Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bye-bye Bengie

Bengie Molina traded to Rangers.

Wow. I never thought it possible.

It's Buster-time now!



p.s. Does this mean more playing time for Nate?

Nothing works: Dodgers crush Giants, sweep series

The Dodgers came to town and did everything right. The Giants were over-matched in every department and got swept by a team they were--by record--equal to. LA, like San Diego, clearly has our number. Listed below is SF's record vs. LA since 2003, the last time the Giants were in the playoffs. Starred years ** indicate the Giants finished ahead of the LAtriners in the standings.

2003: 13-6**
2004: 9-10
2005: 10-9**
2006: 6-13
2007: 8-10
2008: 9-9
2009: 7-11
2010: 1-5

That's 63-73 or .463 ball. Since 2006 it's 31-48, or .392 ball.

I was happy to see Aaron Rowand get a single and a homer against Vicente Padilla. Otherwise, I was happy when the game was over and I didn't have to watch.


p.s. Here's some of the media shite the Giants churn out so we'll think there are grownups in charge.

p.p.s. Month-by-month breakdown: April 13-9, May 14-14, June 13-14. Run difference (RS-RA): +36 for April, -1 for May, and 0 for June.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The rain of pain falls mainly on Cain

Matt Cain labored against a patient Dodgers lineup, finally giving up the ghost with two outs in the 5th inning. It took Matt 105 pitches to get those 15 outs, giving up 7 hits and 4 runs. LA racked up 12 hits in all, and looked poised to issue the coup de grĂ¢ce against Runzler in the 7th, but he struck out Ronnie Belliard and Reed Johnson to end the threat. If only Cain could have done the same with James Loney in the 5th--especially after whiffing Matt Kemp ahead of him. It was the second consecutive poor outing by Cain (Game Score 40), and things get ugly when our starters don't carry the load.

On the 11th of April, Tim Lincecum struck out 10 Braves in his second start of the year on the way to a 6-3 win over visiting Atlanta. The Giants were 5-1. On the 14th of June I saw the Giants whip the Orioles behind Jonathan Sanchez to bring their record to a season-high 36-27 (.571) and tied with the Dodgers for 2nd place, only 1/2 game behind the Padres. The Giants are now 40-36, which means they've played .500 ball (35-35) since the 11th of April, and .308 ball (4-9) in the last two weeks.

Buster Posey got another shot at glory in the 9th after Pat Burrell's homer and Edgar Renteria's single. Once again he was the tying run. Like last night, he fell short, but by gum he looked good doing it --a sharp line drive that Rafael Furcal snagged to end it.


Monday, June 28, 2010

DP downer

The Giants offensive woes were woefully offensive tonight as they hit (and ran) into FIVE double plays. Oh, that's right, I said I wouldn't discuss our offense anymore. After all, it is what it is and we are what we are. I don't see that changing much.

Barry Zito (Game Score 56) matched Chad Billingsley (Game Score 55) for six innings, but that was not enough for the Giants. Santiago Casilla gave up a two-run homer to Casey Blake in the 8th and that was the difference. The Giants generated a little drama in the 9th, Uribe walked and Rowand singled with one out. Buster Posey was sent up to pinch-hit and he worked Kuo for 8 pitches before finally striking out on a ball out of the zone. It should be noted that Bengie Molina went 0-3 on 11 pitches. I cannot see how the Giants justify giving Molina starts behind the plate. Eli Whiteside is running out a cool .834 OPS, and even a struggling Buster Posey (.719 OPS) is out-hitting "Big Money" (.647 OPS). Time to sit no. 1 down explain the facts of life. Dammit, there I go again talking about our offense!

So let's talk about the bullpen. On the surface, things look pretty good. Only the Phillies have pitched to fewer batters (790 to 876) and only the Padres have given up fewer runs (72 to 78). Including tonight, Giants relievers have given up 16 HR in 205 IP (0.72 HR/9, 6th), and teams are hitting .245 (T4th) against them. Walks have been a problem, as 4.46 BB/9 is tied for 11th place in the NL. We can go up and down the list and dissect the various individuals, and that sounds like a good post for the All-Star Break. The problem, of course, is that the Giants play an awful lot of close games, and mistakes in the bullpen are killers--like tonight. Rarely do the Giants enjoy a run cushion and rarely can the Giants survive a shaky relief outing. Since I said I wouldn't talk about our lack of offense, I'm done here.

Matt Cain tomorrow--let's hope for some better luck, eh?


The race for 2nd place

You can find me on Dodger Dugout this week, answering questions about the Giants. Thanks again to webmaster Robert Timm for the invitation!

Heading into tonight's game the 40-34 Giants are 4-1/2 back of high-flying San Diego. The 40-35 Dodgers are 5 back after losing 2 of 3 to the Yankees.

The Giants have scored 312 runs, 12th in the NL. The Dodgers have scored 351 (5th). The Giants have allowed 267 runs, 2nd in the NL. The Dodgers have allowed 344 runs (T10th). Tonight's Dodger starter, Chad Billingsley, has yet to find the form that made him a rising star in 2008. In 13 starts this season, he's allowed 80 hits and 41 runs in 76-2/3 IP. He still strikes a lot of guys out, averaging 8.1 per 9 IP, which is a tick below his career mark of 8.2. He turns 26 at the end of July. Giant starter Barry Zito is having his best season as a Giant--in 15 starts (99 IP) he's allowed 84 hits and 39 runs. Billingsley's 3.73 FIP is good for 23rd among NL starters. Zito, with 3.88, sits at 26th.



Sunday, June 27, 2010

Out-Soggied Tim

The folks of The Seattle-Tacoma area must have loved this much hyped match up. Both Jon Lester (Tacoma) of the Bosox and our own Tim Lincecum (Bellevue) are native sons of that soggy wonderland. Both are young dominant pitching stars with wicked career winning percentages that have huge impacts on their franchises' present and future. But today they performed as differently as their physique.

The 6'4'' 240 lbs. Lester was incredibly good: CG, 1 runs, 5 hits (all singles), 1 walk, 9 strikeouts

The 5'11'' 170 lbs. Lincecum was horrible: 3 innings, 4 runs, 5 hits (hr,2b), 3 walks, 4 strikeouts

I don't come from Rainville so I'm not pleased with the result. Our amphibian got outmatched by theirs. No contest. Easily Tim's shortest outing (since the 2009 opener) and it came at a bad time. We all know that this is put-up-or-shut-up time. And with the doggers coming to town it is certainly


The Bumgarner Effect kicked in yesterday. Yeah, so he gave up a couple of bombs. Pffft. Otherwise, he was great. I'm amazed the Giants "went for it" with MadBum and threw him into the fire with, get this, Buster Posey catching! I just don't know this team anymore. Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy are geniuses. Uh, but we lost. Because we can't fookin' hit. (Except for Madison Bumgarner.) Not hitting is a sadly familiar refrain, so I'll refrain from saddling you with it. The Bumgarner Effect just kicked in. I think I like it.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Dukin' it out with the big boys

My first impressions were not good:

The Boston Red Sox have 10-pitch at-bats.

The San Francisco Giants have 10-pitch innings.

I'm glad we don't have Tim Wakefield on our team. Don't get me wrong, I love the guy, he's a complete stud. But our old, weird pitcher is Barry Zito. Not Tim Wakefield. Or Jamie Moyer (another total stud and an inspiration to middle-aged guys everywhere). Or some other seriously old fuck. Our old guy in the rotation is 32. I like that. That's a good thing. Now I know that Barry Zito's yearly salary could feed the population of St. Kitts & Nevis for a year--and we are talkin' champagne and caviar--but that's not the point. He's 32 and he's our old guy.

Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia are better than everyone on our club. My god, Pedroia limped off the field after drawing a walk. You'd think JSanchez could have thrown him a strike. But that's OK. He limped off the field, which meant we didn't have to pitch to him. Victor Martinez is better than Bengie Molina. But we have Buster Posey, and someday, someday, he'll be our catcher. Did you see Buster's line tonight?

Jonathan Sanchez showed lots of grit and fortitude--and dare I say Veteran Savvy Clutchness--by pitching into the 6th. Hell, Juan Uribe had given us the lead at that point. It was a game to win, not merely to salvage. Sergio Romo put a man on but got the big K. Santiago Casilla scared the crap out of us but still got five big outs, finishing with a K. Brian Wilson took "scaring the crap out of us" to unforseen heights, but wriggled out of it in the end. The Red Sox got four hits off Wilson and three off Sanchez, and also got TEN walks. The vaunted Sox offense looked like the Giants, squandering scoring chances by the bushel.

In the 8th, no. 12 Nate Schierholtz and no. 21 Freddy Sanchez book-ended a beautiful sequence that gave us the "insurance" run that saved the night for the home team. It was a tortuous affair, but ultimately satisfying as the lads pulled off win no. 40 and finished the first 4/9 of the season 40-32. At that pace, they're a 90-72 team. Right now, the Giants have the 4th-best record in the NL and the 8th-best overall. I try not to read too much into one game, and with 5/9 of the season still to go I try not to get too excited about any one win. I have no idea if the Giants can stay at .556 and go 50-40 in the last 90. One thing is certainly true--one of the toughest teams in the majors came to our yard tonight and we beat them, straight up.

Hell, let's do it again tomorrow!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cain's nightmare in Houston

Today's start against the Astros was not just Cain's worst of the season, it was one of the worst of his career**. On August 12, 2006 the Dodgers beat the Giants 6-5 in Chavez LAtrine, and Matt gave up 10 hits and all 6 runs in 4-plus innings. On May 3, 2007 the Phillies beat the Giants 9-7 in San Francisco, and Matt lasted 3-plus, giving up 8 hits and 7 runs. On April 18, 2008 the Cardinals beat the Giants 11-1 at Busch III, and Matt gave up 8 hits and 9 runs in 3-2/3 IP. Todd Wellemeyer was the winning pitcher! On September 22, 2009, the Diamondbacks beat the Giants in Arizona 10-8, and Matt lasted 2-1/3, giving up 8 hits and 7 runs. That's not the complete pantheon of Cain stinkers, but it's close. Not bad in 152 chances, eh?

Cain's 15th start of the 2010 season was one to forget, but his first 14 starts were pretty damn good. In 100 IP only 26 runs were allowed, which is an average of 7.1 innings and 1.85 runs per outing. I know an "average" doesn't mean much--especially without a standard deviation--but it gives us a thumbnail sketch of his season so far. It's also close to what we've all felt intuitively, namely that Matt Cain is Mr. Consistency, and gives the team a boatload of quality starts. According to Fan Graphs, Matt entered today 11th among NL starters in FIP (3.38). ZiPS projects 3.51 for the season, which is still very good (top one-third of ML starters). We can only hope his 16th start is much better.

I'm disappointed, and not just because I watched my favorite Giant perform as poorly as he ever has. No, I'm a Team Man all the way, I wanted the Giants to beat the lowly Astros and come home with their 40th win. Alas, they'll have to do that this weekend against a tough club. The Red Sox have the highest team wOBA in the game (.359) and have scored nearly 400 runs. They give up about a run more per game than the Giants, though, so it should be an interesting match-up. The Sox pounded Ubaldo Jimenez last night (it was his season-worst start as well), only to watch closer Jonathan Papelbon blow the win in the 9th.

Tomorrow's game is also the 72nd of the year, which is the 4th-inning of a 162-game season (18 x 4 = 72, 18 x 9 = 162). The halfway point (game 81) is the Fourth of July, the final game of a four-game set in Colorado. That trip--11 games--is the longest of the season, with four games in Milwaukee and three in Washington right before the All-Star Break (88th game). With the Dodgers coming to town after the Red Sox series, it should be a drama-laden three weeks, and we'll know quite a bit more about our team. Last season the Giants were 49-39 at the Break (.557). Can we do better than 10-7 in the next 17 games?


**Cain's Game Score, 12, was his 2nd-lowest ever (the 11-1 loss in St. Louis was a 10).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Even the Houston Astros win sometimes

Thirty-seven point five percent of the time, to be precise. The Astros snapped a five-game losing streak, taking advantage of some early opportunities against Barry Zito. The Giants fell behind and only made it interesting in the top of the 5th when the comically bad Astros gave away two runs. Otherwise a strong start by Brett Myers (Game Score 58) and a terrible one by Barry Zito (Game Score 30) set the tone for the evening. Overall, Zito's given us 15 starts (including tonight) and 39 R in 99 IP, which works out to a respectable 6.6 IP and 2.6 R per start. Not the most advanced metric out there, no more than a rough sketch, but you get the feeling BZ's been pretty solid, his FIP entering the game tonight was 3.94, good for 26th among NL starters. Myers, at 3.60, was 19th.

Matt Cain goes tomorrow. The Giants need to take advantage of match-ups against bottom-dwelling teams. A very tough ten-game stretch is coming up against three good clubs, and it will be harder to get wins, so we need to "pile on" against the minnows of the league. Wandy Rodriguez has given up 18 R in 20 IP in June--let's hope we can feast on him. I expect we'll get to see Buster tomorrow--I wonder if they'll let him catch?


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Patient Tim

The Astro's and Roy Oswalt must be sick of the Giants and Tim Lincecum. Of course, they have a whole boat load of things to be sick of this season. For the third time in this young season, Lincecum (8-2) earned the victory - 8 innings, 0 earned runs (lowering his ERA to 2.87), 7 hits (one double), 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts (a league-leading 113) against the tough luck Oswalt. Even though he fell behind early, largely due to defensive failures, Tim never let it get away. The key example came in the third when Tim deflected a single into a double-play. He had great velocity but an erratic curve so I wouldn't call it dominating, especially against a team that is openly rebuilding. Oswalt was dominating however - several innings with fewer than 10 pitches thrown. It looked Tim was going to get barely out pitched and failed by his team-mates...but then... wait... wait...

Actually you have to wait through until the top of the seventh and one of the best at bats, pardon me, plate appearances, of the year. Of course, I refer to Juan Uribe's 25th walk of the season (that ties last season): eleven pitches which finished off with 6 fouls and two incredibly close takes. Once Burrell delivered the goods (that was our only RISP at that point), it was a new life for Tim. And he responded with an 8 pitch 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh that seemed to seal the deal.

Isn't it great when patience is rewarded?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Rumors and etc.

The Giants supposedly have an "interest" in KC's David DeJesus, according to D.J. Short of Hardball Talk.

Giant-beater Edwin Encarnacion has been cut loose by the Jays (h/t Baseball Musings).

I think the Giants have to be buyers at this point. Not necessarily either of these guys, but opportunities like this are going to arise as the season continues. The team is in contention and the race will only get tougher. There's only a brief window to win in the cruel, hard world of MLB. Considering that the San Francisco club has never won the Big Prize, I should think the team ought to go all out for this season and next. Spend, trade, deal, claim, whatever. Get it done. Get the bats we need to win big. No more dinking around for 4-3 scratch-and-claw wins. Score 6 runs a fucking game with our staff and we'll and run the table with ease.


Sunday, June 20, 2010


Freddy Sanchez is posting an .824 OPS (.336/.397/.427) over his 29 games this season. Lifetime, he's a .300/.337/.416 hitter (.753 OPS). Entering today's game he'd hit 38 HR in 3070 PA, and that works out to 1.2%. That makes him twice the HR-hitter of the Padre Pest, David Eckstein (0.6%), and about half as good as a league-average HR-hitter (2.4%). Naturally that meant Freddy would deliver the big bomb in today's satisfying win. FSanchez' career ISO** is .116, and his 2010 ISO is well below that (.091). It's no surprise the homer was his first of the season. Another fella from the Big Book of Brian, scrap-heaper Pat Burrell, added his first road-HR as a Giant as the sleeping bats awoke (NINE runs!) to bash the Jays. At this rate, I'll have to start a "What Sabean's Done Right" series. As long as the lads win, I'll eat crow for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Great bullpen work (Bautista, Mota, and Romo) bailed out a befuddled Jonathan Sanchez after 2-2/3 and 73 pitches. A still-struggling Affeldt had to get help from Wilson in the 9th, but a six-run cushion does wonders for your chances. Let's hope we can stomp all over the Astros, they are one of the worst teams in baseball.


**from Bay City Ball's glossary (emphasis mine):
ISO - Isolated-Power. A measure for how much “true” power a player hit for. Because batting average treats every hit as a single, ISO removes BA from SLG to give you an idea of how much power a player hit for. The formula for ISO is (SLG-AVG). League average ISO tends to be around .150. For example: Barry Bonds’  a career ISO is .309

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Matt Cain makes mistake, loses

In the bottom of 8th, Matt Cain retired the first two Blue Jays on five pitches. He'd thrown 7-2/3 shutout innings at that point, using 100 pitches for those 27 batters. Then he walked Fred Lewis on four straight balls. The next hitter, second baseman Aaron Hill, got a fastball over the middle of the plate on a 1-1 count and he smacked it over the left-center field fence. While the Ghost of Lindsey Nelson would nasal "oh, those two-out walks," it was the fat pitch to .194/.284/.375 Hill that spoiled things for no. 18. To be fair, that was Hill's 10th homer, and the Jays live and die by the big fly--they lead all of baseball in bombs. Cain gives up a lot of fly balls, which is to be expected with a guy who throws high heat, but that was only the FIFTH homer he'd allowed in his 100 innings of work. Unfortunately, like Zito last night, Cain could not afford to make a location mistake because the Ghost of the Old Giants Offense reared its ugly head and failed to give him run support. After a brilliant home stand and a run of excellent scoring over the last few weeks, the bats have gone cold in Canada and the Giants have lost two well-pitched games. The 37-30 Giants are tied for the 8th-best record in baseball (tied for 4th-best in the NL). It's a tight race in the NL West--the Giants remain in 3rd place but are only a game back of LA and two back of leaders San Diego. Let's hope Jonathan Sanchez gets some help tomorrow.


p.s. We had a lovely road trip, and saw two great wins at the ballpark, Monday's drubbing and Wednesday's nail-biter. Last year we saw Cain and Zito, this year we got Sanchez and Lincecum--how great is that? I'll put our Big Four up against any rotation I've seen in my lifetime as a fan. Huff's Splash Hit on Wednesday was a beautiful sight from section 139 (LF bleachers), he's been the best acquisition of the year by any club. His .410 wOBA is 11th in baseball, just behind no. 10 Albert Pujols. I spend plenty of time ragging on the Brian Trust, so I ought to give Mr. Sabean his due when one of his moves works.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


You would have to be a pretty big poop head not to love Giants baseball. Today's victory against the Orioles was a good example: another solid win (6 innings, 2 runs, 8 hits , 4 walks , 10 strikeouts) from the Freak, another 5 out super-save from Wilson, and even another back-to-back barrage from Huff and Uribe. It may not have been the prettiest game - Tim's last out that grazed his shoulder comes to mind - but is was exciting and a big win that keeps us right in a wonderful race. Yep, you would have to be a BIG poop head.

But I love Giants baseball for even more reasons today. I have been married to my soul-mate for 11 years as of today. We spent this afternoon at The Black Sheep, a lovely pub at which we had our first date. As we enjoyed the "fayre and libations," my lovely bride and I shared one of our great joys together: Giants baseball. I truly felt like a fortunate man. It was a glorious occasion, independent of the score.

Bullshit. The win made it better.

. . .

Monday, June 14, 2010


Which my wife likes to remind me is never done. So, I say let's keep SWEEPING !!!

RECAP: Matt Cain finished off the sweep of the A's (as in annoying) with another sweet start: 7 innings, 8 hits (only 2 doubles), 1 run, 1 walk and 4 strikeouts. Even without electric stuff, Cain was able to wriggle out of every tight spot. Matt has certainly earned All-Star consideration. Another guy that deserves recognition (but probably won't get it) is Aubrey Huff. He has certainly proven why he we MUST keep him in the lineup...hell, maybe he can play short when Uribe needs a rest.

PRECAP: This next series against the lowly Baltimore Orioles has special significance around RMC due to the presence of our fearless leader, MOC, at the ballpark on his yearly pilgrimage. We all look forward to his report, however I feel I must warn our faithful readers (both of youse guys) that he does not always, shall we say, bring good things with him to the park. What I mean by that is that...well, HE'S A JINX. So, if we lose to the worst team in baseball (especially on Monday with Sanchez or, god forbid, Wednesday with Timmeh) now you all know why. Of course, if we win, that just shows that his lovely wife was with him!

Let's keep cleaning house!! SWEEP, SWEEP !!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010


26 balls (not baseballs, anti-strikes) thrown in the 8th inning. Compared to 8 strikes. For three pitchers. Not including Wilson.

Friday, June 11, 2010

De-Funkifying Tim

Clearly showing signs of returning to his ace status, Tim Lincecum snapped off eight quality innings for the victory as the Giants throttled the A's 6-2 this evening. It started off slowly for Tim - giving up a leadoff double that didn't score but another run that did thanks to two wild pitches! I admit that I was fearing the worst...sorry, but Tim hasn't been oozing confidence lately and I panic easily. Tim got through the second and third innings, but he did give up a walk ( his only one!!) and the gratuitous stolen base ( 14th this year ), so I was still pretty cranky and expecting the worst. I was scared.

Then, in the bottom of the third, Pat the Bat hit his first homer as a Giant and gave Lincecum the lead.

Evidently that made Tim feel ever so much better. He proceeded to rip through the 4th, 5th, and 6th innings in order ( getting 11 in a row ). In the seventh he gave up a hit to break the nifty streak, but then produced a double-play grounder immediately. Finally, he gave up a hard hit ball ( a triple ) and another run in the eighth, but by that time the game was already in control. Tonight's performance may not jump out as one of his greatest: 8 innings, 2 runs, 7 hits ( only two XBH ), 1 walk and 7 strikeouts, but it sure might be one of his sweetest. I am a whole lot less scared.

There is no doubt that it is awfully hard to stay a contender with Tim in a funk.

Here's to the end of the Freak Funk!! Be Gone and Never Return!!

Coupe Du Monde - Weltmeisterschaft - Copa Mondial

Hey! The World Cup is starting!

One reason that this is an enjoyable event is because you (assuming you are an Average American, and as someone who is just about as average as anyone, I speak with authority) can pick a team to root for, and not feel too badly when it they lose. Well, I was rooting for Gondwanaland, but they lost, so now I'll pick Atlantis......". NO BIG DEAL. This is not ANYTHING like rooting for, say, the Boston Red Sox because you like their logo. That type of behaviour is the mark of a total douchebag. With American sports, you HAVE to root for either 1) the team where you live, 2) the team where you grew up, and/or 3) a team that you have some connection to (like, you're from Arvada, Colorado and so is Roy Halladay).

The vast majority of Americans don't give a fuck all about soccer, but many other people from other parts of the world do. It is their local and favorite baseball and college and pro football teams combined. They live and die with the fortunes of their team. I have always been deeply suspicious of the USA! USA! sycophants, although I can stomach them when I think there is actually some connection - like an Olympic swimmer's parents. And I would root for the USA in, say, the world baseball cup if the players representing my country exhibited some interest in the contest themselves. But root for the USA in soccer??? If someone really gives a fuck, it is news to me.

So, in the world cup, you can pick a team by any method you like. I have a lot of friends from other countries or with backgrounds from other countries, including a Japanese wife, and I have not problem switching my allegiance depending on the momentary situation. So here, in no particular order, is a list of methods by which you can choose a side in any particular game:
1) A country in which you have some ancestry. MOC, for example, can root to his heart's content for the Irish Feckbhoys (or whatever the team is called).
2) The Underdog. They pull an upset, you can be elated and talk trash on whomever they beat, they lose, and so what? They were expected to.
3) A team that represents a country that attracts a lively crowd to a fun bar. Have you ever seen a bunch of Brazilians during world cup? You think Giants/doggers games are rowdy, you ain't seen nuttin'.
4) Your friend/wife's team. Obviously, and best of luck if there's a conflict. I have an Irish friend married to a German. Still.
5) A team from a country that features really good food. Now, I don't know of any good French restaurants that have tv's in the dining room, but I bet they have some back in the kitchen. Could I root for Mexico on this basis? Damn straight I could.
6) Uniforms/Players. I kind of dig Ghana's color scheme, and who couldn't root for Cameroon's Rigobert Sing? Oh, fuck, Cameroon plays Japan first, someone has to go down, which brings us to a final idea.
7) Who you want to lose. Just pick a country that you want to lose in every match, based on some real or imagined perception. Think the French are snooty? Fuck them! Think the English are snooty? Well fuck them, too!
That's it! Have fun, and remember, it really doesn't matter at all!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Road trip ends, road trip begins

You get 13 hits and 8 walks you figure to score some runs. Six, though, wasn't enough. The Reds caught a bit of a break with Wellemeyer having to leave the game, as Denny Bautista wasn't sharp (2 walks, one to the pitcher leading off, 2 solid hits) and had some wretched luck as well (2 infield hits, one a blown bunt). The 4-0 lead was suddenly a 4-4 tie.The G-men fought back and reclaimed the lead, but the Reds got to Guillermo Mota, who's pitched well this season, and they managed a split. A 4-3 road trip is damn good, it's just that it should have been 5-2 with a win today. Alas, this one got away. Nice to see Buster get two hits, the 7th time he's done that in 12 games. Rest seemed to do both Aaron Rowand (HR, walk, 2 runs scored) and Bengie Molina (2 hits, RBI) some good. Aubrey Huff keeps raking (.381 wOBA), and Juan Uribe keeps walking (20 with 3 today, career high 34).

Speaking of road trips, that's what's ahead. We are going southward to see family, friends, and Giants baseball. We'll be in section 109 on Monday the 14th, and in section 139 on Wednesday the 16th when the Giants play the Orioles. It's a battle of the orange-and-black squads. If the rotation holds it is Jonathan Sanchez on Monday and Tim Lincecum on Wednesday. Wish us luck we get to see them both!

Keep the faith, lads, I'll be back in due time.




Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Buster's Bondsian blast

Buster Posey hits his first major league home run in Cincinnati, a moon shot to the upper deck in left-center field. Congratulations, Buster!

UPDATE 1727, Giants-Reds tied 2-2 in the 5th--I'm happy to see that neither Molina nor Rowand made the starting nine tonight. That had to be tough for Ol' Boch, but it deserves a Krukovian "good call."


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Relentless Cain gets it done

Matt Cain continued his studly ways in Cincinnati tonight, tossing a 7-hit shutout against a good-hitting team (.351 wOBA 1st in NL). Not only that, he laced an RBI single up the middle in the 8th inning to score Buster Posey and make it 3-0. What a great ballplayer we have! Juan Uribe golfed a home run in the 4th inning to start the scoring and give Cain the only run he needed. Bengie Molina rose from the dead to stroke an RBI single just ahead of Matt's to make it a 2-run lead.

Cain came into the game with a 0.996 WHIP, and with 9 baserunners tonight (7 hits, 2 walks), his 1.000 mark puts him 3rd in the NL behind Ubaldo Jimenez and Adam Wainwright. Matt Cain doesn't overwhelm you. He doesn't have Lincecum's electricity--or his hardware. He doesn't have the "swing-through" stuff that Jonathan Sanchez flashes. But he has 85-1/3 innings, 5th in the NL, behind Roy Halladay (93), Adam Wainwright (88), Dan Haren (87-2/3), and Ubaldo Jimenez (87-1/3). He just keeps it coming with all his pitches for as long as he can. He was throwing 93-mph fastballs in the 9th! Cain gives up a lot of fly balls, and you'd think that would hurt him in the Reds' ballpark, but it didn't tonight. The Reds seemed like they got some good swings but not solid contact. Matt Cain is only 25, but he pitches like a grizzled veteran. He was so bloody calm all evening, mixing it up, trusting his arsenal, hitting his spots, just exuding confidence and control. The guys made all the plays behind him, too. Our fielding has been exceptional, don't you think? That has to help a pitching-dependent team.

Final line: 34 batters faced, 116 pitches (78 strikes), 7 hits, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts, Game Score 76.

Here's a stat line to enjoy, Buster's first 10 games in 2010:  .444/.487/.556



Monday, June 7, 2010

All the arrows in the quiver

Buster Posey not only started and played the whole game at catcher, he got two hits and threw out Joey Votto at second base as part of a strikeout-double play in the 7th inning. Juan Uribe had two 2-RBI singles, one in the 3rd and one in the 7th, the last one putting the Giants ahead for good. Freddy Sanchez had two hits and another walk. This guy's career walk rate is 4.8 % (144 in 3021 PA), yet he's working at nearly a 13% clip in 2010, with 10 walks in 18 games played (80 PA). Even Pat Burrell got two hits and scored a run. Barry Zito didn't pitch well (Game Score 34), but he had a two-out 2-RBI single in the 2nd to open the scoring. Andres Torres struck out twice, but he had a hit and a walk and made an impressive catch in the outfield in the 9th inning. Pablo Sandoval was on base twice and scored twice. The real heroes, though, were the middle relievers, as Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, and Guillermo Mota gave the team 2-1/3 IP with 4 K and no hits.

It took a total team effort tonight, but the Giants prevailed against a good club (33-25).

Matt Cain tomorrow night.


UPDATE 0739 Tuesday: Mychael Urban of CSN Bay Area says Mark DeRosa is "all but done" for the year. (h/t Hardball Talk)

First-round pick (#24) is NOT a pitcher! He's Gary Brown, an outfielder from Cal State Fullerton. The Titans are headed to the Super Regionals after smoking through the first round. You could get a look at him this Friday on ESPN2 in the matchup vs. no. 6 UCLA.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Almost Tim

About a week ago, I threw out my back. As many of you know, a back spasm can be everything from a temporary annoyance to a life-altering catastrophe. Luckily I improved quickly, so I've been running at about 80% for the last five days...pretty good but I can't wait until I get back to normal. Today in Pittsburgh, Tim Linceum pitched like I feel.

In a strangely important game so early in the season, Lincecum threw his ninth quality start of the season and kept the Giants in a fabulous game that the good guys ultimately won. Tim was relatively effective - seven innings, 113 pitches, three runs, six hits (including a damaging 2 run homer), a respectable six strikeouts, and perhaps most importantly, only two walks. This breaks a nasty streak of five walks in the last four games for Tim. Unfortunately, both of these f*cking walks led off innings and scored! It also seemed like Tim started every batter off 2-0 but maybe I'm just remembering that wrong. Basically Tim was solid today, but he sure never got his "freak" on.

And that's sorta how I feel. Pretty capable, but waiting for the moment when it all becomes possible again. Big improvements are wonderful, don't get me wrong, but they sure aren't satisfying. Maybe Tim and I just need to do a little bit more Chi Gong....

Saturday, June 5, 2010

We almost tied it!

Lastings Milledge made a great play on a well-struck ball by Freddy Sanchez with the bases loaded and two outs in the 9th to seal the win for Pirates. The Giants comeback came up short, losing 6-3 to Paul Maholm. Great night for the Pirates young stud, Andrew McCutcheon, who had four hits including two doubles and a homer.

 The Giants are 29-25 after 54 games--that's one-third of the season. They are two and one-half games behind the Dodgers and Padres (tied at 32-23), and one game ahead of the Rockies (28-26). Arizona is a distant last, eleven games behind, playing .382 ball (21-34).The team's excellent pitching (3.71 FIP, 3rd in NL) is the key to 2010 so far. The offense remains a problem (.318 wOBA, 13th in NL), but Buster Posey's promotion and Freddy Sanchez' return have given the team a bit of a spark. Let's hope things continue to improve. Newcomer Aubrey Huff has been a big contributor, and both Andres Torres and Eli Whiteside are having career years. Juan Uribe is doing (.349 wOBA) about what he did last year (.351 wOBA). Pablo Sandoval is struggling, but I expect he'll find his groove again. He may not put up a .943 OPS like last season, but he will get his share of big hits. Injuries and age have bedeviled core players Edgar Renteria, Mark DeRosa, Aaron Rowand, and Bengie Molina, but the team is likely improved with them on the bench or the DL. I'd like to see Nate Schierholtz get starts instead of Pat Burrell, but this is the Boch & Sabes universe, where Grizzled >> Youthful.

The Giants are "on pace" to finish 87-75. A few more incremental upgrades to the lineup would push us to the 90+ win plateau, don't you think? The question, naturally, is where those improvements will come from. Pat Burrell got some hits in his debut tonight, but I'm not expecting much from him. Freddy Sanchez, another player I didn't expect much from, has been a nice surprise. Let's hope there are more surprises like that the rest of the way.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Bam! Bam! Bam!

Down 4-1 in the 5th to the lowly Bucs, the Giants hit THREE HOMERUNS in a span of eight batters to take a 6-4 lead. Those eight guys, I'll have you know, were sandwiched between Aaron Rowand groundouts. Eli Whiteside hit a solo shot after a double-play grounder by Rowand that scored Buster Posey, who had doubled--nearly an opposite-field homer--to lead off the inning. In the 6th, Juan Uribe hit a two-run bomb to tie the game, scoring Freddy Sanchez who had singled. Buster Posey then got another hit, and Aubrey Huff followed with a moon shot over the RF stands that put the Giants ahead for good. Rowand then ended the fun with a gound ball to third base. It was a nice bit of redemption for Posey, whose error at 1B led to four unearned runs earlier in the game. Freddy Sanchez banged out three hits in his first three plate appearances, and looked like he enjoyed performing for his old fans. Jonathan Sanchez had a rocky 2nd inning when the Pirates did all their damage, but then retired the next thirteen batters. The relief corps did their thing and Wilson--with the help of some stellar defense by Andres Torres and Eli Whiteside--nailed down the 9th.

A very satisfying win, as come-from-behind wins always are. Teams who can hit the longball have a better chance to come back from a deficit. Whiteside's effort against Zach Duke in the 5th was epic: the homer was the twelfth pitch of the AB! Uribe, naturally, obliterated the first pitch, and Huff nailed the second. You've got to crush mistake pitches, especially with men on base. And you've got to pounce on the minnows, as I said before. Obviously, the Giants are not a slugging team, and I certainly don't expect them to bash three homeruns every night. But good teams can make up runs in a hurry if they can hit the big flies. It's a weapon you have to have--a ballclub can't consistently expect to win without some goddamn thunder.

The Giants showed some thunder tonight, turning what looked like an ugly, painful loss into a rousing win.



Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Matt Cain denied complete game!

It was an evening for Milestones Denied, and Bruce Bochy's thoroughly rational decision to have Brian Wilson close the game should not be held against him. But Matt Cain was denied a complete game (it would have been his third in a row), and his Stopperesque Studliness should not be disrespected like that.

For the second straight start, no. 18 was dominant against a good-hitting club (.332 wOBA T4th NL), and for the fourth time this year has gone at least 8 IP. After three ND starts to open the season, he's had a decision (4-4) in the next eight. Cain has allowed 3, 3, 2, 2, 0, 2, 5, 2, 0, 0, 1 ER in those eleven outings, failing to go at least 6 IP only once. If we think of tonight's start as one-third of the way through Matt's season, he's on pace to give the Giants 229 IP, 153 H, 60 ER, 12 HR, 75 BB, and 168 SO. That would be one hell of a line for a guy to be 12-12! Let's hope we see more of tonight's offense--I know it was only four runs, but with Cain dealing it was enough. Great to see Buster Posey swinging the bat well, and both Rowand and Molina showed signs of The Resurrection with big RBI hits.

Final line on Cain: 30 TBF (1st pitch strike to 20), 5 GB, 14 FB, 3 BB, 5 K, 114 pitches to get 24 outs. Great night for the Tennesse Stud, nice win for the club, avoiding the sweep and perhaps taking some "mo" from the 6-3 homestand to Pittsburgh. Let's hope the bats come alive against the Pirates woeful pitching--their 4.74 FIP is next-to-last in the NL.


The Torture Chronicles

Paraguay and Slovenia opened up the 2010 World Cup with a riveting defensive struggle that was decided by penalty kicks after a fruitless overtime. Oh, wait, that was a Giants baseball game last night. Sorry. All that noodling around and failing to convert scoring opportunities had me confused. And all that emphasis on preventing the other team from scoring, I mean, it's just so soccer, you can forgive my lapse, can't you?

Another fine outing by Barry Zito, and another fine start wasted. I can't tell you what Zito is doing right, his curveball doesn't look any curvier, but he seems to get big strikes with it more often than not. His fastball seems to have a tad more zip, hitting the vaunted 88-mph mark more often than not, but mostly he seems to be pitching better. You know, mixing it up, keeping guys guessing, that sort of pitching. His head's in the game and he's battling, grinding out every pitch and every AB, and you know something? It's working. He's the very embodiment of Veteran Savvy Clutchness at this point in the season, and you have to be encouraged by that. The guy that had swollen-contract-that-messed-with-his-head disease is no more, and in his place is a guy with the 18th best FIP (3.56) among NL starters. Now if he could only score goals, we'd be in great shape.

"Expected W-L" tells us the Giants are underperforming by three games, that we ought to be 30-22 and not 27-24. You plug runs scored (211, 14th worst) and runs allowed (117, 2nd best) into the formula* and that's what you get. Are we just unlucky? Will these 1-2 losses be 2-1 wins in September? Is it bad managing? Lousy game tactics? Or are the players just not nutting up and "doing what it takes to win"? I'm pretty sure that Bengie Molina and Aaron Rowand are trying hard, as hard as they can, to get hits and make plays. In fact, they were both involved in some fine fielding plays that kept it close last night. I don't think the squad lacks grit, fire, or gamerissitude. They just have a hard time scoring runs, and I don't see that changing unless Buster Posey turns into Joe Mauer Justin Morneau.

Matt Cain, possessor of the 9th best FIP (3.25) among NL starters, will get the start tonight. If he shows up in a goalkeeper's kit and shin pads, cut him some slack and hope the rest of the lads can find the oppositon's net score some runs.