Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The stopper returns

Finally, Tim Lincecum delivers a big W when the Giants most needed it.

It sounds as if the Mets were chasing pitches far out of the strike zone but Tim did a great job getting David Wright out in the 7th with a curve with the bases loaded and two out. Here's part of Henry Schulman's game story -- 

  The Mets loaded the bases with one out, and a Josh Thole lineout set the stage for a thrilling confrontation with pinch-hitter David Wright.
Working with Buster Posey for the first time since a June 16 loss at Seattle, Lincecum got the count to 2-2 before freezing Wright with a curveball that surely made Barry Zito proud.
"When Timmy's good, he has a knack for making great pitches when he has to," manager Bruce Bochy said, "and he did right there with the game on the line."
Posey not only called a good game but also withstood what seemed like 20 Lincecum pitches that bounced up and clobbered him. Over the past six weeks Bochy preferred anybody but Posey catching Lincecum. Now, they might be paired more often.

Pence for Nate and Tommy Joseph

Well, it looks like we're going to see Nate Schierholtz, who never managed to be any more than a fourth outfield, head off to Philly.

I always will go back to Nate's walkoff in the 14th inning last year on July 6 as the highlight of his time in the Orange and Black. Here's the latest from Andrew Baggarly

The deal is Joseph, Schierholtz and Single-A RHP Seth Rosin for Pence. To be announced shortly.

Pence in the Orange and Black?

Monday, July 30, 2012

At least the Dodgers lost

This one felt like a game that the Giants were just not going to win, no matter what. 

The Giants have just lost their 5th in a row in a demoralizing meltdown by the bullpen, with Romo giving up 4 in the 8th and Casilla giving up two in 10th. Hey Bruce -- Could we just have the pitchers agree to walk Scott Hairston for the rest of the series? Thanks.

UPDATE -- Henry Schulman's game story for the SF Chron notes that both Aubrey Huff and Angel Pagan injured themselves during the game -- Huff while running to first and Pagan while slamming his hand in frustration. Anyone who says these guys aren't trying hard is full of it. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Brian Sabean should be ashamed

That's my thought as the Dodgers sweep the Giants on back to back shutouts. Geez, Brian -- how about getting some guys who can hit the ball? Why is that so hard to do?

The Giants are now dead last in HRs at 62 and 26th in the MLB in runs scored with 401. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a lousy front office, even with the Jonathan Sanchez for Melky Cabrera deal. They are 24th in walks and 24th in pitches seen -- which means that they are swinging at crappy pitches far too often.

As I've said multiple time, it wouldn't hurt to fire the batting coach

Year in and year out --it's the same problem. The offensive "leader" today was Gregor Blanco with a single and a walk. Posey, Belt, Scutaro and Pagan also got singles. 

I endeavor not to be bitter about these kind of losses but being shut out back to back at home ought to make the suits realize that they've done a lousy job -- particularly given that the team has world-class pitching that's good enough to get into the postseason

Saturday, July 28, 2012

My fave game of 1989

I've probably posted about it before but I thought of it today when the Giants were down 7-0 in the 8th to the Dodgers but managed to load the bases with singles by Scutaro, Crawford and Schierholtz. I couldn't help but think of the Sept. 20, 1989 game when the Giants were down 7-0 to the Dodgers, then got 3 in the sixth on an Ernie Riles bomb. Then the 9th went like this -- 

Kevin Mitchell - HR
Ernie Riles - Single
Matt Williams - Double
Terry Kennedy - Single
Chris Speier - Double
Greg Litton - Single
Brett Butler - Single

In other words, the Dodgers faced seven batters in the 9th and failed to get a single one out.

At that point, the Orange and Black were 88-64 and 5 games up on the Padres with 10 to go.  
And we fans knew that this team would indeed win the NL West. 

They finished the season 92-70 and then steamrolled the Cubs 4-1 in the NLCS.  

A close second for my favorite game, of course, was the last game of the NLCS with the clutch 2-RBI hit by Will the Thrill in the 8th. 

Where's the 2010 Aubrey Huff?

I'm pretty sure that the 2010 Aubrey Huff is gone for good. 

In a day where just about everything could go wrong for the Giants, Aubrey Huff came back from the DL. He was back on the field, with Sandoval now on the DL and actually got into the game today in time to replace Brandon Belt on a double switch. Then he went 0-for-2.

To me, Huff was the worst disappointment of the game. I was listening to his second at bat in the 8th with two runners on base and one out and thinking, "What if he just hit one into the bay, because two years ago, he was that kind of player."

Huff then struck out. He is the biggest single reminder that 2010 is a memory, not a destiny. 

He's one of the biggest disappointments in recent memory for Giants fans. He had a stellar year in 2010 and got rewarded, then decided that he didn't need to be in shape. Whether or not he's in shape any more is moot -- he simply isn't able to play at the MLB level any longer.

Grant at McCovey Chronicles has an amusing post about how annoying this game was -- to the point that it was so annnoying that the only thing could have made it worse would have been a season-ending injury. To recap -- 

-- What do you start with? Has to be Zito. Lincecum's season is more depressing, so when he gets knocked around, you feel more of the sting. But if we're talking bad -- objectively bad, distasteful baseball that makes you want to follow indoor lacrosse -- it has to be Zito. At least with Lincecum, there's a small part of you that still hopes the old Lincecum is trapped in there, like John Cusack at the end of Being John Malkovich. But Zito is Zito is Zito. You know these games are coming. And it has to be a Zito start with deflating first-inning runs. No one does deflating quite as well as Zito.

-- The opponent has to be the Dodgers. That's not up for discussion.

-- The offense would need to be feckless. It would need to be a soporific, wholly numbing affair, with groundout after groundout. 

-- Brandon Belt would have to strike out looking. It would need to be on a ball, too, so you couldn't even be mad at him. Mildly disgusted is fine, of course. Then Bruce Bochy would have to double-switch him out early in the middle part of the game for Aubrey Huff, whom I respect and admire, and who will always be a part of Giants lore forever and ever, but who can't play baseball anymore.

--  Leadoff doubles would be hit. Leadoff doubles would be stranded. Grounders to the right at the wrong time. Grounders hit to the left at the worst time. Grounders.

-- The Dodgers' new player would do new, exciting things. He would look like a rejuvenated star, a guy who should have taken three top prospects to acquire. The Giants' new player would look like a Giant. 

-- There'd be a whimper of a rally in the late innings -- nothing that would help the team win, mind you, but maybe they wouldn't get shut out! The easy conquest of lowered expectations. There'd even be a hit with a runner in scoring position. That runner would not score.

-- Brandon Crawford would make an error that would lead to a run. You know, just to remind you of those yips from earlier in the season.

-- George Kontos would have a bad game in a low-leverage situation that would somehow make people forget the 16 good outings he had since joining the Giants.

-- In the seventh inning, a beach ball would onto the field and stop play.

-- Oh, hey, more Dodger runs in the eighth against Brad Penny. I'm sure he'll turn it around. Keep pitching him. Those last several hundred innings were probably just a fluke. Maybe if you let his strikeout rate dip any lower, maybe he'll invite you to hang out in "The Shed."

-- Hanley Ramirez doing a stupid gimmicky thing every time he reached base. "I am a fancy debutante at a fancy ball, and I am looking at you through my bejeweled peacock mask! Aren't we having a delightful time?" More grounders.

Bye bye Burriss

Remember 1982

I say that because 30 years ago at the end of the season, the Giants also lost a pair of Friday night and Saturday games out at the Stick -- 5-1 and 11-0 if I recall. The Dodgers then gagged away the last game of the season on Joe Morgan's stunning 3-run homer on Sunday.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Scutaro in the Orange and Black

Just as Justin Christian logged a feeble pinch hit out in the 7th, I saw that the Giants have traded Charlie Culberson to the Rox for Marco Scutaro. I hope this means that the Giants will stop giving at bats to Christian and to Manny Burriss-- who just aren't MLB caliber.  

Scutaro is 36 and was having a respectable season in Denver and was a pretty solid player for the previous four years with successive WARs of 4.1 and 5.2 in Toronto, followed by 2.6 and 2.4 in Boston. He can play anywhere but has logged most of his starts at short and second.

The 2009 season is particularly impressive -- he was the third most valuable player on the team after Doc Halladay (6.6 WAR) and Aaron Hill (5.6). He scored 100 runs with 12 HRs and 60 RBIs.  

The trade was announced with Ryan Theriot having gone 0-for-5 and Brandon Crawford going 0-for-2 with two walks. Hanley Ramirez just hit a disgusting 2-run two-out homer in the 10th after umpire Ed Hickox blew a call 3-2 pitch on the black to Andre Ethier. Joaquin Arias went 1-for-5 and just flew out weakly with 2 on in the 10th to end it.

The game should not have even been in extras but the front office's utter inability to get decent bats has doomed this team to occasionally losing a game like this.Burriss has gotten 144 at bats so far this year -- about 144 too many. 

Arias is a fine fielder but has already gotten 214 plate appearances while racking up a 0.2 WAR. He doesn't hit enough to merit that kind of playing time. Theriot has a 0.3 WAR and should be a backup, not a starter.  

But the worst is Burriss and perhaps this finally means that the Burriss Experiment is over at long last. He has racked up 795 plate appearances in 5 seasons and assembled a -2.3 WAR, including a -1.0 this year. Why he's still on the roster is beyond me.

From the official team site -- here's some verbiage -- 

  Besides being defensively versatile, Scutaro bats right-handed, a commodity the Giants coveted. He hit .271 with four home runs and 30 RBIs in 94 games this season with the Rockies, who obtained him from Boston in a January trade. Scutaro has built a .270 career batting average with 72 homers and 434 RBIs while playing for the Mets (2002-03), A's (2004-07) and Blue Jays (2008-09), besides the Red Sox and Rockies.

Stop whining, Vin

OK, Vin Scully is a decent -- but over-rated -- announcer. He's going on and on right now about how unfair it is that the bullpens are on the field after Jerry Hairston was unable to catch a foul fly in left when he had to run up a mound.

Typical Dodger whining, if you ask me. Why don't you whine about the crappy security at Chavez Latrine, instead, or the stupid rule that lets dingbats like Scott Cousins maim catchers, Vin?

3 games up again

Thanks to the Dodgers gagging in St. Louis, the Giants are back to 3 games up in the NL West -- the first time in eight days since the Giants turned in that memorable 9-4 vic in 11 innings in Atlanta on the back to back 3-run homers by Crawford and Blanco. 

I looked back at the 2010 season, when the Giants trailed San Diego for much of the season before moving into first in September as the Padres fell apart. They made it 3 games up only once -- on the Padres with a 4-1 vic in Game 159. They lost the next two and then won on the last day of the season. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dodgers now 0-2 in the Hanley era

The Cards gave the Giants a nice boost today by beating down the Dodgers again despite the presence of Hanley Ramirez.

The Dodgers had won 5 in a row prior to last night. If the Giants sweep this weekend series, they will have lost 5 in a row.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Thanks, Jamey!

Nothing like a Dodger choke to take the edge off a tough Giants loss. 

Ex-Giant Jamey Wright melted down in the 12th to give the Cards a 3-2 vic over the Dodgers, spoiling Hanley Ramirez' debut. Rafael Furcal got the winning hit. Plenty of good Dodger hating in St. Louis!

More payback to the Giants for being awful when he was in the Orange and Black. He was also terrible on July 2 at Chavez Latrine. How this guy has managed to hang on is a bit of a mystery. Oh well.

Hey, Hanley -- better get used to guys finding it hard to win because they have one hand on their throats. Thank you, I'm here all week. 

Damn depressing

Tim Lincecum has just left in the 5th inning trailing 5-1 at home. The consistency that we fans treasured has vanished. He just can't close out innings.

UPDATE -- Final score was 6-3. Chris Haft's story for mlb.com notes that Tim had been in a "mini-resurgence" and that all the runs were scored with two outs.

Hanley goes to the Dodgers

Happy birthday, Barry Bonds

He's 48 today (Tuesday). He was a Giant from 1993 through 2007 and gave us fans postseason play in 1997, 2000,  2002 and 2003 along with a dedication to winning games that was quite remarkable.

In case you're wondering, I get to decide what comments get published so if you're thinking about saying something like "Barry is evil," don't waste your time. I won't publish it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"I knew I had it after three steps"

That's what Angel Pagan said after the game in an interview with Dave Fleming about his remarkable catch in center in the 8th to start a double play preserve the win. "That may be the play of the year," said Duane Kuiper, who was a pretty good defender in his day. 

The Giants clutched up tonight to squeeze out a classic 3-2 vic over the Padres with tight defense, great pitching and clutch hitting -- with hits only in the first and ninth. Pagan, who's been slumping, got the first hit in the 9th after Belt walked. and Brandon Crawford drove in the winner.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Vogelsong, Verlander, Zimmerman

That headline looks like a law firm -- but it's the answer to a trivia question that Duane Kuiper and Dave Flemming offered up during the radiocast tonight: who are the 3 pitchers who have gone at least 6 innings in every start this year. Ryan Vogelsong, Justin Verlander and Jordan Zimmerman.

Just heard on the MLB Network that Vogelsong -- after tonight's 7-1 buttkick of the Padres -- has a 1.41 ERA at home, the best mark in the majors.

Vogelsong won't get noticed as much as Buster Posey, who is raking much as he did in July of 2010. He went 3-for-4 tonight, including a 3-run jack that put the game out of reach. But what was as memorable to me was his throwing out Logan Forsythe to end the top of the 4th at second with a perfect throw to Theriot. "Wow," said Kuip, who knows a thing or two about throws to second base.

John Shea notes in his game story for the SF Chronicle that it's only the 14th time that a Giant has homered to the right field arcade in the 13 years of AT&T Park and Buster was the last one in July 2010.

He's batting .513 with 17 rbis in his last 10 games.

Perez in the Orange and Black?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Staying in first with a change at first

With the Dodgers now only a game and a half out of first, the Giants have little margin for error. 

Brandon Belt had a terrible road trip and has stopped hitting. It's gotten so bad that Bruce Bochy is considering bringing Sandoval over from third and starting Joaquin Arias, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Had Aubrey Huff been ready to go, Schulman says, Belt might have been sent to Fresno. Except for Huff's 2010, first base has been a big problem for the Orange and Black. Many of us thought Belt was the answer .... 

It strikes me that Sabean signed some extremely bad contracts in the wake of the 2010 World Series vic -- Huff for two years at $22 million; Freddy Sanchez for two years at $12 mil; Miguel Tejada for a year at $6.5 million.

Unlucky 12th

The Giants have just lost for only the second time this season in extras as Brad Penny fell apart in the bottom of the 12th. Best news - Barry Zito delivered another decent start. Andrew Baggarly notes in his recap for CSN Bay Area that Zito started the games at the start and end of the road trip to ATL and Philly...and apperass to be pitching consistently when it counts (my comment -- for a change) --

The Giants had a 4.85 road ERA when this trip began – the third worst in the major leagues. So Zito stepped up in a huge way with a solid outing in Tuesday’s series opener at Atlanta.

Zito ended the trip with another highly effective start at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park, holding the Phillies to three runs on five hits in seven innings while setting a season high with seven strikeouts.

There were more than a few white-knuckle moments, though. The Phillies hit him mighty hard in the first inning but only got one run out of the deal.

Zito caught his first break when third baseman Pablo Sandoval snagged leadoff man Jimmy Rollins’ line drive. Shane Victorino walked and scored on Chase Utley’s triple as the UCLA alum got the better of Zito.

But Zito, the former USC lefty, got a big assist from another Bruins alum. After Zito hit Ryan Howard with a pitch, shortstop Brandon Crawford made a deft backhand pickup of Hunter Pence’s grounder and threw off his back foot to start a double play.

It was a rough beginning, but Zito settled down and flashed some of the best offspeed stuff he’s thrown all year. He escaped another jam in the third when he struck out Howard on a curveball that followed a series of cutters.

But Mayberry ripped a hanging, 3-2 slider in the fourth inning for a tying, solo shot. Mayberry jumped on the first pitch he saw in his next at-bat – another slider, this one located a bit better – that put the Phillies ahead.

Zito was undeterred by the two shots. He struck out the next two batters and issued just one walk on the day. He’s only issued two walks over his last two starts.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

12 over .500

That, ladies and gentleman, is where your San Francisco Giants are now after eking out a 6-5 vic in Philly in extras. It's the high mark of the season at 53-41 and translates out to a 92-70 record. They got there in a wacky way thanks to a redemptive move by Gregor Blanco, as Henry Schulman explains in his game story for the SF Chron -- 

The Giants' most frustrating moment came in the eighth inning of a 5-5 game with Posey at third base and one out. Blanco, who entered the game when Angel Pagan was ejected, missed a suicide-squeeze sign, and Posey was tagged out.
In confirming the missed sign, manager Bruce Bochy said, "We weren't trying a kamikaze play with Buster."
Before Blanco came to bat in the 10th against Jonathan Papelbon with runners on the corners and one out, Bochy gave him the option to try a safety squeeze.
Blanco noticed Friday that Utley and Howard were not moving well after their respective knee and foot injuries. When the count reached 3-1, Blanco employed the element of surprise and dropped a perfect bunt up the first-base line. Howard charged it, but Utley was late getting to first base. Blanco had a single without a throw, and Cabrera scored the go-ahead run.
"I said to myself, 'I'm going to have another opportunity to win this game,' " Blanco said. "When the count got to 3-1, I thought that was the right moment to bunt it. I did, and it worked."

Friday, July 20, 2012

Crawford coming on

Tim's back!?!?

Oh, my. He's just won his fourth game and thoroughly dominated the Phils at Citizens Bank. Man, it's about time...and hopefully, he's now put it together.

Nice lift for us Giants fans on a downbeat day, given the tragic events in Colorado. Chris Haft's story for mlb.com notes that Brandon Crawford hit his first grannie since his debut game in May, 2011. 

Crawford also hit a 3-run bomb in the 11th two days ago in the ATL. He now has six MLB homers.

UPDATE -- Grant at McCovey Chronicles has a good game recap and makes an excellent point about Tim's most crucial pitch tonight -- 

  There was this microanalysis of every single pitch Lincecum threw, and it all went into the same Cuisinart until nothing made sense. When he loaded the bases in the fourth, his first pitch to Placido Polanco was exceptional. A knee-buckling breaking ball that still caught the strike zone. Called strike. It was the best pitch he could have thrown.
How could a broken pitcher make that pitch? I get it if a pitcher has the yips like Rick Ankiel, or if he's hurt, or if his stuff is totally nonexistent. But when a pitcher can sit 91/92 and still break hitters down like that, I don't understand how they can get hit so hard.
I didn't understand how Lincecum could be so bad. I still don't get it. But the best part is that now I get to think of him being so danged good. Two starts in a row. His good starts have come against the Padres, Astros, A's, Dodgers, and Phillies, and I'm pretty sure all of those teams hit like the '08 Giants after a nasty flu goes around the clubhouse, so we probably shouldn't get carried away. But this is clearly better than the alternative. Lincecum looked really good tonight, even out of the stretch. That's two starts in a row. Can't get more welcome than that.

Jonathan Sanchez to the Rox

The Royals and Rox pulled off a trade -- Sanchez for Guthrie, two pitchers who could possibly benefit from a change of scenery. From the Thomas Harding story for mlb.com


Neither pitcher had much success this season. Sanchez, 29, was 1-6 with a 7.76 ERA in 12 starts for the Royals before being designated for assignment Tuesday. Guthrie, 33, was 3-9 with a 6.35 ERA in 19 games, including 15 starts, for the Rockies. He was 1-5 with a 9.50 ERA in nine games at Coors.

Memories of Jonathan Sanchez

A poster named Leftyqb6 posted on the McCovey Chronicles site an amusing reason why Jonathan Sanchez has been DFAd -- 

I live in suburban Atlanta, and my wife and I made plans to go to game 4 (which ended up being the clincher). Ashley is an Atlanta native and likes to claim Braves fanhood, though she rarely watches games unless I'm around and I'm pretty sure she pretends to be a fan just to piss me off. Anyways, we lucked into choice seats...a scalper couldn't move two seats four rows directly behind the Giants dugout and just gave them to us.
At one point during the game, an altercation broke out between two fans a few rows behind us, and all the players standing on the top rail of the dugout turned around to look. Sanchez made eye contact with my wife, who teaches fourth grade at an inner-city elementary school, and glared at her (she was wearing a Braves hat). She gave him her best teacher glare right back. The epic staredown lasted about ten seconds.
Well, you know the rest of the story. Sanchez struggled in his last two starts that postseason, muddled through 2011, got traded to the Royals, and now he's probably in search of a major-league team to be his next employer. I have no way of proving this, but I'm a firm believer that my wife's death stare is what destroyed the career of Jonathan Sanchez.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Buzzkill by the Braves

Well, that didn't take long. I always say that any time a team is faced with giving up a sweep, that team's odds of sweeping become much longer.

Henry Schulman's game story for the Chronicle focuses on Tim Lincecum's start tomorrow in Philly.-- 

Though the Giants failed to complete what would have been their first sweep in Atlanta in 24 years, they did capture only their second series in 18 tries at Turner Field.
The Giants scored nine runs in each of the wins, but the proper tone was set by Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Bumgarner, who together allowed four runs in 20 innings.
The Giants are a pitching-first team, so the three starters who faced the Braves made an important statement after the 1-5 trip before the break. The staff ERA in those six games was 7.43.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Really, Nate?

Five in a row!

The Giants-dominated All-Star Game turned out to be a portent of things to come -- a five-game win streak with back-to-back 9-run clobberations in Atlanta.

It's the longest streak since that 8-game streak last September, when the Giants went from 75-70 to 83-70 and gave us fans hope that somehow they'd wind up in the postseason. Instead, they went 3-6 the rest of the way.  

That 8th win was a 12-5 buttkick of the Rox. 

Back to back!

That has to be some kind of record -- two 3-run homers in the 11th inning by Brandon Crawford and Gregor Blanco.

What a great vic! 

It also bailed out Santiago Casilla from his fifth blown save in the last eight chances. Henry Schulman's game story for the Chron makes it clear that the Giants are going to find another closer. 

I was so disgusted by the blown save -- a 2-run 2-out homer by Brian McCann in the 10th after Freddy Freeman had hit a 2-strike double -- that I took my doggie for a walk. As we were getting back, I looked at my phone and saw that the Giants had gotten two on with Crawford up. A homer was the last thing I expected.

Anyhow -- I think it's time for closer by committee.

The last man standing

Who would have thought two years ago -- when Barry Zito couldn't win in Game 161 and Jonathan Sanchez closed out the Padres in Game 162 with stout-hearted pitching -- that Barry would throw 7 innings of shutout ball against the Braves on the same day that the KC Royals DFAd Sanchez?

Not me.

Jonathan managed to pitch into the 8th of the NLDS Game 3 against the Braves, leading to the Brooks Conrad giveaway in the 9th. Meanwhile, Zito wasn't even on the postseason roster.

Here's Henry Schulman of SF Chronicle on Zito --  
Eighteen starts into the season, it's getting harder to dismiss the Zito renaissance.
"It's been a real pleasure to see how well he's bounced back, especially after he had a tough spring," Bochy said. "He's tough, mentally tough, and he's done a great job for us."

Dodgers gag in LA

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dodgers gag in Philly

Monday, July 16, 2012

Revisiting the 2010 playoffs

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Giants clobber Astros, 3-2

Dodger gagging explained

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Scoreboard watching at its finest

I got to see the Dodgers suffer one of their worst losses ever tonight at Chavez Latrine. I'm still stunned with happiness.

Essentially, their hot young closer Kenley Jansen went to sleep in the 9th with two outs and two strikes and a one-run lead on the Padres, who had runners at second and third. Evereth Cabrera, who'd been taking huge leads at third, had the brains and savvy to dash home when he saw that Jansen wasn't really paying attention. Jansen made a crappy throw that got away from AJ Ellis, allowing Will Venable -- son of the former Giant Max Venable -- to dash home from second.

Everyone at the Ravine was kind of stunned. A few brainless Dodger fans started booing but none of the Dodgers complained to the umps. They knew right away that Jansen had blown it. Corie Block's story for mlb.com focuses on Cabrera's baserunning rather than on Jansen's boneheadedness. 

Then in the bottom of the 9th, ex-Giant Alex Hinshaw knock out a 1-2-3 inning. The scoreboard showed that the Giants were tied 2-2 in the 11th at that point.

I had seen the scoreboard show the Giants blowing a 2-0 lead in the 9th but it had been a good night for scoreboard as I realized that Tim Lincecum had shut down the Astros.

As I walked out of the Ravine/Latrine amid downcast Dodger fans, the Giants put together three straight singles from Sandoval, Pagan and Hector Sanchez to move into first place.

What a night of baseball! 

Dominant is the right word

Here's how Madison Bumgarner dealt with being snubbed for the All-Star Game. He's now got a legit shot to get to 20 wins this season, what with 75 games left, translating to 15 more starts. 

The game report from Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury-News got it right --

Madison Bumgarner maintains that his vastly different home-road splits are a coincidence, a quirk of the game. That might prove to be true of his road troubles, but there's nothing fluky about Bumgarner's recent dominance at AT&T Park.
He mowed down the Houston Astros in Friday night's 5-1 Giants victory, improving to 7-1 at home this season and lowering his ERA at AT&T Park to 1.81. The last 18 times he has taken the ball at home, Bumgarner has come away with 15 wins.
"I think any pitcher is going to be more comfortable at this park," he said. "It's not a hitter's park."
All pitchers throw better with AT&T Park's spacious alleys behind them, but few have had a stretch like Bumgarner's last two home starts. In 16 innings against the Cincinnati Reds and Astros, Bumgarner has allowed just three hits and one run.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Please stop complaining, Maury Wills

What a numbskull Maury Wills is. He's one of the worst MVP selections ever (1962 over Willie Mays) and managed to get three World Series rings thanks to being on very good Dodger teams in 1959, 1963 and 1965. 

He's convinced himself that he belongs in the Hall of Fame and says maybe the voters are waiting for him to die before they do the right thing. Fortunately, Craig Calcaterra at Harball Talk destroys this assertion --

 He was a 65% base stealer. That’s a net negative according to most analysts, who have pegged a 75% success rate as the point above which stolen base attempts increase run scoring expectancy and below which run scoring expectancy is decreased.
So, Wills’ signature talent — the stolen base — was actually more show than it was useful. Perhaps he should be given points for being the first to bring the running game back to prominence in the 1960s and beyond. I’d be willing to give him those points. But it’s guys like Lou Brock, Joe Morgan, Rickey Henderson and Tim Raines who made steals valuable weapons for their team, not Maury Wills.
Once you take away the steals, Wills was nothing special. A career line of .281/.330/.381 was below league average even for the offensively-depressed 1960s.  He had a couple Gold Gloves, but so do a lot of guys. The line of shortstops with more legit Hall of Fame cases than Wills is long too, and most of these guys probably don’t belong: Trammell. Concepcion. Tony Fernandez. Omar Vizquel. Nomar. Tejada. And when you move beyond shortstop, the list of Hall of Fame snubs is much, much longer.
Maury Wills: nice player for a while. Something of an innovator. In no way whatsoever worthy of a place in the Hall of Fame.  They’re not waiting until he dies to induct him. They’re simply passing reasonable judgment.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dodgers ready to DFA Uribe?

He's currently on something like an 0-for-27 streak right now. What a thing of beauty! 

At this point, he's been so bad as a Dodger that he would have to get some votes for Most Valuable Giant. 

Baseball Reference calculates that Juan was the 4th most valuable Giant in 2009 with a WAR of 3.4 (Lincecum was 7.1, Cain was 5.9 and Sandoval was 4.1). He had a 1.3 WAR in 2010 and that homerun in Game 6 of the NLCS and then, thankfully, turned down and offer of 3 years and $20 million from the Giants so that he could stink it up as a Dodger. 

"The organization is treating me very well"

Melky Cabrera says he's pleased with how the Giants have treated him, according to mlb.com's Chris Haft.

 "I'm a free agent next year, but the Giants organization is treating me very well," said Cabrera, he of the .353 batting average. "So I would welcome staying with the Giants."

Why I can't stand the LA Times

I often say that it's no wonder Dodger fans are so ignorant, given how lousy the LA Times coverage is. Bill Shaikin has a patronizing column today about what a groovy guy Matt Kemp is because he's not made a big deal over losing the MVP to Ryan Braun last season. Braun says he appreciates Kemp. 

That's all well and good. What rubs me the wrong way is that Shaikin states flatly that Braun tested positively for performance enhancing substances -- no qualifiers that this is all an allegation that's never been proven and an allegation that Braun has always disputed. No, Shaikin decides that he can go ahead and criminalize Braun, despite the violations of testing procedure. He apparently believes that the Commissioner's office must always be right, even though the arbitrator threw the case out.

Whatever happened to the word "allegedly"?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Melky's MVP

Great day for us Giants fans as all four guys played terrifically. Melky got two of the biggest hits -- the first hit of the game, which led to the first run, and a two-run homer that had him scoring the last run.

Melky's the first Giant to be the All-Star MVP since Bobby Bonds in 1973. Very nice coverage from Lyle Spencer  of mlb.com-- 

Cabrera is hitting a robust .353 at the break with an NL-high 119 hits. He has explored the vast spaces at AT&T Park, his new home, driving 18 doubles and seven triples to go with eight homers. He has scored 55 runs and driven home 44, and he also has stolen 10 bases while handling left field capably.
"He's hit from wire to wire," catcher Buster Posey said. "He's been consistent, played great defense in left, stolen bases. He's been a great addition for us."
Posey joined Matt Cain, Pablo Sandoval and Cabrera in a Giants-rich NL starting lineup. Cain worked two scoreless innings, and Sandoval unloaded a two-out, three-run triple into the right-field corner to stun the great Verlander in the first.
Cabrera had started the uprising with a single to left, scoring on Braun's double. Three innings later, Cabrera put the finishing touches on the romp when he unloaded a bomb to left against Harrison for his first All-Star Game homer.
"I'm happy for him," Sandoval said. "He's been doing a lot of things for the team. He earned [the MVP]. He enjoyed himself and had a great game.
"Melky is a complete player. He can hit, throw, catch the ball. He does everything to help the team. He's been doing a great job for the team. It's great that the fans gave us the opportunity to be here and show what we can do. I think we showed them how much we appreciate their support."
Cabrera wears No. 53 in tribute to Bobby Abreu, who taught him so many things, on and off the field, after he reached New York in 2005, four years after signing as a free agent out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Given all of his travels, it's almost hard to believe Cabrera is 27, just entering his prime. He'll be eligible for free agency this winter if the Giants don't give him an extension. Cabrera is earning $6 million this season.
Cabrera's former teammate with the Yankees, Robinson Cano, applauded his buddy's performance and MVP award.
"That's great, man," Cano said. "I'm happy. His mom was crying. It was nice. If you don't win, you want to see one of your boys do good. I'm so happy for him. He's getting better every year.
"He's going to get paid."
Sandoval knows his position -- third base. He also knows the general manager, Brian Sabean, makes the personnel decisions.
"I'm not the GM," Sandoval said. "But he's someone you'd like to keep on your team."

"The fans got it right"

Mets fans complained justifiably about David Wright and RA Dickey not starting. Here's the thing -- let's say David Wright had started instead of Pablo Sandoval. Would Wright have hit a 3-run triple in the first? Would Dickey have been able to mow down the AL in the first and second, throwing to Buster Posey? We'll never know. We do know this -- thanks to the Giants, the NL will have home field advantage in the 2012 World Series.

Earth to Lance -- It's an exhibition game. So what if the fans didn't meet your standards? And let me add that perhaps if the Wifi at Chavez Latrine actually WORKED, maybe the results would have been different.

Monday, July 09, 2012

"It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage"

That's a fine quote delivered by Harrison Ford to Karen Allen in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in response to her declaration, "You're not the man I knew ten years ago."

And it's relevant to us Giants fans as we wonder what in the hell happened to our guy Tim Lincecum. I think part of the answer is that during his entire time in the MLB, the Giants have always (except for the final half of the 2010 season) had a crappy offense -- which puts much more pressure on the starting pitchers, the anchor guys: Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner and Vogelsong. He's had 4 seasons of well over 200 innings and the extra added something that made him stand apart seems to have gone away.

 The miracle of Voglesong is the only thing that kept the Giants out of the dumpster last year. Zito's continued uselessness and Jonathan Sanchez' demise notwithstanding. Play-off baseball kills arms, increasing the length of the season by a month,  inclement weather and increasing pressure physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Compounding it with 7 consecutive years of sub-par offense only increased the amount of stress. Instead of coming out after 5 innings with a 4 run lead, starters were relentlessly left in to go maximum pitch counts to keep a game within a run or maintain a tie or one-run lead.  The Giants have ranked at the bottom of every meaningful offensive category since Bonds last year of health which was 2004, with the exception of Aug-Sept 2010 when they ranked 17th in runs scored..

How Bad Offense Affects Good Starting Pitching

They ranked 17th of 30 teams in runs scored in 2010 when they won the World Series. Every year going back to 2005 before and since has been worse. Cain came up for good in 2006. Lincecum in 2007, Bumgarner in 2010, Vogelsong in 2011. None of those pitchers has had the kind of run support that would have enabled them to take an inning off here and there over the years.  Maybe 30 innings over the course of a year. Add it up. Thats a lot of potential quality innings thrown away because of guys like Aaron Rowand, Aubrey Huff,  Mark DeRosa, Freddy Sanchez, Bengie Molina, Edgar Renteria, Miguel Tejada, and just a great number of horrible signings that floundered, then fizzled, and eventually failed.

As Usual The Buck Stops At The Top.
When Sabean became the baseball face of the franchise in 2003 following Baker's departure, things started downhill. Other than Bonds, no more homerun power was to be had. Sabean told Kent that he was no longer wanted. The Giants made some decent draft choices of starting pitching and Buster Posey has had one stellar year and portions of 2 other years. Sandoval is up and down like a Jenny Craig drop-out and Belt is who knows at this point. We will give Sabean credit for recruiting but overpaying, an above average bullpen over the last few years. His evaluation of free-agent starters that signed were Matt Morris, Brett Tomko, and Barry Zito not to mention the millions to Armando Benitez.

Patching together the 1989 "Major League Indians" in 2010 was one thing. Handing out multi-year contracts to multiple-walking-papers Aubrey Huff was quite another. The Aaron Rowand contract was bizarre to say the least. Freddy Sanchez' extension-signing was beyond bizarre as he was obviously and visually crippled to even the most casual of TV viewers at the time. Mark DeRosa played fewer than 60 games in 2 seasons. Renteria was a geriatric rectal plug until the World Series. Bengie Molina made a snail appear supersonic and he couldn't take a pitch even if it was smothered in A-1 sauce.  Blah. Enough of that.

Don't Put This On Lincecum

His old man, Chris Lincecum is right Tim's media critics are out of line and ignorant when they attack his performance. They are worse than petulant children, and of course never understanding that baseball is a team game that relies on offense, never ever takes Sabean to task with any meaningful vigor. Without  Lincecum, the Giants never even sniff the post-season. Let alone win the LDS, LCS and the first WS ever in San Francisco. His failures this year are not because he is an ass-clown like perennial frat-rat Aubrey Huff, or a walking ambulatory case like Freddy Sanchez, or a greedy incompetent like Aaron Rowand and Barry Zito or social juvenile-delinquent misanthrope Pablo Sandoval. Nope.

Tim Lincecum has, had, and always will have the heart of a Triple Crown Winner.  People who boo champions when they break down or are hurt are the scum of the earth. It appears some have reared their ugly ass heads lately.

If Lincecum does not pitch another decent inning in his life, he will always be amongst the best to ever wear a Giants uniform. Nothing can change that.

Mr. Perfecto starting in KC

Tony LaRussa picked Matt Cain to start in tomorrow's All-Star Game over R.A. Dickey. It's hard to believe who started three years ago....

Grant at McCovey Chronicles notes that he's the 6th SF Giant to be the starting pitcher at the ASG-- 

A list of San Francisco Giants who have started the All-Star Game:
Tim Lincecum - 2009
Jason Schmidt - 2003
Rick Reuschel - 1989
Vida Blue - 1978
Juan Marichal - 1965, 1967

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Giants outscore Dodgers, 2-1

Short rope for Tim

Well, this demolished the memory of 7 innings of shutout ball on June 27. It was pretty awful -- the second straight start where Tim Lincecum could not get out of the 4th inning. It's somewhat amazing that the Giants have still managed to stay in contention. I keep wondering if this means it's time to try some time in Fresno and give Brad Penny a try as a starter. Here's what Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle just tweeted --

Lincecum ends first half with a 6.42 ERA, worst of all qualifying starters. This can't go on in second half. Rope must get extremely short.

Here's another --  Lincecum on the road this year: 47 innings, 47 earned runs.

Update -- with the score 10-2 in the 7th, Andrew Baggarly is conceding --

Lincecum is doomed to become Giants' first 10-game loser at the break since Barry Zito (4-12, 5.62 ERA) in 2008.

Here's Schulman again with the final at 13-2

Good news for Giants. Run differential is not a playoff tiebreaker. .

Hector Sanchez = Bengie Molina?

It's too early to tell but what made me post is that Hector Sanchez has one walk all season so the comparison seems apt. He has 31 hits in 118 ABs, including eight extra base hits and has knocked in 22 runs. But one walk -- jeez, Barry Zito has 4 walks. Still, he's only 22 and apparently can hit MLB pitching a lot better than Eli Whiteside. 

Even Bengie had a career walk rate with 208 BBs in over 5,100 plate appearances. His lack of plate discipline was memorable. I can still see him popping up on pitches in the dirt. He did hit a fair amount of HRs in his first 3 seasons in the Orange and Black -- 20, 16 and 19 -- and drove in 95 runs in his first season in 2007. Baseball Reference gives him a WAR (wins above replacement) of 1.7 in 2008, the second best season in a career with a total 8.3 WAR.

Bengie didn't strike out much -- just 478 times. Hector appears to have a much higher strikeout rate with 29 so far.

Oddly enough, Hector managed to get three walks in 34 at bats last season.  

Andrew Baggarly just tweeted something that may explain a lot about Hector ....

What does Bochy hate more than ball 4 from his pitchers? When one of his hitters takes a called 3rd strike fastball down the middle.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

At least McDonald isn't on the Dodgers

That's about the only positive I can come up with for this thoroughly disconcerting loss in Pittsburgh. At least James McDonald isn't a Dodger any more. These kind of games -- where Giant pitchers deliver a quality start and it's not enough -- tend to make me want to make fun of the Dodgers. Nice move letting McDonald go, Dodgers!

McDonald, who's now 9-3,was traded at the deadline in 2010 for Octavio Dotel. 

Henry Schulman's game story sums it up nicely for the Chronicle. It sure sounds like McDonald has figured it out --   

"We got a good start from Vogey, but we ran into one of the better-pitched games we've seen," manager Bruce Bochy said.
Dodgers fans who were frustrated with McDonald's lack of progress in Los Angeles might be surprised to hear that, but he has benefited from his experience and instruction in Pittsburgh. He throws a two-seam fastball that tails away from right-handed hitters, which he complements with a curveball and changeup.
He struck out 10 Giants in seven innings and had them completely baffled. They consistently swung at balls out of the zone, yet gazed at strikes.
One consolation for the Giants: They do not have to face McDonald up to six times a season as they would have had he remained a Dodger and become this good. The met twice in 2012 and dealt him one of his three defeats, a 5-0 Matt Cain win in April.

Thome beats Bonds TTO record

I do enjoy stats sometimes!

Jason Lukehart at the Ground Ball with Eyes blog has a fascinating post about how Jim Thome has topped Barry Bonds' all-time record in Three True Outcomes -- the combo of walk, strikeout and HR that was first created by the ability of Rob Deer to produce one of the three...

Hat tip to Baseball Think Factory for the link!

In case you're wondering, Thome struck out twice in Thursday's game against the Angels.  

Here's the chart for highest percentage of TTOs. Pat the Bat is No. 10. Numbers are for Ks, BBs, HRs, TTOs, plate appearances and career TTO.

Russell Branyan
Adam Dunn
Mark Reynolds
Rob Deer
Jim Thome
Ryan Howard
Carlos Pena
Mark McGwire
Mickey Tettleton
Pat Burrell

 Here's the career chart for Ks, BBs, HRs, TTOs, PAs and % of TTOs.

Jim Thome*
Barry Bonds
Reggie Jackson
Rickey Henderson
Babe Ruth
Mickey Mantle
Mike Schmidt
Sammy Sosa
Alex Rodriguez
Harmon Killebrew