Sunday, September 28, 2014

O/U 90

I'm one who'd have taken the over on 90 wins. That was predicated on Matt Cain being a 3-WAR pitcher (32 starts, 200 innings, 120 ERA+). It was also predicated on Tim Lincecum finding some consistency and delivering more quality starts. The first assumption was reasonable, the second hopeful, neither came to pass. It was also predicated on Brandon Belt being healthy for a full season and running out a 2013-like line (.289/.360/.481). That's a 4-WAR player. You add seven wins from Cain and Belt and that's the top of the heap or damn near. Ryan Vogelsong is a 1-WAR pitcher, I thought Timmy could do at least that well. That's eight more wins. I know it's not that simple--Peavy and Petit combined for 3 WAR and neither would have made those contributions if Matt and Tim were Matt and Tim. Even so, the club would have been a least a few games better. I believe the loss of Belt in the lineup was the single biggest thing that hurt the offense. I know about the Angel Pagan Effect, but I think Belt's a better hitter and certainly has more power. He's managed to contribute 1 WAR despite only playing in about a third of the season. Pagan is credited with 1.4 WAR for his 96 games--imagine the impact he would have made over a full season.

That being said, the Giants came up short. And they came up short because they played some damn poor baseball for long stretches of the season. Slumps are part of the game, I know that. From June 9th to July 18th they went 10-21, for example. That's .323 ball. That's not a slump, that's a nosedive. The team did not win the games they could have (and should have) won with the people they had. Every team has injuries. On the other hand, considering the decimation of the roster, the team still managed to make the post-season. You have to acknowledge that. It's been a confusing and frustrating season. "Who are these guys?" was my favorite refrain. When they were smoking hot in April and May and when they were icy cold in June and July the same question applied.

The Dodgers, the West champs, did not have a losing month. If the Giants lose today, they'll have three (if they win, two). That's how you win a division--being consistent. The Giants have been very good and very bad but they've ultimately lacked consistency. That's what makes this post-season chance so difficult to evaluate. Yeah, we know anything can happen in one game or one series or one month. But this team is hard to get a handle on--which one will show up next Wednesday? At least we know that Madison Bumgarner will get the start, and he has been terrific all season. If the team has any kind of chance it will be because they have their best guy on the hill. I can get excited about that.

Rookie Chris Heston makes his debut today. That's cool--maybe he'll get a shot to crack the rotation next year. After all there is a good chance Ryan Vogelsong will not be back and there's no guarantee Jake Peavy will be, either. And what they'll do with Tim Lincecum is anybody's guess. So show us what you got, kid.



Friday, September 26, 2014

It's official

Last night's game was like a thumbnail sketch of the season. They took an early, seemingly insurmountable lead. Then they blew it, free-falling to an apparent defeat. Finally they recovered and scratched and clawed their way to victory. A post-season berth, no matter how ugly the means to get there, is a victory. The Giants had already clinched a spot before the game but they picked up the win they needed anyway and got to celebrate. I can't watch those visquine-and-goggles things anymore but I was happy the team got to whoop it up. We'll see if they can get back to the business at hand tonight.

I started thinking about the 25-man playoff roster. Angel Pagan's injury opens up an outfield spot. I get the sense that Mike Morse won't be available, either. Boch used Travis Ishikawa in left field--I wonder if that was a post-season audition. Tim Lincecum got a win by throwing two pitches, I think he's going to be the swing man. Hunter Strickland cranked up his 99-mph cheese and got a big out. I think he'll have a spot.

IF (5): Belt, Panik, BCraw, Panda, Posey.
OF (3): Pence, Blanco, Perez.
Bench (4): Susac, Arias, Duffy, Ishikawa.
Starters (5): MadBum, Peavy, Hudson, Petit, Vogie.
Bullpen (7): Lopez, Affeldt, Machi, Romo, Casilla, Strickland, Lincecum.

That's 24. I know that it's a four-man ro' in the playoffs, but I don't see them leaving Vogelsong off the roster. And I don't think you need Gutierrez if you have two starters who could be called upon in garbage time. And that leaves out Kontos as well. So the 25th man would be Dominguez? Duvall? Am I missing someone or something? Help me out.

Vogie makes his career-high 32nd start tonight.



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Giants need a win

The Giants will take the back door to the post-season after getting whipped in LA. The division was a long shot, but I thought they might have some fight left. Instead they got smoked two nights in a row and got to watch the Dodgers celebrate. The Giants will most likely have to go to Pittsburgh for the sudden-death game--I don't suppose it matters. They actually have a better road record than home despite the recent trip. In the context of all the injuries, it says a lot that they still have a winning record and a chance to play for the big prize. Nonetheless this is a disappointing season. They obviously weren't as good as their 42-21 record in early June, I expected them to cool off. But they dropped into a deep freeze and played the worst ball in the majors before finally getting their shit together in August. And September has been mediocre at best. A strong finish, taking three of four from San Diego, will give them a winning record for the month. But losing four of the last six to the Dodgers at crunch time was a cruel blow. LA came up big down the stretch and took the West easily. Getting swept in San Diego right beforehand was particularly galling. The team looked feeble and lifeless. It's been like that in the second half--just when they start to look great they follow it with anemic, wretched ball. Who knows which team will show up in San Francisco? I expect they will get the one win they need, but it would be nice to see some verve and spirit.

So, do you save Bumgarner for the playoff game? If they win tonight they could rest Peavy as well and have him ready for the LDS. Giants need to get the business done, and the sooner the better. They owe the Padres a beat-down at the very least.



Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Madison Bumgarner was responsible for all of the RBIs tonight.  Unfortunately, he gave up twice as many as he produced.  Giants fans who choose to tune in to tomorrow's television broadcast stand a very good chance of being treated to the sight of the doggers celebrating their division-clinching victory.  And I bet Puig is a big asshole about it.

As a kicker, the Giants will probably travel to Pittsburgh for the wild card game, probably Madison Bumgarner's next start.

Why don't we start Madison in left field on days that he doesn't pitch?  His home run to at bat ratio is better than anyone else's on the Giants. 

Lucky 13th

Giants cling to life with an extra-inning win in Los Angeles. Andrew Susac got the big hit and four Giants relievers kept the Dodgers hitless over the final six frames. Pittsburgh and San Francisco are tied for the top Wild Card spot and lead Milwaukee by five. Both teams will clinch a post-season spot with two wins (or one win and a Brewers loss). Giants have to complete the sweep in order to have a shot at the West title. LA's magic number is three--they've clinched at least a Wild Card spot. The Washington Nationals have clinched the East. The St. Louis Cardinals are up by 2-1/2 in the Central and have clinched at least a Wild Card spot. Their magic number is five.

Madison Bumgarner tonight.



Monday, September 22, 2014

This is it!

Barring a sweep of the Dodgers, the Giants have to think Wild Card. Being swept in San Diego means the Pirates are now tied for the top spot. The Brewers are 4-1/2 back with six to play and are damn near out of it. The Giants and Pirates each have seven games left. Obviously they want to host the sudden-death game in San Francisco rather than travel to Pittsburgh, so that means winning some damn games. It hasn't been pretty against the two remaining opponents. I don't know who the Pirates play nor do I care. It's all up to the Giants. With two spots, they could continue to play ugly ball and still make the post-season. But that's no fun. Let's go, Giants. Get it together!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

3-1/2 back

Giants are going to have to figure out how to beat the goddamn Padres.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Good Day

Amazingly, improbably, the Giants now find themselves 2 games behind the doggers with today's victory over the snakes.  That is exactly where we were last week at the start of the series against LA at home.  There are 10 games left as Los Angeles lost badly (16 - 2, ha!) in Colorado to drop the series there as the Giants pulled out a 2-run ninth inning to win 4 - 2.  The Giants have a day off while LA goes to Chicago to play the Cubbies in a 4 game series.

Madison Bumgarner was on the mound, and he pitched well, but not comfortably.  Madison threw 101 pitches, 71 of them strikes, in 6 full innings.  He gave up 2 runs, 7 hits, 2 walks and struck out 6.  Jean Machi got through the 7th, after giving up 1 hit and 1 walk.  Sergio Romo gave up a hit, but made it through the 8th and Santiago Casilla did not allow a baserunner in the ninth.  Arizona took a page from the "How to Befuddle the Giants" playbook and started a rookie pitcher, Andrew Chafin.  He did a good job, also throwing 6 innings and allowing 2 runs.

The Giants only had 6 hits, although they received 7 baserunners via walks.  The 1 through 6 positions in the order were hitless.  Madison had 1 hit.  Thank goodness for Brandon Crawford, he had 4 hits, a double and 3 singles.  BCraw also had an rbi, as did Gregor Blanco (on a walk).  In the ninth, with ruddy Addison Reed on the mound, Pablo drew a walk, Susac struck out, BCraw singled to right in front of Cody Ross so that Pablo couldn't advance beyond 2nd base.  Brandon Belt, back on the team and pinch hitting for the hapless Juan Perez, also walked to load the bases.  The slender FNG, Matt Duffy, pinch hitting in the pitcher's spot, worked the count, fouled off a couple of pitches and coolly roped a line drive into center field to score Pablo and BCraw.  Well done, youngster!

The Giants play three, starting Tuesday, in San Diego.  These are, of course, all must-win games.  We should have Peavy, Madison and Tim Hudson lined up when we meet the doggers again in LA.  Today, Carlos Frias, starting for Ryu, gave up 8 runs in two-thirds of an inning.  LA plays four in Chicago and returns to LA without a break.  The Cubs have a bunch of free-swingers with nothing to lose.  Go Cubbies!

The Peave-a-tron

Jake Peavy has been pretty consistent lately. Here are his last seven starts (since August 13):

You have to like that. Last night the Giants couldn't get much going offensively and just barely squeaked out a win. If they want to make some noise in their final eleven games and in the post-season they better find those bats again. And they need to hook Tim Hudson up to the Peave-a-tron and see if he can find that mojo he had going earlier in the year.

So, you think the Giants ought to go after Peavy for 2015? He's a free agent. My two cents? Yes.

MadBum this afternoon.



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bad to Worse

The Giants got blown out Saturday evening in a game that only netted the blue goo one game, and then lost Sunday in a game that they fought to the end.  The Giants made some mistakes, all at once, and it cost them, ultimately the deciding difference in the game, but they fought hard.  Russian River, in response to the previous post, said the Giants looked flat.  Not as flat as they did yesterday, though.  Los Angeles is a good team, loaded with talent.  Arizona is not a good team.  The Giants out-hit the snakes, 11 - 9, although they also gave them 4 baserunners via walks.  The Giants played without Angel Pagan, and it looks like Pablo Sandoval has back issues as well (although he got 2 hits).  Multiple hits, also, from Joaquin Arias and Joe Panik.  But so often (it seemed like almost every inning) they Giants had men on base and didn't/wouldn't/couldn't capitalize.

2-out rbi for Arizona: 6.  2-out rbi for San Francisco: None.

The "oh, well, you can't win them all" time is past.  The Giants realistically have to content themselves with the wild card, and yesterday, they played like it was a done deal.  It's not.  They could lose both the home-field advantage and the wild card itself with a string of losses (currently at 3).  Arizona and San Diego would like nothing better than to knock San Francisco out of the playoffs.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Giants Come Up Short

Clayton Kershaw is the obvious NL Cy Young choice and is making a case for MVP. In the rubber match of the biggest series of the year the talented southpaw kept a lid on the Giants and the Dodgers won 4-2. The Giants had one task this weekend: gain ground. It looked good after an ass-kicking win on Friday, but yesterday's historically bad debacle put the pressure on for today's game and they couldn't muster enough against Kershaw. Yusmeiro Petit made one mistake to Matt Kemp but otherwise pitched well. His error in the 2nd that led to a run was a bit of a fluke but had unfortunately followed an error from Hunter Pence immediately before and that put the team in a hole they could not quite climb out of. Petit also had two good plate appearances resulting in a walk and a run scored and looked like the toughest batter out there. Andrew Susac and Joaquin Arias both mustered two hits against Kershaw but only Buster Posey and pinch-hitter Matt Duffy could drive in runs. It was nice to see a tense, mostly well-played game even if it was a loss. I don't think I could have stomached another blowout. At some point the Giants are going to pile it on against Kershaw--the law of averages, at the very least, makes me think so. Maybe next time.

The Giants are now three back with thirteen to play. It's a bit of a climb but they have one more shot--three games in LA next week (22nd-24th). What's more important is they get back to their winning ways on the road in Arizona and San Diego this week and keep the pressure on.

Vogie tomorrow night.



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Terrible Tims

Worst game ever.

Get 'em tomorrow, though.



Friday, September 12, 2014

That's One

And a most gratifying one it was.  Madison Bumgarner on the mound, a full house, a beautiful night for baseball and that team from LA, the one we have to beat, down from the start.

Madison:  7 IP, 73 strikes among 97 pitches.  3 hits, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts.  No runs.  None.
Juan Gutierrez in relief:  6 batters faced, 6 batters retired.  Madison was a little rough at first, he walked the lead-off Puig, but soon settled down for another great game and his 18th win.

Hits?  Early and often.  2 home runs, 1 each for Brandon Crawford and Travis Ishikawa.
Joe Panik:  1 hit, 1 run
Buster:  2 hits, 1 run and 1 rbi
Pence:  2 hits, 1 run and 1 rbi
Arias:  2 hits, 1 run and 1 rbi
Gregor:  1 hit, 2 runs
Travis Ishikawa's home run scored Gregor and BCraw.  Brandon's home run scored Gregor, but he came up with the first of his 3 rbi in the first, a double that scored Joaquin Arias.  Brandon scored twice on 2 hits and a walk.  The Giants batted around in the first and scored 4 runs.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

81-65 with 16 to go

The Giants did what they needed to do which was sweep the lowly Diamondbacks and move within two games of the Dodgers ahead of the big weekend series. Both clubs have 16 games remaining with six head-to-head matches. I'm sure it will be a thoroughly nerve-wracking three weeks! Once again the team got contributions from the whole lineup--all the starters got on base at least once, eight different guys got hits, and five different guys scored runs. Since the Break the Giants have the highest-scoring offense in the NL and the fourth-best in baseball. I think we all knew this team could hit and it was just a matter of time before they found their mojo again. We watched some pretty feeble displays from the hitters for a long stretch (like June and July) so it's great to see them whacking the ball all over the Park. The Dodgers aren't the D-Backs and will present a much tougher challenge so it will be fun to see how the club responds.

Ol' Boch had the quick hook today for Jake Peavy who struck out eight in 5-2/3 but allowed six hits and a run on 92 pitches. It was 3-1 at the time and the right move. I particularly liked that Juan Perez came in on the double-switch and stroked an RBI double and later scored! Teamwork, baby. Peavy was a little peeved when he was pulled, you could see him shaking his head and saying "unbelievable" but after that weird rain-delay start in Detroit and yielding a double and a triple in the 6th it was perfectly believable the skipper would go to the 'pen. Peavy is a crackup to watch with all the muttering and twitchy mannerisms. With that horrid beard he looks like someone you would run away from on a dark street. Another good effort today, though. He's certainly filled in quite well for Matt Cain.

It will be Madison Bumgarner tomorrow night against Hyun-Jin Ryu in the biggest game of the season. They'll keep getting bigger after that regardless of the result.



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Giants Keep Rolling

While the Arizona Diamondbacks are certainly a stinko team they still win 41% of their games. So it's not like they are pushovers. They're in the major leagues and it takes a major league effort to beat them. And beat them the Giants did. I love it when the rook gets the big hit, and tonight Matt Duffy in a pinch-hit spot in the 7th roped an opposite-field double to make it 2-0 and the Giants were on their way. Ryan Vogelsong bounced back from a horrid start in Colorado and gave the team 6-2/3 scoreless. He was wild (five walks), but effectively so (two hits), and got some help from his fielders as well. Is he the most under-rated or perhaps most under-appreciated man on the Giants roster? Ho-hum, just another clutch effort by the grizzled vet, his tenth quality start at home. Josh Collmenter matched him for six but the D-backs 'pen gave it up. Everyone in the Giants starting lineup--all eight guys--got on base via a hit or walk. And Duffy delivered in the ninth spot! It takes a village, man, but I want to mention one villager in particular: Gregor Blanco. His game has really picked up and with his glove work and speed on the bases he has been a huge contributor down the stretch. The injury to Mike Morse has given him a chance to shine and he's seized it. That's what it is all about, making the most of your moments. We've certainly seen that from Joe Panik, maybe Young Duffy will be the next one with the hot hand. A new hero everyday, that's what I say.

Jake Peavy tomorrow afternoon.



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Yusmeiro Shines Again

Yusmeiro Petit channeled Greg Maddux tonight in San Francisco throwing an 84-pitch complete game to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks. That's remarkable enough, but when you consider he threw only 16 balls to 29 batters it makes your head spin. What a performance! Especially when you consider that this is it--this is pennant race crunch time. Every game is crucial and every start has a life-or-death feel to it. The Giants have now won seven in a row at AT&T Park improving their home record to 39-33. With the Dodgers losing to the Padres the Giants are 2-1/2 back in the West.

The Giants have played 144 games and have thus completed their 8th seasonal inning. They are 79-65 (.549) which is the fourth-best record in the NL. Here's how it's gone in 2014:

First inning, 10-8,
Second inning, 13-5,
Third inning, 12-6,
Fourth inning, 8-10,
Fifth inning, 6-12,
Sixth inning, 9-9
Seventh inning, 9-9
Eighth inning, 12-6.

If they can go 11-7 in the final 18 that will give them 90 wins. That may not be enough to win the division but will most likely lock up the Wild Card. Right now they are four games ahead of the Pirates for the top spot. The Dodgers played yesterday and have only 17 games left. The Giants obviously need to seize the moment this weekend and take at least two of the three games. They'll have three more chances in LA in the season's penultimate series.

Joe Panik continues to rake--he had five hits tonight! Angel Pagan kept the P-Power theme going with four hits and three runs scored. It was a big win. Let's hope they can keep it going.

Vogie goes tomorrow night. He's coming off perhaps his worst start ever so look for a big bounce back performance from the veteran righty.



Sunday, September 7, 2014

Tigers Take Finale

Before the All-Star Break Tim Hudson made 18 starts: 119 IP, 112 H, 43 R, 78 SO, and 19 BB. That averaged out to about 6.6 IP, 6.2 H, 2.4 R, 4.3 SO, and 1.1 BB per start. The outcomes haven't been as good in his 10 starts after the Break: 59-2/3 IP, 67 H, 29 R, 34 SO, and 12 BB. So he's averaging just a hair under 6 IP per start, with 6.7 H, 2.9 R, 3.4 SO, and 1.3 BB. Huddy gave up only seven homers in those 18 pre-ASB games. Cabrera's two-run shot tonight that proved to be the big blow was the seventh he's allowed in the 10 post-ASB games. Huddy did manage to deliver his 18th Quality Start, only one behind team leader Madison Bumgarner. The lineup couldn't get anything going, unfortunately, and with the bullpen meltdown the Tigers avoided a sweep.

Here are Hudson's GameScores for the first seven starts of the season: 80, 62, 57, 57, 68, 72, and 72. That was quite a stretch. Maybe he can find that mojo again for the final push. Looks like two of his final three starts are against the Dodgers. Unfortunately LA won again and pushed their lead back to three games. Giants go to Detroit and get two clutch wins but lose ground! That's baseball.

Looks like Petit gets the start at home on Tuesday against the D-Backs.



Saturday, September 6, 2014

Madison Bumgarner Not Sharp, Giants Win Anyway

The Giants took the second game from Detroit by a score of 5 - 4.  David Price pitched 8 2/3 innings against the Giants, and in most of them, held the Giants scoreless in the first time (I think) he has faced them.  The Giants got 5 hits for 4 runs in the first inning, all after the first two batters were out!  Detroit answered with a 2 run home run from Miguel Cabrera in the bottom of the first, then added a solo home run from Victor Martinez in the bottom of the third.  In the top of the fifth, Buster Posey added to the Giants score with a solo home run of his own to make the score 5 - 3.  Finally, in the bottom of the eighth, Miguel Cabrera hit the first pitch from Sergio Romo, a slider, over the fence for a final Detroit run.  He had been waiting for that slider for almost two years.

When Madison Bumgarner pitches, you think of these kind of descriptors:  dominant, efficient, damn near unhittable.  He was none of those things.  Here is a comparison with his last couple of performances:
Today vs. Detroit              6 IP,  10 hits,  3 runs,  2 home runs,  0 BB,  0 K,  100 pitches, 66 strikes
Aug. 31 vs. Milwaukee     6 IP,    5 hits,  1 run,   0 home runs,   1 BB, 7 K,   96 pitches, 63 strikes
Aug. 26 vs. Colorado        9 IP,    1 hit,    0 runs, 0 home runs,   0 BB,  13 K,  103 pitches,  80 strikes

I'm not suggesting that something is wrong with Madison, today though, he struggled.  Detroit hit the ball hard, and even the fouls were loud.  However, he picked up his 17th win.  It is popular these days to poo-poo wins for pitchers, but the Giants did not have any pitcher to achieved 17 wins in 2013.  Also in 2012, no pitcher achieved 17 wins.  That was true for 2011 and also for 2010.  The last pitcher to get 17 wins on the Giants was Tim Lincecum in 2008 (who, by the way, had an excellent inning last night).

Buster Posey is now 33 for his last 65 at bats dating back to August 21.  If you throw in the May 22 make-up game finished on Monday, September 1, he is 34 for 66.  Today, a single, a double and a home run.  Including today, 7 home runs since August 21.  Rbis for Joaquin Arias, Pablo Sandoval, and 2 for Andrew Susac, whose first inning double drove in Hunter and Pablo for the 3rd and 4th runs.  Tomorrow, Tim Hudson against newbie Kyle Lobstein.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Giants Fight Back

The Giants were staring into the Coors Field Hellmouth for the second night in a row but Rockies Slayer Buster Posey led the way and the visiting squad triumphed over the forces of chaos and evil. My goodness but the lad is hitting well lately. I blame it on Andrew Susac. You think Buster wants some whippersnapper whipper-snapping him? Certainly not. And if he has to slug .600 to prove it, by gum, he will. You have to love the other rook, too. Joe Panik is straight rakin' it! Last week the starters kicked ass, this week it looks like the 'pen's turn. Five innings, one run allowed. Meanwhile Colorado's 'pen gave up six runs in a mere 2-2/3--that sort of thing I like. What else do I like? How about an errorless game? And Gregor Blanco finding his stroke again after a slow start?

Vogie tomorrow afternoon. GO GIANTS!