table like a bloody fat-arsed frat boy, calling attention to meself and all, uncharacteristic-like, you know, me being all so meek and mild like a god-damned bloody fookin' altar boy (which I was, yeah).

O My Brothers, that was a win. Bog and All His Holy Angels shined upon Your Humble Narrator while he was deep in his moloko synthmesc, and he's renounced the ultra-violence, takin' the cure and all, because of the religiosity and spiritualissitude, and that's the truth.


p.s. I'm not sure why I ever bother to be calm, rational, and analytical as the Giants did EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of what I expected them to do, namely, trade Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltran. Hey, I like surprises. This team never fails to surprise me. Pitching, fundamentals, and three-run homers. Maybe Beltran is that third leg of the Earl Weaver Triangle. I love it. It's brave, bold, and timely. He's a great player. Zack Wheeler might be the next MadBum or he might be the next Jerome Williams. I can't see how Beltran hurts the club in any way, and it sure seems like his bat will be a huge boost. The "difference-maker?" As if. (The NY Time crossword today gave the clue 'Valley Girl's pshaw' which was, naturally, 'as if.') No one bat--with the possible exception of Barry Bonds--is ever the difference-maker. No, that would have required getting Justin Verlander or somesuch to be the 5th starter. But it is a big pickup, make no mistake, and could just be that little extra Techron in the tank to help the lineup win another game or two. Beltran's our bhoyo now and I'm on board with it. A tip o' the tam o' shanter to Brian O'Sabes and Billy McNuke for the grand gesture.

Definitely NOT Tim

Everyone has had the experience of popping a lovely treat into your mouth, only to have the shock to find out it was something else completely. Polite descriptors of this would include: jarring, disappointing, grating, and maybe even, staggering. Less polite: Barry Zito.

For only the second time in his career, Tim Lincecum was scratched due to illness from yesterday's "big" match up against the Phillies. I had a crazy busy day, so I only was able to start listening at 4 pm, game time. Part of the day's hectic pace was fueled by monstrous expectations of freakishness from my beloved Franchise. Oh baby, Timmeh was going to put the Freak Show on display while the Philly fools (great fans, tho) heckle and boo. Hella-stoked, as we say in NorCal.

Then the fabulous truffle I was about to pop in my mouth turned into a syphilitic goat turd.

Needless to say we lost, we turned yet another pretty good pitcher into Greg Maddox, and the "offense" continued to be offensive, but not in the right way. It was so fecking predictable...once Tim was scratched. Can't image why you would want the details if were lucky enough to miss it...but here's some.

It looks like Tim gets the match up with Cole Hamels today, which would be awesome (assuming Tim's at full strength). Then Matt Cain would go on Thursday, which gives us a great chance to win the series. Hell, I can almost feel that goat taste leaving the memory cells right now.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Stickin' with the formula

Madison Bumgarner pitched the best game of the weekend and his mates played some sterling ball behind him in the field and that was enough to subdue the difficult Brewers. He also doubled and scored the first run (on an RBI hit by Jeff Keppinger), demonstrating once again that he is a beast. Giants fans have come to expect good ABs from the young lefty, and he continues to dazzle on the mound despite the wretched run support. A nice sequence in the 4th--infield single, fielder's choice, single, sac fly--scored the go-ahead run and that was it. The bullpen got the final four outs without a fuss and the Giants take the rubber from a good team. Using home field advantage (and stickin' with the formula) to take a series was item number one on the checklist for post-ASB tasks. Next order of business? Beat a great team in their yard. The Freak gets the ball Tuesday in Philadelphia for the start of a massive three-game set, a warm-up for the four in San Francisco the following week. The 2010 NLCS re-match and possible 2011 playoff preview will be some pulse-pounding baseball. GO GIANTS!


p.s. MLBTR passes along the talk that Francisco Peguero was "discussed" in the latest episode of Bring Me the Bat of Carlos Beltrán. Remember, it's a rumor site--that's gossip, loose lips, bluffs, and bullshit. (Sort of like TV news programs.)

One step forward

Ryan Vogelsong did not have the good stuff in his 16th start but the Giants prevailed in their 101st game. The bullpen was particularly crisp, getting the last 12 outs on 44 pitches. Santiago Casilla allowed two base runners in the 6th (via walks) but neither got past second. He sandwiched in a strike out of Prince Fielder. Jeremy Affeldt threw a perfect 7th and also struck out Corey Hart. Sergio Romo retired the first two in the 8th, striking out Ryan Braun. Javier Lopez struck out Prince Fielder to end the inning, and Brian Wilson took care of the 9th with only five pitches. Ol' Boch used the right guys in the right spots and they delivered a huge win. Unlike Friday's game, the Giants actually put together some offense, knocking out 10 hits and scoring four runs. I particularly liked the insurance run in the 8th: a walk by Cody Ross, a single from Chris Stewart, and a single that looked for all the world like a double-play ball from Andres Torres. The Brewers made two mistakes on the bases that likely cost them at least a run, and the Giants made another fine play (Ross to Stewart) to get a runner at the plate. The Brewers also gave up a run when Ryan Braun made a poor throw on a very short fly ball to left field that allowed Aaron Rowand to score the go-ahead run standing up. Little things, little things, they all add up. Watching the Giants this year you really notice when other clubs fail to execute routine plays or give away outs with bad decisions.

Madison Bumgarner faces ace Yovani Gallardo in the rubber match this afternoon. GO GIANTS!


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tough road ahead

Matt Cain did not have the good stuff in his 21st start--the Brewers hit the ball hard even when they made outs. The Giants looked a little sloppy in the field in their 100th game and put on, even for them, a remarkably feeble show with the bats. When Cain was lifted after six it was 4-1 Milwaukee and even Ol' Boch new the team was toast. He put in Guillermo Mota, fer chrissakes. Now you all know I like WillyMo, but when the Ancient One (I think he modeled for those Easter Island statues) comes in that means the Giants are (a) losing big or (b) winning big. Plus, he was followed by Jeremy Affeldt and Ramon Ramirez. That's the three lowest rungs on the bullpen ladder. Not that they are bad pitchers--they aren't. And they all pitched beautifully. But down by three with three to play is "out of it" for San Francisco, and that's depressing. Did I mention already what a dull fecking game it was? I didn't? Well, it was a goddamn dull fecking game. I even fell asleep watching it. (That had nothing to do with the three pints of beer I'd had earlier, or the somnambulant stylings of the Chicago-tribute band playing in the city park. I can hear all the concerts from my house. It was a weak night for entertainment. Chicago? Seriously? Do you open, close, and encore with "Saturday in the Park?" I think you'd have to. Yeesh.)

The Giants face their biggest test of the season now that they've reached the century mark. Two more with Milwaukee, then on to Philadelphia and Cincinnati, then home for Arizona, Philadelphia again, and Pittsburgh. That's 18 more games with contending teams (Arizona was kind enough to lose last night and keep the Giants four games up). For the Giants to match last years win total of 92 they will have win 35 of the remaining 62 games, or .565 ball, close to their current .570 pace. If they play .500 ball (31-31) they will finish with 88 wins. That might do it, but it would be awfully tight and the D-Backs would have to help out some. The Giants were 16-12 in May and 17-11 in June. With eight games left in July the 11-7 Giants might find it tough to match those numbers, but this is a tortoise-not-a-hare club, the kind that grinds it out a little at a time. I expect I'll be doing some similar math a month from now, and saying things like "if they can just stay a couple of games above .500 the rest of the way the NL West is a lock."

Vogie today, MadBum tomorrow. GO GIANTS!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Better Than Tim

What can I say? Some things in life just don't call for deep analysis. You know... sunsets, rainbows, pitcher's duels, that kind of crap. You certainly can analyze (and even explain) these amazing phenomenon, but it only dulls your appreciation of their special beauty. Therefore, as a lover of beauty, I will keep this short.
In today's game, a 1-0 loss to the doggers, Tim Lincecum threw a lovely rainbow of a game(game score 66):

7+ innings 5 hits one lousy run 4 walks 7 strikeouts

Only problem was that Clayton Kershaw came up with a double rainbow (OMG! What does it mean?) that had a leprechaun riding a unicorn under it (game score 87). It may have helped that our lineup was weakened by days off for Pablo Sandoval and Nate Schierholtz as well as a delayed flight for new-comer Jeff Keppinger (except for late PH duty). But there I go analyzing...

Have a great off day everybody. Get outside. Find some beauty of your own...the Giants variety will resume on Orange Friday against the Brew Crew.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Serving notice

The Giants scored five runs at home. That's amazing. They did it when Madison Bumgarner was pitching. That's incredible. It took 19 tries but MadBum finally got more than three runs of support in a start in San Francisco. He can thank young Brandon Belt, who had a huge night and "served notice" that he wants to stay and play. It is easy to get excited about the two Brandons. Brandon Crawford continued to make tough plays look easy at shortstop and chipped in a hit, two walks, and a run scored. Belt worked both sides of the field--yanking a ball to RF for a homer and "inside-outing" a ball down the LF line for a double. The Tejada injury forced Ol' Boch to go with Crawford. Belt will have to hit like that every night to play. I expect Aubrey Huff will get plenty more chances to rack up that 4-3 record he's chasing.

Madison Bumgarner put together another brilliant start, and that's the real story. The W-L record is a Cainian masterpiece. What subterfuge! Who can take a 4-9 guy seriously? Hah! The Dodgers do now. This kid is great. Krukow was effusive on the post-game show, going on about how he expects him to get better and be valuable to the Giants for a long time. OK, I'm in.

Everyone is looking for a replacement for Buster Posey, and if they've been watching, they've learned his name is Pablo Sandoval. He's doing it all, working magic with the glove and stroking line drives with the bat. And maybe if we notice the Brandons a little more we'll see that they really add a lot to the club. Hey, let's hope The Brain Trust notices and we keep seeing more of them.


So many things to like about last night

Ramon Ramirez is only Guillermo Mota away from being a mop-up man yet he got the last five outs on 17 pitches (13 strikes). That's some serious bullpen depth. Ol' Boch finally had to make a move with Tejada. Maybe now we will get to see Crawford every day. His glove is way too valuable--he has to be out there.

The Dodgers were shut out for the 10th time and are 13-1/2 games behind. The Giants go for their 30th win at home tonight behind Madison Bumgarner (against rookie Rubby De La Rosa). Tim Lincecum gets the call against Clayton Kershaw Wednesday afternoon.



That was a nice, sweet win.

Kick 'em when they're down, I say!


Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Tale of Two Catchers

Eli Whiteside had himself a day. In the 6th he argued a call on a dropped third strike and gave up 90 feet. That runner--it was ruled a passed ball--scored the go-ahead run. In the 7th, he reached when he forced out Miguel Tejada at second base. He then stole second and scored on a two-out hit by Andres Torres to tie the game. In the 9th he worked a walk off Heath Bell, and was replaced by Emmanuel Burriss. In a preview of things to come, MannyB stole second base. Chris Stewart, pinch-hitting, laid down a slick bunt to move him to third, showing us a little more of the coming attractions. The Burriss-Stewart combo would later win the game with some flashy old school ball, back when no one hit homers and they all had high socks. Single, steal, error, squeeze, run. Roger Craig would be overjoyed. Brian Wilson tried his best to blow the save, but The Man They Call Stew made a nifty pick-and-throw on a bunt to start big double play. FanGraphs says the win probability for San Diego went from 48.5% to 12.7% because of that. Way to go, Stewie. The two-headed hybrid of Eli and The Stewster will never equal Buster Posey, but that's what we've got and what we are sticking with, so "stay hot" as Kruk would say. The Giants, like the Japanese team today, needed extra time to find a way to win. But win they did.

Defending league champs Giants and Texas Rangers are both 55-41 on this date, and are both in first place (TX +4, SF +3.5) in their respective Western Divisions. Both clubs have the third-best records in their leagues.


p.s. Matt Cain struck out nine and his Game Score was 65.

There goes the sweep

I stopped watching after the three-run homer by Jesus Guzman in the 1st inning. Barry Zito had thrown about 25 pitches at that point and 20 of them were balls. It was ugly. Actually, it was too familiar to be ugly. It had a nice, comfy, nostalgic feel to it. Ah yes, that Barry Zito. The leave-me-off-the-playoff-roster Barry Zito. The 14 Game Score Barry Zito. (That was not his worst start against SD. Take a look at July 12, 2009). I know we'll get some quality innings out of Zito again at some point--maybe even his next start. But those meltdowns will still be there, lurking, ready to pop out and ruin a perfectly good ballgame.

Number of times since 2005 Matt Cain had a Game Score below 20: three (189 starts).

Number of times since 2006 Jonathan Sanchez had a Game Score below 20: two (115 starts).

Number of times since 2007 Barry Zito had Game Score below 20: seven (138 starts).


Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Semi-Random Reminiscence

A while back, for no apparent reason, I wrote a post about the year 1936. This will explain why I wrote that.
When I watched videos of the Giants' victory parade after winning the World Series I was reminded of a much more laid-back parade I attended in 1976. The team had just been sold by Horace Stoneham to Bob Lurie, which prevented the franchise from being moved to Toronto. I attempted an internet search of the parade so I could recount some of the details, but there was really nothing to be found, as it was essentially a very minor event. So I googled Horace Stoneham and learned that he had acquired the team from his father in 1936. While reading about that I found the other occurrences of that time fascinating enough to warrant a post, which was intended to be a prequel to the story I am finally about to tell.
I lived in the City at the time and read in the Chronicle that there was to be a parade downtown to celebrate the team staying SF. I took the J Church streetcar to Montgomery and walked to where the parade was to begin.
The parade consisted of a few convertibles and a few flat-bed trucks. My favorite player at the time was John "The Count" Montefusco. I spotted him and started walking along side his truck, yelling "Yay Count!" and so forth. The parade was to end at Union Square, where there would be a rally, so I figured I'd just walk along with the parade.
After about a block the Count said to me, "Hey, why don't you hop aboard," so I did. He made a point of telling everyone in earshot about the other player on the truck, John D'Acquisto, and that he was a fine pitcher also. Johnny D was more shy than the Count. For that matter, so are 99% of the people in the world.
A very, very trivial detail: the Count and Johnny D were tossing little bags of something to the crowd. The Chronicle next day reported that they were peanuts. The Chronicle was wrong. They were seed packs of Kentucky Wonder Beans. For the life of me I'll never know why they were tossing these to the spectators.
The rest is pretty much a blur in my memory, up until a moment after the rally. The players were leaving the square and I was standing around cheering for them. Chris Speier was walking right toward me and I said "I hope you hit .300 this year," he stopped and looked me in the eye and looked genuinely moved, we shook hands, and he said "I hope so too."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Self Opposing Tim

The Giants dispatched the puds tonight in rather undramatic fashion, 6-1, giving Tim Lincecum (8-7) the victory and expanding the defending champs lead in the NL West to 4.5 games. A game against the puds..... and it was fun! We actually played like we are the vastly superior team, something that we probably now are just believing. If we continue to play like this for a while, look for that lead to grow quickly (remember we are already past the hardest part of the schedule). And what do I mean by "play like this"? Basically, I mean Andres Torres needs to get back to driving this (so-called) offense. He doesn't need to be as spectacular as tonight ( 3 runs scored, 3 hits, a walk, 2 RBI's and a SB ) but it wouldn't hurt.

Timmy had yet another effective but completely inartistic effort ( game score 63 ). Yeah, I must be damn jaded to complain about

6 innings (112 pitches) 3 hits (all singles) one run 4 walks 7 strikeouts

Yet it seems clear that the Freak's rhythm is still off. He was fighting himself, almost from the very start. Tim was facing a worthy opponent...and it wasn't the San Diego Padres. Between silly walks and wild pitches, Tim created several high stress (and high pitch count) innings. I keep waiting for Tim to develop the ability to go deeper into games and rack up some complete games. Greedy, I know, but what am I supposed to expect from a guy that has already accomplished what he has? My theory is that the loss of Buster and the ensuing catcher merry go round (welcome Hector Sanchez, nice walk in your first appearance) has knocked Tim for a loop. Remember, he blames the transition to Buster from Bengie Molina to be the main reason for his very shaky August last year. Imagine how disheartening it must have been for Tim to see Eli Whiteside flounder (that lasted about two starts) and to now settle for only slightly better Chris Stewart. Since I don't think any major change is coming, I don't see the situation getting better for Tim. Guess only time will tell if my theory is true. Tonight's win is sweet and I sense even better times ahead. But I'm still not happy with the state of Freakdom right now. His next few starts will tell us a lot.

Our newest Giant

Like we needed another guy named Sanchez.     

Huff the Magic Dragon

Just when all hope seemed lost--you know you've lost all hope when you beg each successive hitter from the 6th inning on to jack one--Aubrey Huff planted a Heath Bell pitch in the right field seats to tie the game. It was another crazy Giants moment in a season of crazy Giants moments. It got better in the 12th when the Giants loaded the bases off Luke Gregerson with no outs and quickly turned it into a more familiar bases-loaded two-out situation. I remember begging for a wild pitch at the time. Silly me, a four-pitch walk to Mike Fontenot was a much lower-risk, higher-probability event. The lads tacked on a few more as the Padres bullpen went into meltdown and the Giants had a big win to start the second half. The brown-clads managed to get the tying run up against Brian Wilson in the bottom of the inning, but that's just part of the script, nothing to get excited about. They also wasted a fine effort by Aaron Harang (Game Score 70), but Madison Bumgarner wasn't too shabby, either (Game Score 58). The Giants bullpen gave the team six innings of two-hit, one-run ball with two walks and five strikeouts, while the Padres hacked up six in their five innings of work on four hits, three walks, and a big error. The Giants game plan of wait until the other team screws up worked to perfection. If nine innings aren't enough, just keep playing. Eventually runs will be handed over. It's like camping out in the used-car lot until the salesman finally gets sick of you and gives you the damn junker. Who's complaining? It works. The Giants are 53-40 while the Padres are 40-53. So much for the evil 2010 San Diego mojo, although it looked like it was back in the first eight frames. Huff's blast was a gift from the gods--I keep wondering what they will demand down the road. The virgins have been sacrificed, the collection plates runneth over, the tithes have been tithed, and the fruit baskets are starting to smell. Oh, and Eli Whiteside got three hits.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

By the numbers

Brian Wilson just blew the save so I'm back at my desk and keyboard. Don't worry--it's only a 'Giants Classic' on Comcast. I was recently asked what I do when there's no baseball on TV and I said "wait for baseball season." It's nice that the crew at Comcast fills in the post-ASB doldrums with some baseball. This re-broadcast is the Home Opener on April 8th. I was lucky enough to be there, in the CF bleachers, section 141. Buster Posey just worked a 9th-inning, two-strike, two-out walk after an Aaron Rowand hit. Oh, I miss that lad. Get well soon, Buster. Pablo Sandoval flashed the new, improved 2011 Panda model with a game-tying hit. We are going to extras, folks. I also was lucky enough to see Matt Cain whiff eleven guys in a complete game win over the Nats. That was June 8th, this time in section 108, some very nice lower deck seats (scored by Zo). Jim Riggleman was still at the helm in D.C. Finally, I got to see Tim Lincecum beat the Mets on July 9th. It wasn't flashy, but it was a win, and that's what counts. The Giants scored all their runs on ground balls that could have been double plays but weren't, baseball prowess worthy of saga and song. This time it was the upper deck, section 310. I got the very cool striped socks--when you see them on me you will want them. Not bad for living 300 miles away, eh? The Giants just turned a hit, a blown DP, an error, an intentional walk, and a booming drive to the wall in left-center (all with two outs) from the aforementioned Rowand to win in the 12th. You knew they would, right? If it had been Cody Ross or Andres Torres (or Rowand) out there, we all would have expected it to be caught. Colby Rasmus just didn't have the magic that day.

52-40 (.565) after 92 games is a 91- or 92-win pace (91.565 to be more precise). Here's an inning-by-inning breakdown:

1st (games  1-18): 10-8
2nd (games 19-36): 10-8
3rd (games 37-54):  9-9
4th (games 55-72): 10-8
5th (games 73-90): 11-7

The team is already up 2-0 in their next set of 18 games. They will finish the 6th inning on Sunday, the 31st of July (game 108) in Cincinnati.

The Giants have played 92 games and have 70 remaining. If they play .500 ball they will finish 87-75, which will likely not be good enough. To get to 90 wins (that's what the 2nd-place Padres finished with in 2010) would require a 38-32 record (.543), and 92 wins (last year's total) would take 40-30 (.571). Last season the Giants played 74 games in the second half and went 45-29 (.608). If the 2011 Giants play .600 ball they'll win 42 games and finish 94-68. I like that. Let's shoot for 42 wins--after all, it's the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.

How about March 0-1, April 13-12, May 16-12, June 17-11, and July 6-4? Slow and steady wins the race.

The Giants have played 48 road games scoring 205 runs and allowing 184. They are 24-24 despite the plus-21 run difference, an average score of 4.27 to 3.83 (so much for my obsession with RS > RA). The Giants have played 44 home games and boast a 28-16 record despite allowing 138 runs and scoring only 127, or a minus-11 run difference. That .636 win percentage comes on the heels of an average score of 2.89 to 3.14, surely a thumb-nosing of the baseball gods, those cruel, cruel creatures. May the magic continue. Dominus vobiscum, et cum spiritu tuo. Om mani padme hum. Hare Rama, Hare Krishna. O, Great Spirit. For those about to rock. Whatever! Keep it going, that's all I ask.


p.s. Oh, and a hearty congrats to Bruce Bochy for guiding the NL squad to victory. And to all the Giants for representin' the orange & black. Way to look like champions!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Break Time!

The lovingly improbable San Francisco Giants (52-40) stretched their first place lead to three games by smacking down the Mets today 4-2. Yep, four runs...pretty much a Giants slug fest. At least Matt Cain (game score 63) probably felt that way considering the Giants have given Cain a meager 3.7 runs per game throughtout his career. Nate Schierholtz joined in the slugging vibe with a stellar 4-4 night. Even newly activated Mike Fontenot chipped in with 3 hits...maybe he's been gone so long he forgot that we are a weak hitting team. Yeah...four runs, kinda decadent really, we only needed three. Feels good.

With the All-Star game looming, we all have several days to revel in many glorious notions. Come on, we are in first! Let's revel. Here's my short list:

* how long can Pablo Sandoval go? 21 and counting...
* will Ryan Vogelsong continue to amaze?
* how many more walk-offs, is there a limit on magic?
* and what about Brandon Crawford...and Brandon Belt?

This team is full of great stories and bright futures. Can Timmy, Matt and the rest of the goofballs pull it off again? Talk amongst yourselves.

Two Out Tim

Tim Lincecum (7-7) took a rather different approach to beating the Mets yesterday, 3-1. Some might call it Tim's own version of "torture," but it was effective enough to put up some pretty reasonable numbers (game score 62) on a semi-ragged day:

6 innings (114 pitches) 4 hits (all doubles!) one run 4 walks 6 strikeouts

What these relatively normal numbers don't show is the completely abnormal distribution of outs that Tim generated. In all six of his innings, Tim retired the first two batters and then lost the next guy, leading to many stressful moments and tons of extra pitches. Double, walk, walk, walk, double (then walk), double. Only the first one scored a run due to a subsequent double. A strange pattern, for sure, but (unlike some people) I really don't think it points to some lack of focus or mental flaw on Tim's part. His fastball control was shaky (as it has been most of this year) so he wasn't dominant. All of us arm chair analysts will try desperately to make something of it, but questioning a two time Cy Young winner's mental toughness is nowhere this hack is going to go.

Big game for all you Romosexuals!! Sergio Romo got save #1 by getting the last out. Wilson was in the last three games (poorly at times) so it was no big deal, but I know many people think Romo deserves a shot at closer. Personally, I like him as the 8th inning guy. My heart is truly throbbing this morning for Javier Lopez. His 1.2 innings were the key. Twelve holds, not as glamorous as saves, but a cool stat too.

I guess some offense guys must have done something....we did get three runs after all. To tell you the truth whenever I see Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada at the top of our line-up I get mini-brain aneuryms that cause half inning memory relapses. I never seem to notice when we are hitting I missing anything?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Hairston Happens

Death, Taxes and Scott Hairston. It happened, let's move on.

Actually the only reason that I can display such a high degree of acceptance is because I did not get a chance to follow the game. I was quite busy trying to keep up with my wife. Get a load of her current "hobby." They are called Pyrate Technics, "Straight Outta Weed, California."

all photos by me!

Friday, July 8, 2011


Barry Zito did what Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner all failed to do--he shut down the Mighty Padres. The Giants took the final game of the series to even things up and grab their 50th win. A rejuvenated Zito held the Padres to four hits and also struck out seven in his eight innings of work. He showed great control (zero walks), mixed his pitches well, and kept the San Diego's hitters off-balance with his big curveball and a slick changeup. The Game Score of 77 was his best since July 16th of last season when he and Brian Wilson combined on a two-hit, 12-strikeout shutout of the Mets. Wilson, naturally, preserved the narrow (2-1) win last night as well. It was his 25th save, tied for third place in the NL.

Much has been made over the last few seasons about the "surplus" of starting pitching the Giants enjoy and the obvious need to trade some of that surplus for a power bat. I tell you, I'd love to have a real bat in the lineup. It is agony watching the Giants attempt to score runs (man, Aubrey Huff is absolutely killing rallies these days). You could argue, though, that the 2011 Pablo Sandoval is a real bat. Buster Posey would clearly have been the other real bat to complement the Panda, but there's not much to be done about that situation. A "surplus" of starting pitching is the best thing any team can have in baseball. Barry Zito goes down, up comes Ryan Vogelsong who out-pitches everyone on the club. Jonathan Sanchez goes down and a renewed Barry Zito returns and puts up a string of zeroes. The Giants would not have 50 wins if they had gotten rid of one of their starters. They would certainly not be the defending champions if they had done it last season. The Giants are going to have a roster problem when Sanchez comes back. I think every team in baseball would love to have that problem. And what if there isn't a roster problem? What if the unthinkable happens and one of the big guys goes down? Wouldn't you rather have all five spots filled with major-league arms?

I have no illusions about the poor quality of the Giants offense. It is--and will be come September and October--the team's Achilles Heel. But I'd still take Achilles over most in a fight, well-known vulnerability or not. The Giants have strength, real strength, world-beating strength in their rotation (and their bullpen). Trading that strength away for a dubious upgrade would be a mistake. It's not like they can get Albert Pujols, fer chrissakes. If the Giants had a better offense they would be 10 games ahead rather than two, I know that. But messing with the golden goose will lay a rotten egg, of that I'm certain. If you need proof, look at these last four games. The worst pitcher on the team just pitched a gem to salvage a series. The Giants are a pitching team. Take away the pitching and they are just another team.

Speaking of the Mets, they are coming to town this weekend. I have tickets to see Tim Lincecum pitch on Saturday (we'll be back in VB 310, our old "charter seats"). Should be fun. GO GIANTS!


Thursday, July 7, 2011


The Padres tagged a five-spot on Madison Bumgarner, got a solid start from Dustin Moseley, got another triple from Cameron Maybin, ran wild on the bases, had three relievers strike out eight Giants in five shutout innings, and lost the game. The Giants bullpen threw eight scoreless innings, racking up 13 strikeouts while allowing only two hits and two walks. The Padres went 1-2-3 in the 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th innings which FINALLY allowed the Giants to score a run and go home winners. Nate Schierholtz was the hero with a walk-off blast, his second home run of the night. He's rolling out a cool .278/.330/.440 line these days (115 OPS+) which makes him a lefty version of Cody Ross. Check it out (NS/CR): TB 92/94, 2B 14/16, HR 6/6, R 28/27, RBI 27/25. Ross strikes out more (57 to 31) but walks more (28 to 15) and is a better base stealer (4 of 5 to 5 of 9). Schierholtz gets the edge on defense (but Ross is certainly no slouch) with his great range and especially his rocket arm. That's a nice pair of corner outfielders. Neither of them has to be world-beaters, just above average with the stick and superior with the glove. Andres Torres was a man possessed, getting three hits, scoring twice, and making another sensational no-look grab in center. He needs to find his stroke. Like the other two, he only has to be a little above average offensively to complement his superior defense. A .226/.322/.368 line (92 OPS+) ain't gonna cut it. Aubrey Huff is the other offensive villain, currently sporting a .296 OBP which even Aaron Rowand (.302) can top. They were a combined 2-11 last night.

The Giants should probably have pushed the go-ahead run across in the 8th after Pablo Sandoval's dramatic game-tying double. He was on second base with only one out, but execution is those situations is still a big team problem, and neither Huff nor Miguel Tejada could bring him home. The Giants had the winning run on second with no outs in the 12th (and on third with one out) but failed to score. They had the winning run on second in the 13th with one out but failed to score. For a team with a poor offense you'd think they'd be a little better when they have scoring chances, but they aren't and it is agonizing to watch. Thankfully the bullpen saved the day and gave the Giants chance after chance to get a big hit. The Padres give the Giants fits and they will have to figure out how to beat them since they have 13 more games with them this season including four in San Diego next week. That 6-12 record from last season still galls me. The two teams will play six times in September. Barry Zito goes today as the team shoots for their 50th win.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011


"It kind of came down to that one pitch and I didn't make that pitch," Cain said. "It cost us the game."
Matt Cain left a ball out over the middle of the plate that Cameron Maybin smacked into the gap for a two-run triple with two outs in the sixth that effectively ended the Giants hopes. It was a 1-2 count and they needed a borderline pitch there, but you also have to give Maybin credit for jumping on the chance. Orlando Hudson, the previous batter, had been semi-intentionally walked, and Cain had put on a teaser clinic, throwing pitches that hinted at the strike zone but would have been outs if the O-Dawg had bitten. Alas, he didn't have any of those left for the young centerfielder. It was a frustrating night. With the Giants up 2-0 in the first, the Padres got runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs. If the Giants were batting, they would have gotten a comebacker with the runner nailed at home and two strikeouts. The Padres got back-to-back ground balls (one by Maybin) to score both runners in a span of three pitches. The Giants are 7-15 against this club since the start of last season. San Diego doesn't hit much so they rely on speed and athleticism in the field and on the bases, and they pitch well and have a strong bullpen. It's like kryptonite to the Giants. When your game plan is to wait until the other team boots a ball or puts in a crummy reliever then you have to get some help. The Padres weren't accomodating last night and are screwing up the "thump the West" strategy the Giants are depending on. They've won 7 of their last 10 and are 21-20 on the road. The Giants have allowed 124 runs at home and have scored 110 yet are 24-15. It was the fourth time (in 18 starts) that Cain has allowed five runs or more this season. He'd only given up one run in his previous 21 innings and only eight total in June.


p.s. Andres Torres had an amazing plate appearance (16 pitches, 10 foul balls) against Chad Qualls in the seventh that resulted in a walk. In what may be a signature Giants sequence, he stole 2nd, went to 3rd on a grounder, and was out at home attempting to score on a wild pitch.

p.p.s. The Giants were 43-40 on this date last season and six back of the Padres.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Nondescriptive Tim

I'm not going to waste a good adjective on Tim Lincecum's performance as he and the rest of the Giants (except Pablo) sleep walked through a dismal 5-3 loss to the puds. I guess we have to cut them some slack for coming home from a tough road trip to a day game...but, let's just say I'm sure glad I didn't waste my Independence Day at the ballpark.
Tim called it "an all around pretty bad outing." Certainly one not worthy of our beloved Freak:

5 innings 7 hits 3 runs 1 walk 4 strikeouts

This 93 pitch clunker (game score 44) is especially disappointing against the puds, a team that Tim has had considerable ownage of in the past. Let's hope that he regroups against them fast since I think we play the puds every other week for the rest of the year. That is a depressing thought. I hate the puds and today was classic pud ball ( although their pen looked touchable).
Congrats on Pablo Sandoval's lovely day - 3 hits including a double and a splash hit! At least there was something for the those poor faithful spectators to cheer about.
Tim sure gave them nutin'.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Comin' home

"Two outta three on the road ain't bad" keeps pecking away at me. I'm annoyed that the team let one slip away that was winnable and showed some rather shoddy play in the getaway game. I am too tired to look up whether or not the Giants stink in getaway games, so someone else do it, please. But I'm sure their record is lousy. I'll bet if I searched my own blog for the term "getaway game" I'll find the answer. It doesn't matter. The Giants won two of three from a good team in their yard. They scored 15 runs in one of the games, the +12 margin entirely responsible for the team's RS to finally be > their RA. But, they should have won. They bunted in the 1st--gave up an out--with Rowand on second. Why? Is the out--in that situation--worth the 90 feet? Man, that's hard to believe. Ol' Boch doesn't like the bunt much, but this team forces him to think like one of those string-pull talking Bobby Valentine dolls that says "he's trying to make something happen" (with actual voice emphasis). I don't know. I'm not bitching at Bochy for the relievers failing to get outs. I thought Vogie would get through seven, but it seemed like he was on the "first baserunner" leash. I would have let him try one more batter. If Jeremy Affeldt gets the out it's moot. The Tigers are a good club, give them credit, they battled back and played a little Giants ball by taking advantage of defensive lapses. I'm telling you, it's bad getaway game mojo.


p.s. Bruce Bochy did the right thing. Tim Lincecum goes to his 4th ASG, Brian Wilson to his 3rd, Matt Cain to his 2nd, and Ryan Vogelsong to his 1st. The Giants win with pitching. The Giants are the World Champs. Four pitchers in orange-and-black seems like an easy call. Madison Bumgarner is pitching just as well as the other three starters. Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez are ASG-worthy. Right on, Boch, enjoy it. And if you win you get home-field for the Series. Just like last time.

p.p.s. A's beat D-backs, Giants stay on top by three games.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Up by six and the gods intervene

1703 California Time and I just watched the efficient Detroit tarp crew cover the field. The Giants score SIX unanswered runs in the first three frames and the gods decide to fuck with it. Typical. They are cruel, the baseball gods.

Let us hope the game resumes soon and the Giants continue to kick ass. Does Barry Zito continue to pitch regardless of the length of the delay? I would think so, he's the savvy vet, and the team needs him to chew up a few innings here.

I'll be back.


UPDATE 1845: Tarp peeled, but game still delayed.

UPDATE 1917: Kruk & Kuip are back.

UPDATE 1921: On the radio Flemm said the game would resume at 10:40 p.m. local time.

UPDATE: 1935 (five mins. early!) It's 6-0 Giants and a new pitcher for the Tigers.

UPDATE 1938: Miguel Tejada GRAND SLAM 10-0 GIANTS!!!!  

UPDATE 2019: Aubrey Huff's career line is .280/.342/.470 (114 OPS+) and he came into tonight's game with a .240/.293/.375 line (87 OPS+). Will one of these breakout games finally be the breakout game? 12-0 Giants.

It's official--Zito gets 15 outs. Impressive outing when you consider the almost three-hour delay. I'm going for a walk in the gorgeous twilight (2033). I think the Giants can hang on.

I saw the alpenglow on Mt. Shasta. Six innings, 80 pitches, five hits, ZERO RUNS, two walks, one strikeout, Game Score 61. Barry Zito makes me think of Kirk Rueter. He got guys out but you always wondered how. I know--because he's a major-league pitcher. And a major-league pitcher can get major-league hitters out.

Sixteeen hits, 15 runs. Who are these guys? The worst offense in the league decided "that was enough" and graciously passed the honor back to the Padres. Oh, how I loves me some RS > RA.

p.s. 84 games played, 48 wins. 42 more wins and that's 90 (.538 ball). Right now they are on a .571 or 92/93-win pace. If the Giants go .500 the rest of the way, they will finish 87-75. The 2010 Giants were 40-39 and 6-1/2 games behind the Padres on this date.

They say luck is the residue of design

Madison Bumgarner matched his mates with another great start. He flashed his strikeout weapon again--getting nine Tigers in 7-1/3--and gave up only five hits and one run. Tim Lincecum gave the team 7 IP with 9 K (and only one run) on Wednesday and Matt Cain gave the team 7 IP with 6 K and no runs on Thursday. For those of you who like to keep track of such things, those are Game Scores of 70, 74, and 72. I also like the walk totals: two, one, and one. Only four walks to go along with the 14 hits and 24 strikeouts in 21-1/3 innings. That's some serious 1-2-3 from the young bucks. Yeah, we know all about bullpen (and Brian Wilson) meltdowns and the scary lack of offense (they got the hits last night, though), but I prefer to focus on the starting pitching. I still have a hard time accepting a pitching-dominated team. It's not that I don't love it. It's not that I fail to be in awe of it. It's just, well, I'm a Giants fan. Bonds, Clark, Williams, Clark, McCovey, Bonds, Cepeda, Mays. "Bye-bye-baby" was my lullaby, fer chrissakes. The Giants never had enough pitching, Game Six was the apotheosis of not-enough-pitching. It's so interesting to watch a pitching club. It's so fresh and new and I feel like I learn so much more about baseball every day because of the team's collection of studly young arms and the new emphasis on pitching and fielding. A fellow in the pub said to me the other day while we were watching a bit of ball and saw a good play that he thought defense in baseball was much more exciting and impressive than offense. I thought it was a lovely observation and hard to argue with. Sure, the most dramatic moments are those winning hits, the ones where you leap from your chair and holler. But plays in the field, with their timing and execution, where speed, agility, and baseball smarts come to the fore, produce the most visually arresting moments. Hitting may be the hardest thing to do in sports, but it's the nine fielders who show off the game's athleticism. Last night, despite the great work from MadBum and the clutch hitting from Pablo Sandoval, it was rookie Brandon Crawford who saved the game with his glove.

I often complain that the Giants are lucky. I know that sounds funny, but what I mean is that the team's wins are too luck-dependent. The Giants play a lot of close games and do well in them, but over the long haul those things even out for most teams. Even some great teams are only "meh" in one-run games. Last night the normally-stalwart 'pen almost blew a three-run lead. Four runs is a lot for this club--they average a mere 3.51 rpg. The Giants got lucky in that the ball Brennan Boesch hit that ended the game could have hit the bat a few millimeters from where it did and perhaps traveled a few centimeters from where it did and suddenly it's not in the glove but trickling into the outfield. Such things decide games. I don't know if the Giants are just good at making that happen or what, but I fear the team's three-legged stool of pitching, fielding, and hitting is just too wobbly for comfort. But I'm a Giants fan, as I explained. Colossal failure right at the brink of success is more my style, it's what I'm used to. This defending champions thing is cool, but it's like having new jeans that haven't been broken in and are stiff and uncomfortable. I strut my World Series swag all the damn time, it's not that I'm not enjoying myself. It's just hard to feel secure when the team plays every game on a tightrope. Here's an old baseball man's take on the end of the game (Jim Leyland, from the Chris Haft story, emphasis mine):
"For us, it was hit in exactly the wrong spot, and for them it was hit in exactly the right spot," Leyland said. "That's a tough one. You don't have to be very far off [the base]. I mean, you're trying to score. There's nothing you can do about it. Just a freaky play."
The Giants were 17-11 in June (their best month) and are tied for the fourth-most wins in all of baseball. It was the only month in which they met my RS > RA requirement (albeit a miniscule +7). We are past the halfway point and nearly to my mom's dividing line of the season--the Fourth. Mom always told me that if a team was "in first place on the Fourth of July" then they should finish the season in first place. OK, I'll go along with that.