Monday, May 29, 2017

Seven runs on six hits

Grant Bisbee of McCovey Chronicles notes that the Giants scored seven run on six hits today for the first time since 2002.

 
The Giants scored seven runs on six hits. If you’re wondering if that’s rare, it most certainly is. The last time that many runs scored on that few hits was in 2002, and that was the only time it’s happened in the last 20 years. It happened three times in three weeks in 1996, and I’m not sure what to make of that, but this was just the 19th time that the Giants have scored seven or more runs on six or fewer hits. 


What most of those games have in common, of course, are the walks. Lots and lots of walks. Taking what the other team gives you. The Giants weren’t flailing at R.A. Dickey, who was cursed with a baseball that was spinning on Sunday. He wasn’t fooling anyone and it was clear from the first inning that if the knuckler was dancing, it was dancing like Elaine*.
* ask your parents
Dickey has feasted on the Giants over the last few years, mowing them down twice in 2013 and once in 2011. He’s an odd-year grifter, then, and he deserved a spinning knuckler today. Taking advantage in a team in the middle of the odd years like that. Have you no shame? In this game, the Giants were happy to look up and expect the ball to drift out of the strike zone often. It has to be weird to face a knuckleballer — it’s like someone dropping a football on the rink at face-off — but the Giants were prepared and unimpressed.
But, really, they should beat the Braves two out of three at home. That’s not to belittle the Braves, who have been roughly as good as the Giants this year. It’s just a realistic look at where the two teams are and where they were playing. In Atlanta, you might argue that the Braves have the advantage over three games, and I wouldn’t argue vociferously against.
In this series, though, the Giants were supposed to win, and they won. Good for them. Good for us!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

4-game losing streak

The Giants got 4 singles tonight -- two by Nunez and one each by Span and Ruggiano. M.C. O'connor at Raising Matt Cain offers this recap of a 2-0 loss to the Braves --


2-0 loss in SF
Matt Cain found himself in familiar circumstances tonight: pitching well but the team failing to deliver runs. It felt like the good old days in '07 and '08 when he put up a 15-30 W-L record. The team was a robust 149-175 over those two seasons; that .460 win percentage looks pretty good right now. It was a 0-0 tie until the top of the 7th when the Giants intentional-walk-of-the-no.8-hitter gambit bit them in the ass. The Braves pitcher, veteran southpaw Jaime Garcia, got a two-out hit and two runs scored on the play and that was the ballgame. Garcia had thrown six scoreless by that point and he got two more outs in the bottom of the 7th before handing it over to the 'pen who kept the string of zeros going. The Giants got four hits, all singles, all against Garcia.

Buster Posey played first base. Imagine how rested and protected Posey would be if he could DH. He'd be a great DH. I say we lobby the NL to adopt the DH. I'm not willing to go there, usually, but we're talking about Buster here. I'm willing to go there for Buster. The question is: are you?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Stunner in the 9th

The Giants have now won 7 of 9. They got this one on the road....

Here's Henry Schulman's recap for the SF Chron


ST. LOUIS — The Giants were frozen in the postgame-celebration position waiting for the umpires to confirm by video that Mark Melancon indeed got Dexter Fowler to hit into a double play to end a 6-5 victory over the Cardinals on Friday night.
“It didn’t matter,” manager Bruce Bochy said with a smile. “We were shaking hands.”
The Giants deserved it after twice coming from behind, the last time on Eduardo Nuñez’s biggest hit of the year, a one-out, two-run double in the ninth inning against closer Seung-Hwan Oh. Oh had not allowed an earned run in more than a month nor blown a save since Opening Day.


The Giants went two years without winning when behind entering the ninth. Now they have done it in consecutive road games. They have won seven of their past nine games overall.
Melancon earned the save in his first appearance since coming off the disabled list.
Fowler had been a tough out. He tripled and scored against Matt Moore to help the Cardinals take a 2-0 lead.
After the Giants took the lead with three runs in the seventh, in a rally bisected by a 46-minute rain delay, Fowler crushed a three-run homer off George Kontos in the bottom half to give the Cardinals a 5-3 lead.
Melancon had been on the shelf since May 9 with a forearm strain. Asked to assess what he saw while he sat, he said the first several days looked like the weeks before, in which his new team looked nothing like contenders.
But over the past week?
“We showed what I thought this team had for years: fight, courage and will,” Melancon said. “Tonight we showed all of that.”
The Giants’ first rally, a three-run seventh, followed six shutout innings from Michael Wacha, who was pulled out of an abundance of caution over chronic shoulder injuries.
Nuñez and Christian Arroyo started the rally against reliever Jonathan Broxton with singles. Third baseman Jedd Gyorko committed an error, on which one run scored. Denard Span singled home the tying run, and Joe Panik provided a 3-2 lead on a soft groundout after Matt Bowman thought he had a strikeout on the 2-2 pitch.
A similar call on a pitch to Brandon Belt led to St. Louis manager Mike Matheny’s ejection just as a torrent hit Busch Stadium and the grounds crew was tarping the field. Matheny appeared to bump umpire Nic Lentz, grounds for suspension.
Matheny’s frown turned upside down after Steven Okert walked Kolten Wong to start the seventh, Jhonny Peralta singled and Fowler cracked his three-run homer off Kontos, who owns three of the Giants’ seven blown saves.
To win on the road consistently, a team must be relentless, and the Giants were. They scored one run in the eighth on Span’s second RBI single to close the gap to 5-4, with Arroyo and pinch-hitter Michael Morse singling ahead of him.
Then, Belt and Brandon Crawford each singled off Oh in the ninth for their third hits before Nuñez slammed a cutter over Fowler’s head to the center-field wall, delivering the tying and go-ahead runs.
Nuñez has not been much of an offensive threat so far. After his winning hit he said, “It’s a long season. Nothing to worry about yet. Some people start slow and finish strong. What are we looking for?”
The Giants are looking for more games like Friday’s, when they showed a tenacity they need to carry through the rest of the season, especially on the road, where they are 7-15.
They also are looking for more starts like Moore’s. He took a 10.50 road ERA into his first career game at Busch and kept the Giants in the game, which is all Bochy asks of his starters, especially away from AT&T Park.

Monday, May 15, 2017

First 3-game winning streak of 2017

Giants Win has not been able to write much this season. When the good guys went down 3-2 on Thursday night, they were 12-24.

Since then, they've won 3 in a row, starting with the stirring 17-inning vic on Saturday morning at 12:43 am when Buster Posey launched a long HR into the bleachers.

It's about damn time. Here are some parts of Henry Schulman's story for the SF Chron --

We got pummeled pretty good to the point of getting embarrassed,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Then they won the first game here, a tight game. To win three games in a row, pitching the way we did and executing, it was a good bounce-back against a club that’s been pretty good against us.”
Pitching indeed led the way. After allowing those 31 runs in the three games at Cincinnati, the staff held the Reds to eight runs over 44 innings in the four games at AT&T Park. Jeff Samardzija allowed three of those in 61/3 innings Sunday for his first win.
But pitching was not the main story Sunday.


The Giants scored a series’ worth of runs over the first two innings to take a 7-0 lead, forcing Bochy to try to remember how to manage a game like that.
The Giants got their injured center fielder and shortstop back for the series and looked like a different team with Denard Span raking at the top of the order and Brandon Crawford flashing his Gold Glove.
Span reached on a two-base error by right fielder Scott Schebler to start a four-run first against starter Tim Adleman, who had to leave after the inning with a neck injury, then tripled to start a three-run second against Barrett Astin.
For the series, Span was 9-for-21 with four runs, a double, a triple and two home runs, matching his extra-base-hit output for the nearly three weeks before he hurt his shoulder crashing into the wall at Coors Field.
Span could not explain why he came off the disabled list so hot after just two rehab games in the minors, other than a lot of hard work that included standing in for bullpen sessions.
“It wasn’t like I was in Cancun or Cabo,” he joked. “Once I got put on the DL, I told myself I want to take advantage of the time and I made sure my legs were fresh, doing conditioning and working out every day. I just wanted to stay ready so when I did come off the DL, it wouldn’t take me long to get in the swing of things.”
Span scored the game’s first run on Joe Panik’s double. Buster Posey singled Panik home and Eduardo Nuñez started his best overall game with a two-run single. Nuñez also stole two bases and saved two runs with a diving, backhand catch on an Adam Duvall liner.
Panik added a second-inning sacrifice fly after Span’s triple. Crawford, who has been rusty at the plate since returning from a groin injury, hit a two-run double after Belt walked and Posey was plunked on the elbow.
Belt added a solo homer, his third of the series, a power show the Giants would love to see him continue with the Dodgers visiting for three games. The Dodgers have won seven of nine since the Giants took a series in Los Angeles to start what became a 3-6 trip.
“It seems like we’ve played the Dodgers 20 times in the last week, doesn’t it?” Span said. “We know the crowd is going to be into it. This was just a huge series for us. We need to take it into the next series against L.A.”

Thursday, May 11, 2017

I think the Kid is going to make it

The Giants ended a horrific 5-game losing streak yesterday thanks to Christian Arroyo. Here's the mlb.com story -- 


NEW YORK -- Christian Arroyo began this series with the kind of game that every rookie endures. He ended it with the kind of moment that every player wants.
Arroyo, San Francisco's exciting rookie infielder, lashed a bases-loaded double Wednesday to snap a ninth-inning tie and accent a four-run surge that lifted the Giants to a 6-5 triumph over the Mets.

This gave the embattled Giants, saddled with the Major Leagues' worst record after losing five consecutive games, a moment to savor. Arroyo's bases-clearing gapper prompted an outbreak of emotional fist-pumping that reflected the team's cathartic joy.
"That was a lot of frustration from the past week coming out," Arroyo said.
The Giants would have welcomed this kind of contribution from anyone. For Arroyo to deliver in this situation bolstered their belief that the prized 21-year-old will continue to generate such highlights.
"It's great to see the aggressiveness that he's had," said right-hander Matt Cain, another Giant who provided thrills at a similar age. "He's learning a ton, and it's fun to watch that because you can see him grasp things really quickly. He's learning on the fly. It's going to be fun to watch him throughout the years."
Outfielder Justin Ruggiano, a recent Giants callup, watched Arroyo hit .446 for Triple-A Sacramento before San Francisco summoned him on April 24. "He was Ted Williams down there," Ruggiano said. "I was telling him to drive to San Fran after games, because he'd get two or three hits a night. For such a young kid, he has such a good approach. I don't think any situation's too big for him."
That was evident one day before Arroyo's game-winning hit and one day after he struck out four times in four plate appearances in Monday's 4-3 loss to the Mets.
"Obviously, nobody wants to punch out four times in a game," Arroyo told an MLB.com reporter almost cheerfully on Tuesday. "But I think that's part of developing and part of just being a ballplayer. I think that was a good game for me to have early on, so I understand these guys are going to find what they think your weaknesses are and try to attack them."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy will do all he can to further Arroyo's education.
"They're pitching him tough. We're staying with him, trust me," Bochy said. "This kid's a tough kid. He's the one guy I don't worry about [bad experiences] having a lingering effect."
Arroyo therefore was composed when he confronted the formidable but plainly unraveling Familia with one out in the ninth, a run in and the score tied at 3.
"I saw he was a little wild today. But he still has that good stuff," Arroyo said. "He can get you to swing at a pitch you don't necessarily want to swing at."
Arroyo swung at a 1-0 fastball measured at 95 mph, and he rocketed it into left-center field.
"I knew I barrelled it pretty well," Arroyo said. "It was nice to put a swing on a ball and be in control of that at-bat."

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Happy 86th, Willie Mays

86 years young on Saturday

He's why I'm a Giants fan. Here's the top of his Wikipedia entry --

Willie Howard Mays, Jr. (born May 6, 1931), nicknamed "The Say Hey Kid", is an American former Major League Baseball (MLB) center fielder who spent almost all of his 22-season career playing for the New York and San Francisco Giants, before finishing with the New York Mets. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979, his first year of eligibility.
Mays won two National League (NL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards, ended his career with 660 home runs - third at the time of his retirement and currently fifth all-time - and won a record-tying 12 Gold Glove awards beginning in 1957 when the award was introduced.[1]
Mays shares the record of most appearances in the All-Star Games, 24, with Hank Aaron and Stan Musial.[2][3] In appreciation of his All-Star record, Ted Williams said "They invented the All-Star Game for Willie Mays."[4][5]
Mays' career statistics and his longevity in the pre-performance-enhancing drugs era has drawn speculation that he may be the finest five-tool player ever, and many surveys and expert analyses, which have examined Mays' relative performance, have led to a growing opinion that Mays was possibly the greatest all-around baseball player of all time.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

The beauty of Brandon Belt

As the 2017 season unfolds with little good news --  Hey, the Giants are 2-2  so far in May AND they won the series at Chavez Latrine -- it's worth noting how well Brandon Belt has been playing. 

Jeff Sullivan has a fine piece in Fangraphs about it. 

Jeff contends that Belt is one of the top 25 hitters in baseball. People don't know that because AT&T Park holds down homers. This is how it ends --

It’s hard for lefties to hit homers in San Francisco. When a hitter barrels a ball in Yankee Stadium or Dodger Stadium, it goes out of the park two out of every three times. When it happens in San Francisco, it’s a homer roughly half as often. This is true both for the Giants and their opponents. Brandon Belt doesn’t hit a lot of homers because San Francisco doesn’t let him. It doesn’t allow any lefty — Barry Bonds excluded — to hit a lot of homers.

 
Brandon Belt is a good hitter with power. His walks have allowed him to keep pace with the rest of the league offensively, as increasing his power numbers would likely be a fool’s errand. Brandon Belt doesn’t hit for a high average or hit a lot of homers. He’s not fast on the bases. He doesn’t need to do any of that, however, to be very good. He walks a lot and he hits for power, even if the ball doesn’t leave the yard. That’s all he needs to do to be one of the top-25 hitters in baseball.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Tough luck Ty

Ty Blach threw a shutout into the 8th, which got blown by Mark Melancon in the 9th. 

The Giants finished April with a 9-17 record, the third worst in the majors. Ony Kansas City and Toronto are worse. They've scored 87 runs, lower than anyone but KC. They've allowed 120 runs, eighth highest. Blach is one of the team's few bright spots right now. Here's is MLB.com's story ...


SAN FRANCISCO -- Ty Blach has been as good as the Giants could hope for since replacing ace Madison Bumgarner in the starting rotation. Without much run support or help from San Francisco's bullpen, however, the young left-hander doesn't have much to show for it.
Blach pitched seven scoreless innings in the Giants' 5-2, 12-inning loss to San Diego on Sunday and was in line for his second career win after leaving with a 2-0 lead before former Giants backup catcher Hector Sanchez hit a game-tying home run off closer Mark Melancon in the ninth.
By the time Wil Myers hit a three-run blast off George Kontos in the 12th, Blach's outing was just a distant memory -- but one that manager Bruce Bochy isn't about to forget.
"He's been terrific," Bochy said. "The last inning he was probably running on fumes and got through that inning. It's really a shame he didn't get a win with the great effort we got from him."
It was the second straight strong outing for Blach, who began the season in San Francisco's bullpen. He gave up two runs over five innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday but lost, 2-1.
Blach's outing against the Padres lowered his ERA to 1.50 in two starts since Bumgarner injured his shoulder and ribs in a dirt-bike accident.
"I feel good physically, and mentally I feel locked in," Blach said. "I feel like I'm able to execute pretty well right now. I'm still trying to refine a few things and tighten up some breaking balls, that kind of good, but I felt pretty good execution-wise."

Blach had to pitch out of a pair of jams in the third and fourth when he had some minor control issues but was otherwise on top of his game most of the afternoon. He retired the side in order three times and set down 11 of the final 12 batters he faced.
With Bumgarner all but certain to miss the next three months recovering from his injuries, Blach's performance since moving into the rotation has been a welcomed sight for the Giants.
"He just competes so well in everything he does," Bochy said. "With all we threw at him last September, throwing in the bullpen and getting a couple starts, he doesn't surprise me. This guy's got a lot of confidence, deep faith. He's going to just give it his all."
That includes at the plate.
Blach tallied his first career RBI with a sacrifice fly in the fifth that drove in Joe Panik.
"He pitched well and threw out some good at-bats," Bochy said. "What a game."