Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Petit, Pagan, Posey Pound Padres

Matt Cain apparently had a little problem with a knife while making a sandwich. He cut his finger and was scratched! Matt, lad, you make $20M/year to throw a baseball--use your left to make sandwiches. Better yet, hire the bat boy. Naturally the CSN guys kept trying to get us a picture of Cain and his wounded digit, and they did capture Matty and His Finger, just not the one they were hoping for. I missed the moment, damnit, as I had to piss, but I could hear my lovely bride laughing in the other room. Super-sub Yusmeiro Petit stepped in and calmly shut the door (Game Score 70) on the pesky Padres. He retired the first nine he faced, and thanks to solo shots by Buster Posey and Angel Pagan in the 1st was cruising comfortably when the Giants broke it open in the bottom of the 3rd with three more runs. Hector Sanchez racked up three more RBI and he now has 11 to go with his 16K and .171 BA! Hanchez caught Petit and Posey manned first base with the lefty Eric Stults on the mound. Struggling Brandon Belt came in on a double switch in the 8th. Both Jean Machi (6 outs) and Santiago Casilla (3 outs) were perfect--the Padres only managed three hits off Petit and had no other baserunners all night.

Brandon Crawford made a beautiful play in the 8th on a hard grounder from Nick Hundley that was headed for the 5-1/2 hole and into left field. He ranged to his right and speared the ball cleanly, then turned his body and threw to first in one motion, not taking the time to set his feet. He was still moving away from the play when he uncorked the perfect line drive right to Belt's glove. B-Craw has a hell of an arm! It was a difficult play, but what makes all those Crawford gems so impressive is the effortless grace with which he pulls them off. You have to watch the video if you haven't seen it.

Tim Hudson tonight. He's gone at least seven innings in all five of his starts.



Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Rivera Runs Through It

The San Diego Padres are 3-1 against the Giants after winning last night in San Francisco. Rene Rivera did the damage with 5 RBI including a back-breaking 3-run homer in the 5th that proved to be the difference. Madison Bumgarner was not sharp--he walked four, gave up seven hits, and threw 93 pitches in five innings. He'd thrown particularly well his last time out, but has yet to find his normal, consistent groove. Journeyman Rivera had a career night. The 30-year old catcher from Puerto Rico came up with Seattle, played in Minnesota, and now splits time with Yasmani Grandal and Nick Hundley. Yes, the Padres have three catchers. The Giants had their chances but could not make it all the way back as the Padres bullpen was very tough. Michael Morse continues to be the offensive leader (.398 wOBA, 163 wRC+), he had three hits and two batted in, and Brandon Hicks launched another homer, his .283 ISO leads the team.

Matt Cain tonight.



Sunday, April 27, 2014


Ryan Vogelsong had his best start (Game Score 77) of the young season, twirling seven strong and allowing only two hits. He was backed by some stellar defense as well as four extra base hits including a game-winning 3-run bomb in the 9th by Brandon Hicks. The radio guys (I didn't get to watch, too busy out back cooking up some homebrew) raved about the double play The Three Brandons turned on Nick Swisher in the 3rd, and also complimented Brandon Belt for some nifty work at first base. That's a good thing because the big lefty had himself an ugly weekend with the stick (9 K in 12 AB!). Our boy goes blind sometimes, doesn't he? But the story is the bounce back start from Vogie, who looks so bad every other time out there it makes us wonder whether he's got anything left. I like to think that this game and the one against the Dodgers on the 16th are what he will begin to deliver more consistently as the season goes on.

Cleveland's young fireballer Danny Salazar was bringing some serious heat and kept the Giants offense from getting much going other than the back-to-back two-out doubles from Panda and Brandon Crawford in the 4th to open the scoring. Vogie left leading 1-0 but Santiago Casilla, who has been lights-out so far, gave up a solo homer to another impressive youngster, catcher Yan Gomes, in the 8th to tie the game. Fortunately Buster Posey singled off hard-throwing reliever Cody Allen to open the bottom of the 9th and the Giants seized their chance to push across the winner. A bunt from Gregor Blanco moved pinch-runner Adrianza to 2nd, but Sandoval whiffed for the second out. An intentional walk to B-Craw gave Hicks the chance to be a hero and he delivered. With Marco Scutaro on the shelf, the Giants have mixed-and-matched at second base, but the third Brandon on the roster has staked a claim to regular starts. He's only batting .224, but 11 walks and 6 extra-base hits have him raking an .846 OPS.

The Indians were a Wild Card team last season and have some talent in their lineup. It was an impressive weekend for the home team, though, who racked up 14 runs and only allowed five in the three-game sweep. It is too early for scoreboard watching, but the Colorado Rockies gave the Dodgers and Hyun-jin Ryu a good thumping today to take the series and surge into a tie with LA for second place. Guess who is in first with a 15-10 record? Very tough road trip coming up--three in Atlanta, the hottest club in baseball, then three in Pittsburgh, a playoff team last year but under-performing so far, and finally four in big-budget Los Angeles, everyone's pick for this year's West title.



p.s. I neglected to say the Giants have three at home with the Padres before the road trip. San Diego is by far the worst in scoring runs (2.6 p/g) but fifth-best in runs allowed (3.5 p/g). Bumgarner, Cain, and Hudson get the call.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

WHIPped Tim


A healthy little offensive outburst and a dominating bullpen performance were the stars on this windy afternoon as the good guys beat the Indians, 5-3, in front of consecutive sellout crowd #257.  Tim Lincecum was fooling no one and the Indians' starter looked strong but a Gregor Blanco pinch hit, as well as contributions from Pence, Pagan and Posey highlighted a thrilling comeback win.

 Start #5  ND  (1-1, 5.98)   4.2 innings  9 hits  3 runs  2 earned  2 walks  3 strikeouts  0 hr

Tim Lincecum faced 24 batters and used 98 pitches in his rather short stint. He only got 14 outs.  That meant he was putting runners on base at a crazy rate, clearly a recipe for disaster. I've always thought that WHIP was a super useful stat, easy to understand since it SO CLEARLY corresponds to crappy pitching. As Tim demonstrated tonight with an absolutely yucky job.


A spectacular job by the bull pen once again!  Gutierrez, Machi, Affledt and Romo completely slammed the door on the hapless Indians. No hits, a hit batter and one lousy walk in 4.1 innings. That is dominating!  I knew they would be good, but who knew they would be the best!

Wasn't it rather amazing how little they cared about Blanco stealing second in the fateful fifth inning? He represented the go ahead run and sure enough, Pence's single brought him home and gave us the lead. There were two outs, so it was a rather bold move. Way to go, Sharkie!

Buster got plugged the next time up after hitting his beautiful homer. Want to bet Vogelsong is going to get some payback tomorrow? Boys will be boys.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Down to the Last Pitch

Hyperbole is part and parcel of sportswriting. After all, it's just a stupid game. You've got to generate some interest because there are thousands of these games and millions of fans. In Tim Wendel's newest book Down to the Last Pitch he argues that the 1991 World Series was the “best” of all time. Sure, it was a terrific Series—seven games, three (including the final two) in extras, five decided by one run—and it featured two teams who had finished last the previous year. I remember it well, actually, and I can say that it was a gripping contest. The Minnesota Twins, unfortunately, played in perhaps the ugliest stadium in baseball history. I thought, at the time, that the setting took some of the luster off the games just as it had in 1987 when the Twins beat the St. Louis Cardinals for their first title.

Nonetheless the Series was reminiscent of some other classic contests like 1975 and 1986, both going to seven games and featuring great players and epic highlights. The book is organized into seven chapters, one for each game, and Mr. Wendel gives you back stories on all the principals. Giants fans will appreciate the presence of Dan Gladden, Chili Davis, and Steve Bedrosian on the Twins roster. Both teams had some fascinating characters like Lonnie Smith and Kirby Puckett, both of whom had serious off-field issues. Puckett, of course, was the hero of Game Six, and Smith the goat of Game Seven. Jack Morris pitched himself into baseball immortality with his ten-inning shutout to seal the deal, and that remains one of the greatest post-season performances of all time. John Smoltz and Tom Glavine anchored a Braves rotation that went on, with the addition of Greg Maddux, to be arguably the best of the modern era.

Down to the Last Pitch: how the 1991 Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves gave us the best World Series of all time was a fun read even if you don't buy the “best” label. Being a Giants fan, I have to say Brian Wilson striking out Nelson Cruz on November 1st, 2010 was the best moment in baseball history even if that Series was a bit one-sided. (We all have our biases, don't we?) Wendel writes in the introduction that “1991 remains for me one of the last fine times.” Soon after would be the 1994 strike and the increasing use of PEDs that tarnished the national pastime for many. Wendel is also critical of what he sees as the dominance of corporate group-think in running sports franchises. As I've said before I'm not particularly nostalgic. I think the phrase “good old days” is oxymoronic, especially when applied to baseball. I think a truly modern game would have no draft, no reserve clause, and no monopoly. But that's a column for another time.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Giants Slug Past Rockies

Matt Cain gave up seven runs in six-plus today and the Giants won the game. That Cain fellow isn't known for his luck--I suppose this is his seasonal allotment. "Not getting a loss" isn't much in the way of luck, but that's baseball. The Giants score 12 runs in their seven previous games, and then score 12 runs today. That's baseball, too.

Balls were flying out of the yard in Coorsian fashion all afternoon. A brace apiece of big, booming bombs from Michael Morse and Hector Sanchez won the day for the Giants. The Giants hit six--one each from Brandon Hicks and Brandon Belt were also part of the barrage. The Rockies hit half as many, Troy Tulowitzki and Charlie Blackmon connecting off Cain, and the last-gasp Justin Morneau bomb in the 11th off Sergio Romo.

Hector Sanchez was the hero. The grand slam that broke the tie and set up the win came on a ten-pitch at-bat. He fought off some tough ones and kept his eye on the prize and finally delivered. He also gave Buster Posey a break--that was a 4-1/2 hour slog today. Greg Papa and the CSN crew were raving about Sanchez' work with Affeldt on the mound in relief of Cain in the 7th, blocking those scuds with a runner on third and preserving the tie. I didn't get to see it, but I'm happy to hear it. No reason to think Hector can't keep improving his game. He's young and still unpolished but he needs to be in the majors and mentored by guys like Bruce Bochy, Buster Posey, and Billy Hayes. He's on a steep learning curve but I like what I see as far as focus and demeanor on field. So, good on you Hector! Way to bounce back.

The Giants get a cathartic win and avoid getting swept. They are off on Thursday and send Tim Hudson out on Friday night when the Cleveland Indians come to San Francisco. I'll put up a review tomorrow of Down to the Last Pitch, Tim Wendel's new book about the 1991 World Series.


p.s. I don't have to call him 'Hanchez' any more, he's the only 'Sanchez' on the 40-man roster! And Jean Machi threw five pitches and got the win, his fourth, which ties him for the league lead.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Let's Go Get Cained

If you'd told me beforehand that Madison Bumgarner would throw a complete game in Coors Field and only allow two solo homers, I would have been happy. That spells "victory" to me. But I neglected to account for the continuing wretched state of the Giants offense. At least they put the ball in play (8 hits) tonight. They had two on with no out in the 2nd, and two on with one out in the 4th, 8th, and 9th, so there were, in theory, chances to score. Hunter Pence tied the game briefly with a solo shot in the 5th, and he and Michael Morse got a rally of sorts going in the 8th, but that was it. It wasn't a Coors Field ugly-fest like last night, and in fact it felt much like a game the Giants ought to win. But win they did not do, and won't do if they don't start scoring some goddamn runs. But you know that already.

Watching the Giants hit is like:
    (a) snorting corn starch
    (b) swallowing sandpaper
    (c) smoking sawdust
    (d) scarfing cat chow

I'll announce the winners later. Matt Cain at 12:10 tomorrow afternoon.



p.s. Seven homers by the Rockies in two games.

Monday, April 21, 2014


I switched to the season finale of Archer at seven o'clock. And my lovely bride insisted on Bones at eight. Ryan Vogelsong, total-recalling his very bad self, was done in the 2nd and the Giants never recovered. It was another feeble performance by the lineup as well--the only runs scored were on a double-play grounder by Posey in the 3rd and a wild pitch-passed ball-throwing error sequence in the 9th. I know anything can happen in 100 PAs, but this is getting tiresome. Giants: get some damn hits and score some some damn runs.

Let's hope things turn around tomorrow.



Sunday, April 20, 2014

Quality-ish Tim


An early offensive outburst (4 runs, oh my!) was just barely enough as the Giants beat the puds, 4-3, and avoided the series sweep.  Tim Lincecum delivered his first quality start (barely) and a rested Buster Posey did the rest with a homer and a couple fine defensive plays. Sure, we only got three frigging hits, but WE WON and that's all that really matters.

 Start #4  W  (1-1, 6.43)   6+ innings  7 hits  3 runs  3 earned  3 walks  7 strikeouts  1 hr

Timmeh saw the seventh inning - to throw one juicy home run pitch and get pulled - but, STILL, he SAW the seventh inning.  That is a very good thing, not the homer (#6 this year) but lasting a little longer into the game, getting that "quality" label.  If we can keep our bullpen (obviously the team strength at this point) a little fresher, then that will mean big things later this summer.  So, good job, Tim.  You stopped a three game losing streak with grit and  guile and just enough help from your friends.


The big play of this game was the third successful instant replay challenge by Bochy this season.  This time the ump missed a beautiful sweep tag at home by Buster.  I can honestly say I have never seen a catcher better at that particular skill in all my days.  Buster immediately started to argue the call so I figured we had it even before any replay was shown.  The overturned call erased a run for the puds and ended the inning; it was HUGE.  Just shows you another way Buster wins games for us.

First Inning: 10-8

Tim Hudson took out a page from the Big Book of Cain yesterday as the Giants failed to support his fine effort. (That's four starts, 112 batters faced, 53 ground balls, and no walks.) The Padres are playing their game in their yard and the Giants are obliging nicely. Yesterday they managed only a feeble four hits. Brandon Belt and Michael Morse have wOBAs over .400 (they are 13th and 16th on the NL leaderboard) and Angel Pagan is just behind at .387 (23rd). Brandon Crawford is holding his own at .360, but Buster Posey (.313) is well below expectations, and Hunter Pence (.265) and Pablo Sandoval (.250) are off the map. The team has scored just 13 runs in the last seven games and two of those went into extras.

The baseball season is 162 games long and is composed of nine 18-game stretches that I like to call "seasonal innings" (18 x 9 = 162). The Giants have finished their first inning and stand at 10-8, one game behind the 11-7 Dodgers. You play nine 10-8 innings and you finish at 90-72, which might net you a playoff spot. You go 11-7 nine times and you finish 99-63 which will likely net you the best record in the league. The Giants were 10-5 after beating the Dodgers on Wednesday, but followed that with three straight losses. The Brewers (13), the Braves (12), and the Cardinals/Dodgers (11) are the league leaders in wins, with the Nationals (10), Giants (10) and Rockies (10) just behind.

The Giants are 8th in the NL in scoring at 74 runs or 4.11 per game, just a hair below the league average (4.14). They are 7th in run prevention having yielded 66 runs or 3.67 per game, just ahead of the league average (4.06). Since interleague play has not yet started for San Francisco (next weekend the Cleveland Indians come to town) I am sticking with NL-only stats. I'll do 30-team comparisons next time.

The Giants rate a 101 OPS+, good for fourth best, and a 108 ERA+, tied for seventh best (B-R). FanGraphs is not as kind, saying the Giants 97 wRC+ is only seventh best and their .308 wOBA is ninth in the league. By team FIP however, the Giants rate fourth best and their 3.28 xFIP is the best.

If you prefer more traditional metrics, the Giants are batting .237/.310/.387 with 19 HR (4th in the league) against an NL average line of .249/.313/.391. The Giants have the fifth best team ERA (3.15) with 143 strikeouts (7th best), 34 walks (fewest), 16 HR (7th fewest), and 158 hits (11th fewest, or fourth worst).

Today Tim Lincecum tries to prevent a sweep in San Diego. Tim's only thrown 15 innings in three starts and he's allowed 20 hits and 12 runs. But he has only walked one and struck out 17, so there are some good signs. The bullpen has been terrific (57-1/3 IP, 47 H, 48 K, 13 W, 14 R) but could use some more long outings by the starters so let's hope Timmy can churn up some innings and lead the way to a victory.



Friday, April 18, 2014


Because I wasn't going with 'Cained.' The young backstop had a rough night. Passed ball in the 1st that led to a run, whiff swinging in the 2nd, whiff looking in the 4th, two on and nobody out double play grounder in the 7th, flailing whiff with the tying run on second to end it. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, am I right? Matt Cain looked very sharp in his best start so far here in the first month of the season. That's eight straight one-run games for the Giants, the longest such streak for the franchise since 1910. They are 4-4. The Giants got a leadoff double from Angel Pagan but couldn't score him and that turned out to be a big play. Brandon Belt's homer in the 9th was all they could muster after that. Berkeley's own Tyson Ross was overpowering and made the once-mighty Giants lineup look feeble, much like Hyun-jin Ryu did the day before. I like the old Giants offense better, you know, the one from two weeks ago. You figure the games will be low-scoring in San Francisco and San Diego, but I've had enough. C'mon Giants, get some goddamn hits and score some goddamn runs.

Matt Cain pitched very well, and that is never bad. The Giants lost a very well-pitched Matt Cain game. It's that old, familiar weltschmerz. There ought to be some comfort in familiarity, but I'm not finding it.

Tim Hudson tomorrow at 5:40 p.m.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Giants Grab Another Close One

Ryan Vogelsong came up with a big start (Game Score 60) to lead the Giants over the Dodgers tonight. I was surprised after the walk, triple, and long fly ball that ended the 6th that Bochy let him pitch the 7th, but Jean Machi was brilliant in relief and it all worked out. Vogie was most likely out of gas despite the low pitch count, and the hit-by-pitch and single to start the inning was all-too predictable. But Boch is a manager of men, and sometimes you have to show faith in a player even if the calculations say otherwise. I imagine a manager has to bank that confidence so he can draw on it later. Vogie strikes me as a particularly amenable athlete to that sort of handling, but that's all just blogger jive, so pay it no mind.

The highlight of the evening for me was definitely the 1-2-3 double play on the comebacker by Juan Uribe to end the 7th. If a game can have a tipping point then that was it right there. The Giants got the go-ahead run in the bottom of the inning and held on thanks to the three-headed beast of Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez, and Sergio Romo. Machi may prove to be a very valuable guy--he sure bailed out Vogie and the team with some stout relief in this game. My second favorite moment was Pablo Sandoval delivering the big hit after Hunter Pence was intentionally walked. Take that, Donnie Baseball! And my third favorite moment was Matt Kemp being picked off in the 2nd. Or maybe it was Donnie B's challenge being denied, I don't know. They were both beautiful.

Madison Bumgarner squares off with Hyun-Jin Ryu tomorrow at noon. Should be another nail-biter.



Taxing Tim


For the third time in the last five games, the Giants went into extra innings; this time outlasting the doggers, 3-2 in 12 innings.  The game featured a boatload of walks, an incredible number of blown opportunities, some sloppy play and every known relief pitcher on both rosters.  In other words, it was exciting (since we won!).

 Start #3  ND  (0-1)   5 innings  5 hits  1 run  1 earned  0 walks  5 strikeouts  1 hr

A good, solid outing for a #4 starter. You would like to see more innings, of course, but anything more than 5 looks like gravy when Lincecum takes the ball.  Timmeh only gave up one tape measure shot and it didn't really feel like he was dishing up batting practice; so that's quite a bit better than his last start. It was easy to remember the good times when Tim got a couple big K's in the fourth with the bases loaded. So, no nightmares tonight, which is not something I can always claim after a Lincecum start.


Jean Machi only needed seven pitches to give up a double, get a sacrifice out, then cough up a walk.  If you went potty or grabbed a snack, you could have missed his entire performance.  That would have been a good thing.

Three hits and a stolen base for Hunter is always fun. Brandon #1 got three hits too.  Brandon #2 got a couple hits and scored the game winner.  All good signs. However, Pablo went o for five and didn't get the ball out of the infield.  That is not a good sign.  Our offense has looked weak lately and frankly, we needed a lot of help scoring tonight.

Big win.  We really didn't do anything very well, yet we beat a good team. I'll take it.

Monday, April 14, 2014


Sixty years ago the New York Giants won their fifth World Series in franchise history by beating the Cleveland Indians in a four-game sweep. It ended a run of five straight titles by the Yankees. The Brooklyn Dodgers would get their first championship the next season, and the Milwaukee Braves would grab their first in 1957. The one thing all those clubs had in common were African-American stars. Willie Mays was the MVP in 1954 and played alongside Monte Irvin and Hank Thompson. Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella (the 1955 MVP), Junior Gilliam, and Don Newcombe led the Dodgers. And the Braves, of course, had Hank Aaron (the 1957 MVP) and Eddie Mathews. The Indians, led by Larry Doby, also had Luke Easter, Dave Hoskins, Dave Pope and Al Smith on their roster, making the 1954 Series a notable one for the presence of so many black ballplayers. Robinson's breaking of the color line in 1947 also made it possible for dark-skinned Latino players like Sandy Amoros and Ruben Gomez to make it in the bigs as well. Ernie Banks, just to mention another great former Negro Leagues player, made his debut in 1954.

Bill Madden chronicles that season and its impact on the game in his latest book 1954: the year Willie Mays and the first generation of black superstars changed Major League Baseball forever. Mr. Madden covers a lot of ground, from Branch Rickey and Bill Veeck to Leo Durocher and Walter O'Malley. Along the way we follow the 1954 season from the perspective of the underdog Giants and the powerhouse Indians, a team that set a record with 111 wins. Legendary New York sportswriter Dick Young gets a lot of ink as well, for this was a time when newspapermen were the main link--other than radio broadcasts--between fans and their favorite teams. TV was just beginning to make inroads into the game, and the Giants were on the forefront as they featured a pre-game show with Laraine Day, the glamorous former MGM actress and wife of the mercurial Durocher.

I'm not sure Mr. Madden makes his case in 1954 that baseball was changed "forever," but you can certainly say a critical mass of African-American stars emerged during that time, and they paved the way for even more men of color to participate in the national pastime. The Yankees would be the last team to integrate, but they managed to stay at the top (Series winners in 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962 and runners-up in 1955, 1957, 1960, 1963, and 1964) despite their intransigence. Certainly integration was a pivotal time in both the game's and the nation's history, but I don't know if any particular year was more important than any other. The relocation of the Dodgers and Giants to California, followed by expansion and then division play had huge impacts as well. Perhaps nothing was more momentous than free agency and the two strikes it precipitated, and the flood of television dollars that has been unabated in the last few decades has certainly made the modern game very different.

Nonetheless 1954 is an interesting book and baseball buffs like yourselves will enjoy all the great stories of the old-timers. Giants fans, in particular, will enjoy anything about Willie "The Greatest of Them All" Mays and his place in team and baseball lore. I particularly liked learning more about Alvin Dark, who managed the talented but unlucky San Francisco teams in the 1960s. Giants fans will also appreciate some history on Al Rosen, a star for those same Indians, who later of course was the Giants GM from 1985-1992.


p.s. Thanks again to Kristina DiMichele and DaCapo Press for the review copy. I've got another book from them about the 1991 World Series that I'll get to later.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

. . . and it's wet!!

Brandon Crawford's splash hit in the 10th saved the day in San Francisco and the Giants get a much-needed series win. Some of the luster of Tim Hudson's excellent start came off after three late extra-base hits enabled the Rockies to tie the ballgame in the 8th, but he once again pitched with brisk, efficient command and gave the club a chance to win. The Giants wasted a fine effort yesterday and you hate to see them lose those low-scoring affairs at home. AT&T should be death on visiting clubs but the 2013 team only managed a 42-40 record in the supposedly-friendly confines. The 2014 team has so far split the six games and two series at home after a 5-2 road trip. The Dodgers come to town on Tuesday and it should be quite the donnybrook as the good guys took two of three in Los Angeles.

Gregor Blanco almost pulled off a dramatic two-out winner in the bottom of the 9th, roping a sure double to right-center that Michael Cuddyer fell down trying to field making it an easy stand-up triple. Tim Flannery, though, up to his usual knee-jerk windmilling, sent El Tiburón home when Cuddyer bobbled the pick-up. Unfortunately the throw hit cutoff man DJ LeMahieu right in the numbers and he fired a strong relay to Giants nemesis Wilin Rosario at the plate who made a good play to tag out the airborne speedster. Sergio Romo put up a zero in the top of the 10th and B-Craw made it all moot with his leadoff bomb in the bottom half. That's only his second walk-off hit and his first walk-off homer. There was lots of talk this spring about Crawford hitting lefties and so far he's silenced it with some excellent work in the early going.

Hudson has gone 23 innings without issuing a free pass and that's the most to open a season since Atlee Hammaker in 1983 (21 IP).



Saturday, April 12, 2014

Rockies Give Giants a Good Caining

Here are Matt Cain's career splits, home (top) and away:
W     L   ERA   G     IP          H   R      HR  BB   SO   BF   WHIP SO/9 SO/BB
51   46  3.16  138  909.1  733  336  73  306 746 3709  1.143  7.4  2.44
42   43  3.60  130  822.2  717  353  82  275 695 3427  1.206  7.6  2.53

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 4/12/2014.

Matt Cain is Matt Cain no matter where he pitches, it seems. Obviously the Park helps a bit, but overall he's the same cat out there every time. The last two starts were a bit ugly by Cainian standards, but today was more what we come to expect from the big righty. Of course, a Caining is also what we've come to expect over the years as well, and six Rockies pitchers made sure of that today in San Francisco. Matty had some command issues early, and racked up a lot of pitches, but he settled down and kept the Colorado hitters from any solid contact. I think they had two hard hit balls all afternoon. They scored the game's only run on a limp sacrifice fly to short right field, scoring leadoff man Charlie Blackmon who had walked, moved up on an infield hit, and stolen third base. It was a Giants and AT&T kind of ballgame but unfortunately it didn't work out in the Giants favor. Pagan was 0-for-4, Sandoval was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts, Morse was 0-for-4 with two whiffs and a double play, and Buster was 0-for-3 with a walk. Hector (0-4, 2K) Sanchez started behind the plate and batted sixth with Posey at first against the lefty Brett Anderson. Brandon Belt sat on the bench. The Rockies made the big pitches when they had to and snuffed out the few chances the Giants mustered.

Matt Cain gave the ballclub a heap o' quality innings. In the end, that's what matters. The starters have to have better starts and over the long haul that will pay off. It didn't today, and it is frustrating when the team loses a well-pitched game at home. But seeing Matt Cain be Matt Cain took some of the sting out.

Tim Hudson tomorrow afternoon.



p.s. The nice folks at Da Capo Press (in particular, Kristina DeMichele) sent me an advance copy of Bill Madden's new book, 1954: the year Willie Mays and the first generation black superstars changed Major League Baseball forever. I'll put up a review on Monday when, like me, the Giants have an off-day.

Slammin' Maddy

"Hey, what does a starting pitcher have to do around here to get a W?"

"Really?  Oh, OK then."

And with that, Madison Bumgarner went out, hit a grand slam home run and picked up 5 rbis to lead the Giants to a 6 - 5 victory.  He damn near hit another home run, too, but it was caught in deep left to score Brandon Crawford.

Angel Pagan and Buster Posey were not in the starting lineup.  The game was not crisp - on either side.  Pablo threw another one into the stands - that led to a run.  The Rockies' Brandon (Barnes) was allowed to score on a caught stealing at second.  Carlos Gonzalez hit a monster shot (but so did Madison Bumgarner!).  Brandon Crawford got 2 hits and drew a walk.  Jorge De La Rosa is a pretty good pitcher, but not against the mighty power of Madison Bumgarner.  On the hill, Madison allowed 4 (all designated as earned), walked 2 and fanned 7 in 6 full innings.  He gave up nine hits.  Sergio looked good for the save.

The last and only San Francisco Giant pitcher to hit a grand slam was that noted powerhouse Shawn Estes.  If I had to bet, I would bet that Maddy might have more than one homer in his 2014 arsenal.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Disappointing Loss in Extras

The good news is that Ryan Vogelsong lowered his ERA. The bad news is that he lowered his ERA from 9.00 to 8.00. Hey, I'll take the improvement. Actually, I'm more encouraged by Vogie's outing than by Lincecum's. I think we've got a decent fifth starter--he's going to work out the kinks and be effective. Timmeh has a lot more work to do. I refuse to believe that an athlete with his talent and track record (and $35M contract) will be working out of the 'pen or rehabbing in Fresno anytime soon. It might be a little longer road than we were hoping, but I think he will find himself and start delivering the goods. Speaking of delivering the goods, you have to like how FNG Michael Morse has been hitting. And in our ballpark! Speaking of our ballpark, I expect the team to win at home. I went to bed with the boys up 5-4 and expected to see a "W" when I checked the score this morning--imagine my disappointment at the result.

I blame Candlestick Park and all that 'Stick foofaraw. I had a lot of fun back in the day at the concrete palace, but I'm not nostalgic by nature and get worn out on all that stuff. I could blame Pablo Sandoval, but I'm cutting him some slack because everyone has bad games and bad weeks. And this contract situation (or lack of same) could be in his head. The guy finally shows up to work in shape and what happens? He hits .132 and gets smacked down in negotiations. Not that I can fault The Brian Trust. Pablo, for all his amazing talent, is a risky proposition. I can understand the team feeling like he hasn't "earned" a Pence-like deal. I'd hate to see him in another uniform, I think of him as part of the core, but it might happen. So I'm all for sticking with the present tense. Stay healthy, Panda, and play some good baseball. Let's put the future behind us, OK?



p.s. Buster Posey bunted. Successfully. And got clotheslined by Paul Goldschmidt and emerged unscathed. Buster >> ordinary mortals.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Scarring Tim


Tonight's gagfest was pretty much over after about 8 minutes into the game. Right about when Paul Goldschmidt hit his gratuitous 3 run homer off the basically worthless Tim Lincecum.  The bullpen was tough after Lincecum's early departure and we got a couple more long balls, however it wasn't enough as we lost 7-3.  At least the doggers lost too.


Start #2  Loss  (0-1)   4 innings  7 hits  7 runs  7 earned  1 walks  5 strikeouts  2hr

Tim's performance was like picking off an old scab; painful, a really bad idea and it may leave a scar.  Yuck, yuck, yuck.  All the memories of an INCREDIBLY hittable Tim come pouring back.  I'm not talking about the Goldschmidt psych out, I'm talking when the opposing pitcher gets excited to take a hack. It is one thing to watch bad pitching, tonight was more like watching a suicide bombing. Again, I say, triple yuck!


Morse's homer (#2) measured out at 446 ft.  That is an impressive clout.  Pagan's three hits leave him at a crisp .462.  Buster only got two hits, including homer #3, and he stands at .344.  Five scoreless innings from the bullpen is sweet, except that the bullpen should never really appear for five innings. Oh well, get 'em tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Giants Perfect in Openers

Tim Hudson took the sting out of the Diamondbacks bats today much like he did last week in Arizona. Though not quite as dominant a performance he was nonetheless impressive once again, and Brian Sabean looks like a genius here in the early going. Speaking of early going, you can't ever really say how a season will turn out after a mere eight games, but I really like 6-2 and I reckon you do as well. Brandon Belt 'tatered what looked like a really good sinker in the 1st and carved himself out a nice slice of Giants lore to boot. Speaking of booting, Brandon Hicks threw away a double play chance that cost a run, but it didn't ultimately matter as the team kept scoring and Huddy kept dealing. Just keep winning, lads.

The Giants were the featured opponent for the home openers in both Phoenix and Los Angeles. Today's Home Opener in San Francisco completed the trifecta. The Giants and the Yankees were the last two teams to have their home openers. (They left early in the Bronx.) I'm glad the team is home and has a pile of wins. I'm also glad to be done with all the folderol. No more bunting, just more baseball!

Tim Lincecum tomorrow night.



Sunday, April 6, 2014

Long ball sinks Cain, Giants

Matt Cain pitched well tonight. Then he didn't. He had velocity and movement, and got a lot of weak contact (I think there were four 3-1 plays). Then he didn't. The two booming home runs he allowed to Matt Kemp were on fat pitches that were far from Buster Posey's target. Six hits allowed in six innings, all for extra bases: three homers and three doubles. It was weird. Cain seemed to have his usual arsenal, but then he'd lay one up there and it would get crushed. (Ramirez' homer was on a good pitch down and in, he just put a good swing on it.) Zack Greinke was dominating through the first five, then seemed to hurt himself on the bases and when he came out for the 6th allowed a bomb apiece to Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence. They went with the bullpen the rest of the way. Final line for Matty: 6IP, 6H, 5R, 0W, 3K, 81P, 43GSc. Final score: 6-2 LA.

If there is one thing that will chase me away from baseball, it is television broadcasts. Tonight was wretchedness in the extreme. The ESPN clowns (blithering, useless John Kruk, coupled with the equally pointless--but stentorian--Dan Shulman) spent most of the game talking about the Dodgers and would drift off into things like the Masters. Yeah, golf. The camera spent an entire half-inning looking at Yasiel Puig in the dugout while the talking heads provided their deep and original analysis of the "controversy" he generates. Hello Dodgers fans--and the rest of baseball--there is no there, there. He's young, he's talented, he makes mistakes. Wow, deep stuff. The entire show was a Dodgers game. They might as well have just let Vin call it (at least he'd actually call the game). The other team happened to be the Giants, which is why I was watching, but everyone else involved in the production of the television event was there to talk to Dodgers (an entire half-inning with Clayton Kershaw), talk about the Dodgers, and show pictures of the Dodgers. Yeah, we know they are the media's darlings, but come on, have some professionalism. They kept showing pictures of the Santa Monica pier, too, which is (1) miles from Chavez Latrine, and (2) filled with people who had no interest in the game. It was a "We ♥ LA" festival and they got their wish--the LA team won, salvaging their weekend.

Salvage was indeed what they did after losing the first two games 15-6. The Giants were looking for a sweep and that would have been sweet, but a 5-2 road trip against the NL West is not too bad. I'll take it. Next time Cain pitches it will be at home (against the Rockies on Saturday) and maybe he'll put together his first good start. Otherwise I have to like the way the 2014 season has opened.



Saturday, April 5, 2014

Madbum's First Win of 2014, and It Couldn't Have Come Against a Better Team

Madison Bumgarner looked pretty good today, and when Madison Bumgarner looks good, and the Giants score a couple of runs, they stand a very good chance of winning a game.  Last year, Madison had 6 games where he allowed no more than 1 run, and did not not get a win.  Today, he allowed 2 runs in 6 1/3 innings, and the Giants offense scored plenty.  Madison looked much sharper than he did in Arizona.  He threw the ball with better control, being able to keep it down and move it around.  He struck out 10, 5 of those guys with runners in scoring position.  I think that is his 14th game of 10 K's.  Madison only walked one.

In the 7th, Madison was close to out of gas.  He gave up a single to Van Slyke the younger, struck out Uribe, then induced AJ Ellis to hit a weak grounder that dribbled through a hole for a hit.  A single from Dee Gordon loaded the bases, but then Santiago Casilla got 2 outs to end the inning without a score.  Madison threw 114 pitches even though he only issued 1 walk.  Yusiermo Petit looked much improved to pitch a scoreless 9th.

The story, again, was offense.  A big fly from the Panda with 2 men on base in the 5th changed a tense 2 - 1 game into a 5 - 1 game, and then Buster Posey hit one immediately thereafter to make it 6 - 1.  Morse got into the HR game, a solo shot in the 4th.  Brandon Crawford picked up the first rbi in the 2nd, and Angel Pagan picked up the 7th in the 6th.  Hunter Pence had two doubles.

Well, I'm tickled pink.  The Giants have won the first two series, and done it in impressive fashion.  I expect to see Matt Cain pitch well and that leaves Tim Hudson, coming off of an excellent start, for the home opener.  Madison Bumgarner is now 9 - 3 against LA.

No Beer in LA - they lost their opener!

Have you ever noticed how much dodger blue and doggie poo not only rhyme, but are practically synonymous? 
Ryan Vogelsong started the first game of the 2014 season against the doggers, in their very own home park, and, like most of his fellow battery-mates, pitched OK, but not superbly.  Ryan allowed 4 earned runs (3 while he was on the mound) and was replaced by David Huff before he got an out in the 5th inning.
The thing was, though, that the Giants were up 8 - 0 before the doggers scored a run.  This is the 1st inning:
Strike Out
Fly Out
Single (2 runs), Morse advances on Kemp's fielding error
Single (1 run)
Intentional Walk to load the bases for the pitcher's spot
Single (2 runs)
Single (1 run)
Line Out  (12 batsmen!)
I plan on reading this over and over to sustain me through long, cold winters in the future.  In the 2nd inning, Buster Posey, safe at first because of a Hanley Ramirez throwing error, scored on Brandon Hicks' double, who then scored on Joaquin Arias' single.
Giants only got 8 hits, but added 4 runners on walks.  They gave up 10 hits (7 by Vogie, 2 by Huff and 1 by Gutierrez) and 2 walks.  But oh, what a lovely grouping of hits.
Giants Offense!  Ya gotta' love it.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Start It Up Tim

    The Giants take the opening series from the snakes with an 8 - 5 victory, featuring a thrilling late game offensive explosion.  If you are a fan of the big fly, you liked this game! Arizona is officially off to slow start (1 - 5) and has a bullpen in flames. Meanwhile, the Giants are already showing a no-quit attitude that was a hallmark of the last championship. Bring on the doggers!

 Start #1  ND  (0-0)   6 innings  8 hits  4 runs  4 earned  0 walks  7 strikeouts  2 hr

     Tim Lincecum starts his 2014 campaign with a solid, yet distinctly flawed outing.  Two different 2 run homers were Tim's undoing; one from an "old" nemesis (Goldschmidt) and the other from a newbie (Trumbo).  Otherwise, you have to like what you saw: no walks, loads of ground balls (8), no walks, few flyballs (1), and, let me check....yeah, no walks! He did OK; something to build on.

     Brandon Belt's third homer in the first four games, quite the rarity, was over shadowed by the ultimate game decider, Angel Pagan's 3 run blast in the eighth.  Man that dude has a lot o' hair!  Tip of the hat to Brandon Hicks and his PH homer. Way to make the Skipper look like a genius.  I suppose the key play turned out to be the intentional walk to Buster. After all, we scored 4 runs right after that!

Go Giants! Let's kick some dogger butt!