Thursday, September 30, 2010

Game Wrap 09-30-2010: Giants 4 Diamondbacks 1

With help from the Chicago Cubs, the Giants took a giant step toward the NL West championship today once again using the long ball and great team pitching to complete a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Key lines:

Andres Torres- 2 for 4, HR(16), SB(25). BA= .270. The timing of Andres' appendectomy may have been a blessing in disguise. It now seems likely that he was ill for 2-3 weeks before the surgery. What if he had kept on toughing it out for another week or two? Now he's back and seems to be in mid-season form just in time for the playoffs! Dude showed this series why, before he got sick, some people, including me, thought he might be the team MVP.

Aubrey Huff- 0 for 2, 2 BB, SB(7). BA= .290. Huff Daddy finds ways to contribute almost every day. Today he drew a couple of walks and used one of them to ride home on Buster's HR.

Buster Posey- 2 for 4, HR(17). BA= .313. Buster had been in a mini-slump. I don't think this guy is going to have too many prolonged slumps in his career!

Pablo Sandoval- 1 for 4, HR(13). BA= .267. The HR was a splash hit. Pablo finally seems like his old self out there, and it couldn't happen at a better time!

Madison Bumgarner- 5 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K's, W(7-6), ERA= 3.00. Bum gave up some hits, but the K and BB ratios look great. What a great young talent to have on this team, not just for this year, but for years to come!

Santiago Casilla- 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 2.08. There are so many heros on this team, but where would the Giants be without Santiago Casilla. I think I commented several times as early as spring training that I expected him to play a big role in the bullpen before the season was over. What a find off the scrap heap!

Sergio Romo- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's, H(21). ERA= 2.24. Routine day for Romo. Tied for 17'th in MLB for Holds.

Ramon Ramirez- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, Save(3). ERA= 3.00. 0.63 ERA since joining the Giants.

This Win combined with the Padres stunning 1-0 defeat at the hands of Tom Gorzelanny and the Cubs, puts the Giants 3 games ahead in the NL West with 3 games to play. Their magic number is now 1. With a H2H matchup with the Padres this weekend, the Giants need just one win to clinch the division title. If the Padres somehow sweep the Giants, the two teams would end up tied and there would be a 1 game playoff in San Diego, something that we all should be hoping does not come to pass. In the Wild Card race, the Braves were idle and gained 0.5 games on the losing Padres. The Braves now hold a 2 game edge in the WC race.

Matt Cain moves up in the rotation on 4 days rest to pitch game 1 of the weekend series against the D'Backs. By making this move, Bochy is not only trying to wrap it up in game 1, but he is also re-setting his rotation for the playoffs with Timmy as #1 and Cainer as #2. IMO, Sanchez or even Bumgarner should be #3, but we'll see. Bochy has shown he is willing to step on toes to win, so this will be interesting. Gotta be hoping for Hoss to wrap it up tomorrow night, because Zito is no sure thing for Saturday and then you have Sanchez trying to right the ship on Sunday. Timmy or no Timmy, we do not, I repeat do not want this to go back to San Diego on Monday! Clayton Richard goes for the Pads tomorrow and he has been awfully tough on the Giants. I don't think the Giants are quite as helpless against LHP's as they were earlier in the season, but the Giants and Cain have their work cut out for them.

Go Matt Cain! Go Giants!!!

P.S. The Padres marketing department may have helped dig the team's own grave by rubbing a 1984 playoff victory over the Cubs in their faces, complete with throwback uniforms for that year. Think that didn't give the Cubbies some incentive to stick it to the Padres current playoff hopes?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Game Wrap 09-29-2010: Giants 3 Diamondbacks 1

Tim Lincecum overcame a leadoff HR by Stephen Drew and some early wildness and ended up domintating the Diamondbacks in a 7 inning effort. Pat "The Bat" Burrell's 3 run dinger in the 4'th was the only run support needed and received as the Giants edged closer to clinching the NL West title. Key lines:

Aubrey Huff- 2 for 4. BA= .291. Huff Daddy scratched out a single to lead off the 4'th inning to start the winning rally. Buster followed with a walk and Burrell brought them all home. Ballgame!

Pat Burrell- 1 for 3, HR(20). BA= .251. Pat the Bat just picked the team up and carried it on his back tonight. This team needed a HR hitter and that's just what Pat has delivered over and over again. After Buster Posey, the biggest difference making in-season acquisition in baseball. No credit for Sabes though. He just go lucky.

Tim Lincecum- 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 11 K's. ERA= 3.43. Timmy looked a little shaky early on. I was afraid maybe the baseball gods had frowned on the presumption of adjusting the pitching rotation as they are wont to do at times. Timmy was ultimately stronger than the baseball gods. Interesting moment in the 7'th. With 2 outs, Timmy walked Kelly Johnson. Bochy must have seen something he didn't like, or at least questioned and went racing out to the mound. At first, I thought he was pulling Timmy because Boch almost never goes to the mound without the hook. Then, I thought Timmy might be hurt or sick. It looked to me like he was shaking when Bochy arrived at the top of the mound. Then(via lip reading) Timmy emphatically said "I'm fine." Bochy took him at his word and turned back to the dugout. Timmy stopped shaking and struck out Chris Young to complete 7 innings. Timmy gave a small fist pump on his way back to the dugout as the fans gave him a standing O. What a great effort by an ace pitcher!

Javier Lopez- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. Perfect setup man to go against a heavily left leaning D'Backs lineup.

Brian Wilson- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, Save(47). ERA= 1.83. Wilson didn't look too dominating in giving up a leadoff double and a one out walk to Mark Reynolds. He seemed to get his mojo back in making Kelly Johnson look helpless on a K and then getting Chris Young to ground into a game-ending force out at 2B. WIlson's 47'th Save puts him just 1 behind Giants all time single season leader Rod "Shooter" Beck.

With the W, the Giants maintained their 2 game lead in the NL West over the Padres and reduced their magic number(any combination of Giants wins or Padres losses) to 3 with 4 games left to play. Since they play the Pads the last 3 games, a win there automatically reduces the magic number by 2. The Pesky Padres stayed alive by blanking the Cubs 3-0 behind the other Chris Young. In the Wild Card race, Atlanta maintained a 1.5 game lead over the Padres with a 5-1 win over the Marlins.

Madison Bumgarner gets the call tomorrow after 6 days of rest against Barry Enright. I like the Giants in this game. Bum has been lights out lately. He has the extra rest. the D'Backs lean strongly to the left in their lineup. Enright has bad peripheral numbers and the Giants have had a couple of looks at him.

4 games to go! Go Giants!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Game Wrap 09-28-2010: Giants 4 Diamondbacks 2

Jonathan Sanchez shook off early wildness to dominate the middle innings. He ended up with a Quality Start and a Win as the Giants took a huge step toward the NL West Division Championship. Key lines:

Andres Torres- 1 for 5, 3B. BA= .268. Only 1 hit, but he made it count as triple in the 3'rd inning turned into the Giants first run of the game with a Mike Fontenot RBI single. Torres made some nice plays in the OF too.

Mike Fontenot- 1 for 3, BB. BA= .286. 2B is in good hands with Fontenot, at least against RHP's.

Pat Burrell- 2 for 4. BA- .250. RBI single in the 7'th to drive in Fontenot was a nice insurance run.

Juan Uribe- 2 for 4, 2B, HR(23). BA= .248. The jazz hands were out as Uribe drove one deep into the LF bleachers for the tying run.

Pablo Sandoval- 2 for 3, 2B, BB. BA= .266. Pablo looked like the Panda out there again. The double was a just-miss HR that rebounded high off the wall in right-center, a HR in most parks.

Nate Schierholtz- 1 for 2. BA= .247. A pinch-hit RBI single for the go-ahead run in the 6'th inning. How clutch is that? Way to go, Nate! Nate seems to have moved ahead of Travis on the pinch-hitting depth chart.

Jonathan Sanchez- 6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 6 K's. ERA= 3.15. Sanchez was shaky early on with 3 walks in the first 2 innings and 2 runs in the first 3. He once again showed his developing maturity by pulling it together and shutting the D'Backs down in innings 4, 5, and 6. Nate completed the nice outing by singling in the go ahead run as the PH for Sanchez giving Durty the W.

Ramon Ramirez- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 3.04. A dominant inning for Ramirez who is making a himself a lock to be on the postseason roster.

Brian Wilson- 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's, Save(46). ERA= 1.86. Wilson had two days rest coming into this one. He slammed the door in the 8'th after the D'Backs mades some noise by getting 2 runners on with 1 out. The mark of a great closer. One who can come in early in the high leverage situation as well as pitch the 1,2,3 9'th. How many times has Wilson done just that?

Now for the fun part..... With the win, the Giants move to 2 full games in front of the Padres for the NL West lead with 5 games to play, because the Pesky Padres lost to the Cubs 5-2 as Rafael Soriano hit 2 dingers and Ryan Dempster outdueled Mat Latos. The Choking Dogs eliminated the Reeling Rockies from playoff consideration with a 9-7 win in Coors Field. Anybody still think Jim Tracy is a better manager than Bruce Bochy? In the Wild Card Race, Atlanta edged Florida 3-2 to move 1.5 games ahead of the Padres while the Rockies are 5.5 games behind with 5 to play, so they are eliminated here too.

With the Giants magic number at 4 with 5 games to play, Tim Lincecum moves up in the rotation to take on Ian Kennedy. Not to worry, Timmy is going on a full 4 days rest while MadBum will go on 5 days 6 days rest on Thursday. That would make Timmy available for a hypothetical tiebreaker game next Monday which is looking less likely, especially if Timmy takes care of business tomorrow.

5 games to go! Go Cubs! Go Giants!!!!

Blast From the Past: Bob Shaw RIP

Some of you may remember back in the early days of this blog, I wrote a post on Bob Shaw, former Giants RHP who I believe pitched the first Giants game I ever listened to on the radio. Now comes word that Bob Shaw has died from liver cancer at the age of 77. Sorry I don't know how to do links on this blog, but here it is:

You can also find the link by going to the fangraphs link over on the left and then looking on the right side of their links page to the Hardball Times section.

Shaw is probably best known to Giants fans as the man who taught Gaylord Perry how the throw the spitter.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Off Day Wrap: Scoreboard Watching

I couldn't help myself. Tuned into the Cubs-Padres game in the 9'th inning just in time of Carlos Marmol to give me chest pains twice as bad as anything Brian Wilson has handed out. But, all's well that ends well and the Cubs gave the Giants some huge help in beating the Pesky Padres at their own game, 1-0. I'm not a Carlos Zambrano fan at all, but he was golden tonight. Meanwhile, the Choking Dogs somehow managed to hold off the Reeling Rockies 3-1 and push them a step closer to joining the Dogs in the elimination station. I guess miserly loves company, huh? The Dodgers must really want the Rockies to join them in their misery. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, but Rockies future after this season looks a whole lot brighter than the lads from LaLa Land.

The only downer of the night came as the Braves outlasted the Florida Marlins 2-1 in 11 innings to jump over the Padres by 0.5 games in the Wild Card race.

More good news on the home front:

Freddy Sanchez' shoulder seems to be nothing serious. He might get a cortisone shot and sit tomorrow, but is not likely to miss an extended period. Fontenot is a pretty good backup plan in case he does.

Andres Torres is apparently feeling better and will be good to go tomorrow.

Brian Sabean addressed the rotation issue on KNBR. The Giants don't think switching Timmy and Zito will help anything, and I agree. What they might do is jump Timmy ahead of MadBum on Wednesday. Timmy would be pitching on full rest while MadBum would get an extra day. What this would accomplish is that Timmy would then be on full rest for a potential tie-breaker game whereas if they stick with the regular rotation or even flip-flop Zito and Timmy, MadBum would have to pitch the tiebreaker. Not that I don't have faith in MadBum, but it's probably better to have Timmy pitch the tiebreaker or first game of a playoff series than the rook. It sounds like Sabes is saying that the Giants would make the Timmy-Zito switch if a rested Zeets could then pitch the tiebreaker but he would still be on 3 days rest. The notion that Zito is not good does not seem to in the equation.

After giving it some more thought, I still believe that it's just as important to win against the D'Backs as the Padres. If the Padres beat the Cubs and the Giants lose, no difference than H2H. If the Padres lose to the Cubs and the Giants win also no difference. The only scenario where the Giants might want to improve their chances against the Padres at the expense of losing to the D'Backs is if they both lose in games this week. Couple that with the fact that Zito has pitched much better against the Pads than the Snakes and I think it's best to leave well enough alone. Bottom line: The Giants have 6 games left. Winning any combination of 4 guarantees a tie with the Padres while 5 wins guarantees they are NL West Champions. Even 1 more game of help from the Cubs would be most welcome.

Addendum: Barry Zito's career splits vs D'Backs- 3-8, ERA= 5.15. vs Padres- 3-7, ERA= 4.23.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Game Wrap 09-26-2010: Giants 4 Rockies 2

The Giants needed a good game from Matt Cain today. He gave them a great one! Perfect through 4, no-no through 7. The offense gave him just enough run support to shake off a 2 run bomb by Melvin Mora in the 8'th. Brian Wilson and the entire bullpen now get two days of rest going into the final week. Key lines:

Cody Ross- 1 for 3, HR(14), 2 BB. Ross has now homered in 3 of his last 4 games.

Freddy Sanchez- 2 for 4, 2B, HR(7). BA= .296. Freddy is on a power surge. Today's dinger was an absolute bomb hit down the LF line way back into the cement canyons of Coors Field. He played with a sore shoulder and will get an MRI tomorrow. Let's all cross our fingers on this one.

Buster Posey- 1 for 3, BB. BA= .317. The line is OK, but Buster deserves huge props for calling a great game. I loved the way he called the last pitch of the game. With a runner at first, 2 outs and 2 strikes on Jason Giambi, Buster emphatically pointed down at home plate, pulled his hand up and then just as emphatically put down 2 fingers. I'm sure CarGone at first base could see it if he was paying attention. Cainer threw an absolutely perfect bender that froze Giambi. Game over! A great moment of enthusiasm from Buster.

Matt Cain- 9 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 8 K's. ERA= 2.95. Of all the great games I've seen Matt Cain pitch, I think this was the game of his life, so far. I remember how electrifying it was to watch him pitch early in his career, pumping fastball after fastball that hitters could never seem to square up, even when they knew it was coming. Cainer still has the fastball, maybe not quite as much juice on it, but much better command. He also has a full arsenal of secondary pitches he can throw whenever he wants to. He's all grown up and a pitching ace. The Giants have at least two of those now with Sanchez and Bumgarner rapidly catching up. Today, though, it was all Matt Cain. He was a Rock against the Rockies in Coors Field. How awesome is that?

With the W, the Giants moved back into first place in the NL West by 0.5 games over the Pesky Padres who got hammered by the Reds 12-2. The Reeling Rockies fell back to 4.5 games behind the Giants. In the Wild Card race, the Atlanta Braves dropped their second of 3 to the Washington Nationals 4-2 and are now 0.5 games behind the Padres.

The Giants now get a much needed day off while the Padres, Rockies and Braves all go back to work. Next up is the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday as the Giants begin the last 6 game of the season, all at home. The Giants starters for the D'Backs series are Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner, and Tim Lincecum.

Game Wrap 09-25-2010: Rockies 10 Giants 9

If the Giants were trying to play mind games with the Rockies over the humidor and juiced balls, real or imagined, it may have backfired on them last night. It was almost like the Rockies said, "you think that ball was juiced? We'll show you juiced baseballs!" This was one of those Coors Field games where no lead was safe. Even with a 9-6 lead late in the game, you just knew more runs were going to be scored. The Giants have played some brutal games against the Rockies this year, the 15 inning game, the broken bat triple 2-1 game, and last night. Heck, they've played some brutal games against every team in the NL West! They've won some very tough ones too. I'm sure the Rockies fans have heartburn over Friday's game as much as we do over last night's. I believe the NL West is the toughest division in the NL and the 2'nd toughest in baseball. These teams are all evenly matched and a bit of luck one way or the other is all you need to tip the balance. Key lines:

Andres Torres- 1 for 3, HR(15). Man, was it good to see Torres back out there or what? He made a nice running catch up against the wall in right-center to boot. Left the game early with some abdominal discomfort. Hope it's not a setback for him. Stay healthy, my friend!

Cody Ross- 1 for 3, HR(13). Ross replaced Torres and immediately hit a jam-shot HR to left. Man, either the air in Coors was mighty thin last night, or they were using all non-humidor balls! This was Cody's 2'nd HR in 3 games. When he gets hot, he can hit a few.

Freddy Sanchez- 2 for 5, 2B, HR(6). Strangely, right-center and RF seem to have become Freddy's power alley. Maybe he is taking hitting lessons from Andres Torres? You had to have a feeling something wasn't right with this game when Freddy muscled up early and sent one out, though.

Aubrey Huff- 4 for 5, HR(26). BA= .289. Huff Daddy had been struggling a bit. Nice game tonight.

Buster Posey- 0 for 4, BB. BA= .317. Is Buster getting fatigued? Maybe he should start at 1B today against the LHP? That would give him 2 days off from catching in a row.

Pat Burrell- 2 for 5. BA= .249. I don't know if a better LF could have prevented CarGone from scoring in the 10'th last night. Burrell fell down trying to cut it off and get a throw off. Still, Burrell has won several games with his bat and this game just felt like it was ultimately going to the Rockies anyway.

Barry Zito- 4.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 4 K's. ERA= 4.08. If you are like me, you mentally had figured that when the Giants streak of 18 games allowing 3 runs or fewer finally came to an end, it would be a game Barry Zito started. As OGC has pointed out, Zito is now the Giants #5 starter. Now, a #5 starter with 20 QS's isn't a bad thing at all, but he's the 5'th best starter on the team, and it's not a real close call. Agree with Bacci that #5 starters, even good # 5 starters, don't get paid $18 M/year, but I look at it as water long under the bridge, so I'm thankful they have 4 other pitchers that are so good, a guy with 20 quality starts is #5. Also, it may be this was just one of those Coors Field games. Nobody else pitched well either.

Brian Wilson- 1.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K's, BS(5), L(3-3). ERA= 1.90. Wilson was a gamer, but he looked gassed out there from the beginning, the first time I've thought that all season. I don't have a problem with most of Bochy's management of the bullpen in this one. Yeah, he could have left Romo in, but it was a huge out against a LH league MVP candidate. Those outs are why Lopez was acquired. If he gets it, Wilson starts the 9'th with a 2 run lead and the game might have been won. The only concern I have is why Wilson came out to pitch the 10'th when he was clearly gassed and Ramirez had been warming up. Ramirez is a fungible arm. Wilson is not. At that point in the game, I think you have to give the ball to Ramirez and tell him he's out there for the duration, win or lose, 1 inning or 10. Bacci is right, Wilson has to be completely off the table for today's game, probably would be even if he hadn't pitched the 10'th. Just gotta hope Wilson doesn't do to his arm what Robb Nen did to his in 2002. Look how long it took to find Nen's replacement and how painful that process was!

With the loss, the Giants once again fell out of first place to 0.5 games behind the Pesky Padres who just won't fold. The Pads won yet another 1 run game against the Reds 4-3. With the win, the Rockies move up to 4 games behind the leaders and 3.5 games behind the Giants. Don't count the Rocks out yet. I don't think we can count on St Louis winning even 1 of the games next weekend, and the Dodgers certainly can't be counted on to help. I have the Rockies winning at least 5 of their last 6, so today's game is close to a must-win for the Giants. In the Wild Card race, Atlanta blanked the Nats 5-0 behind Derek Lowe and are tied with the Giants.

Matt Cain has stood tall since mid-season and takes the mound today against Jorge De La Rosa.

7 games to go. Go Giants!!

P.S. The ump's strike zone was complete horsebleep in this one. Kruk commented on it several times. It was all over the place. No consistency whatsoever. He was inconsistent on both sides of the ball, but in the end, I thought he favored the Rockies, especially with Brian Wilson.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Game Wrap 09-24-2010: Giants 2 Rockies 1

Timmy flirted with perfection until the Rockies found an chink in his armor in the 6'th inning, but Pat Burrell quickly picked him up with a 2 run blast in the 7'th. Meanwhile, Timmy ignited a firestorm by mouthing something about "juiced balls" when he didn't like one the ump gave him. More on that later. Key lines:

Pat Burrell- 1 for 3, HR(19). BA= .247. Burrell's 2 run blast was the difference in a heckuva pitching duel and it came just in the nick of time. I really thought the Giants were headed to another 1-0 defeat when the Rockies broke through in the 6'th.

Tim Lincecum- 8 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 9 K's. 7 perfect innings. Just 2 hits total, but both in 1 inning for the Rockies only run. Seth Smith led off the bottom of the 6'th with a soft liner to LF that went for a double. Timmy threw a pitch in the dirt to the next batter, Miguel Olivo. The ump threw him a new ball. Tim held it in his hand and gave it a funny look, then started to rub it up. Suddenly, he looked up at the ump, held up the ball and clearly said, "new ball!". The ump threw him a new one. Then, on the videotape, you can clearly lip read Tim saying "F*** this juiced ball B***S***." The Giants have not exactly hidden their belief that the Rockies have been playing games with the baseballs in Coors Field. There have been whisperings, and even an on-air mention by Jon Miller that they believe the Rockies keep two sets of balls, one in the humidor and one in the dry Colorado air. The ballboy works for the Rockies and no one but the Rockies monitors the humidor. The belief is that when the ump needs a new set of balls for the game, the Rockies choose humidor balls when the opposing team is up and air-dried balls when the Rockies are up. Timmy's mouthed words went viral on the internet and the Giants filed a formal complaint with MLB. As a result, MLB announced that they will forthwith independently monitor the game balls in Coors Field. Nobody seems to know for sure if the Giants really believe the Rockies were cheating, or if this is just another example of gamesmanship by Bruce Bochy, who is becoming known as quite the trickster himself, to get in the heads of the Rockies. If that is the case, it all may have backfired on the Giants, but that will have to wait until the wrap for Saturday's game.

Brian Wilson- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, Save(45). ERA= 1.82. Wilson ties Robb Nen for #2 on the Giants all time single season Saves leaderboard behind Rod "Shooter" Beck's 48.

With the W, the Giants remained 0.5 games ahead of the pesky Padres who squeaked out anther 1 run win over the Cincinnati Reds 4-3. BTW, in that game, Aroldis Chapman of the Reds threw 25 pitches, all clocked at 100+ MPH including one pitch of 105.1 MPH, now officially the highest velocity pitch ever recorded! With the loss, the Rockies fell to 4.5 games behind the division leading Giants. In the Wild Card race, Atlanta lost to the Nats 8-3 to fall 0.5 games behind the Padres.

Barry Zito will try to keep the Giants amazing streak of allowing 3 runs or fewer going against Jason Hammel. We'll see if having humidor-stored baseballs guaranteed by MLB help keep the scoring down.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Game Wrap 09-23-2010: Giants 13 Cubs 0

The Giants hitters held a pregame meeting. Maybe that concentrated their minds in a way that a white hot pennant race couldn't? Maybe the baseball gods just decided it was Madison Bumgarner's turn for run support? Maybe Ryan Dempster just had a really bad day? In any event, the Giants offense continued it's Jekyll/Hyde act and piled on a mountain of runs for a Madison Bumgarner who obviously came geared up for another game going extra innings at 0-0 if need be. Key lines:

Mike Fontenot- 2 for 6, 2B. BA- .286. The Giants new leadoff batter?

Freddy Sanchez- 4 for 5, 2B. BA- .296. How can a guy go 4 for 5 in a game like this and only score 1 run and get 1 RBI to show for it?

Buster Posey- 2 for 4, HR(16). BA= .323. Buster had a rough night last night along with the entire Giants offense. Came back with a vengeance tonight.

Juan Uribe- 2 for 4, 2 HR(22). BA= .249. 2 HR's, 6 RBI's in one inning! Now that's taking responsibility for the offense!

Cody Ross- 3 for 5, HR(12). BA= .263. Ross seems to be heating up a bit. Had a double in last night's game.

Jose Guillen- 1 for 1, 2 HBP. BA= .266. Did Dempster have a beef with Guillen, or was he just wild?

Madison Bumgarner- 2 for 4. BA= .184. Kid can swing the bat too!

Madison Bumgarner- 7 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K's. ERA= 3.06. In MadBum's last 5 starts, his line is 1-2, 1.08!, 33 IP, 6 BB, 27 K's.

With the win, the Giants move back into first place in the NL West by 0.5 games over the San Diego Padres who lost to the Dodgers 3-1. Thank you Dodgers, finally! In Arizona, the D'Backs built a 10-2 lead and then had to hold off the late charging Colorado Rockies for a 10-9 win and a sweep to drop the Rocks 3.5 games behind the Giants. In the Wild Card race, Atlanta was idle and is now 0.5 games ahead of the Padres.

The Giants now travel to Colorado to take on the reeling Rockies. The Rocks are a completely different team at home though, and the Giants historically have all kinds of trouble in Coors field. The Giants will not face Ubaldo Jimenez and have Tim, Zito and Cainer going. If they can win 2 of 3, I will stick my neck out and say the Giants win the NL West. The Padres will be spending the weekend in Cincinnati where the Reds still have a magic number of 3, so should be motivated to win.

9 games to go! Go Giants!!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Game Wrap 09-22-2010: Cubs 2 Giants 0

The loss itself is not nearly as disheartening as the way it was lost. The Giants' offense was again impotent against a near MLB average pitcher never really threatening and hitting into bad luck when a threat could have been mounted. Key lines:

Jonathan Sanchez- 5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K's. ERA= 3.16. You can look at this start by Sanchez in two ways: 1. He clearly didn't have his command tonight running up over 100 pitches in less than 6 innings. 2. In spite of poor command, he hung in there and kept his team in the game, that is if there is such a thing as the Giants being in a game after the opposing team gets a 2 run lead. Again, this is a game where Sanchez likely would have melted down and been in the showers after 3+ innings in the not-so-distant past.

Randy Wells- 7.2 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K's. ERA= 4.28. In defense of the Giants offense, Wells is a legitimate MLB starting pitcher who has pitched very well in stretches in the past. He also was coming off a great start in his last appearance. He had a nice sinker and a wicked little backdoor slider that the ump was giving him plenty of leeway on, at least to my eye. The Giants also hit into terrible luck: 1. In the top of the 6'th, Freddy Sanchez singled with one out. Aubrey Huff then hit a screamer down the first base line but right into the glove of Xavier Nady who was pretty much standing right on the bag for a no-effort DP. 2. In the 7'th, Pat Burrell singled with 1 out. Jose Guillen hit a bullet that ate up Starlin Castro, but Castro kept the ball close enough, and it was hit so hard that he still had plenty of time to get the ball to the second baseman for the force on Burrell then the relay to 1B for the DP. In both cases, the Giants went from potential of 2 runners on base with 1 out to being done for the inning on well hit balls. Still, a playoff caliber team has to find a way to scratch out a run or 3 against a pitcher like Randy Wells, and the Giants did not do that in this game. After awhile, every pitcher starts to look like Cy Young out there. I mean, if the Giants get blanked by Randy Wells, how do they stand a chance against the Ryan Dempsters of the world?

Carlos Marmol- 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K's, Save(34). ERA= 2.72. Speaking of being dominated.....!

With the loss, the Giants tumbled back out of first place by 0.5 games to the Padres who beat the Choking Dogs again, this time by a 3-1 score behind the suddenly unhittable Tim Stauffer. The Rockies are losing late to the D'Backs 8-4 after taking a 4-0 lead in the first inning. If that holds up, the Rockies will be 3 games behind the Padres and 2.5 games behind the Giants. In the Wild Card race, the Braves lost again to the Phillies 1-0, so instead of a 1 game lead on the Padres, they now have a 0.5 game lead to the Giants.

Madison Bumgarner goes against Ryan Dempster tomorrow evening to try to win the series for the Giants. MadBum is a gamer, but at this point I don't think we can count on the Giants offense scoring on anybody, let alone Ryan Dempster.

Down on the Farm: BA's AZL Top 20 Prospects

It's time for BA to start their annual Top 20 Prospects by League series. First up is the Arizona League where the Giants field a team. The AZL has expanded with the addition of the Dodgers and Reds so it's a bit harder to make the list this year. The Giants placed just 2 prospects on the list this year: OF Chuckie Jones at #13 and RHP Heath Hembree at #16. Here are some comments from the scouting reports(My own thoughts will be in parentheses):

Jones- Built like a linebacker. Speed slightly above average, but the Giants believe he can stay in CF. Has shown he can go at get the ball. Best tool is raw power. Needs to improve pitch selection and learn to hit curveballs.

Hembree- Has a fresh arm due to not pitching many innings in college. "Overpowering" 93-98 MPH fastball and a power slider. Needs to improve fastball command and life, rely more on the slider. Has the makings of an effective changeup, will work on it in instructional league.

There were several Giants questions in the chat:

Rafael Rodriguez- gets some decent swings and even turns on a few balls. Don't see him driving the ball with authority. Didn't appear to get stronger from last year. Lots of "moving parts" in swing. The Giants know it will be a long, slow process with Rodriguez, but he's just turned 18 so is still a prospect.

Austin Fleet- pitched well but as a 23 year old 4 year college guy, doesn't profile as a prospect. (The Giants converted him from closing to starting, so I'll reserve judgement to see what he does at a higher level next year).

Kendry Flores- Fastball 90-94, touches 95. Good feel for breaking ball. Plus changeup. (sounds to me like he should have made the list).

Jacob Dunnington- Numbers very good, but Mitchell didn't get much of a read from scouts and managers.(I've read that Dunnington's fastball is around 92 MPH. Gotta love those numbers and at 19 is not too old for the league).

Chuckie Jones- "room on that big body to get even stronger."

5 years ago, the Giants had Waldis Joaquin, Sharon Martis and Sharlon Schoop make the list. Looking over the entire list from 5 years ago, it is apparent that you have to take these things with a grain of salt. The only guy who turned out to have star potential was #5 Nick Adenhart who's life was tragically cut short just as he was bursting onto the MLB scene.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Game Wrap 09-21-2010: Giants 1 Cubs 0

Matt Cain was dominant. Buster Posey went from possible goat to hero with a game winning HR. To say the bullpen was lights out is an understatement. Key lines:

Buster Posey- 1 for 4, HR(15). LOB=4. BA= .324. Buster hit a pop up to shallow RF with 2 outs and the bases loaded in the 5'th inning so he had some making up to do when he came to bat in the top of the 8'th inning. Cashner was throwing peas, but also falling behind most of the hitters. Buster got him into a hitter's count and then crushed one to dead center, a tremendous blast on a cool night in the not-so-friendly confines. I wonder if the scouts who project 15-20 HR's/season for Buster are underestimating the power of his swing because he doesn't look like he is swinging hard? He must be generating major bat head speed though, because he has hit some serious blasts in the last 2-3 weeks.

Matt Cain- 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 3.00. I think Cainer's experience with lack of run support is holding him in good stead right now. He's absolutely fearless out there and just pounding out the zeros. It's really a shame that he didn't have at least 1 run to work with because he only had thrown 82 pitches by the end of the 6'th inning when he was lifted for a pinch-hitter. Cainer came over in the dugout with the bat still in his hands and had a discussion with Bochy. It looked like it was never unfriendly and they seemed to part on good terms, but Cain sure didn't want to let go of that bat!

Bullpen- 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. As Kruk said, Bochy pinch-hitting for Cain in the 7'th was not a dis of Cainer, but a statement of absolute confidence in the bullpen. The bullpen certainly held up their end of the bargain retiring all 9 batters they faced with alacrity. In the end it was probably a wash as the PH failed to get on base and Buster hit his game winner in the 8'th, but the bullpen sure put an exclamation point on Bochy's confidence. Oh, and Brian Wilson recorded his 44'th Save putting him 1 behind Robb Nen's best season and 4 behind all-time season leader Rod "Shooter" Beck.

With the win, the Giants maintained their 0.5 game lead on the San Diego Padres who dominated the Choking Dogs 6-0 behind Clayton Richard. My goodness! The Dodgers' ineptitude is getting to be downright embarrassing! Surprisingly, the Colorado Rockies lost to the lowly D'Backs 3-1 and now trail the Giants by 2.5 games. How huge might that be? Even though the Wild Card race is not a factor as long as the Giants are in first place, we will just mention that the Braves lost to the Phillies 3-2 and lead the Padres by just 1 game.

Jonathan Sanchez takes the mound tomorrow night against Randy Wells. Wells pitched great in his last start, but Sanchez has been nails himself of late. Plus, it looks like all the starters have to worry about is going all out for 5 or 6 innings. The bullpen will take it from there, thank you.

11 games to go! Go Giants!!!!

Down on the Farm: Cal League Championship Series Game 5

The SJ Giants won a tight game 7-6 in 10 innings to take their second consecutive California League Championship winning the 5 games series with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 3 games to 2:

Juan Perez- 1 for 6, 3B. After a tough night, Perez tripled in the top of the 10'th and scored the winning run on a SF.

Jose Flores- 2 for 4, 2 BB.

Johnny Monell- 1 for 4, 2 BB.

Charlie Culberson- 2 for 5, 2B, SF. Culberson's SF was the game winner.

Brandon Crawford- 2 for 3, HR, 2 BB, S. Is Crawford ready to challenge for the starting SS gig in SF next spring? I say he needs AB's in the minors due to too much missed time this season from injury.

Justin Fitzgerald- 4.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 3 K's. Fitz was pitching on 3 days rest.

Wilmin Rodriguez- 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K's.

Jose Casilla- 1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

Jason Stoffel- 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K's. Casilla and Verdugo couldn't get out of the 8'th. Stoffel came in and kept it to a tie and then brought it home into extra innings. Stoffel has been inconsistent and pitched in some bad luck this year, but he was nails in this game.

Mike Trout- 2 for 3, BB, SB. Trout again impresses here. I remember there was some talk about the Giants looking at him for the 2009 draft. I'm not unhappy with the Wheeler pick at all. He's the best pitching prospect in a Giants system that is suddenly thin at pitcher, but my goodness! Trout is widely considered the top prospect in baseball going into next season and he certainly backed up that notion with his play in this series. The Angels CF of the future!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Down on the Farm: Cal League Championship Series Game 4

The San Jose Giants went down quietly in game 4 of their Championship series 4-0 against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes to set up a one game do-or-die finale tomorrow night in RC:

Ehire Adrianza- 2 for 2, 2B, BB

Not much else to highlight here.

Game Wrap 09-19-2010: Giants 9 Brewers 2

The pitching has been steady, but it's feast or famine with the Giants offense these days. It was feast time today as the Giants broke out the long ball to finally give Barry Zito some run support and the W. Key lines:

Buster Posey- 2 for 2, 2 2B, 3 BB. BA= .325. Buster was on base 5 times in 5 PA's, an on-base machine as opposed to Bengie Molina's out machine. Buster turned that into 3 runs scored today.

Pat Burrell- 1 for 2, HR(18), 2 BB. Burrell was also patient at the plate and it paid off big time in the first inning with Guillen's subsequent HR.

Jose Guillen- 2 for 4, HR(19). BA= .267. OK, can we finally stop the carping at Brian Sabean for acquiring Guillen and at Bochy for playing him? His bat is outweighs his admittedly limited defense. Oh yeah, Ribeyes taste pretty good, don't they? All 6 of Guillen's today came with 2 outs.

Barry Zito- 6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K's. ERA= 3.98. See what a little run support can do? Zito now is 1 out shy of 3 consecutive Quality Starts and he's made a total of 19 this season, a brutal August notwithstanding.

The Giants win moved them back into first place by 0.5 games over the Padres who lost 4-1 to Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals. Meanwhile, the Choking Dogs finally gave the Giants some help by coming from behind to tie the Rockies in the 9'th and then win it in extra innings 7-6 leaving the Rockies at 1.5 games behind the Giants a difference that could become huge in gteh coming days.

The Giants get tomorrow off before traveling to Chicago to face the Cubbies. The Giants start off facing a rejuvinated Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster, but the Giants counter with Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner for the series. After that, it's on to Coors Field to face down the very scary Rockies.

12 games to go, baby!! Go Giants!!!

Down on the Farm: Cal League Championship Series Game 3

San Jose Giants took a 2-1 lead in the series with a rousing 12-7 win in an extra inning slugfest:

I attended this game with a buddy who is also a Giants fan. What a hoot!

Francisco Peguero- 4 for 6, 2B. Peguero was stinging the ball all night, line drives and sharp grounders. He also booted a hard single in RF that allowed Mike Trout to advance to 3B and the two runners on base to score in the ninth. More on that later.

Jose Flores- 1 for 4, 3B, 2 BB. Flores drove in the go ahead run in the top of the 11'th with a triple up the right-centerfield alley to drive in Peguero who had reached on a strikeout/passed ball.

Brandon Crawford- 1 for 5, HR, BB. The HR was a grand slam in the 11'th to drive in 4 insurance runs. The HR ball easily cleared the high wall in CF.

Wendell Fairley- 1 for 2, HR. Fairley didn't hit his first and only HR of the season until late. He hit another one tonight, pulled it to RF, no doubter. Maybe Fairley is finally getting some confidence in his power stroke late this year?

James Simmons- 1 for 3, HR. Simmons came into the game as a pinch hitter for Fairley with 2 runners on base and a LHP on the mound. The pitcher was then lifted for a RHP. Simmons worked a 3-2 count and blasted a shot to right-center that was a no doubter. In his next two AB's, is looked like he absolutely coudn't handle breaking stuff while whiffing twice.

Kyle Woodruff- 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K's. If it wasn't for Mike Trout, Woodruff would have pitched a pretty good game. He's a big guy, but looks soft and is a soft tosser. Max velocity on the stadium gun was 87 MPH. He did have the RC batters out in front of off speed stuff frequently.

Ryan Verdugo- 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. Verdugo is a smallish LHP but got his fastball up to 93 MPH on the stadium gun and looked like he had good movement and secondary stuff to go with it.

Jose Casilla- 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's. Sinking fastball topped out at 90 MPH. He had the RC batters flailing at a sharp breaking ball that they didn't seem to be picking up.

Jason Stoffel- 1 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K's. Stoffel pitched in terrible luck. The first baserunner reached on a K/WP. Then, after a walk to put two runners on base, Mike Trout hit a liner to RF that Peguero booted. Perez picked up the ball and missed the cut off man allowing both runners to score and Trout to go all the way to 3B on what should have been a single. Stoffel was much more deliberate tonight than when I saw him earlier in the season in Lake Elsinore. He also seemed to be doing a better job of mixing in off speed pitches to keep the hitters off balance. His fastball sat at 92 MPH and I think it reached 94 once.

Wilmin Rodriguez- 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K. It's easy to see why the Giants have been patients it Rodriguez. He's a big LHP with a fastball that runs 90-94 MPH. The Quakes hit a couple of line drive singles and he got a couple of loud outs that were right at fielders so he wasn't really fooling anyone, but the tools certainly appear to be there. I could easily see him being a MLB LOOGY(Lefthanded One Out Guy) or something. The Giants really seem want at least 2 of those in their bullpen at all times.

Mike Trout- 4 for 5, 2 HR, BB. This game was really a showcase for Trout. Many prospect rankings have him as #1 or #2 prospect in all of baseball and one could certainly see why from this performance. My goodness! What a combination of size, speed and power! He seemed to be playing the game at a higher level that the other players on the field. The Angels' CF of the future.

Game Wrap 09-18-2010: Brewers 2 Giants 1

Tim Lincecum gave up a bases loaded bloop two run single in the 4'th inning, and that was the ballgame. Yovani Gallardo hardly broke a sweat in stifling the Giants offense. The Giants had one chance to win it in the bottom of the 5'th inning as they loaded the bases with 1 out. Unfortunately, Mike Fontenot grounded into a force out scoring just one run and we all know what happens to Giants baserunners after there are two outs. Key lines:

Yovani Gallardo- 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K's. ERA= 3.55.

Tim Lincecum- 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 3 K's ERA= 3.60. Timmy lost the game on a bloop hit, but he had loaded the bases. He wasn't happy with being lifted for a PH in the bottom of the 5'th, but it was the right call by Bochy who realized that was likely his only chance to win the game.

With the loss, the Giants also lost their lead in the NL West as the Padres scored 4 runs in the top of the 9'th to beat the Cards 8-4 and Colorado crushed the Dodger behind Troy Tulowitzki's 2 bombs 12-2. The Padres lead the Giants by 0.5 games and the Rockies by just 1. The Rockies are white hot and looking like the most likely team to win the division as of right now. The Giants also lost ground in the Wild Card race as Atlanta beat the Mets behind Tim Hudson 4-2 to take a 2 game lead for the 4'th playoff spot.

It's up to Barry Zito to stop the bleeding tomorrow. He goes against Chris Narveson who also has been pitching much better late in the season. The BrewCrew could very well get revenge for the 4 game sweep the Giants laid on them in Milwaukee earlier in the season.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Update on Plans

I am definitely going to the SJ Giants vs Rancho Cucamonga Quakes game tonight at the Epicenter. I'll be wearing my Matt Cain #43 shirt(his rookie year number) if anyone wants to stop by and say hi. Most likely will be sitting somewhere on first base side of the stadium.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Down on the Farm: Cal League Championship Series Game 2

It won't be a sweep as the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes defeated the Fresno Grizzlies 4-2:

Johnny Monell- 2 for 3, 2 HR, HBP.
Kelvin Marte- 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K's.
Hector Correa- 1.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 1 K.

Monell's LH bat would make a nice backup to Buster Posey someday, don't you think? Correa continues the trend of pitchers struggling after promotion in the Giants system.

Game 3 tomorrow at the Epicenter in Rancho Cucamonga. I've had a change in schedule, so may be going to this game instead of Sunday night. Will make a post when I know for sure.

Game Wrap 09-17-2010: Brewers 3 Giants 0

Short write up tonight. The Giants offense didn't show up for the game. End of story. Key lines:

Madison Bumgarner- 5.2 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K's. ERA= 3.27. It was a struggle all evening for Bumgarner, but his pitching is not the reason the Giants lost this game. On the other hand, he personally snuffed out the only real chance they had at a rally in the 3'rd inning when he bunted way too hard, with runners on first and second with no outs, into a DP.

Randy Wolf- 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K's. ERA= 4.32. Don't be fooled by the ERA, Wolf has been lights out in September so far. Of all the explanations for the decline in hitting in MLB, IMO, the cut fastball is as good as it gets. It has similar movement as a slider, but with higher velocity, easier to throw and control, and easier to conceal. Wolf had a great little cutter going tonight and the Giants were never able to solve it.

Mat Latos and the Padres got shelled by the Cards 14-4 so the Giants remain 0.5 games ahead in the NL West, but the Rockies are leading the Dodgers late. If that stands up, the Rocks will be just 1.5 games behind the Giants in 3'rd place.

Tim Lincecum takes the mound tomorrow evening against Yovani Gallardo, another hot pitcher, one with ace potential, who has had tough season, but seems to be putting it together in September. This could get rocky, folks!

Go Giants!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Down on the Farm: Cal League Championship Series Game 1

The San Jose Giants obliterated the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 10-0:

Francisco Peguero- 2 for 5.
Johnny Monell- 2 for 5, HR, SB
Ehire Adrianza- 2 for 3, BB.
Drew Biery- 2 for 3, 2B, S.
Wendell Fairley- 1 for 3, BB.
Justin Fitzgerald- 7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K's.

Nice offensive contributions from several players. Fitzgerald has really elevated his game here at the end of the season. His stock is rising rapidly!

At this rate, Game 4 in RC on Sunday may not be necessary. That's the one I was planning to attend. I may have to try to find a way to get to Saturday's game. I get off work at 6:30 PM and the game starts at 7:00. Maybe I'll just have to arrive late, or something?

Game Wrap 09-16-2010: Giants 10 Dodgers 2 First Place Baby!

The Giants crushed the Choking Dogs tonight behind the dominant pitching of Jonathan Sanchez and a pent up offense that unleashed its fury on a hapless Ted Lilly and a bunch of gas cans that passes for the Dodgers' bullpen. In the process, the Giants jumped past the San Diego Padres, who were blanked by the St Louis Cardinals, to take sole possession of first place in the NL West. Key lines:

Edgar Renteria- 4 for 5, 3B. BA= .284. Renteria ignited the 4 run 3'rd inning by laying down a perfect bunt for a base hit catching none other than Casey Blake napping at 3B. I think the Giants have found their leadoff batter for the stretch run. Rent's defense at SS was noticeably more nimble than Juan Uribe's of late.

Freddy Sanchez- 2 for 4, 2 2B, BB. BA= .290. Nice game from Freddy.

Aubrey Huff- 2 for 4, 3B, HR(25). BA= .294. A 2 out triple in the first to set up the get-back run on Posey's double, then a 3 run blast to RF in the pivotal 3'rd inning. Dude's been the leader all year and he led the way tonight as well.

Buster Posey- 2 for 5, 2B, HR(14). BA= .325. Usually when the Giants get a runner to 3B and there is 2 outs, it seems like you can pretty much count on them staying at 3B. Ain't havin' it with Buster up there! 2 out double to over the head of Reed Johnson in RF, who may not have been seeing the ball real well out there tonight, in the bottom of the first to bring Huff Daddy home from 3B. Then, Posey comes back in the 3'rd inning with an absolute bomb to LF going back-to-back with the Huff Daddy. I'm not sure if this one was harder hit that Burrell's bomb off the W sign in Petco Park, but my goodness! Can you hit a ball any harder than Posey's shot tonight? I don't think the ball ever got higher than it's landing point, a good 2/3's of the way up the bleachers in LF, almost an unbelievable feat on a cold, foggy night in AT&T Park. I'm telling you. The people who said Buster's ceiling is 15 HR's per season had it all wrong, just wrong!

Jose Guillen- 3 for 3, HR(18). BA= .264. Guillen's 2'nd HR as a Giant. Wouldn't it be something if he got hot down the stretch?

Jonathan Sanchez- 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 12 K's. ERA= 3.21. As recently as earlier this year, a double to the leadoff batter followed by a run-allowing error before he recorded his first out would have been reason for Jonathan Sanchez to go into one of his funks, start nibbling, walk a bunch of batters and hit the showers early. Not tonight! Sanchez shrugged the first two batters off like a fly on his shoulder and went after the Dodgers with a vengeance and focus that I don't think I've ever seen in him before, although his resolve has been steadily improving over the course of the season. Just a dominant start by a confident pitcher who looked like he believed he belonged out there. Watch out MLB! There is yet another new star in San Francisco! There was a heart-in-the throat moment when Sanchez took a pitch off his left hand while trying to bunt, but again, he shook it off and just kept on mowing down the Dodgers hitters. Let's hope those fingers don't swell up tonight or something!

As mentioned above, the Giants win and the Padres loss moved the Giants into first place in the NL West for the first time since May 6, by 0.5 games. The Rockies did not play, so they remain 2.5 games out of first place, but now it's the Giants they trail by 2.5! Since the Giants are in first place, the Wild Card race is a non-factor for now, but the current Wild Card holder Atlanta was idle and now owns an 83-64 record, identical to the Giants.

The BrewCrew now comes to town for a 3 game weekend series. Madison Bumgarner leads it off tomorrow night followed by Tim Lincecum on Saturday and Barry Zito on Sunday. Meanwhile, San Diego continues their 4 game series in St Louis and the Rockies go to LA where the pitching matchups favor a 2-1 series win for Colorado.

Go Giants!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Game Wrap 09-15-2010: Giants 2 Dodgers 1

Chad Billingsley and Matt Cain hooked up in yet another classic pitcher's duel, something that has become somewhat of a daily occurrence for the Giants this season. The Giants cashed in a pinch hit double by Travis Ishikawa to break the 0-0 tie in the bottom of the 7'th inning. They added an insurance run in the bottom of the 8'th inning which they ultimately needed to stave off the Dodgers after Andre Ethier took Brian Wilson deep with 2 outs in the top of the 9'th inning. Key lines:

Mike Fontenot- 1 for 4. BA= .284. Fontenot hit the ball hard 3 times before blooping one over second base to drive in the Giants first run of the game in the 7'th. As Vin Scully would say, "go figure!"

Aubrey Huff- 1 for 3, 2B, BB. BA= .292. Huff hit a slicing double to LF off reliever George Sherrill to lead off the 8'th after Fontenot had gotten thrown out trying to steal 2B to end the 8'th inning. He took 3B on a wild pitch by Kenley Jansen and then hustled home ahead of the throw from the second baseman on Pablo Sandoval's ground ball to score the insurance run that proved to be the difference in the game. Hey, at least Pablo put the ball in play!

Buster Posey- 2 for 3, BB. Another good game for Buster. Have I ever mentioned that I love the way he catches Brian Wilson? The Ethier HR notwithstanding, I thought Buster gave Wilson great targets on the outside corner and loved the call for the high heat to strike out Theriot for the second out.

Travis Ishikawa- 1 for 1, 2B. Travis pinch hit for Cain in the 7'th and delivered leading to a very nice W for Cainer. Bochy pinch ran Burriss for Travis and Burriss easily took 3B on the passed ball then came home on Fontenot's bloop hit over 2B.

Matt Cain- 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K's. ERA= 3.08. As Howard Cosell used to say, a "scintillating" performance by the Cainer. The Giants managed to get him the W in the process.

Sergio Romo- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K. ERA= 2.37. No K's, but Romo was dominant eliciting 2 weak flyballs and a weak grounder.

Brian Wilson- 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 2 K's, Save(43). ERA= 1.90. Wilson decided to make things interesting by throwing a fat one to Andre Ethier that caught the jet stream in left-center field. He temporarily lost his composure against the next batter Gibbons sailing his pitches high and away. He settled down in time to get to a 3-2 count, a count Brian is very comfortable with and I am learning to be comfortable with him in a 3-2 count. No contest! Blew Gibbons away with 98 MPH cheese on the outside corner thanks to a very nice target provided by Buster Posey.

The Padres lost to the Rockies 9-6, so the Giants move up to 0.5 games behind for the NL West Division lead. With the W, Colorado moves up to 2.5 games off the pace and 2 games behind the Giants. In the Wild Card race, Atlanta lost again to the Nats 4-2 so the Giants are now just 0.5 games behind the Braves. With the Braves having to face a red hot Phillies team 6 games out of their last 12, I really think the NL Wild Card team is going to come out of the West.

Jonathan Sanchez takes the mound tomorrow evening against Ted Lilly, who pitched very well against the Giants in LA only to have his bullpen blow the game for him. Well, he did help lose it by giving up solo HR's to Buster Posey and Edgar Renteria.

Bruce Bochy once again confounded the haters by leaving Aaron Rowand on the bench for this game. Jose Guillen also sat with a cervical disk problem so the Giants fielded a defensive oriented OF of Eugenio Velez in LF, Cody Ross in CF and Nate Schierholtz in RF. Hey, they scored more runs than a more offensive oriented lineup the night before. If you aren't going to score runs anyway, might as well try to keep the other team from scoring! I'll predict an OF of Burrell, Rowand and Ross tomorrow night against Lilly.

San Jose Giants start the Cal League Championship series against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes tomorrow night in San Jose. It's looking like I will try to make the Sunday evening game at the Epicenter.

Go Giants! Beat LA!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Game Wrap 09-14-2010: Dodgers 1 Giants 0

There are times when it is good for a manager to let his starting pitcher work his way out of a jam, to try and build his confidence, or to preserve a tired bullpen. A 0-0 game against the Dodgers in mid-September in the heat of a pennant race is not one of those times.

This was not a game I expected the Giants to win, but Barry Zito came out totally locked in throwing magical stuff. He matched the hard-throwing Clayton Kershaw pitch for pitch, inning for inning through 5. I really thought Zeets might be pitching the game of his life right here tonight. Then, in the 6'th, with one out, Zito hit Reed Johnson with a pitch that Johnson actually started to swing at. Not sure if the rule saying the batter has to try to avoid getting hit applies here, but it never does, and the Giants have benefited from this type of HBP several times in the last couple of years, so I can't really complain, just dumb luck, I guess. The next batter was Clayton Kershaw, who got the sac bunt down sending Reed to 2B. No big deal, right? There were 2 outs, right? Well, except that the next batter was Rafael Furcal who has absolutely worn out the Giants and Barry Zito all year, so it was no surprise that Zito pitched around him walking him on 4 pitches, none of which were intended to hit the strike zone. Unfortunately, the next batter, Andre Ethier, who Zito had made look silly in his previous AB's drew an unintentional walk to load the bases with Casey Blake coming up.

Bruce Bochy had correctly gotten Santiago Casilla up in the bullpen, and the situation seemed to be tailor made for him. RH batter Casey Blake, a Giants nemesis who has 3 career HR's off Barry Zito, an out you have to get, no way is Clayton Kershaw giving up so much as a 1 run lead in this game. Buster Posey went out to the mound to talk to Zito. I figured that he was just buying time for Casilla to get in a few more warmup pitches. The ump went out to break it up and Posey returned to his post behind the plate. I waited for Bochy to come out of the dugout.......Bochy let Zito pitch to Blake! Granted, Zito just needed one out to get out of the inning. Granted, he had given up just 1 hit and faced the minimum number of batters coming into the inning, but the batter was Casey $#&@ Blake and Zito has a history of falling apart rather quickly. Also granted, Zito pitched ol' Casey pretty darn good. In the end, Blake hit a hard grounder up the middle that Zeets managed to deflect off his glove, which gave Juan Uribe a chance to field it......and Uribe booted it! Everybody was safe and the run that I knew in my heart was the winning run crossed the plate. Uribe was charged with an error, but I'm not absolutely sure he would have gotten the runner at 2B even had he fielded it cleanly. His momentum was carrying him in the wrong direction and it would have been a tricky flip even with a clean pick. In any event, the damage was done.

I know it can be argued both ways, but I would have brought in Santiago Casilla to pitch to Blake without a moment's hesitation. I really expected that was what was going to happen. Watching Santiago Casilla come in and blow 96 MPH fastballs by Matt Kemp, balls that Kemp is still trying to catch up to, just made the realization that the game was probably over even more excruciating.

The Padres held on to edge the Rockies one more time, 7-6 to extend their lead in the NL West to 1.5 games over the Giants and 3.5 games over the Rockies. In the Wild Card race, the Braves lost to the Nats 6-0 to remain 1.5 games ahead of the Giants.

This was not a must-win for the Giants. As I said before, I didn't expect them to win this game. It just makes the next two games near-must-wins. Matt Cain takes the mound tomorrow to face another tough customer in Chad Billingsley. Unfortunately, this is another game in Cainer's career where he could pitch absolutely great, and still lose as Billz has pretty much dominated the Giants this season. Come on Giants hitters, at least go up there looking to run up his pitch counts a bit. Try to foul some balls off with two strikes just to keep the AB alive a bit longer, if nothing else!

Down on the Farm: Giants advance to Cal League Finals

The Giants downed the Modesto Nuts 8-2 to complete a sweep of the Northern Division final and propel them into the California League Championship against the winner of the Rancho Cucamonga/Lake Elsinore matchup:

Jose Flores- 4 for 5.
Brandon Crawford- 2 for 4.
Ehire Adrianza- 1 for 3, HR, S.
Michael Sandoval- 3 for 4, HR
Johnny Monell- 1 for 4, SF.
Kyle Woodruff- 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K's.
Ryan Verdugo- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.
Hector Correa- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K'.s

Adrianza played SS while Crawford played 3B. Hector Correa moves up from Augusta for the playoffs.

I guess I'm rooting for Rancho Cucamonga to win the Southern Division series. It's a bit easier to get to the Epicenter than The Diamond for a game.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Down on the Farm: Cal League Playoffs

9/11/20010 San Jose Giants defeated the Modesto Nuts 7-3:

Francisco Peguero- 2 for 5, 2B.
Jose Flores- 3 for 5, 2B.
Johnny Monell- 0 for 2, 3 BB, SB.
Brandon Crawford- 1 for 3, 2 BB, SB.
Wendell Fairley- 1 for 2, 2B.
Juan Perez- 1 for 4, 2B, HBP.
Justin Fitzgerald-7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K's.
Jose Casilla- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.

No Brandon Belt. Crawford getting some extra AB's. Fitz' successful move to starting plus his strong finish to the season should move him way up the Giants top prospect rankings. I'll have to go look it up. I don't remember if I included him in this year's preseason top 50. Casilla moves up from Augusta for the playoffs. Hope to see Casilla get more innings next year.

9/12/2010 San Jose Giants edged the Modesto Nuts 6-5:

Francisco Peguero- 3 for 5, 2B.
Juan Perez- 1 for 5, SB.
Charlie Culberson- 1 for 4, 2B.
Brandon Crawford= 3 for 4, SB.
Joel Weeks- 1 for 3, 2B, SB.
Kelvin Marte- 4.2 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 0 K's.
Wilmin Rodriguez- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.
Jason Stoffel- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

Peguero and Crawford again lead the way. Shaky start for Marte. Rodriguez pitched for both Richmond and Augusta during the season. He started out the season bad, but got stronger as it went along.

Check out for John Klima's take on the Giants draft. He likes it a whole lot more than most analysts. He likes Gary Brown, is in love with Seth Rosin and thinks Chuckie Jones has a chance to be a special player.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Game Wrap 09-12-2010: Giants 6 Padres 1

Tim Lincecum dominated the Padres for 7 innings while Buster Posey and the offense gave him plenty of support against Mat Latos, a heretofore nemesis as the Giants once again moved into a tie for first place in the NL West with the Pads. The elation was tempered by word that the Giants have lost Andres Torres for most, if not all, the remainder of the season to an appendectomy. Key lines:

Aubrey Huff- 3 for 5. BA= .294. With the first two spots in the batting order going 0 for 10, Huff Daddy needed to get on base and he did just that, scoring ahead of Buster's two run blast in the first inning and again on a SF by Jose Guillen in the 3'rd inning.

Buster Posey- 2 for 4, HR(13), BB. BA= .324. Buster took out his frustration with the pitch calling from Saturday with a two-run blast in the first inning which proved to be the only margin the Giants needed in this one. He also helped set up the Giants 3'rd run of the game by advancing Aubrey Huff to 3B on a single in the 3'rd. Huff then scored on Guillen's SF.

Juan Uribe- 2 for 4, 2B. BA= .251. Uribe helped set up a couple of insurance runs in the 4'th by doubling with Pablo Sandoval on first base after a walk to set up a runners on 2'nd and 3'rd with no outs situation for Tim Lincecum.

Tim Lincecum- 1 for 2, BB. BA= .111. Tim Lincecum has helped himself with the bat a number of times in his career. Here, he gave himself a couple of insurance runs by singling to drive in Sandoval and Uribe from 3B and 2B respectively.

Aaron Rowand- 0 for 5. BA= .231. Andres Torres has been struggling lately, but even at that, he can't be as bad as Aaron Rowand against RH pitchers. I'm not against Gamer playing against LHP's in Torres' absence, but the Giants have to find another alternative against RHP's. Cody Ross? Nate Schierholtz? Eugenio Velez? Darren Ford anyone? Almost any option has to be better than Rowand who is practically an automatic out againsts RHP's at this stage. The Giants didn't need any offense from the leadoff spot today, but they will in the future and Rowand isn't going to give it, at least vs RHP's.

A big win for the Giants as they leave Petco tied for first place with the Padres as opposed to a 2 game deficit had they lost this one. The Colorado Rockies continued their charge with a 4-2 win over the hapless D'Backs to stay 1.5 games behind the Giants, but that means they are just 1.5 games out of first place now too! The Atlanta Braves lost to the Cards 7-3 to drop out of a first place tie with the Phillies, who blanked the Mets 3-0 behind Roy Oswalt, in the NL East. The Braves lead the Giants and Padres by 1 game in the Wild Card race.

The Giants now have a day off before Barry Zito takes on the Dodgers in AT&T park on Tuesday, 9-14-2010. Meanwhile, the Padres travel to Colorado to take on the surging Rockies in a series that starts tomorrow.

Looking ahead, the Giants have 12 of their last 18 games at home with four 3-game series' against the Dodgers, Brewers, D'Backs and the finale against the Padres. Their 6 road games consist of 3 each against the Cubs and Rockies.

The Padres have 20 games left and play 13 on the road with 3 games each against the Rockies, Dodgers and Giants and 4 against the Cardinals while playing 3 at home against the Reds and 4 against the Cubbies. The respective schedules would seem to favor the Giants over the Padres the rest of the way. Momentum also works in the Giants favor here.

The Rockies have 19 games left, with 9 at home with 3 each against the Padres, Giants and Dodgers and 10 on the road with 3 each against the Dodgers and D'Backs and a 4 game finale against the Cardinals. Again, the remaining schedule would seem to slightly favor the Giants vs the Rockies except that the Rockies are so darn hot right now the schedule looks to be of little comfort to Giants fans.

As for the Wild Card, Atlanta has 18 games left with 9 at home and 9 on the road. The home games are 3 each vs the Nats, Marlins and the season finale against the Phillies. The road games are 3 each against the Mets, Phillies and Nats. Note that 6 of their remaining 18 games are against the Phillies.

The Giants probably need to win every series between now and the end of the season, including the one in Colorado in order to hold of the Rockies, and even that might not be enough! It would seem that the Giants have at least an even chance of overtaking the Braves for the Wild Card if necessary.

Go Giants!!

Game Wrap 09-11-2010: Padres 1 Giants 0

The score was reversed from the Friday night game as the Giants bats continued to be impotent against Padres pitching wasting a fine pitching performance by the Giants rapidly improving rookie pitcher. This might not be all the Giants hitters' fault though. I only saw part of one inning of this game because I was in meetings all day, but I saw home plate umpire call two pitches strikes on Buster Posey that were at least 6 inches off the plate. Yorvit Torrealba had just put the Padres ahead with a HR in the bottom of the 3'rd inning. Posey made it obvious he was frustrated with the calls and the Giants bench barked at Crawford who came over and had an arm waving, animated discussion with the bench, but didn't throw anybody out. I had to get back to my meeting, but I said to myself, "uh-oh! This just might end up a 1-0 game if that's the way the ump is calling them!" Key lines:

The Giants offense managed just 3 hits, so there are no offensive key lines.

Madison Bumgarner- 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K's. ERA= 3.28. Oh my! MadBum was, again, throwing 93-94 MPH darts in this one. Too bad one mistake had to ruin an otherwise stellar pitching performance by the rookie. On one hand, you can say that if MadBum keeps pitching like this, the Giants are in great shape. On the other hand the time left to make up for a disappointing loss like this is rapidly running out. Giants fans have to be excited about a future that includes this kid in the rotation for the next several years, though!

Tim Stauffer- 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K's. ERA- 1.54. I know Stauffer is a former first round draft choice and still has the stuff to be a good pitcher, but based on what I saw in the 4'th inning pitching to Buster Posey, he got a lot of help from the umpire. I didn't see enough to know whether Crawford was giving the same kind of strikes to Bumgarner, but even if he did, that's no excuse for calling pitches that are clearly way out of the strike zone, strikes. Crawford needs to take a look at this score, look at the attendance in the stands, look at himself in the mirror and ask himself whether he is helping the game by this kind of pitch calling. The technology clearly exists to take balls and strikes calling out of the hands of the umpires. A game like this gives a lot of credence to the notion that maybe it should happen some day.

Heath Bell- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K's, Save(40). ERA= 1.67. Bell has 40 Saves against just 3 blown Saves while Brian Wilson has 42 Saves against 4 blown Saves. It would seem that NL Fireman of the Year will come down to these two and probably should depend on which team wins the NL West and/or makes the playoffs assuming Colorado doesn't jump up and knock them both out.

With the loss, the Giants drop 1 game behind the Padres in the race for the NL West division title. Colorado, once again, took the D'Backs this time by a score of 2-1 to stay 2.5 games behind the Padres, but move up on the Giants to just 1.5 games behind second place.

Tim Lincecum takes the hill in tomorrow's finale for the Giants in Petco Park both for this series and for the season. He will be opposed by wunderkind Mat Latos who was dominating against the Dodgers his last time out after having his start delayed by one day due to a case of apparent gastroenteritis. It's not quite a must-win game for the Giants, but leaving Petco tied for first place would be a whole lot better than 2 games behind, especially with the Rockies breathing down their necks.

Game Wrap 09-10-2010: Giants 1 Padres 0

Catching up after a quick business trip to Portland OR.

Jonathan Sanchez was effectively wild for 5 innings and the bullpen took over from there. Aubrey Huff almost singlehandedly scratched out a run off Clayton Richard who has had ownage on the Giants during his brief career so far, and the Giants moved into a tie for first place in the NL West with a 1-0 win over the Padres, a nice payback for all those low-scoring wins early in the season by the Padres. Key lines:

Aubrey Huff- 0 for 3, HBP, SB(6). BA= .291. Huff Daddy took matters into his own hands in the 7'th inning of a scoreless game, but not in the way he usually does it. First, he got hit by a pitch to get on base. Then he stole second base on strike 3 swinging by Pat Burrell. Jose Guillen hit a grounder to shortstop. Huff broke for 3'rd and somehow managed to beat Tejada's Fielder's Choice throw. Huff gave 3B Tim Flannery a high five while sitting in the dirt! Jose Uribe then grounded into a force out at 2B that would have been an inning-ending DP had not pinch runner Nate Schierholtz barreled into 2B to break it up. Huff scored on the play, the only run of the game!

Jonathan Sanchez- 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 7 BB, 4 K's. ERA= 3.29. Wow! What a line! Not one likely to settle the debate over whether the GIants should trade or keep Sanchez over the winter. Sanchez didn't have his best fastball tonight, so he just kept throwing breaking stuff up there, figuring it was better to walk batters than to buckle and give them something juicy to hit. Can't argue too much with the results, although 5 IP is awfully early for a starter to leave the game. I guess us Giants fans will just have to accept that Sanchez gave the team and us what was needed tonight and settle the issue of his long term ceiling another day.

Bullpen- 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K's. Brian Wilson once again went more than 1 inning, pitching to last 1.2 IP allowing just one BB, to gain Save #42 on the season. Wilson has an outside chance of breaking Rod "Shooter" Becks Giants all time single season Saves record of 48. Robb Nenn had 43 in 2002 and 45 in 2001.

The win moved the Giants into a tie with the Padres for first place in the NL West, 2.5 games ahead of the Colorado Rockies who crushed the D'Backs 13-4.

Madison Bumgarner takes the mound tomorrow afternoon facing Tim Stauffer in a game that will test the Rookie's mettle in a Fox Game of the Week game in the midst of a gripping pennant race.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Blogger's Note

I will be out of town for the weekend and may not have access to the blog. If not, I will catch up Sunday evening. Go Giants! Beat the Padres!!

Stand Up to Cancer!

I forgot to mention in the game wrap that last night's game was Stand Up to Cancer night at Petco Park. A large group dressed in bright yellow T-shirts stood in the RF stands the entire game. Major kudos to Heath Bell, whose father was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year, for joining them in standing for the whole game. Bell and the Padres bullpen have helped raise money for the organization all year.

I have to say, when I saw Bell standing up out there on the RF porch, I wondered if that meant he was unavailable for this game, or if he was available, if standing all game would have an impact on his performance. As it turned out, it didn't matter. Fortunately a Save situation never came up for either team in this game.

Anyway, I don't like Heath Bell one bit when he's out there on the mound against the Giants in the 9'th inning, but gotta give credit where it's due. He stood up for a good cause last night.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hot Tip! Buster Posey Interview

Check out John Klima has a great interview with Buster Posey and obviously thinks very highly of the young man, as we all do!

Game Wrap 09-09-2010: Giants 7 Padres 3

Well, the Giants waited for the long ball to score their runs tonight, but they didn't wait long as they peppered the outer reaches of Petco Park with bomb after bomb in support of more dominant pitching from Matt Cain. Key lines:

Andres Torres- 1 for 5, 3B. BA= .272. Torres set the tone for the game by leading off with his seventh triple of the season and coming in to score on Freddy Sanchez' single.

Freddy Sanchez- 3 for 5, SB(3). BA= .289. Freddy drove in the first run with a single, then singled ahead of Huff's 2 run blast in the 3'rd inning.

Aubrey Huff- 3 for 4, 2B(32), HR(24), BB. BA= .293. Huff Daddy has been struggling, but he sure picked a great time to bust out of hit. He was stroking it tonight just like he has all season before the recent slump. I had a pretty strong feeling about this game after his dinger into the sandbox in CF the the 3'rd inning.

Buster Posey- 2 for 5, HR(12). BA= .325. Buster never looks like he's swinging that hard, it's just so effortless, but he must generate tremendous bat speed. This one was a blast into the second deck in LF to drive in Freddy and himself.

Pat Burrell- 2 for 2, HR(17). BA= .253. When Burrell gets in one of his HR tears, he's as good a power hitter as there is anywhere. He's seems to be in one of those right now. This blast ricocheted off the W in the Western Metal Supply sign above the 4'th floor of the brick building down the LF line in Petco, an epic blast!

Juan Uribe- 2 for 2, HR(20), 2 BB. BA= .248. Talk about getting hot and carrying a team. Not that Uribe is the only one getting it done, but my goodness, is he dialed in right now, or what?

Matt Cain- 8 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 8 K's. ERA= 3.19. The final line does not do justice to Cain's performance tonight as he came out to try for a complete game only to give up a single to the pesky David Eckstein and a 2 run HR to Ryan Ludwick. Take those two hits away and his line becomes 8 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 K's. Dominant!

Kevin Correia- 3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K's. ERA= 5.46. Looks like Correia has tumbled all the way out of the Padres starting rotation to mop up duty.

With the W, the Giants move to 1 game behind the Padres for the NL West lead. The Colorado Rockies beat the Cincinnati Reds once again, this time coming from a 5 run deficit to win 6-5 with Chris Nelson's steal of home in the 8'th inning proving to be the winning run. The Win left the Rockies just 3.5 games behind the Padres and 2.5 games behind the Giants. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves lost to the Cardinals 11-4 and losing ground to 1 game ahead of the Giants in the Wild Card race.

Jonathan Sanchez goes against Clayton Richard in a battle of lefthanders that holds the promise of an epic pitching duel, but not quite as epic as Mat Latos vs Tim Lincecum on Sunday.

Game Wrap 09-08-2010: D'Backs 3 Giants 1

Barry Zito went out and pitched himself a pretty good game in this one, but after a first inning HR by Freddy Sanchez, the Giants bats fell silent. Daniel Hudson wasn't nearly as dominating has he's been in past starts, but held passive Giants lineup scoreless after the first inning. Key lines:

Freddy Sanchez- 1 for 4, HR(5). BA= .285. Unfortunately, that was all the scoring the offense could muster.

Barry Zito- 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 7 K's. A solid effort. I'm blaming the Giants offense for this loss.

Jeremy Affeldt- 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 0 K's. ERA= 4.34. There is a big psychological difference between a 1 run deficit and a 2 run deficit in the late innings. Might not have made difference in this game, but you never know. The run Affeldt allowed certainly didn't help matters. Very inconsistent season for Affeldt.

Daniel Hudson- 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 3 K's. Hudson came into this game sporting a K/9 of 9 and a BB/9 of 1.62. He regressed a bit from those numbers, but was still good enough to quiet the Giants bats from the second inning on. Some people didn't understand the Edwin Jackson trade, but Hudson was considered a top prospect for the White Sox in a lot of places. The D'Backs now have him at minimum salary for 3 more years and control his contract for 3 more after that. The trade will probably be seen as a steal for the D'Backs in future years.

The Giants, once again, go no help from the Choking Dogs as San Diego dominated them 4-0, so the Giants fall to 2 games behind the Padres in the NL West division race. Colorado won again over the Cincinnati Reds 9-2 to stay 4.5 games behind the Padres, but move to just 2.5 games behind the Giants. In the Wild Card race, Atlanta beat the Pirates 9-3 to remain 2 games ahead of the Giants. Colorado is also the next closest team in the Wild Card race with a 4.5 game deficit to the Braves and 2.5 to the Giants.

The Giants now head into SanDiego to face a rejuvinated Padres team playing the exact type of ball they played before their 10 game losing streak, which now looks like ancient history. I think it's safe to say the Giants need to get at least a split in this series to remain serious contenders for the NL West title. Of course, it's never over 'til it's over, but a loss in this series would leave little time to recover the deficit. The Giants send Matt Cain to the mound tonight followed by Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum, so the pitching stars are aligned right. My concern is that the Giants offense seems to be waiting for the HR right now, and those are all but impossible to hit in Petco Park. The pitchers better plan on pitching in a lot of very low scoring games. Darren Ford could be a huge factor in this series.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Game Wrap 09-07-2010: Giants 6 D'Backs 3

We said that Barry Enright appeared to be due for a major regression. Well, we didn't have to wait very long to see it tonight as the Giants jumped on him for 3 runs in the first inning, 3 dingers and 6 runs in 6 IP. Meanwhile, Tim Lincecum was dominating for 6 innings not allowing his first hit until there was 1 out in the 5'th inning, striking out 11 and walking none. The D'Backs finally got to him for 3 runs in the 7'th. Maybe he was fatiguing, or maybe he wasn't concentrating as intensely with a 6 run lead? The bullpen was, once again, stellar in holding off the D'Backs the rest of the way. Key lines:

Andres Torres- 1 for 5, 2B. BA= .275. Torres set the tone by smacking the first pitch of the game for a 2 bagger. He hit the ball hard at least 3 other times to show signs of coming out of his slump. Man, is that needed, or what?

Freddy Sanchez- 1 for 4, HR(4). BA= .285. Solo blast to RF. Not a common occurrence for Freddy.

Aubrey Huff- 1 for 4, HR(23). BA= .287. All 3 of the Giants first 3 batters of the game were first pitch swinging as they had obviously picked up a pattern on Enright. Huff turned his swing into a 2 run homer.

Buster Posey- 2 for 4. BA= .328. Posey's first hit, in the first inning, was an absolute bomb that hit just under the yellow line on the high CF wall 410 ft from home plate. The second was a hard single between 3B and SS ahead of Burrell's 2 run dinger in the 6'th.

Pat Burrell- 1 for 3, HR(16). BA= .248. Pat the Bat strikes again, and where would this team be without him?

Jose Guillen- 2 for 4, 2B. BA= .262. Guillen barely missed a HR in the first when his hard hit ball down the LF line clanged off the short fence just below the yellow line and caromed right to the LF holding Guillen to a very loud single, but driving in Buster Posey from 2B.

Tim Lincecum- 6.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 11 K's. ERA= 3.69. Things fell apart a bit in the 7'th, but prior to that, Timmy was as dominant as I've ever seen him.

Javier Lopez- 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K's. ERA- 2.30. The perfect bullpen guy against a LH stacked team like the D'Backs, and where would the Giants be without this guy?

The Giants were not able to gain ground on the Padres who, once again, beat the Choking Dogs by a score of 2-1. The Giants remain 1 game behind the NL West leaders. Colorado kept on winning with a 4-3 decision over the Cincinnati Reds to remain 4.5 games behind the Padres and 3.5 games behind the Giants. The Wild Card race took a shake up as the Phillies topped the Marlins 8-7 to jump over the Atlanta Braves, who lost to the Pirates and James McDonald 5-0, by 0.5 games. The Braves now have a 1 game lead over the Giants for the Wild Card.

Barry Zito tries to right his ship and keep the Giants winning ways going tomorrow night against Daniel Hudson and the Arizona D'Backs. It's pretty hard to anticipate a victory in this one. It looks like we can't count on the Choking Dogs to help the Giants even a little bit against the Padres, so the deficit going into the 4 games in San Diego could be 2 games.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Down on the Farm: 09-06-2010

We come to the last day of the 2010 minor league season except for the San Jose Giants who once again are in the Cal League playoffs.

AAA Fresno Grizzlies out hit the Tacoma Rainiers 9-6:

Eugenio Velez- 2 for 3, 2B. BA= .302.
Emmanuel Burriss- 2 for 5. BA= .282.
Jesus Guzman- 4 for 5, 2B, 3B. BA= .321.
Brandon Belt- 1 for 5, HR(4). BA= .229.
Tony Pena- 3 for 4. BA= .385.
Waldis Joaquin- 3 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 6 K's. ERA= 4.93.
Joe Paterson- 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's. ERA= 3.48
Brandon Medders- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. ERA= 5.46.

I'm betting Velez gets a call up tonight. He left the game early for a PH. Burriss would be a handy pair of legs to have on the bench for the stretch run too. Guzman finishes strong. Will he ever get a MLB shot? It would seem like his chances are dwindling down. Nice to see Belt finish on an up note to a great season. Tony Pena played SS today. Is he in the mix for the Giants job next year? It's looking mighty desperate! Paterson has been dominant of late: 1-0, 0.79, 11.1 IP, 2 BB, 15 K's in his last 10 appearances.

Richmond Flying Squirrels edged the Bowie Baysox 4-3:

Rafael Cova- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's ERA= 2.35.

Not much else to see here. Thomas Neal came out of a game early a few days ago and never returned to the lineup. Hope it isn't a serious injury. I found a Richmond newspaper article from yesterday that quoted Thomas Neal in a couple of places. Although it talked about several Richmond players missing time with injuries, there was no mention of an injury to Neal, so I assume he's OK.

High A San Jose Giants pounded the Visalia Rawhide 9-5:

Francisco Peguero- 1 for 3, SB(40). BA= .329.
Jose Flores- 2 for 4, 3B. BA= .331.
Brandon Crawford- 1 for 3, BB. BA= .167.
Drew Biery- 2 for 3, 2B, 3B, BB. BA= .249.
Jorge Bucardo- 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K's. ERA= 4.42.

Very nice season for Peguero. Disappointing season for Biery. Some improvement from Bucardo who is still transitioning to this level. I was reading about Dodger prospect Ethan Martin's struggles and the comment was made that many teams don't want their best pitching prospects exposed to the Cal League. The Giants have not avoided it with their pitching prospects and for the most part they have done well. I think they need the challenge. It's the PCL I'm not so sure about, especially for sinkerball types.

Low A Augusta Greenjackets defeated the Delmarva Shorebirds 7-2:

Nick Liles- 1 for 4, SB(29). BA= .316.
Chris Dominguez- 1 for 4, HR(21). BA= .272.
Tommy Joseph- 2 for 4. BA= .236.
Luke Anders- 1 for 4, HR(14). BA= .285.
Hector Sanchez- 1 for 3, 2B, BB. BA= .274.
Andy Reichard- 8 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K's. ERA= 3.39.
Jose Casilla- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. ERA= 1.16.

Liles really turned on the afterburners on the basepaths at the end of the season. He hit .378 with 5 SB's in his last 10 games. I wonder if Chris Dominguez could help the SJ Giants in their playoffs. He's really hot right now.

Short Season: The NWL regular season ended yesterday with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes missing the playoffs for the first time in years. They had a lot of young players on the team this year, especially in the starting pitching and it cost them. It might be good for the long term health of the organization though.

Rookie AZL: The Giants made the playoffs, but were eliminated by the Reds.

DSL: The Giants won the DSL championship.

Game Wrap 09-06-2010: Giants 2 D'Backs 0

Madison Bumgarner and Ian Kennedy hooked up in a crackling pitcher's duel that took a scoreless tie into both bullpens and into extra innings. After seemingly forever since the last time Nate Schierholtz made an offensive contribution to a win, he stroked a two run triple up the right-centerfield alley for the game winning hit to atone for getting picked off first base as a pinch runner earlier in the game. Key lines:

Aubrey Huff- 2 for 5. BA= .288. Huff Daddy is slumping. He popped up to the catcher with one out and runners at the corners earlier in the game. He started the winning rally with 2 outs in the 11'th inning. He also made a couple of nifty defensive plays at 1B. Some players find a way to win even when they are slumping.

Buster Posey- 1 for 5. BA= .326. Buster had been having a tough day at the plate, but he dumped a hit into RF to keep the 11'th inning going with 2 outs. Once again, Buster gets a key hit.

Nate Schierholtz- 1 for 2. 3B. BA= .250. When was the last time Nate had a key hit? Boy, did he ever pick a great time to do it! I don't ever want to hear someone say Bochy has given Nate a raw deal. Most managers would have yanked him after the pickoff. It's not like the Giants were out of options for OF's. Rowand, the guy some people seem to think Bochy is in love with, was still available. Boch left Nate in. He hit the ball hard twice and the second time it was the game winner.

Madison Bumgarner- 7.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K's. ERA= 3.44. Bum's line looks dominant, and he did have his fastball up to 94-95 MPH. He also gave up a bunch of shots that barely stayed in the ballpark. His OF's, particularly Cody Ross and Andres Torres made several nice catches to keep the game at 0-0. Just a thought: If Guillen had started in RH, it is doubtful the Giants would have won this game as I'm pretty sure he doesn't make some of those catches that Ross made.

Bullpen: 3.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7 K's. Great group effort and props to Bochy for a good job of managing them after Bumgarner came out.

With the W, the Giants move up to 0.5 games behind the Padres pending tonight's contest against the Dodgers. Late word is that Mat Latos has been scratched due to a stomach virus and Tim Stauffer will take the mound. Gotta think that helps the Dodgers' chances. Man, is it weird rooting for the Dodgers or what. I don't see that we have much choice but to hope the Dodgers win at least 2 of 3 from the Padres this week, though. The Rockies pounded the NL Central leading Cincinnati Reds 10-5 to stay lurking just 3.5 games behind the Giants. Anyone else think the Rockies might just be the Giants main competition for the NL West title? In the Wild Card Race, the Phillies dropped the first game of a DH to the Marlins 7-1 to drop to just 1 game over the Giants pending the outcome of the late game.

Tim Lincecum takes the mound tomorrow evening to try to keep it going against Barry Enright, a rookie who has given the Giants fits, but whose peripheral stats would suggest is due for a regression. Sometimes those regressions don't occur as soon as you would like though. Go Timmy! Go Giants!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Down on the Farm: 09-05-2010

AAA Tacoma Rainiers erupted for a 9-0 win over the Fresno Grizzlies:

Brandon Belt- 1 for 3, 2B. BA= .233.
Henry Sosa- 4 IP, 11 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K's. ERA= 4.07.
Brandon Medders- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's. ERA= 5.67.
Dontrelle Willis- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. ERA= 5.06.

Sosa gave up a lot of hits, but his K/BB suggests he might have been unlucky in this one beyond the errors. Medders 3'rd scoreless outing in a row and Willis' second. I wonder if both might be called up to the MLB club. Both would have to be added to the 40 man roster but Alex Hinshaw and Kevin Pucetas could both be dropped fairly safely.

AA Richmond Flying Squirrels edged the Bowie Baysox 1-0:

Craig Westcott- 6.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 7 K's. ERA= 5.13.
Andy Sisco- 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. ERA= 4.32.
Rafael Cova- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's, Save(22). ERA= 2.40

Cova is another pitcher rumored to be a possible callup to the majors, or he could go back to San Jose for the playoffs.

High A San Jose Giants edged the Visalia Rawhide 4-3:

Francisco Peguero- 3 for 4, 2B, 3B(16). BA= .329.
Johnny Monell- 3 for 3, 3B, HR(19), BB. BA= .275.
Justin Fitzgerald- 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 4 K's. ERA= 3.45.
Ryan Verdugo- 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K's. ERA= 1.47.

Verdugo's combined season line: 8-1, 1.87, 62.2 IP, 33 BB, 94 K's. Could stand to cut down on the BB's, but he sure misses bats, doesn't he?

Low A Augusta Greenjackets edged the Delmarva Shorebirds 3-2:

Chris Dominguez- 2 for 4, HR(20), BB. BA= .272.
Jesse Shriner- 3 for 3, HR(1), BB. BA= .267.
Brian Irving- 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 4.42.
Chris Gloor- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K's. ERA= 2.65.
Chris Wilson- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's, Save(4). ERA= 2.76.

Dominguez gets to 20 HR's and is hitting .333/.413/.718 over his last 10. Especially encouraging is he seems to have picked up the walks and cut down on the K's late in the season. His IsoOBP(OBP-BA)= a respectable .054 for the season. Wouldn't that be something if this guy made himself into a hitter? OMG!

Short Season Salem-Keizer Volcanoes pounded the Eugene Emeralds 9-4:

Gary Brown- 0 for 4, 3 K's. BA= .136.
Carter Jurica- 3 for 5, HR(4), SB(10). BA= .216.
Jose Medina- 2 for 3, 2 BB. BA= .255.
Devin Harris- 2 for 5, HR(1). BA= .273.
Jeff Arnold- 2 for 4, 2B, HR(3). BA= .241.
John Eshleman- 2 for 4, 2B. BA= .250.

Jurica has come alive at the end of the season hitting .317 over his last 10 games raising hopes for next season. Devin Harris has also really caught fire with a .417/.432/.639 line for his last 10 games. Gary Brown continues to struggle. Rico Noel went 4 for 5 with 2 triples in this game for the Ems.

Game Wrap 09-05-2010: Giants 3 Dodgers 0

This was a game the Giants really needed to win. The season is dwindling down. The Giants need to win series and take advantage of opportunities to gain ground. Jonathan Sanchez came up clutch for his second start in a row facing a tough opponent in a pressure situation. There were a couple of times in the game where you could see him start to lose it, but each time he gathered himself and got back on track ending up with a dominant start and a much needed W. Buster Posey was again the sparkplug to get the Giants on board first and Juan Uribe supplied a couple of welcome insurance runs with another dinger. Key lines:

Buster Posey- 1 for 3, BB. BA= .328. Buster drew a walk in the second inning. Advanced to 3B on Jose Guillen's single up the middle and hustled home on Sandoval's sac fly to medium deep RF just barely sliding into home plate ahead of Barajas tag. Buster wore a hole in the seat of his pants the rest of the way.

Pablo Sandoval- 2 for 3, 2B, SF. BA= .273. Pablo was a big contributor with the sac fly and then singling ahead of Uribe's 7'th inning dinger.

Juan Uribe- 1 for 1, HR(19), 2 BB. BA= .249. Batting 8'th, the Dodgers wanted no part of Uribe as long as Sanchez was coming up next. I think they figured they would see a PH if they walked him in the 7'th. Uribe made them pay for pitching to him. He used his enormous strength to pull an offspeed pitch he go out in front of down the line into the LF short porch curving it around the foul pole.

Jonathan Sanchez- 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K's. ERA= 3.39. Just a dominating performance from a rapidly maturing Sanchez. I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again. I believe he is on the verge of becoming one of the elite pitchers in baseball.

Sergio Romo- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 2.52. Had the Dodgers flailing at pitches with crazy, crazy movement.

Brian Wilson- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's, Save(40). ERA= 1.88. No messing around tonight. Wilson put them down 1,2,3 hardly breaking a sweat.

With the W, the Giants moved to just 1 game behind the NL West leading San Diego Padres who lost yet again to the Rockies 4-2. The Rockies moved up to 4.5 games behind the Pads, but did not gain ground on the Giants who remained 3.5 games ahead of them. In the Wild Card race, the Phillies finally lost a game to the BrewCrew 6-2 so the Giants gained ground there too, now 2 games behind the Phils.

The Giants continue their road trip in Arizona tomorrow afternoon for a Labor Day game against the D'Backs, who have played awfully tough lately. Madison Bumgarner leads off the series for the Giants against Ian Kennedy who has had a surprisingly good season. The Dodgers have a chance to help out the Giants with a series in San Diego. Vicente Padilla goes against Mat Latos in the opener.

Down on the Farm: 09-04-2010

AAA Tacoma Rainiers topped the Fresno Grizzlies 3-1:

Emmanuel Burriss- 3 for 4. BA= .284.
Brandon Belt- 1 for 4, 2B. BA= .225.
Eric Hacker- 7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 6 K's. ERA= 4.51.
Dontrelle Willis- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 6.23.
Tony Pena- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 6.60.

Is this enough to get Willis a callup?

AA Richmond Flying Squirrels edged the Bowie Baysox 4-3:

Conor Gillaspie- 1 for 4, HR(8). BA= .292.
David Mixon- 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K's. ERA= 3.50.

Do Gillaspie's 8 HR's in the EL translate to double digits next year in Fresno?

High A San Jose Giants edged the Visalia Rawhide 5-4:

Francisco Peguero- 2 for 4, SB(39), OF Assist. BA= .326.
Juan Perez- 2 for 4, HR(13). BA= .299.
Brandon Crawford- 2 for 4, 2B. BA= .167.
Ehire Adrianza- 3 for 4, 2 2B. BA= .255.
Kelvin Marte- 3.2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 5 BB, 3 K's. ERA= 14.73.
Jason Stoffel- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's, Save(25). ERA= 4.80.

I hadn't noticed that Crawford was in the lineup for the previous 2 games also. Good to see him back. He'll get in some more games since the Little Giants are in the Cal League playoffs. Peguero has been showing off his arm lately. It's going to be a tough call between him and Gary Brown on placement in the Top 50 Prospects list this year. This was Marte's first start at this level. It's been a tough year for Giants pitching prospects who got promoted. Stoffel has had a very inconsistent year. IMO, he needs to be temporarily moved to starter, or else more extended innings as a reliever, so he can learn how to pitch.

Low A Augusta Greenjackets blanked the Delmarva Shorebirds 3-0:

Nick Liles- 2 for 5, 2B. BA= .318.
Ryan Cavan- 2 for 3, BB, SB(12). BA= .286.
Hector Sanchez- 1 for 4, 3B. BA= .274.
Jeremy Toole- 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 2 K's, GO/AO= 10/4.
Jose Valdez- 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 3.30.
Jose Casilla- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K's, Save(14). ERA= 1.18.

Short Season Salem-Keizer Volcanoes out pitched the Eugene Emeralds 1-0 in 10 innings:

Gary Brown- 1 for 3, 2 BB. BA= .167.
Julio Izturis= 2 for 4, 2 2B. BA= .281.
Edwin Escobar- 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7 K's. ERA= 4.86.
Stephen Shackleford- 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K's. ERA= 1.23.
Stephen Harrold- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. ERA= 2.78.

At least we're learning that, yes, Gary Brown can draw walks. Escobar has been a bit inconsistent, but is still only 18 yo and seems to have a ton of upside. Don't know much about Shack. He's out of a place called Savannah College of Art and Design, but he's put up great looking numbers at two stops this summer after the draft. Harrold, out of UNC Wilmington, has also put up nice numbers in two stops. I'm guessing we see both in Augusta next summer.