Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Game Wrap 5/12/2015: Giants 8 Astros 1

The Giants got historically strong performances from Chris Heston and Matt Duffy for the most dominating win of the season so far against the AL West leading Astros in the Astros ballpark.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 3 for 5.  BA= .333.  Angel got a rest on Sunday.  He came back smoking after 2 days off and kept bangin' out the  hits.  His spiked finger must be feeling better.

Justin Maxwell- 2 for 5.  BA= .250.  I don't know if it will hold up all season, but Maxwell has cut his K rate to 22.6% from a career average of 31.2%.  He BB% has also dropped from a career average of 10.1% to 7.5%.  This would suggest that he is looking for hittable pitches earlier in the count and avoiding 2 strike situations.  He may be doing a better job of going into protect mode in 2 strike counts.

Brandon Crawford- 1 for 4, 2B, HBP.  BA= .252.  Crawford scored ahead of Duffy's bases-clearing double after the HBP.  He also drove in a run with a ground rule double against a lefty reliever then scored on a 2 RBI single by…..wait for it…..Matt Duffy!

Matt Duffy- 3 for 4, 2B.  BA= .300.  The Duffman got another start at 3B after his walk-off hit on Sunday while giving Crawford a rest at SS.  He responded with 5, that's right 5, RBI's on a 3 hit night.  First Giants rookie to drive in 5 runs since…..Buster Posey!   It's already been announced that Duffy will play 2B against the LHP tomorrow with Casey McGehee starting at 3B, but yeah, Duffman is making it harder and harder to keep him out of the lineup.  OK, team.  Can I say it one more time?  Can I say it just one more time?  I can't hear you!  Can I say it one, one more time?  Matt Duffy!!!!

Chris Heston- 9 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 10 K.  ERA= 2.91.  Baggs could see early on that Hesto Presto had crazy movement on his 2-seamer.  In the discussion with Krukow after the game it came out that Presto has added a cutter since the start of the season and is working on improving his changeup.  Oh man!  This was the first 10 K performance by a Giants rookie since…..Tim Lincecum in 2007!  It was the first 10 K CG by a Giants rookie since Roger Mason way back in the 1980's.  Heston did not allow a baserunner after Jason Castro's solo HR in the second inning, retiring the final 22 batters he faced.

The Win likely just allows the Giants to keep pace with the NL West leading Dodgers who are crushing the Marlins in LA.   If that holds up, the Dodgers lead will stay at 5.5 games over the Giants.  The Padres are trailing the Mariners 7-0 and will likely drop into 3'rd place, 6 games off the pace giving the Giants sole possession of 2'nd place.  The Giants trail in the race for the 2'nd Wild Card playoff spot  by 0.5 games.

Tim Hudson will go for the 2 game series sweep tomorrow facing LHP Brett Oberholtzer making his 2015 debut.

Oh, and Matt Duffy!


  1. Why opposing managers continue the lefty on lefty thing with Crawford is beyond me!!! I knew Crawford was going to get a hit as soon as they put Chapman in. With all the defensive shifts going on in baseball now, why aren't these guys looking at splits too??!! Oh well, Brandon will just have to keep proving them wrong.
    Heston looked great tonight. What a find and a shot in the arm. This guys is doing what Kickham, Surkamp, and the others were not able to do and that is to take advantage of the opportunity given.
    Still not sold on if Maxwell can keep it up but he did show some excellent discipline a couple of times tonight at the plate. In one instance he swung at an outside pitch and the pitcher threw the exact same pitch again and he held off. That was impressive. I think the guy is just enjoying the moment and the success he is having. Won't be a bad piece to have on the bench when Pence gets back.

    BTW, as a side note Boof Bonsor retired. One of the pieces of what ended up as perhaps one of the worst trades the Giants ever made but also one of the most interesting names for a ballplayer too. Good luck Boof!

    Billy Baseball

    1. I was going to dispute it as one of the worst, but yeah, it is one of the worse.

      It is up there with Gaylord Perry for Suddenly Bad McDowell, George Foster for Fran Duffy, Jack Clark for Uribe and others, Orlando Cepeda was pretty bad too. And I'm probably forgetting another good bad trade, this is just top of mind.

      The up side of the trade is that it made us bad enough (we had to sign Benitez and Matheny because of the trade!) that we could draft Lincecum, Bumgarner, and Posey in the upcoming years.

      I like Maxwell too, but would feel bad since it would cost Ishikawa a spot on the roster and another DFA to the minors after bringing us such joy in last year's playoffs.

    2. Hopefully, we've all long since moved on from the AJ Pierzynski trade.

  2. Heston: I finally got to see Heston pitch. He's got amazing movement on every one of his pitches and his curveball is just wicked. That ball was hitting the dirt with a huge, late sink and good hitters were looking foolish. And he really had his command going and was painting the corners exceeding well last night. It really was an outstanding performance.

    Maxwell: I think he's taken the #4 OF spot away from Blanco, at least for now, possibly on a permanent basis. His defense has been very, very good. Wondering if it's just a fluke or not, I read up on a lot of his old stuff. Even in college his defense was considered MLB ready and nothing has happened in his career to falsify that assessment. The real issue has been his hitting and we'll just have to see.

    Duffy: He really has fringe arm at 3B. He can get the ball to 1B, but I think he's going to give some infield singles. But at this point in time a few infield singles are a small price pay compared to McGehee's current train-wreck of a season.

    And damn those Dodgers. They really need have a nice 8-to-10 game bad stretch. Otherwise I'm not going to stop hearing about it from my Uncle the Traitor (he's Northern California born and bred, but roots for the Dodgers & Rams).

    1. If McGehee ever comes around, I would be A-OK with Duffy getting 3 starts a week, one each at 3B, 2B and SS to keep the starters fresh through the dog days. The other games, he'd be a terrific bat off the bench. I mean, what a weapon Duffy has become as a PH/utility guy! I bet the Astros are still scratching their heads wondering what hit them after what Duffy and Hesto did to them! And what about the Marlins leaving town muttering to themselves after Duffman's walk off?

      To me, the Giants are playing with a huge pile of house money this year. If nothing else comes of the year but Heston and Duffy establishing themselves as significant contributors, and Susac too, I will count it as a successful season. I think they can do a lot more than that, though.

      As for the Dodgers, they can win the NL West by 30 games for all I care about the regular season. If the Giants get into the playoffs as a Wild Card and win the WC game, they won't even have to play the Dodgers because the road to the World Series dead ends for the bad guys in St. Louis. So you can tell your Uncle the Traitor all season that you are happy to concede the Dodgers are a great regular season team!

      The more I'm seeing of this team, the more I'm thinking they have a great shot at the playoffs, at least as a WC team, and once they're in, it's Katie Bar the Door!

    2. Oh, and once again, this Nuclear Wasteland of a farm system has produced not just one, but 3 rookies who are making major contributions. Meanwhile, the Cubs pitching staff could really use a rookie like Chris Heston right about now.

    3. All six of the players on the infield yesterday are Giants farmhands. Heston, Posey, Belt, Panik, Crawford, and Duffy...not many teams can say that. Add in Susac and Sanchez on the bench and Lincecum, Bumgarner, Cain, Vogelsong, and Romo and over half the team was drafted by the Giants...not a bad record for the Farm I think.

    4. I think Duffy has the potential to be this year's Panik. I get that he's not the rocket arm that maybe we would like, but if he can field the position, have good range and maybe only gives up a few infield singles, I'm actually fine with that given his bat. I do also like the idea of having him be the super IF to give Crawford and Panik a break, so you could do that way too.

      As for Heston, his development is a real shot in the arm for the staff. If he can nail down a role, even if the 5th, that takes a ton of pressure off the system when we lose 3 ptichers at the end of the year. With Timmy's pitching, maybe you give him a short "right sized" contract at that point, and even if not you still have Blackburn, Blach and a couple others who could be ready (although a 1 year bridge on Timmy would mean you only have to fill one spot).

    5. At this point, I expect that the Giants will give Timmy at least one year with an option year, if not another two year contract, though closer to Peavy's contract than Timmy's current contract, even if he ends the year poorly, like last season. I think he has done that well.

      And that he would opt to stay rather than see what the market will bring. I think that, unlike Pablo, he wants to see what this team can do together for as long as possible. Once the core players start moving on (starting with the Core Four relievers), then he might start entertaining wanting to leave and pitching for his hometown Mariners.

      Yeah, Heston came through at the right time. All the people saying the Giants are in trouble with their rotation will have to eat their words if Heston continues to do this well all season long. As long as we have four starters delivering good performances, it don't matter as much how bad the last starter is, that's our winning formula from 2009 to 2014.

      And he'll be our "5th" starter in name, just because of all the veterans we have, but he looks like he can be heads and shoulders above any other 5th starter other teams might throw at us, and could challenge other teams mid-rotation starters as well. That's how Timmy had a winning record the other season even though he had bad ERA performance, but he's was generally better than what other teams were throwing up against him, in the back of the rotation.

  3. Seeing Heston pitch I don't get why he was released a few years ago. His Minor League numbers have always been good. Glad they re-signed him a few days later...

    1. It was a numbers game and in fairness, Heston seems to have upped his game considerably since then, bigger, stronger, better stuff.

    2. Also, the Giants needed a spot and his numbers were frankly horrible that season, suggesting that he had finally reached the level where his lack of talent was exposed, and thus he went through waivers with no problems, and the Giants were able to keep him.

      More importantly, this last off-season, they dropped a lot of guys who got picked up by other teams or went through waivers, Kickham, Brown, Adrianza, Villalona, but held strongly onto Heston.

      To DrB's point, he upped his game, had a bounceback season in the following season, added some weight this off-season to get bigger, stronger, and reportedly he added a pitch early this season and been slowing incorporating it into his repertoire.

  4. Heston's development as pitcher once again impresses and reminds us how good the Giants are at developing pitching. It's not just drafting, it's development. And not just development in the Minors, but continuing work in the Majors. Giants pitchers seem to take a leap forward in the Majors, if they give Rags, Gardy and Posey something to work with.

    Frankly, Heston was solid thru AA ball and seemed to level out in AAA. A control guy, who's stuff would not play up. As TN points above he was even released by the Giants. Somehow he got stronger, ticked up his velocity and is adding a cutter. You can see the tutelage under Rags and Posey is producing some eye-opening results. This kid has 4-plus pitches, control and stuff and is learning how to use it. Very impressive!

    1. Heston was the Eastern pitcher of the year in 2012, led the league in ERA. I always had my doubts about him due to velocity, but gaining that extra muscle and tic up, along with the variety of pitches, it has done him well. The movement is really fun to watch. I'd second DrB's comment on the Cubs (or the Rangers - another org that some Giants mopey prospect watchers are always whining as being so superior to the Gints) would really, really like to have a pitcher like him right now.

  5. What a game. Duffy is doing for the MLB team exactly what he did for Augusta in 2013 and Richmond last year. He's helping them win games, plain and simple. He's got some pep in his step after getting that shiny new #5 too. It's the little things in life, like Susac trading in his generic chest protector for some SLICK home and away gear. These guys, again, are proving that they belong.

    As much as I generally believed that Duffy could get to the majors and do this, I'd be lying if I said I saw this kind of rise from Heston. Maybe a few years ago when he was carving up AA, but even after his cup of coffee last year I still ranked him in the back end of my top 100 Giants prospects, thinking he might catch on in long relief at some point down the road. That looks like an embarrassing oversight on my part... but it really does show how hard the kid has worked to get himself to this point. It also shows how developmental tracks come in all forms. Not even 2 years ago he was DFA, passed on by EVERY team in the league, and look at him now. Very cool! Kudos to him and the Giants staff for sticking with it.

    1. I had my doubts about Heston due mainly to what I had read about his stuff. Now, I do think he upped his game this year, but once I saw his mix of pitches on TV, I knew he was capable of sticking. He has an impressive arsenal and always seemed to know how to pitch. Put all that together and you have a guy who can get MLB hitters out.