Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Way It Was Supposed To Be

Madison Bumgarner starting, giving the Giants 8 strong innings, Mark Melancon closing out the game.  At least, that was the thought in early 2017 when the Giants picked up Melancon.  Hasn't worked out that way much though.  Actually, it hasn't happened at all.

Until tonight.  Madison Bumgarner in his 4th start of the season looked like he was no longer in spring training.  He threw 8 innings, 100 pitches, walked 2 (one of whom was intentional), gave up 3 hits (including 2 doubles to Manuel Margot) and no runs.  He faced 29 batters, 21 of whom were thrown 1st pitch strikes.  Mark Melancon was brought in to finish the 9th.  He threw 14 pitches, gave up a lead-off single, then got 2 ground outs and a strike out.

The Giants scored 1 run off of San Diego's starter, Tyson Ross.  It was a sacrifice fly by (who else?) Madison Bumgarner.  Once Ross left the game to start the 8th, Alen Hanson tripled and scored on Buster Posey's single then Posey scored on a Sandoval hit and botched play by San Diego.  The final score was 3 - 0.  The bullpen was given a night off except for Melancon.  It has been used a lot, 48 1/3 innings in the last 14 games since their last off day.  Like they say in the bridge column, "Well done!"

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Giants Slay Fish, Again

SF 6 MIA 5
Nail-biting? Sure. Agonizing? Of course. Frustrating? Goes without saying. But the Giants, for the second game in a row, scored six runs. Today they allowed five, and six is more than five, just like always, so that means the Fish were slain. Did they wriggle on the gaff? You bet. Did they flop on the deck? Certainly. Did the Giants finally find a way to subdue them? Yup. Reyes Moronta got his first save, bailing out Sam Dyson in the 9th. Derek Holland had another good start and that paid off. Brandon Belt had three hits and looks like he's 100%, Gorkys Hernandez had an epic 14-pitch at-bat in the critical 6th and delivered a clutch two-RBI hit, and Hunter Pence had two hits and two RBI. The fielding is still shaky (two more errors today), but the only truly important stat is the W-L line. Giants creep closer to .500 (now at 37-38) and perhaps have some momentum for the upcoming Padres series.

Madison Bumgarner get the start against Tyson Ross tomorrow night at 7:15 Pacific.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Giants Slay Fish

SF 6 MIA 3
Buster Posey launched a homer in the 1st and Gorkys Hernandez hit a two-run shot in the next inning and the Giants held on for a win against the Marlins. Derek Rodriguez logged five innings and although he allowed seven hits and three runs he struck out six against zero walks. He also plunked Lewis Brinson who not only messed with Hunter Strickland last night he apparently pissed off the rest of the team. So the rookie had to retaliate, I suppose, which resulted in the usual predictable stuff. The ump issued a warning but the Marlins plunked Buster Posey anyway and then they had to yank their pitcher, Dan Straily. He was the one who plunked Evan Longoria in Miami! The Giants kept their collective cool and the bullpen took care of the final four frames. Alen Hanson shined with both the bat and the glove and Pablo Sandoval continues to contribute.

Derek Holland gets the call tomorrow afternoon, 12:45 Pacific.

Go Giants!

--M.C.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

4th inning: 10-8

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

Overall 35-37 (.486), three behind the Dodgers and four-and-a-half behind Arizona. June started off so promisingly with four straight wins only to be followed by seven losses in the next eleven games before today's win. This team is the very model of inconsistency. So far that's the only thing we can count on. At least they avoided the sweep today with a gritty victory (SF 4 LA 1). Chris Stratton showed some moxie despite early command issues (6 IP, 3 H, 1 R) and the boys managed to score more than two runs. Brandon Belt gets the Big Stick Award: he walked in front of Nick Hundley's two-run homer in the 1st and hit his own two-run homer in the 3rd. The Giants had only three hits but they had the good sense to make two-thirds of them home runs! The 'pen got the last nine outs without too much fuss (1 H, 5 K) and that sealed the win.

The Giants have an excellent team batting average, 5th in all of baseball. Unfortunately batting average does not correlate very well to run scoring. On-base percentage and slugging percentage are a little better as indicators and the Giants are mediocre there, 12th and 13th respectively. As far as actual runs go the Giants are 18th of the 30 teams. That might be good enough if the pitching was top-notch but it isn't. The Giants are 21st in runs allowed. That is, twenty teams allow fewer runs. That's why the team is in fourth place, don't you think? The Giants are relying on inexperienced and under-performing starters and the over-worked bullpen is losing its edge. (Not to mention we've seen a lot of fielding lapses this season.) They need some stability in the rotation and that depends on the front-line stars getting healthy and playing at the level they are paid to perform. Alas, the beleaguered fan can't do a damn thing--perhaps a few laps around the rosary beads--and simply has to endure.

The Giants are a tale of two teams. In 30 home games they are 19-11 and have outscored opponents 151-130. In 42 road games they are 16-26 and have been outscored 197-147. The schedule is clearly more favorable going forward what with 51 home games left compared to only 39 on the road. But what's equally clear is that they have to start winning ballgames outside of San Francisco.

I think this coming stretch of 26 games before the All-Star Interlude can make or break the season. They've got six against the Rockies, four against the Padres, and three against the Diamondbacks. The closely-bunched West is suddenly separating into the haves (LA and AZ) and have-nots (COL, SF, SD) and unless the Giants turn on the jets they could be left behind. Twenty of the games, including the next ten, will be at AT&T Park so there should be no excuses!

--M.C.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Another Losing Road Trip

4 hits for the Giants.  Again.  6 for LA.  Again.  Their hits we're loud.  Ours, not so much.  6 innings for Madison, his 2nd loss, but when you score 1 run a game, you can't expect much better.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Ty One On

SF 6 MIA 3 (16)
The Giants finally break the curse of the Fish with a 16-inning win that featured a superb long relief performance (6-2/3 scoreless innings) from Ty Blach. Hunter Strickland, pitching with a 3-2 lead in the 9th, was victimized by an error on a popup from Joe Panik and that put the tying run on second base. Two sacrifices later the Giants had blown another lead and the Marlins were thinking sweep. Fortunately the game lasted long enough for Pablo Sandoval to get his first hit of the day which drove in the first two of the winning three-run rally. Speaking of three, that's how many times Panda walked today. That's normally a month's worth of walks for the free-swinging bad-ball hitter we all know and love. It seems he's been working on new approaches at the plate and it is paying off with a respectable .271/.341/.424 slash line. Andrew McCutchen and Alen Hanson each had three hits with Cutch delivering another two-run shot (he's heating up). Hanson was in the game because Evan Longoria got hit by a pitch and fractured his pinky. Hey, let's get all the guys in on the DL-action! Such fun! The one-two hitters (Panik and Buster Posey, who caught the whole game) were 0-for-12.

A win is a welcome relief. Now it's a showdown in LA with the Dodgers who have been playing really well (9 wins in 11 games). Derek Holland, Madison Bumgarner, and Chris Stratton get the starts.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Bummed in Florida

I like it much better when the Giants win.  The Giants lost the first of 4 games to the Florida Marlins, 7 - 5.

Madison Bumgarner was the starting pitcher, making his second start of 2018.  Madison went 5 1/3, allowed 4 runs on 6 hits and 1 walk.  He struck out 3 and allowed 1 home run.  Madison threw 92 pitches, 51 of them for strikes.  That's not enough.  He had a disagreement over a good number of pitches, and wound up getting tossed when he was out of the game anyway for sassing the umpire.  But I didn't see a single one that was clearly a bad call according to the little box on the TV.  Plenty that were very close - but not necessarily wrong calls.

The Giants led 3 times in this game, and gave up the lead 3 times.  That was not just Madbum's fault, but also Moronta's and Dyson's (who got the L).  Gearrin pitched a perfect, but inconsequential, 9th).  Miami not only managed to run a bunch of guys out of the bullpen whom I have never heard of, but they stymied the Giants over and over.  The team was 3 - 9 with RISP.  McCutcheon hit a double, that was it for power.  The Marlins, on the other hand, had a lot more pop than the Giants.  The Giants hit 7 fly ball outs, the Marlins hit 3 doubles, a triple, and 2 home runs.

Also, I thought that once you use a replay review, you don't get another one until the 7th inning if you don't get it right.  Isn't that the rule?  Mattingly asked for a replay review on a ball hit deep off the wall, he thought it might have cleared the yellow line and bounced back into the field of play.  It didn't.  But then, still early in the game, he asked for a review on a play at second.  He didn't get that right either.  Do they just give him all he wants because he is a bonehead?  Really, I don't get it.  How's the honeymoon with Mac Williamson going?  He's had 7 hits in his last 31 at bats (.225) - 1 double in that time. 

Anyway, the Giants are 2 - 2 on this road trip.  Let's not play down to the Marlins level.  They are not a good team.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

BCraw >> Scherzer

The Giants took 2 of 3 from the Nationals, in their stadium.  The Nats have not exactly owned their home field, they are now 15 - 16 at home.  The Giants, in contrast, are 19 - 11 at home, but not so good on the road.  Maybe that will change. 

The Nats threw Max Scherzer.  Max Scherzer is the only NL pitcher with 10 wins (Cory Kluber also has 10).  Max Scherzer has 142 strikeouts so far in 2018, the next nearest pitcher has 18 fewer (Gerit Cole) and the next strikeout leader in the NL (de Grom) has 106.   Max Scherzer has an ERA of 2.00, that is the best in the National League.  The best Giants pitcher, Derek Holland, is 32nd in the National League at 4.54.   Brandon Crawford, however, is on the Giants, not the Nationals.

In the 4th inning, Pablo Sandoval walked.  Brandon Crawford, hitting next, put a Max Scherzer cutter into the 2nd deck.  Brandon Crawford hit over .400 in May and is currently hitting .462 for June.  That was it for the Giants scoring.  Meanwhile, Derek Holland was quietly throwing 5 innings of 3 hit shutout baseball.  He struck out 4 and walked 2 in 95 pitches.  The many-headed sort-of-monstrous bullpen took over after 5, neither Melancon, Dyson, Watson or Strickland allowed a hit (1 walk from each of Melancon and Dyson).  I think that is kind of becoming the formula - get 5 out of young starters, more if they're able, but don't hesitate to go to the MH SoMB.  It's working so far.  The final score was Giants 2 - Nationals 0.

So I leave you to ponder the question as a lovely Sunday slowly sinks into the west - could this be the start of a real good road trip?

Friday, June 8, 2018

Congratulations, Golden State Warriors

An awesome, awesome team.

And a good day for the Bay Area.  The Giants won, too.  If the Warriors had not won a championship, I would have titled the post, "Giants Go On Road, Bring Bats" because, you know, that is kind of unusual.  But they did!

Steven Strasburg on the mound for the Washington Nationals.  He didn't last long, only 2 innings by which time the Giants were ahead 3 - 0, thanks to an Andrew McCutcheon home run in the 1st and rbis from Alen Hanson and Hunter Pence in the 2nd.  Andrew Suarez on the mound for the Giants, following up his best performance so far (3 hits, no runs vs Philadelphia).  He got into trouble in the 5th, but not before we got to see a Suarez - Suero matchup (Wander Suero was the 3rd Nats pitcher).  By then it was 5 - 0 Giants (2 run Hanson home run in the 4th, solo shot from Gorkys in the 5th).  By the time Suarez was pulled, Washington had scored 4.  Moronta finished the 5th, Melancon gave up 1 in the 6th to make it 6 - 5 Giants, and the Giants tacked on 3 in the 7th to for a final score of 9 - 5. 

The 7th inning saw a bunch of hits.  Panik doubled, Posey singled, Crawford HBP, Sandoval singled for an rbi, Longoria sac flied for an rbi and Pence picked up his second rbi with a single.  That is the kind of hitting that can turn into a good road trip.  Suarez pitched fairly well, without the stellar result of his last outing - he gave up some ground balls that could have been outs on another day.   The Giants many-headed sort-of-monstrous relievers did their job (Moronta / Melancon / Watson / Dyson / Smith).  The Nats used 7 pitchers, maybe that will help the Giants tomorrow or Sunday.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Giants Bite Back

SF 5 AZ 4 (10)
The Giants snatched victory from the jaws of defeat this afternoon in San Francisco with three runs in the final two frames. Trailing 4-2 in the 9th with one out Mac Williamson drew a walk. With two outs and down to his final strike pinch-hitter Alen Hanson blasted a game-tying homer to right field. That was some big-time last-gasp heroics! It almost didn't work: Hunter Strickland walked the first batter in the top of the 10th and wild-pitched him to third base (and walked another batter) before wriggling out of the jam. That set the stage for Andrew McCutchen who blasted what looked like the winning homer with two out in the bottom half only to see it stay in the park for a double. He probably should have had a triple with that one but he jogged out of the box before accelerating to second. Centerfielder Jarrod Dyson might have misplayed it, perhaps losing it in the sun, or was victimized by a gust of wind, but it mattered not. Next batter Brandon Crawford ripped a single to right to plate Cutch and the Giants had a sensational win.

The 31-31 Giants are off tomorrow and then hit the road for three in D.C., four in Miami, and three in LA. Let's hope they play better ball on this trip. Andrew Suarez faces off with Stephen Strasburg on Friday at 4:05 Pacific. GO GIANTS!

--M.C.