Great game. Bumgarner made it a taut chess match til the late innings, and Pablo Sandoval took advantage of J.J. Putz.
Here’s the game winning, two-run homer by Clutch-Fu Panda
Great game. Bumgarner made it a taut chess match til the late innings, and Pablo Sandoval took advantage of J.J. Putz.
Here’s the game winning, two-run homer by Clutch-Fu Panda
The Giants five game losing streak ended with Matt Cain on the mound in Arizona, but sadly, The Big Horse got tagged for three home runs and gave up four runs and so has yet to earn his first win of the season.
Nick Noonan continues to show poise and ability at the plate. He pinch-hit lead off in the 8th and got aboard before two walks loaded the bases for Brandon Belt’s game-winning two-run single to bring him home. Belt also homered in the 2nd inning when the Giants got to their longtime nemesis Ian Kennedy, scoring three runs off him in the first two innings.
The Giants got another outstanding inning from Jean Machi in relief, who ended up getting his first win of the season. Sergio Romo picked up his 9th save.
I took my son to his first Giant game at AT&T Park in mid-September, when he was seven years old, in 2009.
In the two previous days the Giants had pounded Colorado 9-1 and 10-2 in the first two games of a home series pulling themselves within two and a half of the Division-leading Rockies. Matt Cain was on the mound with a chance to shrink the lead and sweep Colorado out of town. It was mid-September.
But Jorge De La Rosa had his best start as a major-leaguer, dominating SF. In the bottom of the 9th inning the Giants were down 4-0 on the strength of two home runs – by Troy Tulowitzki and Ian Stewart. (the first home runs my son ever saw were hit off my favorite pitcher, Matt Cain).
From an ESPN piece on that game:
“The Giants opened the ninth with three straight singles off Franklin Morales, with the first run scoring on Bengie Molina’s hit. Rafael Betancourt came in to protect a three-run lead and got Juan Uribe to hit a grounder to shortstop.
Tulowitzki’s throw to second base was off target for an error, allowing a second run to score and pinch-runner Eli Whiteside to go to third. After pinch-runner Eugenio Velez stole second ….”
And here I have to interrupt because we were there and it was unforgettable.
Two weeks earlier, Edgar Renteria had hit a seventh-inning grand slam off Rafael Betancourt that had helped the Giants complete a previous three-game sweep of the Rockies and tie for the wild-card lead!
The situation was almost exactly the same with Betancourt vs. Renteria: game three, with the sweep and division lead in the balance. The at-bat was pregnant with excitement and anticipation at the yard – my son’s first experience of that beautiful tension, the taut, loud bearing of all of us together cheering, rooting, hoping.
Betancourt got Renteria to pop-up, pinch-hitter Randy Winn to hit an RBI groundout and struck out Schierholtz to end it. It was perhaps his finest hour as a reliever at that point in his career – note he has eight saves and a win in this young season and the 38-year-old has grown into the role.
I hate to say this, but I knew we were going to lose that one – that was who we were … so often.
We never got closer to the playoffs that season. But there were lessons we learned that played out in 2010. And of course, Edgar Renteria won it for us with the homer with runners in scoring position.
As I sat with my son enjoying his first game – and remember this was in 2009, before we won these two world series and our expectations grew so large that APRIL losses like last night’s in San Diego or last week’s versus the D’Backs at home disappoint us so much – as I sat with him waiting for fans to file out I thought, “Sigh, well, I hope I am not burdening the poor kid with Giants baseball.”
Ha! And that lucky kid has seen them win not one, but two world series’ since!
I mention this today because the last few games have felt like slap in the face deja-vu, in this very young season. I know it’s early … but unless we refocus our energy to play crisp defense and start hitting with runners in scoring position, our fate could be the relative anonymity of also-rans.
Argh. It was like looking at us back in 2009 again. The bright side was Timmy’s performance, and last night we tried to stream the game live in Giants Baseball Corner,
so speaking of Tim Lincecum, here’s:
all of which were for nought as we could do nothing to get a runner across the plate. Our one run in the game came off a single by Pagan, a stolen base, a hit and a Wild Pitch!
This one was winnable. I was hoping to sweep these guys … and sadly … we just couldn’t get it done.
With pitching, crisp defense, just enough runs and by taking advantage of their opponents mistakes to win in the late innings … the Diamondbacks beat the Giants at their game.
The Arizona Diamondbacks won two of three in extra innings against the Giants at AT&T Park with alert play after the 7th that the Giants lacked, showing fight, focus and effort.
Arizona’s Didi Gregorius, the Snakes’ rookie shortstop, energized his team with hustle. Twice, late in games, Gregorius took second base because a Giant outfielder was lackadaisical in throwing the ball back to the infield on a shallow base hit, and both times. Gregorius crossed the plate as the winning run.
Home runs were once again costly in this series as the Giants continually fell behind not on situational hits but the long ball. To their credit, the Giants kept coming back from 2-run deficits, but in the end the comebacks weren’t enough.
The Giants fought back to tie Game 1 on a Posey homer and win it on a Belt walk-off base hit in the ninth. They took Game 2 to extra innings on a Belt homer, but fell apart defensively to lose it in 10. Last night’s loss was a carbon copy in the 11th, except for the glaring statistic:
0 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
The brightest positive from this series and really of the season is Brandon Crawford, who wrote in his blog that he has changed his stance and is “standing taller” – which is yielding great results. Here’s a three paragraph pullquote, because it’s great and emblematic of 25 Guys with one Common Goal:
“It’s great hitting home runs, believe me. I had four all last season and have three already this year. But to tell you the truth I take just as much pride in laying down a crucial sacrifice bunt, like the one last night in the ninth inning.
Sacrifice bunts might not get the scoreboard flashing and the water spouting, but they are noticed by your teammates. They know you did your job and that it was a key to winning the game. My job last night was to move Torres into scoring position, just as in the fourth game of the World Series it was to move Theriot into scoring position. In each situation, the next batter got a hit that scored the runner. If the runner is still at first, he doesn’t score.
OK, so laying down the sac bunt isn’t as much fun as getting the winning hit. You’re not in the newspaper the next day or on the highlights that night. But you know what you did. Last night, after everyone punched Belt in the ribs a few times, my teammates congratulated me on the bunt. I point this out to make the point that winning is a team effort. When you stop playing as a team, you stop winning.” – Brandon Crawford
Brandon went 4 for 9 (.444) with a double and a homer in the Arizona series. He has four home runs and remains the number one ranked SS in the majors in fWAR. Importantly Crawford knocked Ian Kennedy out of the game, allowing our current ace, Madison Bumgarner to outduel the D’backs starter who has given us the most trouble over the years.
The second takeaway has to be the redemptive hitting of Brandon Belt after intense scrutiny for his slumping bat. Bochy made a point to spend extra time and it paid huge dividends as Belt won one game from the bench and tied another to take it to extra innings.
Our bullpen performed admirably and indeed is starting to gel.
Uncharacteristically lackadaisical play and simple mistakes by Andres Torres, Angel Pagan, Santiago Casilla and Buster Posey cost us the tight losses.
The D’Backs were more focused in late and extra innings for two games. Reminded me that they beat the St. Louis Cardinals in 16 innings, in their rubber-match, third game of the season to ensure they won their opening series – coming from behind twice to do it. This past weekend at AT&T, they showed it wasn’t a fluke.
There is fight, effort and smart, crisp play happening under Gibson in Arizona. They’ve got good pitching and a decent bullpen (J.J. Putz got tagged, but is likely to settle down as the season wears on).
The Arizona Diamondbacks are whom the Giants will be fighting to win the division.
Local TV personality Kraig Debro dropped in this morning with his supercool new camera mount. We shot today’s pregame GBC using iVideoStick, check it out:
nice to see Kraig – he’s my kind of Giant fan. Check out his cool camera mount/stabilizer … at iVideoStick.com.
Let’s Go Giants! Rough Up Kennedy! Beat The Snakes!
Tonight Ryan Vogelsong got touched for two home runs that put the Giants behind twice and twice the Giants responded with just enough runs. The second time, the Giants tied the game on a two-run homer by Posey in the 8th. Then, they won it in the bottom of the 9th on a Brandon Belt walk-off base hit.
Victory felt inevitable. It was almost as though the game was following the Giants’ plan and the Diamondbacks only thought they were in the drivers seat. It’s a direct response by the team in the other dugout to react to the Giants pitching-powered, defensively-oriented play.
Often teams play – or at least try to play – to the Giants level of defense for five or six innings. Notice how many pitchers have their best games against the Giants? This results in copycat innings and tight ballgames and last night was a great example.
But it’s chess – the opening and the midgame may have very little to do with the endgame. The Giants are playing white and starting first, their opponents are playing black and playing keep-up.
They try to play our game as long as they can while we plow forward playing our game for 27 outs: just enough hits, just enough runs; keeping the score low on defense and looking for the chink in their armor – usually it’s the pen.
This requires us to stick to the game plan and execute while looking for the mistake we’ll take advantage of. Tonight, it came together ideally.
This morning Brandon Belt woke up having received tremendous criticism for his lack of hitting, and found himself benched, replaced once again at first base by Joaquin Arias. Before the game Belt was asked to take special batting practice, attended by Bruce Bochy, who actively engaged in coaching him. This made press.
Down 4 – 2 in the 8th and with Scutaro on first, Buster Posey blasted a home run to dead center, the deepest part of the park, to tie it up.
The newest member of the Giants’ bullpen Jean Machi started the 9th, then passed it off to Jose Mijares who handed it to Sergio Romo for the last out to prevent the Snakes from scoring again.
Then, as though Bochy had drawn it up, Andres Torres lead off the 9th with a first pitch single, Brandon Crawford advanced him on a perfect bunt, and Bochy put Belt in with a double switch – which put him in the batter’s box with a chance to win the game.
Belt’s one-out, game-winning, walk-off base hit was an epic smile-bringer.
Sergio Romo pitched one ball in the ninth and got the last D’back out. With that one pitch, thanks to Brandon Belt, he also got the win, his first of the season.
A great game for the Giants and a special night for Buster Posey and Brandon Belt.
angel, AT&T, back, Barry, bounce, call-in, diego, enough, Francisco, game, giants, hits, just, knbr, Lincecum, Lurie, m.t., Marty, murderers, oakland, padres, pagan, park, post, rows, San, series, sweep, Tim, timmy, zeets, Zito
The Padres were preyed upon by the Giants, who were licking their wounds after being swept in Milwaukee in games which exploded the ERAs of Barry Zito and Matt Cain.
So the Giants relished the opportunity to face a weak opponent back at home in the friendly, wide-open spaces of AT&T – they were eager to do what they do so well they’re the World Series Champs.
The formula is clear: pitching, defense, just enough hits and taking advantage of opponents’ mistakes. We should stop calling Giants Baseball “Torture,” because it’s the Giants’ method that creates the tension. They want to set the conditions taut and then to play crisp, so the other team will make a mistake first.
Giants Ball is small ball with four basic priorities. The simple formula applied effectively, can be beautiful. In order of importance:
1. Pitching – quality starters and a stable pen. The Giants rely heavily on starting pitching and on the bullpen. Bochy continues to improve at making the necessary moves to prevent runs from crossing the plate.
2. Crisp Defense – Marty Lurie on Bench Coach Ron Wotus: “What Ronnie said was, ‘If you get a double-play ball you better turn it. (beat) That’s the difference between a pennant winning team and another team.'”
3. Just Enough Hits – situational hits to produce “just enough” runs. It’s a different philosophy … think Just Enough Hits as opposed to Murderer’s Rows. We keep mowing down Murderer’s Rows in the World Series. Pitching wins out over a month of postseason play. All you need is just enough hits.
Jon Miller: “Sandoval is now hitting a *cool* five fifty with runners in scoring position. Pablo’s playing the chauffeur telling those runners in scoring position, hop in, I’m driving you home.”
4. Take Advantage of Opponents Mistakes
Some may think of plays that result from opponents errors as lucky, but when you play tight, crisp, team ball like this, you create conditions by which to seize upon errors of the opponent.
It’s a plan that’s going to generally result in close games. Lurie: 14 of 19 games have been decided by less than 3 runs and the Giants are 10-4 in those games.” We’ll take that!
So quit chewing your nails and get used to it. Learn to enjoy the chess match from the defensive perspective, let’s talk pen vs. pen.
I joined Marty Lurie on the Post Game to talk about that and other joys of small ball … and it was fun:
The highlight of the weekend was Angel Pagan’s walkoff double on Friday night. Though the Giants had to come from behind and score late to win it, the score was low because the pitchers were doing their thing.
Giants starting pitchers gave up two runs over 27 innings and had two shutouts.
Bumgarner got tagged by Chase Headley for those runs, which was an anomaly in his pitching. Otherwise he was on target and the team didn’t let him get the loss: Pagan’s walk-off prevented it.
Tim Lincecum’s performance was dominant – with eight strikeouts over 6 innings – and the Giants’ system worked most efficiently in Game Two. Pablo Sandoval’s two run homer was all the scoring we needed and all we got. Mijares, Casilla and Romo cleaned up, held and closed.
In Game Three, Bruce Bochy left Barry Zito in through the 7th, which, if it were Bumgarner or Cain I would consider exactly the wrong move (please see other posts) … but Zeets is a special case, pitching perhaps the best of his life. He wants and deserves the innings. He was, to borrow Marty Lurie’s word for it, “electrifying” – seven shutout innings on 102 pitches with 71 strikes and pitched a great game.
Chad Gaudin came in with a five run lead and in a non-save situation maintained the shutout for the final two innings. The bullpen is really starting to gel.
Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey each had a two-run homer in the series: Buster’s first home run of the year and Panda’s game two decider. The Giants have hit 11 Home runs, and I believe that’s 3rd worst in the Major Leagues – Just Enough Hits as opposed to Murderer’s Rows.
In the absence of power, key hits are what’s important and several guys on the team are doing the job to create a collective effort – a different hero every night.
Pablo’s bat has woken up after back-to-back, 0-fer nights and he is now leading the team and ranked int he league in RBIs, hitting .550 with RISP, which prompted Jon Miller to remark: “Pablo’s playing the chauffeur telling those runners in scoring position, ‘Hop in, I’m driving you home.'”
Angel Pagan won Game One with that walk-off double but has been getting other key hits throughout the young season. Last year he tied the 109-year-old Giants record for home hit streak and he seems focused on breaking it this year. He and Andres Torres have been picking up the pace to get on base as Marco Scutaro starts to find his stride.
Hunter Pence has been getting key hits as well and has four home runs to lead all Giants. Brandon Crawford is having his best year hitting in the majors thus far, threatening to end the season as a .300+ hitter and a Gold Glove winner.
Zito is getting calculated, intentional hits: well-executed bunts, infield hits and even a base hit swinging that looked great. Bay City Ball has a great piece about where Barry Zito’s hits go. Hint: the same way all the time.
Nick Noonan continues to show presence that’s unusual for a rookie – key pinch hits, solid infield work. Brandon Belt has been streaky, still looking for his swing. The negative comments on a hole in his swing get ugly. I still have faith.
This was a good series against a weak opponent that featured pitching and just enough hits by the Giants.
Tim Lincecum mowed down the Padres through six and 2/3, striking out eight, looking very much like the Cy Young Award winning Timmy. Bochy was crisp with his leash in a 2-0 ballgame, pulling Tim with two out and two on in the sixth. Mijares got the last out on a deep pop fly to left, and he and Santiago Casilla set up Sergio Romo, who picked up his Major-League leading eighth save (8-1).
The only runs in the game were the result of a 2-run homer by Pablo Sandoval that just got out of the park.
The formula is simple and when applied effectively, beautiful.
1. quality starting and stable relief pitching
2. sharp defense
3. situational hits for “just enough” runs
4. take advantage of opponents mistakes
Tonight the formula was executed to perfection.
Way to go Giants!
An excellent game in which everything came together to end in a walkoff double by Angel Pagan and the Giants win 3-2. Buster Posey had a deep double, which hopefully will help him up out of his slump.
Bochy pulled Bumgarner in the 6th, middle and late relief did their job, and Santiago Casilla got the win.
Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Crawford, sadly, had their 11-game hit streaks ended, but this one was Giants Baseball all the way.
Way to go Giants!
Barry, beat, beaten, bombarded, Brandon, Brewers, cain, Casilla, Crawford, dome, Francisco, giants, loss, matt, milwaukee, pitching, San, santiago, sf, shellacked, stadium, starting, sweep, swept, Zito
The Brewers swept the Giants out of Milwaukee with home runs. The discrepency on the road trip was 15-2. That’s fifteen home runs by the Brewers and Cubs to two (Pence, Crawford) by the Giants on this road trip to Chicago and Milwaukee – and both Giants homers were in garbage time or playing long catch-up.
Matt Cain and Barry Zito got blasted and the team ERA of the starting pitchers for the Giants exploded. It’s so early in the season that it isn’t that worrying, but that said, starting pitching – which was our centerpiece, our greatest strength – is suffering profound lapses of quality in recent days. Andrew Baggarly, Kruk and Kuip ask what’s up.
It’s crazy to me that our greatest weakness right now is starting pitching! I am reminded of the Phillies vaunted staff Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, and Hamels (that we beat in 2010) who struggled as they got older, too. But they were in their 30’s. Our eldest guys, Matt and Tim, aren’t 30 yet.
It is good news that other aspects of the team – bullpen, hitting, defense – are really pretty tight for April. Not a lot of errors. Giants showing fight and effort every night.
The Brewers hit well in their park and basically broke open two of the three games early, making it exceedingly difficult to catch up, which emphasizes what we have been saying – we have to pull these pitchers earlier; it changes up the game.
Ugh. Not a good series. Even Vogelsong who pitched well, got beat.
The relievers getting innings is one upside to a series like this and Kontos, Casilla, Lopez and Mijares got minutes in the absence of Jeremy Affeldt. Mijares could grow into a middle reliever in his absence. Kontos and Casilla looked good, except poor Santiago got set up for the loss last night and allowed the single that ended the game. Rough situation to walk into: down 7 or down 8 or 9 … let’s see what happens with the bullpen at home.
Brandon Crawford, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Crawford – another homer, lots of hits and moving all around the order now – Brandon is looking great. Everybody, even The Big Kahuna, is talking about his WAR. Unfortunately he did have another error which was quite costly, but his work at the plate and in the field continues to impress and that was an anomaly.
Crawford and Sandoval have 10 game hitting streaks coming into the home stand against the Padres this weekend. Hunter Pence and Pagan are hitting well. Blanco is hot and cold after a day of horribly bad luck on Tuesday in Milwaukee. Torres, after impressing initially has cooled some.
Nick Noonan is a gamer. Though he struggled against Milwaukee, he continues to show big-league ability at the plate.
Not much else to say you can’t read elsewhere so I will wrap it up.
Game Two was well-played and much more like a normal Giant game – a close, low-scoring, pitchers duel – and sadly, one in which we couldn’t score enough runs to get the win. The Giants left five on base and Pagan, Belt and Crawford, failed to bring runs in with Runners in Scoring Position with two outs: better than recently, but in a tight game, too important to neglect.
Vogelsong looked good, hit his spots for the most part, and while Kyle Lohse dominated the Giants the first time through and had a no-hit, near perfect game going through 5, the whole order made adjustments to make it a game. The Brewers won on a 9th inning bases-loaded single off Casilla.
Brandon Crawford continues to bat well, which is a great bonus thus far this year. I would love to see him hit .300 and win a Gold Glove. He and Sandoval have 10-game hit streaks now. Hunter Pence drove in two runs to give him 10RBI for the season – he’s batting .262.
Santiago Casilla has played more ball than most, having anchored the World Baseball Classic Championship team from the Dominican Republic and while he has had great outings, like last week against the Cubs, last night’s was shaky at best. He was behind in the count a lot and Bochy left him in way too long, given his performance.
I approve of working middle and late relief, but in a tight game, Bochy has to be more responsive, quicker on the trigger.
Today’s a day game, so I’m off to set up the gear in the corner.
Pablo Sandoval had four RBI.
Nick Noonan had another clutch pinch hit.
Brandon Crawford was brilliant in the field and great at the plate.
The bullpen was solid – Ryan Braun was 0 for 5 and struck out four times for the first time in his career … which apparently is called a “golden sombrero” …
but it just wasn’t enough to make up for Barry Zito getting shellacked for eight runs in the third, including a grand slam home run by Betancourt.
Still, a lot of fight in these Giants, they nearly pulled it off.
As we slowly put Giants Baseball Corner together, the Giants are in chilly Milwaukee to play the Brewers tonight with Barry Zito on the mound.
Hank Schulman tweeted today that :
If Zito starts with 3 shutout innings, he will be only the third Giant since 1900 to open a season with 17 shutout innings in a row (Worthington ’53, McCormick ’61).
and the Giants pointed out on twitter that the club record for starting pitcher’s win streak is Carl Hubbell, 22-consecutive regular season starts from 1936-37. Zito has 13 – and 16 if you include the post-season of last year.
GBC has urgently needed a better About page, so this is for that:
an introduction to the site
Will probably upload a new post after the game tonight with video.
We’re just fans listening to the Giants on the radio in a little corner in our house.
angel, baseball, Bochy, Brandon, brick, cain, Casilla, chicago, corner, Crawford, cubs, early, Francisco, giants, Krukow, matt, mlb, nick, noonan, padding, pagan, pitches, recap, Romo, San, santiago, Sergio, series, sf, spring, wall, wild, wrigley
This was a wild one in the windy city.
Let Cain and Bumgarner go six innings for the quality start and then pull them as standard procedure for a few months, maybe even the whole first half of the season.
This provides two benefits: rest for their arms over the long season and opportunities to develop middle, long and late relief.
One reason I started GBC was to capture memories of crazy weekends that get lost in the rapid, fluid pool of information we all swim through, hoping to memory-hole it prosaically but concisely for reference.
The Windy City
This was the earliest in a regular season that these two clubs ever played at Wrigley Field in the long, storied history of the NY/SF Giants vs. the Chicago Cubs.
The as-yet-unrefurbished park in early Spring and the weather were significant factors. It was 40 degrees when the Giants got off the team bus on Thursday, with icy rain. It was cold, wet, icy and even snowy at moments over the series.
There was no ivy on the wall and the exposed brick damaged Angel Pagan who ran into it and was forced to sit out the rest of one game. This broke up his seven game hit streak. Mike Krukow made an impassioned plea to put padding on the walls at Wrigley. The stadium is currently undergoing a 5-year, $300 million renovation.
There were errors galore in this series, many of which would define the losses for the Cubs.
But an indicator of the conditions is that the errors included Brandon Crawford’s first of the year. The young shortstop has been brilliant and was rock solid barring the error. Brandon is also having continued success at the plate: the weekend series featured his opposite field home run that decided game 1. [Bochy put Crawford in the 2 spot, resting Scutaro – a sweet piece of managing to test out possibilities].
All errors were superseded by the astonishingly bad Wild Pitch/Passed Ball/Balk Parade that lost the last game of the series for Chicago. The hapless Cubs tied a major league record for Wild Pitches in an inning (5) and in the same inning balked in a run! Jon Miller commented, “The last time I saw this many wild pitches was when I watched my ten-year old in a little league game.”
The Giants came from behind in all three victories and though they scored 23 runs in the four games, the lone home run came in the top of the ninth of the last game in dramatic fashion when down a run with two outs in the top of the ninth, ‘The Reverend,’ Hunter Pence, 30 years and a day old, ripped a solo shot to tie the game and take it to the tenth, allowing the Giants to win 10-7 and Sergio Romo to record his seventh save (7-1).
The Giants only loss, in Game Two, came on a pop fly that was carried by the wind of Chicago out of the park – resulting in Sergio Romo’s first missed save.
Since the series was all day games and the last game against Colorado at AT&T was also, the Giants played five straight day games for the first time in 17 years.
A Note on Defense and Nick Noonan
The weather was horrible and it made it hard to play. While the Giants made their share of mistakes, they also performed admirably under the conditions. Great catches by Pagan, Pablo, Blanco and Pence were keys to ending innings.
Nick Noonan’s first start was amazing: it started with his first error, a result of the horrible conditions and one of the first plays of the series, costing the team a run. But he quickly got past it and then shone in his debut going 3 for 4, recording his first hits and earning his first RBI’s.
In 2 games in Chicago, Nick Noonan had 4 hits in 6 at bats, scoring twice and knocking in two runs. In the last game, Noonan pinch hit for Lincecum, and hit a two-run single for the Giants first lead (5-4)! Great work, Nick – MAJOR LEAGUE HIT.
The Giants were down and up in the series and developed situational hitting and better performance as the series wore on. They took advantage of Cubs mistakes by the end of the series to win it by being the better team, but they won by slim margins and were forced to fight back with good hitting, base running and defense.
Though the Giants were short on power and struggled with runners in scoring position much of the time, they made key hits.
Brandon Crawford, Gregor Blanco, Hunter Pence and Angel Pagan deserve particular mention. Hunter Pence legged it out to first to prevent double-plays several times. Pagan hustled (he also over-hustled, but that’s what we want from our lead-off man, El Caballero Loco). Crawford’s opposite field home run was a game-winner, but he was equally good getting RBI’s and key hits in the last two games.
Unfortunately, Hector Sanchez is the glaring issue at the plate. But he is a catcher. We are absurdly privileged to have Buster Posey as our catcher – an anomaly in terms of hitting ability. Most teams have a catcher they have to hide in the order because hitting isn’t what they’re on the team to do.
The problem is the absence of his bat coupled with the impression that Tim Lincecum doesn’t want to be caught by Posey. We say there is no conspiracy. Bochy knew he had to rest Posey from catching at least one game in the rotation. Lincecum got matched up with Sanchez early, and it’s better to be consistent, at least at first, especially if there are extenuating circumstances – like Brandon Belt’s stomach virus or Panda’s elbow, or Pagan running into a wall.
Sanchez slumping looks way worse than he is in this context.
Brandon Belt broke out of his slump with a key double in the top of the eighth with two out that gave the Giants the lead in Game Two. Unfortunately the wind carried a pop fly out of the park and Sergio Romo recorded his first missed save.
Poor Matt Cain. We had better start a Hall of Fame campaign for The Big Horse now because we have cheated this stable, big, powerful right-hander of run support for Wins for seven years and we did it again in this series – against a weaker opponent! Granted the weather was a factor, but Matt Cain remains winless in the early season.
Madison Bumgarner took his win, but was left in too long, resulting in the two-run homer that marred his otherwise great performance.
Tim Lincecum had his FreakOUT inning but then settled down and retired batters until the Giants could catch up. The formula worked to protect Tim: great defense, situational hitting and taking advantage of Cub mistakes.
Santiago Casilla glittered in relief Saturday night. The World Baseball Classic Champion pitched two scoreless innings to register his first save of 2013.
George Kontos handled business in Game Four, pitching a scoreless tenth to get the win and set up Sergio Romo, who picked up his seventh save in the bottom of the tenth.
Romo’s sole missed save was burdened with conditional problems – he was forced to go into Game Two suddenly on short warm-up because the Giants took the lead suddenly, with two outs in the 8th on a two-out double by Brandon Belt. Rushed in, Romo dealt and a pop fly turned into a wind-assisted homer.
I blame us:
Want this posted by 9am so I am ending here but wow! What a series with the Cubs in Chicago!
This is us celebrating too soon.
So Sergio, it was our fault. Ours and the windy city’s..
[love how I don’t hear Jon call Pence safe at first for like three seconds!]
The Rockies have been a punching bag for the Giants in recent years and Colorado’s been particularly good for Barry Zito. After yesterday’s game, Zeets’ option is now making national press like this from NBC’s Matthew Pouliot:
“Including last year’s postseason, the Giants are riding a streak of 16 straight victories with Barry Zito on the mound. The left-hander pitched seven scoreless innings and went 2-for-3 with two runs scored Wednesday in a 10-0 drubbing of the Rockies. Zito posted a 1.69 ERA in his three postseason starts last year, and he’s yet to allow a run in 14 innings in 2013.
“Perhaps no one but me is thinking of next year right now, but at the rate Zito is going, the Giants might actually pick up his $18 million option for 2014, a possibility that would have seemed preposterous at pretty much any point since the first year of his seven-year, $126 million contract.”
We’ve been discussing Zito’s option in local press for a week, including CA Sportswriter of the Year Tim Kawakami’s piece and this guy claims, “perhaps no one but me is thinking of next year right now” wow.
This from Noey Kupchan of AP sums it up nicely:
“After hitting .224 and scoring 15 runs during a 3-3 start, San Francisco (6-3) found its offense during a three-game sweep of Colorado. The Giants hit .365 and outscored the Rockies 23-8, including Wednesday’s 10-0 win. Buster Posey and Andres Torres both went 3 for 5 and drove in a combined five runs for San Francisco, which went 7 for 18 with runners in scoring position.”
7/18 with RISP still isn’t 50% of the time, but it’s a damn sight better than 0 for 7.
Game One homers by Pence and Panda and Game Three situational hitting resulted in big wins for the Giants, but Game Two was perhaps the best victory.
With Tim Lincecum on the mound, The Giants fells behind early and were down 6 – 2 before rallying to win it behind Brandon Crawford’s opposite field three-run homer followed by excellent situational hitting from Scutaro and Pence – who tied the game with a bunt to advance the runner and an RBI single, respectively. Andres Torres pinch-hit to get aboard and Angel Pagan drove in the winning run. It was great to see the Giants make the comeback and to win with good hitting.
The 10-0 blowout was all about Barry Zito – who has been sensational on the mound since August of last year. But he was also 2-3 at the plate. What if he keeps this up? Could the guy bat .200+? Continue getting shutouts, wins and hit? Let’s hope so because it has been a joy to watch and the feeling of redemption every time is epic.
Way to go Barry – everybody’s talking about how you have more hits than Heyward and they haven’t even noticed the scoreless inning streak!
Santiago Casilla had a very rough outing in the Opening Series in Los Angeles, after being a key member of the bullpen for the World Baseball Classic Championship Team from the Dominican Republic. He had a wild pitch that scored a run in LA and looked generally uncomfortable.
Not so Tuesday as Casilla pitched a scoreless 8th inning to set up Sergio Romo, who struck out two in the 9th inning to pick up his fifth save.
Romo is looking sharp and staying ahead of batters. His play prompted Jon Miller to declare the other day, “There’s a little bit of Eckersley in him.”
Javier Lopez and Chad Gaudin had 3-up, 3-down innings in relief of Zito, with each recording a strikeout.
Zito’s on the mound, it’s in the high 70’s at AT&T Park.
Barry retired Colorado with a strikeout but issued a walk – a source of concern for anyone who has ever followed Zito’s career. Pagan just singled to lead off the bottom of the first. Scutaro ….
and a stand up triple for Posey!
Not much time to write before we play again, but just to take note of Hunter Pence’s Big Fly – which I understand was deep to left-center. I hope we see more of that this year. If we could get Hunter batting .300 along with Panda, Posey and Pagan; get Crawford up to .270 and get some timely hits from Blanco we should win the division outright.
Another strong outing from Madison Bumgarner whose mastery of the Rockies continues. Here’s hoping Timmy keeps it rolling tonight with a little better command and less walks.
Sergio Romo tweeted that his goal was 50 saves and he is well on his way with four in as many appearances. Rock on Sergio! That’s What’s Up!
Sunday’s fiasco of onfield baseball effort by the Giants on ring ceremony day was frustrating for many reasons for fans who, like me, prefer playing baseball to celebrating victory.
Giants Baseball Corner proposes a different view of our Giants than that promoted relentlessly by Comcast – the broadcaster I hold principally responsible for the excessive in-season ceremonies and schmaltzy, non-baseball content with which fans now waste their time.
I don’t mean to sound like a crank – but the soccer-momming of baseball makes it less enjoyable to me, and I think to some other fans as well, I’d rather be talking about squeeze plays than surfing Deloreans, rather be talking strengths and weaknesses of opposing pitchers than of the outfits on fans at the stadium. But the entertainment industry is wired differently – it’s why listening to FOX Sports during the World Series is almost unbearable.
All of this has emerged from the success of the team as we have at last become World Series Champions, but instead of adding to the value of those victories, Comcast and these overproduced ceremonies make us look kitschy, immodest and less classy. It makes us look like a superficial, self-centered team that couldn’t care less about anyone else – an arrogance of 49er fans that was never a part of being a Giant.
The St. Louis Cardinals must have been boiling in their dugout as we partied and gushed, bloviated and gave out bling.
The Cardinals began their season on the road with back-to-back series against Western Division foes. They split these to start the season .500 when they go back at home for their own opener. They showed real fight in the Sunday night game last week, the Diamondbacks season opening series, which ended in a scrappy, 16-inning fight in which the Snakes came back not once but twice to force extra innings and finally win it late at night.
Coming off that loss and forced to watch the Giants long-running designed-for-television celebrations, the Cards came ready to play and to make a mockery of our effort. The series with the Giants clarified the difference in attitude between the two teams at the moment of the contest. The Giants managed one run in their victory by virtue of a bases-loaded walk, stranded double-digit runners in scoring position and melted down in the face of hard effort by a Cards team that wanted to win.
They looked more focused and hungrier. We looked satisfied and uncaring.
Result: Cards win 2-1 with a crushing 14-3 explosion in our “pitchers park” to back their high-paid ace Adam Wainwright while we watched our Big Horse melt down the second time through their order – they’d figured him out.
I am not against celebrating – I just wish we could do all our celebrating in off-season and let the regular season be for playing baseball.
In baseball terms, exactly as exciting and thrilling as the opening series on the road against the Dodgers was, the home opener and the opening series at AT&T Park was miserable. Comcast better quit celebrating and let the G-men get going. They aren’t just going to give us the third one.
The National League Championship Series last year was between the winners of the two previous World Series and both teams relied heavily on defense – and in particular, pitching. Relief pitching. Specialist pitching. Pitching.
When Barry Zito broke the spirit of the Cards with the Giants backs against their wall, and then subsequently The Triple Kiss, Hunter Pence’s broken bat double that escaped Pete Kozma, buried them, a viper found solace in their bosom. The St. Louis Cardinals tears were lost in rain. This is a team that really wants to beat us
In the offseason, Adam Wainwright signed a deal like what we gave Matt Cain in 2011, guaranteeing he’ll retire a Card. He’s their Big Horse. The Cards have been on the road to start the season and lost a 16 inning outing Sunday in Arizona to go under .500. So the Giants are facing the St, Louis Cardinals’ ace with their back against the wall to return home for their opener even.
Matt Cain was saved the enduring embarrassment of a loss because the Giants can’t provide him run support for the umpteenth time in six years, because George Kontos took the loss on the freak swing by Kershaw. That said, Matt Cain needs a Home Win, Dammit.
The rubber match should be a very good one, and I expect this one to have more runs. Cain will scatter 4 runs across 7 innings, so WE HAVE TO TAG WAINWRIGHT. Giants 9 – 4 is what I want to see. Cain goes 1 – 0.
Brandon Belt, we need some offense.
Go Giants. Go Matty.
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It took a perfect outing from one of the best lefties in baseball – including the first home run he ever hit in his life – to mar what was otherwise an excellent opening series for the San Francisco Giants.
The Giants looked crisp off the mound and decent at the plate, hitting in rotation situationally and even manufacturing runs. The biggest issue at the plate is we are once again on pace to lead the league in hitting into double plays! But it’s early and that stuff will hopefully start to winnow out. Pitching – particularly Cain, Bumgarner and Romo – was stellar.
The Giants won the series 2-1 over their NL West division rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers to take an early season lead in what will likely be a fight for first place in the division with Arizona. The Diamondbacks made a statement in last night’s game – a scrappy, hard-fought, come-from-behind, 16-inning win over the St. Louis Cardinals to start their season 2-1 as well.
Starting pitchers did not allow a single earned run.
Cain was, typically, Big Horse consistent and stable. Bumgarner was intensely precise and Lincecum used balls and walks liberally, but stayed on top of his game.
Madison Bumgarner’s performance was platinum. He had tight, controlled movement and dominated the Dodger lineup. It was great to see from the young, powerful Big Country Mad Bum.
Bruce Bochy showed smart sensitivity pulling Cain in the first game. Cain and Lincecum are the eldest on our very young staff, and both got pulled before the 7th. This is how to develop middle and late relief and to protect starters’ arms over the long season.
Over the course of the last two years Bochy has slowly shown an increasing willingness to use the bullpen rather than risk fatigue – either of arms in the long term or of minds on the mound in the short term – with our starting pitching. This has culminated in the masterful use of a committee of late relief and closers last year down the stretch.
It’s important because our most significant problem (as pointed out most clearly by Bay City Ball) is depth at Starting Pitching. If one of our big 5 goes down, we’d have to adapt fast.
That said, poor George Kontos …
shake it off homes. freak swing by the opposing pitcher.
Before that Kontos had an excellent 7th inning and looked ready to work the middle and pass the ball over to one of our capable lefties before Romo. It was a shame it shook out like that. We believe in you George, it was a solid outing before the guy decided he wanted to make history in LA.
In a way George, we needed you to take that hit because a LOT of us really don’t want Matt Cain getting any more losses in tight games than he has to. The poor guy has suffered his entire career with win-loss records beleaguered by our inability to produce runs. You took those runs that night so Matty wouldn’t get them and the loss and we appreciate it.
Casilla’s wild pitch, Lincecum’s, others’ can be chalked up to the season being very young and we should be honest and expect more sloppy working it out in the first month or so.
In Casilla’s case especially, the guy is coming off winning the World Baseball Championship – The Dominicans ran the table! and he was overwrought and excellent in relief. (Haft has details on Casilla’s effort).
The guy has played more ball under pressure than most this year – Casilla gets a one month pass.
(DR vs. Japan would’ve been interesting)
Casilla’sWP:coming off winning the WBC,beating PR to do it,more ball under pressure than most this year – Casilla gets a one month pass.
Sergio Romo was SOLID GOLD. and he tweeted throughout including one which read that his “goal” was 50 saves! That was exciting to read.
I hope you make it my man … That’s What’s Up!
Shutdown performance by Kershaw was followed by a solid job of hitting by the Giants in game 2, specifically by Joaquin Arias, but as YahooSports pointed out “The Giants scored their first run on three consecutive one-out hits, including Arias’ RBI single.”
Situational hitting and manufacturing runs was the story of the offense and this continued to game three when Crawford and Pagan joined in on the action. But the team added homers by Pablo and Pence! Thrilling stuff to see the offense coming together – power, contact, base-running (I’m excluding el caballero loco on that last one). Pagan leading off, Scutaro, Pablo and Posey behind him is going to work well.
The problem remains that too often the Giants destroyed opportunities by hitting into double plays. It is the beginning of the season and on any other team I wouldn’t bat an eye, but we have a historic problem that reaches back several years in this regard. Maybe bunt practice in order to take advantage of squeeze chances would help in other situations as well. If we aren’t going get a lot of hits, or score a lot of runs we have to at least keep runners on the paths and continue to manufacture runs as we have been doing the last year and change.
With Brandon Belt falling sick, Bochy had a chance to do more moving of the chess pieces. Arias on first and Sanchez behind the plate yielded and didn’t, had succeses and problems, but more I was happy to see this kind of constant moving about of players. I am of the mind we need a flexible team offensive scheme.
(Hec or Bus)ter at plate
Belt, Posey, Arias or Panda at first
Arias, Panda or Scutaro at third
Blanco or Torres in LF.
It’s flex-offense. I love Bochy for this team approach and have no problem with half a season going by with pieces moving in concert or individually to suit opponent, weather, interleague and etc. I have come around on this. Used to chew my nails to shreds over Bochy’s calls, now I see a logic in it. We can recreate units to suit. Cool.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Brandon Crawford also known as @bcraw35 continues to rock short. Golden Glove campaign [BCrawGG13] required.
Hunter Pence still looks like a crazy-eyed wild man going after balls. I trust him … and yet … it makes me nuts to see Pence and Pagan still doing the chipmunk act from the old Looney Tunes cartoons .. “After you.” “No, After You. “No I insist.” (ball drops to the field). I know Pence has only been out there a few months for us, but he and Pagan have to work that out because problems we saw last year continue. Pagan manhandled CF again. LF hardly saw any action at all so the platoon was untested.
All told an excellent series for the Giants and a great way to launch Giants Baseball Corner. I will be posting Series Wrap-ups like this whether I post full series game for game or not. Feel free to comment, feedback etc. best is on TWITTER, in my opinion.
Sorry to everybody but particularly to Julian for over tweeting while getting GBC set up.
All are welcome here where we are focused on the relentless flow of the positive river.
Tim Kawakami added this after Timmy’s start, but it’s a good read
Tim Lincecum’s season debut evokes ink including national press like Senior Baseball Columnist Scott Miller at CBS and ESPN’s David Schoenfield calls it an important start. but Bay City Ball’s excellent two pieces analyzing Lincecum’s numbers over the past few years are best
Alex Pavlovic’s take in the Merc is here,
I’ll add links to this post as they appear.
But for now, #RallyTimmy Go Giants! #BeatLA