Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Walk off

 LA 8  SF 6

The Dodgers walk off with a win, literally. Tyler Rogers walked two in the 9th with a 6-5 lead before allowing a three-run homer. That's the first time this season he's walked two batters in an appearance. The Giants hit four homers to take a 6-2 lead but couldn't hang on. John Brebbia gave up three runs in the 6th in relief of Alex Wood. Jarlin Garcia and Jake McGee put up zeroes in the 7th and 8th but Rogers couldn't get it done at the end.

Logan Webb gets the start tonight.

Go Giants!

--M.C.

p.s. I'm on the road for the several days so I won't be posting. I'll be back early next week.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Buster, Bullpen Beat LA

SF 7  LA 2

It was a back-to-back festival in LA tonight. The Giants went back-to-back in the top of the 1st, a two-run shot from Buster Posey followed by a blast from Wilmer Flores to make it 3-0 off Tony Gonsolin. Unfortunately the Dodgers had an answer, back-to-backs from Max Muncy and Justin Turner off Kevin Gausman to make it 3-2. It stayed that way until the 7th when Buster Posey got a rally going with a leadoff hit and later scored on a double by Thairo Estrada. The Giants racked up four to put the game out of reach and get a huge win to open the series. The bullpen was superb--Zack Littell (1-2/3), Jarlin Garcia (1-1/3), Dominic Leone (1), Jay Jackson (1), Jake McGee (1)--in relief of an off-form Gausman who only lasted three frames. Sure nice to have Buster back!

In a familiar refrain, the Giants left nine men on base and were 4-for-13 with RISP. They had 12 hits and four walks and could have scored more. I suppose you have to credit the Dodgers for pitching well in some key spots. The Giants finally broke through against Victor Gonzalez. It's been a tough matchup so far: that's only their fourth win in ten games against LA.

Brandon Crawford goes on the IL (oblique strain). It's a huge blow, especially with all these big games coming up. They will be going with Estrada at short for now, I wonder if that means Mauricio Dubon will get brought back up?

Alex Wood tomorrow.

Go Giants!

--M.C.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Showdown series

STL 2  SF 1

The Giants got another fine team pitching effort but the Cardinals did a little better and take the rubber match. St. Louis has a seriously good bullpen. The loss sets up a showdown with the Dodgers with first place in the NL West at stake. The Giants have held the top spot since the last day in May but if the Dodgers win this afternoon in Colorado they will have to share it with their southern rivals. Four games in LA starting tomorrow night, all at 7:10 Pacific.

GO GIANTS! BEAT LA!!

--M.C.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Cards quiet Giants

STL 3  SF 1

Kwang Hyun Kim is one of the hottest pitchers in baseball right now and the Giants got their second dose of him tonight with the same result as the last time. Kim out-pitched Kevin Gausman on July 5th, throwing seven scoreless innings. This time he threw six scoreless and out-pitched Anthony DeSclafani. The Giants nicked reliever Ryan Helsley with a run in the 7th but Genesis Cabrera, Giovanny Gallegos, and Alex Reyes got the last eight outs to seal the win. Tyler O'Neil hit a solo homer and Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run shot to give the Cardinals the edge.

Johnny Cueto gets the start tomorrow morning (11:15 PT).

Go Giants!

--M.C.

Friday, July 16, 2021

5th inning: 12-6

1st inning: 11-7

2nd inning: 11-7

3rd inning: 12-6

4th inning: 12-6

5th inning:  12-6

Tonight was Game 90, the end of the fifth seasonal inning, and the Giants continued their winning ways with a 7-2 thumping of the Cardinals in St. Louis. Three homers and a stubborn team-wide pitching attack got the job done. The 58-32 (.644) Giants lead all of baseball!

Logan Webb got the start when Kevin Gausman was placed on the Emergency Family Medical List and thus unavailable. Webb allowed a run in four innings, giving up a two-out RBI bloop but otherwise keeping the ball on the ground and avoiding the big hit. Zack Littell, John Brebbia, and Jarlin Garcia got through the next two innings but Dominic Leone ran into trouble in the 7th. FNG Jay Jackson had to come in with the bases loaded and two outs and he was up to the job and struck out Harrison Bader. Jackson earned the win with a scoreless 8th and Tyler Rogers took the 9th and and got it done on eight pitches. The Cardinals stroked eleven hits and worked four bases on balls but also left thirteen men on base and were 2-for-11 with RISP. It was a tense game despite the score--Giants relievers had to make a lot of big pitches.

The Giants got two big flies from Mike Yastrzemski, the first one in the 4th, a solo shot that opened the scoring, and a three-run shot in the 7th to finish the scoring. LaMonte Wade, Jr. broke the 1-1 tie in the 5th with his own three-run homer. Adam Wainwright started for St. Louis and gave up four runs in his six frames. Wainwright is 39 years old and debuted in 2005, the same year as Matt Cain.

Anthony DeSclafani goes tomorrow at 4:15 Pacific. It's a Fox Saturday game.

Go Giants!

--M.C.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The 2021 Giants

No one expected the Giants to be in the hunt for the NL West title, let alone to be in first place at the All-Star Break. They lead the Dodgers by two games and the Padres by six games. Their 57-32 record (.640) is the best in MLB. I remember thinking this team had a good shot at being competitive, that an above-.500 finish was a realistic goal. There are still 73 games left for the Giants to play, so we are a still a long way from the end, but this team has clearly out-performed everyone's expectations.

So, how have they done it? Baseball is pitching, fielding, and hitting. Run prevention is the most important part of the formula. The Giants have allowed 325 runs and that's the second-fewest of all 30 teams (the Mets have allowed 318). Their 3.65 rpg is the best mark in the game and it exactly matches their team FIP. Only the Marlins (3.58) and Dodgers (3.64) have a better FIP than the Giants. When it comes to striking out batters, the Giants are pretty mediocre as their 8.8 K/9 is only 20th-best. But they counter that by not walking many batters: their 2.6 W/9 is the ML-best rate. Their 7.3 H/9 is the third-best, and their 1.0 HR/9 is fourth-best. They've thrown 11 shutouts--the most of any team--one better than the Yankees and the Braves.

FanGraphs rates the Giants pitching staff as the ninth-best by fWAR at 10.3, behind the Rays (10.7), the Marlins (10.9), the Mets (11.7), the Red Sox (11.9), the Brewers (12.2), the Dodgers (12.5), the Yankees (12.8), and the White Sox (15.1). I mentioned they are third-best in FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), and they are sixth-best in xFIP at 3.89, which is expected Fielding Independent Pitching. xFIP is a way to measure how well a team has pitched, FIP is a way to measure how well a team has performed. Outcomes don't always match up with execution. You can make a great pitch and still give up a homer! xFIP is one of the better saber-stats at predicting future ERA. Suffice to say the Giants are doing a good job throwing strikes, suppressing hard contact, and preventing runs.

Hand-in-hand with pitching is fielding. The Giants have surprised everyone with their superb defense. They've made only 41 errors, tied for second-fewest in MLB. Advanced fielding stats at FanGraphs rate the Giants around the top third to the middle-of-the-pack, except for defensive WAR which puts them fifth-best, and that's probably a reasonable assessment. You don't have to be the best, you just have to consistently make the make-able plays. That's what the Giants do. They shift at the right times, they pitch to the shift, and they catch the ball. There are a lot of solid defenders on the roster who get the job done. As far as standouts go the stats say the best fielders are, to no one's surprise, Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Mike Tauchman, and Steven Duggar. B-R has a stat called Defensive Efficiency, which estimates how well teams convert chances into outs, and the Giants are second-best at .721, behind the .722 Astros.

I think everyone knew the Giants could hit. And the matchup madness Gabe Kapler engages in gives the ballclub lots of opportunities to exploit other teams' weaknesses. The Giants have scored 441 runs, the sixth-best mark in MLB. Their run differential (441-325) of +116 is the fourth-best. They are ninth in batting average, fifth in OBP, and fifth in slugging percentage. They have the most homers (132) and are fifth in walks (347). Their wOBA of .330 is tied with the Dodgers for fourth-best, and their wRC+ of 110 is tied with the Blue Jays for fourth-best. The team OPS of .764 is third behind the Astros and the Blue Jays, and it rates a sixth-best 109 OPS+.

Pitching, fielding, hitting. The Giants are among the league's best teams in all three areas. That's how you build a winner! Going forward, the Giants are facing a long and difficult second-half pennant race against last year's champion Dodgers and this year's darlings, the Padres. Those are good teams and it will be a real dogfight. How do I feel about the Giants chances? I feel great! They are playing excellent baseball and assuming there are no catastrophic injuries I believe the team's depth will help them continue to play excellent baseball. Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris have built a strong roster and it is likely they will bring in a piece or two to help with the stretch run. Gabe Kapler and his staff have done a superb job with the team, setting the tone and expectations, communicating clearly, putting players in spots they can succeed in, and making the right choices with game tactics.

It's not a fluke--the 2021 San Francisco Giants are damn fine team. Enjoy it!!

--M.C.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Sweeping into the Break

SF 3  WSN 1

The Giants got a three-run homer from Curt Casali in the 2nd inning and made it stand up for their major league-best 57th win. Kevin Gausman pitched six scoreless but ran into trouble in the 7th, loading the bases with no outs. Dominic Leone got a ground ball from Starlin Castro that looked like it would be a double play but LaMonte Wade dropped the relay at first. A run scored but that was all the Nationals would get. A fly out on a nice play from Steven Duggar and a strikeout ended the threat. Tyler Rogers and Jake McGee did their things and the Giants completed the sweep.

It's the All-Star Break. The next real game will be Friday, July 16th in St. Louis. That will be the 90th game of the season, or five seasonal innings. I'll do another post in the next few days.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.