Saturday, June 30, 2012

Latos'd again

The Giants were toast against their bête noire Mat Latos. Latoast? No matter. It wasn't pretty. Now I know how Reds fans felt on Friday night. For the second straight game the home squad gets a run in the 9th to prevent a shutout, but that's it. Barry Zito had a can't-throw-a-strike stretch, and it cost the game. He got 18 outs, otherwise, and was as effective as a guy can be with 11 baserunners (6 walks, 5 hits). But it was all Latos this afternoon, and despite a few hard-hit balls he shut the lineup down with ease (Game Score 86). The big news for Giants fans was the 2-1/3 perfect innings thrown by Brad Penny to finish the game. You never know who the surprise will be in the bullpen, and Brian Sabean has a way of finding diamonds in the relief market rough. We all know Big Brad from his short but excellent 2009 stint with the club, back when he was a starter. Unfortunately he's been released by two other teams since then, so it is hard to say what he has left. But it's an intriguing move, and he just may have the stuff to help out in the 'pen. George Kontos did not inspire in his brief outing in relief of Zito, immediately giving up what proved to be the winning run, so it can't hurt to try out another guy. Let's hope they can hit Bronson Arroyo tomorrow.



Friday, June 29, 2012

I hate being reminded that Matt Cain is human

After his perfect game, Matt Cain rolled out a rather pedestrian effort, clocking only a 43 on the Game Score meter. After The Perfect 36, Matt Cain got walloped for 11 hits and five runs (yikes, a 38!). Two of the hits were homers, one by pitcher and Giants-killer Mike Leake. The Reds got the drama over quickly, leadoff hitter Zack Cozart hitting the first pitch of the game over the left-centerfield wall. You have to figure Cincinnati wanted no part of history--the hapless Dodgers were overwhelmed, being the simpering blue weenies that they are. But Baker's Boys showed some stick tonight and made an ace look ordinary. You may remember Leake from last season when he did this (Game Score 81) and this (Game Score 58) against the Giants. In 2010, when he was a rookie, he gave up 11 runs in only 4-2/3 IP to the eventual World Series Champions, but since then he's been Freakey Leakey (23-1/3 IP, only 3 runs). Tonight was his first career complete game. The Mets helped out the cause by giving the LAtriners a good whipping, so it wasn't an entirely lost evening.

Matty me boy, you set such a high bar, and the rest of the ro' took it as a challenge and they raised the stakes on you. No worries, lad, everyone knows you're grand. Pablo Sandoval stroked one in the 9th to avoid the shutout--you take what you can get in this game, eh?

The Reds are good. And they've got Mat Latos going tomorrow who is always tough and has, shall we say, a bit of history with San Francisco. Should be fun.



The Perfect 36

And I ain't talkin' about Carol Doda! I know we watched a lotta channel 2 (KTVU) back in the day with Gary "Tan Man" Park, may he requiescat in pacem, but did you remember its sister station was channel 36 (KICU)? Mostly they covered the A's, and had the endless sitcom/movie lineup suitable for housewives, stoners, and students. And who will ever forget that SF icon and her enormous breasts, pouting and exhaling "perfect 36" on seemingly every commercial break? Ms. Doda was more like a 44, so I suppose that means the Giants will give up a run in the ninth today after adding another eight to the streak. And speaking of The Streak™, remember that 18-game stretch in 2010 where the Giants allowed three or fewer runs? That was something historic. And speaking of historic, how about those four straight team shutouts? It is hard to believe that was only the first shutout for Madison Bumgarner. We've seen him pitch so well in the short time he's been in the majors, you would have thought he'd racked up a couple by now. Matt Cain has six and Tim Lincecum has five. He was overdue. And it was a ONE-HITTER! That ball was hit right back up the middle and The Bumbino made a stab at it and that was that. A near no-hitter by the lefty lad from Hickory, against an excellent hitting club, I gotta say that's pretty damn cool.

The Giants benefited once again from poor fielding. That hilarious sequence in the bottom of the first that resulted in two runs bears re-watching as many times as you can. When Buster Posey scoots home from first on a single, you know it's epic. Angel Pagan got thrown out at third on the play, but it was close. Only a great throw by pitcher Johnny Cueto cut him down. Pagan scored later in the game on a backspin liner from Pablo Sandoval that sailed over the head of poor Todd Frazier (normally a third baseman). He took a step in and was toast. You could see him mouth "oh, fuck" on the slo-mo replay. Giants outfielders catch everything, you notice that? After Gregor Blanco's booming triple to score MadBum he flashed the "shark fin" and that wonderful smile. He doesn't have the effusiveness and loveability of Andres Torres (who does?), but he's got everything else. What a pickup by the club. And keep smiling, that's some seriously photogenic shit, man. Melky Cabrera got a new nickname ("Lechero") from Duane Kuiper on the rap for his two-hit, two-walk, two-run night. His Melkiness is awesome.

Matt Cain tonight. No pressure, dude. Just a perfect 36 from the other guys, 30 by the rest of the ro'. Nothin' you can't handle, eh?



p.s. Another highlight: AmyG said "snot rocket" on the post-game interview!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

First Place Tim

Start #16    WIN !!!  ( 3-8 )    7 innings     4 hits    ZERO runs     2 walks    8 strikeouts

If 27 straight batters retired is a perfect game, wouldn't that make 27 straight scoreless innings a PERFECT SERIES ??!!??  Hell yeah!!  Does it get any better than this???  I think not.  Let's go over some of the details of today's excellent 3-0 victory and all the associated joy, shall we?

1)  We are in FIRST PLACE.   The season is effectively reset and the ridiculous dogger wonder start is a thing of the past.  The doggers are obviously crippled and Arizona lost their ace ( Daniel Hudson ) for the year, so the race is looking very Giants friendly at the moment.
2)  Tim Lincecum may very well have refound his "freak."  Today was his best start of the season ( game score 75 ) and his second consecutive quality start.  The only extra base hit was by Chad Billingsley and
he was stranded at third, which, by the way, was the only smog sucker to get that far all series long.  Tim seemed to have all his pitches working.  He certainly had movement; sometimes too much.  Hector Sanchez, catching Lincecum for the second straight game, took a beating trying to block some crazy pitches in the dirt.  Tim unleashed two more more wild pitches, which gives him 9 for the season.  One of them lead to a collision at the plate with Timmeh taking the hit but getting a generous call.  I sure wish he would quit doing that.
3)  We are in FIRST PLACE.
4)  Our starters are quietly doing one of those crazy things again.  That makes one earned run allowed in the last 31 innings.   They all (even Beezy sometimes) seem ready to rip off a brilliant performance.  When Tim gets back up to full speed, which may well be right now, our rotation takes on intimidating proprotions. 
5)  Making history is way cool.  Today is not as sweet as Matt's perfection, of course, but doing this beautiful thing, THREE CONSECUTIVE SHUTOUTS OVER THE doggers, is as gratifying as it gets. I mean it warms my heart. We put up with a lot of crap, you know, all that "torture" and Tim's tough spell.  We deserved this.   I will sleep well tonight.
Oh, and, of course, 6)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


That's 18 scoreless innings in San Francisco for the first-place Dodgers. Ten runs in two nights for the Good Guys, zero for the Evil Ones. Melky Cabrera stroked a home run to left-center against the still-almost-unbeatable Clayton Kershaw in the 4th to open the scoring, and the Giants scratched out another with stolen base by Angel Pagan and single from Pablo Sandoval. The 2-0 lead would be the final score as Ryan Vogelsong once again pitched seven strong and relievers Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla got the final six outs without too much drama. The running game giveth and it taketh away--Ryan Theriot got a little too excited and tried to score from third on an infield squibber in the 5th. The play is in front of the runner there, I don't get the "go on contact" mentality. Make the damn pitcher or catcher field the ball and throw to first, that might make an opening to go home. Or stay at third, fer chrissakes, and give the next guy a chance to drive you in. It turned out that the blown scoring chance didn't change the outcome. Kershaw was tough (8K in 6 IP) like always, and would not give up the big hit and kept it a nail-biter.

Not much more we can say about Vogie that we haven't already said. He pitched another great game, this one with the biggest stakes of the season so far, especially when you consider he was matched up with their no. 1 and the reigning Cy Young Award winner. The Voge-ster gives up his share of hits and walks, but he makes big pitches when he needs them, and he keeps the ball in the yard. The Dodgers got mostly ground ball hits and couldn't muster a killer blow. And you have to love Buster Posey nailing Dee Gordon (NL leader in SB and CS) trying to steal in the 5th inning: "I'm not havin' it!" I bitch and moan about stolen bases a lot, and it's not like I don't like them, it's just that I hate that CS in the box score. Nothing kills rallies like outs on the bases. (It was that classic "run" situation, leadoff hitter on first with two outs.) I note, however, that Pagan is 14 for 16 on the basepaths, Gregor Blanco is 13 for 16, and Melky Cabrera is 10 for 14 (the team is 59 for 78, or 77%). I like to see guys be 4 for 5 when they run--that's the break-even for my taste. If you are going to steal, make it count. And get extra-base hits while you're at it, that's even more my taste. But I'm quibbling. It was great win and the Giants flashed both power and dash to up end the Mighty Clayton.

Giants are once again in position to sweep a series. This time it is Tim Lincecum who has to follow a couple of dandy opening acts. Hey Timmy Jim, this is why they call you "Big Time."


Studly Barry-Z

Barry Zito did not allow a hard-hit ball in his seven shutout innings. He was "missing the sweet spot" as Kruk said. The Dodgers would hit the ball off the handle or the end of the bat and everything was a ground ball, a soft liner, or a pop fly. It was classic LA-style with lots of dinks and dunks, only this time there was no Ron Cey crushing a three-run homer. My formative years as a fan (1973-1981, high school and college) match perfectly the Penguin's peak seasons. Every time I saw a Dodger game in those days that little fuck would blast another ball over the fence and crush my dreams. The Giants were always the scrappy underdogs, while LA won four pennants in that stretch and ruled the West. Our only consolation as fans was that stupid Joe Morgan game. I never want to see highlights of that game again. The Giants should have won the division that year (1982), and having to settle for the consolation prize of "keeping the Dodgers out" was fulfilling for about fifteen minutes. I digress, but I still have that traumatized kid inside of me. When the Men in Blue roll into town, I fear the worst. I got scars, man.

I was a little nervous last night with Zito taking the hill. You never know what you will get with that guy, but last night he mixed it up and mesmerized 'em and threw a great game. It helped that the LA lineup was a little ugly. Their leadoff man, Dee Gordon, is really fast but has a .281 OBP. You have to figure that doesn't help them much. Juan Rivera, Juan Uribe, and Tony Gwynn all sport an OPS of less than .700 (the league average is .715). Are you surprised by their 4.08 rpg, just a tick ahead of the Giants 4.07 mark? Without Matt Kemp they are hurting. Andre Ethier hits .325 vs. righties but only .243 vs. lefties. This team, right now, is ripe for the taking. Unfortunately the Giants have to face Clayton Kershaw AGAIN. That will be a tough matchup for Ryan Vogelsong, but he's been as consistent as anyone in the league, so if the Giants can score at all it should give them a fair chance, especially at home.

And speaking of scoring, everyone in the Giants lineup not named Brandon either scored two runs or had two hits. Melky Cabrera did both, and Pablo Sandoval looked much, much better with three hits (two doubles) and three RBI. I should note that the Diamondbacks won their fourth straight and are only three behind the Giants. It just may be turning into a three-team race. They will start their über-prospect Trevor Bauer sometime this week. The UCLA phenom was the 3rd overall pick in 2011 and has been touted as the Second Coming of Stephen Strasburg.



Sunday, June 24, 2012

Luck runs out

The Giants were lucky to be up 2-1 in the 9th. Matt Cain, after a long battle with Seth Smith in the 6th, gave up a rope down the right field line that would have scored two, only it was ruled foul. The replay seemed to show the A's got hosed on the call. Smith then fouled out to left field and the Giants clung to the lead. After Matty worked a brisk 7th inning, Jeremy Affeldt did his best to give it away in the 8th with a lead off double by pinch hitter Brandon Hicks that missed being a home run by inches. He then dodged a bullet by getting a nice 4-6-3 double play from Josh Reddick. Santiago Casilla, unfortunately, had none of the magic dust of his predecessors. The A's roped two singles in between two strikeouts, and rookie catcher Derek Norris worked a full count, fouled off the next pitch, then blasted his first big-league home run to win the game. It was a no-doubter. Casilla poured in a fastball and the kid jumped all over it. That's back-to-back poor outings for the Giants closer. The A's deserved to win today, that's hard for me to say but it is true. Their rookie starter, A.J. Griffin, gave up a two-run homer to Buster Posey in the 1st, then mowed everyone down after that, at one point retiring 13 in a row. Lefty Sean Doolittle got three strikeouts in his 1-2/3, and righty Jim Miller stranded two runners in the 8th and worked a perfect ninth. The home team got revenge for their closer blowing it in the 9th on Friday. The visitors never got anything going after Buster's homer and looked pretty feeble for most of the day. The guys on the telecast mentioned that the Giants have never swept an away series against the A's. Three games, three 9th-inning comebacks. That was the last interleague game, by the way. No more designated hitter for the rest of the regular season.


p.s. Dodgers lose in Anaheim. Shoulda, coulda, woulda. Big showdown tomorrow night!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Just another laugher

Early troubles. Comeback. Near-disaster. Triumph. I really didn't need the unbearable agony at the end. I was nice and relaxed when the score was 9-4, I figured five runs was enough. Four pitchers to get one out? Yikes. It was nearly an epic, historic collapse. When Ryan Theriot ran back on that blooper by Jemile Weeks I though I was going to pass out. He caught the ball, I caught my breath, and the win was saved. My sanity took a hit, and so did my liver. Thanks, Giants. I prefer celebratory spirits, not medicating ones. I'm not sure I could have posted if they had lost.

The Giants can hit the ball, they just don't hit it very far. Mostly, that is. Today they got two big home runs from two guys they should get home runs from. And they were two-run homers to boot. We know the club can hit. Isn't that a strange thing to say? The team batting average is .262, the fifth-best in the National League. And they manage to score about four runs per game, just a hair short of the league average. Their slugging percentage, though, is only .380, or just good enough for twelfth place. Interestingly, the team OBP is .319, exactly in the middle of the pack. Now I understand the team plays in a park that suppresses the long ball, and if you look at the list you'll see that San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are the three worst home run hitting teams. (The Dodgers, like the Giants, are winning with pitching.) But the Giants are also 14th in doubles! So extra-base hits are a rare thing with this bunch. I know they have a lot of triples, but so do the Padres and Rockies, two teams with very large outfields. Triples are cool, but I'd hazard a guess that they don't correlate very well to wins. I am much happier about the fact that our outfield triumvirate of Gregor Blanco, Angel Pagan, and Melky Cabrera runs down balls and turn them into outs. They keep the other guys from hitting doubles and triples, and that has a wonderful synergistic impact on the pitching staff. And those three have shown they can get on base, run well, and keep rallies going. But the infielders are going to have to do the heavy lifting. The Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, and Brandon Belt triumvirate has to deliver the power. Those guys have to bring the big sticks and get the timely bombs. None of them are sluggers in the classic sense, but they are good hitters with long ball strokes. It's a fun combination, the slash-and-dash mixed with the thunder. It just might have the makings of a winning offense.

The Athletics were generous after roughing up Madison Bumgarner and let the Giants back into the game. Eric Byrnes on the telecast defended the out-of-position Brandon Moss, and he had a point. The first error on the first baseman could have been ruled a hit as Panda really roped it. The second error was all on him, but the third could have been charged to pitcher Tyson Ross, who made a poor throw that handcuffed the hapless youngster. The A's also helped the Giants out on an outfield error by Jonny Gomes that ultimately led to a run. The Bumbino was not to be denied and put up zeros in the 4th, 5th and 6th to give his mates a chance. They took it, and the 'pen and the baseball gods did the rest. How else do you explain a game-saving ground rule double? Sergio Romo struck out three, Jeremy Affeldt worked an easy inning, but the ninth was terrifying. Shane Loux has to get the job done. Santiago Casilla and Javier Lopez get a bit of a pass for all the fine work so far this season, but Loux doesn't. C'mon man, you don't earn anyone's confidence with that kind of outing! Clay Hensley gets the "S" next to his name, but that final out came way too close to being a walk-off winner. I'll take that drink now.

Matt Cain tomorrow.



p.s. Game 72 is the end of the fourth inning. 4/9 of the season has been played. The Giants are 40-32 (.556) having gone 9-9, 9-9, 12-6 and 10-8, and are three back of LA in the West.

p.p.s. Five Brandons started today, the aforementioned Belt and Moss, both who figured large in the outcome. Brandon Crawford, Brandon Hicks (Oakland's young SS who got the ground rule double to make it 9-8), and Brandon Inge (three hits and an RBI in the 9th) also started.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Stormy Tim

Start #15     ND  (2-8)     6 innings   3 hits   3 runs   4 walks   8 strikeouts

This game, much like the pitching performance of Tim Lincecum, started like crap but finished just fine.  Hell, it ended a little bit better than just fine.  In a rather stunning ninth inning 4 run outburst, the Giants came back to take the opener in Oakland,  5-4.  A big win at a crucial time of year and especially sweet as it ends the horror of nine straight losses with Timmeh starting.  Shit, it was also the first time we won in that crappy stadium in two years!

 The joy we feel now certainly makes it easy to forget the terror we felt after the first six Athletic batters:  Infield hit,( steal 2nd, steal 3rd ), single to score a run, single, walk to load the bases,  safe on fielder's choice to score a run, and then ... wait for it ... a walk to score the third run.  Three runs in without an out recorded. I'm sure we all felt that crushing disappointment that comes when Shitty Tim shows up again.  But then it all went away, like a summer thunderstorm. He struck out the next three batters (which probably saved the game as it worked out!) and went on to slice through 5 more dominating innings.  Go figure.  This is one crazy year.  So, if you forget the 42 pitch terrible first inning, it was a great game for Tim (game score 58).

The good:    Obviously, the big story of the game is the come-back ninth inning.  Four hits (Brandon Belt, Justin Christian, Hector Sanchez and Gregor Blanco) and two walks (Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval) mostly against a previously untouchable closer, Ryan Cook, is something that doesn't happen too often.  Don't believe me?  We are now 2-29 when trailing after 8 innings.  Blanco deserves special notice for driving in two runs and stealing three bases!  I love our running game and it is definitely helping us score more runs.

The bad:   After a good month, it does seem like Ryan Theriot is fading fast.  Today he completed the rare  sombero (0-5, 4 K) and made an error.  Maybe he just needs a few days off.

Tim's next start is Wednesday against the doggers.  Will we get another mixed message or has Tim finally turned the corner of this nightmare?  Time will answer that, time to enjoy a great win!


Tim Time

It's Tim Time in the pennant race. The Giants are getting world-class starts from Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Ryan Vogelsong, and even an occasional boost from Barry Zito. But The Freak has not been the same guy in 2012, and after 14 starts (two of them with Game Scores over 60), people are losing patience. Me, I refuse to panic or believe he's "done." This is one of the greatest players in club history. Name the other Giants pitcher with two Cy Young Awards. What? There isn't one? List all those other SF pitchers with four post-season wins and a World Series ring. What? There aren't any? Gosh, this guy's pretty good. Yeah, he's been stinking it up so far, but shit happens. It's how you respond to shit that makes you what you are, not the fact that shit happens. Tim is an ultra-competitive, brilliant and talented athlete. What makes these guys champions is their confidence in themselves. Their self-belief. Big Time Timmy Jim is still inside that guy with no. 55 on his back. He will be The Franchise again. It may be an ugly and painful journey, but what hero's quest is without hardship? He will find his way back. That I believe. As fans, we owe him a little faith. He led us to the Promised Land! He found the milk and honey after all those years of second-bests, also-rans, and booby prizes! No time to turn our backs on him now. (Not to mention the fact that the team won't win anything without him.) So I'm ready for some Tim Time, how about you?



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Can o' AL whup-ass

The Giants have not fared well against their American League foes, getting thumped for the second straight night in Anaheim on the heels of losing two of three in Seattle. I suppose they can be forgiven as the National League is, once again, getting its collective hat handed to it by the so-called Junior Circuit. According to this site, it is 109-82 AL-NL. I note that the Rockies are 1-11! What a wasted season in Colorado. Regardless, the ALers are kicking ass. As a long time old school NLer, I'm aghast. Since 1997, the Senior Circuit has had a winning record in interleague play only four times: 1997, 1999, 2002, and 2003. It is hard to explain away 2038-1853, a .524 winning percentage.

But I want to talk about Ryan Vogelsong. He gave up a long home run but otherwise was the same tough, studly guy we see every time. He had a little bad luck in the fifth, only one hard hit ball in the bunch, but it was enough. He pitched a good game, going seven innings for the fifth straight start and tenth time this season. Vogie has given up four runs in a start one time, and three runs three times. That leaves nine starts in which he's allowed two runs or fewer. That's good work. He's an incredible asset to the team, and compared to fifth starters he has to be near the best. He is, in fact, the third best on the Giants at this point in the season, and is once again pitching brilliantly after his Cinderella-comeback flukey 2011. I know I write about this every time he pitches, but I can't seem to accept it as fact. He's a beast. He's for real. He's the Cainiest of the guys who aren't actually Matt Cain. He's Cainesque (Cainian?). He's as Matt Cainy as you can be without being the real Cainer. Good move, Ryan. Be like him. That's a smart career choice right there. Hey, how about Albert Pujols pulling an 0-fer? You like that? I do. Way to go, Voge-ster, you gave us something to get excited about tonight.



That's a Melky Cabrera century, folks. In cricket, when a batsman scores 100 runs in an innings, they call it a "century." I've appropriated the term for our very own Milk Man, who banged out three more last night to reach and pass the 100 mark. He now has 101 hits in 66 games played (69 for the team). With 93 games remaining, he has an excellent chance of cracking 200, a "double century." Melky has 294 PA so far--last year he had 706 in 155 games. Assuming he stays healthy and plays in, say, 90 more games, and averages 4.5 PA/G, that's 405 more plate appearances. He "only" hit .305 last season and got 201 hits. He's hitting .369 right now! Let's say he gets 350 more AB and hits .300 the rest of the way, that's still 105 hits. The SF record for hits in a season is 208 by Willie Mays in 1958, the team's first season on the west coast. Rich Aurilia had 206 in 2001 had Bobby Bonds 200 in 1970. El Hombre Leche has a shot at a club record--that's damn impressive.

I liked the trade when it happened. I understood the risk of letting a guy like Jonathan Sanchez go--lefties who miss bats like he does are rare animals. But the Brian Trust thought he'd peaked out, were worried about his injuries, and felt that the emergence of both Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong made him expendable. They were right. JS has been hurt and only managed 36-1/3 IP this season. He's also averaging more walks per nine (6.9) than strikeouts (6.2). His 2010 season was truly great, and he will forever have a place in my heart for being part of that magical run. But Sabes and Co. made a smart move to bolster the outfield and pulled off one of their best trades ever. I did not expect Cabrera to lead the league in anything, but I figured at age 27 and coming off an excellent season he was the right guy at the right time and would be a good ballplayer. Yeah, I think he's all that. He's a free agent after this year--if he keeps on doing what he's doing the Giants will find it hard not to throw a big wad o'dough his way.


p.s. Seems like good news re Jerome Williams.

Monday, June 18, 2012

All for one and one for all!

I hate watching games in that damn ballpark in LAnaheim. I hate their goddamn A-hole logo. Ugh. Nothing good ever happens to the San Francisco Giants in Orange County. From what I can tell in my lonely outpost here in the State of Jefferson, not much good happens down there anyway. But this is about the Giants. And about Matt Cain. The Angels treated our hero rather rudely, I thought. There were balls flying all over the yard and runners dashing all over the bases. Right away, in fact. Matty followed up El Perfecto with his worst start since his first game of the season. Five innings, five leadoff baserunners, six hits, four walks, a hit batsman, and three runs. But for a huge double play and four strikeouts it would have been worse. It almost was, in fact, when Cain took a shot off the left wrist in the 4th from the bat of Mike Trout. Naturally the Tennessee Stud kept his cool and made the play (throwing out Maicer Izturis at home). But it was scary. And a hell of a fall from Cloud Nine. Kuip said it well: "He was wobbly, but he left the ring still standing." Shane Loux gave the Giants their first 1-2-3 inning in relief in the sixth.

The lineup peppered the ball all around and got contributions from a host of folks. Thirteen hits and three walks led to five runs. It seemed like it should have been more, but five is an explosion for the Giants. It's the death-by-a-thousand-paper-cuts offense. Our old friend Jerome Williams was on the hill for the LAAs. I was happy to see him despite the ugly, ugly uni. He was the 39th pick in 1999, and pitched for the 2003 NL West winners. Kruk pointed out that LaTroy Hawkins, who we saw in relief, came to SF from the Cubs when Williams was traded (with David Aardsma) in 2005. Jerome was signed and released by several clubs and was out of the bigs for a long time and even played in the independent leagues for a bit before climbing back. In an unfortunate turn of events, we learned in the 9th that he'd been hospitalized after leaving the game for "shortness of breath." Let's hope he's OK.

Brilliant relief work (twelve straight outs!) preserved the win for the good guys. And how about zero errors? It took a superb team effort tonight to prevail over a good team. The Giants sit at 38-30, the fourth-best record in the National League. Cain gets his 9th win despite a sub-par start (Game Score 43). The guys "had his back" as they say.



p.s. Did you see that R.A. Dickey pitched his second consecutive one-hitter? Crazy!

MadBum Dominant ... Then, We're All Bummed

There's something very blissful about walking into a Major League Ballpark on a sunny, but not too hot, Sunday afternoon, with your Wife, 2 Teenage Sons, & almost 86-year old Mother-in-Law from Guerrero, Coahuila & Mexico City, who was attending, not just her first ML game, but her first competitive baseball game of any kind.  And, it was not just any Sunday, but a Fathers' Day matchup featuring 2 of the best young Pitchers in the game.  Susana said that my smile was very big, as we passed through the turnstiles & up the stairs to the Concourse.  That moment was worth the price of admission & the 3 hours of travel in each direction.

We settled into our seats in Sec. 147 down the LF line.  There were tons of Giants fans all around the ballpark, including in our section.  Santiago, Leon, & I got one of those FanPhoto things in CF.  Leon & I went down to the rail near where the position players were stretching & warming up, to try to get autographs, along with many other Giants' fans.  When Buster came out to warm up, I felt relieved.  Last July, we missed seeing him play due to the injury &, when he had played in Seattle on both Friday & Saturday nights, I was pretty sure that he'd be rested on Sunday - I held out hope that he'd DH, & there he was!

You walk into a game like this expecting to see some quality starting pitching  - the game did not disappoint.  Hernandez (or King Felix, as he is known at Safeco), whose time with the Mariners began after I left Seattle to return to Portland, was very impressive.  Despite never topping 93 on the stadium radar, which surprised me, he blew people away, when he needed to.  The Giants reverted to 2011 hitting form - putting men on, not coming up with the timely hit, not coming up with any extra base hits.  But, don't get me wrong, Hernandez was sharp from beginning to end.  His pitch count grew at a more rapid pace, which was the only way which I thought that we might outlast him.  By the end of the 7th, it was clear that he was done for the day, which gave me hope.

While Hernandez was impressive, our own youthful MadBum was dominant.  This was one of the most magnificent individual pitching performances I have ever witnessed first-hand.  He had just enough of everything to keep hitters off-balance &, for the most part, off of the base paths.  The gaudy stat is the 18 in-a-row he retired from Olivo's 2B in the 2nd Inning until Ackley's BB in the 8th Inning.  But, it was more than just mowing guys down - it was the economy of pitches, it was the variations in speed & location, it was the harmlessness of nearly every ball hit to the outfield, it was the ability to get a whiff at just the right time (including his final batter in the 8th), it was his nimble fielding - I had never seen this guy pitch in-person, so I was excited to be getting the opportunity to do so - I was even more excited afterwards, hoping for hundreds of MadBum starts ahead for the Giants.  His pitch economy allowed him to get through the 8th, & I had even more hope.

The Crawford tough at-bat & 1B off of Hernandez leading off the 7th should have been the start of good things.  After all, as I remarked to the Giants fans from Santa Cruz sitting next to us, this gave them the remarkable chance to have the rarely seen consecutive productive at-bats from Crawford & Burriss.  Naturally, Burriss blew that plan with his crappy bunt about 4 feet from home plate.

Justin Christian pinch ran in the top of the 8th.  However, despite the fact that the Mariners had a Relief Pitcher in who can't hold runners very well & who had to endure the long pause, while the Home Plate Umpire was changed, Christian made no effort to advance - that was weird.  Belt's 1B should have driven him in, after a stolen base.

The way that the top of 9th unfolded, this time including the unexpected contribution from Burriss, this time with a stolen base, looked very promising.  I was all over the count mix-up during Blanco's at-bat, explaining it to my group & the other Giants' fans nearby.  The tell-tale was when he swung at an apparent 3-0 pitch - Gregor Blanco would have never been turned loose 3-0 in that situation.  It was obvious that the scoreboard was wrong.  A couple of weeks ago, I was curious about Melky Cabrera - how could someone be batting 3rd in the order, be hitting over .360, but not really have very many RBI's?  He's hitting much lower with Runners in Scoring Position (it's even worse with 2 outs & Runners in Scoring Position, although that wasn't the situation).  But, a quick whiff was not what I was expecting.  That was the crusher.  Nate looked alternately good & bad on various pitches in his at-bat, but the final result was a simple chance for the 2B.  With Romo trotting in, I still sensed extra innings.

Romo was not good.  Lopez bought us some time with his fine play on the Saunders bunt, but threw a pretty fat one to Smoak.  Off the bat, I thought 'that's the game - it's not going to be close'.  But, Melky was on the ball unbelievably quickly & the ball shot out of his arm like a cannon blast.  With our line of sight being so perfect for the play, I can assure you that the throw was right on line & getting there in a hurry.  We were filled with excitement over the impending close play at the plate - I had that one second of 'we're gonna survive & keep on playing' moments ... then, it plunked Munenori Kawasaki (until he came in the game, I had never heard of him) in the back.  I turned down & gave some sort of non-injury inducing swat to my seat, looked up & saw a pile of Mariners somewhere out in RF.  We all looked at each other quizzically & started to gather up our things - it was a rough ending to a great day at the ballpark.

So, we are now 0-3 as a Family at Giants games, & 0-4, when you throw in the Guerreros de Oaxaca game we attended together in July 2008.  This is not a good streak - we might have to hone our skills at some Salem-Keizer Volcano games in the near future.  Our overall professional sports record is still very impressive, as, in no comination, have we ever seen the Blazers or Timbers lose a competitive game together.  In the case of the Blazers, this is a fairly extensive streak, including playoff games.  The Giants have won the World Series & Chelsea have won the Champions League, the Premier League, & the FA Cup (twice) since we've been a Family.  Jonathan Sanchez pitched a no-hitter, & Matt Cain pitched a Perfect Game while we were watching.  But, this in-person Giants monkey has to get off of our backs - so, we'll be working on it.

When all is said & done, the esteem in which I hold Madison Bumgarner has gone from high to extremely high.  If that is the one thing that I take away from yesterday's experience, then it was well worth it ... that, & walking into a ballpark on a sunny Sunday afternoon with my Family!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Same Ol' Tim

Start #14   Loss (2-8)   5 innings    5 hits (2 HR)    5 runs    2 walks    6 strikeouts

 Sorry, life is too short to talk about another Tim Lincecum caused loss, this time 7 - 4 to the Mariners. That makes nine in a row. I guess you could read the last Tim post, if you want that kind of punishment, every loss is starting to feel the same.

 It is the thirteenth anniversary with the love of my life. I'm going to stop doing this and go be with my gorgeous wife. Screw Tim.

The Neverending Vogelstory

Ryan Vogelsong is like the goddamn Energizer bunny--he just keeps going and going. Everyone figured last season was a fluke, what with his 2.71 ERA and 2.4 WAR (FanGraphs) in 28 starts. Take a look, though, and you'll see a 2.29 ERA and 1.2 WAR* in 12 starts for this season. He's gone seven innings in nine of those starts, and only given up three or more runs in three of them. In his last four starts he's gone 28-2/3 innings and allowed only six runs. The Giants are 9-3 when he takes the hill. Last night the team whacked a couple of big flies--a trend I like--and made some big plays behind the righty to subdue the Mariners. It's the winning combination: pitching, fielding, and power hitting. Once again the Giants are matched up with a poor club (.409), and this one has the worst home record (10-19) in all of baseball. A sweep is always a tall order on the road, but if any team is ripe for the taking it is Seattle. Big Time Timmy Jim goes tonight, a homecoming of sorts for the Bellevue-born boy, the only player from Liberty High in Renton to make the bigs. Maybe hangin' with his homies will help Tim get his groove back.



* B-R says 2.9 and and 2.0

p.s. Please see my updated page list on the ← sidebar. I made a page for the perfect game.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


We've all known that one day Matt Cain was going to throw a no-hitter. We've all seen him flirt with that over the seven-plus seasons he's been a Giant. It was only a matter of time before everything fell into place and he put his name in the record books. Tonight Matt Cain threw the first and only perfect game in the history of the New York-San Francisco Giants, and as wonderful and exciting as that moment was, it was no surprise to us. We know this guy is a great pitcher and he's gradually convincing the rest of the baseball world that he belongs in the discussion of "best in the game."

Number break: Matt Cain's Game Score (101) was tied for the second-best of all time, and matched Sandy Koufax for the most strikeouts (14) in a perfect game. Sandy Fecking Koufax, lads. I mean, I know he's Dodger scum and all, but he was one of the greatest pitchers ever, and a personal fave of our man of the hour. So take a moment and appreciate the glory. It's the 22nd perfecto overall in the big scheme of things (9th in the NL), and what will be always and forever about it is what I said before. It's the first by a Giant. Christy Mathewson? Carl Hubbell? Hell, those dudes are f---. Juan Marichal? Gaylord Perry? Whatever, some of us are old enough to remember them. Matt Cain. Number 18. That's the man. That's the number. (Did I forget the 125 pitches, the most ever in a perfect game?)

I think it was Duane on the CSN-BA telecast, right at the end of the game, that reminded us that this spring started with a lot of speculation about where Cain would wind up when he became a free agent. Yankees? Red Sox? Dodgers? It was unpleasant, to say the least. Then they signed the big deal to make him the new face of the franchise--he'll be a Giant through 2017--and everything was OK. And how did Matt respond? By throwing a one-hit shutout on Opening Day. And following that up with tonight's magnificent performance, one for the ages. This is one cool cat. He's 27 and he's The Old Man. The vet. The grizzled champ. The leader. Greg Papa called Tim Lincecum "the rock star," and that's apt. Cain's the horse, they all like to say, and that works, too. He's the motor. He's a big diesel that hums along for half a million miles and never skips a beat or fails to pull a load. You'll have to forgive the redneck metaphor, I'm deep in a bottle of Tennessee Whiskey (George Dickel No. 12), appropriate stuff to drink when the Tennessee Stud takes the hill. He's the rhythm section of the band. The re-bar in the concrete. The tough outer casing on those pepperoni sticks that keeps them from going bad.

Matt Cain. Matt Cain! Matt Cain. When I run out of things to say, I just say his name. Matt Cain. It could not have happened to a better Giant. He deserves the accolades. He deserves ten runs of support. He deserves your support. But you knew that already.

Matt Cain.


p.s. Great play by Gregor Blanco. The narrative of every no-hitter or perfect game has to have a great play or two. Nice work from Arias, too. The ball Melky caught at the wall I was sure was a homer. A friendly gust off the  bay or just another magic pitch from Matt Cain? No one induces the harmless fly ball out better than M.C. And that's a saber-metrical fact, yo.


Homer happy

The Houston Astros aren't doing very well (.426), and that's the kind of team you hope the Giants can thump on for the rest of the week. Madison Bumgarner not only pitched another great game, he also hit a home run (his first ever), breaking a streak of 16 homer-less home games for San Francisco. With a 4-1 lead in the 8th, Brandon Belt added a two-run homer--hit first of the year--and we could all relax a bit while the bullpen fiddle-farted around to close things out. Though our super southpaw was the star of the evening (12 strikeouts!), I was happiest when Belt belted one over the right-field wall. All of us have been waiting for the young first baseman to find his stroke. I know it is only one AB, but a crumb is a meal to a starving man. The team really needs another bat, and it especially needs someone who can hit the ball over the fence. Let's hope this is one more step in the maturation of The Baby Giraffe. First base has been a black hole in 2012 and some production from that spot for the rest of the season would be great.

But back to Bumgarner. What a treat it is to watch this guy! He's so smooth and has that seemingly effortless delivery. I've seen him take BP and it is obvious he can hit, so the homer was not a surprise. My favorite moment of the night was after Matt Downs bunted for a hit with two out in the top of the 7th. Bumgarner looked like he was angry, then he seemed to be laughing to himself, thinking "that chicken shit knew he was going to whiff so he put one down." He then struck out Jason Castro on three perfect fastballs over the heart of the plate to end the inning. I've no idea what was actually going through his head, of course, but it sure was a fun sequence. Eight wins ties him for second in the league. Matt Cain goes for his eighth tonight.


p.s. The Giants took the lead when Brandon Crawford hit a ground ball up the middle with the bases loaded in the 4th. Three walks preceded that hit. The Giants are 13th in the NL in walks with 179, just behind the Astros.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The New Tim

Start #13:  Loss  (2-7)    5.2 innings   9 hits   5 runs   4 walks   5 strikeouts

Getting shut-out for the second time in three days should be the most troubling aspect of today's loss to the Rangers.  Oh no, the dark cloud of 2012 continues to be the complete ineffectiveness of Tim Lincecum.  He came into today with an embarrassing ERA of  5.83 and somehow found a way to RAISE IT to 6.00.  Six point frigging zero.  Unbelievable.

I have posted after EIGHT straight losses and I'm sick of it.  I know we all lived through that terrible August. But this feels different.  I am not sure what is different but I don't think we have seen the worst of it yet.  Talk amongst yourselves, or not.

The good:  Yeah, right.

The bad:  I am clearly rattled.  Nothing Tim is trying (assuming that he is trying) is working.  In fact, this start looked like a clear step backwards.  Have we entered a new era?  Could it all have changed so quickly?

Saturday, June 9, 2012


The Giants lost last night.  The game was boring.  Texas won.  Zito pitched.  Not well, not too poorly.  He pitched well enough to keep his team in the game.  Well, not HIS team, A team. A DIFFERENT team.  Texas scored 5 runs, not a big offensive outburst but more than they needed.  If you would have gone to bed early, you wouldn't have missed anything.  No late rallies.  No sort of rallies, really.  5 hits total for the Giants, no one had more than 1.  First shutout of the season against us.  Tejas is a good team, but then, they just had lost 3 of 4 to the A's.  But they beat us.

We are doing better today, up 3-0 as I write.  Sandoval just contributed, 4-0.

Oh, goody, we play the American League for the rest of the month.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Score early and often

It was a sloppy day on the field for the Giants with errors by Brandon Belt, Ryan Theriot, Angel Pagan, and Joaquin Arias. All three runs given up by Matt Cain today were unearned. Good thing then that the Giants scored eight runs, because it was one of those fielding performances that should have doomed them. The Padres squared up on a few from Cain, but he got some big strikeouts (nine) and two double plays, with a particularly timely one from Cameron Maybin to end the 6th. I've been going on a bit lately about the importance of defense, and a pitching team that plays close games really needs to field well. Today the Giants mashed their way past the Padres, with Gregor Blanco flashing power (a homer and a double), The Riot stroking four hits and nearly getting a fifth, and Buster Posey smoking one deep to left leading off the 3rd after already driving in a run in the 1st. Fifteen hits in pitcher-friendly Petco Park! The first two runs off San Diego starter Jason Marquis were also unearned, as he made a throwing error before Buster's hit.

Not quite the kind of series we expected down there, but it ended well with two big wins. Madison Bumgarner wasn't stellar yesterday (four walks!), but the Padres helped him out with a huge error by rookie and Tuesday night hero Logan Forsythe, and the lineup thumped Clayton Richard for ten hits. A team effort, to be sure.

The Texas Rangers come to town tomorrow--they lead the AL West by four games and have the best run difference (+64) in baseball. Should be fun.



p.s. Cain now has six wins in his last six starts and has seven total which is tied with Bumgarner for the team lead (they are in a crowd for third-best in the NL). In his 12 starts the team is 9-3. They are 8-4 with the lefty on the hill.

p.p.s. Giants drafted 40 players--21 pitchers. No surprise there, and I like the first two picks very much. I'm also intrigued by the first position player they took (3rd round), Johnathon "Mac" Williamson, an outfielder from Wake Forest. He led the ACC in home runs (17).


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Predictable Tim

Start #12 :    ND   (2-6)     6 innings   5 hits (4 were XBH)   4 runs   1 walk   8 strikeouts

The only thing getting damn predictable about Tim Lincecum's starts is our tendency to lose, which is what just happened in dramatic fashion, 6-5 at Petco.  (It is now 2-10 for the year, with no real signs of improving.) Otherwise, no one could have predicted the power display put on by the lowly puds, specifically Carlos Quentin with a pair and Logan Forsythe with the walk-off winner.

I suppose another predictable aspect of tonight's ball-breaker was Tim giving up a big inning. In the second inning alone, Tim gave up all four runs on a homer, two doubles and a walk.  In fact, in the other five innings, Lincecum faced one batter over the minimum.  That is the fourth time this year he has had a four run inning and it is the eighth time he has yielded four or more runs, which equals his total for all of last year.  For perspective, Timmeh entered this season having surrendered four or more runs in 32 of his 156 (20.5%) contests.  The freaky yuck just keeps on coming.

The good:  Ryan Theriot reached base five times with three hits and two walks, his best day as a Giant so far.  With Joaquin Arias failing to put up impressive numbers, Theriot looks like our regular 2B after the Panda returns.  Gregor Blanco continues to get on base ... which is what it is all about, right?

The bad:  Just like my last post, I must ask: Why is Steve Edlefsen in the majors? It took him , what? Two pitches to lose this one?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Squeakin' out a sweep!

Giants score 11 runs in four games and win them all. Today they once again benefited from poor fielding by the Cubs. Starlin Castro lost track of the outs and let a run score that tied the game. He may not have made the DP, but we'll never know because he never made the effort since he thought the inning was over. Giants go 6-1 on the homestand. Important stat: one error. Total. The Giants made only one error in seven games. They won six of the seven. If you build your team around pitching, you have to make the plays. Catch the ball, throw the ball, catch the ball, etc. And keep track of the outs! Not much scoring once again as the starters on both sides were very tough. I really like Chicago's righty, Jeff Samardzija. A converted reliever, he looks like he just might be putting it together at age 27. The Cubs got great pitching in the series and had nothing to show for it but painful losses. Ryan Vogelsong didn't walk anyone today--first time all season. He's been superb since coming back from his injury, but the bases on balls (26 in 68 IP) were a concern. He gave up a lot of hits (8) and didn't strike out many batters (3), but he did what he always does which was go seven and keep it close. The Giants have won the last six games he's started.


p.s. Giants draft a big, hard throwing pitcher from Mississippi State. Chris Stratton. I like it.

p.p.s. Not this again.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Barry-Z makes it three

Barry Zito did something today against the Cubs that his teammates Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain could not do, and that was get an out in the 9th inning. Giants starters have thrown 24-1/3 innings in the first three games against Chicago and have allowed only three runs. Zito, so far, has thrown the best game! Check out these Game Scores: 69, 73, and 78. The Giants have flashed excellent leather in the series as well, and benefited from some fielding lapses, particularly by left fielder Alfonso Soriano, who is clearly hobbling. A run also scored today when catcher Koyie Hill could not handle a good throw by right fielder Reed Johnson. The Giants aren't doing much with the bat, but when they pitch this well and catch the ball and make their throws they can win by scratching out runs. The Cubs are the second-worst team in the league but have kept it close this weekend with some fine pitching of their own. The Giants, once again, have a shot at a series sweep. Tomorrow at 12:45 Ryan Vogelsong gets his tenth start of the season. The San Diego Padres come to town on Tuesday, and they are the worst team in the league.

The Giants find themselves only three games back of the NL West leaders after three innings (54 games). At the one-third mark, the Dodgers are 33-21 and the Giants are 30-24, quite a turnaround after LA's blistering start. In the last 18 games the Giants have gone 12-6, a big improvement on their two previous 9-9 innings. The team seems to have found its way out of the .500 rut. The outfield of Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan, and Gregor Blanco has become a clear team strength on both sides of the ball. Blanco made two fine plays today and scored one of the team's two runs after a walk. Pagan had a leaping catch on the track and scored the other run after a one-out double. Cabrera, naturally, delivered the hit in the 8th that scored Blanco. It is an interesting collection of ballplayers--unlike most outfields there is not much home run power. But there is lots of speed, good D, and excellent on-base skills, and that seems like a winning combination, especially at AT&T Park. The bullpen has continued to excel despite the injuries, and the starters are racking up loads of quality innings. The Giants are only 12th in the NL in runs scored, but fourth-best in runs allowed.



Saturday, June 2, 2012

Retro Matty

Matt Cain looked good in the throwback uniform, and except for back-to-back batters in the 4th inning, looked good mowing down the Cubs as well. I thought Ol' Boch might let Matty get a complete game for the sake of Retro Day at the Yard, but Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo were called upon after a leadoff walk and they got the three big ones in the 9th to save the narrow win. Good call, Skipper, 117 pitches was a Retro effort. Guys used to do that on both ends of a doubleheader back in the day, right? Back when "relief pitchers" were called "sissies." The Giants put together an almost comical rally in the 6th that clearly infuriated Matt Garza and chased him from the game. Chicago left fielder Alfonso Soriano circled around Melky Cabrera's pop fly with Ryan Theriot on first base and it hit the glove and fell for a single. Angel Pagan, with one out, hit a little dinker to third that he beat out. Aubrey Huff walked to tie the game, and another dinker to third by Joaquin Arias brought home the go-ahead run on the fielder's choice. We've seen it happen to Cain too many times, but today the baseball gods smiled upon us and made it happen to the other Matt. Not much offense, but how about the defense? The Giants caught the ball and made the plays and didn't mishandle any chances (unlike their opponents). They have to keep doing that if they want to win these close, low-scoring games. Both Eric Karros and Dick Stockton on the Fox telecast talked about how they like this year's San Francisco team and how they can "grind it out." Karros even went so far as to say they reminded him of the 2010 club. This team lacks that team's home run pop, but with Pablo Sandoval back in the lineup that will pick up a bit. This team lacks that team's great defense, but they may be turning a corner. This team lacks that team's dominant ace Tim Lincecum, but they've got Big Time Retro Matty, the staff WAR leader, on the job. Game 54 tomorrow, the one-third mark of the season.



p.s. Matt Cain was 15-13 after his first two seasons. He went 15-30 in the next two. He's gone 45-32 since then to finally get back to .500 (75-75). Let's hope he blows past that!

Friday, June 1, 2012

This is why you score FOUR runs

It's that magic number for the Giants. I'm pretty sure Barry Zito is 149-4 in his career when his team scores four runs. Maybe it is 149-5, but I'm close. And the Giants, if they scored four runs every night, they would be playing .700 ball. Wait--they average four runs a night?

No way!


SFG     4.00 
LgAvg   4.16

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 6/1/2012.

Madison Bumgarner is damn awesome. Not just regular awesome, but better. Higher grade of awesomeness than the usual, run-of-the-mill awesome.