Sunday, April 30, 2017

Again Again

I was working in my backyard today.  It's mostly a driveway leading to an alley, but what there is of yard has grown lush with the spring rains.  My white climbing rose, shown behind the geraniums, is bursting with blooms.  Can you see the peach color in the rose closer to the house?  It is also going crazy with blooms after struggling for a couple of years to get going.  I thought I'd show you this because working in the yard is soothing and I find it enjoyable.  Unlike listening to a Giants game.

The game was not enjoyable.  The Giants dropped another game, at home, to the Padres, 5 - 2.  Ty Blach pitched well, and the Giants took a 2 - 0 lead into the 9th inning.  Mark Melancon allowed a 2 run home run to Hector Sanchez for a blown save.  According to Grant Bisbee, Hector Sanchez has now hit as many home runs in San Francisco in a Padres uniform as he did in roughly 800 plate appearances in a Giants uniform.  In the 12th inning, with George Kontos pitching his second inning of relief, the Giants allowed another home run, this one a 3-run shot from Will Myers.  Of course, the Giants were unable to score in the bottom of the 9th, 10th, 11th, or, for that matter, the 12th.

I was just thinking, as Derek Law was pitching in the 8th after a 7 inning, 3 hit, 0 run effort from Ty Blach (2 BB, 1K)  that the Giants haven't really found pitchers for their bullpen niches yet, except for Melancon at closer.  You want a bullpen where you have guys to rely on for the 7th and 8th inning, with maybe a specialist for left handed hitters, and maybe an extra in case you get into a situation where you have to use these guys on a lot of days.  Then you have some guys that can do long relief or spot start and maybe a guy for garbage time.  You don't see those guys as often but they are expected to pitch longer when they are in the game.  And of course, a closer.  The Giants went out a got a closer, but, I thought, the other guys haven't settled into defined roles, yet.  Bruce Bochy keeps trying them out, and they all look pretty good at times, except when they don't.  Like yesterday.  Or Thursday.  Or for that matter, Friday, even though they held on to win.  Closers give up a bomb and blow a save every now and then.  It happens.  Rod Beck did it, Rob Nen did it. So did Santiago and Sergio.  But 2 in April averages out to 12 in the season.  That's too many.   And the Giants just seem to rotate between different ways to lose.  Make no mistake, though, pitching or not, the Giants can't win too many games if they are only scoring 2 runs.

Johnny Cueto throws tomorrow in Los Angeles.  The Giants have now played every team in the western division both at home and away except the doggers, and have a losing record against every one of those teams.  They are 29th in runs scored and 29th in slugging percentage, and 27th in on base percentage.  The Royals are at the bottom of slugging and obp.  One of their 7 wins was against the Giants.  Tomorrow would be an excellent time to start to atone for that.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Giants Fall Apart, Again

SD 12  SD 4
Matt Cain labored a bit but had good results over his abbreviated outing. The pitcher's spot came up just after the Giants had tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the 5th and Kelby Tomlinson got the nod and that was it for Matty. He'd thrown 86 pitches to 21 batters to get the 15 outs, walking no one and getting seven swinging whiffs. Tomlinson got the pinch-hit, by the way, and wound up scoring on Brandon Belt's two-out single and the Giants turned it over to the bullpen for the final four frames with a 3-1 lead. Chris Stratton got the 6th and unfortunately made a mess of it, giving up four hits and two runs and leaving with the bases loaded and only one out. Neil Ramirez came in and poured gasoline on the fire and the Padres wound up scoring eight in the frame and three more in the next to make it a laugher. Another bullpen collapse! And I thought it couldn't get worse. That was just a wretched performance, the lack of execution has me speechless. The Giants have won two games in a row only ONCE this season!

SF 4  SD 3
Friday night the Giants got a strong effort from Jeff Samardzija (7 IP, 3 R) and a clutch late homer from The Kid, Christian Arroyo, to prevail 4-3 over the Padres. Brandon Belt had three hits and a walk and scored two. Derek Law and Mark Melancon finished up and the Giants sewed up a big win. They're all big at this point as there are way too many losses so far this season. It was an exciting and dramatic evening, but the joy was quickly dissipated by the disaster that followed the next night.

The Giants lifted themselves out of the cellar with the win on Friday but the loss on Saturday landed them right back on the bottom. Let's hope the team wins the rubber game tomorrow behind the other rookie, Ty Blach. This has been an embarrassing month of baseball--one of the worst ever--and I'm getting ill having to endure it.


p.s.  Buster and other catchers have a lot to say to Jerry Crasnick about life behind the plate in this article for ESPN. Check it out.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Giants Fail in Finale

LA 5  SF 1
After a couple of poor outings Matt Moore returned to form and pitched impressively against the Dodgers this afternoon in San Francisco. He threw 104 pitches over seven innings and yielded just one run on a solo shot by, you guessed it, Corey Seager. His finest moment was his final two hitters in the 7th, whiffing them both with the go-ahead run on third base. It was 1-1 when he left and both George Kontos and Mark Melancon put up scoreless frames but Cory Gearrin, Steven Okert, and Hunter Strickland combined to ruin the top of the 10th and the Dodgers ran away with it.

The Giants really needed a series win, they've had only one so far this season. They lost 3 of 4 in Arizona to open things, then lost 2 of 3 in San Diego before coming home and winning 2 of 3 from the Diamondbacks. They followed that by losing 3 of 4 to the Rockies and then went on the road and split two in Kansas City and got swept in three games in Colorado. So, yeah, winning a goddamn series had some urgency. Unfortunately they just did not have enough offense to make that happen. It's a scarily bad lineup so far, the lack of scoring (77 runs in 23 games!) is pathetic. You can't win when the hitting is this poor. It's a shame to waste the good pitching. And to see the bullpen collapse--again--just as it seemed they were getting it together is discouraging as well.

Phenom Christian Arroyo continues to be blessed by the gods, he had two hits including the game-tying RBI in the 6th. Keep on rockin', kid, you are the best thing that's happened in this wretched month!

San Diego comes to town for three. GO GIANTS!


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Smile Has Returned!!

The first truly great moment of the 2017 season occurred as Michael Morse crushed a pinch hit homer in the bottom of the eighth which sent the Giants on to an extra inning win.  It may be late April but the ballpark exploded like October when the popular pretty boy unleashed his dinger.  The sheer joy of that moment is something you must relive:

That magical moment also served to make Christian Arroyo's first homer become a huge key to the win rather than a pleasant side note.  It also gave Hunter Pence the chance to battle through an epic bases loaded foul ball festival before getting the GW sac fly.  So, TWO big homers give the Giants a massively important win. Ain't that wacky?

 And if Matt Moore can get a win tomorrow we have ourselves a sweet series victory that we might be able to build on.  Do you think Morse will get a start?  I bet he does...  And who knows if Arroyo will ever come out.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

2 - 1 Again

Giants against doggers.  Another 2 - 1 game.  This time, the good guys lose. To Kershaw.  He's a very good pitcher.  Lacking Madison Bumgarner, we threw youngster Ty Blach against him.   Remember last year, when Ty Blach was a stud against Kershaw at the end of the season?  Ty Blach was a stud against Kershaw tonight. 

Ty's line:  5 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 1 BB, 2 K.  He did what he could to keep the doggers in check.   Kershaw gave up 6 hits, one of them was a double to Ty Blach.  Ty Blach scored, for the Giants only run of the game.  He now has 3 hits against Clayton Kershaw.  That is the most by any pitcher not named Bumgarner.  Kershaw's line: 7 IP, 6 hits, 1 BB, 7 K.  Brandon Crawford might be hurt, he pulled up with a groin tightness in 8th rounding first after singling Buster Posey to third to produce a great, yet unrealized, chance for the Giants to score.  They had a few of those.

Some other thoughts. 1)  If Buster Posey is behind the plate, the game goes into the 5th inning tied.  Yeah, the throw was low, but it also wasn't scooped out.  Buster does that.   2) Christian Arroyo, batting second, got a hit.  Off of Clayton Kershaw.  His first major league hit.  How may people would like to say they got a hit in a major league baseball game off of Clayton Kershaw, even if they never got to play major league baseball again?  I'd say at least 240,000,000.  3)  The Giants played tough.  That's nice.  It would be nicer to play tough and come up with a W.  4)  Ty Blach has the capability of being a starting pitcher in the major leagues.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Giants Edge Dodgers Behind Cain

SF 2  LA 1
Just when I was thinking the Giants Brain Trust wasn't going to do anything dramatic they did something dramatic. 2013 1st-round draft pick Christian Arroyo was called up and assigned to third base and the sixth spot in the order for tonight's contest with the Dodgers. The 21-year old phenom went 0-for-4 in his debut but he put the ball in play each time and even moved up a runner with one AB, a runner that actually scored. That's a rare occurrence with this club! He looked like he knew which pitches to whack at and which to lay off of, and certainly did not have the deer-in-the headlights look some of the rookies do. He made a couple of clean picks in the field, one in a clutch spot, and even rescued Matt Cain with a barehand catch-and-throw off a ricochet. That earned a chest bump from the grizzled vet.

Speaking of Matt Cain, he was terrific. He put up zeros in an efficient six innings; only 70 pitches to 21 batters, two hits, one walk, three strikeouts. He had a nasty curveball working and a crisp two-seamer with good break that generated a lot of weak contact. It's too early to tell but perhaps our grizzled vet is re-inventing himself a bit, learning how to get outs with a somewhat different repertoire than the young stud of yore. Mysteriously he was removed after that excellent outing with "tightness in his hamstring." Perhaps the ball that rebounded off his leg over to Arroyo had something to do with it.  Fortunately the bullpen (Okert, Kontos, Law, Melancon) got the job done. The final play was Buster Posey, catcher extraordinaire, throwing behind Justin Turner on second base to pick him off after he strayed too far on a swing-and-miss from Adrian Gonzalez. Beautiful, man!

Wins are good. I like wins. Let's see some more. Rookie Ty Blach matches up with the best in the game, Clayton Kershaw, tomorrow night. I love it. Let's get some youthful energy injected into this struggling team! GO GIANTS!


Sunday, April 23, 2017


COL 8  SF 0
The Giants got their asses kicked once again, this time not just displaying ineffective pitching and abysmal hitting but including bumbling fielding as well. There are three legs to the baseball triangle: pitching, hitting, and fielding. Right now the Giants can't do any of them. I don't mean to discount things like baserunning, but you have to have baserunners to do that, and you have to be in situations (i.e. close games) where a base or two can make a difference. It's like having a $62M closer and not being able to use him because the team never has a late lead! Oh, wait  . . .

This is the nightmare start that you hope never to see. As much as I hate to say it I don't think the team leadership can do much about it, at least in the short term. The players have to execute, they have to do their jobs, the manager can't make that happen. The GM can't make that happen. The owner can't make that happen. The players have to play better, and a couple of laps around the rosary beads is about as effective as anything else that can be done. In another month, if things are still this bad, then you'll figure the changes will come. You don't have a $175M payroll and flounder in last place! But for now we'll just have to burn the incense and make the offerings and hope the pitchers pitch better, the hitters hit better, and the fielders field better.

Matt Cain opens the Dodger series tomorrow night in San Francisco. GO GIANTS!


Saturday, April 22, 2017

1st inning: 6-12

COL 12  SF 3
Matt Moore got clobbered in Denver tonight giving up three homers and six runs to the Rockies in his four innings. Coming on the heels of MadBum's wreck and JohnnyC's poor outing it's a cruel blow to end the first seasonal inning. The lineup couldn't get anything going for seven innings (other than a solo shot by Joe Panik) off Colorado starter Antonio Senzatela. He was also on the hill in the victory over the Giants on Sunday in San Francisco. Two more were added in the 8th off the bullpen, and Brandon Crawford came to the plate as the tying run, but that was as close as it got.

Not much to say, fortunately it's April and we've got 8/9 of the way to go, 144 more chances. It's not just that they are scoring fewer runs (69) than they are allowing (81), it's the run of rotten luck as well. Case in point, another injury, this one to Denard Span making a catch in center. It's one thing to play below par but when the gods fuck with you as well you best grit your teeth and take your beating. They'll tire of it eventually and go pick on some other club, and then maybe we'll see what's what with the 2017 Giants. Chris Stratton mopped up after Moore and looked good with three hitless innings, that's a nice bright spot.

Jeff Samardzija tomorrow. GO GIANTS!


It is Official: Giants are Off to Bad Start

Loss, 6-5 @ COL 

On the day after "Dirt Bike Drama," JohnnyC (3-1) and the Giants took another disheartening loss to fall further into the NL West dungeon.  Sure there are lots of gory details ( bloop grand slams, lame inside the park homers, you know, the usual ) but individual game woes just don't seem to compare to the big picture concerns.  Anyway, I hate that ball park and most games that are played there seem somewhat tainted, so I'm going to choose to ignore this one. The place is a freak show:  sure, Hunter will turn flyballs into homers. Sure, JohnnyC will give up his first ever grand slam (that would not have been a homer anywhere else) and THEN give up an inside the park type in the SAME inning. The place is a freak show.

However, the beginning of this long journey is clearly not what we all hoped for. Too early to give up? Oh yeah, for sure. Hell, things don't get really bad until June around here.  But it is never too early to be scared shitless.  And my list of scary shit grows every day:  no FNG stepping up to DO ANYTHING,  no bullpen except a closer,  currently a rotation with one high quality guy,  outfield production at T-ball level,  a manager with a heart that is about to go,  a lineup incapable of a long ball,  a superstar catcher that hasn't played very well in a while and is one foul ball from being done, and, of course, now an ace that thinks high testosterone levels justify bullshit treatment of your teammates.   All that and I'm sure I forgot a bunch of things. Feel free to add to the list.

But even with all that scary shit, we all know it will get better.  Every team stumbles for a while and corrects, some teams do it all season and never get their act together. We can go either way. I will say this though: We are not the worst team in baseball.

Technically, that is Toronto.

Friday, April 21, 2017


Breaking news from the Oh-My-Fucking-God Department: Madison Bumgarner injured in a, get this, "dirt bike accident." That's called going-all-Jeff-Kent-on-ya. Thanks, MadBum, for doing something really dumb. I am loath to criticize guys who don the orange-and-black; I try to like all of them and I try to give all of them a break. But that's mostly in regards to on-the-field performance. Outside the lines? I try not to give a shit. But this one is squarely in the WTF category. I am at a bit of a loss. I get it, these guys are intense and competitive and adrenaline junkies and all that. It's harder for those types to sit still than most. But this is professional baseball. You get hurt on the field, fine. You get hurt dirt biking? During the season? Jaysus-Mary-Joseph! That's bad for business. That's a lousy career move. That makes you look like a diva.

MadBum, you and Buster are the faces of the team. Like it or not, you aren't just a ballplayer, you are the poster boy for a multi-million dollar enterprise with an enormous customer base. That moves things beyond baseball and fandom, I'm sorry to say. Speaking as a fan, I'm crushed. Get well soon, Bum. And I still love you.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Shut Down

In this short 2 game series, we held Kansas City to 3 runs in 23 innings.  That's decent pitching and defense.  Unfortunately, we could only win 1 of those games.  Boo.

Madison Bumgarner on the hill.  He was far from dominant but seemed to be finding a way to get it done and held Kansas City scoreless though most of his 7 innings.   He had several rough innings, though, and KC pushed a run across in the 5th.  It was enough.  Madison lasted 7, gave up 7 hits, walked 1 and struck out 4.  For the Royals, Jason Vargas was on the hill.  He spent most of the last couple years dealing with Tommy John surgery.  He was only throwing his 3rd start in 2017, but has only given up 1 run in his previous 2 (13 2/3 IP).  After 7 tonight, his ERA is 0.44.  The Giants got 4 hits only.

Gosh, I feel like I typed this before.......not very long my mind going?   Oh wait, here's why.  Last time Madison was on the mound, the Giants scored 1 run and lost.  The time before that, the Giants scored 1 run, and lost.  Tonight, they exceeded their previous crappiness, scored none and lost 1 - 0.  That sucks.  Our lineup featured Aaron Hill in left and Gorkys Hernandez in center.  They were hitless.  Should there be a tag that supercedes "anemia offensivia?"  "Offensivia horribilis?"  After a day off tomorrow, they show up in Colorado, where they need to score closer to 1 run an inning, not 1 run every other game.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

7 4 1 1 2 3 ND

SF 2  KC 1 (11)
The Giants won an agonizing extra-inning torture-fest in Kansas City. That's a big story, the wins have been a little sparse lately. But the real story was a brilliant effort by Giants starter Matt Cain. He gave up a couple of hard-hit balls early but quickly found his repertoire and other than a solo shot by rookie Whit Merrifield in the 5th he was in command and got stronger as he went on. He got pulled after seven and 86 pitches. What a superb job on the road against a tough lineup! The team's failure to support him with runs was a familiar old tale. Matt Cain pitched well--that's my story and I'm sticking with it.

It was a painful game as the Giants blew multiple chances to open things up. This lineup has a tough time getting big hits, and could use an occasional homer. They ultimately broke through with two outs on no one on in the 11th when Nick Hundley's double was followed by Joe Panik's single. There have not been many chances so far to give the ball to the closer, but he got the call in the bottom half. Mark Melancon gave up two hits but got the job done with three strikeouts and the Giants had a huge win. All the relievers made it difficult; the Royals had eight baserunners in the final four frames.

Bruce Bochy had a medical procedure and was not in the house, he'll join the team Friday. Ron Wotus had managing duties.

Madison Bumgarner tomorrow. GO GIANTS!


p.s. I neglected to mention that Buster Posey was in the lineup as the DH and got three hits. That's good news!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Giants Can't Resurrect Bats

COL 4  SF 3
The good news is Jeff Samardzija threw five scoreless innings. The bad news is that came after four runs allowed in the first two innings. Still and all, seven innings and four runs is a winnable start, and the Giants had plenty of chances but preferred to hit a double or triple when a homer would have been better, a sacrifice fly when an extra-base hit would have been better, and a weak grounder when a sacrifice fly would have been better. They say timing is everything. Giants batters look like their timing is off, in fact, they look off in general, it's not a lineup that's inspired confidence so far. The situational hitting in the 7th inning was particularly atrocious, but it's a team-wide offensive failure and not entirely due to good pitching from the other guys, yesterday notwithstanding. I suppose getting Buster Posey back ought to help, assuming he's healthy, but there's just not enough thump here in the early going.

Giants get no help from the Holy Spirit on Easter Sunday and the Rockies take three of four in San Francisco. Off-days both tomorrow and Thursday with two in Kansas City in between. Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner get the nods at 5:15 Pacific. The Royals started 0-3 and 2-6 but are back to even with four wins in a row.



p.s. Once-vaunted Giants prospect Clayton Blackburn was traded to Texas for a 21-year old switch-hitting middle infielder named Frandy De La Rosa (and cash). Blackburn signed with the Giants right out of high school in 2011, he's 24 and has never appeared in the majors despite being briefly on the roster last May. De La Rosa was in the high-A Carolina League, he'll probably be assigned to San Jose.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Rockies Silence Giants

COL 5  SF 0
Matt Moore didn't have it this afternoon in San Francisco but it mattered little as Rockies starter Tyler Chatwood most certainly did and he kept the Giants quiet. In the 6th Chris Marrero got a single with two outs, that was a big moment as Chatwood had retired the first 17, mostly on weak ground balls. Joe Panik led off the 7th with a single, and Denard Span walked to open the 9th but that was it. Chatwood gets his first career 9-inning complete game and first career shutout. He stifled the Giants last September in Game 158 with 8 shutout innings and only three hits allowed. Chatwood, it should be noted, is a double TJS survivor. Nolan Arenado, naturally, had three hits including a homer. The final line on Moore was 10 hits and five runs in 5-2/3 IP. On the bright side Neil Ramirez had a good outing in relief (four batters, two strikeouts) and both George Kontos and rookie Ty Blach pitched scoreless frames.

Jeff Samardzija gets the call on Easter Sunday at 1:05.



p.s. Jarrett Parker made a great play in LF but injured himself, breaking his clavicle. Tough blow for the club, the outfield situation was already uncertain, we'll see who gets the call.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Cueto Subdues Balky Rockies

Win, 8-2 in SF 

Johnny Cueto (3-0) became the majors first 3 game winner with yet another solid performance as the Giants took down the Rockies, 8-2.  It seems like every time JohnnyC takes the mound the world is our oyster and we can do no wrong.  And this feeling of almost complete control and confidence started pretty much the minute he became a Giant.  Remember his great start last year? I think Cueto became only the fourth Giant to go 3-0 to start a season twice in a row...did that make sense?

Besides the solid start (7 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 6 k, game score 68), we enjoyed some nifty offense on this opening orange Friday.  The top seven hitters all got hits and scored runs, which is rather sweet.  Hunter Pence got three hits with 2 RBI's, BCraw went deep and drove in 2.  But the best news was a 2 hit night from Chris Marrero, including a swell dinger.  That was his first ever major league homer, after something like 140 in the minors!  Way to go, Chris!  We all hope to see many more in the bigs as a Giant.

Oh yeah, the balks.  Did you see them?  Did any one?  The first one looked like he stepped toward home.  But the second one???  You can't really say they were the turning point in a 8-2 loss, so Bud Black looked rather dumb getting tossed.  But I can't blame him for being frustrated.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

0 for......68?

I think that's what I heard on the radio.  Can that be right, that the Giants are 0 for their last 68 games in which they were behind after the 8th inning?  We all know about when the Giants were ahead after the 8th inning, and wound up losing, but they haven't been able to come back once in that long a time?  Jeez.

No win to blow tonight, they were never ahead.  Without Brandon Crawford or Buster Posey, they only managed to score 1 run.  They gave up 3 but 3 was plenty on a night when the offense is AWOL.  Giants lose, 3 - 1.  Madison Bumgarner pitched 6 innings, gave up 3 runs and struck out 8.  Trevor Story hit a home run.  The Giants only had 5 hits, they did not bunch them up.  In the 9th, there was hope.  The Giants loaded the bases with 1 out on 2 infield singles and a walk, but, well, you read the title.  Nunez GIDP.  Greg Holland has 6 saves already this year.  The Giants don't have 6 victories.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Cain & Crew Get It Done

SF 6 AZ 2
Matt Cain walked off the mound after 13 unlucky pitches in 6th inning tonight in San Francisco to a warm ovation from the home crowd. It was a redemptive performance of sorts for the big righty, he only lasted five innings, but he allowed just one run--in the 1st, mind you--and actually left with the lead, striking out six of the 23 batters he faced. As impressive as his start was, and yes the bar has fallen for the once-formidable ace, it was his booming double with one out in the bottom of the 5th that got the go-ahead rally started. Jon Miller was particularly inspired by Cain's blast, saying he "obliterated it." Denard Span hit a single to center and Giants nemesis AJ Pollock hesitated just enough for Phil Nevin to give Matty the go sign and he scored easily. You have to love a pitcher who ties the damn game! After a Brandon Belt walk, Hunter Pence singled to score Span, and Conor Gillaspie singled to drive in Belt and make it 3-1.

When Cain left in the 6th the issue was very much in doubt but Cory Gearrin struck out the three batters he faced (with two men on and no outs, mind you). It took 13 lucky pitches but he got three swinging whiffs. Now that's relief pitching! I was expecting an Old School Caining and was actually sanguine about the notion, after all, Matty losing (or ND'ing) close games happened all the time when he was a stud. So I figured if the Giants lost a nail-biter I'd be OK with it, just for the good news about Cain. But George Kontos got it done in the 7th, Nick Hundley blasted a double in the bottom half to drive in BCraw and make it 4-1, Panik walked, and Jarrett Parker got the cathartic rocket launch that should have been a homer but was instead a triple to make it 6-1.

Derek Law had some room to work with and he took it, but he kept the lid on and Hunter Strickland got the honors in the 9th with a four-run lead and he made it quick. The 6-2 final was a team effort par excellence. The Giants win a series for the first time in 2017 and they beat the hottest team in the division to do it. It's been a rocky start for our beloved boys so let's enjoy the big wins. I hope everyone is stoked about Matty's performance. Maybe he can be like Barry Zito was in 2012, sort of a talismanic presence that creates wins. After all, BZ was the same guy all the other years he pitched in orange-and-black, but that season all the cards fell in order and he scored big. A fella can dream, eh?

Madison Bumgarner tomorrow night against the Rockies.



Punchless Giants Fall to AZ

If you'd told me Hunter Pence would get on base five times, Nick Hundley would have three hits, Eduardo Nunez four, and Jeff Samardzija would deliver a quality start I'd have figured the Giants to win. Alas, they came up short. Diamondbacks starter Robbie Ray kept the Giants from scoring and got a huge assist from his star centerfielder AJ Pollock. They did not have him last season due to a spring injury--as the Giants have learned, he's a difference-maker. On the home side Gorkys Hernandez probably should have made a play on a deep ball in centerfield that made a one-run sacrifice fly into a three-run triple. The rest of the lineup was anemic: Belt is 1-for-14 since his two-homer game, Buster is out for a week, and the Chris Marrero experiment is not paying off. Neil Ramirez is an interesting case--this is the second time he's struck out three in an inning and yet allowed a run (in this case the game-winner). The Giants have to figure out how to harness that stuff. Matt Cain gets the call tonight.



p.s. Samardzija plunked Goldschmidt on the hip early in the game with a big heater. He hit only one batter last season so I think we can safely say it was a payback pitch. Not that it helps much.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Happy Home Opener (mostly)

4-1 win in SF
Matt Moore dazzled the Opening Day crowd with a sterling 93-pitch effort (3 hits in 8 IP with no walks and 5 whiffs) to subdue the sizzling Arizona Diamondbacks. Their young flamethrower Taijuan Walker had horrified the home audience straight away with a wild fastball that beaned Buster Posey during his first plate appearance. He was taken out of the game.** The Giants didn't retaliate, just relied on Moore to keep the buzz saw running. They then scored three runs on a goofy play in the 4th. Walker, with the bases loaded and one out, Moore batting, tried to field a swinging bunt and his throw home to get the force got past the catcher. Two runs scored, and a bad throw by the catcher allowed a third, Moore wound up at second. The Giants put a lot of guys on but couldn't get a big hit, 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. But they cashed in on the fielding lapses, and that's good baseball, particularly when your guys make big stops and turn hits into outs.

But Moore was the man today, and that's the formula for the orange-and-black, get a big start. Yasmany Tomas hit a homer leading off the 5th but that's all Arizona could muster, the lefty was particularly strong at the end, throwing seven pitches in the 7th and eleven in the 8th. Happy to see Jarrett Parker get something going, a walk and a hit, he scored the third run on that nutty sequence, that was good baserunning by the Giants overall. I was also happy they scored another run late and even happier that FNG Mark Melancon got the last three outs. Wins are good. Wins are always good. Let's have some more. Jeff Samardzija tomorrow night.



**At the time of this posting all the info on Buster's injury has been that he's OK and no roster move likely.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

"W" #2 and Melancon's First Save

Win, 5-3 at SD

The Giants ended their sad opening road trip (2-5) on a good note with a quality start from the remarkable Cueto and an inaugural save from our big money new closer, Mark Melancon.  It is far too early to talk about a "must win," however this one sure felt important.

All of the classic parts showed up today for the first time this season: a good start (game score 61, 7 solid innings), some offense from our big guns (Pence and Posey hit back to back dingers!), and an actual save (with a game ending DP).  Things were getting a bit tense way too early around here. I mean, come on, complete lack of trust in our ability to score runs and to protect a lead shouldn't be here until June. Right?  This game is a quick fix for that paranoia. We can all take a breath now. It is going to be okay.  Until tomorrow.

(Note: No Vlog and limited posting due to the fact that my crazy life kept me too busy today. I had a big photo shoot with my gorgeous wife's dance troupe, so I really didn't follow the action. Forgive me and look for the Vlog again soon)

Saturday, April 8, 2017

5 in the L Column

I thought Matt Cain would be the one to step up and get the Giants a win - he just seems like the kind of guy to do just such a thing.  But he threw a couple of meatballs and then the relief threw a couple more and the Giants blew yet another one.

Tonight it wasn't so much a "blown opportunity" as much as they never got an opportunity to blow.  Jouhlys Chacin pitched for the Padres, and the Giants struggled to get a hit.  Meanwhile, Madison Bumgarner also struggled.  He threw 20 pitches in the first inning, hit the first batter, who scored, and then didn't look much more comfortable after that.  He gave up another one in the 2nd, but, with much effort, held the game at 2 - 0 and gave the Giants 8 innings (114 pitches, 5 K, 6 hits and 2 BB).

Chacin gave up only 3 hits, and the Giants only got 2 more after he departed after 6 1/3.   That was in the 9th against San Diego's closer, Ryan Buchter, when Brandon Crawford knocked in Buster Posey from 2nd for the Giants only run.  Padres win, 2 - 1.

Who are these guys?  They have a bunch of unfamiliar names, but they play like they have nothing to lose.  It is discouraging to have to find positives in yet another loss, but Madison gave us 8 innings, which is useful, because they have to go twice more through the rotation before they get a day off.  Defense was good.  Remember last year?  The Giants got off to a 5 - 2 start after their first 7 games, including 4 against LA.  They proceeded to take first and then played like shit for much of the summer, stumbling into the playoffs.  Maybe they will do the opposite, pick themselves up and storm through the summer, cruising to a first place NL West spot.  Ah, well........anyway, Kershaw got beat by the Rockies.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Pads Pound Giants

7-6 loss in SD
On the one hand Matt Cain didn't pitch any worse than Matt Moore or Jeff Samardzija. On the other hand I can't take any comfort in that. The Padres got big games from no-name rookies Manuel Margot (2 HR), and Jose Torres (a perfect 7th) as well as three hits and four runs batted in from All-Name Team All-Star Yangervis Solarte. That's the story. Guys with no names and a guy with just about the coolest name in the bigs made life miserable for the good guys. Cain did not appear to have anything special working, maybe the occasional curveball, but it wasn't pretty, and this is Not Pretty, Part Three. It stinks writing about losses! Brandon Belt may finally silence his critics this season, I sure hope so, he looked great hitting two homers including his first-ever grand slam. The home park will always suppress his numbers, but the dude can rake. He hits booming liner after booming liner to right-center, the worst place for AT&T, so if he's going to get the dingers he's going to have to do it on the road. Rock on BB, and keep on doing what you are doing.

That's now 34 runs allowed in 5 games by the pitchers. That's going to need some improving.

MadBum tomorrow. GO GIANTS!


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Not Pretty, part two

9-3 loss in AZ
Once again the Giants fell apart after a promising beginning--the Diamondbacks scored four runs in the bottom of the 6th and took control of the game and the series. Starter Jeff Samardzija looked strong over the first five frames with nine strikeouts but after an interminable top of the 6th a different man came out of the dugout. A walk, single, and homer greeted the big righty and the Giants lost their 3-2 lead and were effectively done. Hunter Strickland came on and gave up one of The Shark's runs to make it 6-3 Arizona but followed it with a clean 7th. Ty Blach had two outs and no one on in the 8th and then walked two and gave up two hits and that made it 9-3. The D-Backs didn't need their closer in this one. The lineup, sadly, had only four hits, but one was a homer by Aaron Hill and Buster had two doubles, so there's some silver lining in the dark cloud.

Giants pitchers gave up 27 runs in the four games. At least they leave that horrid place and go to a ballpark in San Diego that plays more like San Francisco. Matt Cain goes tomorrow for the Padres home opener, note it is at a goofy time, 3:40 p.m.



Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Not Pretty

8-6 loss in AZ

The Giants were up 4-1 in the 5th and Matt Moore got two quick outs when he started to look a little shaky and couldn't locate his pitches. Chris Owings doubled and Paul Goldschmidt walked and they followed it with a nifty double steal to put runners on second and third. That moved the meter from shaky to reeling, you have to give the D-Backs credit for putting him on the spot. He's going to have to do a better job holding runners. The next batter Jake Lamb whacked one down the line that Brandon Belt misplayed and it was suddenly 4-3 and Moore was clearly done. He was serving up fat ones and a booming double by Yasmany Tomas tied the score before Brandon Drury grounded out to end it.

Moore had less than nothing in the 6th (I was shocked Boch sent him out there) and quickly put two on. Cory Gearrin walked two and gave up a hit before Neil Ramirez got the strikeout to end it. In the 7th, Ramirez' wild pitch on a strikeout put the leadoff runner on then a passed ball and two hits later it was 8-4 Arizona. Ramirez has nasty stuff and it looked like Buster got crossed up more than once. I think he's going to be an effective late game pitcher but it may take a few outings to smooth the rough edges. That's seven runs yielded by three pitchers in the 5th, 6th, and 7th. Ugly stuff! It took away from good work by Eduardo Nunez (another flashy manufactured run), big power from Belt (triple and homer), and two hits apiece from Hunter Pence and Buster Posey. George Kontos worked a scoreless frame.

It would be nice to see the Giants get the hell out of Arizona with a split. Why am I starting to feel like Chase Field is as cursed as Coors Field? Weird shit always happens down there in the desert.

Jeff Samardzija tomorrow.



Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Vlog 29 : One in the Win Column

Win , 8-4 at Arizona

Let the winning begin!!  Want to relive all the glory?  Or at least all I can remember and cram into a 2 minute vlog, just click below:

Vlog 29 : One in the Win Column

Sunday, April 2, 2017

2017, Meet 2016

Blown saves.  I think Giants fans had seen quite enough of those last year to last well into this year.  Sigh.

Great game though 5 innings.  Madison Bumgarner on the hill for the Giants, Zach Greinke for the dbacks.  Madison was perfect through 5 - didn't allow a baserunner and was making it look easy.  The Giants, on the other hand, made Greinke work.  Baserunner in the 1st, a manufactured run in the 2nd thanks to Nunez and Panik.  Then, a bit of history as Madison Bumgarner tied the Giants' record (15) for home runs by a pitcher in the 4th with a solo shot.  That was fun.  In the top of the 6th, the Giants added one, with Nunez singling home BCraw.  Then, it turned into a baseball contest.  Madison gave up a triple, then a single to break the shutout, then a home run to tie the game. 

They went into the 7th inning tied.  Greinke had been pulled after the 5th, Andrew Chafin pitching.  Madison broke that tie with another solo shot, this one way up in the left field stands.  Man, the guy has a stroke when there is a ball over the plate, and now leads all Giants pitchers with 16 home runs.  So the Giants went into the 8th with a 4 - 3 lead facing the dbacks 5th pitcher of the day.  No more runs, though, as the Giants sent Derek Law to the mound to hold the lead.  He had nothing, giving up a run on 3 hits to tie the game and leaving Blach and Strickland to get 3 outs.

So, again a tie game going into the 9th.  Fernando Rodney pitching for Arizona.  Joe Panik tripled to lead off the inning!  Gillaspie, in reserve for just such a role, sacrificed him home for a 5 - 4 lead.  In spite of wild pitches and a walk, though, the Giants entered the bottom of the 9th with just the one-run lead.

And then.  What was Melancon's story, that he didn't allow a single run all spring?  2 quick outs and then a loss - a blown save for Law and one for Melancon.    Giants lose a heartbreaker, 6 - 5.

2 hits for Span, 3 for Nunez, 2 for Crawford and 2 for Madison, who now is leading MLB hitters in the home run category.  But the Giants open with a loss, spoiling a fine effort.  Arizona can be Coors Field-like, but the bottom line is, you pitch in the late innings, you need to get outs.  Didn't do that today.  Is it too early for existential angst?  No, it is not.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Here We Go

Former first-round draft pick Chris Marrero makes the club on the final weekend. He was the 15th pick in the 2006 June draft, one notable for Evan Longoria (#3), Clayton Kershaw (#7), Tim Lincecum (#10), Max Scherzer (#11), and Ian Kennedy (#21). Not all first-rounders are sure things, I note that Billy Rowell (#9) and Kasey Kiker (#12) never made the majors. Maybe the 28-year old has finally put his game together after a long haul (nearly 1300 games and over 5000 plate appearances) in the minors and foreign leagues. He's not being asked to play every day but to bring the big stick off the bench and to back up and/or platoon in left field with spot starts at first base. I'm rooting for the guy as I love good surprise stories and unsung hero stuff.

Kelby Tomlinson got sent to AAA along with Josh Osich. Tomlinson is a capable infield backup but Aaron Hill played just well enough this spring to make his experience (12 years) and potential power (161 career HR) attractive. Tomlinson had an option remaining and can improve his game at Sacramento and be ready for a later call-up. I'm looking forward to Hill, one thing the Giants needed last year was a better bench. Lefty Osich looked like a lock after Will Smith was hurt but had a hard time finding his groove in Arizona. I expect he'll be back sooner rather than later. Fortunately southpaw Steven Okert has looked good, and with the dearth of lefties (Blach is the only other one) he seems like he has to get one of the final spots. That's six (Melancon, Strickland, Law, Kontos, Blach are the others) so far, and if they go with the expected seven then it will likely be Cory Gearrin or perhaps Neil Ramirez.

Matt Cain gets the fifth spot in the rotation but rookie Ty Blach still makes the squad. The youngster will get a chance to prove himself in a tough role, but it just may be the right thing for his development. Obviously it would be great if Cain can deliver, but if he falters it is nice to know there's some talent waiting in the wings. That would be a three-southpaw rotation with MadBum and Matt Moore! Blach has logged about 600 innings over four seasons (100 games) in the minors and at age 26 looks ready to take on the big league challenge. Who can forget his terrific performance against Kershaw and the Dodgers in Game 161 last season? Blach also pitched the last two innings of Game 3 against the Cubs in the LDS and nailed down the win.

Gorkys Hernandez will take on the Gregor Blanco role and back up both Denard Span and Hunter Pence in center field and right field. Nick Hundley gets the backup backstop spot, Trevor Brown is certainly likeable but is still only 25 and can benefit from more seasoning. We've been spoiled by having special players like Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain who were full-time studs when just out of their teens. That's not typical for ballplayers!

Weird opening to the season with a game tomorrow, and off-day Monday, then three more in Arizona, but that's the way of the things these days. I'm excited for some real baseball. Spring Training is definitely too long.