Monday, August 31, 2009

Deadline deals and gagging at Chavez Latrine

Welcome Penny to the Orange and Black

Sports Illustrated is reporting that the Giants have signed the ex-Dodger after he cleared waivers. I like this move, given the fact that Joe Martinez just isn't ready to be a fifth starter. But it must also be tempting for the front office to think hard about bringing up Madison Bumgarner at this point.

UPDATE -- Here's the official announcement on the Giants site, saying he'll start Wednesday in Philly.

Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury-News posts that this is a low risk move: His experience alone makes him an upgrade over Joe Martinez, who was optioned to Triple-A Fresno after getting pounded Thursday. The Giants are only on the hook for a prorated portion of the minimum salary, which is barely $100,000, and they didn’t have to part with any talent to get Penny. So this would be an extremely low-risk move.

Renteria as in return to glory

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Payback time big time

The Giants have just paid the extremely annoying Rox back big time for the three losses in Denver, particularly the grand slam walkoff on Monday night. Things were looking a little grim with a 5-2 deficit in the 7th but Edgar Renteria -- of all people -- hit his 2nd grand slam of the year. For the third straight day, Brian Wilson has closed out the game with a heater, this time striking out Ian Stewart.

Offensive contributions came from unexpected places. Chris Haft of MLB.com notes in his game story that Ryan Rholinger got his first hit of the year, driving in a run after replacing Sandoval.

Haft is also reporting that the Big Unit's willing to pitch in relief before the season's out.

The Dodger Hater has a terrific post, noting that Renteria has delivered amazingly well in the clutch this year. Here's some nice verbiage -- If it were even possible for me to love the game of baseball and the San Francisco Giants any more, well it happened.I have re-fallen in love with this game and this team.It's some serious man love.What we've seen from this ragtag group of youngsters, out-of-their-prime veterans, and scrappy perfomers is simply mind boggling.

The 50th Splash Hit

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Zito keeps stepping up

Some guys rise to the occasion. It's taken most of three seasons, but Barry Zito's finally pitching like he was supposed to when he signed the $126 million deal. John Shea's game story for the San Francisco Chronicle notes that he's logged an ERA of 1.93 since the All-Star Break.

Carl Steward of the San Jose Mercury-News has some sharp observations in his postgame notes: Since the All-Star break, he’s pitched like a money pitcher. And perhaps most impressively, he keeps getting better. He carried a 20-inning string of innings without an earned run into the ninth inning against the Rockies, and he was aces in a very big game for the Giants. Striking out the side in the first inning. That’s stuff you expect of Lincecum and Cain from time to time, but Barry? He hadn’t done it since 2001, the year before he won the Cy Young.
What’s changed? Not much question, it’s clear he’s finally overcome the psychological burdens of that monster contract and the expectations that go with it. He’s pitching with confidence instead of pitching in fear of what might happen. And having watched so many of his fine performances from his vintage Oakland days, it’s no fluke. When this guy’s mind is right, he is a very formidable, if not a dominant pitcher. But there was some question if we’d ever see it again. But we are. Nice to see, because Zito had gone so bad in his first two years in San Francisco, fans had pretty much given up him being a major factor for them.

The game also ended for the second night in a row with Brian Wilson throwing a 99 mph heater. Here we are on Aug. 29 and the Giants have won 71 times -- equaling the total for 2007 and one short of the 2008 total.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Franchise finally gets No. 13

It took almost four weeks, but Tim Linecum has just notched that elusive 13th win with a 2-0 vic over the Rox. Bruce Bochy must have been tempted to let him pitch the 9th -- even after a season-high 128 pitches -- but decided instead to bring in Brian Wilson, who's just closed out the game with a 99 mph heater past Chris Ianetta.

Henry Schulman's game story in the SF Chron says it's a game where the two horses -- Lincecum and Sandoval -- delivered. And Raising (Matt Cain) observes sagely that "Triskaidekaphobia has been cured." Matt Cain got No. 12 on July 24 and goes for No. 13 on Sunday.

It was the 17th shutout of the year for the Orange and Black.

Welcome back, Alex Hinshaw

The Dodger Hater

Top moment of the season

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"That wasn't so good, was it?"

The immortal words of Leonard Pinth Garnell are the best way to sum up tonight's 11-0 buttkick -- the biggest loss of the year, according to John Shea's game story for the SF Chron. I was going to commend Bochy for deciding to use Bobby Howry to close out the three innings of the game, rather than burn up an effective pitcher. But instead, I've decided to cheer up by going back to Dan Aykryod's dialogue for "Bad Cinema" in 1977 -- I feel confident... that tonight's selected bad film really BITES it! It was one of the worst works of Henri Heimeau, one of the very worst of the new breed of bad filmmakers to come out of Le College de Cinema Movec. Poorly conceived, dreadfully executed, we are proud to present Henri Heimeau's "ooh-la-la! les legs!"

John Belushi, playing Truman Capote, responded after the film: Well, that was dazlingly turgid. A gem. A gem. It's a treasure. Tell me, Leonard, where on Earth did you find it? Some of the WORST Heimeau I have ever seen! "ooh-la-la! les legs!" is a classic! It's exquisitely bad!

Penny in the Orange and Black?

ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the Giants, Marlins and Rox are interested in getting ex-Dodger Brad Penny, who was just released by the Bosox. He notes that Penny left the Blew Crew on bad terms, which could amp up his motivation to return to the NL West.

I would imagine the bigness of the Giants home park would be at least a little attractive, too.

Staying alive

A stunning 4-3 vic tonight -- the Giants got all of five hits including another solo shot from Uribe in the 7th and Bengie's three-run pinch-hit bomb in the 8th. Here's how a poster named Jive7 put it in response to Henry Schulman's game story in the SF Chron: 5 hits, lucky to win this one. Giants have World Series pitching and minor league hitting and that is not going to get them into the playoffs. Garko and Sanchez are really paying dividends arent they? Another move that Sabean has failed at.

Andrew Baggarly of the Merc News notes the Giants are now 12-1 in 1-run games at home as part of his postgame notes, which convey a fair amount of affection for Bengie.

The Giants are 3 back of the Rox in the Wild Card with 35 left. They're staying alive. And with that, the first verse to this fine Bee Gees ditty --

Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk,
I'm a woman's man, no time to talk.
Music loud and women warm.
I've been kicked around since I was born.
And now it's all right, it's O.K.
And you may look the other way.
We can try to understand
The New York Times' effect on man.
Whether you're a brother
Or whether you're a mother,
You're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Feel the city breakin'
And ev'rybody shakin'
And we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha,
Stayin' alive.Stayin' alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha,
Stayin' alive.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Disgraceful conduct

That's not my description of Brian Sabean's "efforts" to deal with the Giants' shortcomings. Instead, it's the appropriate characterization for how the federal government's BALCO investigation has been out of control, wasting millions of taxpayer dollars and defying the US Constitution to satisfy Jeff Novitzky's embarrassing obsession with putting Barry Bonds behind bars.

Thankfully, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reached the same conclusion today. "This was an obvious case of deliberate overreaching by the government in an effort to seize data as to which it lacked probable cause," Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote for the majority.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

At last

The Orange and Black have just won a game for the first time since Friday after letting the Rox come back for three straight days. It looked like the G-Men were about to give away another, giving up two in the 9th to the Dbacks but Sergio Romo just got Chad Tracy out for a 5-4 vic. Bochy was in such desperate straits that he used Bobby Howry with the game tied in the 8th (since the game was on the line, Howry gagged, as usual). Brian Wilson got two in the 9th then couldn't get the third, a night after throwing 41 pitches. Bochy made the right choice and got Romo in there.

Henry Schulman's game story in the SF Chron notes that it was Matt Cain's 6th attempt to get his 13th win. Instead, Affeldt got his first of the year for a stellar job in the 8th.

That's a sweet coincidence as the Dodgers continued to gag, also losing 5-4 in 10 to the Rox, who are now only two games out. Anyhow, it's nice to know that the Giants haven't forgotten how to win a game. That's the beauty of baseball -- a win like this goes a long way to erasing last night's debacle. Here are the lyrics to "At Last," a wonderful song popularized by Etta James but written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren in 1942 for "Orchestra Wives" --

At last my love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song
Ohh yeah yeah

At last the skies above are blue
My heart was wrapped up in clover
The night I looked at you

I found a dream, that I could speak to
A dream that I can call my own
I found a thrill to press my cheek to
A thrill that I have never known
Ohh yeah yeah…

You smile, you smile oh
And then the spell was cast
And here we are in heaven
for you are mine....
At last

Bruce Jenkins is an idiot

What wisdom does Brian Sabean's official apologist impart after a dismal loss in Denver? He tells everyone to get off Barry Zito's back. I suppose we're supposed to overlook how badly this contract has played out at $18 million a year -- which has been a major contributor to why Sabean can't assemble a decent offense.

EARTH TO BRUCE -- Zito's crappy pitching and massive contract were major factors in why the Giants went 71-91 in 2007 and 72-90 in 2008. Now he's pitching adequately -- not like the second coming of Juan Marichal, but adequately -- and we're supposed to forget what a boondoggle this deal was?

Monday, August 24, 2009

One of the worst losses ever

No way to sugar coat this one. The Giants finally exploded for three runs in the 14th in Denver to go up 4-1, then lost on a walkoff grand slam after 13 innings of stellar pitching. I despise the Rockies almost as much as the Dodgers.

Hopefully, a few wins on the homestand will start to erase this nightmare. It is, after all, just one game out of 162.

I give John Shea of the SF Chronicle a lot of credit for knocking out a solid game story under tough circumstances. Zito, who continues to pitch well and logged six innings with no earned runs, had this to say -- "It helps we're going home. We can get a boost out of our hometown crowd. It would have been a respectable road trip if we won tonight. This one hurts because we're four back. If we let it, it could hurt all our momentum. It's important that we don't."

The Big Unit coming back?

John Shea of the San Francisco Chron reports that there's still hope he'll be back before the season's out if he can rehab from the "slight" tear in the rotator cuff. I cringe at the notion of having a "slight" tear of anything on my person, but Randy Johnson's obviously one tough cookie.

Dodger gag, Manny booed at home

Sunday, August 23, 2009

"Forget it, Jake. It's Coorstown."

That's my feeble attempt at ironic humor as the Giants wind up another nightmare series in Denver -- a place where the ballpark is a joke, no lead is safe and normal strategy becomes useless. I'm so used to awful games in Denver that it's not really worth criticizing the usual suspects: Bruce Bochy for his failure to pull an obviously tiring Lincecum in the 7th and Brian Sabean for assembling this dreadful offense. John Shea's game story for the SF Chronicle makes it clear that this team doesn't look like it's going to the postseason, not with their best offensive player (Sandoval) feeling like he has to do it all and swing at 3-2 pitches in the dirt.

I thought of the "Forget Jake. It's Chinatown" line, written by Robert Towne as the final line in in the film, as Bochy let Justin Miller stay in the game to keep get hammered in the 7-run 6th inning on Friday. Miller gave up a triple to Dexter Fowler for the 6th run; then Helton homered as I"m thinking "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Bochy? What are you saving the rest of the pen for?" But then I realized that in Denver, normal strategy is just hopeless. That's why I can hardly take the Rox getting to the Series in 2007 seriously, particularly considering how they got into the postseason on a badly blown call, then managed to screw up World Series ticket sales, then played horribly in the Series. If ever a flukey team deserved to get swept in the Series, that was that team.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The $60 million man delivers for a change

That would be Aaron Rowand, who had a one-month stretch of decent play starting in mid-May before reverting to below adequate. Tonight, he was the benificiary of being the second batter to face the immortal Josh Fogg in Denver after Aaron Cook went down with an injury in the 4th and smashed a three-run homer that barely cleared the fence.

Andrew Baggarly's game story for the San Jose Mercury-News notes that Rowand had been batting .228 with a single homer since the All-Star break, adding that Giants management is "privately concerned."

Brian Wilson had a shaky 9th with the tie run at the plate but he struck out Omar Quintanilla on a 101 mph heater, according to the replay I just saw on the MLB Network.

Unfortunately, the Dodgers played the Cubs, who always manage to find a creative way to lose. Tonight, they assembled a total of one hit all night and lost 2-1 at Chavez Latrine, with the opposing pitcher driving in both runs. I had dubious privilege of dealing with the supremely incompetent Dodger employees -- first at the will-call window, where they couldn't locate the ticket my wife had left, forcing me to buy a second ticket, and then standing for two innings in the snack bar line behind a grand total of five people due to the painfully slow cashier. No, I did not wear any Orange and Black gear to the Latrine. And I'm never really surprised by the persistent idiocy of the Dodger employees.

Kent makes the Giants Wall

The SF Chronicle's reporting that Jeff Kent's going to be on the Giants Wall of Fame, less than a year after retiring. John Shea notes that Barry Bonds isn't on the Wall yet but adds that he hasn't offially retired, which is required for inclusion.

He also reports that Freddy Sanchez is out of the offense-challenged lineup again tonight. I still think it would be a great idea to include Bonds on the roster once Sept. 1 arrives but I also feel like I'm the only one on Planet Earth who feels this way.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Cincinnati Reds announcers are awful

My workday starts at 10 am so on my way to work, I can occasionally catch a game on XM such as today's game against the Reds. During the first two innings, the Reds announcers could not stop talking about the upcoming NFL season and who they had on their fantasy teams -- to the point that they were not giving ball-and-strike counts, not saying who was at bat, not giving the score or the number of outs. They would not stop talking about football and the unprofessionalism of it was severe enough that I was seriously contemplating demanding a refund from XM. No, I don't know who it was though I suspect that both Marty and Thom Brennaman were involved. What a bunch of arrogant time-wasting weasels.

On the way home tonight, I heard Dave Flemming give an interview to Joe Castelano on the Home Plate Update show. For all my ranting about the incompetence of the Giants front office, I must give the team credit for employing a fine broadcast staff -- Flemming, Jon Miller, Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow are all first rate in my book. Flemming made the following points during the interview:

-- Thursday's loss was one of the toughest of the season, what with the Giants scoring one run on 11 hits. "If they fall short, this will be a game they look back on because they should have won," he said. (John Shea's game story for the SF Chronicle notes they were two for 12 with runners in scoring position and that those two hits simply moved runners from second to third.)

-- Ryan Garko is not swinging the bat well and appears to be having a tough time adjusting to the NL.

-- The offense really needs Freddy Sanchez. Flemming thinks he'll be good to go tonight in Denver.

-- Nate Schierholtz is swinging so well enough that he's very likely to get more playing time.

-- Joe Martinez has come up very big as a fifth starter and doesn't appear to be easily rattled.

-- Jeremy Affeldt has been a huge plus for the team and dispelled the whispers that he wasn't up to facing situations with the game on the line. He didn't mention Bobby Howry, who comes apart like a cheap polyester suit when the pressure's on.

-- This season has been a lot of fun in terms of the team exceeding expectations and getting the fans excited. I believe that the announcing team deserves a bit of credit for that.

A plea to Bruce Bochy

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

That's what the $126 million was for

Zito closed down the Reds tonight for an improbable 1-0 vic, following two games in which the Orange and Black scored 18 runs.

He actually began pitching decently late last season after his 0-8 start but by then, the games were close to meaningless in the context of the pennant races. Recently, I've had the sneaking suspicion that he'd revert to awfulness later in this season, what with the Giants actually playing meaningful late-season games for the first time since 2004. Instead, he's clutched up. Here's what he told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle about getting a no-decision as Sergio Romo got credit for the win -- "It's not about individual achievement anymore," Zito said. "We're in a race. It's about the team getting a win every day, no matter how it happens. I think all these guys are willing to make sacrifices with statistics for the team to win."

Three hours later, the Dodgers gagged away another game to the Cards. The Rox are now 3 and half out while the Giants are four and a half back with 42 games left. The Orange and Black is 66-54, projecting out to 89-73.

Andrew Baggarly notes in his postgame notes that it was an MLB-leading 16th shutout for the Giants and points out that the franchise record for most shutouts is 20 in 1968, when no one was hitting. Not to quibble, but Baseball Reference says the 1968 team had 19 with Ray Sadecki getting six, Marichal with five, Perry and Bolin with three each and McCormick with two. (Marichal threw 326 innings -- the most in his career).

I should stress that Baggarly does a fine job, especially given the deadlines he faces. Look at this note that he filed tonight -- Here’s a stat that absolutely floors me: The Reds and Giants played just the 41st homerless game in the 547-game history of Great American Ball Park.
In other words, a home run has been hit in 92.5 percent of all games played in this yard.
Maybe that isn’t as impressive as it seems to me on first blush. I have been covering the Giants all season, after all.

Mike Rizzo?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wild card fever hits in Cincy

Amazingly, the Orange and Black clutched up tonight as Tim Lincecum had one of his poorest outings of the year. The Reds hammered The Franchise for 4 runs tonight in the bottom of the 2nd at Great American Ballpark. The Giants responded by tying it up in the 6th and staging a stirring 3-run rally in the 10th.

Brian Wilson just closed out the Reds for a 2-game win streak on the road. The Orange and Black are a game behind the Rox in the Wild Card.

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News notes in his postgame notes that it was the first time all season that the Giants have come back from a 4-run deficit. He also notes that Molina drew two unintentional walks tonight, including one in the 4-run sixth, giving him 10 for the season.

It was only the second time this season that Lincecum has given up as many as five earned runs. He also surrendered 5 against the Mets on May 15. It's taking a long time for him and Matt Cain to get that 13th win. Matt's last win was on July 24th. And Tim's was eight days later on August 1st to put the team at 57-47.

Since then, the Giants have done 8-7. Jonathan Sanchez has won one; Zito, Joe Martinez and Brian Wilson have two each and Bobby Howry finally won a game tonight after losing five.

The dozen or so regular readers of this blog know that I think Howry's been a bad signing this year, giving up huge hits with games on the line. I'm happy to be proven wrong, at least tonight.

Sign that kid up

Monday, August 17, 2009

Splitting with the Mets

Smoltz in the Orange and Black?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

No margin for error for the Orange and Black

It's somewhat aggravating to continue reading about how well the Giants are doing this year -- obviously due to its pitching -- without acknowledgement of how poorly constructed the offense is. The latest is a USA Today article by Jorge Ortiz titled "Giants small ball making a splash in the bay area."

I got to read this insight-free story a few hours after suffering through another one-run loss that featured the usual trademarks of a game slipping away because the Giants have no margin for error. In other words, the pitching has to be nearly perfect. What we got today instead -- pretty good starting pitching, decent relieving and a garbage offense that consisted today of three doubles, two singles and two walks. Velez continues to play well with two hits and a walk today.

A poster named Walt Davis on Baseball Think Factory-- which linked to the Ortiz article -- breaks this down nicely as to the actual meaning -- The Giant's brilliant use of "small ball" has miraculously managed to turn the 16th best OBP, 14th best SLG and 15th best OPS+ into the 15th most runs scored. Their stunning clutchiness does have them 2 games over their pythag which is simply unheard of in this day and age.Giants' hitters have a K/BB ratio over 3:1. As a team they walk 1 per 15 AB. They have 84 fewer walks than the 15th place team.


The inoffensive Orange and Black offense

The latest stats show the Giants have the lowest runs scored (460), RBIs (431), on-base percentage (.309) and walks (261) in the National League. With Molina and Sandoval homering yesterday, they're now up to 78 homers, second lowest to the Mets. With 46 games left, it looks like they will finish just over 100 homers this year -- a year after becoming the first team since the 1995 Phils to go under 100.

They are also last in extra base hits and number of pitches seen. I say all this knowing that the hacktatstic approach has made Sandoval and Molina by far the most effective offensive players on the team. But elsewhere, the results are looking pretty awful.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Paying back K-Rod

Dodgers keep gagging

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pablo Sandoval -- year 2

Bruce Jenkins embarrasses himself again

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Best game of the year

I leave to the always entertaining Paulie at Give Em Some Stankeye, who has a great recap of yesterday's glorious vic over the Dodgers. Here are some tasty excerpts;

--The Giants beat not only the Dodgers, but the four stooges standing around the basepaths apparently given orders to help LA out all series. Yeah, the umps definitely seemed to be bleeding Dodger blue in these three games. A miserable blown call in the ninth may have kept Lincecum from a complete game victory, somewhat damaging his chances at a second Cy. It's hard to imagine umpiring any more idiotic than the crew overseeing the Red Sox-Tigers series this past week, but apparently this clown outfit topped them easily.

-- When I saw Andre Ethier had tied the game with two outs in the ninth, I sunk my head and started repeating to myself: "Urge to kill...rising." It was shaping up to be a horrid homestand, with three losses that represent a flaming hot sword to the sternum. Luckily, Uribe went blammo and the Giants salvaged this one, saving me from plunging off the freeway on my way home and restoring hope in the Giants faithful.

--There aren't many things more deplorable than the Dodgers. Hitler. Osama bin Laden. Glenn Beck. That's about it. Just as deplorable is losing to them, especially in a key series that precedes what promises to be a brutal road swing. Even worse is that the series loss follows another series loss to a completely hopeless Reds team that has Willy Taveras hitting lead-off for them, for God's sake.

--So you can see the enormity of this game and the one swing of Uribe's bat. Uribe= Brian Johnson or Joe Morgan? No, but it might be closer than you think.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

OOOO REEE BAY!!!!

What could have been the most disgusting loss of the year turned magical in the 10th inning as the Dodgers bullpen gagged away the game, thanks to Juan Uribe hitting a fattie from Guillermo Mota.

The always-entertaining Lefty Malo has a great analysis of the game -- noting that it was the worst umpiring he'd seen since Don Denkinger darkened the infamous Game 6 of the 1985 World Series.
He notes insightfully that Gary Darling egregiously let Rafael Furcal on base in the 9th, allowing the Dodgers to tie and leading to Tim Lincecum screaming what looked like an obscenity at Darling's fat head before the telecast cut to commercial



"This isn't a life or death series"

That was last night's nugget of wisdom from Bruce Bochy's postgame news conference and he is right -- there are still 49 games to be played. Let's hope that last night's was the nadir. I can't think of much positive that came out of it other than Manny whiffing in his last at bat.

As usual, the Giants were hack-tastic against the very ordinary Randy Wolf, who was at 80 pitches in the 7th. Can't we get a better "hitting" coach than Carney Lansford?

Thankfully, someone other than Bochy provides some perspective here -- Peter Hartlaub, who blogs about being a dad for the SF Chron, has written a very amusing "Why I Miss Candlestick Park" post about how perhaps the Giants should play the Dodgers back out at The Stick. Here's a bit of the verbiage -- Our city had a reputation for being soft -- filled with Hippies and peaceful protests and bands that you knew couldn't do much in a fistfight. Candlestick Park was like having that crazy childhood running buddy who was always getting suspended -- and everyone knew not to mess with you because you were friends with him. The 'Stick was our Adam Baldwin. If you've been watching the current series against the Dodgers, in person or on television, it's clear that our ballpark is anything but badass.

I've never liked fighting, but felt a little pride seeing the brawls that would break out in the stands during a particularly tense point in the team's schedule. You could tell where they were by the little ripples in the crowd, like someone had thrown a stone in the water in the middle of the bleachers. When the Dodgers were in town, it was more like someone throwing a handful of rocks. It wasn't unusual to see two or three fights going at once. The Dodgers won games 9-1 back then too, but at least you drove home knowing that the noses of several Angelenos were bloodied as a sacrifice.

It would be the stadium equivalent of having an enforcer in hockey. It's not like anyone else is using the space right now. The Crazy Crab could certainly use the work. And it would be nice, for just a few nights, for the city to feel kind of badass once again.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The 1997 games

I'm in the Sierras this week at a cabin with limited access to the Internet ... and coverage of the Giants. Last night's game was blacked out by Dish so we had to make do with the MLB Network's coverage -- which consisted largely of replays of Matt Kemp's disgusting 3-run double off Jonathan Sanchez, which essentially ended the game in the 4th inning. The network got a lot of mileage from the two Giant-Dodger games in mid-September 1997, featuring Barry Bonds' pirouette after a homer off Chan Ho Park and Brian Johnson's walkoff shot the next day.

Yahoo Sports makes the point that once the Giants were down by 3 runs at 4-1, the game was over as the Orange and Black have only managed one comeback from that deficit all year. In other words, adding Garko and Freddy Sanchez hasn't really changed the fundamental problem that this team faces of not being able to score -- particularly against top-tier teams.

Chad Billingsley is out for Wednesday's start against The Franchise, so that game looks pretty winnable.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Orange and Black stars don't shine

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Dodgers gag back to back

Eugenio shows the way

It's amazing how Eugenio Velez has manged to keep raking during the past two weeks. He has hit in every game since coming back from Fresno and blasted a 410-foot homer to right field today -- putting the Orange and Black back into a tie in the 6th today. Kuiper and Flemming said on the air it was the key hit in today's 4-2 vic over the Reds.

Ray Ratto of the SF Chron wrote a long feature about Velez, noting that he even caught a difficult fly ball against Jonny Gomes in the 7th up against the left field fence when Bochy gambled on having Bobby Howry come in with the game on the line. "Howry's pitched OK but he has given up big homeruns," Kuiper noted.

The elusive 13th win for the aces

The bullpen was entrusted with a 5-3 lead in the 8th against the Reds at home -- just get six outs. The pen melted down and gave up seven runs. So first Matt Cain and now Tim Lincecum are denied their 13th win this week. Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle calls the Reds' 5-run 9th inning the "ugliest" of the year.

Renteria -- apparently eager to underline what a ripoff his deal has turned out to be -- made two of the five errors. The good news -- Molina homered for the first time in a month, Lincecum continued to pitch well and Velez continued to mash with two more hits, including a two-run homer. This has been ugly year for him with career lows in average, OBP and SLG. He's close to the worst shortstop in MLB. This has to rank down there with Armando Blownitez, Edgardo Alfonzo, Dave Roberts and Barry Zito as one of Sabean's worst signings, a waste of $18 million.

It's a good thing today's game is a day game so we can put the stench of this one behind us.

There was some good news tonight -- the Dodgers managed to lose their game similarly. Their pen was entrusted with a 5-2 lead in the 7th and wound up gagging the game away, 9-5 in 12 innings. Fat Broxton blew his 4th save in the 9th.

Friday, August 07, 2009

SI embarrasses itself (again)

Here's Barry Bonds, out of the game now for 2 years. He's the gift that keeps on giving for insight-free journalism.

This time, it's reporter Jonah Freedman who lacks either the nerve or the insight to say that the Giants front office is to blame for the four straight losing seasons from 2005 to 2008. As usual, he succumbs to the temptation to blame Barry Bonds as the WORST. TEAMMATE. EVER -- arriving at the truly stupid implication that it was somehow Bonds who decided to pull the trigger on the deals for Blownitez, Pierzitsky, Klesko, Alfonzo, Roberts etc.

Don't believe me? Here's the offending verbiage (boldface is mine) -- The Giants' farm system had been largely ignored or dealt away for several years in order to surround Bonds with complementary veterans such as Ray Durham, Omar Vizquel, Ryan Klesko, Kenny Lofton, Benito Santiago and Marquis Grissom, all of whom were on the wrong side of 35 when they wore Giants uniforms.
Since the '04 season, the Giants have paid for those sins. The team compiled a combined 294-353 record over the following four years, stretching fans' patience to no end. But when Bonds left the team after '07, his vice grip on the organization began to fade.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Lansford and Freddy Sanchez

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News has a nice story about Freddy Sanchez overcoming adversity. He interviewed Giants' batting coach Carney Lansford and got some mind-bending comments, which are driving me nuts -- "Our park is perfect, absolutely perfect for him," Lansford said. "He's a line-drive hitter, a professional hitter, and he knows what he's doing at the plate. He's a former batting champion, and you don't have to watch him long to see why. He doesn't try to do too much with the ball. He has a plan with two strikes. Maybe we'll have a guy on this team who doesn't strike out 80-plus times."
Lansford remembers an at-bat in July, while Sanchez was still with the Pirates. With a runner at first base, he intentionally tried to stay back and shoot the ball to right field. If he didn't get a hit, at least he was going to advance his teammate.
"I haven't seen anybody here try to do that in two years," Lansford said. "It's the ability to handle the bat. That's how you get a guy over from second base with nobody out. It's refreshing. That's the best word I can use to describe it."


MY SNARKY COMMENT -- I'm glad to hear that Sanchez seems like a good guy and that he knows how to handle a bat. EXCUSE ME FOR ASKING AN IMPERTINENT QUESTION, BUT WHY HASN'T LANSFORD SEEN ANYONE ON THE GIANTS TRY TO HIT BEHIND A RUNNER?

This is what drives me crazy about journalists. Why isn't the Giants front office and Lansford trying to impart this kind of hitting, especially when the offense is so lousy? Is it because they don't think it's teachable? Is it because the current team isn't capable? Does the front office not think it's worthwhile? Was Lansford exaggerating?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Heading for 90 wins

The Giants are now 60-48 and exactly two thirds of the way through the season, projecting out to a final record of 90-72.

The team didn't get to 60 wins last year until this game on Sept. 3, when they had lost 79 games and Scott McClain hit his first MLB homer in Denver.

Jason Schmidt (he of the $48 million contract) continued to struggle for the Dodgers and couldn't get out of the 4th inning. The Dodgers lead is down to 6; the Giants have a half game lead in the Wild Card.

In my opinion, the most remarkable development is Eugenio Velez hitting out of his mind. He's 18 for 43 since coming back from Fresno. He's hit in all 10 games, including six multi-hit games.

A wonderful day in Houston

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Welcome back, Joe Martinez

The SF Chronicle reports -- He's starting today in Houston as the Giants finally decided that The Big Sadowski isn't really ready for the bigs. It's an impressive comeback for Joe after getting conked in the third game of the years by a Mike Cameron liner.

This has been an amazing year for Martinez, who made the club out of spring training. He won the Opening Day game in his first MLB game in relief of Lincecum and got seriously injured in his second. Today's his third MLB game.

Back-to-back jacks for the Orange and Black

Hard to believe but Freddy Sanchez and Pablo Sandoval hit homers tonight back to back. Henry Schulman of the SF Chornicle notes the Giants had hit three in the 18 games since the All-Star break.

The Giants now have 68 HRs this year; the Mets, who have been hammered with injuries, are the lowest at 65. The Orange and Black is 59-48, so they have 55 games left -- which means that the Giants are on pace for 102 homers, a year after becoming the first team since the 1995 Phillies to hit fewer than 100.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Dodgers gag it away, too

In a season that's seen far too few Dodger failures, the Blew Crew fumbled away a winnable game tonight at Chavez Latrine, 6-5, to the Brewers. Wunderkind pitcher Clayton Kershaw walked in back to back runs in the 5th, leading to Jeff Weaver coming in. And as long as the Dodgers have Jeff Weaver on their roster, there's hope for Giants fans that he'll find a way to gag. He certainly did tonight, giving up a long three-run homer to Ryan Braun in the 6th.

Fortunately for the Dodgers, the Brewers are still using Trevor Hoffman to close even though he's nearing the end. He gave up 3 runs and had the bases loaded with Manny Ramirez up. I had visions of Scott Brosius in Game 3 of the 1998 Series, when Trevor gave up a 3-run shot that essentially ended the Series. But Trevor got Manram off balance early in the count, resulting in a can of corn to centerfield. It was a fitting end to a game where most of the oh-so-smug fans are far more concerned about batting around beachballs than what happens on the field.

I blame Bochy again

Bruce Bochy must feel sorry for the Astros, what with his decision to leave an obviously tiring Matt Cain in the game to give up the winning run in the 8th for a disheartening 4-3 loss. Also, what kind of dingbat keeps batting Bengie Molina in the fourth slot?

This was clearly a winnable game. But with the season down to the final third, hasn't it occurred to Bochy that players are getting worn down? Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle puts it simply in the game story -- Molina's failures stand out because he is a cleanup hitter with a .268 on-base percentage for the season and one homer and eight RBIs since July 1.

You see, real leadership isn't always sticking with the same plan as Bochy seems to believe. Real leadership is having the guts to adjust to changing circumstance rather than making mealy-mouthed excuses like this one: Bruce Bochy acknowledged he and general manager Brian Sabean have discussed moving Molina out of the fourth spot until he rediscovers his stroke.
"Brian and I talked about the lineup today, different things we can do," Bochy said. "Sure, we discussed it quite a bit."


HEY IDIOTS -- Let me spell it out for you. Your clean-up hitter's biggest attribute is his alleged ability to drive in runs. He got 18 RBIs in April, 14 in May, 13 in June and 7 in July. Am I the only one who can spot a pattern here?

300 strikeouts for The Franchise?

A blogger named Duk at Dugout Central is projecting that Lincecum may become the first pitcher to hit 300 Ks in a year since Schilling and the Big Unit both did it seven years ago. His basic premise -- Lincecum currently has 191 strikeouts over 22 starts, a rate of 8.68 Ks per game, and could start as many as 13 more games, particularly if the team's going for a Wild Card spot.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Tide turning the Giants way

They've just closed out the World Champion Phillies, 7-3, with Zito getting the victory, new arrival Freddy Sanchez getting two hits and Eugenio Velez as an effective leadoff man. Even Bobby Howry -- who has fumbled away several potential victories this season -- was lights out in the 9th. Zito didn't walk anyone.

This team is playing exceptionally well at home. Steve Kroner's game story in the Chron notes that they just completed a 6-1 homestand. The home record is 37-16, which is currently the best in the MLB. The Rangers have also won 37 games but lost 21 at home.

It's kind of stunning to write that Zito's elevated his game this year -- not to a degree yet that's commensurate with his contract, but well above the standard for lousy performances in 2007 and 2008. He's probably improved this year more than any other player on the team. Paulie at Give Em Some Stankeye made these points, too -- Barry Zito pitched another great game today, especially impressive since he didn't walk anyone. That makes four terrific starts in a row, and five of his last six. Dare I say he's starting to gain the trust of a Giants fanbase (not to mention blogging community) that derided him so? Most impressive of all was the fact that his fastball was touching 90 mph on several occasions. Perhaps the offseason training regimen in Muscle Beach is paying dividends, after all.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Franchise goes to 12-3

The good Big Sadowski returns