Sunday, June 23, 2013


Matt Cain wasn't pretty, but he was reasonably effective, and I've learned not to scoff at the "Quality Start" statistic. Stringing together quality starts is what usually leads to winning baseball. The Giants though, can't seem to get clutch hits. Today they had a runner at third with one out and failed to score him--that would have tied the game in the 7th. They had a runner at third in the 8th with only one out, but only for a brief moment, as Marco Scutaro was thrown out at second after a questionable decision to advance. In light of Joaquin Arias' double play grounder the inning before, I can understand the desire to have runners on second and third rather than first and second. But it was one of those situations that required the runner to be absolutely sure of not getting thrown out. In fact, he was thrown out, and that meant Buster Posey (2-for-16 in the series) had to get a hit to tie the game, which he did not. Thus the Giants failed to give themselves a chance to win. Jean Machi collapsed completely in the 9th, giving up four runs and ending any hope of a comeback.

Mostly, though, this game was about another Marlins starter befuddling the lineup. We had Jacob Turner one night and Tom Koehler another, and today we got the overpowering Nathan Eovaldi. The Giants were averaging over four runs per game coming in to this series, but they could only manage EIGHT runs total against the vaunted Miami pitching staff. Only Ricky Nolasco was ordinary, and despite giving up nine hits the Giants could not finish him off and wound up losing. Even with Barry Zito throwing a gem yesterday, the Giants still had to resort to extra-inning heroics to win. This was a winnable game and a winnable series, but collapses from the bullpen and feeble efforts from the hitters meant another lost weekend.

Matt Cain continues to give up home runs. Today Justin Ruggiano murdered the second pitch of the game and put the Giants in a hole they never came back from. Cain has allowed 16 dingers in 16 starts. Before this year, he had allowed 129 homers in 235 starts. In 2011 he only allowed nine in his 33 starts, an anomalously low number considering that all his other seasons were between 14 and 22. So, is 2013 just an anomaly, an extreme case of bad luck, much like 2011 being, perhaps, an extreme case of good luck? Is the swing just normal variation? Or is something wrong? If so, what? His hit rate of 7.4/9 is close to his career norm (7.5), as is his walk rate of 2.7/9 (3.1), and strikeout rate of 8.3/9 (7.5). His BABIP of .249 is right there (.263), and his 37.0% ground ball rate (37.2) and 40.8% fly ball rate (43.7) aren't much different. Even his xFIP (3.82) is the same as last season's, suggesting that his expected runs allowed should be close to the same. Alas, he's allowing a home run on 14% of his fly balls, about twice his career rate of 7.1% (it was 8.4% last season and 3.7% in 2011). What's the deal? How can a guy do just about everything else the same and have one thing be completely out of whack? I tell ya, I just don't know, but it ain't no fun to watch.

Giants are firing on only one cylinder at a time these days, and it's hard to take. The parts and pieces are all there, despite the injuries, but they can't seem to get them coordinated and working in a mutually supporting way.

Let's go, Giants. Let's get some goddamn wins!



Zo said...

I should have known that beating the Marlins again was just too much to hope for - they are just such a dominant team. No wonder they are so far in front of the rest of the NL East.

Ron said...

The Giants are too irritating now to conptemplate, so I must turn to other forms for entertainment.

Behold perhaps the greatest line in mainstream sports journalism history [CAPITALS added for emphasis] - brace yourselves:

"With 16 balls remaining, England required only 20 more runs with six wickets in hand. They will never have a better opportunity. BUT THEN THEY CHOKED LIKE A CONSUMPTIVE GOAT WOLFING A BUCKET OF MARBLES to lose four wickets for three runs in 14 balls. England are in no position to chuckle at South Africa's reputation as 'chokers'."

I'm hoping that it can be applied at some future date to any or all of our NL rivals.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Yeah, that's the best thing so far, the fact that the West is wide open. Giants, despite injuries and below-par performances from key people, have what it takes. We'll see if they can put it together over the next 87 games!

Brother Bob said...

For the record, someone must mention that comment #1 above from Zo was pure sarcasm- the Marlins are a terrible team, firmly in last place.

Ron said...

By the way, did anyone see Kevin Frandsen's walk-off HR on Saturday (Phillies v. Mets)? It went into the upper deck in deep left-center in Philadelphia - it had to be well over 450 feet - something you'd more likely expect from Pujols or Cabrera. I doubt Frandsen has ever or will ever hit another one like it.

nomisnala said...

Yup, Frandsen and Schierholtz both hit bombs. Does Bumgarner always have to pitch when the umpire gives a strike zone the size of half a walnut? But these guys lately are the most unclutch hitters on the planet. Sometimes you need a few home runs, instead of trying to piece together 5 hits and still try to score despite hitting into double plays all the time, getting guys picked off, having guys thrown out stealing, guys falling down on the basepaths, getting hit by a ball in play while running to third. We could have the bases loaded with no outs and the runner on third would probably not get closer to home than a 5 foot lead he takes off of third. Crawford comes in to replace the injured Arias and he is unclutch to the max. He is extremely overdue for a home run. And now Kontos coming in, with runners on first and third an no outs. Kontos. Giants again playing sloppy except for some really nice catches in left by Torres. Ramirez infield single was a bad call. He was out.

nomisnala said...

Might as well send Kontos right back down, and not let the door hit him in the rear. Seems the past week, and late in the games other teams get clutch and find ways to get the key hits, and we do not, except for Sanchez. How many times has Posey not come through this past week with runners in scoring position? Seems as if his RBI total has been stuck on 42 for Aeons. (British spelling).

M.C. O'Connor said...

Another good start wasted. And another loss to a shitty team.