Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Orange and Black battery

Harold Reynolds of the MLB Network has just given the battery of Bumgarner and Posey the credit for recognizing the edges of ump Mike Winters' strike zone in Game 4, saying that it reminded him of how Tom Glavine pitched. "You're going to give it to me, I'll take it," he said.

It's the youngest battery in a World Series since 1947, though the guys didn't say who. So I'm pretty sure it's the Dodgers battery of Ralph Branca, who was 21, and Bruce Edwards, who was 23.

David Pinto at Baseball Musings notes that it's the first time since 1966 that a team's been shut out twice in the World Series. The Orioles shut out the Dodgers three times in that one -- Hunter didn’t pitch that poorly, but the Giants hitters worked him hard, and Tommy left after four innings having thrown 83 pitchers. Meanwhile, Bumgarner stayed efficient, throwing 106 pitcher over eight innings giving up three hits and two walks as he struck out six.

Ten down, one to go

Happy Halloween! How can it get sweeter than Madison Bumgarner dominating? Here's a guy who's been in a TOTAL of 22 MLB games. "He has no fear out there," Aubrey Huff said on postgame telecast. He's the youngest pitcher to win a World Series game since Fernando Valenzuela won a game in the 1981 Series.

An amazingly calm Andres Torres is talking with Dan Plesac on the MLB network. "We cannot be comfortable -- the Texas Rangers are a good team," he just said. "Thank you guys, thank you so much."

Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury-News pounds out a pretty good game story on deadline --ARLINGTON, Texas — Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey were supposed to represent the future of a rebuilding Giants organization, all hope and promise for brighter days ahead.

But something happened between their season debuts at Triple-A Fresno in April and Game 4 of the World Series Sunday night. Not even H.G. Wells would dream of such a radical timeline jump.

Make no mistake: The future is now for the Giants. Boy, is it ever.

They stand nine clean innings away from the first World Series championship in the franchise's 53-year history in San Francisco after their rookie battery led them to a turbocharged, 4-0 victory over the Texas Rangers in front of a stunned and silent crowd.

Bumgarner, 21, entered his name into World Series lore while disarming a powerful lineup in their smallish park, holding the Rangers to three hits over eight innings.

Buck and McCarver say something smart for a change

Happy Halloween!

"Who ya gonna call?" GHOSTBUSTERS!

[In a TV commercial]
Dr Ray Stantz: Are you troubled by strange noises in the middle of the night?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic?
Dr. Peter Venkman: Have you or your family ever seen a spook, spectre or ghost?
Dr Ray Stantz: If the answer is "yes," then don't wait another minute. Pick up the phone and call the professionals...
Dr Ray Stantz, Dr. Egon Spengler, Dr. Peter Venkman: Ghostbusters.
Dr Ray Stantz: Our courteous and efficient staff is on call 24 hours a day to serve all your supernatural elimination needs.
Dr Ray Stantz, Dr. Egon Spengler, Dr. Peter Venkman: We're ready to believe you.

Game 4 lineup

CF Torres, 2B Sanchez, DH Huff, C Posey, LF Ross, 3B Uribe, 1B Ishikawa, SS Renteria, RF Schierholtz.

Schierholtz last started six weeks ago in Matt Cain's 2-1 vic over the Dodgers. Ishikawa's last start was on Aug. 15.

Pat the Bat and the Panda are sitting but Pat will be back for Game 5, according to
extrabaggs -- Bochy says Burrell will take a break, clear his head and be back in the lineup vs. Cliff Lee in Game 5.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Giants avoid sweep

They didn't look horrible (loved the three DPs the infield turned) but Jonathan Sanchez wasn't particularly sharp. Grant at McCovey Chronicles admits that we fans were all secretly believing that there would be another 9-0 game. Here's his stellar guidance --Shake it off. Just like the Ankiel game and the second game of the NLCS, this is a loss that feels worse than it might have otherwise felt because of a sense of momentum that doesn't exist. If momentum were a real thing in baseball, we'd be watching the Braves and the Yankees right now, rooting for March.

The only thing that really, really bothers me about tonight -- other than the slow burn of a tough loss -- is the thought of Jonathan Sanchez starting Game Seven. Every loss inches the Giants closer. So I'd like to humbly suggest that they win two games before it gets to that point. Think it over, Giants.

UPDATE -- Here's Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury-News -- extrabaggs

Dave Righetti very concerned about drop in J. Sanchez velocity, says "damn right" he and Bochy will talk about Game 7 alternatives if nec.

Henry Schulman's game story says the same except that Buster Posey takes the blame for Moreland's homer.


Game 3 lineups

Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury-News posts the lineups, updates on Jose Guillen and says Sandoval could be DHing again tomorrow.

CF Torres
2B F. Sanchez
1B Huff
C Posey
LF Burrell
RF Ross
3B Uribe
DH Sandoval
SS Renteria

P Jonathan Sanchez

SS Andrus
3B Young
CF Hamilton
DH Guerrero
LF Cruz
2B Kinsler
RF Francoeur
C Molina
1B Moreland

P Colby Lewis

Where was Feliz?

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Panda finally gets to play in the World Series

The guy with the 57-62 MLB record steps up again

That's Matt Cain, of course. He tells Monte Poole of the Mercury-News that his last regular-season loss to the Padres helped dial him up for the postseason --.
He lasted only four innings, giving up nine hits and six earned runs.

"That start definitely helped," he said. "I didn't throw the ball that bad, but I threw some bad pitches to get myself in some trouble, and they took advantage of it. I've really tried to make sure that I made every pitch count from here on out, and it's been my main focus."

MC O'Connor at Raising (Matt) Cain has a great recap --

The Giants find themselves up 2-0 in the World Series after once again demonstrating remarkable poise and patience at the plate, flashing some absolutely stellar leather, and pounding the strike zone with nasty shit batter after batter, inning after inning. Matt Cain stepped up and delivered another string of zeroes, continuing his remarkable post-season run. For all the craziness tonight, and all the contributions from the lineup and the bench guys, it all started with Cain retiring the first seven guys he saw and 12 of his first 13. It was a huge performance and a well-deserved win for the man who rarely gets the run support he should. The Texas Rangers had only been shut out five times in the regular season, and were 14-4 in inter-league play. I hope they enjoyed their trip to San Francisco.

GO GIANTS! WIN!! WIN!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nine down, two to go

A typically close game at Mays Field turns into a blowout as the Giants put up 7 in the bottom of 8th -- all after two were out. Henry Schulman of the Chronicle notes that it's the first World Series shutout by the Orange and Black in 48 years.

I still remember vividly being at that game with my Dad. Jack Sanford closed down the Yanks 2-0 on three hits and Stretch homered to win Game 2 and even the Series. Unfortunately, that set the pattern for the rest of the Series with the Yanks and Giants alternating wins. This time around, the Giants look like they might make it to four wins first.

Giants get zero respect, win game anyhow

You could tell that Fox broadcasters Tim McCarver and Joe Buck were convinced that Cliff Lee would dominate the Giants, even when the Giants scored two runs to tie the game in the third. The national media had decreed that Lee would win and the Giants might as well forfeit Game 1. One of the many Fox dingbats, some over-rated underachiever named John Paul Morosi, wrote this before the 11-7 Giants vic --

We've all seen the tape. It shows us that no one -- certainly not San Francisco -- is going to beat Cliff Lee this month.

At this point, video can only do so much. Lee's 2010 postseason looks like a horror flick to anyone who swings a bat for a living. The trailer looks something like this: strikeout, strikeout, groundout … strikeout, strikeout, flyout … strikeout, strikeout, jam-shot single … strikeout.

Lee's made eight career postseason starts. He's 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA. He's struck out 67. He's walked seven. In October, at least, he can be mistaken for Sandy Koufax.

There's probably a postseason loss in his future, but Wednesday's not the night. No matter how well Tim Lincecum pitches, the Rangers will have a 1-0 lead when the World Series is one day old.

MY SNARKY COMMENT -- How does that crow taste, Mr. Morosi?


"A weird wonderful night"

Lefty Malo has a terrific recap, so here are some excerpts --

From my vantage point in the bleachers, Lee was constantly up in the strike zone. The Giants worked him to the bone, with two iconic at-bats in my opinion: first was Juan Uribe, who fouled off high fastball after high fastball and finally struck out, but what was until then a suspicion became obvious: Lee didn't have the curve. He threw two good ones all night, one to strike out Burrell swinging in the 2nd, one for a called strike to Posey a bit later. Otherwise he couldn't get it to snap. By the decisive 5th inning, I truly believe the Giants had crossed the curve off their list. No need to look for it. That left the fastball, cutter and change-up, but look at the highlights: nearly every hit was a ball up.

The second iconic at-bat was Pat Burrell's walk in the fifth. Burrell wouldn't go out of the zone, even with two strikes. It extended the inning after Posey struck out for the second out; Lee more or less fell apart after that. Remember this sentence all winter: Even when Pat Burrell doesn't hit home runs, he does something at the plate to help a team win.

So, Timmy: He wasn't great, either. He had a hard time making Texas swing and miss. They spit on a few tough change-ups, and when he missed up, they spanked him. Kudos to Bochy for making the change with two outs in the 6th and four runs in against Lincecum. He could have given into the moment: World Series, Game One, a huge crowd that wants to love Timmy. The emotion of it might have pushed Boch to try to squeeze one more out from Tim. Nope. Casilla came in, blew away Andrus, and the game was effectively over.

So much to discuss: Lincecum's first-inning brain fart. Bengie's return and our standing O for him. It was a weird wonderful night, full of pride and roar and class. The only thing missing was Willie Mays, who couldn't make the first-pitch ceremony. I hope he's OK.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Giants ripped the Koufaxian veneer..."

Andrew Baggarly pounds out a game story for the San Jose Mercury-News with a nice turn of phrase. Here are the key paragraphs to a memorable Game 1 --Freddy Sanchez went boom-boom-boom, Juan Uribe provided his special brand of pow and the Giants ripped the Koufaxian veneer off left-hander Cliff Lee, punishing the Texas Rangers' ace in an 11-7 victory in front of a rollicking, standing-room crowd at AT&T Park.

The Giants' scorned, scrap-metal lineup kept attacking Lee's belt-high offerings, destroying the conventional assumption that the left-hander with the unblemished postseason record would pitch another sepia-toned gem.

Sanchez became the first player in major league history to double in his first three World Series at-bats, including a rope to left field in the fifth inning that broke a 2-2 tie.

World Series fever

Torres CF
Sanchez 2B
Posey 1B
Burrell LF
Ross RF
Huff 1B
Uribe 3B
Renteria SS
Lincecum P

Also, Andrew Baggarly of Mercury-News just tweeted this -- Be warned: private lots in vicinity of AT&T Park are charging $60-80 to park. Wash/wax not included!

Tim Kawakami = dingbat

Man, it's embarrassing that even THREE full years after Barry Bonds was forced into retirement, hack sportswriters like Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury-News are still blaming Bonds for the lousy performance of the Giants teams -- and asserting that Bonds' departure led to the subsequent improved performance of the current squad. I guess it's just too darn difficult to examine the situation a little more carefully and conclude that maybe the excessive wasting of money on fading veterans like Armando Blownitez, Dave Roberts, Barry Zito, Aaron Rowand, Ryan Klesko, Steve Finley, Jose Vizcaino, Mike Matheny is what actually led to four straight losing seasons between 2005 and 2008. Have you ever noticed how Bonds' teammates -- like Jason Schmidt and Royce Clayton -- say he was great to have on a team?

EARTH TO TIM KAWAKAMI -- Can't you think of something more insightful to say on the eve of the World Series, rather than just resorting to the tired old approach of bashing Barry as the Worst. Teammate. Ever?

For a long but intriguing read on Sports Illustrated's 15-year hatefest against Bonds, have a look at an essay the blog Cosellout posted in 2007. I think that some sports reporters have realized since then that perhaps they went overboard in villifying Bonds. Except for insight-free hacks like Tim Kawakami.

"That guy had no idea who I was, right?"

That's what Jeremy Affeldt told Joe Posnaski of Sports Illustrated about another reporter who could not figure out who he was after Game 6. Posnaski has a fine recap and the incredibly clutch performance of Affeldt -- perhaps the most anonymous player on the Giants roster, at least up until the third inning.

Here's what Raul Ibanez said about Affeldt's two innings --
"I think that was when the game changed, you know?" said Philadelphia's Raul Ibanez, who was a teammate of Affeldt's in Kansas City. "I think when we had that early lead, and we were threatening, I think our thought then was that we were just about to put the game away. But then ... Jeremy was good."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

World Series lineup

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News believes that Andres Torres will lead off. He also reports that it's unlikely that Barry Zito will make the World Series roster. Here's what he thinks the lineup will be:

CF Andres Torres, 2B Freddy Sanchez, C Buster Posey, LF Pat Burrell, RF Cody Ross, 1B Aubrey Huff, 3B Juan Uribe, SS Edgar Renteria and right-hander Tim Lincecum.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ladies and gentlemen -- your East Coast bias

No doubt that the Giants will be perceived as the underdog in the World Series, thanks to inept reporting like this. A New York Times blogger named Dan Rosenheck, who should know better, writes a column that says the Giants pitching isn't really that good. Only problem -- he completely ignores the recent evidence of a September stretch run when the Orange and Black pitching had to win just about every game.

Fortunately, John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters, points out that Rosenheck is full of hot air. Here's the key verbiage -- Over a span of 26 games, –during which they had to win every game– all the Giants pitching staff did was roll out a 1.78 ERA, throw 5 shutouts, allow 46 earned runs in 232 innings, pile up 234 strikeouts, allow just 58 walks, and hold the opposition to a Neifi Perez-like .181/.241/.283/ .524 OPS line, with just 15 home runs, and post a team-wide .90 WHIP, 4.02 K/BB and 9.06 K/9IP.

Just for the record, St Louis posted a 2.46 ERA in September of 2001, the only team in baseball over the last ten years to be within one run of matching what the Giants did.

I was gonna do a side by side with Texas, but, really, there is no point. That is, in fact, an historically great run of pitching, and I challenge Dan Rosenheck to come up with a team that has had a run like that in the last twenty years.

By the by, during the postseason, the Giants numbers have regressed, just a bit.

So far, in 91 innings, the Giants have a 2.47 ERA, with 102 strikeouts, 28 walks, and 2 more shutouts. They’ve allowed 25 earned runs, and a .199/274/.297 .571 OPS line. They’re K/BB has dropped to 3.31, while their strikeouts per 9 has increased to 10.46. Their team-wide WHIP is 1.02.


"Look at my beard. Ain't it weird?"


Fire Sabean has posted this graphic, which makes me crack up every time I visit his site. It reminds of the little poem George Carlin performed at the end of a longer poem about his hair --
Look at my beard
Ain't it weird?
Don't skeered
It's only a beard
Here's the Hair poem --
I'm aware some stare at my hair,
In fact to be fair, some really despair of my hair
But I don't care
They're not debonair,
In fact they're just square.
They see hair down to there and say beware, and go off on a tear.
I say, no fair, why not be like a bear, and wear it to there, or there, or to there if you dare.
My wife bought some hair at a fair, to use as a spare
Did I care? Au contraire.
Spare hair is fair
And where is the hair on a pear?
No where, mon frere.
Now that I've shared this affair with the hair, I think I'll retire to my lair and use Nair, do you care?

Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez

Hasta la vista, Jose Guillen

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News just tweeted this --
extrabaggs
To those wondering: There is a ZERO percent chance Jose Guillen returns to DH in the World Series. Sabean told me he's out of their plans.

He was hitting pretty well when he donned the Orange and Black but ended the season with a bulging disc and a 1-for-21 run -- opening the way for Cody Ross.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

"Lovable knuckleheads"

Now that Giants beat writer Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle's had a day to reflect, he knocked out a pretty good piece about the wacky guys who made the difference in Saturday's epic Game 6 -- Juan Uribe, Jeremy Affeldt, Madison Bumgarner and Bruce Bochy. Apparently, Uribe's "this town is my town" bit was a pretty good running joke -- reminiscent for me of Pat Paulson's presidential campaign in 1968 where he'd land in a new state and say "The people in this state are REAL people, not like phonies in (whatever state he'd just left)."

Here's what Schulman said about the other three --Does everyone really understand what it took for Affeldt - essentially a nonperson in this bullpen for a long time - to enter in Game 6 of the Championship Series with two aboard, the score tied 2-2 and blow through the heart of the opponents' lineup?

Affeldt started a run of seven shutout innings by the bullpen that ended with Wilson striking out Ryan Howard.

"When you see the umpire step back and throw up his fist," Affeldt said, "it's unbelievable."

Pitcher Madison Bumgarner is not a knucklehead - yet. Yeah, he gave his bride a bull calf as a wedding present, but she comes from a ranching family in North Carolina. It was appropriate.

What Bumgarner did in Game 6 was astounding. He allowed the Phillies to load the bases in the fifth inning, then got the dangerous Shane Victorino to hit a two-out comebacker. For an encore, Bumgarner allowed a leadoff double in the sixth by Raul Ibañez and escaped.

He is 21. The baseball world was watching. He did not flinch.

Manager Bruce Bochy is a knucklehead of the highest order. Fans rarely see it because he becomes a two-by-four when the TV cameras click on. Bochy had everyone fooled into thinking Game 6 was not a must-win, then he managed as if his job depended on winning it.


"This is my town" -- Juan Uribe

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News has a long postgame notes post about the Uribe, who's related to the late Jose Uribe, and a pregame interview in the dugout yesterday --

It began with a running joke. I asked Uribe if Philly was his town.

“Oh yeah,” he said, squinting and nodding. “This is my town.”

He said it with absolute assurance. Almost like he was delivering a line in a TV commercial. He said it the way he always says it, no matter where we are.

Every town is Uribe’s town. We could be in Chicago, where he played with the White Sox. We could be in Denver, where he broke in with the Rockies. We could be in Taiwan next March. And Uribe would say it’s his town.

I asked Uribe one more question. Do you feel good about tonight?

“I’ll do something, you’ll see,” he said.

"I didn't do my part" -- Jonathan Sanchez

Things were looking damn dismal tonight in the third inning when Jonathan Sanchez took exception to Chase Utley's reaction to being HBPd. I could see the game devolving into a 10-2 Phillies blowout but Bruce Bochy had the good common sense to bring in Jeremy Affeldt at tht point. The bullpen plus Bumgarner and Lincecum managed to get the next 21 outs without allowing another run. Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle knocked out a pretty fine column tonight, including dealing with the big question of what in blazes happened with Jonathan, who's a huge reason why the Giants managed to get into the World Series in the first place -- Sanchez was grateful that his teammates were able to shut out the Phillies the rest of the night, but he said quietly: "I didn't do my part."

He had, of course, won the division clincher on the final day of the regular season and pitched well in Game 3 in Atlanta during the first round of the playoffs. Sanchez underwent a transformation in the final month of the season, from unfocused and hyperemotional to poised with properly channeled intensity. He also got a hit and scored the Giants' first run of Saturday's game.

But he left a mess behind in the third, which seemed appropriate. The Giants specialize in coping with trouble. It may be their second great dimension, behind the pitching.

Affeldt came in and cleaned up, stranding both of the runners he inherited from Sanchez. He lasted another inning, surrendering nothing, before the Giants called on rookie starter Madison Bumgarner for a couple of innings. Then in came Javier Lopez, the fourth lefty. In the eighth came ace Tim Lincecum, who got a strikeout and then gave up two hits. Closer Brian Wilson soon replaced him and coaxed a line-drive double play out of Carlos Ruiz.

Six of the Giants' seven postseason wins have come by one run. The last two winning runs have been delivered by Uribe, who hit a sacrifice fly in Game 4, sending elated Giants fans into the corridors chanting his name. On Saturday, he gave them the chance to return to the park at Third and King, looking for that first world title.


Believe it or not -- Your NL Champion San Francisco Giants

I'm still shaking my head in disbelief. Remember, this was a team that was 41-40 on the Fourth of July after a nightmarish 4-3 loss in 15 innings in Denver left them 7 and half games out and in fourth place in the NL West.

Evidently, I'm not the only one who remains more than a little stunned by the Giants going to the World Series.

Here's Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury-News -- This band of underdog, light-hitting journeymen, rookies and role players is going to the World Series, and there's nothing anybody can do about it now.

Bay Area Sports Guy -- I came home to an empty apartment after my work in Palo Alto, but I felt a kinship with my neighbors after Wilson struck out Ryan Howard on that incredible slider at the knees (hell yeah, that was a strike!). Once the Giants won the National League Pennant, people were screaming throughout my neighborhood. Out of their windows, on the sidewalk, in cars packed full of revelers driving by. I opened up my window, and I screamed. I had to.

John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters -- Is there a more improbable World Series team in recent memory? What a performance by the pen. 6-plus innings of no run ball, after Sanchez spit the bit. Really, just a simply unbelievable performance by the pitching staff since the beginning of September.As for the team management, and in-game coaching, I am eating every bit of crow there is in my house. While accepting the NL trophy, Sabean looked and sounded humble and classy, as did Baer, Bochy, Neukom, and NLCS MVP Ross. (Sidebar: The NLCS MVP was probably Wilson, 3 saves and a win in as close a series as you are ever gonna see).

Grant at McCovey Chronicles -- The Giants are melted chocolate scraped off the side of a bus stop, covering a creamy nougat center of first-round picks. They were picked to finish anywhere but first. They weren’t supposed to win against the Phillies. The Giants advanced to the World Series. The San Francisco Giants, that weird bunch of miscreants and ne’r-do-wells, are going to the World Series. They are four wins away from something that San Francisco has never seen. They’ve taken advantage of errors, they’ve timed their hits well, they’ve made their own luck, and they’ve graciously accepted the flaming bags of luck that were left on their doorstep -- just like every single National League championship team before them.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The magic moment

Lance Iverson of the San Francisco Chronicle snapped this wonderful photo of Juan Uribe's 8th inning homer as the ball left the bat.

Henry Schulman of the Chron has knocked out a damn fine story on deadline.

Seven down, four to go!

I'm still picking my jaw off the floor, particularly after Jonathan Sanchez melted down in the third inning. Amazingly gutsy moves by Bochy, bringing back Madison Bumgarner for two huge innings. This is a team that truly lived up to that marketing slogan "It's magic inside." Every now and again, reality tops the hype.

THE GIANTS BULLPEN WAS BEYOND AWESOME.

JUAN URIBE CLUTCHED UP

BRIAN WILSON SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE MVP, but I'm OK with Cody Ross getting it.

Here's what the Giants need tonight

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Orange and Black adults

It's a long season for the Orange and Black

I love playing baseball but these guys have been at it every day since February so it's understandable that they're skipping today. Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News just tweeted that, while John Shea of the Chronicle says it's all on hands on deck this weekend --
extrabaggs
Grounds crew set up the field for BP here in Philly, but the Giants went straight to the hotel. They decided against a workout today.

JohnSheaHey
Bochy suggesting Bumgarner available in relief Saturday and Lincecum Sunday if there is a Sunday.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Giants -- 75% chance of winning the NLCS

David Pinto at Baseball Musings gives credit to the Phillies pen for tonight's vic -- particularly in the 8th when Ryan Madson struck out Posey, Burrell and Ross. Still, he says the Giants should win the NLCS. He also says the play in the third was one of the strangest ever. It continues the array of truly crappy postseason umpiring calls --

Update: That was a strange play. Halladay bunts. The ball stays at the plate, rolls across the plate where Buster Posey picks it up in foul territory but the umpire signals fair. Posey throws to third, but Pablo Sandoval had charged and is just getting back to the bag. He catches the ball in front of the bag and Ibanez beats the throw. Roy Halladay, seeing the ball was foul, didn’t run. Sandoval throws across the diamond for the out. That has to be the strangest sacrifice I’ve ever seen. A bad call, a bad defensive play, and a bad base running play all lead to the result the Phillies originally wanted.

Deflating the Orange and Black dream

A night after a glorious Game 4 win, Game 5 left Giants fans strangely deflated as the timely hitting disappeared -- requiring mistake-free baseball, which wasn't there tonight. Aubrey Huff's error in the third, a nightmarish frame, was the difference in the loss. Even the Giants only scored twice, that probably would have been enough enough with Tim Lincecum pitching the way he was.

I do like the way Huff and Lincecum accepted their failings, according to Henry Schulman's game story for the SF Chronicle -- Lincecum absorbed a lot of the blame, first for hitting Ruiz, then for the Victorino single.

"I should have made better quality pitches to keep it a one-run game," Lincecum said.

"No, man," Huff responded. "He's just taking up for his first baseman. That's what he's done all year. He's a great pitcher and a great kid. This one is squarely on me. This just wasn't my day. I'll sleep it off, go back to Philly and get to work."




"We're going to win this thing right here"

So says Brian Wilson and who's to argue with him? He's elevated his game this year to an elite level.

Anyhow, that's what Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle reports that Wilson said when he got into dugout after shutting down the Phils in the top of 9th. He has a nice recap of last night's glorious 6-5 victory.

I was fortunate enough to attend in Section 103. I am still baffled over Charlie Manual's decision to usse Roy Oswalt in the 9th.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fox continues to embarrass itself

Is there a more embarrassing broadcasting team than Tim McCarver and Joe Buck? It's like watching someone bomb doing stand-up comedy, oblivious to the fact that no one cares what they're saying. When are the geniuses at Fox going to realize that one of the big reasons that the ratings aren't what they should be is that real fans can't stand the insight-free rantings of McCarver and Buck? How about never?

Lefty Malo has a devastating post about McCarver and Buck's handling of today's riveting NLCS game, particularly when Brian Wilson was closing out the 9th --

Part Two of the formula was bullpen. Lopez was unbelievable, again, and Brian Wilson cruised through the ninth despite Rollins' off-the-wall single -- the one time Wilson came in with a fastball. I know this is beating a dead horse, but broadcasters Buck and McCarver on Fox have hit a new low. They simply refuse to discuss anything interesting about the game. McCarver's old Nehru jackets? Sure, let's chat. AJ Burnett? Wrong game, but why not. With Wilson on the mound, they started talking about this article, which showcases Wilson's smarts and eccentricity -- but also his pitching philosophy. Of course they focused on the personality. It's quite a personality, but do these dipshits ever talk baseball? I'm not a Joe Morgan fan, but at least Morgan sees things on the field and discusses them. He talks baseball.

Five down, six to go

Mighty mighty mighty mighty Matt Cain!!!!!!!!!!

UPDATE -- Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury-News says his location was superb --
Cain simply finds a way to keep hitters off-balance and the ball off the fat part. He throws his fastball to spots, not areas. On his best days, he might be wild out of the strike zone – but not within it.

UPDATE -- MC O'Connor at Raising (Matt) Cain notes that Matt got every single first batter in the 7 innings he worked--.

He seemed to be able to make the pitches he wanted to all day long, regardless of the count and situation, and the Phillie hitters never got anything going. Rollins was caught on the Fox broadcast's 'Sounds of the Game' talking to the 1st base coach about the deceptive movement in Cain's fastball, saying that even though it was "right over the plate" he couldn't pick it up. Bobby Valentine (on ESPN) was raving about Cain's change-up, saying he thinks it's a new pitch he developed late in the season. Whatever it was, it was part of a devastating repertoire that kept the hitters off balance. Matt got the first batter of every inning he pitched: Victorino, Howard, Ibanez, Polanco, Ruiz, Polanco, Rollins.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Inspiration


In my opinion, it can't hurt to have a statue of The Greatest Giant a few hundred feet from home plate

The late blooming of Andres Torres

Was it the appendectomy or did NL pitchers finally figure out how to pitch to Andres Torres, who looks like he's going to ride the pine in favor of Aaron Rowand in Game 3. Jeff Fletcher at Bay Bridge Baseball thinks that it's the latter --

He’s been bad for a long time now, really since the end of August. I think the league may finally have figured him out, and people started throwing him more breaking balls. That may have messed up his timing and now he can’t hit breaking balls or fastballs.

Torres is a good kid — well, a 32-year-old kid — and it’s a good story how he finally became an everyday player after all these years. However, I just believe that the vast vast vast majority of late bloomers don’t bloom for that long. They can be good for a short time, but if they really had the talent to be consistent succesful major leaguers, it wouldn’t take them 10 years to do it. Just my opinion.

MY COMMENT -- It's an OK piece but Fletcher never bothers to mention the appendectomy, which took out the period between Sept. 12 and 26


Sunday, October 17, 2010

So little hitting, so little time

The Giants offense picked a terrible time to go into the dumper tonight -- a lineup that saw Andres Torres strike out four times and Juan Uribe sit out with a banged up wrist and Pablo Sandoval continue to sit, only so Ray Fontenot could be lousy. It was so putrid that Aaron Rowand is looking like he'll get to start Game 3, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Torres is probably still not fully recovered from his apendectomy but time is short. Fortunately, Cody Ross is on fire --

Ross' third homer of the series and fourth of the postseason broke up Oswalt's no-hit bid, Ross' standard operating procedure. His sixth-inning homer in Game 4 of the Division Series busted a Derek Lowe no-hitter and the first of his two homers in Game 1 of this series ended a string of 12 hitless innings by Roy Halladay.

The rest of the offense consisted of walks by Ross, Posey and Fontenot, two singles by Freddy Sanchez and a pinch single by Ishikawa.

I think it's time to start Pablo Sandoval. Fontenot's error in the first was huge -- it prevented Jonathan Sanchez from getting into a groove. Lefty Malo agrees with me, which makes me feel smart.

The key to the Game 1 win

Jeff Fletcher at Bay Bridge Baseball narrows it down to Tim Lincecum's third inning strikeout of Ryan Howard.He also makes a couple of interesting observations --

  • Andres Torres isn’t looking too good. I think the Giants need to move him down in the lineup. I wouldn’t bench him, because of his defense and because Rowand might not do much better, but I’d put Cody Ross up there. Bochy said flatly that he will leave Ross in the No. 8 hole because he’s hot. Whatever.
  • Brian Wilson made some very good pitches and he got away with some very bad pitches, particurly a hanger that Ross Gload pulled just foul in the ninth. Doubt Wilson is available for more than three outs on Sunday.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Expect the unexpected (Cody Ross)

Who saw this coming? Not me. This guy wouldn't even be playing if Jose Guillen hadn't gotten banged up.

Four wins down, seven to go.

Chris Haft of mlb.com notes that the Orange and Black have now won seven consecutive postseason openers going back to 2000. And why not with this Lincecum guy?

JC Parsons at Raising (Matt) Cain notes that Tim managed to win without his best stuff and had some real ownage on Howard and Victorino --
Ryan Howard, coming in with great numbers against Tim, was humbled several times. Shane Victorino, a royal pain in the Giants collective ass, was forced into a couple swings that would have made his T-ball coach cringe. Somehow Lincecum overcame a pesky umpire and the complete lack of a curveball to get the key out. His performance oozed intensity every at bat...probably because he started most batters with 2 balls and no strikes.

Using your closer in the 8th inning

I remain convinced that Bruce Bochy by going for the two-inning save by Brian Wilson in the 8th inning in Game 2 of the NLDS. It's the playoffs, dammit. Do whatever's necessary to get a save. As we all know, Wilson wound up giving up a big two-run double to Alex Gonzalez but he then locked down the Braves through the 9th....

So I kept wondering last night as the Yanks scored 5 in the eighth -- where was Neftali Feliz? He wasn't one of the five pitchers the Rangers used in that memorable frame. Alex Belth, who blogs about the Yankees at Bronx Banter, wondered the same thing with a post cleverly titled "I Can't Believe I Eighth the Whole Thing.

"The Giants Have That Feel This Year"

Paulie at Give Em Some Stankeye has delivered an excellent post. Here's how he expertly sums up--

I'm sure you've heard writers in the past few days state that the Giants' playoff chances are zilch. Don't listen. It's the same mantra that's been repeated by doubters all year. If it isn't that they have no offense, it's because their GM is an idiot. If it isn't because Bengie Molina is their cleanup hitter it's because they're paying a fifth starter $18 million this year. When people said they couldn't beat the Padres, the Giants blew right by them When they said that the Giants couldn't hold back the Rockies, they went into Coors Field and took it to them. When people said that Jose Guillen was a worthless piece of doo-doo on a stick...well, they were right on that one.

I won't make a prediction for this series because, again, I don't want to jinx this team, but I will predict the obvious: this isn't going to be a Phillie steamroll session. Philadelphia's bats have traditionally struggled in Mays Field (.568 OPS in the three games this year -yeah, yeah small sample size), and the big power alleys might help squash the Phils' power advantage. If the Giants can win just one game in Philly, the Phils could come back to SF clawing at the wall in frustration as the fly balls that land ten rows deep at Citizens Bank are caught at Mays Field.

Regardless, it should be a fun series, and I'm cautiously optimistic. I'm prepared for the oncoming bouts of stomach butterflies and torrential profanity, followed by heavy drinking and the inevitable drunken lecture to the terrified waitress at the bar as to why she's the reason the Giants can't hit Roy Oswalt. Then crying may ensue. Ah playoff baseball, how I've missed thee.

The Giants have that feel this year. That vibe. A lot of things have gone right so far. Why would it stop now? Or have those "It's Magic Inside" ads lied to me?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bumgarner likely to start Game 4

Ryan Howard delivers top 10 list on Letterman

The top reasons to watch the Major League Baseball Playoffs were as follows:

10. FOX's coverage now extends to the postgame shower.
9. What are you gonna do, watch hockey?
8. One lucky viewer will win a free Tommy John Surgery.
7. We just had the Phillie Phanatic clipped, wormed and neutered.
6. Trips to the mound now include a fabulous "Glee"-style dance number.
5. The crack of the bat replaced by a "boing" sound.
4. Do you really need an excuse to sit on the couch and drink beer?
3. Mention my name and you can rebroadcast the game without express written consent of Major League Baseball.
2. It's about time the Yankees got some attention from the national media.

And the No. 1 reason to watch this year's postseason: If you're watching The Late Show, you'll watch anything.

The 63-year old Letterman, who jokingly claimed to have once been an bullpen catcher down in Mexico, had one tip for the three-time All-Star as the Phillies prepare for their upcoming series against the Giants.

"Watch out for that Barry Bonds," said Letterman, holding back a smile. "He'll hurt you with the long ball, you know what I'm saying?"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"It's not a big deal" -- Tim Lincecum

Sloppy analysis from ESPN

With four off-days between Monday's glorious victory in Atlanta and the start of the NLCS, some of the more prominent baseball analysts have taken the time to embarrass themselves by asserting that the Giants have no chance against the Phillies -- and then using bogus facts to back up their arguments.

Kevin O'Brien at Remember '51 does a nice job of tearing apart Buster Olney's assertion that the Phils have a better defense than the Giants and the Orange Black has "one of the worst defenses" in MLB.

You would think that someone who gets paid well to do this full time would be more careful. You would be wrong.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ryan Howard delivers top 10 list on Letterman

The top reasons to watch the Major League Baseball Playoffs were as follows:

10. FOX's coverage now extends to the postgame shower.
9. What are you gonna do, watch hockey?
8. One lucky viewer will win a free Tommy John Surgery.
7. We just had the Phillie Phanatic clipped, wormed and neutered.
6. Trips to the mound now include a fabulous "Glee"-style dance number.
5. The crack of the bat replaced by a "boing" sound.
4. Do you really need an excuse to sit on the couch and drink beer?
3. Mention my name and you can rebroadcast the game without express written consent of Major League Baseball.
2. It's about time the Yankees got some attention from the national media.

And the No. 1 reason to watch this year's postseason: If you're watching The Late Show, you'll watch anything.

The 63-year old Letterman, who jokingly claimed to have once been an bullpen catcher down in Mexico, had one tip for the three-time All-Star as the Phillies prepare for their upcoming series against the Giants.

"Watch out for that Barry Bonds," said Letterman, holding back a smile. "He'll hurt you with the long ball, you know what I'm saying?"

Sanchez starting Game 2

Biggest news of the day is that Bruce Bochy juggled the starting rotation to get Matt Cain in Game 3 while Jonathan Sanchez starts Game 2. Other developments thanks to Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News --

— Madison Bumgarner is “penciled in” to pitch Game 4. Looking way too far ahead, Lincecum could pitch Game 5 on normal rest, and Sanchez would have an extra day of rest before Game 6. If the Giants keep a four-man rotation with Sanchez going second, Cain would be scheduled to start a potential Game 7 on normal rest.

— That’s a whole lot of speculation, but it’s what you do on off days. Speaking of looking ahead, all 10 of ESPN’s “experts” have the Phillies winning the series, with only three of them having it getting to seven games. Not that that means anything at all, just gives you a good sense of how the national writers feel about this series. As Bochy said, “we’re here because we’re pretty good too.”

— Pablo Sandoval will be on the roster for the NLCS, but Bochy’s words didn’t really make it look like he’d play a whole lot. The skipper said this would “be a good learning experience” for Pablo. Bochy also said, “when you have a player that’s fighting a little, searching, it’s time for a break.” Pablo showed no signs of anger or disappointment, saying “it’s the manager’s decision and I’ll be there to help my team no matter what. I’ll do my best every moment.”

Chris Haft of mlb.com says there's little chance of any roster change from the NLDS.


Expect the unexpected

In the 15 games played in the ALDS and NLDS, home teams won four -- two in Philadelphia, one in New York and one in San Francisco. Form doesn't always hold.

This is why we get unlikely World Series performances out of people like Ricky Ledee, David Eckstein and Billy Hatcher. Here are the top 10 batting averages --

1.Billy Hatcher .750 1990 WS
2. Babe Ruth .625 1928 WS
3.Hideki Matsui .615 2009 WS
4. Ricky Ledee .600 1998 WS
5. Danny Bautista .583 2001 WS
6.Ivey Wingo .571 1919 WS
7.Chris Sabo .562 1990 WS
8.Lou Gehrig .545 1928 WS
Hank Gowdy .545 1914 WS
10.Bret Boone .538 1999 WS

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Orange and Black roster questions

Less than a week ago, the Giants were still deciding whether or not to include Aaron Rowand, Dan Runzler, Chris Ray, Edgar Renteria, Jose Guillen, Eugenio Velez and Barry Zito on the playoff roster. Aaron and Edgar made it and both played decently though Aaron had an aggravating bases-loaded strikeout in Game 4.

It doesn't look like the roster will change much, according to Andrew Baggarly at the San Jose Mercury News. He speculates that Zito, Runzler, Ray and Velez all have a possibility of getting named, but I'm dubious at this point; the Giants front office is of the "don't fix what's not broken" philosophy. The other key questions are who starts at third base and how do you set the rotation, given that Matt Cain is a flyball pitcher who may be more vulnerable at Citizens Bank Bandbox.

Grant at McCovey Chronicles has a poll that's gotten over 2,000 votes so far on whether Sandoval (54%) or Fontenot (46%) should start. Grant is in the majority, by the way --

Pablo Sandoval, even this year, has been the better hitter. The defensive difference was debatable even before both players had a poorly timed error in the postseason, too. Fontenot gives you a little bit more range, but Pablo has a better arm.

With Pablo, though, you get that bewitching, maddening promise when he’s in the lineup. You think about the April Pablo or the August Pablo, which just makes you throw your remote when you watch the May, June, July, and September Pablo flail at breaking balls that bounce on the pitcher’s mound before rolling to the plate. He just might be the most maddening player in Giants history, only because we’ve all seen how spectacular he can be when he’s right.

We know that Fontenot is Fontenot is Fontenot, which is a good player to have on the team, but not a key component of a decent lineup. There’s a steadiness with Fontenot that you aren’t going to get with Pablo, and that does mean something. But I’m an idiot. Thrice burned, fourwice shy. I think August Pablo might come back in the next four to fourteen games. It’s a hunch based on nothing more than wishful thinking

Giants have Phils just where they want them

Well, it appears that everyone's expecting the Phillies to demolish the Giants in three games, followed by a forfeit in the fourth. Fine with me. It's a result of the East Coast bias that tends to over-rate all teams east of the Mississippi and under-rate everyone else.

Dave Tobener at Golden Gate Giants has a fine post about this, making a couple of excellent points --

-- The national media seems to have settled on a storyline for the Giants: a ragtag bunch of guys who squeaked into the playoffs despite little talent and no discernable hitting ability. They didn’t so much win the NLDS as much as the Braves lost it. They’re a good story, but their fun is over once they run into a real team like the Phillies.

-- The Phillies team batting average this year was .260; the Giants’ was .257. Philadelphia hit only 4 more home runs than the Giants did, and had a slugging percentage that was just 5 points higher. The Phillies RBI and Runs totals are much higher, but a lot of that can be attributed to their bandbox ballpark and weaker division (sorry Mets, Marlins and Nationals fans). When it comes to pitching, the Giants are better than the Phillies in everything except walks and WHIP (by a slim margin in the latter category). The stats are relatively even, and nothing implies that the Phillies are going to walk all over the Giants on their way to the World Series.

-- The Phillies’ lineup can be relentless, but stats show that the Giants are a better hitting club than many would think. Plus, the Giants have the pitching to neutralize even the best lineup in baseball. So maybe, just maybe, this will actually be a competitive series. Shocking, I know. I’m not saying that the Giants are going to win this series; the Phillies are a dangerous team with the ability to beat anyone in their path. What irks me, though, are the baseball writers and analysts who aren’t giving the Giants any chance at all. It’s bad enough that the stories about the NLDS mostly centered on the errors made by Brooks Conrad and the rest of the Braves’ defense or Bobby Cox’s retirement rather than the Giants’ performance; now, the stories are focusing on how dominant the Phillies are and what an easy road they have to another Series appearance. No one seems to be talking about the Giants.

"I'll put the winning run on base and you still won't be able to hit me"

It occurs to me that Brian Wilson is the single most under-rated player on the Giants because people get distracted by 1. the hair 2. the stellar starters 3. the park 4. the lack of offense.

When Wilson does his thing at the end of home games, much of the rest of the country is fast asleep. He didn't pitch Thursday and then imploded Friday night, which left the impression of not ready for prime time. But he's been stunningly solid the last two nights in Atlanta. Lefty Malo inspired me to write the above after I read this part of his inspired post -- (boldface is mine)

Brian Wilson did exactly what he wanted to do tonight in the ninth inning. I've heard him say that when he decides not to let a certain hitter beat him, he'll be stubborn about it, even walk him rather than give in. That's what you saw tonight. Ankiel, then Hinske: both have homered this series on pitches middle-in. The only time Wilson came in on either hitter was a fastball above the hands. Go back and check if you Tivo'd it. I'm going by memory, but I think I'm right. Everything else was outside corner. Wilson pounded it, even when falling behind in the count. Better to miss six inches off the corner than down the middle. No way is Ankiel or that jellyroll Hinske, taking me deep. I've never seen such extreme confidence, basically saying I'll put the winning run on base and you still won't be able to hit me. He then abused Omar Infante with cutters/sliders away, breaking off the last one for the strikeout with some serious Robb Nen action. Finally Melky Cabrera, another lefty, decided not to wait for an inside pitch and poked at a high, away fastball. Uribe grabbed it behind third and threw high and wide across the diamond, a throw that seemed to take forever, and only when Travis Ishikawa made a balletic reach, and toe-pivot, and twist, and grab, all with the chunky Melky rumbling down the line toward him, was the game and the series finally over.

Three wins down, eight to go

"I don't believe it" -- Russ Hodges, Oct. 3, 1951

Well, it wasn't that kind of game tonight in Atlanta but still, it's kind of hard to imagine that the Giants are now in the NLCS. Grant at McCovey Chronicles notes that May 29 may have been the day that the season turned the corner when the Giants brought up Buster Posey Fresno and signed Pat The Bat to a minor league contract and assigned him to Fresno.

I would add that the day that the Giants brought up Madison Bumgarner was a key turning point. Henry Schulman's game story for the SF Chronicle notes that tonight he was the youngest pitcher to start in the postseason since Brett Saberhagen in 1984.

Madison started June 26 against the Bosox and lost his first two starts, then won his next four. Barry Zito could learn a thing or two about professionalism from this guy.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Christmas comes early for the Giants

In an unbelievable season, today's 3-2 vic at Atlanta was the single most stunning game of the year. Brooks Conrad, a guy you never heard of until last week, personally gift-wrapped Game 3 of the NLDS to the Orange and Black thanks to three -- count 'em, three -- egregious errors. That's what you get, Braves fans, for all those years of doing the stupid Tomahawk Chop.

There are some guys who really can't handle the pressure of the playoffs, like Conrad and Byung Hyung-Kim and George Frazier. Just to be on the safe side, I'm hoping that Bochy decides to not let Sergio Romo go for a trifecta of implosions to this particular Braves lineup.

Henry Schulman's game story places Conrad on a short list of multiple error games that led to losses in the postseason, joining Mike Andrews and two Dodgers -- Willie Davis and Rafael Furcal.

Lefty Malo says that Romo has been pretty much unhittable this fall except for the last two games, and notes that purported "genius" Bobby Cox had a huge hand in both Braves losses --.

And I suspect Bochy will maneuver like hell to avoid matching up Romo and power lefties for the rest of the post-season. But you don't toss aside a guy with spectacular bullpen numbers just because of three bad pitches made over two bad outings (and boy oh boy was that slider to Hinske a bad pitch). Unless Romo is injured or clearly unready mentally to handle the playoffs -- poppycock, I say -- Bochy would be foolish to bury such a weapon in the bullpen. Please note that after the home run, Romo bore down and got two more outs. They kept him out there, which stunned me, but I'll bet next time he takes the mound -- perhaps even Monday night -- Romo will be grateful for the extra pitches. The Giants need him to be right.

What would you have done? Give Sanchez one more batter? Bring in a different righty, Casilla perhaps? Hit it to Conrad?

The real spotlight -- more like the bare bulb in the interrogation room -- should really be centered on Bobby Cox, who has now made two hugely questionable moves: walking Pablo Sandoval to get to Cody Ross in Game 1, and not subbing his all-glove, no-bat reserve infielder Diory Hernandez for the all-bat, no-glove Conrad to start the ninth.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Another Sunday, another Sanchez start

Five runs in two games, 14 in five

Friday, October 08, 2010

"I needed to get 6 outs and I didn't"

That's Brian Wilson summing up what went wrong tonight in Andrew Baggarly's game story for the San Jose Mercury News.

He also said, "It's already past me. Game's over."

First off, let me just say that Armando Benitez would have never said anything like that.

Bruce Bochy gambled that Wilson could put the hammer down on the annoying Braves and it blew up in his face. I think it was the right move, kind of, sort of. Romo came in at the top of the 8th and wasn't effective, so Bochy turned to the guy who's been the closest to lights out this year. How was anyone to know that he'd be largely ineffective in the 8th (though he was in excellent form in the 9th)? Here's a fine post from Lefty Malo, who's always got a smart, sharp take --

Sometimes a team loses because good people have bad days. The Giants were poised to win this game twice, first when Sergio Romo and Brian Wilson were lined up for the 8th and 9th innings with a three-run lead, and second when Buster Posey came to the plate against perennial underachiever Kyle Farnsworth with the bases loaded in the 10th.

As you know, Romo and Wilson combined to give up the lead in the 8th, and Posey grounded sharply into a 5-4-3 double play to end the threat in the 10th. It wasn't a great pitch -- a slider that hung over the inside corner, but Posey chopped down on it. Credit second baseman Infante for taking a poor throw from 3B Glaus and making a strong pivot. Ten minutes later, Ramon Ramirez threw a 2-2 fastball down the middle to Rick Ankiel, and the torture was in full effect.

I caught a few minutes of KNBR after the game and heard a few callers saying Bochy should be fired. I couldn't figure out why. He pushed all the right buttons. Lopez relieved Cain and got a key strikeout. When Romo gave up two quick hits in the 8th, Bochy went straight for Wilson for a potential six-out save. I loved that. It made perfect sense.

Sandoval's error was huge; should Bochy have swapped him out defensively earlier? What could he have done otherwise? Tell Wilson and Ramirez not to throw fastballs down the middle? Swing the bat for Posey? Replace Pat Burrell before he makes an error that leads to a run? Sorry: Pat taketh away but far more often giveth and giveth, at least this year.

This was a painful loss, but it doesn't leave lingering regrets that one thing or another should have happened differently. Good people -- the right people -- simply made the wrong pitches or hit the ball to the wrong spot, and the Braves were good enough tonight to capitalize. If that doesn't sound angry enough, sorry. I'd play the key situations in this game over again in the exact same way, and in a parallel universe, far more often than not, the Giants would win.

Going to Atlanta, I feel pretty good about this series. Now excuse me while I run screaming around the block a few times before I go to sleep.

I wish I'd been there

A poster named Jeff left this insightful comment on John Perricone's Only Baseball Matters --

Most amazing pitching performance I have ever seen. We were there so I don’t know what it looked like on TV, but from 225 it looked like the stud little league pitcher throwing to over matched kids. Derek Lee had no ability at all to hit the slider. None. And that pitch was rattling around in his dome so much that he could not catch up to the fast ball. Just unfair. Timmy was stronger in the ninth than the first. He showed us a whole new gear that I guess he saves for the playoffs. The great ones always do.

Not sure if it came across on TV, but the crowd was chanting “Buster’s Better” clap-clap clap-clap-clap when Jason Heyward was up. Hilarious.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Nine swings, nine misses

Wall to wall Tim

Hard to believe that any playoff pitching performance could come close to Roy Halladay's no-hitter yesterday until tonight's masterpiece by Tim Lincecum.

My wife noted how quickly this game went -- not even 2:30. That has a lot to do with Tim's approach, I believe. Except for Omar Infante's leadoff double and Brian McCann's mid-game double, nobody on the Braves looked even close to comfortable.

My favorite moment was with 2 out in 8th when Eric Hinske tried to rattle Tim by calling time with 2 strikes on him. It turned out that it was a desperate move. When Hinske got back in, he swung at a breaking ball that bounced before it made it to the plate.

The mlb.com story notes that the 14Ks was a new postseason record for the Orange and Black, breaking a record Jack Sanford set in Game 5 of the 1962 World Series.

That game was a heartbreaker -- Sanford carried a 2-2 tie into the 8th and gave up a 3-run homer to Tom Tresh, of all people.

Susan Slusser of the Chronicle says the Braves and Giants were both very low-key in how they reacted to tonight's game, particularly over the ump missing a close call in the 4th on Posey's steal of second. "Them's the breaks," they admitted.

Guillen out with neck injury

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle interviews Jose Guillen about how banged up he is, what with a bulging disc.

It raises questions as to why Bruce Bochy insisted on his being played so extensively in the last few weeks of the season when he was obviously ineffective, particularly when Cody Ross and Nate Schierholtz were available. I give props to Guillen for giving it his best, but shouldn't coaches have a better handle on how healthy their players are?

Mota makes it; Guillen, Zito, Ray left off

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News has just posted the 25-man roster for the NLDS. He's not surprised that Guillen didn't make it. Also left off are Darren Ford and Dan Runzler.

Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle believes Guillen has a neck injury. Anyhow, here it is --

Pitchers (11)

41 Jeremy Affeldt LHP
40 Madison Bumgarner LHP
18 Matt Cain RHP
46 Santiago Casilla RHP
55 Tim Lincecum RHP
49 Javier Lopez LHP
59 Guillermo Mota RHP
52 Ramon Ramirez RHP
54 Sergio Romo RHP
57 Jonathan Sanchez LHP
38 Brian Wilson RHP

Catchers (2)

28 Buster Posey C
22 Eli Whiteside C

Infielders (7)

14 Mike Fontenot IF
17 Aubrey Huff IF
10 Travis Ishikawa IF
16 Edgar Renteria IF
21 Freddy Sanchez IF
48 Pablo Sandoval IF
5 Juan Uribe IF

Outfielders (5)

9 Pat Burrell OF
13 Cody Ross OF
33 Aaron Rowand OF
12 Nate Schierholtz OF
56 Andres Torres OF

He also just tweeted this fun fact -- extrabaggs

Rookie cleanup hitters for a playoff team since 1920: E. Longoria, M. Cabrera, A. Pujols, J. Lindeman, S. Musial... and likely Buster Posey.


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Zito out, Rowand in

I'm not a convert to loving Brian Sabean

The Giants won the NL West despite GM Brian Sabean's awful moves, such as the deals for Barry Zito, Mark DeRosa, Aaron Rowand and Edgar Renteria. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle is claiming in a lamebrained story today that people who believe Sabean should have been fired have now changed their tune.

Not me. This is the guy who kept Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner in the minors for the first third of the season. This is the guy who had Bengie Molina as a cleanup hitter this year and had Todd Wellemeyer in the starting rotation. His best move was not trading Jonathan Sanchez. In short, if most people had done their jobs for the last six years as poorly as Sabean, they would have been fired.

One thing that's especially annoying about Shea's Sabean suck-up -- the continued insistence that Sabean is somehow not responsible for the Zito deal. Please, John. I know you have to keep Sabean as a source, but why do you insist on re-writing history? Here's the fact -- Sabean was the GM when the deal was signed. Nothing can change that despite your efforts to make it seem like he shouldn't accountable for it. Next thing we know, you'll be saying that the Rowand, DeRosa, Blownitez, Roberts, Klesko, Alfonzo and Renteria deals weren't really Brian the Brain's deals either.

Did the acquisitions of Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez help? No doubt. But the key move was deciding to bring up Buster -- long after it was evident to most intelligent people that it was the obvious move. It was flat out stupid to keep him in Fresno for the first third of the season. Had Sabean not been brain dead about it and started the season with Posey in SF and Bengie out of SF, the Giants would probably have wrapped up the NL West long before the 162nd game.

If Sabean were honest about it, he'd admit that Buster Posey, Brian Wilson and Jonathan Sanchez saved his job. He never will, since he never admits to doing anything wrong, so I will.

Giants Vs. Phils?

I realize that there's the little matter of getting past the Braves, but it's hard not to wonder about the Phils after Roy Halladay's no-hitter. Talk about making a statement!

Anyhow, the Giants split six games with the Phils this year, winning two at home and one in Philly. They dominated the last game six weeks ago, 5-2, as Jonathan Sanchez pitched into 9th with 7 strikeouts, 2 hits and one walk.

"That's how irrational I've become"

Kevin O'Brien at Remember '51 has an entertaining and insightful post about the Giants making the playoffs. Here are a couple of highlights, including several lines that I am boldfacing because they made me laugh out loud--

--The guy we expected to be money in the bank offensively (Pablo Sandoval) was far from it. The local guy we all had hope for (John Bowker) came manifested in another form (Burrell). The vets whom Bochy seemingly couldn't bench last year (Rowand and Renteria) were finally put on the bench when it mattered the most. And the guy we thought we wanted (Nick Johnson) tanked, while the guy we thought was a mistake (Aubrey Huff) proved to be everything we did want and more.

--2009 was a great year. No doubt. But 2010 was special and special in a way that you just can't explain. How could you explain Sabean holding his guns at the trade deadline when everyone was telling him to trade Jonathan Sanchez for whatever bat he could? (Cough...Cody Ross...cough). How could you explain three washed up relievers (Santiago Casilla, Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez) suddenly become late-inning studs? How could you explain a rookie catcher (Buster Posey) not only handle one of the league's best staffs, but help make them better?

--I'm a pessimist by nature when it comes to Giants baseball. Game 6 haunts me. Playing in Miami in October haunts me. Livan Hernandez haunts me. Steve Finley haunts me. And after the Giants dropped two in a row to start off this series, I was thinking "Great, these ghosts simply won't go away."

--And I still am in utter shock/disbelief/elation. I haven't wrote a post on this blog for almost three months. Work caught up with me, but the Giants started winning when I stopped posting and I didn't want to jinx them. That's how irrational I've become. For every post I write about how Andres Torres can't be judged on his past MLB numbers, I do things like not posting because I fear I might blow the Giants playoffs chances.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

53% chance of winning

That's what David Pinto of Baseball Musings is predicting --

So looking at the pitching staff against the offenses, it strikes me that the Braves batters strength, drawing walks, exploits the one weakness in the Giants staff. The Giants batters strength, hitting home runs, is also a strength of the Braves pitchers. So, the series comes down to, can the Braves collect enough hits to score some of the batters who walk, and can the Giants hitters manage to hit a few home runs off the Braves staff.

I suspect this will be a close, low scoring series. That favors the team that can hit the long ball and quicken the offense. My pick is the Giants with a 53% chance of winning.

Who's probably on the playoff roster

Roster setting deadline is 10 a.m Thursday. Though he says these aren't the guys he'd pick, Andrew Baggarly at the San Jose Mercury News believes that it's these 25 guys --Pitchers (11): Lincecum, Cain, JSanchez, Zito, Bumgarner, Wilson, Romo, Lopez, Casilla, Ramirez, Affeldt.

Catchers (2): Posey, Whiteside

Infielders (6): Huff, FSanchez, Uribe, Sandoval, Fontenot, Ishikawa

Outfielders (6): Guillen, Burrell, Torres, Ross, Schierholtz, Rowand

He says that the guys who should be on are Mota instead of Zito and Renteria rather than Guillen. Here are his selections: Pitchers (11): Lincecum, Cain, JSanchez, Bumgarner, Wilson, Romo, Lopez, Casilla, Ramirez, Affeldt, Mota.

Catchers (2): Posey, Whiteside **

Infielders (7): Huff, FSanchez, Uribe, Sandoval, Fontenot, Ishikawa, Renteria

Outfielders (5): Burrell, Torres, Ross, Schierholtz, Rowand

The most interesting part is his contention that Zito shouldn't be on the roster. I strongly agree. He's a laughingstock and a punchline. At this point, the Giants need to figure out what roster has the best chance of getting 11 more wins. It's hard to see how Zito will contribute to that goal. Here's what Baggarly posted --

The deciding factor for me: Bumgarner hasn’t pitched scared. Not once. And Zito just looked petrified in a big game.

(Of course, if the Giants are down 2-1 and face elimination in Game 4 in Atlanta, it might not matter. I’ve got to think the Giants would be tempted to turn to Tim Lincecum on three days of rest.)

If Zito isn’t in the rotation, I don’t see any way he’s on the roster. He takes too long to warm up and has almost no experience relieving. I think Mota would be the long man and Zito would be a cheerleader.