Thursday, September 29, 2016

Cueto Cruises to Eighteenth Win

7-2 win vs. COL   

He started a bit shaky ( 3 of the first 5 hitters got extra base hits ) but then Johnny Cueto (18-5) settled down and gave the Giants pretty much what he has been doing since day one:  quality pitching that gives us a chance to win.  And, boy howdy did we need this win.  The Cards won with a walk off and NY had the day off, so we are still one up on the Cards and now one down to the Mets.

Seven runs sure is swell.  I guess I give the offense player award to Connor Gillaspie but Span, Posey, Pence, Pagan and Crawford all reached base twice so it really was a team effort.  Of course, tomorrow we may look blind....heavy sigh.

An interesting note on the game: Cueto got 11 strikeouts which means that we had three starters in a row get 10 or more K's for the first time since Halicki, Montefusco and (I missed who).  Hey look, a trivia question!!  Who was it and what year?

Three to go!!  Do you like our chances??

The Final Four

2-0 loss
Tyler Chatwood continued his mastery of the Giants with a dominant 8-inning, 3-hit, 9-strikeout performance. Away from Coors Field he is one of the best in baseball: 13 starts, 80 IP, 53 hits, 19 runs, 4 HR, 36 BB, 61 K. That's not much comfort to Jeff Samardzija and the Giants who failed to pick up ground on the losing Cardinals and dropped further back from the winning Mets. The Shark had wicked stuff going for six innings, whiffing eleven, but the Rockies got enough hits and plated enough runs to support their ace. The Giants lineup was again over-matched against Chatwood who has only allowed eight runs in his four starts and a .223/.277/.351 batting line.

It's Johnny Cueto tonight. I was going to say a "must-win" game but I've used that phrase up this season. Most of the second half has been "must-win" games. The Cardinals appear to be stumbling to the finish line, much like the Giants. Which drunk will find his keys first?

Four games left. GO GIANTS!


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Giants Blast Past Rockies

12-3 win
The Giants did what they had to do tonight in San Francisco and overwhelmed the Colorado Rockies with great pitching and relentless hitting. Matt Moore flashed that flashy side he's flashed before and dominated with 11 strikeouts and zero walks over 7-2/3. It was a big-time start in a big-time game. The lineup had 19 hits including three doubles, three triples, and three homers, and that's certainly a timely surge for the final push. This is the team we thought we'd signed on with--now we have to see if they can win two in a row!

Both the Mets and Cardinals scored 12 runs each in their wins tonight. Feeling that playoff urgency yet? Three teams, two spots, five games apiece to play. The Mets remain a half-game up and the Cards a game back. The website says Samardzija, Cueto, Bumgarner, and TBD for the next four starts. It would be Moore's turn in the finale on Sunday. TBD will have to face Kershaw on Saturday. (Suarez? Blach? Cain?)



p.s. In one of the strangest moves I can remember, Giants trade for a player with only two series left. Gordon Beckham comes westward for the price of minor-leaguer Rich Rodriguez. (He's not post-season eligible.) Also catcher Tony Sanchez gets the call-up, Mac Williamson goes to the DL, and Matt Reynolds gets released.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Feeble Giants Lose Again

SF 3 SD 4
The Giants gave rookie Ty Blach his first start, subbing for the injured Johnny Cueto, and he only lasted three innings. He left with a 3-2 lead but the 'pen couldn't hold it for the final six and the lineup couldn't add on and the Padres won the finale. It's a familiar tale, oft-told, of the 2016 Giants. Just not enough. Coming up short. Too little, too late. Giants finish 11-8 against San Diego, 9-0 before the Break, 2-8 after. A Tale of Two Seasons, the best of times and the worst of times. Speaking of that the Dodgers clinched the West with their win last night. As things stand right now they would go to D.C. to play the Nats in the first round.

The Giants (82-74) have six games, all at home, in which to decide if they would like to get invited to the dance. They sit in the number two spot and are idle tonight. The Mets (83-73) are in the lead for the Wild Card top spot by one game. Their last six games are on the road--Miami and Philadelphia. The Cardinals (81-74) are a half game behind the second wild card spot. They have seven games remaining (they play tonight), all at home against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. The two winners will play to determine who goes to Chicago for the first round.

Six games to go, Giants. Make it happen!


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Giants Blow It, Win Anyway

SF 9 SD 6 (10)
Madison Bumgarner got rocked for three homers this evening in Petco Park, one in the 4th, one in the 5th, and one in the 6th after the Giants had taken a 6-0 lead. He turned it over to the bullpen leading 6-5, it wasn't too hard to imagine they would find a way to give up the lead and sure enough the Padres tied it 6-6 in the 7th. It went to extras and somehow (Kelby Tomlinson and Angel Pagan) the Giants managed to have a big three-run rally (two-run homer by Denard Span) and they held on (Sergio Romo) to close it out in the 10th. Dodgers win tonight as well and reduce their magic number to one to clinch the West. Cardinals win and Mets lose so St. Louis (81-73) is a half-game back, the Mets (82-73) are tied with the Giants in the wild card race. At least we know that the Giants will finish over .500 for the season!

Seven games left. Giants play a day game tomorrow (1:40 Pacific, looks like Ty Blach) and are off Monday, then have six at home (three with Colorado and three with LA) and finish the regular season on Sunday, October 2nd.



p.s. I like Brandon Belt hitting second.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Giants Get Four Hits

7-2 loss in SD
That's not the formula. You have to get some hits. And your starter can't give up a three-run homer in the 1st. They tried that a couple of nights ago, that didn't work out. This one didn't either. What is this team? A bad good team? A good team gone bad? A good bad team? I don't know. I don't understand. This team is in the post-season hunt. They have a legit shot to be in the playoffs. They are one of the best teams in the NL, fifth in fact with 81 wins, but are 9-13 in September and 4-6 in their last ten games. Who are these guys? How are they hanging around? And if they hang on they just might get a wild card and they just might win and get to play the Cubs in Chicago in the playoffs. Can you get there getting four hits? Will they make it or crap out before then? Questions! Questions! So many questions. Those questions could be answered with a few wins, especially a few in a row.

Madison Bumgarner tomorrow, 5:40 pm Pacific. Go Giants!


Giants Cling to Life

2-1 win in SD
The Giants beat the Padres--that's right, the Giants beat the Padres--behind an impressive Jeff Samardzija who had a season-high nine strikeouts in his seven shutout innings. Derek Law gave up a homer in the 8th but Will Smith and Sergio Romo got the final five outs. Romo gets his second save in three days. It is nice to see him finally look like the Romo of old. The Giants needed everyone to scratch out a win: a slump-busting double from Joe Panik, a Kelby Tomlinson pinch-single, a blooper from Angel Pagan, a liner from Hunter Pence, a great stop at third by Eduardo Nuñez, another base runner thrown out by Buster Posey, and etc. You know, teamwork!

Nine games to go: still tied with the Mets and a half-game up on the idle Cardinals. Albert Suarez tonight, Madison Bumgarner tomorrow. It's possible that Ty Blach will take Johnny Cueto's start on Sunday.



Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Final Countdown

9-3 loss in LA
After two well-pitched games the Giants folded in the finale and the Dodgers sent them off to San Diego six back with ten to play. Fortunately for the club's post-season hopes the Mets and the Cardinals both lost and the three teams remain tied with identical 80-72 records. Giants are 3-7 in their last ten games--I don't think that will work. I imagine it will take at least 6-4 to grab a spot. This is it, the countdown starts tonight with Jeff Samardzija getting the call. Last night's starter Matt Moore only lasted an inning-plus and was tagged for seven hits and six runs. It was his worst start of the season and it came at a most inopportune time. The mercurial lefty has made ten starts in orange and black, here are his game scores: 59, 60, 42, 45, 86, 60, 21, 63, 46, 14. His average line is 5-2/3 innings, 5 hits, 3 runs, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts.



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Injuries Dim the JohnnyC Joy

2-0 win at LA 

There is still life.  Johnny Cueto (17-5) was dazzling once again but left abruptly in the sixth with some mysterious pain (I was watching the LA TV feed with no sound so you may know more than me).  I'm thinking back pain which could be a problem.  Earlier in the game, Brandon Crawford looked like he broke something in his left hand (again I hope I'm wrong).  So the obvious joy that should follow shutting out the doggers has been greatly diminished.  We just can't catch a break (ouch, pun not intended).

The real joy of the evening was the bullpen.  Okert, Smith and Romo all behaved like adults and locked the win down.  They did the last 3.2 innings, giving up 1 hit and striking out 7.  That is some sweet relief!  Can they do it a few times in a row?

Mets lost and Cards won.  Does that mean its a three way tie for the WC?  Yikes!!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Yasiel Puig Beats Giants

Los Angeles batted Yasiel Puig 7th and Chase Utley 8th.  The Giants, 5 games back with 6 to play and needing a sweep to take matters into our own hands, batted Gorkys Hernandez 5th.  Los Angeles put the reigning Cy Young winner on the mound.   Clayton Kershaw pitched well, but Madison Bumgarner pitched better.  Clayton Kershaw gave up 3 hits, only one of them mattered.  In the 3rd inning, Eduardo Nunez got a sort of hit - basically an infield tap that couldn't be picked up quickly enough.  He stole second, then went to third on a throwing error.  A wild pitch from Kershaw allowed him to score.  Kershaw lasted 6 innings and was removed after 88 pitches.  I was surprised.

Meanwhile, Madbum was a beast.  He gave up 1 hit - to Yasiel Puig, in the 2nd inning.  He struck out Puig next time up.  He struck out Seager 3 times.  He struck out Hernandez twice.  His line - 7 innings, 1 hit, 1 batter hbp, 0 runs, 10 strikeouts.  Madison Bumgarner became the Giants all time leader for strikeouts in a single season with 247.  That's getting up there in Big Unit/Nolan Ryan territory.  In the bottom of the 7th, though, Puig came up for the third time in a 1 - 0 ball game, with 2 outs.  Puig hit a slow bouncer down the first base line and Madbum and Belt combined for a terrific defensive play to get him out.

On the way into the dugout, though, something happened.  Did Madison say something to Puig?  Did Puig say something?  Was there a funny look?  I don't know.  But Madison went for Puig and benches emptied.  Nothing happened (although it was fairly amusing to see Smardjy and Cain barely able to hold Madbum back).  Both managers were warned. 

So the Giants can't play a psychological game, either.  Yasiel Puig made a weak out and got Madison Bumgarner out of the game after 97 pitches.  Anyway, you know what happened.  Will Smith and Derek Law kept LA scoreless in the 8th, in the 9th, the bullpen gave up the game, 2 -1.  Javier Lopez got the L, although he was the only guy who did his job.  The Giants got 3 hits in 6 innings off of Kershaw, but none thereafter.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Score Two, Lose Two

Giants scored two runs on Saturday and zero runs today. That's not the winning formula. Both days the Cardinals scored three runs. That's it, just three runs. But it was enough. Giants lose two games by a combined score of 6-2. I don't understand this team. They are five back with three to play in LA starting tomorrow night. With a lucky 13 games left in the season it seems they have to at the very least win two of three and pick up a game on the leaders. A sweep would be better, but that's a tall order. Giants are a game back of the Mets in the wild card and a game ahead of the Cards. I don't understand this team.

Bumgarner v. Kershaw on tap next. GO GIANTS!


Friday, September 16, 2016

Winning is good

Winning is always good. I like winning. The Giants won again, 8-2 at home against the Cardinals. Buster Posey snapped his months-long homerless streak with a two-run clout in the 4th and a stout 'pen backed a shaky Matt Moore and the Giants had another win. Did I mention I like wins? Yadier Molina made a throwing error that lead to a six-run 3rd and that set the tone. Moore managed five, facing 24 batters on 93 pitches. But he hung on and didn't implode and the lineup took advantage of their opportunities to score. Suddenly the team looks like the pre-ASB Giants. I like this new look. Let's see more of it.

Jeff Samardzija tomorrow (6:05 Pacific) against Mike Leake. After they got Leake last season I thought he was going to be our middle-of-th-ro' guy this season. But we got Samardzija for that. And the Cardinals got Leake. And now they pitch against each other. Which one of them would you rather have?



Thursday, September 15, 2016

Vlog 28 "The Playoffs Begin, Kinda"

6-2 win vs StL   

Forget the last few weeks (my god, has it been months?).  Forget the horrors and heartbreak that the 2016 Giants have crammed down your throat.  Bask in TONIGHT.  Pretend that Buster gets four hits every night, that Hunter goes deep right off the bat all the time.  And most of all, soak up the JohnnyC Joy.  And actually when it comes to Cueto, there is no pretending needed here: complete game #5, a nifty 16-5 record and clutch 83 game score performance in a playoff type game.  I can't wait to see what he does to the doggers next Tuesday.

Vlog 28 "The Playoffs Begin, Kinda"

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

We Are Owned By the Worst in the West

The San Diego Padres are our daddies.  They totally own us.  Say it.  Say it out loud.  How does that feel?  Does it feel good?  It feels sort of like your stomach when you have a case of food poisoning.  Can you name the starting pitcher for the Padres from Monday when we were shut out (without looking)?  Can you name today's starting pitcher?  No and no.  We beat this team 9 games out of 9 before the half, and have lost to them all 6 games since then.  And it is not because they have gotten much better.  Jesus fucking christ.  Just when we finally, finally get some momentum, something positive from this utter shit-pile of a 2nd half, we come home to look just as bad as imaginable.  Can we get shut out by nobody pitchers?  Can we get a couple runs and then give them up with 2 strikes and 2 outs in the 9th inning?  Can we repeat our offensive ineptitude with our ace on the mound?  Yes, Yes and Yes.

Madison Bumgarner pitched.  106 times, to be exact, for 6 2/3 innings.  He gave up 3 earned runs, walked 2 and struck out 5.  So what?  The Giants lost 3 - 1.  Pence, Belt, Panik and Gillaspie, 1 hit.  Each.  Span, Pagan, Posey and Crawford, 0.  Each and collectively.  I am sick of these games where the announcers are talking about the Giants in the pennant race.  They're hunting nothing.  The Giants are aiming at their own feet and can't even hit those.  I am sick of seeing minor leaguers put in games because the regulars are so irregular.  If this team was somewhere about Rockiesville, that might be enjoyable.  As it is, it only reminds me of very far from contention we are, regardless of what the standings say.  If the doggers were anywhere near competent, this would not be any kind of a race at all.  The Cardinals are the next team to be invited into our stadium to rip into our soft underbellies.

8th inning: 9-9

I wrote this after a bullpen meltdown last week:
Maybe Boch should flip everything over and have Casilla be the first guy out of the 'pen and Okert and Strickland finish. Can't get any worse.
Turns out it can be worse--Giants give up five in the 9th and lose to San Diego 6-4. OK, so I won't give the skipper any more advice.

Here's the breakdown. At least we are seeing an upward trend! 18 games to go--it's the final inning of the season. Not exactly the Giants forte--final innings, that is.

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
8th inning: 9-9

Bumgarner this afternoon. Go Giants!


Monday, September 12, 2016


5-3 win in AZ
Giants win three games in a row for the first time since July and three in a row on the road for the first time since June. It was a great display of Veteran Savvy Clutchness by the lineup to grind away against the always formidable Zack Greinke and end his day in the 6th after scoring the go-ahead runs. It would have been a shame to waste the superb start from FNG southpaw Matt Moore who fanned eleven in seven frames and allowed only two runs. It was nice to see him bounce back after the ugly outing in Colorado. Giants pick up a game on LA and are now three back with twenty left to play. Hunter Strickland got a four-out save--we'll see if the 'pen can adapt to their new roles. The Padres are in town tonight and face Jeff Samardzija,



Saturday, September 10, 2016

JohnnyC and Hunter Give us a Laugh

11-3 win at ARI  

The seemingly resurgent Giants offense busted loose with NINETEEN hits, put ELEVEN runs on the board and JohnnyC (15-5) handcuffed the snakes with super quality stuff.  End result: a laugher!  How many of those have we had lately?  Ummm, like, NONE.  This Roadtrip has been a festival of one run losses (our speciality) and then, BOOM.   Is this just a fluke or a sign of better times?  I'm sorry to say there is no way to know with this team.

One thing we do know is that JohnnyC and Hunter Pence, when they are cooking like tonight, are an absolute baseball joy to watch.  Cueto was crisp and efficient; nibbling like a true artist. He even delivered a nice RBI single and proceeded to windmill all the runners to the plate.   Meanwhile, Pence made history with a second night in a row scoring FOUR runs.  He showed plate discipline and outrageous opposite field power.  The "Los D-backs" ( are they kidding with that? ) have no answer for Hunter; they just can't get him out.  If only this continues for, oh , about a month or two more. Please oh please.

(Sorry, no vlog tonight. Crazy busy night in SacTown. I'll catch next time. Love you guys!)

Giants Eke Out Win in So Many Innings that Gearrin Pitched Twice

As the 2016 season inches its way to its inevitable, disappointing conclusion, the Giants picked up a win in Arizona after twice blowing leads.  The game went 12 innings, by which time even the Chronicle had lost interest.  The sports page features the Cal football team in a preview of today's game, the A's, the Raiders and the 49ers.  I can't blame them.

Madison Bumgarner pitched the opening 6 innings.  He allowed 4 runs, 3 of them on 2 home runs.  Balls fly in Arizona.  Maddy threw 110 pitches, gave up 6 hits, struck out 9 and walked 1.  After the top of the 7th inning, he stood to get a W if the Giants could have held a 5 - 4 margin.  That evaporated quickly under George Kontos.  Kontos was given a blown save according to the ESPN box (can you get one of those in the 7th inning? was it a blown hold?  a blowhole?).  He was followed by an inning each from Romo and Strickland, then, in the 10th, the Giants scored on a Pence double and a wild pitch.  Casilla gave up a home run, to that guy Lamb again, then made it through the rest of the 10th.  Joe Nathan pitched the 11th.  In the 12th, Belt walked, followed by a single from Joe Panik.  Kelby Tomlinson singled up the center for another go-ahead run.

In the 12th, the Giants brought Cory Gearrin in to pitch.  He struck out Owings, then was parked in left field for Lopez to pitch to Lamb, who walked.  Then Gearrin was brought back to pitch and Gorkys was brought into play left.  Gearrin finished the inning for a save.  That's why your box shows Gearrin for a full inning with a save, followed by Lopez.  Joe Nathan got the win.  The Giants used 8 pitchers and 11 position players.  Span and Posey were 0 for 6, Pagan got 1 hit and Crawford was 0 for 5.  However,  Pence was 4 for 5 with 2 doubles, Belt was 2 for 3 with 3 walks, and Panik and Nunez both got 2 hits.  Giants win 7 - 6 and took over 5 hours to do so.  The doggers lost and the Cardinals and Mets both won.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


6-5 loss in Coors
It was Marx who said that when history repeats itself it would be "the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce." Things are so bad I'm quoting a goddamn commie. The Giants are fatally crippled in the bullpen and they blow late leads with regularity. So regularly do they blow leads that a promising season is slipping away. In fact, that may be it. The Giants fall to five back in the West and cling to a mere half-game lead in the Wild Card. And trending downward, unfortunately, with 23 games yet to play.

Santiago Casilla got pulled after the homer, the strikeout, and the hit and does not get assigned either a 'loss' or a 'blown save'. In fact he gets credit for a 'hold'. But his three-batter outing set the stage for the collapse, Osich and Nathan were merely stand-ins for the final blows. Maybe Boch should flip everything over and have Casilla be the first guy out of the 'pen and Okert and Strickland finish. Can't get any worse.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Kelby is King!

Giants win 3-2
Santiago Casilla came into a game in Chicago on Sunday with the Giants leading 2-1 after a hard-fought eight and one-half innings. It was what they like to call a "save situation." He gets three outs and a clean slate and the Giants win a game against the best team and split the series in Wrigley and as a bonus claim the season series. It was a big moment in a tough second half of the season. The Giants lost in 13 as Casilla could not get it done. It was the biggest "blown save" of the year. The Giants slipped to three back of LA and went into what seemed to be their death spiral. But this is baseball where the dead come back to life. Tonight Santiago Casilla came in to hold a one-run lead and save the game and sure enough he did just that. He allowed a baserunner but promptly erased him with a game-ending double play. The Giants are still squirming in a quicksand of their own making, but one has to feel a bit of life surging back into the sclerotic vessels of this gasping beast we call a team as they win their second game in September.

Jeff Samardzija pitched with verve and stamina, Eduardo Nunez hit a homer and drove in the tying run, and Kelby Tomlinson got the clutch hit to drive in Buster Posey with the go-ahead run. Way to go Kelby!

Albert Suarez tomorrw. Go Giants!


Monday, September 5, 2016


Skunked six-zip in Colorado
The sad part of this team's collapse is that they are still in the race. Bear with me here: it means they still have to play all their starters and continue on as if they still have a shot at glory. Because in fact, mathematically, they do. Ty Blach made his much-anticipated major league debut this afternoon at Coors Field and pitched three scoreless frames, allowing only one hit and one walk with forty pitches. Wouldn't you like to see him start in place of take-your-pick Moore/Samardzija/Suarez the rest of the way? Wouldn't that be fun? If the Giants were ten or more games back, like the Rockies, that's just what we would want them to do. Let's see if the kid has the stones to start on the 2017 club. On a team where former ace Matt Cain is reduced to mop-up man why not give the young lefty his shot? But they can't because they are only a handful of games behind the first-place Dodgers and they cling to a lead in the Wild Card race. But despite my earlier optimism I can hear the hiss of helium leaking out of this big, over-blown orange-and-black airship and I can plot the course of it's ultimate crash-landing. The Giants just may play themselves out of everything in this final month. Twenty-five games to go, It will take nine wins to guarantee an over-.500 record. What's your over-under on that bet? What will this team's final record be?


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Vlog 27: "JohnnyConsolation"

3-2 loss (13) at CHI 

The topics of "good but not good enough" and "the consolation in a job well done" have been discussed alot around here lately.  Well, more of the same today as the Giants gave it their all but just couldn't squeak out the series split.  We brought out the small ball (including a suicide squeeze) and JohnnyC threw a gem (7IP, 1ER, 5H) but a league leading 7th blown save by Casilla burst that bubble.  Another good game, another loss.  Am I kidding myself with this "pretty good, there is hope" thing??  Oh yeah, don't forget to watch the reprise of vlog.  It has a pretty mountain.

Vlog 27 "JohnnyConsolation"

Saturday, September 3, 2016

BCraw Runs, Cubs Defensive Shift Loses

It's nice to be able to report on a Giant's win.  It's a good thing, too, because my negativity regarding this team would probably alienate the few readers that we have.  When Mark posts "the Giants are a good team" or Jon describes the Giants as a "damn good team" I want to scream.  The Giants are still the worst team since the All Star Break.   Under what definition are they good?  The hardest thing is that I cannot for the life of me figure out why they are so lousy.  I can, of course, figure out why they lose any given game, but cannot figure out why they lost so many games for the last month and a half.  At least today was a victory, 3 - 2.

It looked to be a beautiful day at Piggly Wiggly Field in Chicago today, sunny and comfortable unlike San Francisco, which has had the foggiest summer since 1942.  Baseball weather.  The kind of day to settle back and watch two of the game's best face off.  Madison Bumgarner against Jake Arrieta.  The Giants needed a win, desperately.  At this point, you could probably say that every day.  And that is what it has come to - a team with the best record in baseball at one time now has their backs against the wall and the only thing to blame is themselves.   You knew going in that Madbum would have to be better than good, better than usual even to beat Arrieta.  Good thing he was.

The Giants struck first.  In the 1st inning, Angel Pagan doubled and scored on a throwing error to first.  In the 4th, the Giants added one.  Joe Panik singled with 2 outs, went to second on a wild pitch and to third on a passed ball as Belt walked.  Panik scored on a Nunez single.  Arrieta makes it tough on his catcher with a lot of sharp downward movement towards the dirt.  Today, that was crucial in the Giants' victory.  The Cubs got a run in the 5th when Baez singled and stole second.  Arrieta hit a dribbler?  bunt? to Nunez, who charged the ball but couldn't pick it up.  In fact, he couldn't even grab it.  Baez kept on going and scored because there was no one else there.  That goes as a hit and an earned run on Madbum's record, but it shouldn't. 

The match-up of aces continued.  Both the Giants, and the Cubs once the 5th inning rolled around had long at-bats.  It got very interesting in the 6th.  Brandon Crawford singled with 1 out.  With the shift on, he stole second because there was no one there as Joe Panik struck out.  Then, with Arrieta holding the ball and Baez playing third way over in the shortstop's hole, Brandon went to third.  Why not, there was no one to hold Brandon on second to at third.  By the time he noticed, Arrieta couldn't even get a throw off.   Then, with the defensive shift still on so that Brandon could take a huge lead, another Arrieta wild pitch in the dirt allowed him to score.  Giants 3, Cubs 1.

In the Cubs half of the inning, Zobrist scored on a foul ball out that turned into a sac fly.  At the end of 6, both Arrieta and Madbum were done.  Both threw 103 pitches and 6 full innings.  Arrieta struck out 7, walked 2 and gave up 4 hits (all the Giants hits for the day).  Madbum gave up 5 hits, walked no one and struck out 10.  He gave up the 2 runs, but like I mentioned, it should be 1 earned.  5 relievers managed to keep the Cubs scoreless for 3 innings, although there was some scary stuff along the way. 

So a victory is good.  Maybe the Giants can put on a little run.  Maybe string together a couple wins.  They have done that exactly 3 times since July 15; against Washington, against the Mets, and back to back against LA and Atlanta.  They have not won 3 in a row, but they have actually played .500 ball in their last 10 games.  Johnny Cueto goes tomorrow, he has seen a lot of the Cubs (and they of him).  Baseball is very much a game of what-have-you-done-for-me-lately.  A few wins would improve my mood considerably.  As will the wine tasting that I am headed for right now.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Giants Fall Short--Again

5-4 loss Fri &
2-1 loss Sat
Two one-run losses in Chicago encapsulate the year so far: Giants are just a little short of being a complete team. The Cubs are baseball's best right now, and have been most of the season. The Giants flirted with that distinction for a bit in late July but have now been overtaken within their own division. At one point in the two games the Giants were 0-for-40, yet they had legitimate chances to win both. That's the essence of the 2016 Giants--very good, but not enough. Friday night was the familiar story with the bullpen blowing the lead. This is the most obvious weakness of the club, and it should be noted that with the retirement departure of Jeremy Affeldt at the end of last season and the impending free agencies for Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez, and Santiago Casilla at the end of this season, the Core Four will likely be no more in 2017. An argument can be made that the remaining three could be done in orange-and-black, but that's a discussion for the off-season.

Jon Lester flirted with a no-hitter but Hunter Pence, the hot hand in the lineup, saved the team from ignominy this afternoon with a wind-defying blast. He had one last night as well. The baseball gods favored the home team today as several Giants hit the crap out of the ball but to no avail, either a great play in the field or fortunate placement of a fielder snuffed out the hits. I keep going back to my that-sums-up-the-season notion, certainly luck has not been on the side of the good guys since the Break. A foot difference here or there could have turned today's dominating win from Lester into a clean Caining, a great start wasted in a close loss. Alas, the Giants are indeed offensively challenged these days, and really have to add some pop to the program for the next set of shows. It's one thing to spurn the homer but still win. It's another to spurn the homer and continue to come up short, especially with the rest of the league banging them out regularly.

Jeff Samardzija was not effective on Friday and Albert Suarez was effective today, but the result was the same in both cases. Starting pitching has been spotty, at least by San Francisco standards; the drop-off from the ace lefty-righty pair a little too big, despite being overall, a better-than-league-average rotation. It all adds up to a good team, just not a great team. Despite the 5th-highest payroll they are tied for the 8th-best record. Then again it's nothing that a 20-8 record the rest of the way couldn't cure. Even if the Dodgers win tonight it's only a three-game deficit with six games head-to-head remaining, do-able even if difficult. Then there's the Wild Card, eminently reachable, but not anyone's first choice or anywhere close to pre-season expectations for this bunch.

If it seems like I'm avoiding discussing the last two games in any detail, that's exactly what I'm doing. Skipping the details. The wins are not coming with the needed frequency and at this point the details are moot. I can't quit, they certainly aren't, and the math says the odds for post-season play are still good. It's not that anything is rotten in Denmark, just a little past fresh.

Marquee matchup tomorrow afternoon with Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta.