Friday, May 30, 2014

Summertime Fun

So you figure Madison Bumgarner against Adam Wainwright for a summertime pitchers' duel.  You pop a chicken in the oven to roast, mix a cocktail for the missus and have a seat, except before you can even sit down - BAM! the Giants are in front.  And then, just as you get settled, BAM! - the Giants run up a lead.  Oh, my goodness.

Last time out, Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals' ace, threw 8 shutout innings, striking out 12 Reds and garnering his 8th W against 2 L.  He had a 1.67 ERA coming into tonight and a 0.85 WHIP.  He lasted 4 1/3 innings against the Giants, giving up 7 runs (all earned) on 8 hits.  Madison Bumgarner, meanwhile, again struck out 10, only walked 1 in 7 innings.  No runs and only 3 hits for Madison.  After 7, with the score 9 - 0, it was time to give Huff some work.  It is a great opportunity to do just that, if he is going to right himself and remain on the big club, no better time than with a 9-run lead.

Giants had 12 hits.  2 each from Pagan, Pence, Sandoval, Morse and Blanco.  Pence's 3-run booming home run was damaging, running the score to 5 - 0 in the second inning, but Blanco made it 7 - 0 in the 5th with a 2-rbi single and Hector Sanchez did likewise to make it 9 - 0 in the 7th.  I didn't mind because I once saw the Cardinals score 8 runs against the Giants.  In one inning.  All on singles.  The Cardinals scored some runs off of Huff, but this game was really all about Madison's dominance and Wainwright's lack of dominance.  Fun!

The Panda did not get an rbi.  That's OK, big fella, just keep swinging the bat.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Third Inning: 12-6

The Giants stand atop the baseball world at 35-19 after a thrilling victory in St. Louis. Here's the tally for the first third of the season:

First inning, 10-8,
Second inning, 13-5,
Third inning, 12-6.

The Giants .648 percentage projects to 105 wins! Foolish thought, I know, but I couldn't help myself. My goodness, the ballclub is playing well. Michael Morse delivered another huge game this evening--his opposite field double off flame-throwing Trevor Rosenthal in the 8th was equally as impressive as his moon shot in the 2nd off starter Jamie Garcia. The Giants put up six and needed them all as Ryan Vogelsong allowed four and closer Sergio Romo allowed another. I like how the team scored with both big flies and lowly singles and tossed in a stolen base as well. Lots of arrows in the quiver, I say! Vogie had a couple of rocky stretches but still recorded 19 outs against a tough lineup and kept the game close. Strong relief from Javier Lopez and the unstoppable force that is Jean Machi kept the lid on until the 9th. Romo scared the crap out of everyone with an ugly, 25-pitch torture-fest but managed to nail down the save. I have not "worried" about a single Giants player so far this season. I knew Panda would come out of his funk. He now has an RBI in nine straight games. I know Buster will bust loose. Matt Cain will be Matt Cain again. Slumps, bad luck, injuries, they all happen to everyone. But I will admit to some worry about Sergio--that was a dangerous tightrope act he put on tonight.

The Giants rank 14th among 30 teams with a .313 wOBA and 9th with a 100 wRC+ (FanGraphs). They rank 13th with a .716 OPS but 8th with a 105 OPS+ (B-R). The Giants are 6th in both FIP (3.48) and ERA+ (110), and 3rd in ERA (3.03). The team has scored 232 runs and allowed 184--that run difference (+48) is the best in the NL and second only to Oakland's ridiculous +100.

The first third of the 2014 season belongs to San Francisco. They have shown they can pitch, hit, field, and run. They've survived some crucial injuries and some key players have yet to deliver as expected. If they can stay healthy and get some guys back on track (like Cain) they could sustain their excellent play into the summer. It's weird to have the team be so hot early in the year. In 2012 their best months were June, August and September, and in 2010 they were April, July and September. This is a different club, though, and there are many paths to the Promised Land. Let's hope the lads can find theirs.

Three more games with the defending NL champs. Madison Bumgarner tomorrow.



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Freakishly Effective Tim

For the second day in a row, the Giants shut out the hapless Cubbies, 5-0.  It was a midweek day game, so I pretty much missed the whole thing. Which really SUCKS because after scanning the wrap it was clear that this would have been a great game to see; it had all kinds of cool shit (if you are a Giants fan, that is.) But most of all it featured Tim Lincecum once again being surprisingly effective. He may not have known where it was going, but neither did they.  And, they sure as shit could not hit it.

Start #11  ND  (4-3, 4.18)   5 innings  0 hits  0 runs  0 earned  4 walks  5 strikeouts  0 hr
Look at those zeroes! Aint they sweet? Sure, five innings, six base runners and almost a hundred pitches are kinda ugly. But look at those zeroes! Unhittable and ugly, at the same time! That's our Freak.  Is it a little surprising that Bochy pulled Tim when he did? Maybe, but classic, by-the-book baseball moves are boring. And there is nothing classic or by-the-book about our Timmeh. Anyway, talk of a blister makes the decision easier. Isn't it amazing how different our two Tims are? Well, one thing they have in common now is kicking Cub ass.  

Besides Lincecum, several other Giants deserve note. The bullpen continues to shine. The latest addition, George Kontos looks good to me. His command and velocity seem to be at a higher level than last year. I bet he stays around for a while.
Pablo kept his RBI streak alive at eight games. Impressive achievement. If he gets to nine he joins people like Ott and Mays, I think. Keep it up Panda!
Tip o the cap to Hector Sanchez! Looks like he will pair up with Tim from now on. Not sure if that is a reward. Although when Tim throws his next no hitter, Hector will get the photo op.
And finally, congrats to Hunter! Can you believe someone brought the scooter back?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Even It Up

Giants square the series with the Cubs behind another strong start from Tim Hudson (Game Score 70). Throw in some clutch hitting (two two-out run-scoring hits) with some superb infield defense (B-Craw!) and the San Francisco home formula delivers another win. The local lads up their record at AT&T to 18-9 which is just behind the 20-8 Marlins and 16-7 Rockies and just ahead of the 15-8 Cardinals. Win big at home and break even on the road usually works. The Giants are 15-10 in away games so far and that's a good thing as it looks like the race in the West will be a tight one.

Tim Lincecum goes tomorrow afternoon. It's the team's 54th game, one-third of the season. I'll throw out a few "third inning" thoughts after JC's post.

Keep it rolling, Giants!


p.s. Correction: the Giants play Game 54 on Thursday against the Cardinals. Game 48 was suspended!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mad About the Boy

There is something about watching Madison Bumgarner pitch, when he is pitching well.  He looks so relaxed throwing the ball that it seems like it is coming out of his hand in a leisurely way.  That is a misconception.  Madison struck out 10 today in 7 innings and did not walk anyone.  He threw first pitch strikes to 19 of the 25 batters he faced, and 77 of the 107 pitches he threw were strikes (72%).

Madison breezed through the first 2 innings, striking out Joe Mauer (the first of three K's for Mr. Mauer vs. Madison).  The Giants, after their fashion lately, did not hesitate in putting up 2 runs in the first inning, aided by Minnesota's defensive sloppiness.  In the third, Eduardo Escobar dropped his bat head and found a hit.  I dropped my bat head once, it hit my foot and hurt like hell.  Danny Santana singled, but a way wide throw from Hunter Pence let Escobar go to third, whereupon he scored on a sac fly.  Not entirely sure why that should be an earned run, but it was.  There was only one more Minnesota hit off of Madison.  George Kontos came in and pitched the eighth and ninth innings, giving up only 1 hit and striking out 3.  It is helpful if your opposition does not touch the ball in 13 of their 27 outs.

No matter though, as the Giants came back with a Hunter Pence solo home run in the bottom of the third, then added some more as Brandon Crawford scored Michael Morse from second on a deep sac fly in the fourth, Michael Morse cleared Madbum, Gregor Blanco and Hunter Pence with a double in the fifth and Tyler Colvin batted in Pablo Sandoval from third in the eighth.  Final score 8 - 1! 

Here are some batting lines:
Michael Morse - 3 doubles and a sac fly (4 rbi)
Hunter Pence - 3 for 4 (3 runs scored)
Gregor Blanco - 3 for 4
Pablo Sandoval - 2 for 4 (1 rbi)

So we swept the Twinkies, and swept the other American League team we have played, the Cleveburgers.  Today was a great example of how we have been winning games.  We got a bunch of hits, but rbi's spread over the line-up.  Buster, our linch-pin, is in a bit of a slump (but did get a hit and score a run) and we win anyway.  Santiago Casilla, a vital cog in our relief, goes down and we win anyway (and Kontos looks ready to fill some big shoes here).  Of course, our starters are giving us enough innings so that our relief is not beat up - that's huge.  Today, Madison was truly ace-like.  Can't wait until he pitches again.

Top of the Table

The Giants have the best record in baseball after yesterday's close win over the Twins. A week ago I posted "Vogie, Panda lead the way" after a crisp home victory over the Marlins. Ryan Vogelsong didn't give up a run in that start and didn't give up a run yesterday. Pablo Sandoval hit a homer and scored two in that game, he hit a homer and drove in two in this one. In his first four starts, Vogie gave up 14 runs in 16-1/3 innings. He's followed that with 40 innings over six starts in which he's allowed only six runs, four of them in one game. The Panda's line was .177/.262/.302 at the end of April. That's a .564 OPS! Now he's rolling out a .227/.279/.392 line, which is still wretched, but the .671 OPS is a hell of a lot closer to his career .817 mark.

Looks like Matt Cain will miss his start tomorrow. That's too bad--I was looking forward to the matchup with Jeff Samardzija who is leading the world in Cainings. The Chicago ace is winless in ten starts despite allowing only 16 runs in 68 innings.

Madison Bumgarner goes today against Ricky Nolasco.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Not Really Good, But Good Enough Tim

The potent San Francisco offense continued to shine and gave a scrappy Tim Lincecum the 6-2 victory against the visiting Twins. Yep, the ones from Minnesota. Don't ask me why we are playing them, but if they continue to blow a gazillion scoring chances, they are more than welcome to stay for awhile. 

Start #10 Win!  (4-3)   6 innings  5 hits  2 runs  2 earned  6 walks  4 strikeouts  0 hr
This was not a great outing for Tim, as he clearly had very little command, issuing a season high six walks. Yet, he got the big out just about every time he needed it.  All the pundits will use the terms "gritty" and "tough" to describe Tim's job. Hell, I already used "scrappy." So, you get the idea. Kinda ugly but good enough. Another good, actually great job by a fourth starter.

Exciting times for Pablo Sandoval lately. His three run homer in the first turned out to be all we needed. Brandon Hicks chipped in another dinger late as well. Boy howdy, we sure hit a lot of homers. I sure wonder how long that will last.
Great job by Machi as well. He got the save by getting the last 5 outs.  I get the sense this is his breakout year. If he can pick up for the loss of Casilla, he gets my first half MVP.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Oh, the Suspense!

The Giants and the Rockies decided that they would rather play the game later. Much later. Like September. No sense torturing us now when they can do it with so much more on the line then. I'm just glad the Giants got a win in that park. Weird stuff happens in that park. I'm happy to see the team leave.

The Minnesota Twins come to San Francisco tomorrow night. Tim Lincecum gets the start.



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

One win, two losses

Matt Cain looked good in Colorado this evening, spotting the fastball and snapping off some curves and whatnot. He got in three hitless innings, well 'hitless' isn't quite right, he did hit a batter, but the other guys were making outs with alacrity, but then Matty was out of the game. The official word is 'hamstring strain' and I suppose there's a glossary of baseball injury-jive that I need to download, because that don't mean much. Yet. Here at RMC, Matt Cain starts are like the fecking sunrise--regular, steady, predictable. Maybe not so much in 2013, and this bipolar 2014 so far, but Cainer is Mr. Consistency, Mr. Steady, Mr. Reliable. And the Giants are haulin' heapin' wads o' cash his way as well, and you have to figure they are counting on the Tennessee Stud to be, well, studly. He's mortal, I suppose, and kind of an old man in baseball years, with nearly 1800 innings logged on the hill over ten seasons.

But I could live with that, an injury is an injury and even Matty can get injured. But the pyrrhic potential victory turned to nightmare when Santiago Casilla injured his hamstring running to first base. It was a grand old time watching him bat--he actually worked the count to full and put a ball in play. But when he fell down on the way to first, I thought he was clowning. Bitch-slap me, bros, I did indeed think that. But then it was clear he was grimacing, not grinning, and it all got stupid pronto. Christ! Run to first! Don't run yourself on to the DL! Weird. Ugly. Bizarre. Coors Field.

So I suppose I should make a sober analysis of the situation. Sorry, no can do. Have to be sober, you see. Yusmeiro Petit came in and nailed down another nine outs, that's a good thing. The boys muscled up with some big flies--I particularly liked Brandon Crawford's moon shot. He followed that with another ridiculous play which initiated a double play with a fine barehand grab-and-throw from Brandon Hicks. Very nice.

Matt Cain walked off the field under his own power. Santiago Casilla had to be carried off. DL for the latter and not for the former, eh? We'll see.



Bummer, dude.

Sometimes, that is about all you can say.  Romo coughed after Tyler Colvin had scored for the second time to put the Giants up in the 9th.

Madison Bumgarner did not turn in a stellar game, and that happens in Coors from time to time.  He could have pitched better though.  Mistakes to Wilin Rosario gave Colorado their runs, 3 on 8 hits and 1 BB in 6 innings against 6 K's in a total of 100 pitches.  Jean Machi and Santiago Casilla each turned in a scoreless inning before Romo came up in the 9th with the score 4 - 3 Giants and gave up 2.  The line-up looks pretty thin with three replacement guys (four if you count Sanchez) but Blanco, Colvin and Hicks are performing as well as could be asked.  The Rockies, and Tru Trolawitzki are playing well - we need to get on a horse and get a win or two.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Vogie, Panda lead the way

The Marlins leave town today and don't return to San Francisco until 2015. I imagine everyone is happy about that. The team based in Miami seems to only bring their good bats when they play at AT&T. Fortunately Ryan Vogelsong had his throw-strikes & work-the-corners thing going on this afternoon and that kept a lid on the Fish and the Giants pulled off a win. The home team struck first in the 1st with some Gregor Blanco action and made it hurt four batters later with consecutive two-out RBI singles from FNGs Brandon Hicks and Tyler Colvin. You have to love contributions from the bottom of the order. Pablo Sandoval added a solo homer in the 5th and Vogie made it seven scoreless and that was enough. Jeremy Affeldt was a little rocky in the 8th but Santiago Casilla eventually got the big outs and Sergio Romo finished up. Good start, good defense, clutch hitting, strong 'pen--we know the formula and it's beautiful when it works.

Giants get an off-day tomorrow before heading to Colorado. The Rockies have the best run-difference (+49) in the NL and are a much-improved club. It's a quick trip and the boys will be back home for an inter-league series with the Minnesota Twins on Friday.


Sort of Tim

Lo and behold I can now write blog posts again. See, I used to specialize in commentary r/t Jonathan Sanchez. He became a not-so-good pitcher and then he became an ex-Giant, and somewhere along the way I changed my e-mail address then eventually forgot how to sign in. Anyway I'm sure none of you cares (very much).
Yesterday Lincecum was sort of bad then sort of good then ended up being sort of bad again. Meanwhile the offense disappeared, partly due to flawed base running (Hicks). It was a seriously "meh" game and nothing to write home about.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Crazy Eights

Big hits from #8 Pence, #28 Posey, and #38 Morse helped Matt Cain (#18) beat the Marlins in San Francisco tonight. Matty struggled early, giving up two homers and four runs in the first three innings, but found his groove late and pitched into the 8th inning. The final tally was 33 batters, 107 pitches and 23 outs, the first time this season Cain has gone that far. Jeremy Affeldt got a strikeout to end the 8th and Sergio Romo only needed nine pitches for a 1-2-3 9th and the save. Giants win 6-4 over a persistent nemesis, the once-Florida-now-Miami Marlins, who seem to bring the big sticks whenever they come to AT&T.

The momentum swing happened in the 5th, Giants down 4-3, when Angel Pagan worked a walk from an 0-2 count, forcing 10 pitches out of Nathan Eovaldi. Hunter Pence then hit a dribbler down the first base line that he ran into and it kicked into foul territory off the side of his foot. He should have been called out as he was clearly inside the line and it was a live ball. The home plate umpire, Lance Barksdale, ruled it a foul however, and thus Pence got another shot. The umps got into a huddle but let the call stand, and it apparently is not reviewable under the new video replay guidelines so the Giants got a huge break. Buster Posey capitalized by crushing the next pitch into Triples Alley and drive in the go-ahead runs. The Giants seem to be in the middle of all the interesting calls this season! You have to believe the replay rules will get tweaked after that one.

Mike Morse blasted an opposite-field homer in the 3rd with two outs and a man on to help the team claw back from a 4-1 hole. He had an RBI single in the 5th as well for the final run. He's cooled off quite a bit from his torrid start, so it's nice to see him finding his stroke again. The Giants lineup faced some serious heat tonight yet they pounded out 12 hits and wrested victory from the jaws of defeat. That's 16 runs and 27 hits in the last two games!

Cainer has three starts out of seven total where's he's allowed multiple homers--two with two and one with three. The team has won two of those three games, and lost the two back-to-starts where he went seven in each with a run apiece (Game Scores of 70 and 73!) and zero homers. Go figure! It's the crazy world of Matt Cain baseball. Giants are rolling right now and have the most wins (27) in baseball. They were 11-10 after a loss in Colorado on April 22nd and have gone 16-5 since.

Tim Hudson was scratched due to injury, soreness in his hip apparently. Hey, he's an old man (38) in baseball years. A little rest for the current ace of the club is not a bad idea. Yumeiro Petit gets the start--this is a potent Miami lineup, he'll need to be sharp.



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sloppy, But We'll Take It

The Giants finished off the season series against the Braves with their 5th victory in 6 games.  Pretty good against a good team.  They also beat the Braves' best starter on what was not a representative day for Julio Teheran.  Good thing the offense showed up, big time, because Madison Bumgarner was not at his best, either.

Here is the difference between Madison's last outing and this:
May 9:   8 IP, 4 h, 1 run, 8 K, 1 BB, 76/112 strikes/pitches (0.67)
May 14: 5 IP, 7 h, 4 run, 5 K, 1 BB, 57/96 strikes/pitches (0.59)

Teheran was worse, giving up 5 runs (4 earned) in 3 1/3 innings to raise his ERA to 2.20.  The Giants batted around in the 2 run 1st inning, leaving Matty with a chance for another grand slam (he struck out).  The Braves got Teheran out of there after 84 pitches.

The Giants' relievers, Gutierrez, Machi (2 IP) and Lopez, kept the Braves scoreless.  However, Giants' batters continued to add to what seemed, at the time, like a precarious lead.
Pence, 4 hits, 3 rbi and a home run (isn't that a good thing?)
Sandoval, 2 for 3 and an rbi before leaving with, reportedly, a sore toe.
Colvin, 2 hits.
Morse, 1 very big slump-breaking fly.
Crawford, 3 hits, 3 rbi and a home run.
And last but not least, Gregor Blanco, just when he was looking fairly useless, got a hit and walked twice, stole 3 bases and scored 3 runs.
The Giants now lead the league in 2-out rbi hits.  That is probably reason #1 for the turn around this season.
3 home runs for the home team!  Final score 10 - 4.
Save some of that moxie for the Marlins, boys, they are always tough on the Giants at home.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

He Missed the Tag!

Wow. Buster Posey just got zooged by Jason Heyward. No doubt about it, the replay confirmed what was obvious from Buster's body language--Heyward juked under the tag and was safe. Nice piece of baserunning. This is what the new rule about collisions should do, it should make the athleticism of the runner come into play. If you can, like Heyward, dodge an "easy out" tag play then more power to you. Plays at the plate should be about timing and skill, not brawn. Giants look overmatched against Minor tonight. Too bad, Vogie was throwing well. Maybe they can pull off a late-inning miracle.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Best So Far Tim


The crisp play and winning ways of the last road trip continued back home, as our boys took down the Braves, 4-2.  Tonight's offensive hero was the newly arrived Tyler Colvin, driving in three runs with a homer and a triple. But the big story was Tim Lincecum coming through with by far his best start so far.

Start #8  Win!  (3-2, 4.78)   7.2 innings  2 hits  1 runs  1 earned  4 walks  11 strikeouts  1 hr

Tim's roller coaster, off and on season took a lovely turn tonight. He was FABULOUS! Easily his best outing of the year. The only Brave to ever figure out Tim was B.J. Upton. The strike out total of eleven is classic Big Time Timmy Jim.  I guess it was a bit predictable, after all, some of Timmeh's best ever performances have been against Atlanta.  His highest K total (15) is against the Braves. And, of course, his first ever post season game was his unforgettable 14 K gem. They are a free swinging group, talented, lots of homers, but prone to the strikeout.


Pretty cool to have your first hit as a Giant land in McCovey Cove. Congrats Tyler Colvin.  His later triple was probably even more important than the lovely splash hit.   Welcome, dude.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Relentless Giants Outlast Dodgers

It's only May, fer chrissakes, I can't take this. It felt like a September showdown for first place. The Giants kept battling today in Los Angeles, surviving two seemingly catastrophic events and pulling out an impressive series win. Ehire Adrianza and Brandon Hicks misplayed a ground ball in the 6th and Adrianza then had a "whoops, where's the base?" moment and the Dodgers capitalized and tied the game. Either he needs more time in the minors or it was just what he needed to up his game--I'll let the sports-writers decide. Welcome to the bigs, kid. You can't give an inch or someone will take a mile. It was much like the momentum-shifting miscues in yesterday's 6th inning. In fact, Bochy took out Hudson after that inning, the first time this season he hasn't gone seven. Brandon Crawford made another ridiculous play after going in on the double switch, which underscores Adrianza's gaffe even more. What doesn't kill you makes you tougher, right? Sergio Romo couldn't hold the lead with two outs in the 9th, giving up a game-tying bomb to Hanley Ramirez. Those were both wicked blows, the latter one particularly cruel, but the lads showed moxie and fought on, piling on three big runs the very next half inning to seal the win.

Clayton Kershaw has started, including today, 22 times against the Giants. Only four times have the Giants scored three or more runs. Once in 2010, once in 2011, and once in 2013. And today. What's interesting is that the Dodgers are 'only' 13-9 in those 22 games, you'd think with the way Kershaw has pitched it would be much more lopsided. He's the best, and his teammate Zack Greinke may be the second-best, but the Giants pulled off a split against those two in their yard to cap a strong (7-3) road trip.

Atlanta comes to San Francisco tomorrow night--they'll face Tim Lincecum.



Saturday, May 10, 2014

Lacking in LA

But for a bit of better luck, Matt Cain would have gotten a couple of outs in the 6th inning instead of loading the bases. Michael Morse could not get to a popup from Yasiel Puig, and Hector Sanchez could not hold on to a foul pop from Hanley Ramirez. Neither were hit hard, but that's baseball. The Dodgers tied it up and eventually got the win. Morse hasn't been a liability this season, and we all know about his reputation. Sanchez has hurt the team with his mistakes, but has also shown he can make big plays. Sometimes the cookie crumbles, right? Just when I was raving about the fielders they don't get it done. Dee Gordon ran wild--he's doing that to everyone these days--and was the game's MVP.

Cain had thrown five scoreless despite what seemed to be some shaky command, and when he walked Gordon to start the 6th it felt like a harbinger of doom. The game was all Dodgers after that. The Giants found a chink in Zack Greinke's armor early, but he dominated late and gave his team a chance to come back and take the lead. Which they did in the 7th off Jeremy Affeldt and Jean Machi, a rare letdown by the bullpen. Brian Wilson loaded the bases in the 8th with two outs, but overpowered Hunter Pence to end the threat and the Giants chances, especially when LA tacked on two more against Juan Gutierrez.

Matt the Knife walked four and only 53 of his 92 pitches (58%) were for strikes. Krukow was going on about "arm slot" at first, then went into "he's getting under it" and "he's got push on that ball," ultimately making the point that the just-healed finger cut was responsible for screwing up Cain's grip on the fastball. Whatever it was, it wasn't enough to match Greinke, who has now made twenty consecutive starts without giving up more than two runs.

The Dodgers bring out Clayton Kershaw tomorrow and the Giants counter with Tim Hudson, their best pitcher this season. Should be a great game.



Second inning: 13-5

The Giants played their 36th game last night thus finishing their second seasonal inning. They went 10-8 in the first and have followed that with a 13-5 run to stand at 23-13, the best record in the majors. A .639 win percentage projects to a final total of 103 wins! Wouldn't that be something?

Currently the team is 11th among thirty teams in runs scored per game at 4.17, just a hair under the MLB average of 4.18 rpg. Even better, they are fifth-best in runs allowed at 3.42, with only the Braves, Cardinals, Reds and Athletics ahead of them. Nice balance, eh?

The Giants also rank 11th in wRC+ (101), 18th in wOBA (.311) and 6th in OPS+. They are 11th-best in FIP (3.58) but their xFIP ranks them 7th-best overall. Saber-stats tERA and SIERA rate the team's pitching staff 8th- and 9th-best respectively. The average MLB team slash line is .250/.317/.389 (.706) and the Giants are running out a .238/.309/.400 (.709) which conforms to what we've seen--not a lot of hits or walks but a lot of power and thus plenty of runs (150, 9th-best overall). The Giants have 19 Quality Starts which puts them in the middle of the pack, but a 3.01 ERA (third-best) and .681 OPS against (9th-best).

I think we've seen the Giants benefit from playing in their run-suppressing home park (10-5 record, +15 run difference, 3.93 rpg), and from increased scoring on the road (13-8, +12 run difference, 4.33 rpg). The club is really doing good things on defense: B-R has a stat called "defensive efficiency" and the Giants rate fifth-best by that metric. Traditional stats like errors and fielding percentage put them in the middle of the pack, but the "eye-test" says the Giants are getting big plays from key fielders (like the incredible B-Craw) and the defensive shifts are paying off. Let's hope that continues.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Talking Brandons, Brandons and MadBum (sey hey, sey hey)

Madison Bumgarner looked GOOD tonight - unlike my previous posts earlier in the season where he looked OK, and came up with a victory in 8 innings of pitching.  Madison threw 112 pitches and held the doggers to one run - a solo blast from the puig.  Madison was not happy about it, and wanted to let Puig know.  That kind of thing has all the earmarks of a bad beginning - to a fight, to a pitcher not being able to control his pitches, or to a rally by the bad guys - but here is what happened: Madison struck out HanRam (or whatever they call him) and won the game, 3 - 1.

Giants offense came mostly from the Brandon.2 and Brandon.3.  Brandon Hicks worked a walk in the 5th inning of a scoreless game, and Brandon Crawford stuck one in the bleachers on the first pitch he saw.  Way to go B.2!  The Giants added another one in the 6th before Puig marred MadBum's shutout with a Pence walk, a steal, and a goofy play that could only come from the vaunted dogger defense that allowed Pence to score and put Arias on second.

Kemp had two hits.  The top 4 dogger hitters: 1 combined.  Madbum gave up a total of 4 hits, the one aforementioned run, 1 walk and K'ed 8.  Pence walked twice, but did not get a hit.  He also hit into a double play with bases loaded and no one out in the 7th and the Giants did not score.  B.2 had 2 of the Giants 6 hits.  In the 2nd, Brandon Belt was hit by a pitch in the thumb.  He was clearly in pain but stayed in to run.  The Giants did not score and he did not continue in the game.  It was reported that he had a hairline fracture.  Because of where he was hit, I am guessing that he will go on the DL, hopefully not for too long.  We are 6 - 2 so far this season against the bums.  I guess Matt Cain is still scheduled for tomorrow.

Giants Pick Up a Win

The boys from San Francisco have been flashing leather all over the country lately, and the infield in particular really delivered last night. Brandon Crawford may never win the popularity contest called the Gold Glove, but we know he can pick it as well or better than anyone in the game. He couldn't handle a smash from Yasiel Puig that was ruled a hit, but otherwise he smothered the Dodgers chances with three beautiful plays to back up a surging Ryan Vogelsong. Defensive positioning (and some slick work by Brandon Hicks) robbed Adrian Gonzalez of at least two hits, probably three, and certainly kept the Dodgers off the board. I've said before that I think the Giants have an edge on defense, and much of the credit has to go to the advance scouts and Ron Wotus, and to the pitchers for sticking to the game plan and inducing hitters to hit into the shifts. Pablo Sandoval is still struggling with the bat, but he's been impressive at the hot corner, knocking down hard hit balls and gunning out runners with regularity. Brandon Belt got a the only hit with a runner in scoring position all evening for the Giants, and this after two more swinging strikeouts earlier in the game. Yeah, he's streaky, you never know what you'll get from one PA to the next! His long reach and sure hands certainly help with the shutdown defense.

It takes a village, man. The Dodgers are absolutely loaded with talent--their lineup is scary, and the parade of relievers they can bring out there slinging 95 is ridiculous. And I haven't touched on the fact that they probably have the two best starters in the game in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. But here in the early part of the season the Giants are 5-2 against their rivals and have held them to a mere 18 runs or 2.57 per game. That works against any club.

Madison Bumgarner gets the ball tonight against lefty Paul Maholm. Matt Cain is listed for Saturday--he matches up with Greinke. Tim Hudson and Kershaw on Sunday. The Dodgers have their two big weapons to close out the series, and then there are only three more games left on the schedule in LA (September 22-24). The other six are in SF (July 25-27 and September 12-14.)



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Commandless Tim


 The pesky Pirates snatched the game and series from our boys this morning, 4-3.  These two teams appear quite equally matched; the series featured extra innings, a walk off replay and today's one run game.  Basically, today it boiled down to the starters. Pittsburgh brought quality with Gerrit Coles and the Giants brought ... well, they brought Tim.

Start #7  Loss  (2-2, 5.55)   4 innings  8 hits  4 runs  4 earned  2 walks  4 strikeouts  0 hr

The general consensus seems to be that Tim has lost both his velocity and command.  Hmmm, sounds like a #4-5 starter to me. And that is clearly what the once dominating "Freak" has become. Bleh. Today was a good example of this year's variation on Timmeh's decay. He has cut down on his walks and is throwing a higher percentage of strikes. Sounds good doesn't it? Well, it should be. But the way Tim does it is more like batting practice.  Hit after hit! Thank Willie there were no long balls. The ones that killed me were the 0-2 hits! I think there were five of them TODAY.  You should give up five A YEAR. Bleh.


Brandon Belt has clearly reawakened from his latest zombie vacation.  Today he went deep (#9!) and doubled to drive in all our runs.  I really can't think of a streakier Giant, can you?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Upon further review . . .

. . . he's safe!

The key on that play was Ehire Adrianza's ill-advised relay throw to third base. For a fast runner like Sterling Marte it would have been smarter to concede the triple. His hit just missed being a homer! Thank the baseball gods for that small break and pitch to the next guy. Ah, well. Spectacular work from Tim Hudson.

It was a great run by the Giants and it is only by the perverse logic of baseball that the best-pitched game of the entire stretch results in a loss.

Tim Lincecum tomorrow. It's a morning game for us, 9:35 Pacific.



Giants fail to hit home runs, win anyway

Two weeks ago the Giants gave up 10 runs to the Colorado Rockies and yet won the game in 11 innings by a score of 12-10. Jean Machi was the winning pitcher. Matt Cain started. Last night the Giants gave up 10 runs to the Pittsburgh Pirates and won in 13 innings by a score of 11-10. Jean Machi was the winning pitcher. Matt "The Knife" Cain was supposed to start but was DL'd beforehand. In between those two contests in extras the Giants went 8-1 and allowed only 16 runs (6 in the one loss), sweeping two teams and taking two of three from the other. The Giants were 6-2 after their Home Opener and I remember thinking I liked a fast start. I mean, your team can have a crappy start and still have a great season, after all it takes six months and 162 games (and sometimes 163) to settle everything. But given the choice between a good start and a bad one I'll take the good one. Wins are wins and the team with the most, wins. Right? Giants are 15-9 since their 6-2 start.

Tim Hudson tonight.



Sunday, May 4, 2014

And Again, With Emphasis

Madison Bumgarner looked a lot more like Madison Bumgarner today than he did last time. Stop me if you've heard this: Giants starter goes six, gives up one run, Giants hit two homers and win. The Slugging San Franciscans made it a clean sweep in Atlanta behind another fine start and another home run binge. Brandon Crawford not only catches the ball, he also hits it, this time it was two long balls, one a solo shot to preserve the perverse streak of solo shots, and the next one with a man on to, we hope, start a new streak of man-on homers. I mean, I like homers, but I like them even more when there are ducks on the pond. The Giants sweep the Braves on the road and that hasn't happened since Mike Krukow was a player.

Only two teams in baseball have twenty wins--the 20-11 Giants and the 21-11 Milwaukee Brewers. The Colorado Rockies failed to get their twentieth in New York today while the Oakland A's picked up their nineteenth in Boston. Both clubs sit at 19-12. Giants are winning, so far in the young season, in lots of ways. Check out this series: 2-1 Friday, 3-1 Saturday, and 4-1 Sunday.

Bumgarner today:

Vogelsong yesterday:

Lincecum the night before:

Not bad, eh? And the 'pen was also outstanding--today JC Gutierrez got to work the 7th and Jean Machi, Javier Lopez, and Santiago Casilla finished up.

Matt Cain opens the series in Pittsburgh tomorrow at 4:05 pm Pacific.



p.s. Nevermind, Matt Cain goes on the 15-day DL (retro to April 24) and Jake Dunning will get the call-up for the roster spot and Yusmeiro Petit gets the call for the start for Monday. Matty should be back in action this weekend and will likely pitch Sunday (the 11th) in Los Angeles, or the following Monday night at home against the Braves.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Same formula, same result

The Giants win another close contest against the Braves behind a strong start--this time from Ryan Vogelsong--and solo home runs. Michael Morse hit his second in two nights, this one a soaring fly ball to left-center, and both Buster Posey and Brandon Belt chipped in one apiece. The Giants had only four hits total (two by Buster) but they were the right kind of hits, and the bullpen kept the lid on to seal the victory. The Braves young pitcher, Julio Teheran, was impressive, but got burned by the long ball and lack of run support. I wonder what they call "Caining" in Atlanta.

Tim Lincecum worked hard last night, giving up six hits and three walks and needed 93 pitches to get 18 outs. Ryan Vogeslong gave up five hits and four walks in the same span, and needed 107 pitches to get the job done, and like Timmy only allowed one run. He labored, too, working a lot of long counts, but seemed to get stronger as the game went on and he picked up some big late strikeouts to shut down the Braves. The "tail end" of the Giants rotation has back-to-back quality outings and the team has taken advantage and picked up two big wins. Despite an error, Brandon Crawford once again made some very fine plays, taking away hits, none more impressive than the game-ender, a spinning, airborne scoop-and-throw on a grounder up the middle from his counterpart Andrelton Simmons.

Jean Machi threw four pitches in the 8th and got three outs, one coming on a lovely Brandon-to-Brandon-to-Brandon double play. With Sergio Romo being used both nights, and an early contest tomorrow, I imaging Bochy will shuffle the bullpen assignments a bit and go with Santiago Casilla and/or Javier Lopez in any late-and-close situations, neither of them were used tonight. Jeremy Affeldt looked good again but he was also used last night, so I expect Machi will be the first guy in relief if Madison Bumgarner can get things to the 7th inning.

Giants have a chance to sweep a first-place team in their home park. Go, team, go!


Friday, May 2, 2014

Stingy Tim


 Tim Lincecum and the brilliant relief corps held the talented Brave lineup in check as Angel Pagan and Mike, er sorry...Michael Morse supplied the "dingers du jour" for a nifty 2-1 victory.  This tightly played game smacked of a (dare I say it?) play-off preview.  It is also a fabulous way to start the gnarliest road trip of the early season.

 Start #6  WIN!  (2-1, 5.12)   6 innings  6 hits  1runs  1 earned  3 walks  4 strikeouts  0 hr

 He made not have had his best stuff of the early season, but Timmeh found a way to wriggle out of each tricky spot and deliver one of his better starts so far.  Sure, he gave up a few baserunners ( I bemoaned Lincecum's WHIP problem in my last post) but he never gave up the big hit. It was totally solid, not dominating but tough when he needed to be. If this is the new Tim quality start ... I can definitely live with it.


DingerLoveFest 2014 continues!  Angel Pagan hit another lead-off jack and Morse smacked a ridiculous opposite field deep fly and THAT WAS IT.  We no longer know how to score without a home run. Well, not quite, but it sometimes feels that way. What can I say? It worked tonight.

Brandon Crawford made another sweet play late in the game. It was especially nice for him to do that in Atlanta where they think they have the best defensive SS, Andrelton Simmons.  Both these guys will be around for quite a while, probably on these teams. After all, you don't give up those kinds of gloves.

Good start to the first tough road trip of the year!  Let's see if we can't grab this series tomorrow. Granted, a tough match-up, but Vogie may very well be in a good mode.  The team, as a whole, sure is.  Go Giants!