Thursday, May 28, 2015

The 9th shutout

The Giants lead the MLB with 9 shutouts so far in 2015. The As and the Dodgers have seven each

Chris Heston has come up big for the Giants who are no longer going to be under pressure to rush back Jake Peavy and Matt Cain. He made it into the 8th tonight.


SAN FRANCISCO — Juan Uribe was in the visiting dugout last week when Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner led the Giants to three straight shutouts over the Dodgers. A trade later, Uribe was in the lineup when Chris Heston paced a shutout of the Braves. 
Uribe was around for some light-hitting stretches at AT&T Park in 2009 and 2010, but even he likely thinks this is taking it to an absurd level. 
The Giants, after a 7-0 blanking of the Braves on Thursday, have eight shutouts in their last 12 home games. Thursday’s came on the right arm of Heston, who joined the other four starters, all of whom have at least one shutout during this streak that started May 3. Heston extended the Giants’ streak to 37 consecutive shutout innings at home.
“I didn’t even realize we had a streak like that going,” he said. “I’m just trying to put up as many zeroes as possible.”


He got seven full zeroes Thursday while pitching into the eighth, and in doing so, Heston held on a little tighter to a rotation spot that may be up for grabs due to circumstances out of his control. Heston has been a revelation for the Giants, posting a 3.82 ERA and saving a staff that had no other options. But even though he’s a rookie, he’s experienced enough to look around a room.
Jake Peavy is on a rehab assignment and could be back in two weeks. Matt Cain is throwing bullpen sessions and could return soon after the All-Star break. If the Giants have to shed a starter, Heston is the only one with minor league options, but he has managed to push the situation out of his mind.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"The baseball Lazarus rose up again Wednesday"

That's some fine deadline writing from Andrew Baggarly at the Mercury-News....


Ryan Vogelsong ended April as a bearded, 37-year-old spot starter and long reliever with a 9.31 ERA.


One of these years, he might run out of comebacks. Not yet.
The baseball Lazarus rose up again Wednesday, battling and subduing the Milwaukee Brewers over six innings. Joe Panik hit a two-run home run in the fifth, and the Giants won 3-1 to sweep a three-game series at Miller Park.
The Giants went 5-2 on a draining trip, managing to make hay despite seeing very little sun. Vogelsong wielded the scythe, stepping into two softball beer gardens (Coors Field and Miller Park) and yielding just one run over 12 innings.




"Well, not just me," Vogelsong said. "The rest of the guys were great. This is one of the tougher ones I've ever been involved with, to have a doubleheader in Colorado with all the rain delays and come here with two day games. For us to come out 5-2 really, really shows what this team is made of, and everybody should be proud of what we were able to make of this road trip."


A clean shave brought a clean start for Vogelsong. He finished May with a 4-0 record and 1.14 ERA in five starts. He held opponents to a .184 average. The Giants eventually hope to fold Jake Peavy and Matt Cain back into the rotation, but the way it stands now, Vogelsong (4-2) won't be the one to yield.



He was his unyielding self against the Brewers, content to win the chess match with a king and two pawns on the board. He worked deep counts and refused to give in with runners on base, striking out Ryan Braun and Adam Lind after Khris Davis hit a one-out triple in the first inning.
Davis tripled again to start the fourth when right fielder Hunter Pence fanned on a leaping attempt at the wall. Once again, the Brewers failed to score him. Braun fouled out to Pence and Lind followed with a ground ball to first base. Davis hesitated before breaking for home, Brandon Belt made an accurate throw to the plate, and Buster Posey applied the tag.


The Brewers managed to push across a run when Aramis Ramirez and Elian Herrera hit consecutive two-out singles. But Vogelsong kept mixing his pitches to get weak contact.
"While it's going on you're just trying to minimize the damage," Vogelsong said. "But when you get that last out and keep them from scoring, to be able to do it, it definitely helped to set the tone for the day and gave us momentum going forward."
Vogelsong hadn't thrown more than 99 pitches all season and his count stood at 94 when his turn in the order came up in the sixth inning. Manager Bruce Bochy allowed Vogelsong to bat, and the move paid off. Vogelsong worked an efficient sixth inning and got Ramirez to ground into a double play to end a day's labor.
"It's good to see him get stretched out and maintain his stuff the way he did," Bochy said. "There's times he had his struggles, but he finds a way to right the ship. He's got that great focus that you like, and he's got his stuff back. He's throwing 91, 92, his curve is better, his changeup is better. He's a four-pitch guy with command right now."
The Giants lacked a clutch hit in the early innings against right-hander Mike Fiers, who started on short rest because the Brewers put Wily Peralta on the disabled list. But they broke through in the fifth after former Brewer Nori Aoki singled for his ninth hit in three games here. Panik, the No. 2 hitter, did better than get the runner over. He sent a two-run shot into the Giants bullpen for his third homer of the season.


Sort of a laugher - no hit for Romo

Zo at Raising (Matt) Cain speculates that Romo could match Bumgarner and hit a homer. I think he was being facetious

 Another win!  Another W for Madison Bumgarner, although, perhaps, not his best outing.  He went 6, 99 pitches worth, and threw 61 strikes.  Madison gave up 3 runs on 4 hits, uncharacteristically walking 2 and gave up a home run.   Madison also got a hit and scored a run.  After a solo home run in the 4th by Aramis Ramirez, the damage to Madison was done in the 6th.  George Kontos pitched the 7th, and Sergio Romo found the last out in that inning and then went through the 8th.   Santiago Casilla got a save for a 2 hit, 2 K 9th.

Nori Aoki had another fine night with 3 hits.  7 other hits were scattered throughout the lineup, with Matt Duffy delivering a 2 run homer and Brandon Belt adding a solo shot in the 7th to top off the score at 6 - 3.

In the 8th, Sergio Romo came to the plate.  No doubt Ron was apoplectic.  Sergio had a chance to tie Madison Bumgarner for home runs in 2015, but, as it turned out, he did not get a hit.  Nor did he hit into an out.  In fact, he struck out looking.  No matter, though, as he held the Brewers scoreless in the bottom of the 8th.  I personally believe the man has a hit in him somewhere, but perhaps tonight was just not the night for it.  Sergio will make it known when the time is ripe. 


Bumgarner has 7 HRs in 363 plate appearances

Romo has now gone 0 for 5 since 2008.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The magic 6th

Hasta la vista, Travis Ishikawa

That's what Henry Schulman of the SF chron believes. He says that the Giants have decided to keep Hunter Strickland as part of a 13-man pitching roster instead of bringing up Travis.



The Giants were forced by rule to option Strickland back to Sacramento after Saturday night's game because he was promoted to be the 26th player in the doubleheader. But the same rules allowed the Giants to recall Strickland immediately, without having to wait at least 10 days under the traditional rules.
Another big decision looms. The Giants must decide by Monday whether to place Travis Ishikawa on the 25-man roster or designate him. Given that the Giants need the extra pitcher and just removed a position player, the writing on the wall seems clear there, too.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hasta la vista, Casey McGehee

The Giants just designated Casey McGehee for assignment

He had racked up a negative 0.7 Wins Above Replacement performance this year, according to Baseball Reference.

He was leading the MLB with 12 grounded into double plays in 110 ABs.

He seemed like a good guy and he had 2 big homers - one in the first week in Arizona that took the lead from 3-2 to 5-2; and his May 8 grand slam at AT&T.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Win streak ends as Giants score only 3

Brandon Crawford's power surge

It looks like it's here to stay -- if you're persuaded by this Fanfraphs piece. I  was.

Here is the end ----

 

This year, Crawford is starting with his hands a little lower. He has what seems to be a shorter path to the ball. But he also just seems to have a more forceful swing, deriving more power from his lower body. His back leg gets closer to a 90-degree angle. It appears there’s more force being transferred to his front leg. Crawford is getting more of himself into his swing, and while swing analysis like this can’t be conclusive, you can consider the signs. It looks like Crawford is swinging more powerfully. His statistics have gotten more powerful. And pitchers are treating Crawford like more of a power hitter. It all fits. Maybe we’d learn more if Crawford moved up in the Giants’ order, further from the pitcher’s spot, but here we are and everything’s promising.
Crawford had already done enough. He’d already worked to turn himself into something like an average hitter, which is valuable when you’re a plus defensive shortstop. There are people who never thought such a day would arrive. But now it looks like Crawford is raising his game to even another level still. He’s trying to move beyond being a decent hitter, toward being a good one, an intimidating one. In the early going, it’s working. By average batted-ball velocity, Crawford’s right there with Jose Abreu and Josh Donaldson. If this is all noise, it’s doing a hell of a job of being convincing.
I can’t imagine we’ll ever think of Brandon Crawford as a power hitter. But he’s developing into a pretty good hitter, with power. Who knew? I guess you could say the Giants knew, but I’m not sure they expected this much.

7 IN A ROW

I love writing that

 ver. I was at Dodger Stadium watching the scoreboard go 1-0 in the 3rd, 3-0 in the 6th and 7-0 in the 7th. Then, by half innings, it went 7-3, 7-4 and 11-4. And then it stopped for an hour and finished 11-8 for the SEVENTH WIN A ROW!!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The shutout sweep of the Dodgers

I'm floored -- three straight games in the San Francisco against the dodgers -- three straight shutouts. 

Here's a bottom line for you -- Clayton Kershaw is no longer an MVP-type player. We'll let the True Blue blog describe it --

 

Cruel sadist Madison Bumgarner kept the Dodgers' bats on ice, and at the plate the Giants ace homered against Clayton Kershaw in a 4-0 San Francisco win and a scoreless sweep at AT&T Park.

The Dodgers were shutout in all three losses to the Giants, the second scoreless sweep in San Francisco in four years, the first since June 25-27, 2012. Three straight shutouts ties the Dodgers record, dating back to 1914, which has been done four other times: 1937, 1962, 1966 and 2007.

The club's offensive futility, which has reached 31 consecutive innings without a run, even made Vin Scully think twice after keeping tabs on the scoreless streak with each passing frame.

"The Dodgers," Scully began, sending the game to commercial in the middle of the third inning, before pausing, "I'm not going to bother doing it anymore. It will only wear you out."


The Dodgers have scored two runs in their last five games, tied for the lowest-scoring five-game stretch in franchise history. The club also scored two runs in five games in 1984, 1992, and twice in 2012, though those two streaks three years ago saw four games overlap.
On Thursday afternoon, the Dodgers' story was the same old song and dance, with the Dodgers giving themselves a few chances. They actually had nine runners reach base against Bumgarner, and ran up his pitch count enough to get pulled with one out in the seventh inning. But the club couldn't cash anyone in.

The Dodgers were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position on Thursday, and were 0-for-17 with runers in scoring position in the series. They are 1-for-32 with RISP at AT&T Park this season, which has coincided with six Dodgers losses in six games.
San Francisco scored the run they needed in the third inning, when 2014 National League Silver Slugger award winner Bumgarner took Kershaw deep to left. Opposing pitchers had hit .093/.141/.105 in 410 career plate appearances against Kershaw entering Thursday, with four doubles as the only extra-base hits.


Kershaw for his part was fine, even including the home run allowed to Bumgarner. Kershaw struck out seven and pitched 7⅓ innings, matching his longest start of the season. He left allowing two runs, but also left runners on first and second base with one out.
Naturally, both scored, giving the Giants a 4-0 lead that might as well have been 20-0.
Kershaw this season has left a total of eight runners on base when departing his starts, and five have scored, with only the bacon-saving Pedro Baez strikeout of Troy Tulowitzki with the bases loaded on May 10 in Colorado not smudging Kershaw's ledger.
In 2014, Kershaw only bequeathed three runners all season, and one scored. He also left a start mid-inning only twice all season, including never in his final 23 regular season starts. This year, Kershaw has left mid-inning in five of his nine starts, including each of the last four starts.

"A glorious night"

Chris Haft of mlb.com said that about the 4-0 buttkick of the dodgers tonight...

 When Bruce Bochy said that Tim Lincecum had "a lot of confidence and swagger right now," that wasn't a clip from the archives. The Giants' manager made that remark Wednesday, on a glorious night for the Giants.
They watched Lincecum awaken echoes of the past, albeit without his once-dazzling fastball, as he allowed three hits in seven innings to hasten the Giants' second straight shutout of the Dodgers, this time by a 4-0 score.


Lincecum's results recalled his prodigious accomplishments of yesteryear. He won his fourth consecutive game at home, a streak he last sustained from July 4-Aug. 1, 2009. That happened to be the second year of Lincecum's two-year reign as National League Cy Young Award winner. Lincecum also lengthened his streak of consecutive scoreless innings at AT&T Park to 22, helping him reduce his overall ERA to 2.08. That's his lowest figure after eight starts since 2010 (1.76).
But, as most observers realize by now, Lincecum relies more on location and guile and less on sheer, overpowering stuff. Having weathered the trials of the previous three seasons, when he compiled a 32-38 record and a 4.76 ERA, Lincecum has remained calm throughout his renaissance. He's happy, but he's also resisting the temptation to get carried away.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"Giants 2, Dodgers Nothing"

That's how Dave Flemming said it tonight. The ptichers shut the dodgers down. They are still the highest scoring team in MLB but have scored two runs in the last 3 games - portending a total collapse, we hope.

we can hope that the dodgers continue to play like idiots, per this snippet from the MLB.com story --

The Dodgers are only 9-for-23 in attempted steals after Scott Van Slyke was caught jumping the gun on what was apparently a two-out hit-and-run on an 0-2 pitch to Andre Ethier, ending the eighth inning. Van Slyke broke when Giants reliever Sergio Romo made a pick-off throw, and first baseman Belt nailed Van Slyke at second.