Wednesday, August 31, 2016

On to Chicago

4-2 win in SF
This was one of those grind-it-out wins, the kind we thought we'd see a lot of in the second half, alas they are few and far between and seem much more difficult than they ought to be. Matt Moore kept it going with 5-1/3 and only one run allowed, a nice play from Gorkys Hernandez in center to catch a screamer from Paul Goldschmidt kept it close but also brought forth the bullpen. They hemmed and hawed, as is their wont, but they ultimately got it done and the Giants had a win. The Giants won the game. That's big news. They finish August 11-16 for a .407 rate, pretty piss-poor for this club. Nice to see Joe Panik finding his stroke and moving up in the order, not so nice to see Brandon Belt continue to look like he can't see. The Giants will need him to find his stroke on this 11-day, 10-game road trip.

It's Wrigley Field next: Jeff Samardzija gets a homecoming, he was drafted by the Cubs in 2006 and spent parts of seven seasons with them. The best team in baseball (84-47, .641) is smokin' hot again, they've only lost six games this month and only twelve since the Break.



Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Giants Lose to Team Wearing Dirty Uniforms

4-3 loss vs.ARI 

Johnny Cueto (14-5) coughed blood after 4 nearly perfect innings and delivered his shortest outing (4.2 IP) of this season.  That, combined with just enough Greinke and not enough timely hitting, led to a huge letdown and a drop to 2 games behind the blue goo (postponed in Col).  We have now dropped 6 of his last 9 outings, which is especially painful after winning 16 of his first 18.  Bad trend.
An even worse trend:  the Giants are now 8-18 in the second half in games started by the big three; MadBum, Cueto and Samardzija.  If that doesn't stop soon we have no chance.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Pan the Man

Madison Bumgarner was on the hill for the Giants today, but the story was Joe Panik and the Giants' offense.  Joe Panik hit 2 home runs, a first in the major leagues for him, and the second, coming in the 4th inning, was the deciding factor in the game.

Madison Bumgarner was not dominant.  He threw 7 innings, gave up 3 runs on 106 pitches, struck out 5 and walked 2.  In the 1st, he gave up a triple to the first hitter, Enciarte, who scored on a sac fly.  The Giants scored in the 2nd, Belt hit a triple, scored on a Jarrett Parker ground out and a bases empty home run from Joe.  Then in the 4th, with Parker on base, Joe hit his second home run, and Denard Span hit a solo shot to make it 5 - 1.  Atlanta got close on a 6th inning Freddie Freeman 2 run shot, but that was as close as they would get.  In the 7th, Posey walked, Crawford tripled, Belt walked, Parker tripled, Panik hit a sac fly, Nunez hit a solo shot, Gillaspie tripled, Span was hit by a pitch, Hernandez doubled, Posey walked, Crawford singled and Belt singled.  13 - 3.  Wait, how many triples?  Try 4.  The San Francisco Giants did that last year, and in 1960.   But a 4 homer and 4 triples in one game?  Never been done in Giants history.

Madison Bumgarner was not dominant.  But he was good and today, that was good enough.  That is huge because he so often has been good and at the losing end of things when only perfection would have mattered.  And after yesterday and the return of the no-offense offense, the Giants scored a bunch.  The final was 13 - 4.  They won the series, their first series win at home since the ASB.  They're going to have to win a lot of series from here on out.  Throwing in a sweep now and then wouldn't hurt.   The Giants starting staff (well, Madbum, Cueto, Moore and Smardjy) has looked good lately.  And it would not hurt if Joe Panik continues his drive towards deification.

Friday, August 26, 2016


7-0 win at home
A stout Jeff Samardzija and a sizzling Brandon Crawford snuffed out the Atlanta Braves and got plenty of backing from the bats (the Shark himself had a double and run scored) for a big win to make it back-to-back. The Giants had back-to-back wins against the Mets right before the recent four-game losing streak--which was preceded by a four-game losing streak. You have to go back to the end of July, the 30th and 31st against the Nationals, to find another set of back-to-back wins. You have to go back to before the Break to find another.

But back-to-back it is and it is the second time the club has pitched back-to-back shutouts. Last night Santiago Casilla got the last out for Matt Moore and tonight Hunter Strickland and Cory Gearrin got the last six for Samardzija. On Sunday the 22nd of May Madison Bumgarner, Gearrin, and Casilla shut out the Cubs. The next day Johnny Cueto threw a shutout all by himself against the Padres. That's nine for the team, and nine times shut out themselves.

Win number 70 seemed much too long in coming. Keep it rolling, Giants!


Missed it by THAT much!

4-0 win in LA
FNG Matt Moore showed why the Giants were interested in him with a dazzling near-no-hitter in Chavez Ravine last night. For 8-2/3 it looked like it just might happen but rookie phenom Corey Seager hit a single to right on Moore's 133rd pitch. Regardless, it was a great performance by the lefty and a much-needed win for the club. That's 18 innings and one run scored from LA's high-flying offense. Just goes to show you what good pitching can do. Add in some run-scoring and you've got the formula. Last night Joe Panik followed a run-scoring single from Brandon Belt with a two-run homer and that was just what the doctor ordered. The Giants desperately need to add some pop to their attack. Doubles and triples can work too, but home runs always work. I did not expect this to be a slugging team but Pence, Posey, Belt, BCraw--these guys can go yard, we've seen it, it's time to see it again. Match it up with good starts and that's the way forward and out of the funk. It's easy to get over-excited about the big win but the streaks have to start somewhere. How about here and now?

Jeff Samardzija takes on the Braves and Joel De La Cruz tonight in San Francisco.



Thursday, August 25, 2016

7th inning: 6-12

1st inning:  8-10
2nd inning: 10-8
3rd inning: 15-3
4th inning: 12-6
5th inning: 12-6
6th inning: 5-13
7th inning: 6-12

Last night was game 126, the seventh of our 18-game seasonal innings. All the lovely work done in innings two through five before the All-Star Break has been undone by one of the worst stretches we have seen from this club in a long time. The Dodgers have gone 20-15 (.571) in the same stretch. Even a .500 club would still be in first place! But 11-25 (.306) certainly won't work. It's an epic collapse. There's no other way to put it. They've got 36 games--two more innings--to turn it around. If you told me at the start of the season that the Giants would be three back with 36 to play I'd have thought "got 'em right where we want 'em" and been happy. But this team is not inspiring confidence. It ain't over 'til it's over but they are playing poorly enough to make that happen sooner rather than later. If you have Dodgers fans in your social circle (I have many, alas) it's best you show yourself in public and take your whippin' like a man. And if the Giants do turn it around, just think about all the "payback's a bitch" you can lay on 'em!

Moore v. Stripling tonight. GO GIANTS!


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Death by Dinger

1-0 loss in LA

The death spiral continues as some guy named Hill kicked our ass.  Not much to talk about, certainly nothing to vlog about.  JohnnyC picked up loss #4 even though he pretty much only made one mistake: a hanger to Turner (what a prick!) that resulted in one lousy run. Which, of course, was plenty.  It seems like every team EXCEPT US can actually hit home runs to win games. In fact, that is really the only way many of them score.  I wonder how that feels...

The post ASB disaster stands at 11-25 now.  Easily the worst in baseball.  Is there enough time to right this sinking ship?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Giants Slip Further Back

You had your ace on the mound and had a day off.  But it didn't matter, the Giants lost again and slipped to 2 games behind LA for the division lead.  Madison Bumgarner on the mound.  He gave up 5 runs and every one of them was earned.  Turner had a bunch of hits, new guy Segedin homered, and of course: Gonzalez.  Madison lasted only 5, threw 96 pitches, struck out 7 and walked 1.  9 hits.  Kenta Maeda was also chased, he only lasted 5, threw 103 pitches and gave up 3 runs.  After Madison, Gearrin gave up 2 and then Lopez gave up a 2-run home run to a lefty, new guy Toles.  The Giants showed a little moxie in the early innings, but that evaporated by the time the relievers came on.  LA kept scoring, the Giants barely had any hits (1 in the 6th, Span a meaningless hr in the 9th).  9 - 5 final.

11 and 24 since the ASB.  The doggers since then are 21 - 15.  Hardly stellar, but it beats a team that can't manage to win 1/3 of their games.  The dogger hitters are hot.   The Giants aren't.  Shit.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Another Lost Weekend

9-5 loss Saturday and
2-0 loss Sunday in SF
The Giants couldn't pitch for shit yesterday--that was enough to hand the Mets the win. They also could not, in their maddening way, get the big game-breaking hit despite lots of opportunities. Just the opposite happened today--Jeff Samardzija pitched a hell of a game but the lineup couldn't hit for shit. The Shark had a no-hitter through six but gave up a two-run homer to Yoenis Cespedes (he hit two on Saturday) in the 7th and that was enough for a dominant Noah Syndergaard. The Giants managed only two hits and two walks with two runners caught stealing and one doubled up on a 4-6-3. It was a feeble effort from the club this weekend. A feeble, feeble effort right before the biggest series of the season so far, three games with the Dodgers starting Tuesday. If the Dodgers beat the Reds tomorrow (the Giants are off) then they will be up by a game. If they lose they'll be tied with the Giants. Either way the Giants need to start winning. They are 11-23 since the Break and 7-12 in August. Let's hope they can rediscover their mojo this week. Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto take the hill for the first two in LA against Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill.



Saturday, August 20, 2016

Vlog 26 "The Return of JohnnyC Joy"

8-1 win vs. NYM

We are BACK IN FIRST!!!  There were so many positive signs in this game: JohnnyC joy, nifty defense , nostalgic relief, and, oh yeah, RUNS.  Bask in the warmth of this one because you never know what tomorrow will bring with this crazy ass team.

Vlog 26 "The Return of JohnnyC Joy"

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Bright Spot

Hey, Hey, Giants come out on top of a weird game, 10 - 7 over the New York Mets.   Madison Bumgarner facing off against Jacob deGrom.  That promised to be a low scoring pitching duel between two of the games top aces.  Madbum and deGrom both lasted only 5 innings.  Madbum gave up 4 runs on a grand slam, deGrom gave up 8 runs.  Has Madison ever given up a grand slam before?  I don't remember it.  It was the worst outing in deGrom's career.  Madbum struck out 6 and walked 3, gave up 6 hits and threw 89 pitches.  He got 2 of those runs back, home run number 3 for him on the year off of deGrom with 1 runner on.  Good thing, too, because after the Giants went up 8 - 4 at the end of 5, the Mets charged back with a 3 run 6th.  Gearrin, just back from rehabbing, gave up 2, Smith 1.  Then Law, Lopez, Romo and Casilla held the Mets.  Matt Cain was put on the DL to make room for Gearrin.  Giants tacked on 2 in the bottom of the 8th on a Buster Posey double for a final of 10 - 7.   3 rbi on 4 hits for Nunez, 3 hits for Span and 3 for Crawford, 2 for Pence, 2 for Posey, and hits for Panik, Pagan and Madbum.  I like being able to type a lot of names when listing guys who got hits.  17 total for the Giants.  To sweeten the deal, LA lost to the Phils so the Giants (who should have never have been in this position) gain a game.  And I get to use my favorite label.

How about those Olympics, huh?  Even if you accept the premise that athletic talent is randomly distributed, which you may not, athletic talent alone doesn't let you compete at an elite level.  You need training, coaching, nutrition, facilities, good PED's; and all of that takes money.  So I spent the afternoon doing division so that I could have some numbers to post that weren't associated with an L.  The following is a list of medals divided by GDP in billions of US dollars (x 1,000,000).

Azerbaijan           285.7
Kazakhstan          120.7
Hungary               119.7
New Zealand        82.8
Denmark               39.7
Russia                   37.9
Australia               22.5
Netherlands           19.7
Great Britain         14.7
South Korea          12.9
Italy                       12.4
Canada                  10.3
France                     9.6
Germany                 9.2
Brazil                      9.1
Japan                       8.2
US                           5.1
China                      5.1

You can't compute North Korea's numbers, although they have won 7 medals, as they have apparently no GDP.  Did you know Vietnam won 2 medals (shooting)?  Algeria and Quatar both won medals track and field, as did the Bahamas.  Fiji won a medal in rugby.  Did you know rugby was an Olympic sport?  Hard to tell if you watch NBC.  The Dominican Republic won a medal in taekwondo.   You know who the real Olympic heros are in this table?  The independent, or refugee athletes, who have won 2 medals.  No GDP or even anyone to cheer them at home.  Or home.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


6-5 loss in SF
There are worse ways to lose, right? Easy answer: no, there aren't. Matt Cain came apart in the 5th inning and turned a 4-0 lead into a 6-4 deficit and that was that. It's like he runs out of pitches--the lineup gets a second or third look at his stuff and it stops working. They foul it off or take the close ones and wait until they get a fat one. My lovely bride thinks the Giants should make two pitchers into one pitcher. Matt Cain starts and goes four, Jake Peavy takes over and goes three, the bullpen gets the final six outs. That might be a whole pitcher right there. Or have Peavy start, he can get through the first three no problem, then Matty can do his no-hit 'em-for-four thing, and that's a fine start. They did that sort of thing in Colorado for a while, remember? They paired up a couple of starters and worked 'em only half a game each. They thought it would help. Speaking of the Rockies, they are only 8-1/2 back of the Giants.

It breaks my heart to see Cain perform so poorly. I don't know what the Giants can do about it. They need quality pitching right now. It doesn't seem like the big righty can deliver the goods, even as a fifth starter. On the plus side, Buster is hitting well and both Brandon Crawford and Angel Pagan had big hits. The Pirates had a dinger on their side of the ledger--thanks to Andrew McCutcheon--and it turned out to be the crushing blow. Giants bullpen put up zeros, that was a positive.

As bad as it is for the Giants the defending National League champions are coming to town and they are one game over .500 and ten games back in third place. They've taken a post-ASB dump. too. That team is playing below expectations. The Giants are, too. But they are still right there.

Bumgarner will save us tomorrow night.



Late Homer Sinks Giants

4-3 loss in SF
The bleeding continues and the Giants fall out of first place after three months in the top slot. Derek Law has been one of the better performers in the 'pen but that didn't keep him from serving up the game-winning homer in the 8th to Jung Ho Kang. Once again an opponent gets a clutch big fly and the Giants get a clutch groundout. Jeff Samardzija delivered an acceptable effort--the team was in position to win--but the lineup could not add on and the bullpen could not hold on. Just when I thought the Giants were bottoming out they plumb new depths by losing three in a row. This team has now lost twenty games since the All-Star Break (against nine wins). I know I keep saying this, but that has to change.

Matt Cain this afternoon. GO GIANTS!


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Another wretched loss

8-5 loss to Bucs in SF
The Giants rapped out 12 hits including two doubles and two homers but gave up five runs from the 6th inning on and thus lost again. I can't fault Matt Moore too much, he'd been on a good run (8 consecutive quality starts), but the bullpen could not stop the bleeding when they had to and that was enough. Once again the Giants could not get the killer hit--the two homers were solo shots. Eleven men left on base is a familiar refrain. They should have scored multiple runs early against Pirates starter Ryan Vogelsong, another familiar refrain, but could not get it done. This team needs to start winning some goddamn games. This is a month (9-19) of shitty baseball. Time to turn it around.

Jeff Samardzija tonight. GO GIANTS!


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Vlog 25 "Wasteland"

8-7 loss vs. BAL

The psychotic journey of 2016 continues, in fact the mania seems to be intensifying.  It sure has been a long time since I've reported on good old JohnnyC joy.  So close....
Look for a special guest appearance in the Vlog below

Vlog 25 "Wasteland"

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Madbum Finally Wins

This team is driving me crazy.  I was all set to dump on them with all sorts of invective and swearing, and they go and win and look (mostly) pretty good doing it.  They are so confusing.

The Giants have THE WORST record in the major leagues after the All Star break, still.  They are 9 - 18 since the break (.333).  That happens to teams sometimes for short periods, but it has been a month.  I can't explain why one team, with mostly the same players, was the best team in baseball and now is the worst.   And you know the worst part?  Teasers like tonight's 6 - 2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.  Because whenever that happens, I get my hopes up and then have them dashed the next day, often when they don't score at all.  I could give up on this team, but I know I can't.  It's like heroin, you need it even when it doesn't get you high anymore. 

But you know what?  The Giants have been playing .500 ball for awhile now.   They have won and lost alternately since August 3 and played .500 since July 28 when they went to Washington DC.  A record of .500 doesn't win you a division, but it sure beats what came before (2 - 8).

The Giants finally put a W on Madison Bumgarner's record.  That is his first since July 10.   Maddy went 7, allowed 0 runs, struck out 8 and walked 3.   He allowed 3 hits.  He has a National League leading ERA (except for Clayton Kershaw, who probably won't be able to pitch this year).   Derek Law threw a perfect 8th and Romo and Lopez struggled through the 9th, giving up 2 runs before Casilla ended the game on 1 pitch.

Joe Panik, hitting!  3 hits including a pair of ground rule doubles that bounced over the wall.  Denard Span, getting 2 rbi in each of 2 identical situations (runners on 2nd and 3rd, 2 outs).  A 2-run home run for Brandon Belt!  The Giants actually left 9 men on base in spite of scoring 6 runs.  So which team will show up tomorrow?  Will it be the crappy, no-scoring Giants, or the real Giants?  Please, please, let them be good.

So to wrap things up, I present a list of medal counts in the 2016 Olympics on a population-weighted basis.  The total number of medals a country wins, even though it incorporates many individual sports, seems to be a big thing, but wouldn't you expect a country with the larger population to win more medals?  Just a random sprinkling of athletic talent would seem to indicate that it would.  So although we like to see the US rack up medals, when a country like the Bahamas wins something, that is really meaningful. 

Country                 Medals per 1,000,000

Hungary                             1.12
Australia                            0.91
Great Britain                      0.46
Canada                               0.33
Italy                                    0.30
France                                0.28
South Korea                       0.26
Germany                            0.20
US and Japan                     0.19
Russia                                 0.16
China                                  0.03

Makes you think, doesn't it.

Birds Bash Cain

5-2 loss at home
The Baltimore Orioles like to hit home runs and they hit two big ones off Matt Cain to send him packing and that was the night, mostly. Cain faced 23 batters and gave up 11 hits. It was line drive this way and hard smash that way. Seven of the 12 outs Matty recorded were via strikeout--everyone was hacking. It was ugly. The 'pen (Kontos-Peavy) did fine, that bodes well, but the hitters couldn't get it done, that doesn't. It was the all-too-familiar anemia offensivia, and I'm hoping they find a cure soon. With the starter getting hammered they had a tough task, but five hits (three singles and two doubles) isn't cutting it. I don't know what to think about Cain. Just when it looked like he was making progress this happens. The O's are a good team, but still, this was bad. Meanwhile Madison Bumgarner, coming off a superb start in Washington, pitches tonight.



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Giants get a homer!

1-0 win in Miami
Thank goodness for Brandon Crawford. Otherwise it would be 0-0 and they'd be playing extras. The bullpen did a superb job in relief of a reasonably effective Jeff Samardzija (5-2/3 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 3 K) and the Giants get their seventh team shutout. FNG Will Smith faced two batters, one in the 6th and one in the 7th and whiffed them both. That's a good sign. He's a good pitcher but has been beat up a bit. Maybe he is settling in to his new role. Hunter Strickland got two big outs. Derek Law once again pitched a clutch frame. And Santiago Casilla seems determined to disprove his doubters. That's all good. But the hitters still look lost--today's starter David Phelps is a converted reliever, that matchup should have had them salivating. Like I said thank goodness someone on the team could hit one over the fence because I couldn't take another parade of 0-fers with men on base.

Travel day tomorrow, and a resurgent Matt Cain at home on Friday against the Orioles.



Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Giants get three hits

2-0 loss in Miami
Marlins get four--but two runs as well. Giants get none. Whimper, not a bang, eh? What's with these guys? Why can't they hit? I don't understand. A decent start, this time by FNG Matt Moore, is wasted once again. This team is driving me to drink. It's a short drive, I'll admit. Still. This team is in free fall. Someone has to pull the damn ripcord. They need the parachute to deploy before they hit. (It's not the fall, it's the sudden stop.) My rational brain tells me there are plenty of ballgames yet to be played. Lots of time to right the ship. Jaysus, I'm done with the fookin' metaphors. Time to pull their heads out of their asses. (There I go again!) That's what it's time for--some good goddamn baseball. C'mon, Giants. Get back to winning.

Getaway game at 9:10 a.m. PDT. Jeff Samardzija takes the hill.



Monday, August 8, 2016

Vlog 24: "Tipsy For BCraw"

8-7 win (14) in Miami 

The author of this posting does not normally encourage such alcoholic indulgence.  But hey!  That was HISTORIC today.  And we needed that win.  And the wine was very good.
Please raise a glass to Brandon Crawford and watch the slightly slurred, yet still enjoyable,  vlog below:

Vlog 24 "Tipsy For BCraw"

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Madison Throws a Gem

The Giants cruised to victory today on the back of a strong, 1 run, 2 hit pitching gem from Madison Bumgarner, with plenty of run support.   Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.  No. The Giants Don't Do That1 - 0, another loss.

In fact, even when they had a chance, they wanted nothing to do with it.  4th inning, 2 outs and Posey standing at 2nd after his lead-off double.  Panik singles to center to the weak-armed Ben Revere.  Posey was held at  3rd to give Gregor (5 for 38 since the ASB) a shot.  Of course that was an out.  Why do I even bother to type it?  Brandon Belt hit one over Revere's head in the 7th with Span at 3rd and Pagan at 2nd.  But Revere ran it down and caught it with his back to the infield.  Yes, that was also the 3rd out of that inning.  Giants were 1 for 9 with RISP, and that 1 did not, of course, result in a run. 

Madison Bumgarner went 8 strong.  Wilson Ramos seemed to hit the right part of the yard (he didn't think so, he flipped his bat in disgust as he left the box) for a home run, and that was 50% of the total hits that Washington got.  He struck out 7 and walked 2.   And for that effort, he picks up a "L."  The Giants have lost 8 of the last 10 games in which he has pitched.  And of those, this was probably the best effort on his part.

It was great to see Matt Cain get some run support yesterday in the Giants 7 - 1 effort.  He deserves it, having been at the bottom of the league in run support for a good part of his career.  How many players get their names made into a verb because of the rest of their team?  But his recent success aside, I am shocked that the Giants are still in 1st place.  I don't expect it to last long.  As Mark said yesterday, "You can have all the baserunners you want but if you can't push them across no one gives a damn."  The Giants need to figure out how to push some of them across the plate, and fast.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Cain, Giants Even Up Series

7-1 win in DC
Since the All-Star Break the Giants have won only six games--three of those wins have come the last three times Matt Cain has been the starting pitcher. Just another nutty circumstance in this increasingly nutty season. Today Matty had to match up with Stephen Strasburg. The first-pick phenom was not his usual dominant self: he could not get out of the 5th inning, surrendering eight hits and four runs to the Giants. Cain didn't overwhelm the Nationals, yielding five hits, three walks, and hitting two batters in his five-plus frames, but they couldn't score a run against him. And runs, of course, are what matter in this game. You can have all the baserunners you want but if you can't push them across no one gives a damn. The Giants found some life in their bats with Eduardo Nunez, Brandon Belt, and Buster Posey delivering the bulk of the big hits. Six relievers got the final 12 outs--well, five relievers got the final 12 outs as Jake Peavy, on to get the final out of the 8th, gave up three straight hits before being yanked. That was really the only blemish on the day. Unless you count the face blemish Hunter Pence applied to himself by fouling a ball off the plate into his cheek. He toughed it out and stayed in, managing a hit and run scored as well as a great catch in right to end the game.

This drought of winning baseball makes every win seem like manna from heaven. The team is still wandering in the desert, but a 4-3 record in the last seven games is something to celebrate, don't you think? String a bunch of those 4-and-3s together and you have a winning month. Or two.

Rubber match tomorrow (10:35 am PDT), Madison Bumgarner gets the call.



Thursday, August 4, 2016

6th inning: 5-13

3-2 win (10) in Philly
The Giants have won FIVE games in the last three weeks. At the All-Star Break they were the best team in baseball. Over the last 18 games they've been, along with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the worst. On the bright side the Giants are still in first place. The margin is a wee bit closer, but to play .278 ball and not lose the top spot is a miracle of sorts, perhaps the baseball gods decided our suffering would only go so far. They stuck the pin in the doll and gave it a good twist but didn't apply the killer blow.

Matt Moore had his Giants debut and he delivered six quality innings. That's eleven straight starts for the new lefty in which he has recorded at least 18 outs. Keep that up, bro! That's just the kind of steady consistency the club needs. Denard Span hit a homer in the 10th to break the deadlock--that's right, a Giants player hit a homer. That's pretty rare. Close games often get decided late with a big fly, especially in a bandbox like Citizens Bank Park. This time the Giants got what was needed. A resurgent Santiago Casilla, lashing out like a cornered beast, nailed down the save with a brisk 11-pitch 1-2-3 "see ya" after an equally clutch effort the previous night. It's been hard times and increased scrutiny for the embattled closer, it's nice to see him respond with the kind of performances we know he's capable of. Maybe a little F.O. and fan base doubt was just what he needed to get fired up. Whatever works! In fact the entire beleaguered 'pen showed up this afternoon and got it done. Tip o' the cap to Derek Law for a particularly stout 10-pitch 1-2-3 8th frame.

Here's the tale of the season at the 2/3 mark:

1st inning:  8-10
2nd inning: 10-8
3rd inning: 15-3
4th inning: 12-6
5th inning: 12-6
6th inning: 5-13

That's 62-46 (.574) and a two game lead over LA in the West. Only the Cubs and the Nationals have more wins. If the Giants play .574 for the season they will finish with 93 wins. That means 31 more wins over the final three innings. It's a trip to Washington, D.C. next with the mercurial Jeff Samardzija getting the call. You have to think his run of poor starts since his May surge convinced the club they needed another starter. Say it ain't so, Jeffy-boy. Take it as a challenge and show 'em you still have the stuff for a championship run.



Rocky Road Johnny

As I type this, we are zipping through Willows, CA on our way home. Robyn is obviously steering our vessel and the darkness has stolen the all too familiar view. Seemed like a good time to post about that shitty loss. I probably could Vlog in the front seat here but the game isn't worthy.  So it's hunt and peck for me!

The fecking Phillies did not get the memo about being shitty.  Even though JohnnyC had a three hit shutout going into the seventh AND a four run lead, two things that used to produce wins 95% of the time, our beloved boys found a way to blow it in extra innings. FNG Nuñez will probably get the goat label for a brain dead error but once again a ridiculously feeble offense was largely to blame. I believe 19 straight Giants went down after the fourth and we never really threatened.  We hung tough until Peavy's bullpen debut, the aforementioned error and then a game winning hit.

 Once again I feel like we are all waiting for Buster Posey to be anything more than adequate. Until he does that, our offense will be nothing more than average.  Unless he rips off a big month, which he really hasn't got close to, this is a completely unremarkable offensive season. It feels rather snarky to complain about such a great player.  Also, it's not like anyone will suggest an improvement or even a reason. It will just be "He will turn it around.  It's just a matter of time."

And you know what, that's probably true.

Let's get these dicks tomorrow!  I can't wait to see our FNG lefty, Matt Moore. He may be just the ticket! Go Giants!

P.S.  I couldn't post until I got home. Sorry for the delay.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Chow Blown

Here's the thing - if the Giants want to be relevant by the time September rolls around, they have to stop losing to shitty teams.  Padres, Reds, and now the Phillies.  After a stirring 5 run rally in the 5th inning to tie the score at 6 each, the Giants allowed a run, scored 2, allowed 1 more and then vomited 5 in the 8th for a 13 - 8 loss in Philadelphia.  Boo.

Madison Bumgarner started, he allowed about as many baserunners in 5 as he normally does in 3 games.  10 hits, 2 walked, 4 earned runs and 4 K in 94 pitches.  He pitched to the first batter in the 6th, and walked him.  He gave up 2 home runs, to Aaron Altherr, who has played 4 games this year, and to Maikel Franco.  Altherr had 5 rbi on the night, Franco 4 and Cameron Rupp, their catcher, had 3.  The first batter of each inning reached 1st base in every inning Madison pitched but the 3rd.  There was a Nunez throwing error in the 2nd before a Altherr rbi single and a Franco home run.  That was why Madison "earned" 4 runs when 8 crossed the plate under his tenure.

Hunter Strickland relieved Bumgarner in the 6th.  He allowed a run.  Derek Law had a clean 7th.  The Will Smith made his Giants debut in the 8th and promptly put the "F" in "FNG."  2 hits brought in Sergio Romo, and by the time he was done, it was 13 - 8.   So the Giants have now lost 7 of Madison's last 9 starts.  Again, not the way to ensure you are not an afterthought by September.  Giants hit a couple home runs.  Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Angel Pagan.  Brandon Belt not slumping would be big.  As I publish this, Colorado is ahead of LA by a score of 7 - 0.   Go Rox!

Monday, August 1, 2016


In the cold sober light of analysis it seems the Giants made out pretty well at the deadline. Lefty reliever and lefty starter, both young, talented, and cost-controlled, it's easy to say that's a good haul. Sure, they were expensive, but it's a sellers market. The teams out of the race know they have players the pennant-chasers want and they aren't going to give them up without extracting their pound of flesh. I don't worry about pitching prospects. The Madison Bumgarners of the world are rare beasts--projecting a twenty year-old as a future star is tough stuff. Most of them don't make it, and the Giants have had good luck swapping potential talent for proven talent. We all remember Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano, but that's because they were the exception, not the rule.

In this game you have to have the cojones to pull the trigger. Risk is inherent. I give Bobby Evans and the the Brian Trust a lot of credit for identifying the team's needs and finding the guys they thought could help. They pursued their targets with gusto and made the moves. It would have been a lot less painful if they had stuck with minor-leaguers but that wasn't going to get it done. Change is hard. Always. Everywhere, not just in baseball. But BobbyE & Co. are big boys and they made big boy decisions.

I'm happy for Andrew Susac. He deserves a chance to play and he'll get one in Milwaukee with Jonathan Lucroy's departure. Trevor Brown's work this season really did make Susac expendable. On the other hand, I'm gutted about Matt Duffy. He played with such verve and aplomb last season and had to fill the void left when a very popular and accomplished player (Pablo Sandoval, in case you forgot!) departed for (presumably) greener pastures. Duff-ster was one of the best rookies in the game. He had a rough start this season, and a big injury setback, but I had faith he would return to form. Alas, he'll have to do it in Tampa Bay. But I'm not upset at the Giants, just the situation. You have to give up talent to get talent. Duffy was the odd man out. He'll be missed, but the Giants have ably filled that spot with Eduardo Nunez, clearly planning ahead with that acquisition.

So how about these FNGs? Matt Moore was the costliest, and obviously the centerpiece, and he'll be the key going forward. I suppose this means Jake Peavy will get the bump. He's pitched, overall, better than Matt Cain, but Cain is signed for 2017 and Peavy is not. This is Jake's last go-round, and he'll have to do it in the 'pen. Matty is still expected to be a part of the rotation, and perhaps he's healthy now and can be a positive contributor the rest of the way. At the five-spot that should be do-able. Jeff Samardzija has been disappointing after a great stretch earlier, he'll be bumped down one notch as well. Perhaps the lowered expectations will help him regain his touch. Moore was one of the brightest stars in the game not long ago, but got bit by the injury bug and has yet to produce like that again. But he is healthy now (21 starts so far) and has serious fastball/change-up whiff-inducing stuff. He should be able to deliver quality innings in the three-spot behind Johnny Cueto and MadBum. He's only 27, as is reliever Will Smith. He also has a quality arm and clearly will step into the setup role as he's got good splits. He ain't no LOOGY. This means Javier Lopez can get back to that and Josh Osich can be spared some of the high-leverage situations while he matures as a player.

These moves may not pay off. But they are intelligent moves. They are good gambles. Both pitchers will be around for a few years, neither are "rentals," and Nunez is also signed for 2017. So that mitigates the high cost. These guys are investments--they will be a big part of the pennant chase, not bench pieces or role players.

I think, once the dust clears, we should feel good. The pitching staff needed a boost and they got it. The infield needed help and they got it. We'll miss the guys we grew fond of, and we may read about some young stud in a few years who "once was a promising prospect in San Francisco" but those things won't stick. What will stick is a winning ballclub. The Giants have too much at stake RIGHT NOW not to go for it. The Dodgers went "all-in" with their moves and the Giants had to counter as the race has tightened and looks to be the dogfight we expected when the season opened.

Time for the guys to strap it on and stop the slide and get back to winning ways. Let's hope the FNGs bring it!



3-1 win at home
Watching Matt Cain pitch for the last twelve seasons has convinced me that the pitcher-win is a pretty damn silly notion. You may have noticed I rarely if ever use W-L numbers in looking at pitchers' performances--those things are just too team-dependent. Teams win, not players. But baseball likes its narratives simple and free of contextual complexity. Matt Cain has 100 wins in orange-and-black and that's more than Jim Barr and less than Kirk Rueter. Woody, by the way, was a fine Giants player and deservedly beloved, but he was half the pitcher Cain is. You'd never know it from wins-and-losses, but it's the truth. (Barr is a much better comp.)

But the important thing is that the Giants won the game. That's two in a row! Perhaps our Zo-meister was on to something when he said the club had reached its nadir. We all hope so. Eduardo Nunez was a good pickup but it tells me that Matt Duffy is farther from the 25-man than I'd thought. I also thought there would be a pitching move but that has yet to transpire.

MadBum gets the nod tonight tomorrow night in Philly.




Trade alert: Giants acquire lefty reliever Will Smith from the Brewers for Andrew Susac and Phil Bickford. Certainly a bullpen southpaw was high on the list, this fits that bill. Susac has obviously been supplanted by Trevor Brown as the backup to Buster and while I'm sorry to see him go I am not surprised. He's looked like a likely trading chip for some time now. Adding Bickford seems like an overpay, but the Giants are buyers and everyone costs A LOT as the sellers know how eager the buyers are. He was last year's 1st-round pick and has impressive rookie-ball and A-league numbers. He's only 20 years old!