Saturday, July 30, 2016

Giants Reach Nadir, Move Past It

Or at least, I hope so.  Filling in for MOC, he should be back tomorrow.  The Giants turned in their 11th loss in 13 games since the ASB Friday, Smardjy giving up 4 runs, which was plenty.  Joe Panik came back from injury, but was unable to contribute offensively.  As was true for pretty much everyone else.  1 -1 until the 5th, when the Nats pushed 1 across, 2 - 1.  Righetti visited the mound to tell Smardjy not to throw Daniel Murphy a strike, so he set it on a tee for him.  Tripled and he could pull into 3rd as he was slowing down.  Giants were 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position and they hit into that rarest of plays, a triple play.  Rarer than that, a 3 - 5 (or 3 - 3 - 5) triple play, apparently the first one ever recorded in major league baseball.  I find that somewhat hard to believe, but it just seemed to capture the way the Giants have been going.  Bases loaded in the 7th.  Crawford did not hit a ground ball to 2nd for a DP, nothing like that.  No, a freaky triple play, and it was over in one swing of the bat.  Also, apparently, the first one the Nats had ever recorded.  Runners on again in the 9th, but, again, no cigar.

Snakebit or just plain sucky?  You decide.  But today, the Giants came back with a 5 - 3 victory.  Jake Peavy started, only went 4 and gave up all 3 Nats runs.  He was followed by fng Matt Reynolds, Strickland, Law, Lopez, Romo and Casilla.  And Hunter Pence came back!  He had a double and walked.  FNG Eduardo Nunez came through with 2 hits, including a 2-rbi double!  Buster Posey had 2 hits and a walk, and threw out 2 runners, including Bryce Harper by a finger.  Giants only 2 for 12 with RISP (I think), but still, 5 runs!  The Giants have scored 5 runs in a game 3 times since the ASB, but 2 of those efforts were losses.

So, maybe, just maybe, this stretch of bad, bad baseball is behind us.  Or at least, that is my most fervent hope.  At least for a day, you could believe it. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Vlog 23 : "Hawaiian Jonny"

4-2 loss vs. Nationals 

I think it will be pretty obvious that I didn't follow much of the game. Sorry.  But I would say I have a pretty good reason.  So if you are a bit bummed about our boys, take a deep breath, drink a Mai Tai ( or any other fruity drink of your choice) and take a quick look at the Vlog.  I'm back next Monday so I have a few more days of bliss. I'll take care of this mess then. Until then, Maholo y'all.

Vlog 23 "Hawaiian Jonny"

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Return of Punchlessness

Punchlessness  (n)  Without the state or quality of having punch, or possessing the state or quality of a distinctive lack of punch.  Weak.  Feeble.

Boy, after last night, I kind of got my hopes up that this post-All Star stretch of bad, bad baseball.  But I guess yesterday's victory was more of a oddity than a trend.  Giants drop the series to the worst team in the NL Central by a score of 2 - 1.  Yes, another start by Madison Bumgarner without a victory to show for it.

Well, let's talk about Madison's day.  He went 8, struck out 9, gave up 5 hits and walked none.  He gave up a home run, to Jay Bruce, of course, Bruce's 4th home run of this series.  Maybe we just shouldn't pitch to that guy.  So there was that run, which was earned.  And another, which wasn't.  In the 5th inning, with 1 out and Brandon Phillips on 1st, Suarez hit a ball to the wall, which Angel Pagan couldn't hold on to.  That put Phillips on 3rd, and a fly ball turned into a sacrifice.  So that was another run, not earned, but it gave Madison the loss.  Madison also had 1 hit.

And now, the rest of the team.  Conor Gillespie hit a home run with no one on base.  Pagan had 2 hits, Belt had a walk.  That was it, a total of 5 stinkin' baserunners the entire game.   So since the ASB, Madison has given up 4, 2 and 1 earned runs and been on the receiving end of 3 losses.  His run support in those games: 1, 2 and 1 run.  Well, good luck against Washington, guys, you're gonna need it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


9-7 win in SF
Crazy shit happened tonight: the Giants won and Matt Cain got the "W". Really. Matt Cain. Giants. Win. Did I mention Matt Cain hit a three-run homer? No? Matt Cain hit a three-run homer. It wasn't the prettiest start (5-1/3, 6 hits, 4 runs) but it wasn't the prettiest relief either, so there. Giants scored nine runs and had to use their closer. But enough of that--the Giants won the game, thank the gods. Oh, and BCraw had three hits, scored two, and drove in two.

Bumgarner tomorrow afternoon. Go Giants!


Homers Doom Giants

7-5 loss in SF
It keeps getting worse. Well, Brandon Belt returned to life with a big game. But that was bad. Real bad. I was sure Jake Peavy was going to keep the ball away from Jay Bruce, but he inexplicably grooved one on 3-1 count in the 6th and that did it. What was that all about? I don't understand. You can't groove one to a guy like that--hell, you can't throw meatballs like that to any ML hitter. What happened to corners? I suppose this improves the odds that the Giants will make a move. 1-8 since the Break, time to turn it around.

Matt Cain tonight. Go Giants!


p.s. As much as the Giants could use a live arm I'm glad the Cubs sold their franchise soul (and farm system) for Chapman.

Sunday, July 24, 2016


5-2 loss in NYC
The Giants continue to play their worst baseball of the season. Perhaps coming home will snap them out of their funk.

The Reds come to town for three, then the Nationals for four.



Saturday, July 23, 2016

Mac Attack

2-1 win (12) in NYC
Just when you thought the Giants would never win again they pulled out a near-miraculous victory in Yankee Stadium this afternoon to halt their six-game skid. Mac Williamson provided both the heroics (game-tying homer, go-ahead RBI single) and the un-heroics (error that led to the Yanks only run) and that was the difference, mostly. Quite a bit of credit must also go to embattled closer Santiago Casilla, who saved a two-on, no-out situation in the 10th and followed that up with a scoreless 11th to give the team a chance. Hunter Strickland delivered a no-nonsense 1-2-3 12th to seal the deal after Williamson drove in Trevor Brown (leadoff double) in the top half to break the deadlock.

Johnny Cueto started and had to work hard (117 pitches!) to get through six with only the one run allowed on the Williamson error. He struck out nine but also walked one and gave up six hits. He had a busy time out there with lots of long counts and foul balls. To his credit he battled and got the job done. The struggling offense (Belt 3 K, Posey 0-for-5 with a DP, BCraw 0-for-5) was on display once again but this time the team prevailed.

Whew. Needed that one. Jeff Samardzija tomorrow at 1:05 (whoops!) 10:05 Pacific.



Friday, July 22, 2016

Finding New Ways

What do you say about a game in which Carlos Beltran has the defensive gem and Brandon Crawford errs?  Giants lose, yet again, to make it 6 in a row.  This time, to the Yankees, 3 - 2.

Madison Bumgarner taking the hill for the Giants in New York.  So far, this swing through the ballparks of the eastern AL has been anything but fun.  Madison pitched all right, he gave up 2 runs in 7 innings, 7 hits, struck out 6 and walked 3.  Josh Osich gave up 1.   The Giants did not score until the 7th, on a wild pitch, and then Williamson batted in Trevor Brown with a double in the 8th.  That tied the game until Brandon C threw the ball past Brandon B at first.  Buster banged a ball off of his foot and had to leave the game.  So the offense, which seemed to come alive during the last game in Boston as the pitchers were throwing batting practice, went back to sleep and a pretty well pitched game was wasted.   Well, here is something positive.  As I type this, the Cardinals have beaten the doggers in the 16th.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Silver Linings

11-7 loss at Fenway
The slumping Giants rapped out 15 hits including two homers and scored seven runs so at least there is a silver lining to this five-game losing streak. The first four losses featured ten runs total--perhaps this means the bats will come to life in New York. And the Dodgers lost, always a silver lining in a dark Giants cloud. Matt Cain got hammered in his return to action, sadly, and it looks like he's a long way from helping the club. During a losing streak, when you are a fan like we are, you have that terrible nagging feeling that they will never win again. It's ridiculous, of course, but when one devotes the kind of energy and emotion to a team like we do, those kinds of irrational waves come and bury you now and then. I KNOW the Giants will get back to winning. That's a sure thing. But I'm not so sure about Matty. He looks so lost out there--a shadow of the ace we once knew. Every time he makes another comeback something happens. It seems he gets hurt or he gets rocked--there have not been a lot of other outcomes for the big righty this year.

Off-day tomorrow. Yankee Stadium Friday night with MadBum on the hill.



p.s. The last time Matt Cain pitched in Boston he lost 1-0.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Vlog 22 "A Rotten Weekend in San Diego"

5-3 loss in SD   

The All-Star break may give our boys a nice rest but it has also caused a break in the JohnnyC Joy and, well....winning.  I sure hope this is a brief break but a nasty Roadtrip ahead could be ugly.  Stay calm and watch the Vlog:

Vlog 22 "A Rotten Weekend in San Diego"

Balk-off Blues

7-6 loss (10) in SD
Things I was hoping to see less of in the second half of the season: Jeff Samardzija throwing batting practice and Santiago Casilla blowing saves. Things I was hoping to see more of in the second half: homers. I got my homers but as we know it's not how you score runs that matters. Keeping the other team from scoring runs is what matters. That didn't happen and the Giants lost two in a row for the first time since the Oakland series. The Padres, you have to figure, were hungry for a win--the Giants won the first nine contests this season, losing the tenth Friday night. I still like 9-2 but I'd like 10-2 a lot better.

Johnny Cueto this afternoon.



Friday, July 15, 2016

Padres Return from Break. Giants, not so much.

After what some refer to as the All Star game, and what I refer to as the mid-summer time period in which there is no meaningful baseball, the Giants returned to action tonight in a losing effort against the Padres.  Well, action is a bad choice of words here.  Inaction is more like it.

Andrew Cashner was on the mound for the Padres in one of their awful baby-poop colored uniforms.  Did they forget that they got rid of those for a very good reason?  You will read about how good he was.  I think that the story is more about how the Giants were there in body, but not spirit.  They were asleep or maybe still on break.  At least, that's what the energy level they were displaying looked like.   So the Giants lost 4 - 1 and looked pretty bad against the team they have beaten all season.

Madison Bumgarner was on the mound for the Giants, and he was part of the problem.  He gave up a run in the 1st, which the Giants matched in the top of the 2nd thanks to back-to-back hits from Brandon Crawford and Conor Gillaspie.  Then he gave up another run in the 3rd, then a couple of solo shots on fat pitches in subsequent innings.  Maddys' line: 6 IP, 4 runs, all earned, 7 hits, 1 BB, 9 K.  Meanwhile, the Giants got 1 hit after that 2nd inning.  At least Mac Williamson got it on his birthday.  The umpire's strike zone was terrible.  He seemed to think Brandon Belt, in particular, had a strike zone at least twice as big as any other human.  Brandon Belt struck out as often as Buster Posey grounded out (4 x each).  All Stars.  Belt got thrown out (a first for him!) as did Bochy.  At least that was something.

In the 9th inning, Yangervis Solarte, the Puds 3rd baseman, made the 1st out of the inning with a catch of a Angel Pagan foul ball which sent him tumbling over the rail.  Here is a replay, but not of the best part.  Solarte came up with the ball and it was covered with nacho cheese.  Inside the glove.  Someone find this and post a link in the comments, please.  So if he did not drop the ball, exactly how did that nacho cheese get all over it?  As with the strike zone though, it wouldn't have mattered.  Someone leave a wake-up call for the team tomorrow, OK?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

5th inning: 12-6

The Giants have played 90 games (five 18-game innings) and have 72 games remaining. They have completed 5/9 (about 56%) of their season. Here's the tally so far:

1st inning: 8-10
2nd inning: 10-8
3rd inning: 15-3
4th inning: 12-6
5th inning: 12-6

That's a 57-33 record (.633), the best in baseball. They opened the season playing .500 ball (18-18) but since then they've played at a .722 clip (39-15). Pretty impressive, wouldn't you say?

A look at the numbers shows the Giants are 12th out of 30 teams with a run-scoring rate of 4.71 per game (league average is 4.51). Breaking down the team slash line their batting average (.263) is 11th-best, their OBP (.336) is 4th-best and their slugging percentage (.406) is 21st. Their wOBA (.320) is 15th, smack dab in the middle, but their wRC+ (104) is 7th-best. The Giants are good at bases on balls (4th-best) and very hard to strike out (3rd-fewest). This is not surprising, we see that every day. They don't hit many homers (only the Braves are worse) but they are 9th in doubles and 2nd in triples.

On the pitching side they are allowing 3.90 runs per game, behind only the Nationals, Mets, Dodgers, and Cubs. The league average is 4.51 so the Giants have the run-prevention thing down pretty well despite the shaky bullpen. In team FIP (3.69) they trail only the Dodgers, Nationals, and Mets. They are middle-of-the-pack in strikeouts but excellent (3rd-fewest) in both walks and homers. Only eight teams have given up fewer hits.

Team position-player fWAR (19.4, includes fielding) is 3rd-best and team pitching fWAR (10.1) is 9th-best. One metric from B-R (Defensive Efficiency) gives the team a .700 mark, 6th-best. We know this is a good-glove team, and that synergy with the leather behind the pitchers makes a big impact. On the whole, it seems the Giants are a little better than the sum of their parts. They do a lot of things well and have good leadership, not to mention some championship DNA.

Individually it is hard to miss the 1-2 punch of Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto. The team is 29-8 when they start. Those two are doing everything right and leading the club with consistently dominant pitching. Jeff Samardzija has had his ups and downs but overall is a fine number three and the recent rebound from Jake Peavy has been a big lift as well. Albert Suarez has done a solid job filling in for Matt Cain but I think we all want to see the big righty return ASAP to bolster the ro' for the second half run.

Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, and Brandon Crawford have been the big performers with the bat and all three have been excellent defensively, with BCraw dazzling nightly with his impossible plays. That guy is under-rated at 4.2 fWAR (7th-best in baseball)! The super-subs (Green, Peña, and Parker in particular) have filled in remarkably well and there have been contributions up and down the roster. It will be nice to get our fabulous infield back together (Panik probably sooner than Duffy) but the organization has been well-served by the backups.

The weak link has been the bullpen but when the team has the most wins and fewest losses it is hard to get too worried. I believe the return of Sergio Romo will help settle the roles and we will see more consistency. George Kontos may be a key guy here. I've said it many times before I think we will see a new arm or two (a lefty, probably) for the stretch run, but no one famous or expensive. Think about how valuable Cory Gearrin has been--he's a scrap-heap reclamation. The Giants won't get Andrew Miller but they will find a diamond-in-the-rough who can help. Despite some hiccups both Santiago Casilla and Hunter Strickland have been solid and will get the pressure outs in the big games to come.

Imagine this team taking a dump and playing .500 ball (36-36) the rest of the way. That's 93 wins! I don't think that will happen: 40 more wins (.556) means 97 total, which should mean a West Division title and first or second seed in the playoffs. With Pence coming back and perhaps an uptick in performance from both Span and Blanco (Pagan has been looking much better, don't you think?) it's easy to feel confident. Of course disaster could strike. The baseball gods could mock us and torture us and humble us. This we know, and have experienced. But this is a good team. They won't keep up the .700 thing, but they don't have to. Keep grinding, avoid the big losing streaks, make LA feel the heat--this they can do.

One thing we can count on as fans is a top-notch front office. You can bet they will plug any holes they see in the next month or so. I'm happy with the status quo but August is the cruellest month (sorry TSE, April ain't nuthin') and the team won't be able to ride two starters and three hitters the rest of the way. The remainder of the rotation will need to be steady performers, the other guys in the lineup will have to pull their collective weight, and the hurt guys will have to get healthy. But the team is in a great position for the second half and ought to be able to turn that into a post-season berth.



Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Vlog 21 "All-Meh Game 2016"

NL All-Stars 2 AL All-Stars 4 

A couple Royals wrecked the night for JohnnyC and the American League will have home field advantage.  I hope we find that very irritating later this year.  Otherwise, it wasn't really a fun or memorable game.  Not much to talk about... check out my wild shirt though...

Vlog 21 "All-Meh Game 2016"

Sunday, July 10, 2016

All Star

Madison Bumgarner left no doubt.  He will not be pitching in the All Star Game, but he will be there and tonight slammed the door on the first part of the season with a decisive 4 - 0 victory over the snakes.

How decisive, you ask?  A complete game.  14 strikeouts.  1 hit, 1 BB.  He had a perfect game going into the top of the 5th, when Gregor Blanco dropped what would have been a tough catch to put a man on.  He still had a no hitter, though, into the 8th, when Jake Lamb singled.  Lamb was the guy who was on base from the Blanco error.  14 strikeouts ties a career high for Madison.  He looked for awhile like he was to challenge the strikeout record, 11 K's through 5.  No matter, though, it was a thrilling victory to sweep the snakes and send the Giants to the All Star break with the best record in baseball.  Brandon Crawford, the guy who is not going to the All Star game (but should!) is tied for 6th in rbi in the National League.  He had three tonight.  Buster Posey, who is going to the All Star game (and definitely should be there) had three hits.  Maybe he will catch Johnny Cueto as a starter there.  All in all, this was a great game for a Giants fan.  San Diego is probably thinking, "Holy crap, this guy is going to start after the break, too?"

So here is the way I see it.  Remember back when the Giants went to St. Louis at the beginning of June?  They dropped 2 of 3 there.  Then they came home, split 2 games with Boston and turned around and dropped the first game to Kershaw.  So, 4 losses in 6 games.  But they turned around, took the next 2 games from LA, then swept 3 from Milwaukee at home, swept 3 at Tampa Bay, took 3 of 4 at Pittsburgh and, back home, 2 of 3 from Philadelphia.  They stumbled against the A's, losing 3 of 4, before taking 2 of 3 at Arizona, 2 of 3 at home against Colorado and sweeping the snakes in this series.   23 wins in 34 games.  Amidst all the cries of a shoddy bullpen, they have done an awful lot of winning.  When they have stumbled, they have righted themselves in a hurry.  That says to me that they are more likely to make minor moves than major ones.  We have some of our starters coming back soon.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Home Cookin'

6-2 win in SF
Jeff Samardzija was at his Samardziest tonight, wobbling through a 31-pitch two-run 1st inning, playing with fire in the 2nd, mowing them down in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th, and finally running out of gas in the 7th. Oh, he also hit a double and scored the go-ahead run. The much-maligned 'pen stepped up with Derek Law (2/3), Sergio Romo (1, 3K), and Hunter Strickland (1) all putting up zeroes. Brandon Crawford was the hitting star and Brandon Belt had four bases on balls. I note that the Giants were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

Boch got ejected, that was also noteworthy. Apparently there were a few close ones to Buster after Samardzija plunked Segura. I missed it, I only saw the last half of the game.

Hey, I like it. Jake Peavy tomorrow afternoon.



Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Vlog 20 "Historic Johnny"

5-1 vs. Col 

Johnny Cueto's level of achievement, consistency and flair are all throwbacks to an older age of baseball.   While at the same time, he truly is like nothing we have ever seen before. Isn't that totally cool?  Click below for yet another installment of Johnny Joy:

Vlog 20 "Historic Johnny"

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

More Bum Luck

For a while I thought I might be able to write a post about how the Giants got lucky, winning with 2 runs scored as a result of kindly Rockies errors - but that was before our bullpen got into the game.  Giants lose to the Rockies 7 - 3.

Madison Bumgarner did not allow any runs, but he threw 96 pitches by the end of the 6th, so came out of the game.  In those 6 innings, he struck out 6, walked 2 and gave up 4 hits.  Madbum was up 2 - 0 and in the 7th, Kontos and Lopez did their jobs, one batter each.  Cory Gearrin did not.  He gave up a run then gave up a bomb to Nolanfucking Arenado with 2 men on base.  You know that guy has 21 rbis this year AGAINST the GIANTS?  That's 12 games.  Just to put that in context, if he were to continue that pace for the year against every Western Division team, he would have 120+ rbi just against the NL West, and 240+ for the season.  Jesus.  I'm going out on a limb here, but maybe the Giants should re-think that "throw him a fat pitch to make him swing" philosophy.

So 7 - 3.  Could have been worse.  Mac Williamson had several diving catches, including one for the third out in a bases loaded situation in the 3rd.  Giants had a total of 6 hits, only 3 of them before the 8th inning when they banged out 3 for 1 more run.  That was their only legit run, really.  What is it about Colorado that makes them so hard to beat?  We are totally their bitch.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Fourth!

3-1 win at home
Giants fans enjoyed a tight contest in San Francisco today marred only by the difficult outfield conditions. The high sun seemed to give the players a tough time on fly balls, and Jake Peavy got 12 of his 20 outs that way, so the guys had to work a bit. But 20 outs is pretty damn fine for a number five starter: 6-2/3 with six strikeouts and only two walks. The one run allowed was on a bases-loaded balk, of all things. Uncharacteristically the Giants runs came exclusively from homers, a solo shot by Buster and a two-run bomb from Angel Pagan. Five relievers (including Sergio Romo!) closed it out, notable for a particularly crisp 1-2-3 9th from Santiago Casilla.

In all it was more like the formula we hope to see--strong start, good fielding (Brandon Crawford again put on a show at shortstop), run-scoring hits, and a stout 'pen. Despite the injuries and roster moves the Giants have continued to grind it out, bouncing back from tough losses and fending off a determined second-place foe. I think everyone is looking forward to the Break.

The Giants play two more with Colorado: Madison Bumgarner gets the ball tomorrow night and Johnny Cueto the next night with an off-day (after twenty games in twenty days) on Thursday.



p.s. 53 wins is the most in the majors.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Giants Slip Past Snakes

5-4 win (11) in AZ
A stalwart Albert Suarez gave the good guys a solid six frames and that led the way, mostly. He also got a hit and scored a run. The bullpen could not hold the 4-2 lead in the 8th but the Diamondbacks, this time, could only tie it up. Eventually the Giants got the go-ahead run in the 11th (nice one-two punch from Jarrett Parker and Ramiro Peña) and Santiago Casilla somehow conjured up a save and the homeward-bound club slips out of Phoenix with a series win. Again, special mention to the starter--that's a tough lineup to pitch to and a tough park to pitch in. Suarez got through six with only two runs allowed, five strikeouts, and zero walks. The Giants, as is their wont, should have scored more runs. They had nine hits and three bases on balls but were 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Lots of hard hit balls that coulda/shoulda/woulda done some damage.

A tough stretch for the team with all the injuries. Today's lineup was the weirdest yet, but it got the job done. Three at home against the Rockies, then a much-needed break on Thursday, then three more against Arizona before the ASB. Tomorrow's game is at 1:05 p.m.

Have a great Fourth and Go Giants!


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Giants Let One Slip Away

6-5 loss in AZ
Jeff Samardzija pitched well in a tough place and left after 7-1/3 with a man on and a 5-3 lead. Two batters (and two pitchers) later it was 6-5 Diamondbacks and that was that. Josh Osich walked lefty Jake Lamb and Hunter Strickland gave up a homer to righty Wellington Castillo and the Giants snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. It should have been a better outcome. Back-to-back homers by Brandon Crawford and Mac Williamson (a 460-foot moon shot off the scoreboard) gave the good guys a 5-1 lead in the 4th but Samardzija gave both back in the bottom half to keep it close. He then  retired--impressively--nine of the next ten get to the 8th. A leadoff double to Michael Bourn and a fly out by Paul Goldschmidt sent him packing and set up the southpaw but things didn't go as planned. Giants bullpen gets hit with another tough loss.

If there is good to be taken from this it's that Jeff Samardzija delivered a quality outing that gave the team a genuine chance to win. He wasn't overpowering and relied on his defense (BCraw was particularly dazzling) but he made a lot of big pitches and kept a lid on things. Arizona is a terrible place to pitch and like Johnny Cueto last night he did what was needed. Unfortunately the team couldn't turn it into a win.

Albert Suarez tomorrow at 1:10 Pacific.



Friday, July 1, 2016

Vlog 19 "Second Half Johnny"

6-4 win in Ariz

  The second half starts well and the Giants continue to own the Dbacks. JohnnyC didn't dominate, rather controlled the snakes for his TWELFTH WIN.  And if you like FNG's, then this game is for you!

Vlog 19 "Second Half Johnny"