Saturday, September 23, 2017

Two

The Giants magic number is 2.  That is, 2 wins will allow them to avoid 100 losses for 2017.  Today, in Los Angeles, was win number 61.  The Giants won 2 - 1.

2 runs.  That was enough to beat the doggers, tonight.  Madison Bumgarner on the mound, and he threw one of his best games of the year.  It took him 55 pitches to get through 5 innings, although it took him 44 more to get through another 2 2/3.  He gave up 5 hits, struck out 5 and walked 1.  1 of those hits was a home run.  It was a mistake, too much plate and it left the yard.  Isn't it funny how the Giants' mistake pitches leave the yard and the Giants' opponents mistake pitches put men on base, but the Giants don't manage to score?  Yeah, that happened, too.  Madison Bumgarner has pitched in 17 games this year.  In 11 of those games, the Giants have scored 2 runs or fewer.  Not just for him, in the whole game.  Tonight was the first game among those that resulted in a Giants victory.  Which means he did something right.  Hunter Strickland got 1 out in the 8th and Sam Dyson got a save for pitching the 9th.  Madison Bumgarner is now 4 - 9.  It only feels like this is only his 2nd win.

Come on Giants, 2 more wins!  Hyun-Jin Ryu started for the doggers, and took the loss.  He suffered a forearm contusion from a ball batted by Joe Panik.  Joe Panik has the highest batting average for the month of September of any major league baseball player.  The game ended with Yasiel Puig being thrown out trying to steal 2nd base.  He apparently got hurt running, limped off the field and apparently ran of his own volition.  Dave Roberts was not making happy faces.  Chris Stratton pitches tomorrow against Clayton Kershaw.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Giants Blank Rockies

SF 4  COL 0
The Giants have managed only FOUR shutouts this season. To see how anomalous this is, check out the totals for the previous eight seasons:

2009: 18
2010: 17
2011: 12
2012: 14
2013: 13
2014: 12
2015: 18
2016: 11

This is a pitching-based team and I expect it will be a pitching-based team next season. That means we need to see more zeroes! Matt Moore put up six this afternoon and the bullpen (Okert, Gearrin, Strickland, Dyson) added three more. You have to like that. The lineup had only seven hits but five were for extra-bases (three doubles, one triple, one homer). Another thing to like. And Nolan Arenado was 0-for-8 in the two games! When's the last time that happened? Giants finish with a  7-12 record against the Rockies.

Matt Moore will be on the club in 2018 as the Giants exercised their $9M option. He joins a long list of Comeback Player of the Year candidates. Speaking of comebacks, Joe Panik is killing it in September.

Giants are off tomorrow and go to LA for three and thence to Arizona for three. They'll finish at home on the final weekend against San Diego. Can they get three more wins out of those nine chances?

--M.C.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

We are Spoilers, Yippee!

Col 3 SF 4 

In a game that meant nothing to the Giants, and quite a bit to Colorado, Hunter Pence came up big with a walk-off sac fly.  Earlier he crushed a 440 foot 2 run homer, so I guess it is safe to say Hunter was the offensive hero.  On the pitching side, JohnnyC (8-8) gets the nod with 6.2 solid innings, giving up 2 runs and 7 hits.  He looked shaky at the start once again, and, once again threw a million pitches early.  That is about three starts in a row like that.  Kinda hard to watch but he settled down and gotta couple big double plays.

Cute Moment:  Hunter was subjected to the slowest ever home run trot.  Cueto was on first ahead of the mammoth blast and took his sweet time rounding the bases.  Pence nearly caught him at third but JohnnyC waved him back.  It made a nice visual.  Cueto is good at that, isn't he?


Sunday, September 17, 2017

.333

SF 7  AZ 2
The Giants finally wore out a Diamondbacks pitcher and even continued to score against their 'pen and picked up a win after four straight losses. The lineup resurrected the old "death by a thousand paper cuts" offense: infield single, walk, infield single, sac fly; single, single, single, walk, sac fly, fielder's choice. That's four runs! Panda added a homer, then we got single, walk, walk, sac fly, fielder's choice. Hey, whatever works. Giants win one of the three against Arizona after winning one of three against Los Angeles. At this rate they will win four of the final eleven (.364) and finish 62-100. Chris Stratton had a good outing today (6 IP, 2 R) and four relievers combined for one hit and no runs over the final four frames. Off-days tomorrow and Thursday; Rockies in town Tuesday and Wednesday.

Go Giants!

--M.C.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

2 Hits

I came to Portland to get a different perspective on the Giants.  From here, they still stink.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Death Ray

AZ 3  SF 2
The Diamondbacks young southpaw Robbie Ray whiffed ten in his seven innings of work and kept the Giants from doing much. That's not saying much, I know, what with this lineup. His performance overshadowed some solid work by the Giants Jeff Samardzija, who not only went eight innings but struck out seven and walked none. He also chipped in a hit and scored a run. But good teams gobble up the minnows and that was the case in San Francisco tonight. The 2017 Giants are minnowesque, to be sure, or would that be minnovian? No matter. The Giants lost another game. Marquee matchup tomorrow with Greinke and Bumgarner.

--M.C.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Streak Ends Here

LA 5 SF 3

So, if you are a sucker like me, you probably had dreams of our boys continuing to help the doggers along their historic slide.  Nope.  This year's model keeps finding ways to disappoint.  They put up a bit of a fight, including some ninth inning drama, but it really was never as close as the score indicates.

Johnny Cueto (7-8) was a well deserving loser.  He seemed to have an especially nasty change up but his pitch count was ridiculous.  Every inning, and he didn't make it out of the fourth, was stressful.  Meanwhile, Kershaw was pretty much what you expect.  He only went 6 innings but it was plenty good enough for win # 17.   This game was just what the blue goo needed.  Win #93 for them.

Loss #90 for us.  That's embarrassing.

Rookie Parade

Weird weather in the Bay Area.  I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've seen lightning living in San Francisco.  Last night there was a bunch.  It would rain, then stop, then thunder, then lightning, then rain for a couple minutes, on and on.  And it would rain at the stadium when it was dry here, then the announcers would talk about how it stopped just when it was coming down here.  Real rain, too, enough to soak the garden.  After a summer of drips from the watering system, I'm sure the roses were loving it.

The game started after a 50 minute delay.  Chris Stratton struck out LA's lead-off hitter Curtis Granderson on a sharp curve.  Then they called another rain delay.  It was almost 11:00 pm by the time the second batter came to the plate.  The Giants replaced Stratton with Ty Blach.  He threw until a bunch of singles and a walk in the 4th inning gave the doggers 4 runs, which included a pinch hitter for their starter, Kenta Maeda.  That tied the game, thanks to a 2-home run in the 1st from Denard Span, a solo shot in the 2nd from Jarrett Parker, and a Joe Panik rbi single in the 3rd.   Puig put the doggers ahead with a solo home run in the 5th, Span and Posey had rbi's in the bottom of the 5th to put the Giants back on top 6 - 5.  LA tied the score thanks to Justin Turner in the 6th, but Hunter Pence had an rbi single to again take the lead, 7 - 6 in the bottom of the 6th and Buster Posey added a run in the 7th to make the final score 8 - 6, Giants.  Phew!

Chris Stratton got 1/3 of an inning to start the game.  Ty Blach got 3 1/3, gave up 4.  Kyle Crick gave up 1 in 1 1/3, and Derek Law got the W in 1 inning in which he gave up 1.  Steve Okert went 2/3, Cory Gearrin went 1/3, Hunter Strickland went 1 and Sam Dyson earned a save for pitching the 9th.  LA used 6 pitchers after Maeda left, Pedro Baez got the loss.  The fans who stayed certainly saw an entertaining game and got their money's worth.  The time of the game was 3 hours and 22 minutes, about 3 hours and 20 minutes of which occurred from about 10:55 pm onward.  I did not stay up to see all this.  If you were in London, though, you could have had your tea and scones for breakfast and caught nearly the whole game.  Cheerio!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Ineptitude, Thy Name is Giants

I don't know why, at this point in the season, that I still get upset at Giants losses.  I expect them to lose, and then they do, and I am still upset.  The Giants put Madison Bumgarner on the mound today and lost to the White Sox, 8 - 1.

Madison's opponent for the Sox was Carson Fulmer.  This was his third major league game this year, and his career stretches all the way back to last year, when he appeared in 8 games, none as a starter.  Even the broadcasters mentioned the fact that the Giants struggle against nobodies.  But they struggled against James Shields yesterday, too.  In two games, the Giants were outscored by the White Sox (who own the worst record in the American League) by a total score of 21 - 2.

Madison gave us 5 innings, he gave up 10 hits, walked 1 and struck out 4.   He gave up 6 runs, and Albert Suarez, in relief, gave up 2.  Jarrett Parker, playing DH today, hit a solo home run in the 2nd inning.  Jose Abreu, who hit for the cycle yesterday, had to content himself with 2 hits.  They were both home runs.

As I type this, the Rockies are ahead of the doggers, 8 - 0 in the 9th inning in LA, the Cardinals won and so did the Brewers (over the Cubs) to leave both they and the Cardinals within 2 games of first place.  Some things in the baseball world go well, just not for the Giants.  The Giants play the doggers in SF for 3 games starting tomorrow.  The Giants are now 56 -  89, which means their magic number is 7.  That is the number of games they have to win to avoid losing 100 games.  Can they win 7 before they lose 12?  Seems do-able, but then other modest goals, such as playing .400 ball or getting out of last place, have eluded them this season.  So don't put any real money on it.  I just hope the Giants are not the medicine that makes LA all better again, because that would really suck.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

8th inning: 6-12

1st inning: 6-12
2nd inning: 6-12
3rd inning: 10-8
4th inning: 4-14
5th inning: 8-10
6th inning: 7-11
7th inning: 9-9
8th inning: 6-12

Jeff Samardzija and the Giants got smacked around in Guaranteed Rate Field tonight, ending the 8th seasonal inning very poorly with a 6-12 mark. Eighteen games left, my friends, and our ordeal will be over. 56-88 isn't the worst record in baseball, but it's damn close.

In this inning there were two three-game losing streaks and one four-game losing streak. I'm going to drink some whiskey.

--M.C.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Moore and Panda pace Giants

SF 9  CHW 2
If you thought "Pacific Bell" or "AT&T" were lousy names for a ballpark, how about "Guaranteed Rate" instead? Yeesh. But I'm sure it's very nice. At least that's what my mom would say. "I'm sure it's very nice." Well it was very nice for the Giants tonight as they thrashed the White Sox behind a resurgent Matt Moore. Pablo Sandoval did that rarest of all things for the 2017 Giants--he hit a three-run homer. Now that's slump-busting! I think Matt Moore is a very important fellow in the big scheme of things. The Giants rely on good starting pitching, it all works off of that. At least with the current Sabean/Evans/Bochy triumvirate. Even if they did convince the Florida Marlins to give up Giancarlo Stanton for Chris Shaw, Chris Stratton, Christian Arroyo, and Tyler Beede, they'd still need good starters. So let's see some more good stuff from Moore. Brandon Crawford had three hits, you have to like that. And Reyes Moronta, if you haven't noticed, is serving notice.

--M.C.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Tenth Time is a Charm

SF 11 COL 3 

Well, that was certainly better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick.  Which is saying something for this season from hell.  But tonight our boys brought a explosive offense to the game and avoided a season sweep at Coor's Field.  Yep, after nine straight losses there this year,  we got a win.  Yay team.

So how did we get win #55?  Actually there are many contributors.  JohnnyC worked hard and effectively in his rather brief stint; 5 innings, 1 run, 5 hits, 7 K, game score 62.  That was followed by good enough bullpen work.  But it was truly the offense that stole the show tonight.  Joe Panik picked up 5 hits, giving him an amazing 12 hits for the 3 game series.  That is crazy hot, like better than Mike Benjamin hot. He broke a Giants All-Time Record.  Pretty cool, huh?  Hundley hit a tape measure homer and Mac Williamson hit a 96 mph fastball at his shoulders into the opposite field stands.  That should make all you dinger fans happy. Tomlinson, Hernandez, Pence, and Crawford all got on base multiple times.  It was possibly the best offensive game of the year.

Unfortunately the offensive joy did not infect the Panda.  He made some Giants history of his own as his hitless streak reached 38 at bats.  That is crazy cold, like worse than Johnnie LeMaster cold.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

This Is A Mess

Ty Blach lost his 4th in a row.
He has an ERA of 7.77 in that time.
The Giants have not won a game at Coors Field, Denver, in 2017.
The final score was 9 - 6.
In the first 3 innings, the Giants had 4 hits and 3 walks.
They did not score in those innings.
A total of 16 pitchers were used, 7 Giants and 9 Rockies.
Mac Williamson again erred, and was again not charged.
Pablo Sandoval has not had a hit in 37 at bats.
He tied John Lemaster for the longest Giant hitless streak.
Buster Posey got hurt (thumb) and left the game.
Some asshole gave him some kind of shit and was kicked out.
The Giants lost their 87th game.
The Giants have only won 2 of their last 12 games.
The Giants are now the worst team in the major leagues.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Madison Bumgarner Chalks Up Another Loss

Madison Bumgarner hit a home run!  That's my favorite label for these posts.  And also it's about 25 degrees cooler, so there's that.  The Giants dropped the finale against the Cardinals today, 7 - 3.

 Madison seemed to be cruising, he did not give up a hit for the first 3 innings.  In the 4th, he gave up 2, and those were home runs by Paul DeJong and Jose Martinez, batting 4th and 5th in the Cardinals' lineup.  That put the Giants behind 2 - 1 after they had Buster Posey had singled Joe Panik home in the 3rd.  Madison tied that score with a monumental solo shot of his own in the 5th off of the Cards' starter, rookie (of course) Luke Weaver.  It kind of fell apart after that.  Harrison Bader hit another solo homer off of Madbum in the 6th, then a few more hits, and it was 5 - 2 when the inning ended.  That was it for Madison, and Kyle Crick allowed 2 more runs to score in the 2/3 of an inning that he pitched in the 7th.  Cardinal reliever Sandy Alcantara gave up a home run to Giants' call up Tim Federowicz in the 8th for the final score.  Matt Moore pitched the 8th and 9th in relief and did not give up any runs.

It seems like Madison has been prone to the long ball lately.  You may remember he gave up 2 in his last start against Arizona (which we lost, 2 - 1).   He has given up 14 in just over 91 innings.  That works out to a few more than he gave up in 2016, when he gave up 26 home runs in 226 innings.  14 in 91.3 works out to 35  (34.65).   For total runs however, this year he has given up 32, which works out to 79.2 runs over 226 innings, last year he gave up 79.  So, in spite of the fact that he has given up 5 home runs in 2 games, all of them solo shots, he is doing no more poorly that last year over all.  Of course, you can't expect to win too many games against the Cardinals by scoring only 3 runs.  We are 2 - 8 in our last 10 after winning 2 of 3 against Milwaukee (who seems to have taken it hard and have beaten the Nats 3 of 4 and LA 2 of 3 since then).

What to make of Matt Moore pitching in relief?  If anything, it may mean that the Giants want to see what the rooks can do as starters in this lost season.  Matt needs to figure something out in the winter.  So here is what is left.  We have another round through the western division and the Chicago White Sox.  That starts tomorrow against Colorado in Denver.  We play the Rox 5 more times, and Arizona and Los Angeles 6 more each, and San Diego 3 more.  We have a losing record against each of these clubs; 4 for 14 against the Rox, 5 for 16 against the Padres, and 5 for 13 against the snakes.  Our best effort has been against Los Angeles, mostly in the early part of the season.  We are 6 for 13 against them.  The Giants have one last chance to at least serve notice.  That's about all they can do, but at least it would be something.  As it is, they are again in danger of being MLB's worst.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Walk-off Win!

SF 2  STL 1 (10)
The Giants had perhaps their most stirring win of the year on a sweltering afternoon in San Francisco. It ended when a right-handed hitter, Nick Hundley, leading off the bottom of the 10th, hit a homer to right field on the second pitch from rookie southpaw Ryan Sherriff. We don't see that very often at AT&T Park. Both starters were overpowering: Lance Lynn allowed only one hit in eight innings; Jeff Samardzija allowed only two hits in seven innings and also whiffed nine. The Cardinals eked out a lucky run in the top of 4th off The Shark and the Giants eked out a lucky run in the bottom of the 9th against Tyler Lyons and Seung-Hwan Oh. Buster Posey got the big RBI on a little poke-job over second base, driving in Hunter Pence to set up the dramatic finish. In the top of the 10th Sam Dyson gave up a lead-off triple to Dexter Fowler but wriggled out of it with some tough pitching and that made Hundley's blast all the more satisfying. These things are few and far between in 2017, best to savor them when they happen. Madison Bumgarner tomorrow.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Cueto Returns and Nothing Changes

StL 11 SF 6 

JohnnyC (6-7) returned to the mound after a 6 week break but nothing can stop this team from its  embarrassing and historic demise.  He shimmied and snaked his way through 5.1 innings; giving up six base runners and 2 earned runs. Nothing great (game score 52) but serviceable.  Strickland, Melancon and Dyson were not.  Why is Melancon still pitching any way?  The dude is clearly damaged goods.

The only other note worthy aspect of this game was Brandon Crawford's performance.  Besides a few of his usual beautiful defensive gems, he absolutely crushed several balls.  Two doubles and a homer to the deepest part of the yard.  As they say, he was "seeing" the ball well.

But basically this team has once again left me sick and depressed.  This team has broken my heart; it has turned me into a shitty fan.  In other words, a fan worthy of this team.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Giants Cain't Solve Cards

StL 5  SF 2
Matt Cain was tonight's emergency starter as Madison Bumgarner was a late scratch due to illness ("flu-like symptoms"). He gave an adequate performance, lasting five innings with only two runs allowed on seven hits. Each time he takes the ball I think "this could be the last." At some point--the end of the season I suppose--the team will cut ties with their longest-tenured player. Alas, the Giants had a hard time scoring runs. Imagine that! They did get a rally going in the bottom of the 9th, but it was too little, too late, not to mention farcical. Some douche interfered with a Brandon Crawford homer after a Buster Posey double and turned it into another double, thus turning a 5-3 game into a 5-2 game. Duane Kuiper, rightly I think, complained on the broadcast about the delay on the video ruling. It really should take less time, but that's just one of those things to file for later. Meanwhile the Giants got some clutch hitting from Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford, that's nice, let's get some more of that.

Giants match their May record by going 13-16 in August. It's not much, a .448 win percentage, but it beats the sub-.400 months of April (.346), June (.333), and July (.360). Twenty-six games left--can they win ten of them?

Johnny Cueto is slated for tomorrow night. Parsons, you're up!

--M.C.

.167 Road Trip

1 win in 6 games.  The Giants went to Arizona and San Diego, two NL West division rivals and they had to throw a complete game shutout to get a win.  The final loss, in San Diego, assured them of a losing record for the season.  It was their 83rd loss of the year.  They could sweep September and still not crack .500.

Ty Blach threw the rubber match in San Diego yesterday.  He threw 5 2/3 innings, 99 pitches, and gave up 3 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks.  2 of those hits were home runs, including 1 to Travis Wood, San Diego's pitcher.  The Giants lost 5 - 0.  Kyle Crick allowed an inherited runner to score and Josh Osich allowed an unearned run in the 8th.

Although I have argued and will still argue that the Giants biggest pressing need is relief pitching, this road trip highlights their second biggest need, one that is harder to fix, offense.  Buster Posey has been out a couple games, and was clearly injured before that, and Brandon Belt has been out, but:  1 for 10 yesterday with runners in scoring position.  The Giants got 6 hits and 6 walks.  Ty Blach got 2 of those hits.  No one scored.  3 for 21 on the series, and 4 for 33 on the road trip.  4 for 33.  That's not good.  The Giants got shut out 3 times in 6 games.  They scored only 10 runs in 6 games.

Buster Posey and Brandon Belt notwithstanding, the Giants have to do better than that to compete in the major leagues.  Plenty of time to discuss particulars once the blessed offseason finally gets here.    At this point, I don't even know why it upsets me so much to have this kind of performance out of this team.  I should expect it, or at least be numb to it by now.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Shark Shutout

SF 3  SD 0
Giants starter Jeff Samardzija threw his first complete game of the season and his second in a Giants uniform. His sterling three-hitter last night was the fourth shutout of his career. One way to overcome bullpen woes is to not use the relief corps at all, I suppose. The Giants were locked in a tight 1-0 contest but Joe Panik's late homer made it 3-0 and that helped The Shark finish it out. I'm happy to see Brandon Crawford looking more like his old self at the plate. If anyone is a candidate for a bounce-back next season it's the Giants stellar shortstop. But the night belonged to the big righty who put together a good start against the Padres after two stinkers last month.

Samardzija cleared waivers, it should be noted, which means he could be traded. I'm not sure there will be takers, and he has some no-trade rights, but he is now a potential piece for a pitching-depleted playoff team. I'm not sure the Giants could get all that much for him other than salary relief. FanGraphs rates his season so far at 3.6 WAR which is pretty damn good (12th in baseball) and that production would have to come from somewhere next season. fWAR is not the end-all and be-all of stats by any means, and we know Samardzija gives up a lot of hard contact, but he makes himself valuable with his strikeouts, low walk totals, and durability.

--M.C.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Strat gets Cained

AZ 11  SF 0
Chris Stratton had another excellent start but the Giants were both shut out and swept by the Diamondbacks. It was a close game until the 8th when Matt Cain (2/3 IP, 8 R) had perhaps his worst appearance ever. If not the worst, then close, and that's saying a lot considering he's been in the bigs since 2005 and has logged over 2000 innings. But that's not really important. For all his career accomplishments in orange-and-black Matt Cain is not a part of the future. It makes me sad to say that but it happens to all players, and he leaves behind an outstanding body of work. The only thing we can be interested in at this point in this wretched season is next season and the season after that, etc. The present is intolerable; the future has a chance to be better. Chris Stratton is showing some major-league moxie and I'm excited by that. Even if his ceiling is only as a fifth-starter (and it may not be), the Giants still need choices for that role, and he's serving notice that he should be in the mix. Good for him. Let's see more guys bang on the door and say "put me in coach, I'm ready to play."

Next stop is San Diego tomorrow night. Jeff Samardzija gets the ball.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.


p.s. The uniforms the Giants sported this weekend were the most clownish I've ever seen them in and it is fitting that they played poorly while looking like a beer-league slo-pitch team. Some promotions really are cringe-worthy--this was one of them.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Ty Tired, Bum Bummed

Ty and Madison on the mound to start our season-concluding push against the western division.  That is where titles, and playoff spots are often won and lost.  Neither will be the case this year for the Giants, but there is something on the line.  That is: pride.  If they are going to compete next year, they are going to have to win against the Western Division.  There is no way around that inevitable truth.  And, if the Giants are going to compete next year, they are going to do it with much the same cast that they have today.  Not entirely, that can't happen, but probably most of them.   And among those guys, 2 of the ones you want on the list to actually be here next year are Ty Blach and Madison Bumgarner.

Ty Blach threw his third game in a row where he was not effective.  You could say that he was better than his previous 2 starts - 6 earned runs against both Miami and Philadelphia is 6 and 5 1/3 innings, respectively.   And in fact, he pitched pretty well, with one exception.  That was to Paul Goldschmidt in the 3rd inning with 1 run in and 2 runners on base.  That made the score 4 - 1 in favor of the dbacks.  After that, the Giants chipped away.  Chip, chip, chip.  But the best they could come up with was 3 for their 78th loss of the year and a final score of 4 - 3.  The thing is, in Arizona, you have to be able to put runs on the board.  Like in Colorado.  Dink-ball doesn't do it when one mistake to Goldschmidt can ruin your shit.  Brandon Crawford, was good though, getting 3 hits and scoring twice.  It is time to ask whether Ty is pooping out on the season.  That would be understandable, he has given us 144 1/3 innings, is not quite 27 and this is his first season in the major leagues (except for his most auspicious debut last year).  Still, as much as I am sure Bochy & Co. would like to see him get a full season in, but with Matt Cain available and Johnny Cueto rehabbing, his starts may be numbered.

Saturday: Put your ace on the mound and chalk up your 79th loss of the season.  I wouldn't put any money on the Giants NOT losing 100 games this season.   The 3 runs the Giants scored yesterday would have been plenty, but today they couldn't muster that.  In Arizona.  They lost, 2 -1.  To some guy named Tai-Wheezy.  Christ.  The player nickname promotion stinks of a MLB marketing guy who hasn't done anything but bullshit around the water cooler since he was hired 3 years ago until his manager finally caught on and was told to come up with something or lose his job.  Half the players don't even have nicknames, so they have to make them up for this shit.  It's terrible, as was the Giants offense.  Madbum went 7, struck out 7, gave up 5 hits and walked 1.  2 of those hits were home runs, with no baserunners.  That happens in Arizona.  It used to happen more when the Giants batted.  Jarrett Parker hit one, too, with no one on, and that, of course, was the extent of the Giants' offense.  Buster Posey is 0 for Arizona, and frankly, has looked bad doing it.  In fact, the top 4 hitters in the Giants line-up have 3 hits.  For 2 games.  Parker had 2 of them today and the other one came last night.  Crawford had a hit, now that he finally seems to have figured out his swing, Posey can't see the ball.

Taijuan Walker is new on the dbacks this year, so of course he befuddled the Giants.  If I were another team in the western division, I would just call up some minor leaguers the Giants have never seen before for September to face us.  It probably doesn't even matter if they are really pitchers or not.  I am so sick of getting beat by new/minor league/mediocre pitchers.  We do better against Greinke than against Tai-fucking-Wheezy.  The Giants washed out creamsickle-colored orange jerseys look.  Like.  Shit.  I'll give Joe Panik some credit, the nickname he put on his jersey is Panik.  Why would you want to mess with a name like that?  Ty actually is already a nickname.  So is Buster.   As much as I want to see someone, anyone, knock the cubs out of the NL Central lead, let's just can the season now, shall we?


Thursday, August 24, 2017

7th inning: 9-9

I'm a little late, I know. Got home yesterday after a week on the road. We camped in the mountains for five of the seven nights. We had a great time and got an excellent view of the eclipse (which was amazing). I missed a lot of baseball so you folks will have to fill in the details.

1st inning: 6-12
2nd inning: 6-12
3rd inning: 10-8
4th inning: 4-14
5th inning: 8-10
6th inning: 7-11
7th inning: 9-9

On Sunday the Giants were 50-76 for a .397 win percentage. They've since taken two of three from the Brewers and bumped up to 52-77 for that elusive .400 mark (actually .403). In a world where the Dodgers are playing .712 ball and streaking toward perhaps the single-season win record it doesn't seem like much. But any improvement is a good thing.

It will only take eleven more wins to reach 63 and avoid 100 losses. There are 33 games left to play, I think the Giants will pull it off. I know, it's a jinx to say it, let alone post it, but I think we'll be saved the ignominy of recapitulating 1985. They have twelve wins in the month of August, the only month that they've scored more runs (so far) than they've allowed. That needs to continue. I'm encouraged that Matt Moore is looking better. And Johnny Cueto should be back soon, that will be nice to see.

Looks like our super southpaws are up next, I'll let the Mystic One do his thing for those games and I'll be back on Sunday for Chris Stratton's start.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.


p.s. I'll be working up some posts over the next few days on my other blog about the eclipse and our adventure if any of you are interested.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Really? The Best the Giants Could Manage Was a Split Against the Phillies?

Wait, let me guess.  Relief pitching?  Of course.   So with two wins in the books and our two best pitchers (Ty Blach and Madison Bumgarner) on the mound we lose both games?  Against the team with the worst record in the major leagues?  And lack of offense to boot (today, anyway)?  How positively 2017.

Ty Blach on the mound Saturday against the Phillies.  Ty was not his sharp self.  He gave up 1 in the 2nd, allowing Philly to tie the game at 1 each, and 3 in the 3rd, allowing Philly to take a 4 - 3 lead after Span's rbi single scored Jones and Tomlinson for a 3 - 1 lead.  The Giants tied the game at 4 all in the 5th, then gave it up in the 6th.  Blach got the first out, allowed a double and a single for a run and was replaced by Osich.  Gearrin relieved Osich later that inning and by the time it was the bottom of the 6th, the Giants were behind 11 - 4.  They staged a rally in the 9th, but fell by a final score of 12 - 9.  That wasted a Denard Span first inning lead off inside-the-park home run, the first by the Giants since 1945.  That was exciting.  The final score, not so much.  Suarez threw the final 3, allowing 1 and looking pretty good.

Madison Bumgarner on the hill Sunday.  Madison threw 6, struck out 7, gave up 1 run on 4 hits and 1 walk.  A Buster Posey single scored Tomlinson in the 4th, and Madison Bumgarner scorched a single in the 5th to score Ryder Jones and stake the Giants to a 2 - 1 lead.  Mark Melancon took the 7th, gave up 2 hits and struck out 2 but allowed no runs.  Hunter Strickland was a different story.  He made it through the 8th, but gave up 6 hits and 3 runs.  Kyle Crick gave up 1 more in the 9th.  The final score was 5 - 2.    We are 3 - 4 against the Philadelphia Phillies this year.  We have games left against St. Louis and Milwaukee, both of whom are fighting for a playoff berth, the White Sox, and the NL West.  We're back under .400, where, apparently, we belong.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Giants Are Not A .400 Baseball Team

Mark is off in the desert, staring at the sky.  In Miami, the Giants proved themselves incapable of beating the Marlins today, losing 2 of 3 behind Matt Cain.  They are 1 - 5 against Miami this year.  Today's score was 8 - 1.  If you only had a little time today, you heard all you need to about this game.  It was over in the 1st inning.  Miami scored 4 and that was 2 more than they needed.  The Giants pushed 1 across in the 3rd, assisted by a throwing error, no rbi was awarded.  Cain lasted 4 innings, gave up 5 runs, only 2 of which were earned due to sloppy defense.  The first inning saw a catcher's interference (Hundley, not Buster) and an error by Crawford.  After Matt exited, Alberto Suarez gave up 3 more runs in 3 innings, then Josh Osich gave up 1 hit but no runs in the 8th.   Osich cannot complain about not getting chances.  25 year old Jose Urena pitched for the Marlins, he picked up his 11th win in 5 innings of work.  Giancarlo Stanton did not hit a home run.

I thought it was important to win this game.   After their miserable showing in Los Angeles in late July, they split with the A's, then beat Arizona and the Cubs each 2 of 3.  Then they went to Washington.  Well, Washington is a very good club, but Miami is not (much better than the Giants, but that's not saying much).  If they were to play anything like what they were supposed to be capable of this year, it would have been good to get back to winning a series.  And they would have breached that .400 barrier.  They didn't do that.  So now, 4 games against Philadelphia in our own stadium.  Anyone know what the over-under is on a split?

Did you know?  Matt Cain struck out 7 today.  He is now within 17 strikeouts of Tim Lincecum's Giant totals.  Tim is 4th on the all time leaders list for strikeouts, behind Christy Mathewson, Juan Marichal and Amos Rusie.   Considering that he has been left for dead by the press, I'd like to see him pick up those K's.  It would at least be something in this stinkpot of a year.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

One and One

Just when you thought the Giants were playing well, they turn around and make you wonder if they are about to embark on another losing streak.  But after dropping the final game of their make-up double header in extra innings Sunday to Washington, and dropping Ty Blach's start against the Miami Marlins on Monday, they won today behind Madison Bumgarner.  Ty gave up 6 runs on 9 hits and 3 walks Monday, including 2 home runs (1 to Giancarlo Stanton, natch).  The Giants could only muster 3 runs.  The final score was 8 - 3.

Today, the Giants turned the tables.  They won, 9 - 4.  Madison gave up all 4, he threw 6 innings and gave up 9 hits and 2 home runs (see above).   He struck out 4 and walked 1.  The 7th, 8th, and 9th belonged to Melancon, Strickland and Gearrin, respectively.   Melancon pitched particularly well, he gave up an infield hit, then got the heart of Miami's order without a ball leaving the infield.  Strickland gave up 2 hits, but no runs, and Gearrin walked 1 for the victory.  Denard Span was 3 for 5 with a home run, Andrew Jones hit a home run and had 2 hits and Kelby Tomlinson and Buster Posey each had 2 hits.

The Giants are, again, 1 win from being a .400 ball club.  Matt Cain is slated for tomorrow afternoon before the Giants head home to play Philadelphia, the only National League club with a worse record.  Yahoo headlines state that Pablo Sandoval says he played poorly in Boston because he left his heart in San Francisco.  Pablo Sandoval is full of shit.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Stratton Subdues Nats

SF 4  WSN 2
Chris Stratton struck out ten today in DC and allowed no runs over 6-2/3 innings. That's a great team and a tough lineup even without Bryce Harper. The rookie almost made it through seven but he surrendered a walk (his only one) on his 109th pitch and 26th batter. Nonetheless it was an outstanding effort and secured the team's first win against the Nationals this season. I said in a previous post that it was time to see what this guy can do and I hope he makes all his starts the rest of the way. The bullpen had a shaky moment with Hunter Strickland allowing a two-run homer in the bottom of the 8th. You know the crowd loved that. He did get his three outs and both Josh Osich (one batter, one out) and Sam Dyson (three-up, three-down save) did their jobs and the 'pen held on for the win. The Giants were up 3-0 early and tacked on a late run, something they seem to be doing a better job with lately. Mr. Doubles Nick Hundley had one, his 19th, as did both Ryder Jones and Gorkys Hernandez. Joe Panik had three hits and two runs batted in and Kelby Tomlinson drove in that late run with a sac fly pinch-hitting in the top of the 8th. Good stuff!

Matt Moore gets the late game tonight. Giants go to Miami on Monday.

--M.C.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Beating the Cubs. So Nice!

The Giants got 2 victories over the Chicago Cubs, World Champions and defeater of the Giants in their last post-season appearance back in 2016.  The first, after a sloppy, poorly pitched loss by Matt Moore, was behind Ty Blach on Tuesday night, 3 - 6.   The second was this afternoon, behind Madison Bumgarner for his 2nd win of the year, 1 - 3.

The Giants had not beaten the Cubs in a series in awhile.  They lost 3 of 4 back in May.  Of course they lost 3 of the first 4 in a 5 game series in the 2016 postseason after beating the Mets behind Madison Bumgarner for the wild card.  They lost 3 of 4 to the Cubs in Chicago in September, although they actually beat them 2 of 3 in SF in May.  They lost 4 straight in Chicago in August, 2015 then won 2 of 3 in SF later in August for a losing season split, 5 -2.  The loss puts the Cubs in a tie with Milwaukee, with St. Louis just behind.  That's a race, unlike the NL West.  It was only Madison Bumgarner's 2nd win against 5 losses.  Of course, he missed a good chunk of the season.  What's more, it is only the second time that the Giant's aces, who I am defining as Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, or Johnny Cueto and Ty Blach, or Madison Bumgarner and Ty Blach, have won games back to back.  It's August.  (The first was Blach/Cueto in Colorado/Pittsburgh at the end of July.

Ty Blach won Tuesday night, 6 - 3, with help from a 1st inning, 3-run blast from Buster Posey.  It is only the 5th (I think) 3-run home run of the season, and it seems like they only had 1 just a few days ago.  Ty added an rbi himself, and gave us 7 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs and 3 K's.  Strickland allowed a run, but it was not earned.  Significantly, when the Cubs put 2 on the board in the 6th to make it 4 - 2, the Giants answered in the 7th with a run.  Today, Madison also gave us 7 innings, and walked off the mound to a 1 - 1 tie.  He struck out 7 and gave up 5 hits.  A couple of dinks, though, scored Denard Span to make it 2 - 1 in the bottom of the 7th and Hunter Pence homered in the 8th with no one on.  Madison, in spite of his record, has a 2.71 era and a 1.01 WHIP.   Madison Bumgarner has 27 runs of support in just over 66 innings of work, 9 games, but if you take out the 5 innings he pitched vs Pittsburgh in which he got 10 runs of support en route to an 11 - 3 rout, he has 17 runs of support in 8 games.

The Giants, though, beat the Cubs 2 of 3 after winning 2 of 3 from Arizona, all at home.  They are now 6 - 4 in their last 10.  In that time, they have not had a reliever that has lost the game.  Also, they are 1 win away from that illusive mark that separates incompetence from horrible-ness, .400.  It will be tough, against Washington in DC, but they are playing better than they have all year right now.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Back-to-Back!

The Giants teamed up to support Jeff Samardzija today and got their second win in two days against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Jarrett Parker hit a monster two-run homer and threw out J.D. Martinez at the plate as well. It will be nice to see what this guy can do over a whole season. Stay healthy, man. Hunter Pence and Nick Hundley both had clutch, run-scoring hits. Arizona avoided pitching to Buster Posey but he still scored a run, with Brandon Belt on the DL someone has to pick up the slack. Pence would be the obvious candidate. Albert Suarez was particularly impressive in relief, getting the final seven outs, and looks poised to be a big contributor next season. The Shark walked three but kept the ball in the yard, that paid off for the big righty. 6-3 final at home, Cubs come in for three tomorrow.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Comeback!

The Giants beat the Diamondbacks in 10 innings last night 5-4 after falling behind 4-0 in the 6th. There have not been a lot of wins this season and there have been even fewer of the come-from-behind variety. So, let's take a moment to enjoy it. Chris Stratton took Matt Cain's spot in the rotation and George Kontos' spot on the roster and he delivered a rookie-level start with 5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 4 W, and 4 K. He threw 95 pitches to 24 batters. Stratton was the team's first-round pick in 2012 (#20), a draft notable for the "new generation" of spectacular shortstops (Carlos Correa #1, Addison Russell #11, and Corey Seager #18). He's thrown almost 700 innings in the minors and has yet to show the dominance he flashed at Mississippi State when he was a consensus All-American. Nonetheless he's produced solid results over his 119 starts and at 26-going-on-27 it is time to see what he can do in the bigs. Pitchers from that 2012 first-round bunch that have delivered over 5.0 bWAR are Kevin Gausman (#4), Michael Wacha (#19), Marcus Stroman (#22), and Lance McCullers (#41, a supplemental pick).

The other item of note was of course the appearance of Pablo Sandoval at the hot corner. He made a throwing error that led to a run but also had a leadoff double to start the Giants scoring in the 7th. It's hard to believe he is only turning 31 this week. Seems like he's been around a long time, then again he did make his debut at the tender age of 22 in 2008. The stars of that 2008 club were Tim Lincecum, now out of of baseball, and Matt Cain, probably not far behind him. Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo, and Jonathan Sanchez were also on that team. Ten years is a long time in baseball.

Jeff Samardzija today. Giants have 43 wins, they need 20 more.

--M.C.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Magic Disappearing Offense

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen!  See the eighth wonder of the world!  Or maybe the ninth!  Or, maybe, it's no wonder at all!  A team that scores 11 runs one night, and only 1 the very next!  Hurry!  Hurry!  Hurry!  See your ace get skunked by [fill in blank, doesn't much matter....]; see that winning attitude, that championship spirit, that confidence disappear into thin air!  See it before they're gone like yesterday's breeze.

Madison Bumgarner.  Pitched good.  7, 5, 2 and 7.  Lost.  Of course!  3 hits.  None got out of the infield.  None.  I know it's a "different" day, and a "different" team, except it's really not.  It's the magical 2017 San Francisco Giants.  Watch closely....Poof!  They're gone!  Were they really ever there at all? 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Ty Blach Hit a Home Run!

I thought I might wait until tomorrow, as Ty and Madison are now pitching back to back.  But this deserves mention.  Ty Blach, one of the Giants better-hitting pitchers, if not the best hitting pitcher (that includes Madison) hit his first home run, a 3 run blast in the 5th inning.  A bunch of other people scored, too.  Ty gave us 8 quality innings.  The Giants went on to beat the Athletics, 11 - 2.

The Giants split the "series" with the A's, 2 - 2.  The Giants scored a lot of runs on 2 nights, and looked like the Giants of 2017 on the other 2.  By beating the 5th worst team in the major leagues twice, the Giants have climbed out of the cellar, they are now only the 2nd worst team.  Progress!  Tune in tomorrow to see Madison Bumgarner swing for the fences.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

6th inning: 7-11

1st inning: 6-12
2nd inning: 6-12
3rd inning: 10-8
4th inning: 4-14
5th inning: 8-10
6th inning: 7-11

Even more depressing are the monthly win totals: 9 in April, 13 in May, 9 in June, and 9 in July. I was hoping the team would improve enough to avoid 100 losses, but that requires winning 22 more games or 11 in each of the next two months. Can they pull that off? They can't hit: 30th of 30 teams in OPS. They can't pitch: 25th of 30 in both OPS against and runs allowed. Oh, and Johnny Cueto is injured and we aren't talking blisters. The dreaded "flexor strain" has revealed itself. I'm thinking he may be on the shelf for the rest of the season. Tell me I'm wrong.

But enough of that. I'm looking for bright spots. Jeff Samardzija was not pretty tonight, in fact he's usually not, he's got that gnarly jock approach to pitching which works pretty well overall, and he got the job done. The lads clobbered the ball, getting runs early and often and chipping in some big blasts as well. 10-4 final in Oakland. I kind of like that sweaty, fastball-heaving thing that The Shark does. Not everyone can be as cool and clever as Johnny Cueto or as talented and intense as Madison Bumgarner. You figure there have to be a few journeymen-grinder types; in fact you have to figure that most ballplayers are like that. The exceptional ones are just that--exceptional.

Sure is nice to see Brandon Belt hitting better. And Buster Posey continues to swing the bat well. His fielding is freakishly good, it's too bad it's wasted on this wretched club. Kelby Tomlinson got an extra-base hit, his third of the season. Let's shoot for 22 more wins, whaddya say? Twenty-two measly goddamn wins in two goddamn fookin' months of baseball. Is that too much to ask?

--M.C.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Just keep moving, nothing to see here

I suppose the biggest stories of the night are the deadline deals that sent Sonny Gray to the Yankees and Yu Darvish to the Dodgers. The Dodgers don't need Darvish. They are already a powerhouse, Darvish just gives them another arm for October. They have the luxury of planning for the post-season now. The Yankees are in a genuine fight over in the AL East so picking up a stud like Gray is potentially a big play. He could be a difference-maker in the final two months. The rich got richer, just like in real life.

Back in the crime scene that is Giants baseball, the bullpen took a perfectly good 3-2 lead in the 6th and turned it into a heap of rubbish. Matt Cain did that crazy thing he does, going five innings and clogging up the basepaths but somehow only giving up two runs. He left with a lead, I suppose you can add this one to the long list of Cainings which include NDs as well as Ls. The Giants were valiant, and fought back, but it was not enough and the A's prevailed 8-5.

Jeff Samardzija tomorrow night: it's Game 108, end of the sixth seasonal inning.

Go Giants!

--M.C.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Giants Blow Save. Rinse. Repeat.

Tonight the Giants were playing for pride, nothing else.  Here is how bad the season has been:  If the Giants were to win every fucking game for the rest of the season, the doggers would only have to play a little better than .400 to finish ahead of the Giants.  23 of the 51 games remaining, assuming they lost all remaining SF - LA games.  It's not even August yet.

Here's how the game went:
Madison Bumgarner was a stud, held the doggers scoreless for 7 innings.
Conor Gillaspie hit a solo home run in the 8th after the Giants failed to score Panik from 2nd with 0 outs in the top of the 7th.
Stickland was shaky in the 8th, but held on.
Dyson (who, admittedly, has been pretty good lately) blew the save in the 9th.
Giants got a run in the 11th on a Kelby Tominson single, steal, productive out and rbi.
Giants' relief pitcher (Albert Suarez this time) blows save, gets loss.

It's like poetry, isn't it?  It follows a certain cadence, but you know where it's going.  Giants lose in 11, 3 - 2.  Sigh.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Tyme After Tyme

Let's think back to that glorious day, October 1, 2016.  Ty Blach drew a start against Los Angeles, one of three left handers that the Giants needed victories from on the final weekend against the doggers to scrape into the playoffs.  Ty went 8 glorious innings, blanking the doggers on 3 hits and earning the W in a 3 - 1 win.  Alas, this was not that day.

Ty pitched damn well, though.  He gave us 7, gave up 8 hits, and 2 runs, both on Bellinger singles that scored Seager.  I expect we will see more of that in the future.   Ty is a keeper.  He fields his position well, hits as well as any pitcher, probably better than Madbum but without the power, and keeps us consistently in games.  A Hunter Pence solo home run gave the Giants their only score.  3 runs would won the game, but, sadly, the final score, like so often before, found the Giants on the losing end: LA 2, SF 1.

The Giants only had 4 hits on the day.  Buster Posey deserves mention, he threw out Justin Turner trying to steal 2nd, who got at least half way there before Gearrin threw home.  I guess the umpires deserve mention, too.  The strike zone was tiny, except every now and then a Giant batter got a pitch called a strike that clearly wasn't.  That happened to Turner, too.  All in all, it was a poorly umpired strike zone.  So now one of the very few 2017 bright spots, that the Giants actually had a winning record against the best team in baseball, is no more.  There are 7 games left to play with LA, wonder how that will go?  Madbum throws tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Shark Attack Sinks Bucs

SF 2  PIT 1
Jeff Samardzija needed a good start after a couple of real stinkers and he delivered this afternoon in San Francisco. He went a solid seven innings yielding only one run on four hits and whiffing eight Pirates. He walked two but did not give up a homer. Maybe he's figuring out that one base is usually better than four. That is, if you are behind 3-1 maybe prudence dictates an "unintentional walk" instead of a fat fastball. But I can't really say, we'll have to wait for Rags' memoirs. FNG Miguel Gomez roped a manly double to lead off the 8th and Brandon Belt poked a fluky double to drive in what turned out to be the game-winner. Good work by Hunter Strickland and especially Sam Dyson to preserve the victory. The home squad got their 40th win and now heads to Los Angeles to face the 70-win Dodgers on Friday. Southpaw Matt Moore gets the call.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Madbum Wins One, Nunez Oout

Sorry for the late post - I was out late last night.  Madison Bumgarner got a win, and it's about time.  He threw 5 innings, 80 pitches, and left with a 10 - 1 lead.  He gave up 6 hits, 1 run, walked 1 and struck out 4.  Chris Stratton got a save for working at least 3 innings, regardless of the score.  Denard Span was 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored; Eduardo Nunez, who was traded during the game, was 1 for 2, had 2 rbi and also scored twice; Brandon Belt was 2 for 5 with an rbi; Buster Posey was 3 for 4 with 2 rbi; Brandon Crawford was 2 for 4 and scored 3 times; Hunter Pence was 2 for 4 with 2 rbi; and Joe Panik got 1 hit, but it was a triple to score 3.  The final score was 11 - 3.

Eduardo Nunez was a important part of a team that never figured out the assembly instructions.  The Giants got 2 minor league pitchers from the Boston Red Sox for Nunez, Shaun Anderson and Gregory Santos.  According to the Giants website, Anderson, 22, is the 18th best Red Sox prospect.  That seems underwhelming, but seems in line with the Sabean philosophy of stockpiling young arms, because they tend to be useful in trades or maybe as pitchers.  Gregory Santos is only 17.  Nunez has been fantastic lately, but he is a free agent next year.   I hope to see Hwang back soon, he is at AAA, but cannot return immediately.  Was he hurt?  I don't want to see Sandoval.  Samardzija pitches today in 1 hour.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

One Win Per Series, That's All We......Get

Don't know why I'm posting after today's loss - it's the same score as the last time I posted, a couple of days ago.  I could have just cut and pasted from the last post.  After a 12 inning, gritty victory that I witnessed in person with Ron, JC Parsons and Brother Bob, coincidentally inversely predicted by JC, who said that Nick Hundley can't even get an extra base hit anymore, the Giants came back Sunday only to lose to the Padres, 5 - 2.

There was one Giant starter with more wins that losses.  Now there are none.  Ty Blach against Dinelson Lamet.  Really.  And, just like so often the case where the Giants face a minor league call-up whom they haven't seen before, they flailed.  That seems to have been true for years, even throughout their winning years.  I have never understood this.  Don't they have, like scouting reports or something?  Dinelson gave up 8 hits, but only 2 runs.  Ty meanwhile, gave up a solo shot in the 1st.  The Giants got that run back in the bottom of the first, thanks to Denard and Buster.  In the 4th, a walk, 3 consecutive doubles, and a single made the score 5 - 1.  Gorkys picked up an rbi in the bottom of the 4th, scoring Miguel Gomez, who got 2 hits and played 2nd base today.

2 hits for Gomez.  That was a small bright spot.  Another was Nunez, who went 3 for 4 on the day, but did not score.  The only other one was Ty Blach, in a way.  He gave up the 5, but also gave us 7 innings.  He did not let things fall apart after the 4th, but gave us a scoreless 5 through 7.   Small potatoes when the Giants fold like soggy cardboard.  So we are now 4 - 9, or .308 against the Padres.  The Padres.  Hector Sanchez has had 63 at bats this year, has hit 7 home runs and has 17 rbi.  23 of those at bats have been against the Giants, resulting in 4 of those home runs and 13 of those rbi.  Wil Myers has hit 6 of his 20 home runs against the Giants, 5 of those have been at ATT.  Only 1 Giant, Brandon Belt, has hit more than 5 home runs at home.  Add these to the lengthy list of things I just do not get about this 2017 team.    

Thursday, July 20, 2017

San Diego...................and Another Giant Loss

Well, it's not like the Giants were facing pushover teams like last year's World Series runners-up.  No.  They were facing the tough, tough Padres, who lead the league in just about everything.   Wait, what?  They aren't even a .500 team?  I thought they were at least .850 for the season they way they manhandle the Giants with all their All Stars.  What, they have guys that were in A ball on their team?  Gosh.   Maybe the Giants aren't a really good team after all.  An unsurprising loss, at home, to team that is (unlike the Giants) intentionally crappy, 5 - 2.

We are now 3 - 7 against the Padres.  Oddly, the Giants are almost inversely successful against teams in the west.  We actually have a winning record, at this point, against the doggers.  I do not expect that to last.  We play better against the dbacks, then slightly better against the pudres than the roxies (.300 vs .285).   Weird.

Madison Bumgarner vs Jhoulys Chacin, who, as usual had the Giants flummoxed.  Bumgarner got through the first, then gave up a quick hit and a 2 run blast in the 2nd, then another 2 run shot in the 7th.  Madison gave us 6 1/3 innings, gave up 4 earned runs on 6 hits.  He walked 1 and struck out 5.  Kontos gave up the Padres 5th run, and Crick gave us 1 2/3 innings and looked pretty good.  Nunez and Span got rbi's for the Giants.  As usual, they had several chances to tie the game or take the lead, but they did not do that.  Beating San Diego?  No, we don't do that, either.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Buster!

SF 5  CLE 4
It was good work by Matt Cain today in his new spot-starter-out-of-the-bullpen role: six innings, five hits, three runs (all in one inning), two walks (both scored), five strikeouts, no homers. He even got a base hit! Alas, the lineup could not score the tying run despite having some good chances and he left with the team losing 3-2. The Indians added another run in the 8th and it looked for all the world like another Caining. But the home squad, undaunted, rallied in the bottom half, scratching out a run to make it 4-3. Then Buster Posey, pinch-hitting with two on and two outs, roped a two-run double to make it 5-4 Giants. It was one of the more exciting moments of the season, I must say. Sam Dyson scared the crap out of everyone but managed to close the door and seal the hard-earned victory. That's a series win against a talented squad. Let's see some more of that!

Denard Span continues to shine, scoring two runs and driving in another (himself!) with a double and a splash-hit homer. If he can stay healthy he solves a big outfield problem for next season, that of having a competent major-leaguer out there regularly.

I don't know if you saw this tweet from Baggs in the sidebar:
Tyler Beede threw 7 strong innings today. At 109 IP. Would make sense to promote him, maybe use in relief for a bit, then join SF rotation.
I'm very curious about Beede (rhymes with 'beady') and would love to see him sooner rather than later. He turned 24 in May and has about 400 IP in the minors after three years at Vanderbilt. He's a two-time first-round draft pick, first by the Blue Jays in 2011 (21st) and then by the Giants in 2014 (14th).

Padres come to town for four starting tomorrow night. GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ty Ties Tribe - Ten!

Giants won tonight in a low scoring duel that lasted into extra inning, besting Cleveland, 2 - 1 in 10.  It was a well played game in spite of a Cleveland error by outfielder Brandon Guyer that led to the Giants first run.  Ty Blach on the mound for the Giants and an impressive youngster, Mike "Hippie" Clevinger on the mound for Cleveland.  They were a pretty good matchup.  Ty gave up a run in the 3rd on a single by USF's own Bradley Zimmer followed by a triple to Guyer.  Ty worked around his other hits, though, giving the Giants 7 innings on 106 pitches.  He gave up 7 hits, walked only 1 and struck out 3.  Meanwhile, Clevinger mostly had the Giants befuddled.  He threw 100 pitches in 6 innings, gave up only 3 hits, struck out 7 and walked 1.  In the 6th, Eduardo Nunez landed on 2nd after the error by Guyer, then was singled home by Buster Posey.  Nunez was the hero in the 10th, too, when Cleveland closer Cody Allen, pitching in his 2nd inning, gave up a double to Conor Gillaspie, who was replaced on the base paths by Kelby Tomlinson.  Denard Span bunted, and was safe to put Kelby at 3rd.  Nunez singled in the winning run.

It was, according to the tv, Nunez's first ever walk off hit.  Brandon Crawford won the ex-major league players' Heart and Hustle award, but was 0 for 4.  This game, though, was about pitching.   Ty was outstanding, as was Clevinger.  Hunter Strickland allowed no one on base in the 8th, and Sam Dyson only walked 1 in his 2 innings of work, picking up the W.   A win every now and then is nice, just for a change of pace.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Boom-Boom, out go the lights

SD 7  SF 1
Padres hit two big homers off Jeff Samardzija and take the rubber match in San Diego. No subtlety with the big righty--he blows it by you or you blast it past him. Giants start the second half in style, losing two of three. It's a trial, I tell ya. These guys are working harder and doing worse. I suppose it's all about looking at the bright side. Denard Span got three hits, he's finally hitting like a real player (.288/.337/.446). Buster Posey got two hits, he's doing that 300-400-500 thing (.328/.408/.509) that I think is really cool. I want to see more of Kyle Crick. Matt Cain pitches Wednesday at home, I'll report back then.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Bum's Back

Madison Bumgarner returned for the first time since April, and he looked pretty good.  He gave the Giants 7 innings, gave up 3 runs on 4 hits in 102 pitches.  Madison got us through the 1st 2 innings setting down the Padres 1-2-3.  Then, he gave up a solo shot in the 3rd.  The Giants were up 2 - 1 at that point, because of a couple of walks, a bunch of hitting, and a 2-out 2 rbi single by Hunter Pence in the 1st.  Then a walk and another home run in the 4th, this one to put the Pads up 3 -2.  You can look up who hit these shots, the trick is remembering these guys until tomorrow.  Might as well get used to them, though, they might be the Padres of the future.  So at that point only 2 hits to Madison's record, both of them long ones.  Joe Pan helped us out in the 6th with a solo shot to tie the game at 3 all.   Madison gave up a bunt single in the 5th and a 2-out double in the 6th, and a walk in the 7th.  In all, he walked 2 and struck out 5.  He looked pretty good, too.  If he is not off, he has an easy looking, smooth delivery.  That was there, as good as ever.  He is a bit prone to the long ball this year, but then again, he gave us a quality start coming off the 69 day DL and that is all you can ask.

Hunter Strickland relieved Madison in the 8th, put 2 men on base, but held the score at 3 - 3.  Gearrin took over in the 9th, and gave up a single.  Okert took over for him, and gave up a towering shot to none other than Hector Sanchez.  Giants lose this one to San Diego, 5 - 3.   Madison does not have a 2017 win to his record.

I had a fantasy.  I mean, one I can share.  It was, what if the Giants swept the western division in the remaining 72 games?  That would be 39 wins out of 72 game, .541.  That in itself is not so impressive, but sweeping the west in the 2nd half would be.  I know, we'd still have a losing record against the Rockies.  And that alone wouldn't get us to .500.  But we could win some of those other games, too.  But that dream's over.  My bubbles are so easily popped.  We've only won 3 of 8 against the Padres.  Fer Chrissakes!  We have 11 games left against them, starting with tomorrow.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Let the Second Half of Hell Begin!

Win 5-4, @ SD 

The second "half" of the season to forget has officially begun and the Giants earned a tight win over the Padres.  I have to honestly admit that I barely watched and only checked in occasionally.  That is pretty much the plan for the rest of this crap season.  I did catch a few images:  a shaky JohnnyC continuing to flail in mediocrity ( 4 innings, 3 runs, 6 hits, 3 walks ),  a beaming Gorkys Hernandez collecting 4 hits for the first time ever,  and the same old Buster putting a perfect swing on a fat pitch for the difference making homer.  In general, it was a well played close game that was sickeningly insignificant.

I'm not sure if there is any significance to the rest of the season at all.  What do we root for?  Decency?  Do we want  a #1 draft pick?  Do we want JohnnyC to suck? Or to be great and want to return?  Is it all about looking at prospects now?  Or is it about figuring out which veterans to jettison?  Or all of the above?   ...I'm confused....  All I know is that I really don't want to watch it any more...  And that is after a win!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

5th inning: 8-10

1st inning: 6-12
2nd inning: 6-12
3rd inning: 10-8
4th inning: 4-14
5th inning: 8-10

That's 34-56 at the Break, .378 baseball, 27 games out of first place. Only the Phillies have a worse record. It looked like this might be a second winning inning after six wins in a row but they reverted to their 2017 ways and finished the first half losing five of six. It's an inexplicably bad team, and I don't mean we can't diagnose the weak spots (they are legion), just that it should be a better team. At least that's what most of us thought. The timing of this team-wide drop-off couldn't have been worse what with the Rockies and Diamondbacks enjoying resurgences and the Dodgers looking like a juggernaut.

The Giants don't score enough runs at 3.93 per game, that's ahead of only the Padres and the Phillies. They give up too many runs at 5.03 per game, that's better than only seven other teams, or perhaps it's best to say it's worse than 22 other teams. The league mean is 4.67 runs so you can see they pitch better than they hit which isn't saying much.

The team has to do something for next year, that's obvious, but it's not obvious what they should do. They have a lot of money already committed. Cain comes off the books, I'm sure they'll buy him out at $7.5M. They'll have to put a youngster in his spot, perhaps Ty Blach. Pence ($18.5M) and Span ($11M) are both signed for next year (and both free agents in 2019, Span gets a $4M buyout) but neither are really tradeable. They have to be replaced, but by whom? The young outfielders, other than Austin Slater, don't look ready for prime time. The Mac Williamson/Jarret Parker/Gorkys Hernandez experiment has failed, with injuries and poor performances aplenty. What they can deliver in the second half or even next season is a big question mark.

The loss of ace Madison Bumgarner, the most valuable player on the team, was a huge blow, but even a healthy and productive MadBum would not have kept this team from poor play. There are too many others performing below expectations especially his co-ace Johnny Cueto. We had the idea that Cueto would at least bring some useful return on the trade market but he is unfortunately in the midst of a mediocre season, especially by his lofty career standards. What to do about Cueto? Will he exercise his op-out? Maybe the Giants re-sign him to a shorter term but higher AAV deal if the FA market doesn't develop. I think it's increasingly likely he'll be on the team next year. Let's hope this season is an aberration. I sure like watching him pitch and having a real no. 2 starter is obviously essential.

The black hole that is the outfield has been covered enough. On the infield side only Buster Posey is playing at or above his career norms. Brandon Belt is hitting the ball hard (.227 ISO, career high) but not getting enough reward for it, his .283 BABIP is fifty points below his career mark. He's logged back-to-back 4+ fWAR seasons but will not hit that this year. At least his drop is encouraging in the sense that it's not as far a fall as some, he's maintained his excellent walk rate (13.9%, 17th-best), and he's been showing signs of improvement these last few weeks. He is signed through 2021 and I expect he'll be the first baseman and/or left fielder for the duration. Love him or hate him you'd best get used to him, although I'll admit he is perhaps the most tradeable guy on the club in terms of age, cost, and talent. Joe Panik is looking a lot better this season, but his 1.2 fWAR is strictly middle-of-the-pack as far as second basemen go. He's cheap and has three arb-years left so he's somewhat inconsequential in the big scheme. He can't get all that much in trade return but he's not breaking the bank so if this is the ceiling for him the best we can hope for is as part of a package for an impact player. I like Joe but if he can't deliver enough offense it makes his defense a lot less valuable. Brandon Crawford on the other hand can still deliver value with his glove, I'm sure he's the most valuable defender on the team by far (with Posey second), and certainly in the top two or three in baseball at his position. That kind of work can earn a limp-bat pass, but he'll have to hit better going forward, and I expect he will, though probably never again at the level of the last two years. The days of the no-hit defensive specialist are probably over. BCraw is also signed through 2021, I don't see the Giants parting with such a popular player who really is a treat to watch perform and plays such a valuable position. Third base is completely up for grabs, I'm guessing Jae-gyun Hwang is the front-runner at this point with Christian Arroyo perhaps getting another shot at the hot corner in 2018. It might take a foray into the FA market to beef up that spot. Eduardo Nunez is a free agent at the end of this season. Like Panik he's cheap but not all that desirable as a trade chip so what happens to him is not worth sweating over, I'm sorry to say.

The most disappointing performance this year has to be Matt Moore's. He's allowed the most earned runs (66) of any starter in the league! The Giants hold options ($9M and $10M) on him for the next two years with cheap ($1M and $750K) buyouts. Hold or fold on Moore? He's only 28, and a lefty, with some real positives in his track record, you have to think he's fixable. But I'm no guru, I've really no idea. The other big bust is of course closer Mark Melancon. At this point it is sunk money, all we can hope for is that he's 100% for next year, then perhaps he's part of an improved bullpen. At the least he could be a valuable trade chip. As far as the 'pen goes I'm at a loss. Obviously the standard set by the Core Four & Co. is awfully hard to replicate. Will Smith comes back next year and Sam Dyson looks like a nice find. Kontos, Gearrin, and Strickland are all serviceable, Okert is too young to give up on, and Kyle Crick may have the goods to be an impact reliever. But it's anybody's game at this point. Are there FA relievers out there worth chasing? I expect they'll have to look.

The Giants have an old team. They need youth. They need power hitting. They need reliable relief pitching. They have a lot of needs. It's easy to say "pull the team apart" but you have to put bodies in the places you take them from. So until you have replacements you have to go with what you have already. And some of the costs (like Pence and Span) are not recoverable. Study this document carefully before making proposals about what the FO should do. The LA Dodgers have set the new standard for team operations and the Giants will have to compete with the Yankees-of-the-West from now on. Not only do they have the highest payroll at a quarter-billion dollars they also have enormous sunk costs (Kazmir-Ethier-Crawford etc. $50+M) and enormous value from cheap talent like third-year players Corey Seager and Alex Wood as well as rookie Cody Bellinger. They have the best pitcher (Kershaw) and the best reliever (Jansen) in the game. That's a big wall to climb. The Giants have their work cut out for them.

Sorry for the extra-long post. Thanks for sticking it out. Going forward, I'd like to see the team crawl above .400 and finish the year without 100 losses. They are on pace for an abysmal 61-101 record. They've 72 games left, a 36-36 record would see a 70-92 (.432) final. That might not be do-able. Regardless, let's see some improved play especially from the youngsters. That's what I'm looking for and that will get me through the dog days. I bleed orange-and-black win or lose. It's a lot less fun when they stink, but I'm not going anywhere. This is our 10th full and 11th total season here at RMC. That's a lot of posts!

Enjoy the respite. Next game is Friday night in San Diego with JohnnyC getting the ball. Bumgarner gets the call on Saturday--I'm looking forward to that.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.


p.s. Baggs interviews Sabes.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Giants Suck

There, I said it.  I expect Mark (we're at the end of 6 innings) or Jon to post, but neither hasn't done it yet, so here is a rant.

The Giants have not played .400 baseball in 1 year.  They went into the All Star Break last year with the best record in baseball.  Coming out, they sucked.  Their post ASB record was 30 - 42.  They had a pretty good spring training, going 20 - 16, but then sucked again once the season started, going 34 - 56 up to now.  Today's game was a good example.  The Giants did some good things.  They came back from a 7 - 3 deficit by scoring 2 in the 8th and 2 in the 9th.  But then blew chow in the 11th and lost, just like so many times before. 

This is the same fucking team that compiled the best record in baseball up to 1 year ago.  Here is a list of the guys who have not been a disappointment:

Buster Posey.

That's it. Maybe Blach, only because the expectations were so low.   I don't have a solution.  No one does.  If there was one, it would have been implemented by now.  Maybe it is a little bit of every damn thing every lazy sportswriter has copied from somebody else.   Whatever.  It is clearly not one thing.  So here is a list, in order, of the things that suck from most to somewhat less, in my opinion, without stats to back them up:

1. Relief pitching
2. Batting
3. Starting pitching
4. Fielding

And you know what makes it worse?  Up to a couple days ago, trading Johnny Cueto (and then maybe signing him next year) seemed like a good idea.  Today, what could we get for him?  Who would want him?  Some contending team with a MIDDLE OF THE ROTATION AT BEST pitcher who just got hurt - maybe.  What would we get?  Maybe a prospect.  Johnny might be good next year, but here's the thing.  If he picks it up and pitches great - he opts out.  If he doesn't, he doesn't opt out and the Giants are stuck with his contract.  Great deal, huh?  Trading Nunez?  He's hurt - he's worth nada.

So if management decides to blow this team up, and I mean BLOW THIS TEAM UP, I'm OK with that.   Well, not Buster, that would be baseball suicide.  But ANYONE and EVERYONE ELSE.  I have a totally irrational hope.  Last year, the Giants were winning like crazy up to the ASB.  There was 1 blip, when they dropped 3 of 4 to the A's at the end of June.  This year, they had a blip - it was their 6 game winning streak.  So my irrational hope is that they come out of the break and inexplicably win just like they inexplicably lost for the past year.  Wacky, right?  Totally.  That just shows what kind of voodoo this fucking team has wrought. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Tydy Win in Detroit

Especially, if by tydy, you mean that the Giants almost blew it, but didn't.  But a 5 - 4 victory is the start of a new winning streak!  The Giants scored first, in the 3rd inning off of rookie pitcher Daniel Norris, who's been having a bit of a tough time lately.  Kelby Tomlinson singled, followed by a  Gorkys Hernandez bunt for 2 runners on.  Tomlinson went to 3rd on a wild pitch, and Tomlinson stole 2nd.  Pence got the first rbi on a line out, and Hwang got the second.  In the 4th, Nick Hundley doubled, Tomlinson walked and then Belt drove in Hundley.  Pence tripled into the left field power alley and that made the score 5 - 0.  The Giants could not add to that.

Ty Blach cruised through 6 innings, giving up 3 hits but no runs.  Then, in the 7th, a single, a double and a single scored the first 2 of Detroit's runs.  A parade of bullpen appearances in the persons of Kontos (gave up a single), Okert (K), and Gearrin (wild pitch, walk, single and sac fly) gave Detroit 4 runs, although they managed to scrape through the 7th still in the lead.  Hunter Strickland gave up a double but held the Tigers scoreless in the 8th, and Sam Dyson pitched a very crisp 9th for the save.  The Giants got some good contributions from a bunch of guys who don't normally start: Hundley, Gorkys and Kelby.  Buster Posey, at DH, got intentionally walked twice, and hit by a pitch.  He was 0 for 2 but on base 3 times.  Pence picked up 3 rbi, and Hwang and Belt had 1 each.

I was looking at the schedule, and the Giants can win a lot this month.  They come home to play Miami, then they play San Diego twice, and Cleveland (who is a good team) and Pittsburgh at home.  Then LA at the end of the month.  Of course, the Giants could have played a lot better earlier in the year, too, but they didn't.  But fuck that - let's do it!  Let's amaze the baseball world with the turnaround.  We'll worry about standings and races later.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Independence Day

DET 5  SF 3
Matt Cain's 6-1/3 IP was his longest since he went seven on May 26th, a 2-0 loss against the Braves. Alas, the five runs were too much today. Giants hit some balls hard and got denied but really couldn't solve Tigers starter Michael Fulmer. Matt Cain could have had a better outcome, what with a play or a bounce or a call here and there. But the flip side is that he's now gone 90-1/3 innings and allowed 116 hits as well as 36 walks. That's a lot of baserunners and you do that enough you will give up runs. But I'm not complaining, the Giants had a nice run of wins. What happens now really measures the team: if they can play consistent winning baseball for a long stretch (like the rest of the season*) we can say it's a good team having a bad year. If they give it up again and play like doormats then we have to say it's a bad team. Different kind of fixes depending on the diagnosis, eh?

Happy Fourth of July to everyone!

--M.C.


*Here's a bit from Belt: "I think there's a confidence and expectation to win," said first baseman Brandon Belt, who leads the Giants with 16 homers and 42 RBIs. "I'm not sure what triggered it, but this is the way we feel we should have been playing the whole time."

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Make that Six

SF 5  PIT 3
The Giants complete another sweep, this one on the road, and notch their sixth straight win. A two-run homer in the 8th by Brandon Belt was the difference, but a three-run 7th was the key to the comeback victory. Hunter Pence, not known for his patience, walked to start the rally and Buster Posey followed with a double. Belt's single plated a run, as did Brandon Crawford's, and pinch-hitter Kelby Tomlinson's sacrifice fly finished it. The Giants are suddenly looking like a real team. Jeff Samardzija gave up a two-run homer in his six innings but he also struck out five and walked, you guessed it, none. Another strong outing by the big righty; the team is now 7-10 in his starts. The only blip for the relief crew was Steven Okert giving up a solo homer to make a 5-2 game 5-3, but Cory Gearrin had already delivered a stalwart 1-2/3 and Sam Dyson's 1-2-3 9th (comebacker-comebacker-whiff) was outstanding.

I'm happy the team finally looks good. We knew they could play like this but it's been a rare sighting since last season's ASB. They get these spurts of superior baseball but can't sustain it. Maybe that will change. Did you see that Christian Arroyo got hit by a pitch and broke his hand? Bummer. Looks like next year for The Kid.

--M.C.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Five in a Row

SF 2  PIT 1  (11)
Undefeated in July! This afternoon in Pittsburgh the orange-and-black eked out a very Giants-y win, scratching and clawing and finally prevailing after 11 innings. It's a win that depended on a shut-down 'pen and a patient lineup. Sometimes the other guy has to crack first, and that's just what happened when Daniel Hudson threw a wild pitch to Buster Posey and Denard 'I'm on Fire' Span scored the go-ahead run. Kudos to FNG Austin Slater for breaking up Pirates starter Chad Kuhl's no-hit bid with a solo shot in the 6th to tie the game at one apiece. He's raking a cool .333/.385/500 in 91 PA. Matt Moore walked six in 5-2/3 yet somehow pitched around it and only allowed the one run (McCutcheon scoring on a Bell single) in the 3rd inning. That means the club delivered (Kontos, Okert, Strickland, Osich, Dyson 5-1/3 IP) eight scoreless frames after that. Play like contenders!

--M.C.


p.s. George Kontos has looked particularly good lately and Jae-gyun Hwang got a pinch-hit double after a gritty effort. Accentuate the positive, right?

Friday, June 30, 2017

Top of Order Tops Bucs

Win, 13-5 @ PIT 

The Giants recorded their season high in hits (18, with all but 2 singles) and tied their high in runs (13) as they handily secured their fourth victory in a row.  This uncharacteristic outpouring of "O" was largely due to an amazing 10 of 14 from Span, Panik and Pence at the top of the order.  Denard may have had his finest game as a Giant with a 4-5 night: including a lead-off HR, 4 runs scored, a walk, and a stolen base.

On the pitching side, not much great to report.  JohnnyC (6-7) got the win but it wasn't very pretty. Eleven baserunners (3 of which scored) in only 5 full innings made it seem like he was always in trouble.  The key moment came in the bottom of the fifth with a 5-3 lead.  Cueto was visited by Bochy with runners on second and third, one out and he rose to the occasion to get the next two guys.

So, can we put together a bit of a winning streak?  Save a little face?  Get the f*ck out of the cellar, maybe??  Well, if we do win tomorrow, that would be a good sign considering Moore is the worst road pitcher in the MLB and we have won once in the last 7 Moore starts.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Ty One Hwang

The Giants Win the Pennant!   The Giants Win the Pennant!  The Giants Win the Pennant!  The Giants Win the Pennant!

Well, no.

The Giants sweep a series and win their third in a row for the first time this year!
The Giants sweep a series and win their third in a row for the first time this year!
The Giants sweep a series and win their third in a row for the first time this year!
The Giants sweep a series and win their third in a row for the first time this year!

I'm giddy.

Ty Blach on the mound for the 3rd game against a tired, beat up Colorado Rockies team.  You have to take advantage of situations like that, and the Giants did.  Ty was far from perfect.  He made a throwing error in the 1st to allow the Rockies to score the first run.  He flung the ball far to the right of Brandon Belt on a bunt single in the 6th, turning it into a triple.  That was the Rockies third run, which tied the Giants at the time.   Mostly, though he pitched well, giving us 6 1/3 in 110 pitches on a day after a 14 inning night game.  Ty gave up 3 runs on 7 hits (only 1 of those runs was "earned" although it is tough to say he didn't earn them when it was his errors that led to the runs).  He walked 3 and struck out 6.  George Kontos and Steve Okert both pitched last night, but they gave us an inning and 1 1/3, respectively, holding the Rox at 3.  Hunter Strickland got a 1-out save.

Jae-gyun Hwang made his major league debut.  He got the Giants' first run home on a 1-3 ground out with Joe Panik on the bases.  Nick Hundley homered with Austin Slater on base in the 4th.  That put the Giants ahead until the Rockies scored in the 6th.  In the bottom of the 6th, Hwang came to the plate against Kyle Freeland.  He put one 417 feet into the left field bleachers.  The guy has some power.  The Giants added 1 in the 8th when Belt grounded into a fielder's choice to score Gorkys Hernandez who was in scoring position from yet another wild pitch by Rockies' reliever Jake McGee.

I am a big fan of having Asians on the Giants.  San Francisco is a gateway to Asia, there is a lot of Asian culture here, and those people are Giants fans.  Check this out (be sure to hear the call in Korean).  You know what's happening in Korea right now?  Well, not right now, it's 7:45 Thursday morning, but soon, stores will be selling out of Giants merchandise.  Travel agencies will be developing tours that include Giants games.  Giants games will be broadcast in Korea.  And some young kid will grow up wanting to be a San Francisco Giant, and he will turn out to be an absolute stud.

I am thrilled.  The Giants have now played a couple of games like contenders.  It is damn near impossible at this point that they would be in contention this year, but there has never been a reason that they can't play like it.

Back-to-back

Giants win two in a row for the first time since May 27-28. The Rockies have now lost seven straight and have fallen off the pace in the West. Matt Cain entered the 6th with a 1-0 lead and got the first out but a single, walk, and homer made it 3-1 the other way in the blink of an eye. He finished the inning and the night and it looked like another slow Giants death. But the team rallied for one in the bottom half and another in the 8th and sent it to extras. The bullpen was stout and kept it together and they finally pulled it out in the 14th after 4 hours and 45 minutes. Cory Gearrin was the hero with three shutout innings. Buster Posey threw out two more would-be base-stealers, that's 14 so far this year (in 39 attempts). Giants are now 3-10 vs. Colorado.

--M.C.
 
p.s. Jae-Gyun Hwang makes his deubt tonight. (12:45 today)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Shark Cruises

SF 9  COL 2
Jeff Samardzija continued his excellent pitching with another strong start and the Giants scored nine runs to whip the Rockies. Colorado visited Los Angeles over the weekend and got their asses kicked so this is a good time for the Giants to pile on. It's only the second win for the team against ten losses versus the purple-clads. And only the sixth win in the month of June. But a win is a win. The lineup produced steady results, scoring in the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 7th and 8th innings. The Shark is now posting a 2.96 xFIP, his best ever, and a 3.38 FIP, his second-best (he finished 2014 at 3.20). They don't match his 4.63 ERA (he's had four starts with 6 or more runs allowed) but otherwise he's on to something. His strikeouts are off the charts (10.03/9) and he's only walked 13 people in 16 starts (1.11/9). He's giving up the long ball, but who isn't, especially on this team, but he's eating innings with the best (105 is 5th behind Sale, Kershaw, Scherzer, and Santana) and is rated at 2.2 WAR which is the best by far on the staff (and 14th in baseball).

--M.C.


p.s. Buster Posey's .347/.424/.536 (.948 OPS) rates a 152 OPS+ his highest since his MVP year (171) in 2012 and well above his career (137) mark.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Relief, or Lack Thereof

I think this is a big part of the Giants problem.  Javy Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt retired, and the Giants cut the cord with Sergio Romo and Santiago Castilla.   Here is what the new guys have accomplished (excluding those who have less than 10 innings work).  All numbers from this morning's Chronicle.

Gearrin       33 IP;  47 hits+BB;  26 K
Strickland   27 IP;  38 hits+BB;  28 K
Kontos        36 IP;  45 hits+BB;  40 K
Melancon    19 IP;  28 hits+BB;  17 K
Osich           21 IP;  31 hits+BB;  24 K
Law             30 IP;  51 hits+BB;  27 K
Morris         21 IP;  35 hits+BB;  15 K
Okert           14 IP;  23 hits+BB;   8  K

Strike out "stuff", sure, but look at those runners put on base.  Mixed artfully with games where the offense just isn't there, and you can get a lot of losses.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

BCraw's Blues

There are lots of ways to measure offensive performance but I'm going to use B-R's OPS+. This takes the hitter's OPB and SLG and compares them to the league averages and adjusts for the home park. A score of 100 means that player is hitting at the league mean. 120 means that player is 20% better than a 100-OPS+ player; an 80 means he is 20% worse. We've watched Brandon Crawford struggle at the plate this year and it got me thinking about whether we've seen his ceiling as a hitter. I can't see any flaws with his range, arm, and glovework this season, he's still the best player on the field and still delivers jaw-dropping performances out there. I've no doubt he saves runs by the bucketload, not that it matters on this club. At age 30 (he'll be 31 in January) his 2017 slash line of .240/.282/.387 is below his career .251/.316/.393 mark for the first time since his 2013 season.

BCraw became a full-time player in 2012 at age 25 after logging 220 PA and over 500 innings in 65 games in 2011. He improved offensively every season and remained relatively injury-free, averaging 550 PA and 1220 innings for five straight years. Here are the numbers:

2012 (age 25), 86
2013 (age 26), 93
2014 (age 27), 104
2015 (age 28), 113
2016 (age 29), 109 (but career-highs in ave and obp)
2017 (age 30), 77.

There's a lot of work out there on aging curves for ballplayers. Turns out they are mostly the same. Players don't get better, they only get worse. Once a player hits a plateau of performance, learns the league so to speak and plays at their true talent level, that's it. (Superstars don't fit normal aging curves, but superstars are the exceptions, hence the "super" part.) Most players are peaking at 27-29 and declining thereafter.

If you like fWAR his numbers from 2012 are 2.0, 2.3, 2.9, 4.5, 5.8, and this season 0.8 in 62 games (out of 78) played. He'll be lucky to crack 2.5 by season's end, even with a burst of production. For comparison the top four MLB SS (Seager, Cozart, Bogaerts, Correa) are rated from 2.6 to 3.2 fWAR already. As long as BCraw's fielding remains in the superior bracket he will deliver value, but he no longer looks like a middle-of-the-order hitter. In fact he looks more like a defensive specialist. That can work in San Francisco on a pitching-dominant team, but not at his current (77 OPS+) level. His career average is 98 OPS+ and I do expect him to improve in the second half and get closer to that even if he may never top out again. This is something we have to face since he is signed for $15.2M/yr for the next four (2018-2021) seasons. He's a cornerstone player along with his fellow Brandon, Mr. Belt. The big first baseman will be the subject of a later post.

One positive: his BABIP is almost 30 points below normal so maybe he's hitting it hard but having some bad luck. We'll see. He's a great athlete, keeps himself fit, works hard to improve, and is a beloved player who is appreciated for what he does best. Those things add up to success, usually, as long as the body cooperates. Four more years of BCraw? He's posted over 18 WAR in his career, averaging 3.5/yr in his five full seasons. Do you think he can produce another 12 WAR (3.0/yr)? Or is 10 (2.5/yr) more likely? I know I'll never get tired of watching him play shortstop. But I do think we've experienced his peak as a hitter and now it's all about how slowly he'll fade, how much he can fight the inevitable decline and still deliver adequate major-league quality with the bat.

--M.C.