Sunday, June 30, 2013

Giants Win! Be Still My Heart!

FACT:  The Giants won today behind Madison Bumgarner.
FACT:  The score was Giants - 5; Rockies - 2.
FACT:  That is only the 2nd win in their last 10 games, encompassing three series.
FACT:  They have lost 25 of their last 40 games, the worst record in the major leagues.
FACTS:  rbi for Quiroz, Posey (hr), Pence (2-run hr).  12 hits including 3 by Abreu, 2 by Pence and 2 by Quiroz.  Madison Bumgarner threw 104 pitches, allowing only 1 run on a Cargo (CarGo?) home run in 7 innings.  He allowed 4 hits and struck out 5.  Rosario allowed 1 run in the 8th and Romo threw 15 pitches for the save in the 9th.

Other FACTS:  Giants have not put together 5 runs in a game since June 18.
Still more FACTS: Madison has thrown 7 innings in each of his last 4 starts (including today).  In that time, he has allowed 5 earned runs (1.61 era) and 23/28 WHIP (0.82).  In Matt Cain's last 4 starts (including yesterday, in which he pitched damn well and the Giants pissed away what should have been a win), Matt has pitched 27 2/3 innings and allowed 6 earned runs (1.95 era) and 20/27.67 WHIP (0.72) although 3 have been home runs.  In that time, Madison is 3-1, Matt is 1-1.  Tim Lincecum has allowed 11 earned runs in 23 innings in his last 4 starts (4.30 era) and 36/23 WHIP (1.57).  Barry Zito has allowed 15 in 22 2/3 innings (5.96 era)(his start in Pittsburgh was a real stinker) and 41/22.67 WHIP (1.81).  Both Tim and Barry look better in their last 3 starts than in their last 4.

I guess I have strayed into opinion, so I might as well continue.  Hunter Pence has been slumpy lately, but he broke out of it today.  It needs to continue.  Buster is a God (this could go in the FACTS section).  Sandoval picked up a single today, only his third hit (all singles) since he came off the DL.  Last night Andes Torres switched to bat left-handed to face a righty, Belisle, after he had 3 hits from the right side of the plate.  His batting average from the right is .337, from the left it is .212.  Maybe he should consider batting from the right side no matter who is pitching.

One more FACT:  The Giants are half-way though the season and they have a losing record.  They are headed into Cincinnati and it will be a tough series, followed by the doggers, who are breathing their fetid breath down our necks.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Just the Facts, Man

I'm tired of opinions. They are fooking goddamn everywhere. Everybody's got one. You know something? I don't give shit. I don't want to hear it. Get in line. Write a blog. Stick your opinions up your bleeding fecking areshole, mate. I'm so sick of opinions I don't even want to hear my own.

So we are sticking with the facts, here. The Giants got their asses handed to them lost. It was 4-0. They got four hits. And one run. If I had an opinion, I might opine that four runs allowed and five innings pitched by a visiting starter in Denver ain't half bad. But I don't have an opinion and I don't want to hear any fucking opinions. The Giants got four hits. And one run. And they have played 79 games and lost 41 of them.

There, see? Don't you feel better when people stick a sock in it? When they hold back on that verbal diarrhea they can't help spewing? I know I do. The Giants lost Friday night's baseball game in Colorado.


p.s.  I'm off on a two-week holiday, my friends. You won't be hearing anything from me until the middle of July. The rest of the ro' will be chipping in, of course, and they are free to spout whatever the hell they want. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my blog-mates all of our readers and regulars and hecklers and lurkers. In my opinion, you make it all worth it! Thanks for sticking around. See you in a while. GO GIANTS!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Exploding Tim

It looked so good for the first five innings. Tim Lincecum was out-pitching Clayton Kershaw, which is as it should be, after all he has twice as many Cy Young awards. Buster had smote a mighty blast, which is also as it should be.  It felt like 2012 again. Then the sixth inning happened, Tim went BOOM, and it felt like 2013 again.  And, yes, the doggers completed the sweep, 4-2.

The sixth inning nightmare featured 4 consecutive hits, 2 stolen bases, and was topped off by a run scoring wild pitch.  In fact, that pitch was especially noteworthy in that it brought out Bochy with the hook.  It isn't often that a pitcher gets yanked in the middle of a count ( I think it was 2-1) but, as Kuiper said, I really think he was sick of watching Tim pitch.  I guess that makes the Skipper like a lot of us.

I also must vent, for no useful reason, about Hector Sanchez.  I thought we got past the idea that he is capable of catching Tim. Or anybody, actually. If he showed any special hitting ability I might be inclined to be kinder, but there's nuthin' there. He is just another example of our rather weak minor league crop right now. The fact that we repeatedly think he is ready for the Majors is deeply disconcerting to me.

Actually, everything about this season, except Cain and MadBum, is deeply disconcerting to me. Good news: tomorrow's an off day.

Random Thoughts on 38-39

On May 24, 2009, the Giants lost to the Seattle Mariners and fell to 20-23. After that they won four in a row and were never worse than .500 the rest of the way and finished 88-74. In 2008, the Giants lost their first game and were below .500 for the entire season. Since the advent of division play in 1969 (44 seasons not including this one) the Giants have had 19 below-.500 teams. The longest stretch of above-.500 seasons was 14, from 1958, the inaugural year in San Francisco (the 1957 NY Giants were a sub.500 team), to 1971, when they won the Western Division. The next longest was from 1997-2004 (8 seasons). The longest stretch of sub-.500 teams was four seasons, from 1974-1977 and again from 2005-2008. The best player on the 2005 Giants was Noah Lowry, the team's number one pick (#30 overall) in the 2001 draft. They drafted Matt Cain number one (#25 overall) the very next year. The Giants have also had two three-year sub-.500 stretches: 1983-1985 and 1994-1996. Throw in 1972, 1979, 1980, 1991, and 1992 and that's 19. Of course that means there's been 25 winning seasons since 1969 (and 36 since 1958).

The Giants are 3-1/2 games from first place and 3-1/2 games from last place. The defending champs are fighting it out with the most expensive team in baseball history for the bottom of the division. Raise your hand if you saw that coming.



Monday, June 24, 2013

The Pain Continues

Another loss to cellar-dwelling scum.  We have most of our hitters, but with the chances they had (and there were plenty) they did nothing.  The Giants faced Hyn-Jin Ryu, who relies on his change-up on a night that he could not throw it for a strike.  The Giants managed 8 hits on the night, but only one run, Joaquin Arias scoring on an Andres Torres double, only to come up hurt with a strained hamstring.  The Giants AGAIN wasted beautiful pitching from Madison Bumgarner, who pitched, ill-advisedly, into the 8th inning.

Maddy only gave up one hit through 5 innings, but it was a home run to  Yasiel Puig.  He got the second hit, too, in the 6th inning but was stranded.  In the 7th, Maddy kept the ball down but gave up 2 singles.  He got through that inning with no runs scored, but it fell apart in the 8th.  Nick Punto doubled and then went to third on Maddy's errant throw to first base that pulled Marco Scutaro off the bag, vertically, by about 3 feet.  George Kontos came in, and BANG! the game was out of hand on two pitches.  Final score, 3-1.  What's more, Pagan will need surgery may be out the rest of the season.  Chad Gaudin goes on the DL, so Mike Kickham will be our starter tomorrow.

I leave you with the question, what's worse, to lose to the scum-suckers, or to the worst team in the major leagues?

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Matt Cain wasn't pretty, but he was reasonably effective, and I've learned not to scoff at the "Quality Start" statistic. Stringing together quality starts is what usually leads to winning baseball. The Giants though, can't seem to get clutch hits. Today they had a runner at third with one out and failed to score him--that would have tied the game in the 7th. They had a runner at third in the 8th with only one out, but only for a brief moment, as Marco Scutaro was thrown out at second after a questionable decision to advance. In light of Joaquin Arias' double play grounder the inning before, I can understand the desire to have runners on second and third rather than first and second. But it was one of those situations that required the runner to be absolutely sure of not getting thrown out. In fact, he was thrown out, and that meant Buster Posey (2-for-16 in the series) had to get a hit to tie the game, which he did not. Thus the Giants failed to give themselves a chance to win. Jean Machi collapsed completely in the 9th, giving up four runs and ending any hope of a comeback.

Mostly, though, this game was about another Marlins starter befuddling the lineup. We had Jacob Turner one night and Tom Koehler another, and today we got the overpowering Nathan Eovaldi. The Giants were averaging over four runs per game coming in to this series, but they could only manage EIGHT runs total against the vaunted Miami pitching staff. Only Ricky Nolasco was ordinary, and despite giving up nine hits the Giants could not finish him off and wound up losing. Even with Barry Zito throwing a gem yesterday, the Giants still had to resort to extra-inning heroics to win. This was a winnable game and a winnable series, but collapses from the bullpen and feeble efforts from the hitters meant another lost weekend.

Matt Cain continues to give up home runs. Today Justin Ruggiano murdered the second pitch of the game and put the Giants in a hole they never came back from. Cain has allowed 16 dingers in 16 starts. Before this year, he had allowed 129 homers in 235 starts. In 2011 he only allowed nine in his 33 starts, an anomalously low number considering that all his other seasons were between 14 and 22. So, is 2013 just an anomaly, an extreme case of bad luck, much like 2011 being, perhaps, an extreme case of good luck? Is the swing just normal variation? Or is something wrong? If so, what? His hit rate of 7.4/9 is close to his career norm (7.5), as is his walk rate of 2.7/9 (3.1), and strikeout rate of 8.3/9 (7.5). His BABIP of .249 is right there (.263), and his 37.0% ground ball rate (37.2) and 40.8% fly ball rate (43.7) aren't much different. Even his xFIP (3.82) is the same as last season's, suggesting that his expected runs allowed should be close to the same. Alas, he's allowing a home run on 14% of his fly balls, about twice his career rate of 7.1% (it was 8.4% last season and 3.7% in 2011). What's the deal? How can a guy do just about everything else the same and have one thing be completely out of whack? I tell ya, I just don't know, but it ain't no fun to watch.

Giants are firing on only one cylinder at a time these days, and it's hard to take. The parts and pieces are all there, despite the injuries, but they can't seem to get them coordinated and working in a mutually supporting way.

Let's go, Giants. Let's get some goddamn wins!


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Agony in Extras Avoided

Good starts. Wins. That's the connection, right? The Giants get good starts, the Giants win. That's our mantra around here. As goes starting pitching, so go the Giants. This season we've seen some poor starting pitching from our beloved ballclub. This week, though, we've seen a nice change. The trend line ticked up a bit. Matt Cain threw seven strong against the Padres on Tuesday. Madison Bumgarner followed that with seven strong on Wednesday. Two good starts, two wins. Chad Gaudin was pitching well before the line drive knocked him out of the game on Thursday but you add in Sandy Rosario's relief job and you got yourself another seven strong. That game was a loss. OK, it happens. Sometimes the bullpen blows it. The lineup can't hit. The breaks don't break. The team pitches well but gets beat anyway. Hell, this franchise cornered the market on that for a while--we fans called it "getting Cained." Yesterday Tim Lincecum pitched well for seven innings but the bullpen coughed it up. And his mates could manage only three runs to help him. Today, Barry Zito delivered his version of seven strong, and his hitters barely squeaked out a run. Fortunately, the 'pen bent, but did not break, and the Giants kept getting second chances. The lineup was pretty damn feeble, and could not conjure up a big hit until the 11th inning. But conjure they did, and the Giants finally crack the Marlins curse and walk off with a much-needed win. I'm happy the team won, and I'm even happier that they've given us a bit of hope with a nice run of good starts. Get the 'pen back in order and the hitters hitting again and wins could start to pile up. They could use a big pile here real soon, on the road against LA and Colorado to close the month.

Matt Cain tomorrow. Seven strong, eh, Matty?



p.s. Game 72 was Thursday's loss. Sorry for my tardy innings analysis. That's 4/9 of the season. Giants went 11-7 in their first 18 games, and 10-8 in the next 18. Unfortunately they followed that with an 8-10 stretch. After 54 games, 1/3 of the season, they were an uninspiring 29-25. The fourth seasonal inning was another 8-10 stretch, putting them at 37-35. With today's win. they are 1-1 for inning five and sit at 38-36, 2-1/2 back of Arizona. Time to get those winning ways back, lads!

Ray of Sunshine Tim

Momentum can be a real bitch in this silly game of ours.  Disgusting fishy franchises keep slapping us around at home (in our orange, no less!) as the Marlins beat us 6-3 for the fifty second straight time at home, give or take a few. Injuries keep mounting, this time it is a bruised knee for Andres Torres. Bullpen performances keep getting worse and shakier, and, correspondingly, Bochy's decisions get worse and shakier.  Lineups get stranger and weaker, littered with minor leaguers, none of which could possibly be considered to be legit contributors. For the Giants, this entire month has been a slow march to mediocrity and the end of a winning record. Today could be the day we hit .500. It is not a happy time for Giants fans.

Which bring us to the Giants poster child of despair: Tim Lincecum. It is probably not too shocking in this silly game of ours, that HE is actually looking better!  As the team spirals downward, his momentum seems to be going the right way. Three quality starts out of the last four, not Cy Young material, but a solid month. Tonight Tim got through seven innings and finished with eight K's and only one walk. Sure, it wasn't perfect, a couple hangers got hit real hard, but he seems to have a clue on the mound lately.  I am no longer terrified to see him take the mound, so that's a real nice improvement.

So you can see another important thing about momentum, it changes. Maybe, just like Tim, the Giants, as a team, can turn this ship around. I fear we haven't seen the worse yet, hard to believe, I know.  But it will change. Good times are ahead.  Right?

Happy Summer, Everybody!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Giants Come Up Short

I don't like one-run leads. I like six-run leads. I know that's a little greedy, and since the Giants average about 4.3 runs per game, not a frequent occurrence. But I'm with Billy Martin on the idea that a team never has enough runs. Sure, if Jeremy Affeldt had made a better 0-2 pitch, the Giants might have won the game by a score of 1-0, but "ifs" and "mights" aren't wins. The home team allowed only five hits and two runs and yet lost the game. Youngster Tom Koehler wasn't particularly pretty and was also a little wild but still threw five no-hit innings, six one-hit innings, and seven one-run innings. That's too many innings, I know, but it sure seemed like the Giants made a lot more than 27 outs tonight. This was a game screaming for a two-run homer to give the 'pen a little cushion, but that's not the Giants. They have the second-fewest homers in the league (49), well ahead of tonight's winning club, the Miami Marlins (37). I can live without the homers--after all we saw a nice double and triple sequence (both hit to the gap in right-center) from Brandon Belt and Joaquin Arias to get the run, but that was that. There are lots of ways to score in the game of baseball, and I'll take any of them.

Chad Gaudin was the human pincushion tonight, and the third time was the curse. He took a shot off his pitching elbow with one out in the 5th and had to be relieved. Sandy Rosario retired the next eight but walked the leadoff hitter in the 8th and so turned the ball over to Affeldt. After his meltdown against San Diego on Tuesday, we were all looking for a better outcome, but it wasn't to be. Let's hope Gaudin is OK, he's been effective as a starter and the team needs him. Rosario looked good as well and at this point every arm counts. We'll all just have to ride out this "Bad Jeremy" stretch together, I reckon.



p.s. They talked to first-round pick Christian Arroyo on the telecast. He looks like he's about 15, and talks like a high school kid. Oh, that's right, he is a high school kid. Or was, just a few days ago. Actually he sounded pretty good--said all the right things and was appropriately eager and awestruck. He's got some more inches to grow and some more pounds to put on. Should be fun to follow his progress over the next few years.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Giants Win the Set

Matty and Maddy again standing out in a field of otherwise uninspiring baseball.  Madison Bumgarner on the bump today and he pitched well against Eric Stults, who is having a pretty good year for the Padres.  Mr. Stults picked up his 6th loss against 6 wins, with a 3.25 era and 1.09 whip.  Madison picked up his 7th win on the year.  For the record, he has 4 losses, a 3.25 era and a 1.01 whip, which is really good.    Maddy threw 111 pitches in 7 innings.  He only gave up 1 hit through 6, but that was a home run to Max Will Venable.  He only gave up 2 more hits in the 7th, another solo home run, this time to Jesus Guzman and a single before retiring the side.

Those 2 runs put the Padres ahead at the time.  The Giants picked up 1 on and rbi single by Brandon Belt in the 4th to score Hunter Pence.  I seem to remember a few games in which Stults stymied the Giants.  The Giants were able to  break through in the 7th, however.  Tony Abreu singled, and Hector Sanchez, batting for Madison, singled off of Luke Gregerson, sending Abreu to third base.   Brandon Crawford, who is not on the disabled list with a sprained finger, pinch ran for Sanchez.  Then, Gregor Blanco, batting for Andres Torres, tripled for 2 loud runs.  That was all, but it was enough.  The very young looking Jake Dunning took care of the eighth and Sergio Romo took care of the ninth.

Oh, there was a dust-up in the 2nd inning.  No one claims knowledge as to why. 

Giants Blow Two Leads, Win Anyway

Matt Cain was nearly unhittable through the first five, retiring 15 of 16 with eight strikeouts. With a 2-0  lead in the 7th he was suddenly vulnerable and the Padres crushed two home runs (Nick Hundley and Logan Forsythe) to tie the game. It seems like every time Matty misses a spot or gets a ball up it winds up over the fence! In the 7th, rookie Juan Perez saved a run by throwing out Mark Kotsay (who had doubled) at the plate after fielding a single from Chris Denorfia. That's two nights in a row he's made a great play--I wonder if San Diego will challenge his arm today. Cain's final line was 7  6  2  2  0  10 for a Game Score of 67. When Gregor Blanco got a two-out RBI hit in the bottom of the inning it looked like the Giants just might end the Padres surge. But Jeremy Affeldt threw gasoline on the fire in the top of the 8th and a two-run bomb by Jesus Guzman gave the lead right back. The 'pen has been a little shaky, but the Giants rallied to tie on a double by Brandon Belt, and take the lead on a two-out single by Juan Carlos Perez (B-R also lists Juan Pablo Perez, a pitcher). Yep, him again. The 26-year old from the Dominican Republic was born on my 27th birthday (November 13, 1986). He was a 13th-round draft pick (2008) from Western Oklahoma State College. After 568 games and 2330 PA in four-and-a-half seasons he finally got the call-up and the chance to show off his game. By the way, this guy is not just an outfielder--he spent time at third and short in Fresno! Let's hope he can keep making his mark.

Brandon Crawford joined the growing list of walking wounded when he sprained two fingers on his throwing hand on a head-first slide into second base. Next time lead with the feet, OK? You're too valuable to get hurt on the bases. That's why the team has multiple speed-burner outfield types. Joaquin Arias handled shortstop duties the rest of the night and will probably have to do so for the next few days. The good news is that Marco Scutaro was back in the lineup and had two hits. The good news, really, is that the Giants won the game. It took a little more drama than I expected, but that's how this team rolls.

Madison Bumgarner gets the ball today at 12:45.



p.s. I love Game Graphs:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Padres Wear Down Giants

The Giants played 13 innings and had 44 at-bats yet only managed 10 hits, all of them singles. They strung together a rally against Edinson Volquez in the 4th and took a 3-0 lead but that was all they could do. They sent only three men to the plate in seven of those innings. Meanwhile the Padres had 18 hits, 14 singles and four doubles, and had only one 1-2-3 inning. They kept the pressure on all night and finally wore the Giants down and collected their seventh straight win. The Pads bullpen threw eight scoreless frames, giving up four hits, no walks, and striking out six. The Giants got a good start from Barry Zito, who deserved better, but spent the final 7-1/3 dodging bullets. If it weren't for a terrific play from rookie Juan Perez in center to throw out Logan Forsythe at third in the 9th, the game would probably have ended in regulation. The Giants 'pen struck out eight, but gave up 12 hits, three walks, and three runs. One of the runs charged to Zito was the result of a wild pitch from Jean Machi. Perhaps a better play by Hector Sanchez would have kept the ball from going to the backstop, but you really couldn't give him a passed ball there. Other than that, I thought Sanchez looked a lot better with the glove and seemed to be in a good groove with Zito. He also seems to have stopped moving around in the squat and is giving a cleaner, steadier target. Brandon Crawford got the call for the three-spot in the lineup with Buster Posey sitting and went 1-for-6 and scored a run. Hunter Pence, right behind him, was 0-for-5 with three whiffs.

San Diego sends the Giants to fourth place, 1-1/2 games behind Arizona. Colorado is a half-game out in second, with the Padres half a game behind them. San Francisco was 38-31 at this point last season, 4-1/2 back of LA. That's right, the Dodgers (29-39, 7 back) were the West leaders then. Fortunes change fast in this game.

Matt Cain gets the ball tonight. GO GIANTS!


p.s. I was done by the top of the 11th and so I missed Will Venable's catch. Apparently he saved the game.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Anniversary Tim

It is my fourteenth anniversary with my beautiful soulmate of a wife.  We drove all day to get to a favorite inn located in Bandon, Oregon. At this moment, we are settled in and soaking up a spectacular Pacific sunset. Life is good and I am enjoying every minute.

Well, maybe not every minute. Baseball is not so good and enjoyment seems rather fleeting at times.

Yes, we got here in time for me to see the Giants lose 3-0 to the Braves on national TV.  It didn't really surprise me. Tim did pretty good, nothing spectacular, another grind and another loss.  However, I think you may excuse me for NOT GIVING A DAMN.  The Braves looked like the superior team once again and, since the top third of our lineup is toast, they ARE  the superior team. Right now, anyway.

Thank Willie we have a long way to go.  So, maybe it is best to take a break from analyzing and worrying about our beloved boys. I know I am going to go back to that enjoying every minute thing.

Happy Love to all you folks lucky enough to share it with someone special.

Friday, June 14, 2013

When Pitching is good, the Giants win. When the Giants win, Life is good.

Ergo, Pitching is life.

Madison Bumgarner threw 7 beautiful innings in Atlanta tonight to back up Matt Cain's fabulous game yesterday.  Maddy did not allow a baserunner until the 5th, did not allow a hit until the 6th and allowed only two inconsequential singles on the night.  He threw 108 pitches, 67 of them for strikes (seems a bit low considering the way he was sitting Braves down).  Maddy struck out 10 and walked 1.  You may remember that Matt Cain only gave up 2 hits last night.  The recently returned Sandro Rosario threw 2 innings, allowing 1 hit but no runs to finish the game: San Francisco 6, Atlanta 0.  Could it be that our pitching is starting to come together?  Nothing quite like our two aces being solid to make the Giants' troubles look - less troubling.

Buster Posey hit 3 doubles.  Doubles were also hit by Hunter Pence, Brandon Crawford and Joaquin Arias.  Doubles are good.  Gregor Blanco hit a home run to lead off the game, and make himself look better than a platoon outfielder.   Brandon Crawford looked fabulous with the glove.  That, my friends, is the way to start off a series.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Cain and Giants Crush Bucs, Salvage Series

With two outs in the 7th inning Matt Cain threw a pitch that broke down and in to Neil Walker and it hit him on the right leg. Andrew McCutcheon had doubled with one out, only the Pirates second hit of the evening. With two on and 101 pitches thrown, Bruce Bochy called on Javier Lopez to get Pedro Alvarez and finish the inning. He walked him on four pitches and was promptly yanked in favor of Jean Machi, who got the final out, whiffing catcher Michael McKenry. That was the closest thing to a blemish on Cain's excellent start. His final line was 6-2/3, two hits, two walks, and three strikeouts. The lineup chipped away at Pirates starter Charlie Morton and finally chased him after five, and then lit up reliever Mike Zagurski for five in the 6th and had a mostly easy cruise from then on. Gregor Blanco, Buster Posey, and Joaquin Arias all had three hits, and Hunter Pence hit a three-run homer in the 10-0 romp. Not only did the Giants need a game like this, Your Humble Narrator did, too. The first two games of the series were seriously ugly, and with the team headed for Atlanta (another tough squad), it was nice to see them snap out of their funk, at least for one night.

Some funny things happened. Brandon Crawford got caught in a rundown play at third base in the 5th, but the third baseman (Alvarez) was called for interference obstruction after a throw and BCraw was awarded home. Hunter Pence, a little later in the same inning, was in between second and third and was struck by a batted ball from Joaquin Arias for the third out. It would have been an RBI single. In the 6th, Cain ticked a liner up the middle from Jordy Mercer off his glove and it ricocheted to Nick Noonan at second for the out. In the 9th, Noonan hit a ball that looked like his first career homer, only on review was changed to a double as the replay showed it hit the yellow padding on top of the barrier and didn't clear it.

Mostly though, this game was a tonic. A balm. A salve. The Giants got good pitching (zero runs allowed!), lots of hitting (ten runs scored!), and good fielding (no errors and three DPs!). That's a good combination. Giants: repeat that.


p.s. Jake Dunning was called up to replace Ramon Ramirez who was DFA'd.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Giants Noir

adjective; French.
black; noting the black numbers in roulette.having the characteristics of film noir; tough and bleakly pessimistic.

The San Francisco club showed up in the desert neat, clean, shaved and sober, and they didn't care who knew it. They took a shot and went down, but they got back up and smacked those yeggs around. They showed up in Steel City in their grey suits, black shirts, black brogues, and tall black socks and got their clocks cleaned.

And that was just the beginning.*

The Giants went to Toronto just short of a month ago and had an epic meltdown, playing perhaps their worst games of the young season. Now they are in Pittsburgh, getting schooled by the up-and-comers, looking not the least bit like defending champions, and making those games in Canada look not half bad. At this point you flip a coin (or bet on the spin of a wheel) when they trot out there. You don't know which team you are going to see or which performance any particular player is going to deliver. Barry Zito, post-season hero? Or Barry Zito, eight runs and leave the check on the table? And I'm not picking on Zeets, really, as easy as that would be. This is a team-wide malaise, especially if you include in your malaise-ing the ability (or inability) to stay on the field. You've got Angel Pagan down, Pablo Sandoval down, Ryan Vogelsong down, Santiago Casilla down, and most likely Marco Scutaro down. At this point, if they throw in a piper, then that's it, baby.

No, I joke. I'm not a towel-throwing kind of guy. This is some crap-ass base-balling we are seeing here, yet the team is 2-1/2 back with 98 to play. I can handle numbers like those. It's the bleakness I'm having trouble with. It's some kind of bleak-a-thon I'm running. It's bleakosity and bleakitude bleaking out all over. Did I mention my bleak feelings?

Lads, lads, lads. Give an old fan a break here. Play a proper stretch of ball, willya? String together something resembling a streak, eh? Quit teasing me with two good games and following them with two lousy ones. I don't like it.

The Giants are on the road for four more, and after seven at home, finish the month with six more away games. This is the tough time. The club is short-handed. Their opponents are hungry. The team will have to "nut up" and grind it out. It may even get uglier before it gets better, so we'd best steel ourselves. No one said being a fan was easy.



*with apologies to R.T. Chandler

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Non-Phenom Tim

Tim Lincecum and his fellow Giants did very little to disrupt the love fest at PNC Park today as the Pirates rolled to an 8-2 victory. The 2011 number one draft pick, Gerrit Cole, made his ML debut and energized the home crowd. Not only did he pitch well (6.1 innings, 2 runs), but the phenom delivered the killing blow with a 2 rbi single. They got all the big hits and made all the big plays. Jeez, I told you it was a love fest. Pittsburgh is now 38-26 and that looks like it is no fluke.

Tim is now 4-6 and that also doesn't look like a fluke.  Wasn't it just a little while ago when Tim was our phenom? Now we don't even really expect a quality start. Tonight was his second shortest outing of the season (4.2 innings), yet it seemed all too familiar.  Sure enough, Lincecum has lasted 5 or fewer innings in 6 of his 13 starts. Nothing more than seven innings this year (5 times) and that doesn't look like it is going to change. Tim is going to strain our bullpen and cause us to use one or two too many relievers. Tonight it was Kontos, 3 runs in 1.1 innings. His ejection for hitting people was sad.

Tim being bad is not the worst news of the evening. Marco Scutaro joins the list of injured starters with a smashed up pinkie, details will come tomorrow but the xrays were negative.  His injury looked identical to Ryan Vogelsong's and that put Vogie on the 60 day DL.  And now with third baseman Pablo Sandoval (left foot) and center fielder Angel Pagan (left hamstring) both on the 15-day disabled list, we enter a delicate period. A very scary delicate period.

Can our depth and pitching hold us together? Can we keep it close? Who will step up and fill the voids?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Gaudin Gets It Done

In the 1st inning, rookie Juan Perez ran a screaming Paul Goldschmidt liner down in right-center, crashing into the wall but holding on for the out. It was his first major-league play, and it was spectacular. Chad Gaudin had dispatched the first two hitters but the slugging Arizona first baseman hit what looked like an easy double and possible triple. The 26-year old d├ębutant, though, seized his moment and set the tone for the game. From that point on it was great pitching and defense and the 2013 Giants, looking a lot more like defending champs, won a series on the road since sweeping these same Diamondbacks at the end of April. Chad "I'm the Man" Gaudin was impressive again, throwing hard, throwing strikes, keeping the ball down and snapping off some nasty sliders to boot. The two runs he did give up were on a bloop and a balk, and other than that inning he was in command. The lineup rapped out 12 hits including a double (Hunter Pence), triple (Gregor Blanco), and two homers (Marco Scutaro and Brandon Belt). The bullpen faced ten batters to get the last nine outs, striking out three (Jeremy Affeldt two and Sergio Romo one) and walking none.

The Giants take the series from the front-runners and cut the lead to 1-1/2 games. It was almost a sweep. Matt Cain had the best start of the weekend but the team could not pull out the win. I like it when they score lots of runs. That way late-game homers don't hurt so much. But I like it best when they win, and when they bunch together good starts and quality innings they usually find a way to do just that. Madison Bumgarner wasn't pretty last night, but he was tough and kept the ball in the yard and the game close. Chad Gaudin was even tougher today, and I'd be surprised if we don't see him again on Saturday in Atlanta. The team has another off-day tomorrow, then a three-game set in Pittsburgh. The website says it will be Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, and back to Cain. That means Bumgarner for Friday and then Gaudin's spot. Their next off-day won't be until the 27th.



An Offense Appears

I was thinking I could write about the fact that the Giants have put together quality starts in 4 of their last 5 games: Gaudin, Lincecum, Cain and now Bumgarner (and even Zito except for one inning).  A quality start is 6 innings of 3 runs or less, as followers of that dubious stat know.  But Madison did not quite play along.  That 6th inning last night was a nightmare.  The Giants tried to give the game back.  Maddy lost it after 5 beautiful innings, only allowing 2 hits.  In the 6th, he was not able to get an out.  Single, walk, double, change to Ramon Ramirez, rbi ground-out, walk, wild pitch, rbi sac fly, walk, passed ball (Jeez!), when it's time for a change to Javier Lopez, think Speedy Oil Change and Tune-Up, another walk, K.  Phew!

The good thing, of course, is that when all this debacle started, the Giants were up by 9 runs.  They more than doubled their June output.  Blanco, 2 for 5; Posey, 3 for 4 with a soaring home run; Pence, 2 for 5 with a home run; Belt 3 for 5; and Brandon Crawford, the guy who is OK to keep on the team because of his glove, 4 for 5.  Brandon is now hitting .292, pretty respectable for a guy who, at one time was never going to be able to hit major league pitching.  Final score: Giants 10, dbacks 5.  You know, Arizona has had some great pitching and has a bunch of good hitters.  Goldschmidt is good against other teams besides us.  But they are not champions, and we need to go out and remind them of that, forcefully if necessary.

Friday, June 7, 2013

1-0 Was Not Quite Enough

Jeremy Affeldt does not give up a lot of home runs, but he left a 2-0 pitch a little too up and a little too over the plate for Giant-killer Paul Goldschmidt who sent it over the right-field wall in the 8th to decide the game. Matt Cain left after 7+ with a 1-0 lead, having surrendered an infield single to A.J. Pollock. Ol' Boch summoned his normally stalwart lefty who induced a groundout from pinch-hitter Wil Nieves and then struck out leadoff man Gerardo Parra. Unfortunately he then walked Willie Bloomquist to bring the slugging Arizona first baseman to the plate. Dave Righetti made a trip to the mound and said "down, down, down, there's a lefty up next" or something to that effect, and it looked for all the world that Miguel Montero would get his chance, but then it was a three-run bomb and the gig was up.

Matt Cain gave up a hit, walked three guys, and threw 31 pitches in the 1st but wriggled out of the jam, courtesy mostly of the aforementioned Goldschmidt who hit into a double play. Cain got another 6-4-3 out of him later, and followed that with a whiff in the 6th. It looked like a good night. Matty put up six more zeros with only 72 pitches and had Pollock 0-2 before the high-hop grounder to third in the 8th finally ended his night. It was a good start (Game Score 66), and kept the Giants in the game against the Diamondback's young lefty. Patrick Corbin was clinical through the first six, using only 70 pitches to subdue the lineup, but a broken-bat hit from Pablo Sandoval and a two-out single from Gregor Blanco finally broke the ice. Panda, on his gimpy leg, raced to third on a fly out to right from Joaquin Arias (pinch-hitting for an overmatched Brandon Crawford who swung and missed the six pitches he'd seen) to get the extra ninety feet and make the hit from Blanco count. Alas, it was not to be enough. The Giants usually hang on to late leads and usually squeak out the close ones. Not tonight. Matt Cain pitched well, and despite the loss to the division front-runners, that has to be worth something. If the starters can grind out quality innings and string together good outings then the team can get back to their championship form. Madison Bumgarner gets his shot tomorrow.



p.s. Angel Pagan was finally put on the 15-day DL, retroactive to May 28th. Fresno OF Juan Perez takes his spot.

p.p.s. Brandon Belt made a sweet grab-and-throw on an grounder from Corbin in the 6th to get Didi Gregorius (who doubled to start the inning) at the plate and preserve the 0-0 tie.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Dickey Downer

R.A. Dickey did it all today, mesmerizing Giants hitters with his arsenal of drunken butterflies for 8-1/3 as well as executing a perfect butcher-boy RBI double in the fateful 5th. Barry Zito didn't pitch badly, but got burned by a couple of walks and two two-out hits, one by former Giant Mark DeRosa. He also failed to keep an eye on Jose Bautista who stole two bases in that same 5th and ultimately scored. That was it--one bad inning and the game was effectively over. Dickey had the ball diving and corkscrewing and the local lads were over-matched. Giants have another off-day and then head to Arizona for a showdown Friday night with the division-leading Diamondbacks. Lefty phenom Patrick Corbin is 9-0 and has allowed only 18 runs in 11 starts (74-1/3 IP). Matt Cain gets the call for San Francisco, he's allowed 46 runs, the third-most in the NL (behind Wily Peralta and Edwin Jackson). I never thought I'd type that sentence. Oddly, today's winning knuckleballer and 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner has allowed 47 runs this season. It's an upside-down world, my friends.



Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Seven Strong Tim

After a much needed day off, the Giants got back to what made them great and beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-1.  Just enough offense combined with brilliant pitching and excellent defense. I don't know about you, but I LOVE it.  Who wouldn't? And when the brilliant pitching is largely from our fallen Ace, Tim Lincecum (4-5), well, I'm in baseball heaven.

"Seven strong" has always been one of my favorite baseball phrases. Concise and clear.  It is a phrase that we used around here with great regularity back in the day.  Not so much this year. But tonight, Tim delivered a text book example: seven innings, three hits, 1 run, 1 walk, and six strikeouts. I know it is only one start and getting all excited about the return of Lincecum is absolutely premature. So, I'll just enjoy what the baseball gods served up tonight.  It was delicious.

Every win during this tough stretch is big.  Every good start from Tim is big.  We may look back at this game as ... big.

(Only bad part: Arizona won in the 14th against the Cards. Oh well.)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

6 4 2 2 0 5

Whew. I was thinking if the Giants lost today, my headline would be "Woe," as in "what a woeful weekend." Or perhaps "Whoa," like "whoa, man, what the hell's happening with our team?" But I came home this afternoon and checked the score and it was "whew, they finally won." How about that Chad Gaudin and his lovely line? That's the headline, man, a quality start. Keep them damn runners off base and them damn runs off the scoreboard! Who knew the 2013 Giants would find it so hard to string together quality starts? Since the 2009 club this franchise has pounded out weeks and months of quality innings and solid pitching performances. It's been a struggle this season, though. What's up with that? There's too much talent there, I can't believe it won't turn around. Big effort by Gaudin the 12th Man to plug the hole and lead the way to victory.

Travel day tomorrow, then they get another chance against the Blue Jays on Tuesday in San Francisco with Tim Lincecum on the mound. Giants only play nine home games in June. Time to improve that road record!


Saturday, June 1, 2013

June score: Cardinals 15, Giants 1

Not much relief the second game today.  The Giants managed to squeak a run across.  The Cardinals hit no more home runs than they had in the first game, and managed a similar result.  The final: 7-1.  Madison Bumgarner threw 94 pitches, 62 strikes in 6 innings.  He gave up 5 runs on 6 hits and 1 walk.  The Cardinals were very good at grouping their hits together.  Ramon Ramirez, who has mostly been a waste of time since his call up, gave up 2 runs on 3 hits in one inning.  It would have taken a very low scoring game for the Giants to beat Adam Wainwright.  The Giants got 8 hits in his complete game effort, but no Giant walked.  With the exception of Andres Torres' rbi single, the Giants hits were not well grouped.  Chad Gaudin starts tomorrow, then the Giants get a day off before taking on Toronto on Tuesday.

Recurring Cardinals Nightmare Sinks Cain and Giants

Matt Cain had the freakiest inning of his career at home against the Cardinals in April, and damn close to the same thing happened again today in St. Louis. He cruised through the first six batters, looking sharp and in command, then all of a sudden he was in the stretch and the hailstorm of hits would not stop. Is he mechanically unsound? Mentally unfocused? Tipping his pitches? What the hell is going on? I wish I knew. It was not fun to watch, that much I can say. Maybe the Cards are still pissed about losing the LCS and save their extra-special efforts for the Giants. Then again, they are the best team in baseball right now, and hit the snot out of the ball no matter who they play. The lineup was missing both Angel Pagan and Pablo Sandoval and surrendered feebly to Shelby Miller's fastball, making the first game of the doubleheader a mismatch. They say "hitting is contagious," so perhaps bad starting pitching is as well. The Giants have not been able to keep the quality starts coming, something quite out of character for this club. Cain looked like he'd righted the ship the last two times out, yielding a total of six hits and zero homers and the team won both games. He had four good starts out of five for the month of May, and the team won all five, but flipping the calendar to June released the Hounds of Hell. Cain has now given up 46 runs (7 today, all in the 3rd) in 74-1/3 innings!

After our boy signed his mega-extension, he responded in Year One with a one-hitter in the Home Opener, followed it with The First Perfect Game in Franchise History, then a win in the All-Star Game, and finally a World Series Title. Not bad. Not bad at all. Hell, that's almost worth a hundred mill right there! But Year Two is not going according to plan. Not according to plan at all.

Matty darlin', I could never be angry with ye. Disappointed now and then, for sure. We all have our ups and downs, this I know only too well. Right now, though, I'm feeling something new. I'm shaken. Aye, that's it. Shaken. Like if Caruso hit a sour note, or Picasso's pencil ran off the page. Come back to us, lad, and soon.