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.