Friday, August 30, 2013

Crafty Tim

The Giants picked up their 60th win (pity it came a couple months too late) with a slick 1-0 win against the snakes. Those guys are still in the Wild Card hunt (lost a game to the Reds) so it must have really hurt. Ooooh, poor little reptiles.

Big story lines:  1) Tim Lincecum goes a solid six innings, spreading six hits (one double) and two walks expertly.  Tim may be getting the hang of this "crafty" thing. 2) Angel Pagan returns with a nifty first inning double (first swing!), move to third with a Scutaro bunt,  slide home with the ONLY RUN on a sac fly from Belt. Too sweet! 3) Pablo Sandoval continues to look like he wants to finish strong with a great defensive game. His sixth inning play saved the game. Simple as that. Maybe he can keep that extra weight off. Maybe monkeys will fly out my butt.

This game sure brings up the question,"Just how frigging important is Angel Pagan to our success?"  I mean, come on, his first game back and we reset to a classic Giants win formula.  Solid start, wicked defense, slick relief, and just-barely-enough offense.  Those were the days... but certainly not 2013. I know it can't be all on Angel's shoulders, yet it is still a worthy question. After all, we may go from best to last. Did that lovely inside the park home run really cost us a chance?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Giants Lose to Sick Pitcher

A few days ago I opined that I would like to see the Giants end the season with a better record than the Padres and the Rockies.  I doubt that will happen, as we waste chance after chance to control our own destiny.  It's the fucking Rockies, for Chrissake.

Madison Bumgarner picked up another loss.  He soon will be a .500 pitcher.  He did not throw deeply into the game.  In sickeningly repetitive fashion, however, it would not have made a damn bit of difference.  The Giants did not hit Jhoulys Chacin, who cannot possibly be spelling his own first name correctly, until the 7th inning.  He reportedly was pitching with a fever, but the Giants were so fucking weak, he could have been comatose on the mound and still won.

Rarer than a no-hitter in Curs is a no-hitter that allows a run.  In the 4th, a walk, error and double play gave the Giants a run.   Not like they hit the ball or anything.   Know what else is rare?  A World Series Champion ending the following season in last place.  It has been done once, by the Marlins, and they TRIED to finish last.

In Appreciation of Hunter Pence

Two nights ago, in a stultifying loss in Colorado, Hunter Pence ran down a ball in right field and plowed face-first into the fence. He'd made the catch, but the ball popped out as a result of the collision. It looked bad. He fell to the ground, and as he lay there, supine, Gregor Blanco completed the play and then waved frantically to the dugout for help. Boch and the trainer (they call them "physios" in England) hustled out to check on their man. Not much later, Pence was up, looking fine, and checking to see if Boch was winded by the sprint. He stayed in the game and kept his streak--140 straight starts--alive. Last night, against the same Rockies, Hunter Pence hit a ball 476 feet that cleared the bleachers in left field. According to the folks that measure such things, it was the longest blast of the season. It was so massive that when Pablo Sandoval followed with 430-footer of his own, it seemed a bit pedestrian. Duane Kuiper has taken to calling Pence "Plastic Man" in appreciation of his gangly, long-limbed, all-out style. Not many guys can do what no. 8 just pulled off, and it got me thinking about what he brings to the ballpark. By the way, the Giants won behind a nice effort from Yusmeiro Petit.

For starters, I like a guy who plays. He's not only played every game this season, he's only missed a handful of innings. That's a lot of balls caught and plays made in right field, and for my money, he passes the eye test. I don't know or care what the advanced defensive metrics say, I see a guy who has lots of range, good hands, and a strong arm. I like it when balls are hit to right--the guy knows what to do. As a hitter, Pence had his worst season ever in 2012. This season, his .278/.326/.450 line is a notch below his career (.284/.337/.471) numbers, but he spent most of his time in hitter-friendly places like Houston and Philadelphia. B-R agrees, giving him a 124 OPS+ so far this year, a notch above his career 118 mark. A .704 OPS is the NL average, it's .726 in the AL. FanGraphs says Pence's .776 should get a 120 wRC+ rating and that he's worth 3.7 WAR (B-R says 3.0). If you give each WAR a $5M price tag, he's certainly earning his $13.8M. Did I forget to mention he is 19 for 21 in stolen bases? Here's a guy who can get on base, hit for power, run the bases, and play the field. He's not Mike Trout, fer chrissakes, but he's average or above average in all the things ballplayers are supposed to do. He reminds me a bit of a guy just about to come off the DL, one Angel Pagan. He's also an all-rounder, pretty darn good at a lot of things. Pagan's a year older, and signed a 4-year, $40M deal for 2013-2016. I think the Giants should make a shot at keeping their right-fielder.



Sunday, August 25, 2013

Vogie Rocks, Giants Roll

Today was one of the best-pitched games of this mostly forgettable season. Ryan Vogelsong struggled mightily before his injury (37 runs in 46-1/3 IP), but looks like he's returning to the championship form we know and love. The Pirates are a good club, and Vogie had them off-balance all afternoon. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale is known for a tight zone, and both Vogelsong and Pirates starter A.J. Burnett got squeezed on several close pitches. But no. 32 was brisk (2:42 game time) and efficient (98 pitches in eight innings) and only allowed two hits, an infield one to MVP-candidate Andrew McCutchen in the 7th, and a single to Andrew Lambo in the 3rd. Lambo walked with two outs in the 5th, but was gunned down by Buster Posey on a steal attempt. Those were the only blemishes, and that performance was good for a Game Score of 82. Burnett was also impressive, flashing a nasty curve ball that had the Giants frustrated and generated a lot of grounders. But they finally got to him in the 8th (should Clint Hurdle have gone to his 'pen sooner?) with a booming triple to right-center from Pablo Sandoval that would have been a three-run homer in most parks. The 1-0 nail-biter was suddenly 3-0, and we all breathed easier. Madison Bumgarner got burned the other night when the Giants could not generate a big hit. Joaquin Arias added to the fun and brought the Panda home with a searing two-out double down the LF line off reliever Tony Watson to make it 4-0. Sandy Rosario got the last three outs to preserve the win.

The Giants are 5th in the NL in triples, and 4th in doubles. I used to say I could live with a team that doesn't hit many homers if they can rack up extra bases with hard-hit balls. Alas, the 2013 Giants are so feeble--their 76 HR are second-from-last in the league and exactly half of the league-leading Atlanta Braves 152--it makes that statement pretty silly. That glaring lack of pop shows up in their second-from-last standing in both total bases and slugging percentage, and more significantly, third-from-the-bottom in runs scored. Yes, I know it's really about the pitching. The five best teams in the league have the five lowest ERAs (Pittsburgh, LA, Atlanta, Cincinnati, St. Louis). The Giants are the fourth-worst in allowing runs. Only Philadelphia, San Diego, and Colorado are worse. It's a deadly combination. At least in 2009 and 2011 when the team couldn't hit they could keep it close with good pitching. A healthy Ryan Vogelsong should certainly help turn things around in 2014.

I know, don't get too excited about one start, right? The hell with that. I'm pretty excited about Vogie's effort today. It gave me flashbacks of his October heroics. Keep it going, man, keep it going.


p.s. I had this post all ready to go but for a few final edits when the power went out about 1630. It just came back at 1900. The thundershowers were heavy all day and they must have knocked a line down or zapped something at one of the substations. Power outages in Siskiyou County are surprisingly rare, and when they happen, they don't take long to get fixed. This is one of the longest I can remember in the 24 years we've been here. It's a big place--the fifth largest county by area in California--but one of the least populated, only 44,900 at the 2010 census. We could all fit in the Giants ballpark!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Pirate Busting Tim

Winning for only the second time in seven tries since the no hitter, Tim Lincecum rather surprisingly beat Francisco Liriano and the front running Pirates, 6-3.  Supported by a four run first inning, Tim gave up three runs on three hits and four walks in his 5.1 innings. Not great but good enough. Obviously, the best part was the eight strike outs. That gives Tim 1482 career K's, which is the third highest ALL TIME in seven seasons.  Any time you get to say ALL TIME, that is way cool.

Other nice stuff included three hits for Buster, Panda RBIs, and Sergio Romo's 31st save.  It is safe to say that this game was better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick. Which makes it a nice break.


Dave Flemming said he was shocked.  Mike Krukow agreed.  I bet the fans going home from the Phone were shocked.  Unless they were numb.  Or expected the outcome with 1 run of support.  Madison Bumgarner pitched scoreless ball into the 7th, when, following singles by Gaby Sanchez and Josh Harrison, Clint Barmes golfed a low, inside pitch that was probably not a strike over the far right field wall for 3 runs.  It was enough for a final score of 3-1.  The Giants scored 1 run off of Ground Chuck Morton, but probably didn't deserve that.  Posey doubled in the fourth, then took third on a wild pitch and scored on a Roger the K pop fly to left that fell within feet of 3 Pirates.

Madison allowed 7 hits and walked 4 to Morton's 7 hits (plus 1 by the closer, Mark Melancon) and 1 walk.  Before tonight, the Giants have not won when Madison has been on the mound since August 2.  Madison has 2 L including last night's.  In the four starts including last night, he has given up 12 runs (not all of them earned), and the Giants have scored 5 runs. In four games.  Cained!  And speaking of Matt, he is now on the DL for the first time.  He had the third most IP without a miss before now.

The Pirates are headed for the playoffs.  And, they are close to a certainty to finish the year at over .500.  That will be the first time in 20 years that has happened.  20 years!  Barry Bonds was a Pirate the last time they were over .500.  I guess we should be grateful to have watched so many years of competitive baseball.  Even though we are not doing it this year.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Giants are Broken

Not that it's a surprise to anyone at this point in the season. The Pirates battered Matt Cain last night, crushing errant fastballs all over the yard and out of the yard. He was lucky to be charged with only three runs. Two runs were saved on doubles that bounced over the fence, and one was prevented by his own terrific scoop-and-throw of a dribbler in front of the plate that got Andrew McCutchen at home. It seemed like every time Cain went to his money pitch it missed Buster's target and drifted into the hit-me zone. The Pirates aren't a first-place team for nothing, and they teed off like batting practice. In the 4th, Gaby Sanchez smoked a liner up the middle that hammered Matty square on the forearm and he had to be removed from the game. It was a scary moment, but apparently there were no broken bones, just a contusion. It looked like it hurt, though. No word on whether he will miss any starts, but Mike Krukow said on the telecast that he would be surprised if he did not. You have to figure it will take several days to heal, even for a guy like Cain who never gets injured. Any excuse to sit the big fella down, I say. It's a lost season. No sense burning out your $100M franchise player. He's going to have to make some adjustments for next season if he's to deliver on his contract, no more April nightmares for one thing, and a lot fewer big flies. I note that last season he walked only 51 of the 876 guys he faced--this year he's already issued 47 free passes (643 BF). Something's different, but I'll leave it to the brain trust to figure it out.

The Giants tied the game up in the 3rd on a nifty two-out hit from Marco Scutaro, who did that once a week last season. But the bullpen coughed up seven runs right after that, and the rest of the evening was just for show. By the way, on the play that did Cain in, the ball bounced between first and second and Scutaro, showing some mad skills, ran over and fielded it and flipped it to Brandon Belt for the out. Hey, you take what you can get. Here's to 2014.



Thursday, August 22, 2013

Game 126: End of the Seventh

36 games--two seasonal innings--remain in this wretched season. Here's the tally so far:

1st inning: 11-7
2nd inning: 10-8
3rd inning: 8-10
4th inning: 8-10
5th inning: 3-15
6th inning: 9-9
7th inning: 7-11

Quite un-pretty, wouldn't you say? The tally so far is 56-70 if you'd rather not do the arithmetic.

Matt Cain tonight against the Pirates. They are a good team.



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Giants Take the Freebie

Sometimes the other team hands the win back, and last night was one of those. Here's that 9th-inning sequence: strike out, single, line out, walk, hit by pitch, walk. Marco Scutaro, who scored the tying run in the 8th, got the bases-loaded free pass in the 9th for the walk-off win. The Giants were 0-10 with runners in scoring position, but managed a 3-2 win over the Red Sox nonetheless, mostly because Ryan Vogelsong pitched a hell of a game (Game Score 61). The team will certainly exercise his $6.5M option for next season. Brandon Belt rapped out three hits, including the one that led to Scutaro's run in the 8th (sac fly from Buster Posey). Roger Kieschnick had three hits as well, one that drove in Joaquin Arias (who had tripled) in the 5th with the Giants first run, and one that got the rally started in the 9th (he scored the game-winner). Without the Boston bullpen meltdown, those performances would likely have gone for naught, and we'd be scratching our heads again in bewilderment over the team's lousy play. Instead, we get a game that looks like the kind of game the Giants won routinely the last few seasons.

This team is really hard to watch. It's the same cast from before, but this time the show stinks. I've said it before and I'll say it again--I want to see lots more from the rookies and I want to see the innings-eaters take smaller bites. Rest, rest, rest for big guns Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner who will be counted on for a lot in 2014. (Alas, I don't know what to think about Tim Lincecum, but he ought to be in the same conversation.) Buster Posey could use some bench time as well. He was hitting .322/.397/.543 on June 30th, and is now hitting .303/.374/.481 and has two extra-base hits in August (both doubles). Sit the man down and get more reps for Hector Sanchez and whoever the hell else in the organization that can play catcher. Don't get me wrong, an .855 OPS is damn good, especially from a backstop. But the Giants need Buster much too much next year to wear him out playing every day in a wasted season.

Chad Gaudin was sent to the DL for carpal tunnel issues. I wonder if that will end his season, or at least keep him out of the starting rotation in September. With the rosters expanding, I hope guys like Mike Kickham and Eric Surkamp get a few starts apiece. One of those guys could be a regular next year. The website says Barry Zito will get the start tonight.



Monday, August 19, 2013

Hit The Showers Tim

I know I'm a crappy fan but I'm calling this one early and hitting the shower.  ( It was my first day back in front of my classes after a lovely summer vacation, I'm bushed.) After six innings, the Boston Red Sox have a commanding 5-0 lead over our hapless Giants.  We are putting on quite the display of 2013 Giants baseball. Let's see, another painful Lincecum start complete with a nightmare 33 pitch, 3 run, second inning.  Oh yeah, silly ol' Tim had to do ANOTHER one of those goofy fall-off-the-mound-like-a-spaz balks.  Gee, those never get old.  What else...ANOTHER catcher interference, this time after a nine pitch battle!  And, I guess, I don't really have to mention the usual non-offense. Tonight so far, Torres has two singles...and Brett Pill got a walk.  Be still my heart.

Yeah, I'm hitting the showers. More power to you guys that stay with it tonight. I hope they pull off a miracle for you. You deserve it. Good night.

Next morning addition:  It ended up 7-0, not much of a surprise. We did get 4 more hits, all singles.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Bubble Pops

Not a very big bubble, to be sure.  But for a while there, I had fantasies of sweeping the series - and it would have been a fitting way for the Giants to chalk up one strike of redemption.  The Marlins were the worst team in the National League when they took apart the Giants in June, and the Giants have gone down hill since.  If they could only have swept them, they would have had 4 wins in a row and ended the road trip on the winning side.

No.  Of course not.  Not this year.  As small as that fantasy was, it was not to be.  The Giants lost to the Marlins, looked bad doing it and lost the season series to the worst team in the National League.  The Giants could well be the worst, I think they have been in July and August, but they won in the early part of the season, so overall they are at a crisp .447 against the Marlins' .385.  There are less than 40 games left.

Madison Bumgarner went 5, gave up 4 before our usual parade of faux-relievers.  There were plenty of hits, 3 for Gregor Blanco, 2 each for Brandon Crawford, Hector Sanchez, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval.  Pence and Crawford homered.  Some weirdness, too.  A walk that turned into a wild pitch to score a run, I think.  2 errors.  13 Giants' hits in all, but only 1 for 11 with RISP.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your 2013 San Francisco Giants.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Cain and Giants Prevail in Florida

After retiring the first nine guys on 29 pitches, Matt Cain loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the 4th inning. After an epic ten-pitch battle with Adeiny Hechavarria the big righty got a sharp grounder right back to the box that he snagged with a lightning-quick scoop and secured the final out. The whole mess took 40 pitches, and at the time it was one of those "hinge" plays that the game seemed to turn on. The Giants had just gone up 4-0 in the top of the inning and getting through that unscathed--a "shutdown" frame--seemed huge. In the bottom of the 6th, Matty gave up a leadoff single and then battled Giancarlo Stanton to a 2-2 count. The next pitch was a screamer up and in to the big slugger, who spun counter-clockwise, that is toward the pitcher, and fell to the ground. It was ruled a ball and the appeal to first base umpire Larry Vanover was denied. An incredulous Cain lost his characteristic cool and barked and gestured at the man in blue before returning to the mound. The 3-2 pitch, predictably, was a fat one that Stanton blasted 450 feet into left-centerfield and cut the lead in half. An enraged Cain kept up the chirping, but almost as if to prove a point, struck out the side. It was another of those "turning point" moments that could have tipped the scales and shifted that ever-elusive "mo" to the other team. The Man They Call The Horse then got the next three outs in the 7th on 11 pitches and his night was done.

Fortunately the Giants added two in the 8th as Santiago Casilla had a little trouble in the bottom half. He kept the lid on things, though, and got the outs, turning it over to closer Sergio Romo who had an easy 9th. Cain, despite the homer, had a good start (Game Score 64), and earned a pitcher-win, his 8th of the year and the 93rd of his career. The Giants win their third straight and find themselves clawing their way out of the cellar, just a half-game ahead of the Padres. Madison Bumgarner gets the start tomorrow afternoon (10:10 a.m. Pacific).



Friday, August 16, 2013

Two Touchdowns in Miami!

The Giants win 14-10 against the Marlins tonight, Brandon Belt (4 hits, 4 runs), Hunter Pence (3 hits, 5 RBI), and Pablo Sandoval (4 hits, 3 RBI) leading the way. It should be noted that young Hector Sanchez slugged another three-run homer, his second in two games. You know how radio announcers and old baseball guys on TV say stuff like "it's one of those nights" and "balls are flying all over the place in this yard" and "you just know those runs won't be enough on a night like tonight" and all that other shite? Yeah, this was that kind of game. Yet, the Giants prevailed. They took a 7-0 lead, and despite 16 hits by the other guys, never relinquished it. Sandy Rosario was credited with the pitcher-win for his two scoreless innings (6th and 7th), this a day after getting smacked in the chest by a line drive. Apparently he's OK. The Giants--hey, they are playing OK, too.

Keep it rolling, lads.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Something to Celebrate!!

I got home just in time to see the last inning and Hector Sanchez' big fly. Wow, that was incredible. They fell just short of a comeback hit last night, so it feels good to see them get the big hit today. Roger Kieschnick has been striking out a whole lot, so I was happy to see him get on base in front of Sanchez via the walk, his second of the game. Maybe as he gets more confident with his batting eye and strike zone judgment he will start flashing the power he was known for in the minors. Speaking of flashing power, you have to love Brandon Belt's recent surge. He has looked more like the hitter we think he can be and that's good news for next season. And speaking of Brandons, the leaping catch by Brandon Crawford to rob Bryce Harper of a hit and get the first out in the bottom of the 9th was beautiful. That was great anticipation and execution, something we get used to seeing from him. Sanchez, Belt, and Crawford are all on the same clock: under team control for 2014, arbitration-eligible for 2015-2017, and free agency in 2018. Young, cheap players with lots of upside. That's the magic formula, right? Maybe one of the young arms like Eric Surkamp can start to contribute as well. Chad Gaudin gets the ball tomorrow night in Miami.



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Blow Chow Tim

In a lost season full of gut wrenching losses, I suppose this one, a 6-5 failed comeback against the Nats, could be considered a "good" loss.  We hung tough and didn't completely fold.  That is what we have come to.  Analyzing the good qualities of losses.  Excuse me while I vomit.

Speaking of which, Tim Lincecum (6-12) took the well deserved loss.  A fourth inning melt down (didn't he do that a few times earlier this year?) was his undoing: 

Bottom 4

  • 1.Bryce Harper singles on a line drive to center fielder Gregor Blanco.
  • 2.Jayson Werth singles on a soft ground ball to third baseman Pablo Sandoval. Bryce Harper to 2nd.
  • 3.Ian Desmond grounds out sharply, first baseman Brandon Belt to pitcher Tim Lincecum. Bryce Harper to 3rd. Jayson Werth to 2nd.
  • 4.Tim Lincecum intentionally walks Adam LaRoche.
  • 5.Anthony Rendon doubles (17) on a fly ball to center fielder Gregor Blanco. Bryce Harper scores. Jayson Werth scores. Adam LaRoche to 3rd.
  • 6.Kurt Suzuki singles on a soft fly ball to left fielder Roger Kieschnick. Adam LaRoche scores. Anthony Rendon to 3rd.
  • Coaching visit to mound.
  • 7.Jordan Zimmermann out on a sacrifice bunt, pitcher Tim Lincecum to second baseman Marco Scutaro. Kurt Suzuki to 2nd.
  • 8.Denard Span walks. Wild pitch by pitcher Tim Lincecum. Anthony Rendon scores. Kurt Suzuki to 3rd.
  • 9.Ryan Zimmerman singles on a ground ball to third baseman Pablo Sandoval. Kurt Suzuki scores. Denard Span advances to 3rd, on a throwing error by third baseman Pablo Sandoval.
  • 10.Bryce Harper strikes out swinging. 
     Of course, some stanky defense was thrown in there, but it was mostly bad pitching.  So, after some of the best pitching in his career, we get a real clunker.  I was getting very excited and figuring we should throw a big contract at him, now I'm thinking we should wait and see a little longer.  One bad start doesn't change my overall desire that we re-sign Tim, but he sure doesn't make it easy.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rain, not enough

Madison Bumgarner started tonight against the former A Gio Gonzalez.  Madison pitched OK, but not superbly, allowing 5 hits and 1 run through 4 while striking out 4 and walking 1.  Gio was a bit better, not allowing a run on 4 hits.  After four innings, the rains came and with them, the sense of impending doom that the Giants' relief brings.  And sure enough, after the Giants tied the game at 1 all in the top of the 5th thanks to a Nats' error, Guillermo Moscoso gave up a 2 run shot to Adam LaRoche and that was enough. Both teams scored again, final score 4-2.  Joaquin Arias had 4 hits.  Giants were 1 for 9 with RISP.

Monday, August 12, 2013

How's the Rotation Doing (Lately)?

Not too poorly.  Here is a look at the numbers from the last 6 games from our starters (Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, and Chad Gaudin.  Of course, we have had Barry Zito as a starter, and now he is not and we have Ryan Vogelsong back again.  Among our mainstays:
Matt Cain  Madison Bumgarner   Tim Lincecum   Chad Gaudin  
 IP H  R    IP  H  R             IP  H  R       IP  H  R
0.2 2  3     7  3  2              7  6  3        5  3  1
 5  4  2     7  4  2              9  0  0        7  3  0
 7  6  1     7  5  1             3.2 9  8       3.2 7  6
 8  6  1     8  4  0              7  4  2        7  4  1
 7  4  2     7  1  1              7  6  1       6.1 4  1      
 7  5  3     7  5  4              8  1  0        5  2  1
Sure, there have been some stinkers in there, but all in all, our starting has been not that bad.  In that time period, Matt has been 2-3, Madison 3-2, Tim 2-2 and Chad 3-1.  That tells me that it has been the hitting and relief that have been the problems du jour lately.  You can turn it around and finish strong.  Start any time, guys.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Big Fly Burns Cain, Giants Fall Apart

The Baltimore Orioles lead the world in hitting home runs. They have 156 in their 117 games, tops in baseball. Their .440 slugging percentage ties them for the lead with the Detroit Tigers. They are third in total bases and fourth in runs scored. Matt Cain kept the lid on them for six innings, but left one up for power-hitting shortstop J.J. Hardy and he hit a two-run homer in the 7th to give the visitors the lead they never relinquished. The Giants looked like they might pile up some early runs, getting two in the 1st, but they fizzled after that and left it up to the pitching. One in the 6th, two in the 7th, four in the 8th, and three in the 9th took care of that notion and the team racked up its 65th loss in this lost season.

Matty gave up nine home runs in the month of April (six starts). Since then, he's had 17 starts and given up nine more home runs. His career average is 0.8 HR/9 but it's ticked up to 1.1 HR/9 this year. The most he's allowed in any season is 22, which he did twice (2009 and 2010). Lots of guys give up home runs. Curt Schilling gave up 347 dingers in his 3261-inning career, or 1.0 HR/9. And a seven-inning three-run start isn't bad. In fact, it's pretty good (Game Score 59). A lot of teams will win games if their starter goes seven and gives up three. But this is the Giants, and the team is in a shambles at this point. The bullpen collapsed completely today, but even if they had held the line, the offense has been so feeble that they likely would not have won the game anyway. The Giants are 29th of 30 teams in homers (only 69!), they slug .374 (third from the bottom), they are 25th in total bases, and 27th in runs scored.

The team has not pitched well, hit well, or fielded well in 2013. It's no wonder they are in last place. They travel tomorrow, and open up a three-game set in D.C. on Tuesday.



Saturday, August 10, 2013

Pitching in 2014

Ryan Vogelsong is in the second year of his deal that paid him $3M last season and pays him $5M this season. The club has an option for next season at $6.5M ($0.3M buyout). Safe to say they'll pick it up and pencil him in for 30+ starts. Matt Cain is locked up until at least 2017. Madison Bumgarner is, too. Jeremy Affeldt is inked for 2014 and 2015, as is Santiago Casilla. The Giants have Sergio Romo signed for 2014, but he's a free agent in 2015. That's the nucleus: Cain, MadBum, Vogie, Affeldt, Casilla, Romo. Three starters, three late-inning relievers. Total cost in the neighborhood of $48M. Throw in another $7M to give Barry Zito his walking papers and you've got half of a payroll for an upper-echelon team. The Giants have consistently spent in the top third of ML franchises, this year they are seventh at $138M.

Three pending free agents loom large: Javier Lopez, Chad Gaudin, and the biggest of them all, Tim Lincecum. Nothing but good things have happened to the Giants since Lopez has been on the payroll. He's the quintessential LOOGY, something the team values and is willing to pay for ($4.25M this year). Alas, he turns 37 in July. Jesse Orosco pitched until he was 46--anyone willing to bet on Lopez channeling his inner Orosco? Chad Gaudin, surprise story of 2014, started 34 games for the Oakland Athletics in 2007 when he was 24, and 25 games for two teams in 2009. Otherwise he's been a reliever. Will he be the next chapter in the Rags-to-riches tale? Finally, there's nothing to say about The Freak that hasn't been said already. He could be the most interesting potential free agent signing in all of baseball.

What, then, should the Giants do? What say you, my friends? I've said nary a word about Jose Mijares, Jean Machi, Guillermo Moscoso, Mike Kickham, Eric Surkamp, George Kontos, Sandy Rosario, Jake Dunning, Edwin Escobar, Dan Runzler, or any of the other newbies, re-treads, or up-and-comers. I understand there's an entire minor-league system full of barely-known hurlers with the potential to be Giants. Build me a pitching staff, me buckos.



Thursday, August 8, 2013

Dealin' Tim

Analyzing the game of baseball, which is what I think we are trying to do around here, is a ridiculous endeavor.  I didn't say it wasn't noble, just ridiculous.  Case in point: the last two games against the pesky Brew Crew.  Yesterday was a shattering defeat that left many of us wondering why we ever followed this sick excuse of a sport in the first place. And then ... Today the joy and thrill of our proud pastime was on glorious display, highlighted by a brilliant Tim Lincecum performance. It is hard to believe that the same sport could deliver such divergent experiences.  One moment I'm looking for a sharp razor blade; the next I'm scheduling a visit to the hot springs! Trying to analyze something that is so complex that it can produce such crazy ass emotions feels a lot like analyzing a kaleidoscope.

So I won't analyze it, I'll just revel in it.

Tim Lincecum quite nearly matched his July 13th no hitter as the Giants cruised to a 4-1 win over Milwaukee.  A few too many curves and the resulting blister may be all that kept him from his second complete game ever. Eight dominant innings, ONE frigging hit and a blistering 87 game score.  Eighteen swinging strikes, his second best this season, leading to eight strikeouts.  Dude was dealing! It seems like it was his curveball that was his key tonight.  That makes about six of his last seven starts, quality starts ( a simple metric that I still appreciate ).  He had about six quality starts in his first 17 this year.  I would say this definitely qualifies as a resurgence.

Which makes me think of the other way Tim is dealing right now. Free agent dealing. His agent can probably buy another yacht based on Timmeh's new success. Oh yeah, that no hitter helps some too.  I fear if Tim keeps up this "resurgence", the slimy Yankees, or even worse, the "new" Yankees on the west coast will throw a HUGE amount of dough at him and it may knock us out of the running.  We should shut down Matt and MadBum, but we need to take a hard, long look at Lincecum.

I can often post without mentioning the offense, but this time a couple shout outs are in order.  First, Brandon Crawford seems to be finishing the season much as he started it and that is a very good sign for next year.  Three hits tonight gets his average to .279.  Sweet, huh?  Secondly, it would be remiss not to mention Brandon Belt's big homer out of the clean up spot.  The rest of this year is a great chance to stick Belt in the middle of it and get a final look.  He is certainly good and he may be great, but I'm still not impressed for a first baseman.  For example, his OBP is only 8 points higher and SLG 46 points higher than Crawford, our shortstop.  Maybe he can prove me wrong with a surge at the end though. It is worth the look.

Can't Post, Game Sucked Anyway

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Stop Me If You've Heard This Before

Matt Cain pitched a great game but the other guy did, too, and the Giants lost. Wily Peralta wasn't doing anything fancy, just throwing hard and changing speeds, but it was enough to keep runs off the board for six innings. The lineup left eight men on base and was 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Two misplays in the field led to runs: Joaquin Arias booted a routine grounder in the 9th, and more shockingly, Buster Posey chucked a pickoff throw into left field in the 4th. Buster had a tough night. When he struck out in the 1st, he visibly sighed and slumped his shoulders. When do you see that? He also got plunked in the ribs with a fastball in the 6th, and grounded out feebly in the 8th with the tying run at third base. I suppose even the All-American Boy is mortal. The only offense was from the youngsters: Brandon Crawford had two hits, so did Roger Kieschnick, and Brandon Belt had a hit, a walk, and a run scored. The veterans (Marco Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence, and Posey) were 1-for-15 with four strikeouts.

Cain looked sharp and generated a lot of pop-ups and weak contact. There were three hard-hit balls in his seven innings of work, doubles by Jean Segura and Norichika Aoki (who scored on Buster's bad throw), and the solo home run from Carlos Gonzales. In his last three outings (22 IP, Game Scores 67, 71, 67), Matty has allowed 16 hits, three walks, four runs, and struck out 20 batters. Regardless of the outcome, it's nice to see him looking like his old self. I wonder if Boch and Rags have considered reducing the big fella's workload come September. You know, an extra day between starts, or drop a late-season road start to give a call-up a look-see. That sort of thing. With 219-1/3 IP in the regular 2012 season on top of 30 IP in the post-season, that's a lot of wear and tear, especially when you add in the six full seasons before that. He's a $100M investment--might be time to think about 2014 and beyond.

Madison Bumgarner tonight. GO GIANTS!


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Brewers Win Earned-Run Contest, Lose Game

Can we just get rid of "earned" and "unearned" runs? When a runner crosses the plate, the team gets a run. The team with the most of those plate-crossings gets a win. How the hell can one kind of run be "earned" and another be "un-earned?" Is it some kind of moral judgement on the manliness of the lineup? Like they didn't deserve the run somehow because the shortstop booted a grounder? If that's the case, the Giants lost the game last night. After all, they only scored one "earned" run and failed to "earn" the other three. On the other hand, I'm certainly happy that the Milwaukee Brewers are a bad baseball team.

Chad Gaudin was lucky that the ball hit by Juan Francisco in the 7th bounced over the fence. That was a bomb, and should have scored both runners. The Brewers also missed a suicide squeeze. It's nice to see the Giants play a team that is not only worse, but much more unlucky than they are. Otherwise, Chad was very Gaudinian with his eight strikeouts and four hits allowed in 6-1/3 IP. If Ryan Vogelsong is the Greatest Scrap Heap Reclamation Project in the history of the organization, Go-Dan ain't far behind.

So, who should lead off for the Giants? The numbers say Marco Scutaro, he of the high BA (.306) and OBP (.365). Naturally, he goes 0-for-5 with a whiff in his debut. That was only his 27th whiff of the year. You know who has the most walks on the team? Buster Posey (38), of course. Brandon Belt (37) is right behind him, and Scutaro (35) is third. Posey has the highest OBP (.378) but also the highest SLG (.505), so he stays where he is. But Brandon Belt has the third-highest OBP (.345) on the team. It's worth considering the much-maligned youngster for the top spot. No beef with Scutaro, but maybe a lefty option now and then. Sure, his 88 whiffs are ugly (most on the team), but ugly is the operating word for the 2013 Giants. Last year the team won its 50th game on July 17th.

Matt Cain tonight. GO GIANTS!


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Giants Come Up Short

It's the theme for the season, I reckon. Friday night's impressive win behind Madison Bumgarner was the 108th game of the year, meaning the 2/3 point in the season, and the end of the sixth seasonal inning. 1st: 11-7. 2nd: 10-8. 3rd: 8-10 (29-25 overall). 4th: 8-10. 5th: 3-15. 6th: 9-9 (49-59 overall). Throw in the two losses to start the seventh inning and the team sits at 49-61 or .445 ball and 12 games out. The fifth inning, of course, was the death blow. Another way to lump it is to look at monthly totals. April: 15-12. May: 14-13. June: 10-17. July: 8-17. August, so far: 2-2. Teams can survive one wretched month, but not two.

If the Giants won, say, five more games during the fifth inning (or two more in June and three more in July), they would be 54-56. Not impressive, by any means, and still seven games back of the leaders, but a lot less horrible than their current record. Everyone says that 49-61 is "twelve games below .500" but it really isn't--it's six games below .500 because if you change six losses into wins the team is 55-55. Can we think of six games the Giants could have or should have won in the last two months? Yeah, I imagine we could. If the Giants were a .500 team and had 52 games left to play I would consider them still contending. This team is not contending, and it comes down to six games in which they came up short. The Giants, in June and July, were swept by the Dodgers, Reds, Mets, and Cubs. They win one game in each of those sets--four more wins total--and they are 53-57, in third place, and with a real shot at a respectable finish.

It's hard to imagine that a baseball season can come down to a handful of games, I know. And the Giants could, with a stretch of good play, pass both Colorado (52-61) and San Diego (51-60) with ease and get out of the goddamn cellar. At this point, that's what I'm rooting for. I think .500 may have slipped away for good, as they'd have to go 32-20 (.615 ball) just to finish even.

The club comes home for four against the Brewers. They were swept in the three games in Milwaukee in April. It will be Chad Gaudin, Matt Cain, Bumgarner again, and then Tim Lincecum. One positive is that all four guys are coming off great starts. Maybe they can keep that rolling this week. C'mon, Giants, let's get out of the goddamn cellar.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Surprisingly Tough Tim

The small, but gratifying, three game win streak came to an end with a hard fought, tense 10th inning loss, 2-1, in that Dome o' Doom they call a ball field in Tampa Bay.  Tim Lincecum, rather surprisingly, matched up well against the reigning AL Cy Young recipient, David Price.  Hits were few and scoring chances fewer; actually our kind of ball. I guess the ultimate difference was that Tim's high pitch count (and Bochy's revolving door) got us much deeper into our bullpen. So deep, that a nifty game sank into a sea of shit when our fifth reliever, Jean Machi, mailed it in with three walks and then a hit to end it. Really piss poor way to end a good game.

Timmeh's numbers (7 innings, 6 hits (all singles), 1 run, 1 walk and 5 K's) were quite solid. As usual this season, he seemed to fall behind to every batter and had to work pretty hard, especially early in the game. Not pretty or efficient, but damn effective. It always seems to be a grind for our Freak now. However, lately he seems to be a bit harder to hit. Fewer big hits, too. Maybe it's just my imagination...

I love that song...

Oh yea, FIRST caught stealing (after 19) for Tim this year. Think maybe, that is a good thing for him to work on?

No more Beezy, so some FNG tomorrow. Can't be any worse, right?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Birthday, Bad call, Bumgarner, Brandon, Brandon, Blanco

Madison Bumgarner had his 24th birthday yesterday, August 1.  Barely 24!  Today he got his 11th win in a  4 - 1 Giants victory over Tampa Bay.  He should have at least 15 wins by now, but, well you know the Giants.  Long-time Giants' nemesis Joe West tried to give a tense pitchers' duel away with a bad call on "bunt single" in the third inning that allowed Jose Robaton to take third, and then score on a Ben Zobrist single.  You know how usually you look at a replay and see that, even if the umpire blew the call, it was pretty close and you can see how it could have been ruled the way it was?  This was not one of those times.  Not sure if it would have made a difference in the run, it turned out to be Tampa Bay's only one.  Madison's line:  7 innings, 112 pitches, 11 K!, 3 BB, 1 run.  

The Giants were facing Chris Archer, a young pitcher in just his first full year with Tampa.  He is actually older than Madison Bumgarner.  He pretty much kept the Giants off balance, and did not give up a hit until the 3rd, when Brandon Belt singled.  He did not give up another hit until the 5th, when Brandon Belt cleanly stroked a home run to right center.  Chris Archer throws heat, and he was throwing some today, which confused me a bit.  The rap on Brandon Belt was that he was not getting around on fastballs, and that it what it looked like a lot in the past couple weeks.  I don't know how a batter can get into the major leagues without hitting fastballs.  Today he looked like he was waiting on fastballs, and then hitting them hard.  So, with the game-tying rbi under his belt, Belt belted a triple for what proved to be the game-winning rbi.  In the 7th, Hunter Pence managed an infield single to get on base, and Belt tripled to bring him home.  Brandon Crawford, wanting to get in on the act, homered right after for the Giants 3rd and 4th runs.  Gregor Blanco probably saved a couple of runs and helped keep Madison in the game with a running catch in deep center in the 5th.  Not sure Roger the K should be batting in the 5 hole.  Tampa Bay may have a depressing looking, soulless stadium, but they are a very, very good team.  3 wins in a row!  I'm feeling giddy.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Arc of Cain

Tonight encapsulated Matt Cain. Brilliant early, he teases us by retiring the first eleven. Efficient, and in command, he gives up a fateful run late, and all looks lost. Cain'd again, we think. Then the team pulls off a miraculous comeback, there's a chance for a victory and a Matt Cain chance for that most elusive of prizes, the pitcher-win. Then it all looks lost, like it will all fall apart, but there's redemption in the end. In one game, a career. Speaking of careers, check out the starting pitchers tonight:
IP          H   R  HR  BB   SO HBP   BF ERA+
1660.2   1384 663 145 566 1392  47 6848  119
1517.2   1360 613 180 383 1436  35 6193  123

That's Cain on top, Cole Hamels on bottom. Neither includes tonight's stellar work. They have similar careers. Cain was the 25th pick of the 2002 June draft, Hamels the 17th. Cain debuted at age 20, in August of 2005. Hamels was 22 in May of 2006. Cain has 256 starts (plus eight in the post-season), 15 complete games, and six shutouts. Hamels has 233 starts (plus 13 in the post-season), 12 complete games, and six shutouts. B-R says Cain is worth 31.2 WAR, Hamels 30.6 WAR. Their most famous matchup was Game Three of the 2010 NLCS, the Giants winning 3-0 en route to a pennant and a World Series championship.

Tonight was an epic contest by two of the game's best. Both, interestingly, are having poor years. Both guys went eight, Cain giving up one run (Game Score 71) and Hamels none (Game Score 72). Somehow, the Giants scratched out two runs against Jonathan Papelbon to make it 2-1 in the top of the 9th. Sergio Romo loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the 9th, but somehow held on for the win. Like I said, it was epic, and two of the best in the game showed their stuff. Did I mention Cain was a righty and Hamels a lefty? No? But you knew that already. Tonight right was right, and Matt Cain and the Giants pulled off a win and took the series in Philadelphia.