Sunday, September 30, 2012

Game Wrap 9/30/2012: Giants 7 Padres 5

The Giants scored 5 runs in the last 2 innings for a come-from-behind win over the Peskys.  Key Lines:

Gregor Blanco- 1 for 4, BB, SB(26).  BA= .246.  Let's see, do you take Blanco's on-base skills, speed and defense against RHP's or Nady's power?  Can't quite get the memory of what Cody Ross did 2 years ago out of my mind.  I bet that thought has crossed the Giants minds too.

Xavier Nady- 1 for 1, HR(4).  BA= .196.  Forget the .196 BA here. The important numbers are .293 in September and .308 over his last 10 games.  He was robbed of a dinger over the CF wall last night and hit one today.  This guy could be the Giants secret weapon for the postseason, much like Cody Ross was last year.

Hunter Pence- 2 for 5, HR(24).  BA= .257.  Sometimes you have to throw the sabermetric bible out the window and just say, "the money lies in the RBI's."

Brandon Belt- 2 for 5.  BA= .276.  Belt got another start in LF.

Hector Sanchez- 2 for 3, BB.  BA= .278.  Hey!  He drew a walk!  Hector and Belt have almost identical BA's.  Belt will give you more walks and Hector will make up at least some of that with more hits, XBH's and RBI's.   Belt hitting in front of Hector, though, has some nice symmetry to it.

Brandon Crawford- 1 for 3, SF.  BA= .248.

Tim Lincecum- 6 IP, 4 H 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K's.  I only saw a few innings of the game, but in the parts I saw, Timmy's stuff looked pretty good.  The dingers are worrisome.  I will say this, Petco Park is a whole different beast in the daytime.  Especially on a warm day like today.  The ball can really jump out of there.

Dan Runzler- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 0.00.  Runzler has an ERA of 0 in 6 appearances covering 3.2 IP since being recalled.  The Giants are trying to get him into the AFL.  With Runzler and Mijares on the roster, I wonder if they will consider Affeldt expendable?

Sergio Romo- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, Save(13).  ERA= 1.82.  Romo would appear to be the closer for the postseason except for tough LH outs which might come up in high leverage situations in the 9'th innings.

The Dodgers and Cards both won their games so the Dodgers trail the Cards for the final Wild Card berth by 2 games with 3 to play.  The Dodgers elimination number is 2. I'm sure the Giants would be glad to give them that in the last series.  The Cards play the Reds in the final 3 games and there is no love lost between those two teams either, so I'm sure the Reds will be trying to knock the Cards out of the playoffs just as much as the Giants are trying to keep the Dodgers from coming back to haunt them.  Great way to finish the season!

Matt Cain starts game one of the final series facing Aaron Harang.  Go Giants!!!  Beat LA!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Game Wrap 9/29/2012: Padres 7 Giants 3

Hunter Pence hit a 3 run HR in the first inning to stake Madison Bumgarner to a lead before he even threw a pitch.  The rest of the game was an old fashioned butt kicking of the Giants by the Pesky Padres as they scored 7 runs with no further response from the Giants.  Key Lines:

Pablo Sandoval- 1 for 2, 2 BB.  BA= .286.  Like how Sandoval is looking heading into the postseason.

Buster Posey- 2 for 2, BB.  BA= .337.  McCutchen went 1 for 5 leaving him at .329, so Buster has .008 point lead in the race for the Batting Title.

Hunter Pence- 1 for 4, HR(23).  BA= .255.  The  3 RBI's put Pence past 100 at 102 on the season.  He does seem to have a knack for hitting his dingers with runners on base.  He left 3 runners stranded later in the game, though.

Madison Bumgarner- 4 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K's.  ERA= 3.37.  A pretty awful start for Bumgarner.  He did get squeezed a bit by the ump and he did get a bit BABIP'd in the first inning, but there was nothing BABIPy about Headley's and Guzman's bombs.  Bumgarner appears to be the pitcher who the long season has taken it's biggest toll on.  He was getting under his pitches and has clearly lost velocity over the last month.  Gotta be concerned heading into the postseason.

Brad Penny- 1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 6.11.  Penny looks done.

Jean Machi- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 3.18.  Machi may be auditioning for a bullpen role with the Giants next year.

The Dodgers won their game against the Reeling Rockies 3-0 to gain a game on the NL West Champion Giants, now 9 games ahead.  More importantly, the Cardinals lost to the Nationals 6-4 which allowed the Dodgers to climb to 2 runs behind in the race for the final Wild Card spot.  Maybe it's just the Rockies but the Dodgers seem to have played much better since Ned Colletti went down to the clubhouse and screamed at the coaching staff.

The Nats now lead the Reds, who lost the the Bucs 2-1 on a walk-off HR by Andrew McCutchen, by 1 game for the best record in the NL.  Giants play the team with the second best record in round 1 of the playoffs.

A couple of minor league notes:

BA ranked Mac Williamson #11 in their top 20 prospects of the NWL.  In the chat, they said Chris Stratton probably would have been #3 had he qualifed.

Giants have named their pitching representatives to the AFL:  Chris Gloor, Jacob Dunnington and Heath Hembree.  This could be an opportunity for Dunnington, in particular, to move up in prospect rankings.

PS:  The Pesky Ones look like they are building something there.  I think with an addition or two to the pitching staff and one more hitter, they could be contenders as early as next season.  Headley has become a monster and Grandal and Alonso look like they can join him to make a solid core.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Game Wrap 9/28/2012: Giants 3 Padres 1

Ryan Vogelsong put on one of his pitching clinics and made a statement for a spot in the postseason rotation as the Giants took game 1 of the next to last series of the season.  Key Lines:

Marco Scutaro- 1 for 2.  BA= .305.  Scutaro left the game after 2 AB's with "head and chest congestion."  That, folks, is not a good thing, not that Scooter is in any danger, but even a mild common cold virus going through the clubhouse could have a much more debilitating effect on the team for the playoffs than you might think.

Ryan Theriot- 2 for 3, SB(13).  BA= .272.  Theriot has been a gamer despite losing most of his PT to Scooter.  He's hitting .375 over his last 10 games in just 16 AB.

Buster Posey- 2 for 4, 2B, 3B, BB.  BA= .334.  Buster takes a .004 lead on Andrew McCutchen in the race to the Batting Title.  Meanwhile, Bruce Bochy announced that Hector Sanchez will likely catch Tim Lincecum in the post-season.  By extension of the logic, he'll probably catch any Zito starts too.  Personally, I have no problem with dancing with who brung ya.  Hector Sanchez is not detrimental to the team and Buster's bat is more than good  enough to play at 1B.

Brandon Belt- 0 for 4.  BA= .275.  Belt didn't have a particularly good game.  He made a couple of nice plays at 1B but made an awful decision to try to throw out a lead runner on a ball he had to barehand.  The throw sailed into LF which led to Nady sailing another throw over Sandoval's head at 3B.  Belt was a bit lost at the plate again  too.  Again, I'm not convinced that Hector Sanchez is a significant downgrade on Belt in the lineup.

Brandon Crawford- 1 for 4.  BA= .248.  Crawford had a ball sail over Belt's head on a throw to first.  He also had one tremendous AB that lasted something like 11 pitches against Anthony Bass ending in a line drive base hit to LF.

Ryan Vogelsong- 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K's.  ERA= 3.46.  Vogelsong put on one of his patented fastball clinics and dominated the Pads.  Belt's Boner play put him in a runners on 2'nd and 3'rd with no outs hole. He pitched his way out of it masterfully.  This was Vogey's second consecutive strong start which bolsters the theory that a big part of his slump was BABIP luck.  OK, dominating the Pads in Petco is not the same as facing the Reds in their bandbox, but it's awfully encouraging.

The Committee- 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  The Committee was in full force tonight with Casilla getting the 2 out Save to help my fantasy team.

The Win by the NL West Champion Giants kept them 10 games ahead of the Dodgers who blanked the Reeling Rockies 8-0 behind Clayton Kershaw.  The Cardinals clobbered the Nats 12-2 to remain 3 games up on the Dodgers for the final Wild Card slot.  The BrewCrew lost to the 'Stros 7-6 to fall 5 games off the Wild Card pace with 5 games to go.

Madison Bumgarner goes against Eric Stults tomorrow night.

Homer Bailey pitched a no-hitter against the Pirates in Pittsburgh for a CG 1-0 win and I'm feeling like it might be better for the Giants to face the Nats in the first round of the playoffs.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Game Wrap 9/27/2012: Giants 7 D'Backs 3

The Giants offense erupted for 6 runs in the second inning behind two run homers from Marco Scutaro and Hunter Pence.  Barry Zito pitched a Quality Start and the Giants cruised to the win.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 2 for 4, SB(29).  BA= .291.  Pagan is within striking distance of his 3'rd consecutive 30 steal season.

Marco Scutaro- 1 for 4, HR(7).  BA= .305.  Scooter can flash some power every once in awhile.

Buster Posey- 2 for 4.  BA= .333.  Buster takes the lead in the Batting Title race!

Hunter Pence- 1 for 4, HR(22).  BA= .255.  Pence is hitting just .188 over his last 10 games.  Should the Giants try to sign him long term?  Offer arbitration that will likely result in a $15 M salary?  Trade him in the offseason? Non-tender him and just let him go?  Sabes has his work cut out for him this offseason.

Brandon Belt- 2 for 4.  BA= .277.  Belt is hitting .357 over his last 10 games with an 8 for 14 over his last 5.

Hector Sanchez- 2 for 4, 2B, HR(3).  BA= .273.  The Hector is the new whipping boy over at MCC now that Grant can't kick Crawford around anymore.  Take THAT, haters! Yeah, I know.  There is only one stat that matters.  ERA, RBI's don't count.  Here's what does count: If you check out the Giants W-L record in games Hector has started at catcher and consider the pitchers he's catching, I'm pretty sure they are not losing games because he is in the lineup.  And hey, look at that!  The Giants figured out how to get Hector, Buster and Belt in the lineup in the same game!

Barry Zito- 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 4.19.  Another QS for the Z man.  Who is the #3 starter in the postseason?

Bullpen- 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K's.  That's a nice 7'th, 8'th, 9'th progression of relievers there with Kontos, Casilla and Romo.  I'm pretty sure Kontos is audtioning for a post-season roster spot.  Romo had another dominant non-save 9'th.  Giants have been winning by such big margins lately he has not had a lot of Save opportunities.

The Giants maintain at least a 10 game lead in the NL West having already clinched the championship. Now it's just seeing how many wins they'll end up with. Today was #91.  In the race for the second Wild Card berth, the Cards were idle while the BrewCrew lost.  The Dodgers are leading the Pesky Padres 1-0 in the 5'th inning of their game which could bring them to 2.5 games behind the Cards.  Hmm.....Giants might need to open a can of whup-ass on the Dodgers in that last series to make sure they can't come back to haunt them in the playoffs.  Now THAT would be sweet!

The Giants now head south for the final 6 games of the season starting with 3 in San Diego.  Ryan Vogelsong takes the mound facing lefty Andrew Werner in the first game of the series tomorrow night.

Game Wrap 9/26/2012: Giants 6 D'Backs 0

The Giants came out of their post-clinch doldrums and dominated the D'Backs behind Matt Cain and a diversified offense.  Key Lines:

Marco Scutaro- 2 for 4, 2B, Sac.  BA= .305.  Scooter just keeps bangin' out 2 hits a game.  He's up to 183 now.  With 7 games to go, he has an outside shot at 200 on the season.  He was actually trying for another hit on the Sac as he tried to push the bunt past Miley but didn't quite get it.  He did advance both runners on the play who both came around to score.

Pablo Sandoval- 2 for 4, BB.  BA= .288. Pablo is hitting .382 over his last 10 games.  Great time for Sandoval to heat up.

Buster Posey- 1 for 5.  BA= .331.  Buster lost ground in his quest for the batting title, but drove in his 100'th RBI.  The last SF Giants catcher to drive in 100?  That would be Dick Dietz with 107.

Brandon Belt- 3 for 4, 3B.  BA= .275.  Belt is 6 for 11 over his last 4 games which included just 1 AB in Sunday's game vs SD.

Matt Cain- 2 for 2, Sac.  BA= .181.  Cainer has always been able to handle the bat, but this is his best hitting season in his career so far.  His single up the middle led to him scoring the first run of the ballgame.

Matt Cain- 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 2.77.  Not that he's ever pitched badly, but Cain went through a prolonged phase where he just wasn't quite as sharp as usual after the perfecto.  He seems to be back on track his last 2 starts.  He is critical to the Giants postseason chances, but what other guy would you trust more with THAT assignment?

The Giants remain 10 games ahead of the Dodgers in the NL West and have already clinched the NL West Chammpionship.  The Dodgers topped the Padres 8-2 to gain back a game in the Wild Card race.  The BrewCrew beat Cincy 8-1 while the Cards lost to the 'Stros 2-0.  Milwaukee and the Dodgers are tied at a 3.5 game deficit to the Cards for the second WC spot.

Barry Zito takes the mound this afternoon facing lefty Patrick Corbin.

Someone did a study that was published Wall Street Journal using objective criteria to judge "homerism" on the part of baseball TV announcers.  The methodology was to watch one complete broadcast and record the number of times announcers used words to overtly identify with the home team they were covering.  These biased words included using "us" or "we" to describe the home team and "them" or "they" for the opposing team.  The also counted instances of overt cheering for the home team or use of obscure nicknames.  Not surprisingly, the White Sox broadcast team was the most homerific, but far with Hawk Harrelson being the main offender.  If you've ever listened to the White Sox feed, you know Harrelson is bad to the point of being insufferable.  Kruk and Kuip made just one mis-step in their broadcast and it came in the postgame comments.  I think there were 5 perfect scores including Vin Scully of the Dodgers.

The limits of this study include a single game sample size and limited criteria for homerism.  There are other more subtle ways of  being a homer than the overt criteria used in this study, but the results match up pretty well with my own, more subjective, experiences.  Krukow, in particular, has been called a hopeless homer by some Giants fans but if you watch other broadcasts around the league, you know that Kruk and Kuip are two of the best and are both solid baseball reporters maintaining a Giants tradition of having some of the best announcers in baseball for radio and TV.

El Lefty Malo has a great post up analyzing the outcomes of Giants drafts since 2000.  Please be sure and check it out.  You can find it linked over on the left.  Basic Summary:  The Giants have been fairly average in drafting future MLB'ers, but Sabes is an absolute genius at knowing who to trade and who to keep.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Game Wrap 9/25/2012: D'Backs 7 Giants 2

Aaron Hill and Paul Goldschmidt continued abuse Giants pitching, especially Tim Lincecum, as the D'Backs broke on top early and cruised to the win.  Key Lines:

Giants Offense- Managed just 4 hits, 3 of them doubles by Scutaro(30), Posey(37) and Ryan Theriot(16).  Xavier Nady got the other basehit.

Tim Lincecum- 4 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 4 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 5.15.  The big blow was a 3 run dinger off the bat of Goldschmidt that hit the LF foul pole.  The pitch he hit wasn't even in the strike zone.  He kind of tomahawk chopped a pitch that was sailing up and in.  It was hooking, but just managed to hit the foul pole for a HR.  Not that Lincecum was pitching well, but as Kruk and Kuip would say, when you have ownage, things like that happen.

Bullpen- 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K's.  Runzler came in and allowed 2 inherited runners to score then settled down and pitched a pretty good inning.  Loux, Kontos, Hensley and Penny had a shutout inning each after that with Penny getting 2 K's.

The Dodgers lost to the Padres 2-1 so the NL West Champion Giants lead remains at 10 games.  The Cards shut out Houston 4-0, so the Dodgers trail them in the race for the last Wild Card spot by 4.5 games with 8 to play.  Not sure what has been more dramatic, the Giants end of season surge or the Dodgers collapse.  I don't get the LA Times any more, but TJ Simers must be having a field day.

Matt Cain faces Wade Miley in game 2 of the series.  Is it just me, or is Madison Bumgarner's turn getting skipped?  I haven't seen any announcements.  Is it just a positioning thing for the playoffs?

Decision on Melky and the post-season roster in the next 48 hours.  I'm betting yes, but we'll see.  I think it should be a baseball decision.  On paper, he would make the team a lot more formidable, but you don't know how well he would hit in a small sample size after missing so many games.  Of course, the Giants have to win the first series for it to even be an issue, right?

I read an interesting comment by Stan Kasten, a member of the Dodger's ownership group, commenting on how proud he is of his former team, the Nationals.  He kind of went out of his way to say they built the team the "right way" through the farm system with selected additions through trades and FA signings.  I'm guessing his philosophy of team building is polar opposite that of Magic Johnson.  Could make for some interesting off-season discussions in the offices of Dodger Stadium this offseason, especially in light of how well adding a quarter of a billion dollars of payroll obligations worked out for them this year.

Eric Gagne has written a French language book detailing his use of HGH while he was with the Dodgers and how it impacted his health.  He asserts in the book that 80% of his Dodger teammates were using PED's during his time there.  I'm guessing the number has dropped some since MLB started testing, but probably not by as much as we'd all like to believe.  All of this is part of why I have a hard time getting too worked up about the whole PED issue. Yes, I think they should be banned.  Yes, I think there should be testing.  No, I don't think records set are particularly tainted because almost everybody who was competing was getting the same advantage, however much it is.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fantasy Focus: Savvy Vets in Finals

Maybe some of you are wondering how my fantasy team, Savvy Vets, is faring in my fantasy league.  OK, maybe you aren't, but there isn't a whole heckuva lot else to talk about with the Giants having clinched the NL West title and having the day off, so I'm gonna tell you and you're gonna like it!  Anyway, it's been a long season with Savvy Vets holding the second best record in the Baseball Addicts Unite Yahoo league.  Our league has 10 teams with 6 making the playoffs.  As the second seed, Savvy Vets got a bye in the first round and won their second round.  We are currently beginning our championship head-to-head.  I'm facing the #5 seed.

As some of you remember, we had an auction draft at the beginning of the season.  I will review the Savvy Vets opening day roster then post the current roster with some comments.  I hope this is somehow helpful in your own fantasy baseball ventures.

C  Matt Wieters  $15  Dropped him midseason for Brian McCann who I later dropped for Wilin Rosario who has been fantastic.

1B Prince Fielder  $30  Kept him all year.  Down year for HR's but has maintained a .300 BA with >100 RBI's.  Well worth the $30 pricetag.

2B  Dustin Ackley $4  Pretty much a bust.  I tried to be patient but finally dropped him about 2 months in. Picked up Aaron Hill who has been fantastic.

SS  Dee Gordon  $12  Bust.  Picked up Scutaro on the FA market and we all know how he has done.

3B  Jose Bautista  $45.  My most expensive player.  Hit HR's but dragged down my BA until he went on the DL where he remains today.

IF  Pablo Sandoval  $20  Kept all season.  Good when healthy.  Two stints on the DL were a bit frustrating, though.

OF  Andrew McCutchen  $25.  The steal of the draft!   Has outperformed all the $40+ guys except possibly Ryan Braun. Needless to say, I kept him all season.

OF  Melky Cabrera  $2.  Another steal until.....well.....Obviously dropped him when he was suspended.

OF  Alejandro De Aza  $3  Not really a bust but I wasn't thrilled with what I was getting out of him so dropped him about 2 months in.  Picked up Reddick who was fantastic until recently.

UT  Freddie Freeman  $3  Steady player all year but I thought I could do better.  Dropped him about 2 months in.

UT  David Ortiz  $3  Another steal.  Fantastic production before hitting the DL with the achilles problem.

SP  Zack Grienke  $25  Kept all year.  Steady Eddie. Solid value for the price.

SP  Madison Bumgarner  $13  Kept all year.  Solid value.  Almost a steal.

SP  Ricky Romero  $6  Disappointing.  Traded for Jordan Walden who lost his closer job in LA.  Romero was eventually dropped by the guy I traded him to.  Trade was a bust for both sides.

SP  Cory Luebke  $4  Did great until going down the TJ.

SP  Brandon Beachy  $5  Did great until going down with TJ.

RP  Kyle Farnsworth  $4  Started the year on the DL.  Never got his closer job back.  Bust.

RP  Brian Wilson  $12  TJ.  Bust.

RP  Joe Nathan  $5  Kept all year.  Excellent closer.

P  Grant Balfour  $1.  Up and down year. I dropped him when he lost the closer job the first time.

P  Vinnie Pestano  $1  Closer in waiting who kept waiting all year.  I dropped him about 2 months in.

BN  Jordan Zimmermann  $4  Kept all year.  Excellent SP with consistent results.

BN  Brandon Morrow  $5  Ran hot and cold before oblique injury.  I decided he was not worth using up a DL spot on and droppped him.

BN  Ervin Santana  $6  Terrible start to the season and never got much better.  Dropped him after about 4 starts.

BN  Chris Capuano  $2  Kept all season.  Solid value for $2.

BN  Trevor Cahill  $1  I drafted him by mistake.  Dropped him before the season started.  I don't remember who I picked up for him.

Current Savvy Vets Roster:

C  Wilin Rosario
1B  Prince Fielder
2B  Aaron Hill
3B  Pedro Alvarez
SS  Marco Scutaro
IF   Pablo Sandoval
OF  Andrew McCutchen
OF  Jayson Werth
OF  Yoenis Cespedes
UT  Josh Reddick
UT  Desmond Jennings
SP  Zack Grienke
SP  Madison Bumgarner
SP  Jordan Zimmermann
SP  Phil Hughes
SP  Hiroki Kuroda
RP  Joe Nathan
RP  Jonathan Broxton
RP  Carlos Marmol
P    Ryan Cook
P    Santiago Casilla
BN  Chris Capuano
BN  Jarrod Parker
BN  Chris Medlen
BN  Francisco Liriano
BN  Ben Sheets.
DL  Jose Bautista
DL  David Ortiz.

I use my bench as an extended SP rotation.  I will lose the Saves category in the Finals.  Rosters are frozen for the playoffs, plus, I ran out of moves about 2 weeks before the end of the regular season.  I've won something like 6 or 7 weeks in a row with this bunch.  Hoping for one more!

Comments?  Questions?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Game Wrap 9/23/2012: Padres 6 Giants 4

If you were a player in the Giants lineup today, you should probably be at least a little concerned about having a spot on the playoff active roster.  Despite the all-scrubs lineup, the game ended up fairly close as the Giants starters  and members of The Committee took a day off after celebrating their NL West title last night.  Key Lines:

Xavier Nady- 2 for 4, 2B.  BA= .191.  Nady is hitting .308 over his last 10 games.  The Giants will need his RH bat in the playoffs.  He'll be on the roster, barring injury.  He may be auditioning for a roster spot next season too.

Francisco Peguero- 2 for 3, 2 SB(3).  BA= .167.  Peguero's job here is to try to impress the Manager and GM for future reference.

Yusmeiro Petit- 4.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 1 K.   ERA= 3.86.  I thought Petit did a commendable job seeing as how he had not pitched in a game in over 3 weeks.

Jose Mijares- 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 2.65.  Even though he appeared today, gotta think Mijares will be on the playoff roster.  I think he will play a big role at some point.

Clay Hensley= 0.1  IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 4.72.  Hensley seems to have completely lost it.  I don't see any way he's going to be on the playoff roster.  Probably not on the roster next season either.

Brad Penny- 1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 5.88.  Penny really seems done.  I'm sure someone, somewhere will give him a chance next spring, but he's got to get his shoulder healthy and/or find another pitch or something.

Jean Machi- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 3.86.  Machi might be earning a look for a back of the bullpen slot next spring.

The Giants are the NL West Champions so who cares what the Dodgers did?  Have to say, I would just as soon the Dodgers not make it into the Wild Card game.  Dodgers won, but so did the Cards.  Dodgers trail Cards for 2'nd WC berth by 3 games with 9 to play.  BrewCrew is a half game ahead of the Dodgers.

Giants have the day off tomorrow before starting their final regular season homestand against the D'Backs.  Tim Lincecum will start that one facing Tyler Skaggs.

Giants have made it fairly clear that while they expect the starters to play and play hard so as not to get rusty, overtaking Cincy and the Nats for homefield advantage is not a priority.  They did not have homefield advantage against Philly in 2010  and did just fine.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Game Wrap 9/22/2012: Giants 8 Padres 4

The Giants clinched the NL West Division Championship with a win over the Pesky Padres in front of another happy and raucous sellout crowd at AT&T Park.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 1 for 4, BB.  BA= .293.  Pagan once again sets the tone at the top of the order, getting on base twice and scoring 2 runs.

Marco Scutaro- 3 for 5.  BA= .304.  That gives Scooter, what, 180 hits on the season?  Stay hot, Scooter.  We need you in the postseason!

Hunter Pence- 2 for 3, SF.  BA= .257.  The basehits didn't produce any runs, but the SF drove in the second run of the first inning to put the Giants ahead to stay.

Brandon Belt- 2 for 3, 2B, HR(7), BB.  BA= .271.  This line brings back memories of when he was in the minors and putting up these every day.  Huge night for Belt directly contributing to 3 of the Giants 8 runs.  Significantly, the HR was off a LHP and on a first pitch of the AB.  No way Belt of the early season would have had the confidence to be first pitch swinging there.

Madison Bumgarner- 1 for 1, Sac.  BA= .164.  Bumgarner did as much to help himself get the W at the plate as on the mound.  He singled up the middle to drive in Belt for the first run.  Later, with Belt and Crawford on first and second, he laid down a nice sac bunt to advance both runners.  Scooter cashed them in with a 2 out single later in the inning.

Madison Bumgarner- 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 3.26.  Bummy was a bit uneven tonight.  He only walked one batter, but went to 3-2 on a whole bunch which contributed to the hits and runs scored off of him.    Still, it was a first pitch strike that was a bit too juicy for Yonder Alonso to pass up that ended Bumgarner's night with a long dinger to right-center.

Jeremy Affeldt- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 2.83.  Affledt's shutdown 7'th inning might have been the most important inning of the game.

The Giants win, coupled with the Dodgers loss reduced the Giants Magic Number to 0, clinching the NL West Championship for the second time in 3 seasons.  The Giants trail in the race for home field advantage through the playoffs.  It will be interesting to see if they keep the pedal to the metal in an attempt to catch the Reds and/or the Nats.  Personally, I think it's more important to get some of the starters and Committee members some rest, but Sabes and Boch may have other ideas.  You could certainly make an argument for not breaking their momentum now.

Tim Lincecum starts tomorrow against lefty Eric Stultz.

Game Wrap 9/21/2012: Giants 5 Padres 1

The Giants kept the pedal to the metal turning a tightly pitched game between Ryan Vogelsong and Padres rookie Casey Kelly early into an easy win in the middle innings.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 2 for 5, 2B, 3B(15), SB(28).  BA= .294.  Pagan extended his SF Giants season record for Triples to 15.

Marco Scutaro- 1 for 3, 2 BB.  BA= .301.  The Giants first two batters were on base 5 out of PAs.

Pablo Sandoval- 3 for 3, BB, HR(12).  BA= .291.  Pablo hits his 4'th HR in 3 games.  He's been hot now for 8 games going 14 for 31 starting with the first game of the D'Backs series coming off the 2 day rest.  He has a 5 game hitting streak in which he is 11 for 19 with 4 HR's.  I'll just add that the difference between hot Pablo and cold Pablo has nothing to do with pitch selection.  As the TV people are gleefully saying, he's hitting everything from the nose to the toes!  Note to pitchers:  If you are thinking of trying to get him to chase a breaking ball at the back foot, yeah, he'll chase it alright, but you might want to rethink that strategy!

Buster Posey- 1 for 4.  BA= .335.  Buster very deservedly wins the Willie Mac Award.  Were it not for Buster's MVP caliber season coming off his horrific injury, you could make a case for Angel Pagan and his leadership post-Melk, and you might make a case for Barry Zito who came back to pitch a bunch of terrific games after staring at the possible end of his career last year and in Spring Training. You also might make a case for Marco Scutaro and the work he has done since coming to the Giants.   Buster is the clear winner this year, though.

Brandon Belt- 1 for 3, BB.  BA= .268.  Belt started the rally that led to the Giants first run.  One big difference between the current Giants and the beginning of the year Giants is they are getting consistent production from the bottom of the lineup.  Not as much as from the top of the lineup, but nobody is asking for that.  What they are getting is 1-2 extra runs per game from the 6, 7 and 8 batters which can be a huge difference maker.

Gregor Blanco- 1 for 4, Assist(Headley at home).  BA= .244.  Huge defensive play for Blanco hitting his relay man Crawford who nailed Headley at the plate.  Blanco made a couple of other nice running catches in LF.  When Blanco is in LF, the Giants have the OF covered like a blanket.  Hey, a run prevented is as good as a run scored!

Brandon Crawford- 2 for 4.  BA= .248.  See above discussion re. Brandon Belt and the bottom of the batting order.

Ryan Vogelsong- 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K's.  ERA= 3.58.  Vogey needed this game badly.  Having him back on track is big for the postseason even if he pitches out of the bullpen.

Sergio Romo- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 1.92.  Not a Save situation but Romo seems to have emerged as the likely postseason closer.  Hope Bochy doesn't forget to use Lopez or Mijares if Josh Hamilton comes up in the 9'th of game 7 with a couple of runners on base, or Bryce Harper or Brian McCann or Jason Heyward or Jay Bruce in the playoffs.

The Dodgers beat the Reds 3-1 in extra innings, so the Giants lead in the NL West remains at 10 games, but the Giants shaved another game off the Magic Number which is now down to 2.

The Dodgers take on Mat Latos today, and I will be a Mat Latos fan for one day.  I mean, if he's going to take it to the Giants, then he sure as heck better take it to the Dodgers too!  Anyway, if the Dodgers lose to Latos, the Giants will be in position to clinch the NL West title tonight with Madison Bumgarner taking the mound against Andrew Werner.

Go Giants!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Game Wrap 9/20/2012: Giants 9 Rockies 2

Pablo Sandoval and the Giants unleashed a withering offensive attack on the Reeling Rockies making it easy for Barry Zito and the second string bullpen pitchers to complete a 4 game sweep.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 2 for 4, 2B, BB.  BA=  .293.  Pagan leads the way again.

Marco Scutaro- 2 for 4.  BA= .301.  Scooter stays hot.

Pablo Sandoval- 2 for 4, 2 HR(11).  BA= .285.  I guess he's back, huh?

Buster Posey- 2 for 4, HR(23).  BA= .335.  MVP!  MVP!

Hector Sanchez- 3 for 4.  BA= .276.  So much for those who say the Giants will lose because of an inferior lineup if they play Buster at 1B in the postseason.  Second game in a row where he was called for catcher interference, though.

Barry Zito- 5.2 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 4.18.  Lot's of hits but few runs.

Bullpen- 3.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.   Mota was the only member of The Committee to appear, so most of them got an additional day off.

With the win, the Giants stretch their lead in the NL West to 9.5 games, at least temporarily.  Dodgers are losing to the Nats in Washington so it could got to 10 games if the Nats make it hold up.  They also shaved another game off their Magic Number which now stands at 4 with it possibly going to 3 if the Dodgers lose.

Ryan Vogelsong tries to get himself back on track facing rookie RHP Casey Kelly and the Pesky Padres tomorrow night at AT&T Park.

Addendum:  Dodgers lose to Nats 4-1.  Giants lead NL West by 10 full games.  Magic Number is 3.  Dodgers are just 3 games over .500 and lead the 3'rd place D'Backs by just 2.5 games.

Game Wrap 9/19/2012: Giants 7 Rockies 1

The Committee needed a rest day and got it as Matt Cain went 8 strong innings after the offense staked him to an early 3-0 lead then added on in the middle innings.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 2 for 5, SB(27).  BA= .291.  The second hit on an IF chopper and the SB were a bit questionable and may have been due to some help by the umps, but hey, we'll take it, right?  Pagan is closing in on his 3'rd consecutive 30 SB season.  He's hitting .366 over his last 10 games.  Here's 3 slash lines from Pagan's career:

2010    .290/.340/.425.
2012    .291/.339/.442(in progress)
Career  .282/.333/.424

Pablo Sandoval- 3 for 5, HR(9).  BA= .283.  I think Pablo is back.  6 for 12 so far in the current series.  I was looking at him on TV.  Again, Pablo is never going to be thin, but I think he's actually in pretty good Pablo shape.

Gregor Blanco- 3 for 4, SB(23).  BA= .245.  Blanco is hitting .367 over his last 10 games and is stating a case for a 2013 roster spot.

Brandon Belt- 1 for 3, 2B, BB.  BA= .268.  Belt is hitting just .200 over his last 10 game including this one.  He got a nice swing on a down and in pitch and stroked it to the RF fence for a 2 run double.  Watching Belt's struggles and development has been one of the more fascinating  and controversial story lines from the 2012 season.  I'm guessing this evolving story will continue into 2013.

Matt Cain- 8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 8 K's.  ERA= 2.86.  Vintage Matt Cain.  Interestingly leadoff batter Dexter Fowler drew 3 of the 4 walks yet did not score.  Cainer threw 116 pitches in this one.  I have to say, I think I nearly had a stroke when he came out to hit in the 7'th after he had already thrown 104 pitches.  I mean, what was the point of extending him in this one?  I understand Bochy wanting to keep the pedal to the metal until this thing is clinched, but it's also not too early to be thinking about the extra innings the post-season is going to put on these arms.  The only justification I can think of is Bochy knew The Committee was gassed and did not want to even take a small chance on having to use them in case a George Kontos or Dan Otero made it close at the end.  In the end, Cain had a non-stressful 8'th inning so hopefully won't have any extra fatigue.  Also, hopefully, the Giants get a chance in the near future to give their starters some 3 or 4 inning starts to rest and tune up for the post-season.

Jose Mijares- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 2.72.  Mijares is the least used guy in The Committee, so he got the call to mop up in the 9'th.  Bochy has used him almost exclusively as a LOOGY, but he really showed me something in facing the RH hitting Chris Nelson who has been pretty hot lately.  Mijares got strike 2 on a Noah Lowryesque changeup that disappeared on Nelson then came back with strike 3 on a perfect deuce that caught the outside corner and dipped under his bat.  This guy has weapons to get RH batters out!  Something tells me Mijares is going to be a huge factor in at least 1 postseason game.

The Dodgers split their doubleheader with the Nats in Washington so the Giants extend their lead in the NL West to 9 full games.  At the same time, they chopped a full 2 games off their Magic Number which is now down to 5.

Barry Zito pitches today facing Jorge De La Rosa who is making his first start since going down for TJ surgery early last season.  Go Giants!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Game Wrap 9/18/2012: Giants 6 Rockies 3

Big Time Timmy Jim showed up tonight and pitched one of the best if not the best games he's pitched all season.  The Giants offense backed that up with a persistent attack for a relatively easy win.

Angel Pagan- 1 for 5, 3B(14).  BA= .290.  Pagan extended his SF Giants record for triples and contributed to 2 of the Giants 6 runs in the process.

Marco Scutaro- 3 for 5.  BA= .300.  Stay hot, Scooter!  Scoots is hitting .450 over his last 10 games and .405 for the month of September after hitting .314 in August.

Pablo Sandoval- 2 for 4, 2B.  BA= .278.  Pablo looks like he's staying back on the ball better. 3 hits and 4 times on base in his last 2 games.

Hector Sanchez- 2 for 4, 2B.  BA= .267.  Steady as she goes.  Another of the small pleasures of watching this season, win or lose.  Watching The Hector establish himself in the big leagues and grow as a player.  Love his short, quick stroke to the ball.  Yet another contradiction to the meme that Sabes and Boch won't give chances to young players who aren't sure thing prospects.

Xavier Nady- 2 for 3.  BA= .183.  Nady looked terrible at the plate Monday night, but was a big difference maker tonight.  Hopefully he can stay healthy enough to at least form a LF platoon with Blanco for the playoffs.  He looked like he was only running about 70% last night though.

Nady was involved in a strange play in the bottom of the 6'th.  Nady had singled to drive in Hunter Pence and also advanced Hector Sanchez to 2B.  Brandon Crawford hit a high chopper over the pitcher's head that the 2B had no chance on.  As Nady was running down to 2B, LeMahieu stuck his right elbow out and brushed him.  The 2B ump called Nady out on interference and brought Hector back to 2B even though Nady had clearly swerved to try to avoid LeMahieu.  Kruk and Kuip were outraged and Carl Steward seems to think it was a terrible call, but on the postgame show, Greg Papa, Bill Laskey and Vida Blue sounded like they thought it was a slam dunk call and it didn't matter that Nady tried to evade LeMahieu.  I'm not enough of a rule guy to know, but it seems logical to me that if the runner was trying to avoid contact and the 2B stuck out his elbow trying to make contact, it should have been a non-call.  No telling what might have happened had everybody been called safe.  It would have brought up Timmy with no outs and the bases loaded.  Huff had a bat in his hands in the dugout, so I'm thinking he would have pinch-hit for Timmy in that situation.  As it was, Timmy bunted the runners over to 2'nd and 3'rd with the second out, then Pagan struck out looking to end the inning.

Gregor Blanco- 1 for 1, 2B.  BA= .239.  I loved Blanco's hit which harked back to Ralph Garr and Matty Alou.  He basically ran up in the batters box and poked a hard bunt over the 3B head down the LF line into no man's land.  The great part of this is that Blanco can hit the ball hard enough that if opposing LF move up and over to cover the short LF line, Blanco will just hit it over their heads to the gap.

6.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 4.91.  Not quite vintage Timmy, but a very encouraging start.  He has a 3.02 ERA over his last 10 starts.  Wouldn't it be something if, after all his struggles this year, Timmy came up huge again the the post-season?

Committee- 2.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 3 K's.  I think The Committee needs a day off.

With the Win, the Giants extended their lead in the NL West to a season high 8.5 games as the Dodgers got rained out in Washington.

Matt Cain takes the mound tonight facing Tyler Chatwood.

14 games to go, Magic Number is 7.  The Dodgers play a make-up double-header today in Washington, so the Magic Number could fall all the way to 4 if the Giants win and the Nats sweep.

Go Giants!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Game Wrap 9/17/2012: Giants 2 Rockies 1

The Giants continued to struggle to score runs in AT&T Park, but they scored 1 more than the Rockies and that's all it takes.  Key Lines:

Pablo Sandoval- 1 for 3, BB.  BA= .276.  Pablo started the winning rally with a single through the right side.  He also made a nice diving stop and throw to first on a ball that was scorched just to his left.

Buster Posey- 2 for 4.  BA= .334.  There were chants of MVP! in the stands as Buster also threw out Dexter Fowler trying to steal 2B after leading off the game with a walk.

Hunter Pence- 1 for 3, BB.  BA= .260.  Pence had what I think was his best AB since becoming a Giant battling with 2 strikes and finally shooting a groundball through the hole in the right side to drive in the winning run.  Kruk and Kuip put up a note on the TV that Pence is something like 3'rd in baseball in driving in go-ahead runs?  Did I get that right?

Brandon Crawford- 2 for 3, 2B, 3B.  BA= .249.  We now know that Ian Kinsler's ball that hit the top of the CF wall and bounced back onto the field in the WS was not a fluke as the exact same thing happened on Crawford's triple.  The difference is in this one Crawford scored on a passed ball by Wilin Rosario.

Crawford's batting line for September is .333/.436/.576.  At this point, it looks like the Giants making the post-season is going to happen and that is a great thing, but if they weren't in this position there have been some very rewarding things to see this season, not the least of which is a.  The Giants putting faith in Brandon Crawford and b. watching him gradually get better and better, both at the plate and defensively, and c. a whole highlight reel of jaw dropping defensive plays over the course of the season.  He had another one of those tonight too with an incredible play he made in one motion from deep in the hole between 3B and SS.  There's GIF of it on Extra Baggs.  Check it out!

I was thinking back on all the shortstops the Giants have employed over the years from Hal Lanier to Johnny Lemaster to Miguel Tejada.  Where would you rank Crawford's season in all time SF Giants SS seasons?  I'm thinking it might not be #1 but it's not anywhere close to the bottom either.

Madison Bumgarner- 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 3.26.  Bumgarner walked 4 batters in the first 3 innings but somehow managed to pitch out of it.  Giants pitchers have had trouble getting opposing pitchers out and this game was no exception.  The lone run scored by the Rockies came on a double by Jhoulys Chacin followed by a triple to Josh Rutledge.  Bumgarner finished the inning without further damage.

Bullpen- 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K's.  Romo got the Save, but Saves have become an even more meaningless stat in Bruce Bochy's Bullpen Committee.  Most of the time the guy with the Save pitches to just one batter.  Of the 5 guys who trotted out there in this one, I was particularly impressed by Mijares blowing away Tyler Colvin, Jose Casilla's 1.2 IP and Romo's K of Jason Giambi without throwing him one slider.

The Giants win pushed their lead in the NL West to a season high 8 games over the idle Dodgers.

Tim Lincecum goes against Jeff Francis tonight.  15 games to go, magic number is 8.  I'm finally believing this is going to happen, folks.  The Giants are going to the post-season!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Game Wrap 9/16/2012: D'Backs 10 Giants 2

Maybe it's just me, but the Giants seem to have had trouble getting up for road trip finales all season.  Today was no exception.  The game started out promising enough but fell apart in the 4'th inning and went downhill from there.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 2 for 3.  BA= .291.  Pagan came out of this one early with a sore back.  He is not expected to miss any games.

Buster Posey- 1 for 3, BB.  BA= .333.  I was kind of scratching my head during his 8'th inning AB wondering what he was doing still in a 10-2 game.  I guess Whiteside came in after that, but maybe should have been in a bit earlier.  I mean, if you are using Shane Loux, you've kind of thrown in the towel already.

Ryan Vogelsong- 3.1 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 3.65.  Vogey's stuff looks good.  Gotta be wondering if he's tipping pitches.  Corbin kind of looked like he knew what was coming on that bases clearing triple in the 4'th.

Fortunately, the Dodgers lost to the Cards 5-2 in extra-innings, so the Giants maintained their lead in the NL West at 7.5 games.

The Giants now come home for their final 10 game homestand starting with 4 games against the Rockies.  Madison Bumgarner faces Jhoulys Chacin in game 1 tomorrow night.

16 games to go.  Magic number is 9.  Go Giants!!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Game Wrap 9/15/2012: Giants 3 D'Backs 2

Barry Zito pitched another sparkling quality start, the Giants played sensational defense, and Buster Posey supplied the big blow with an opposite field 2 run dinger in an exciting, well played game in Arizona.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 2 for 4, 3B(13).  BA= .289.  Pagan led off the game with a triple to set a SF Giants record for triples in 1 season.  That led to the Giants first run.  He later paid homage to Willie Mays with a running basket catch in deep right-centerfield.  Mays still holds the franchise record with 20 set in the Giants last season in New York in 1957.

Marco Scutaro- 2 for 4.  BA= .296.  Scooter continues his sensational hitting.

Buster Posey- 3 for 4, 2B, HR(22).  BA= .333.  Hail to the Buster!  MVP!  They opened the roof of the stadium just before Buster's dinger.  Not sure it would have been out with the roof closed.

Hector Sanchez- 0 for 4.  BA= .262.  You wouldn't know it from his batting line but Hector played a sensational game.  In addition to calling a great game for Zito and the relievers, he made two absolutely perfect throws to nail basestealers including one from his knees to nail former Giants farmhand Tyler Graham who isn't slow.  Both throws were as on the money as you can possible get as Scoots was able to simultaneously catch the ball and apply the tag.  Both catches were made with his glove resting on the baserunner.

I'll add here that Crawford's play from deep short to end the game was as good as it gets too.

Barry Zito-  6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K's.  ERA= 4.21.  Zito has been so good that I'm starting to develop expectations of him, which I don't think is necessarily a good thing.  Just have to enjoy it while it lasts.  If Bochy were to choose his playoff rotation tonight, I'm pretty sure Zito would be on it.

Sergio Romo- 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, Save(11).  ERA= 1.99.  Romo allowed a couple of hits but managed to keep runs off the board and close it out.  Hector's sensational throw to nail Graham for the first out of the 9'th inning helped a lot.  Things could have gotten ugly had Graham successfully stolen the bag.

The Dodgers came from behind for a walk-off 4-3 win over the Cards in LA so the Giants lead in the NL West remained 7.5 games.  The D'Backs slipped to 12 games behind the Giants.

17 games to go.  Magic number is 10.  Ryan Vogelsong takes the mound tomorrow facing yet another lefty in Patrick Corbin.

Game Wrap 9/14/2012: Giants 6 D'Backs 2

Matt Cain pitched out of trouble in the first two innings and Hunter Pence supplied the big blow with a grand slam dinger in the 3'rd inning.  The Giants cruised the rest of the way to a win.  Key Lines:

Marco Scutaro- 2 for 5.  BA= .294.  Scooter is hitting .432 over his last 10.  He hit .314 in August and .377 in September so far.

Pablo Sandoval- 3 for 4, 2B. BA= .282.  A couple of days off seemed to help Sandoval.  He had a pretty bad throwing error on a potential DP ball, but made a great stop down the line on another ball.

Hunter Pence- 2 for 3, HR(21), HBP.  BA= .260.  The grand slam is why the Giants got him.  It may not be pretty, and he has his ups and downs, but his end of season stat line is amazingly consistent over the years.

Santiago Casilla- 1 for 1.  BA= .500.  Casilla had what might be the funniest, most wonderful AB of the entire season.  He generally goes up there with orders to not swing.  After he faked a bunt while simultaneously bailing out on the first pitch, Bochy decided, oh whattheheck and gave him the green light.  Casilla took a swing at the next pitch and hit what looked like a shanked billiards ball that shot right through the hole in the right side of the infield.  I think the D'Backs fielders were so shocked they couldn't react, but it was a base hit all the way.  Casilla's run to first followed by a confused dance at the end of the play are on GIF's all over the internet.  If you didn't see it, gotta check it out.  Even funnier were some of the reactions from his teammates.  He borrowed Blanco's bat and got to keep it.  Jeremy Affeldt said if Casilla ever gets a hit off of him, he will take off his uniform top, walk off the mound and retire.  Better be careful what you say there, Jeremy!

Matt Cain- 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 2.93.  Cain huffed and puffed and sweated his way through a couple of rough innings to start the game, but somehow managed to pitch his way out of trouble, something he's always been able to do.  Pence took the heat off in the 3'rd with his salami.

Jeremy Affeldt- 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 2.84.  I think Affeldt does best when he can stretch out and eat up more than 1 inning mid-game.

Tyler Skaggs(D'Backs)- 4 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 5.55.  Not complaining, but I did feel a bit sorry for Skaggs who I thought got the Rookie Treatment big time.  He was squeezed by the home plate ump and had a couple of very close calls go against him on the field.  He made 1 really bad pitch to Pence, but probably didn't deserve to be in that position.

The Win allowed the Giants to maintain their 7.5 game lead on the Dodgers in the NL West as the Evil Ones topped the Cardinals 8-5 in LA.  The losing D'Backs slipped to 11 games off the pace.

Barry Zito takes the mound today facing lefty Wade Miley this evening.  18 games to go, magic number is 11.  Go Giants!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Question and Answer

Since there's no Game Report to post this morning, I thought we'd try a Q/A which have been popular in the past.  Post any baseball related question in the comments and I'll do my best to answer.  Readers are welcome to provide their own answers in addition to mine or comment on my answers.  Giants, Farm System, Draft, Fantasy, MLB?  Whatever is on your mind, fire away!

The Hardball Times(now part of Fangraphs).  took a look at Tim Lincecum's struggles.  Looks like they basically copy and pasted my theories.  You can find Fangraphs and THT by clicking the link over on the left.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Game Wrap 9/12/2012: Giants 8 Rockies 3

The Giants staked Tim Lincecum to a 5-0 lead before he took the mound in the first inning and went on to win this one wire-to-wire.  Key Lines:

Gregor Blanco- 2 for 5, 3B, SB(22).  BA= .242.   Blanco is hitting .333 over his last 10 games.  He also made a sensational catch against the CF fence on a drive by Willin Rosario with a runner on base that, at the time, preserved a 6-3 Giants lead.  And, how many sensational catches has Blanco made this year?

Marco Scutaro- 3 for 5, SB(9).  BA= .293.  Scooter is inching toward .300.

Hector Sanchez- 2 for 4.  BA= .267.  Hector is one tough hombre.  He took a leg protector to the chest from Rosario on a play at the plate that had to hurt.  He stayed in the game.

Brandon Crawford- 2 for 4, 2 2B.  BA= .246.  Crawford got the start against the LHP with Arias covering 3B in place of Pablo.  2 run double in the game wining rally in the first inning.  He added another double later in the game.  I'm pretty sure his WAR rating went up again tonight.  Did anyone catch Grant's mea culpa on Crawford over on MCC?

Joaquin Arias- 2 for 4, SF.  BA= .279.  Pretty hard to argue this isn't an upgrade on Pablo at 3B, at least for now.

Tim Lincecum- 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 8 K.  ERA= 5.09.  Timmy battled his Command Demons again in this one, but it's easier to pitch downhill and he hung in there for 6 innings earning the QS.

Bullpen- 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K's.   Bochy used 7 pitchers to get through the last 3 innings.  I think he might have been doing some of this just for the fun of it.  Maybe to tweak the Rockies on their crazy pitching scheme?  Kruk and Kuip were practically rolling on the floor at some inside joke that I didn't get.  Maybe a commenter can get me up to speed on it?  Anyway, whatever it was, it worked!

The Dodgers scored 2 runs in the first inning of their game against the D'Backs then just laid down and died.  3-2 loss  for the Dodgers dropping them 7 games behind the NL West leading San Francisco Giants with 19 to go.  The D'Backs continued to be the 10'Backs.

The Giants get a day off then start a 3 game weekend set against the D'Backs in Arizona.  Matt Cain starts game 1 Friday facing rookie Tyler Skaggs.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Game Wrap 9/11/2012: Giants 9 Rockies 8

The Giants stormed back from a 4-0 deficit to take a 9-5 lead, then held off late rallies by the Rockies to win a wild one at Coors Field.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 1 for 5, 3B(12).  BA= .289.  Pagan's triple drove in a run and he later scored on Scooter's SF.  The triple tied him with Willie Mays and Steve Finley for the single season Giants record.

Marco Scutaro- 2 for 4, SF.  BA= .290.  Scooter was in the middle of just about everything again today.

Pablo Sandoval- 0 for 4.  BA= .276.  Pablo's slump continued tonight.

Buster Posey- 2 for 3, 2B, 2 BB.  BA= .332.  Hail to the Buster!  MVP!

Brandon Belt- 2 for 4, 2B, HR(6).  BA= .274.  We're starting to see the Belt we all hoped he would be.  4 huge RBI's tonight.

Madison Bumgarner- 2 for 2, HR(2).  BA= .156.  Bumgarner picked himself up in this one.  The dinger was a 3 run jack.

Madison Bumgarner-  4.1 IP, 11 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 3.32.  I'm inclined to discount these games at Coors  Seems like the conditions strongly favor the hitters right now, even more than usual.  Still, gotta be concerned that  having the rotation start all but 1 game all season may turn out to be not such a good thing.  Bumgarner threw a lot of pitches in the Kershaw game and hasn't really been the same since.

George Kontos- 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB 2 K's.  ERA= 2.37.  Kontos got 2 high leverage K's to strand 2 baserunners and get Bumgarner out of the 5'th inning.

Jose Mijares- 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  Right now, I trust Mijares out of the bullpen a lot more than I do Affeldt.

Guillermo Mota- 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K's.  ERA= 5.51.  Kontos, Mijares and Mota, recorded 8 consecutive outs by K with just 1 basehit in between.  Mota seems rejuvenated.  I'm thinking he's a lock for a post-season roster spot(knocks furiously on wood).

The Dodgers lost to the D'Backs 1-0 in Arizona to fall 6 games behind the NL West leading San Francisco Giants. D'Backs remain the 10'Backs.

Tim Lincecum tries for a series win against Jeff Francis tomorrow night.

20 games to go.  Go Giants!!

Game Wrap 9/10/2012: Rockies 6 Giants 5

2 unearned runs in the 6'th inning by the Rockies after a 2 out fielding error by Pablo Sandoval as the difference in this game.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 3 for 5, 2B,  BA= .290.   Pagan is gonna get paid this offseason!

Marco Scutaro- 2 for 5.  BA= .289.  Scutaro hit a sharp grounder to the right side with runners on 2'nd and 3'rd with 1 out in the 8'th.  Unfortunately, it was right at the first baseman and the runners had to hold.

Pablo Sandoval- 0 for 5.  BA= .280.  No way to sugarcoat it.  A few days ago, I was convinced Pablo was coming out of his slump.  Now he's in it deeper than ever.  With the 2 hitters in front of him and the 3 hitters behind him all getting on base multiple times, Pablo was the black hole in the lineup stranding 6 runners in the process.  Add in the error and you can pretty much hang this loss on The Panda.  Might be time to let him sit a day or two and let Arias play 3B.

Buster Posey- 3 for 5, HR(21).  BA= .330.  MVP!!

Hunter Pence- 1 for 4, HR(20), BB.  BA= .259.  Pence answered the 2 runs the Rockies scored in the first inning with a rifle shot HR to LF.

Brandon Belt- 2 for 5.  BA= .271.  It's gotten to the point where I look forward to Belt's AB's thinking something good is likely to happen.

Aubrey Huff- 1 for 1.  BA= .169.  I"m not advocating for him to be in any other role, but Huff has reached base in 3 of 5 PH appearances since coming off the DL.

Ryan Vogelsong- 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 1 K, GO/AO= 10/1.  ERA= 3.40.  Vogey's struggles continued tonight. He did settle down a bit after giving up 3 runs in the first 2 innings.  I know it's starting to sound like excuses, but the ball appeared to be carrying extraordinarily well in the early innings at Coors.  Still, you can't give up a dinger to the opposing pitcher.

The Dodgers were idle so the Giants lead in the NL West slipped to 5 games.

Madison Bumgarner goes tomorrow night facing Jhoulys Chacin.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Game Wrap 9/9/2012: Giants 4 Dodgers 0

The Giants caught a break when Clayton Kershaw was scratched from the start for LA late in the day.  The "good" Zito showed up to pitch for the Giants.  The result was a wire-to-wire shutout win over the Hated Ones.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 2 for 4, 3B, SB(25).  BA= .287.  Pagan hit another shot that was headed for the RF corner that AGone made a leaping grab on at deep 1B.  If Buster Posey was not on this team, I'd say Pagan might be the MVP of the team and in the discussion for league MVP.  Dude has led the way!

Marco Scutaro- 0 for 3, SF.  BA- .288.  Scooter's SF to score Pagan after the triple in the 5'th gave the Giants their first score since the first inning and a 3-0 lead.  That's when I started thinking they were likely to win this one.  Nice piece of hitting by Scoots.

Buster Posey- 2 for 4, HR(20).  BA= .327.  Can we call him MVP?  No offense to Matt Kemp, who I really like as a player, but I hope the Giants fans all chant that really loudly when he comes up at Dodger Stadium in October.

Hunter Pence- 1 for 4, 2B.  BA= .259.  Say what you will about Pence, and he has his faults, but the Giants of last year and earlier this year would likely have left 2 runners on base in the first inning with nothing to show for it.  The double drove in his 25'th and 26'th runs since joining the team.

Barry Zito- 6.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K's.  ERA= 4.33.  Hey, if you pitch a shutout, it doesn't matter who the other pitcher is, right?  Maybe Zeets could have beaten Kershaw too?

Jose Mijares- 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 2.84.  Mijares faced just one batter, but unlike Jeremy Affeldt last night, he absolutely abused Adrian Gonzalez.  1-2, grab some pine, Meat!

Guillermo Mota- 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 6.00.  Forget the ERA.  Mota is pitching himself onto the postseason roster, assuming of course the Giants make it that far.

Javy Lopez- 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 2.41.  Lopez abused Ethier as badly as Mijares abused AGone.  Gotta love those LOOGYs!

The win stretches the Giants lead in the NL West back to 5.5 games up on the Dodgers, tied for their biggest of the season.  The 3'rd place D'Backs lost to the Pesky Padres 8-2 to fall 10.5 games off the pace.  Giants have 22 games left while the Dodgers have 21.

The Giants now travel to Colorado where they start a 3 game series tomorrow evening against the Reeling Rockies with Ryan Vogelsong facing Alex White.

Commentary: The Hacking Bonus

An interesting statistical fact, at least to me, that tends to go unnoticed by statistically oriented baseball analysts is that there are benefits to hacking that at least partially offset the lower OBP that generally results.  Think of it in the same vein as Opportunity Cost in the business world.  Each time a batter draws a walk, he avoids making an out, but he also sacrifices the opportunity to do something better than a walk, namely, get a base hit, and more importantly, extra base hits. Let's take a look at two hypothetical players:

These two players have identical batting averages of .300 and identical rates for doubles, triples and HR's per Hit.  They both make 600 Plate Appearances in a season.  The only difference is player A walks 100 times and Player B does not draw any walks.  We will arbitrarily assign a doubles rate of 20%, triples 2% and HR's 10% of hits.

Player A ends up with a slash line of .300/.417/.462.  Player B with a slash line of .300/.300/.463(the .001 difference in SLG% is due to rounding).

Player A, of course, draws 100 walks while Player B draws 0.  But look at the breakdown of hits:

Player A:  Hits- 150, Doubles- 30, Triples- 3 and HR's- 15, Total Bases- 231.

Player B:  Hits- 180, Doubles- 36, Triples- 4, HR's- 18, Total Bases- 278.

Now, before you jump all over me on this, I am not suggesting that I would prefer Player B in my lineup.  All I'm pointing out here is that the difference in offensive value here may not be a great as a lot of the less educated sabermetric enthusiasts would like you to believe.

Now, if you plug these numbers into a Runs Created formula, Player A will still come out significantly more valuable at creating runs, but consider a few other byproducts of hacking vs selectivity that may make the difference smaller:

1.  Players who take more pitches and go deep into counts, tend to strike out significantly more often than players who hack for a very simple reason:  You can't get to strike 3 without getting to strike 1 and strike 2 first.  Strikeouts take away even more opportunity for hits and XBH's, so for an equal BABIP, you end up with a lower BA.

2.  Runs Created formulas are based on the assumption that every batter in the lineup is identical, but we know they are not.  AL lineups are more similar top to bottom than NL lineups, so RC formulas will tend to be more accurate in the the AL.  Walks from the 7'th and 8'th spots in an NL lineup tend to die on the basepaths because the #8 and #9 hitters are less capable of advancing baserunners and/or driving them in.

3.  Game situations create different values to different outcomes.  A walk is less valuable with 2 outs than none.  It's less valuable with runners on base than with the bases empty due to the opportunity cost of driving those runners in with a base hit or XBH.  It's the reason there is such a thing as IBB's and why some RC formulas subtract for IBB's(I do not believe there is any way to account for "pitching around" a batter or an intentional unintentional walk, if you will).

Given a choice of Player A or Player B with equally effective defense, yeah, I think you have to choose Player A, but maybe there is a place for both players in a good MLB lineup.  I'd just make sure Player A hits near the top of the lineup and Player B bats 6'th or 7'th.

Fantasy Tip:  If you are drafting a fantasy roster, draft Player B!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Game Wrap 9/8/2012: Dodgers 3 Giants 2

The Dodgers prevailed today in a tight, see-saw game that was worthy of this storied rivalry.  Key Lines:

Marco Scutaro- 1 for 2, 2 BB.  BA= .289.  3 times on base for The Scooter.

Buster Posey- 2 for 3, 2B, BB.  BA= .325.  Buster also threw out 3 Dodgers baserunners trying to steal.

Gregor Blanco- 2 for 3, 2B.  BA= .238.  Blanco gave Giants fans a ray of hope with a 2 out double off the glove of LF Castellanos in the 9'th.  The Hector followed with a line drive right into the glove of 3B Luis Cruz that could have easily been a game-tying hit.  Instead, it ended the game.

Matt Cain- 7.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K's.  ERA= 2.96.  Cainer was a gamer, but was once again stuck with a lack of run support.

Jeremy Affeldt- 0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 2.85.  Affeldt hung a curveball to AGone and was lucky it wasn't long gone.  Might as well have been, though, as he backed that up by giving up a run-scoring double to Hanley, the next batter.

Bruce Bochy- I'll go ahead and second guess Bochy on this one.  As the home team, it's more important to hold the visitors down in the top of the ninth in a tie game than it is to keep your better pitchers in reserve for later.  Not sure if Boch would agree, but right now, I believe Lopez is the better pitcher between him and Affeldt.  With AGone and Ethier due up in the inning, I felt like Lopez should have been the guy out there.  Of course, there is no way of knowing if the outcome would have been different.

With the loss to the second place Dodgers, the Giants lead over them in the NL West went back to 4.5 games.

Barry Zito faces Clayton Kershaw tomorrow evening.  Kershaw tends to be unhittable with the sun going down.  I don't think many Giants fans are expecting a win tomorrow which illuminates just how important last night's W was as it could be the difference between a 3.5 game lead and a 1.5 game lead coming out of this series.

Down on the Farm Playoff Edition: 9/7/2012 Nuts 2 Giants 0

The Modesto Nuts blanked the San Jose Giants 2-0 to win the playoff series and end the Giants season for 2012:

Joe Panik- 2 for 4.  BA= .417.
Taylor Rogers(RHP0- 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 5 K's.
Josh Osich(LHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.
Tyler Matzek(LHP, Nuts)- 7.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K's.

Matzek was the Rockies' first round draft pick in 2009(the year the Giants drafted Zack Wheeler).  He struggled with his command again this year, but pitched 6 innings of shutout ball in his last regular season start and shut down the Giants in this one.

The San Jose Giants were the only minor league team in the Giants organization who made it to the postseason, so this marks the end of the regular Down on the Farm posts for 2012.  I may post some thoughts between now and the end of the MLB season but with the Giants in the pennant race down to the wire and possibly the postseason, the focus will be on that until the offseason.

Thanks for reading and commenting, everybody!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Game Wrap 9/7/2012: Giants 5 Dodgers 2

Despite giving up 7 walks, Tim Lincecum somehow managed to pitch a QS while the Giants offense came to life in the later innings for a win that looks a lot easier in the boxscore than it was in reality.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 3 for 4, BB, SB(24).  BA= .288.  Pagan had been in a mini-slump, but came up huge tonight leading the way in the first game of a major series against the Giants hated rivals.

Marco Scutaro- 2 for 5.  BA= .289.  When Scooter came up with the bases loaded and 1 out in the key 7'th inning,  I felt a calmness that he was going to get the job done.  He's just been so clutch and consistent since the Giants acquired him.  I'm starting to believe that the Scutaro acquisition was the single best and most important deadling trade of this season in all of baseball.

Hector Sanchez- 1 for 3.  BA= .267.  Sanchez started the 2 run go-ahead rally in the 7'th with a sharp GB single through the right side.  Blanco pinch ran, stole second base and scored the go-ahead run.  Hector also nursed Timmy through a very rough 6.1 inning QS.  The sequence of pitches he called for Santiago Casilla to strike out Hanley to end the top of the 7'th was a thing of beauty.  What a tremendous resource to have this kid as the backup catcher.  I would say keeping him on the active roster out of spring training is the single most important roster decision the Giants made this year.

Brandon Crawford- 1 for 3, BB.  BA= .249.  Crawford is closing in the .250 BA level.  He scored 2 of the Giants 5 runs tonight.

Tim Lincecum- 6.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 7 BB, 7 K's.  ERA- 5.11.  A somewhat ugly looking line but Timmy somehow managed to get the job done.  The oddity that probably saved Timmy is the he spread the walks around with 1 in each of the 7 innings he pitched in.

Santiago Casilla- 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 2.79.  Casilla seems to have become Bochy's high leverage guy and did a fabulous job tonight.  With runners on first and second with 1 out, he got Matt Kemp on a broken bat grounder with the runners moving up then struck out Hanley on a masterful sequence of pitches to end the threat.

Sergio Romo- 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 1.76.  Maybe Bochy was bluffing with Huff in the on-deck circle and Lopez in the bullpen in the 8'th inning, but I have to say I breathed a sigh of relief when the Giants made the third out before Romo's turn in the lineup and he came out to start the 9'th.  It's not that I don't have faith in Lopez, especially against LH batters, but I did not like any of the options available after Lopez faced Victorino and AGone.  Oh, and that extra run in the 8'th put my mind at ease too!

With the win, the Giants finally increased their lead over the Dodgers in the NL West to 5.5 games.  The D'Backs lost to the Pesky Padres 6-5 to fall 10.5 games back.

Matt Cain faces Chris Capuano in a nationally televised game tomorrow afternoon.

Down on the Farm Playoff Edition: 9/6/2012 Nuts 9 Giants 8

The Modesto Nuts out hit the San Jose Giants 9-8 in game 2 of their California League Playoff series:

Carter Jurica(DH)- 2 for 4, 2B, BB.  BA= .375.
Jarrett Parker(CF)- 3 for 4, 2B, BB.  BA= .500.
Alex Burg(RF)- 2 for 5, 2B.  BA= .429.
Shawn Payne(LF)- 1 for 5, 2B, Assist(home).  BA= .250.
Edward Concepcion(RHP)- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 0.00.

BA's are for the playoffs only.  I believe this is a 3 game series, so the winner tonight will advance to the next round and the loser goes home.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Game Wrap: D'Backs 6 Giants 2

The Giants played like a team that's running on an empty gas tank last night.  The D'Backs scored 6 runs before the Giants got their first hit in the 7'th inning.  Key Lines:

Marco Scutaro- 2 for 4.  BA= .288.  A day at the office for Scooter.

Brandon Belt- 1 for 3.  BA= .275.  Belt drove in 2 runs with his hit.  See, if you do it long enough, the BA with runners on base should end up about the same as without.

Madison Bumgarner- 6.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 5 K's.  ERA= 3.15.  Bumgarner took a QS into the 7'th.

Trevor Cahill- 6.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K's.  ERA= 3.98.  Cahill is a decent pitcher, but he should not be taking no-hitters into the 7'th inning against good hitting teams, which the Giants have become.  It did seem like maybe Cahill might have been helped by some generous strike calls on sliders down and off the plate.

The Dodgers lost out on another chance to gain ground on the Giants losing to the Pesky Padres 4-3.  The Dodgers remain 4.5 games behind the NL West leading San Francisco Giants.  The D'Backs gained ground to 9.5 games off the pace.

The Giants get a badly needed day off before starting a huge 3 game series against the Dodgers in AT&T Park.  Tim Lincecum faces Josh Beckett in game on Friday night.  Giants can probably put this thing away by winning at least 2 of 3 in the series.  The one thing they cannot let happen is a Dodgers sweep.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Down on the Farm: Playoff Edition 9/5/2012

High A  San Jose Giants defeated the Modesto Nuts 3-1:

Shawn Payne(LF)- 1 for 3, HR.
Carter Jurica(DH)- 1 for 4, 2B.
Joe Panik(SS)- 2 for 4.
Alex Burg(RF)- 1 for 2, 2B, BB.
Clayton Blackburn(RHP)- 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 K's, GO/AO- 7/2.
Josh Osich(LHP)- 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.
Jose Valdez(RHP)- 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K's.

The big news here is the dominance of Clayton Blackburn pitching his first game at the higher level and against one of the best teams in the league.  Wow!  Shawn Payne is showing why he should have been called up earlier in the year too.

Game Wrap 9/4/2012: D'Backs 8 Giants 6

You can only walk a tightrope so many time before you fall off.  The Giants can only get into so many offensive shootouts with teams like the D'Backs before they take one between the eyes.  The Giants mounted a spirited comeback from a 6-2 deficit in this one only to see it stall out at 6-6 and eventually fall short in an extra-innings loss.  Had they gone on to win this one, the story of the game might well have been sensational defense from multiple players and multiple crucial points in the game, but alas, it wall went for naught.  Key Lines:

Marco Scutaro- 2 for 5, 2B, 3B, Sac. BA= .286.  Another terrific offensive night for Scooter.  Speaking of defense, though, is it just me or are the words "....past a diving Scutaro...." becoming a bit too commonplace.

Pablo Sandoval- 2 for 5, 2B, BB.  BA= .290.   Yep, I think Sandoval is heating up.  Pablo also made a sensational and scary diving catch of an attempted sac bunt.  At one point in the play, he was fully parallel to the ground at least 18 inches in the air.  Ooof!  Kruk and Kuip said they thought it registered on the Richter Scale!

Hunter Pence- 1 for 4, 2B, BB, 2 Assists, E.  BA= .262.  Pence was busy in this one both on offense and defense, both good and bad.  Have to say that whether hot or cold, Pence has made the hits he does get productive.

Brandon Belt- 3 for 5, HR(5).  BA= .275.  Splash hit for Brandon.  Those have been quite rare since Barry Bonds left the team, but I have a feeling we're going to be seeing more of them from Belt in the future.  Time to forget about platoons and splits.  Belt is the 1B of the present and future.  Time to put him out there every day and leave him there.  It's even become a close call whether Buster should displace him on non-catching days.

Brandon Crawford- 2 for 3, 2B.  BA= .249.  Nice night at the plate for Brandon, but he also made one of the more sensational plays I've seen, and he's made quite a few sensational plays already in his young career.  With runners on first and third and 1 out, a high chopper was hit to the right of the bag.  Crawford cut over from DP depth at SS to grab the ball,  he then took about two steps to tag the runner from first then did a 360 and threw the batter out at first.  The tag, 360 and throw were all one seamless motion and lightning quick.

Ryan Vogelsong- 3.1 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 7 K's.  ERA= 3.29.  Once again, Vogey appeared to have good stuff with an excellent K rate.  Yeah, he probably caught too much of the plate with too many pitches, but it looked to me like he was working with a very tight strike zone.  At the beginning of the game, Kruk commented that this ump generally has a pitcher's strike zone that stays consistent throughout the game.  I agree he was consistent, but it looked like a very hitter-friendly zone for both teams.  Vogey had several pitches that I thought were clearly strikes called balls and Mijares was absolutely robbed of a strike 3 later in the game.  So, while Vogey has struggled for several games now, I'm going to chalk this one up to a tight zone and BABIP.

Aaron Hill(D'Backs)- 5 for 5, 2B, HR(21).  BA= .302.  Don't throw stones, but Hill is on my fantasy team and has been a major force for Savvy Vets ever since I picked him up a couple of months into the season.  I'd happily trade an 0 for 5 for the Savvy Vets for a Giants win though.

The disappointment of the loss was softened by the Dodgers extra-inning loss to the Pesky Padres 6-3, although the Giants missed another opportunity to essentially put the NL West race away.  As it stands, the Giants lead remains at 4.5 games with the D'Backs still a distant 3'rd at 10.5 games off the pace.

Madison Bumgarner goes tonight against Trevor Cahill.  Come on Bummy!  This team needs some 5-1 or 6-1 wins here!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Down on the Farm: 9/3/2012

Last day of the regular season for the farm teams.  I don't think any of them made the playoffs except SJ although I really don't pay any attention to minor league standings.

AAA  Fresno Grizzlies defeated the Tacoma Rainiers 6-4:

Heath Hembree(RHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's, Save(15).  ERA= 4.74.

AA  Akron Aeros blanked the Richmond Flying Squirrels 6-0:

Chris Heston(RHP)- 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 5 K's.  ERA= 2.24.
Mike Kickham(LHP)- 2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 3.05.

Squirrels managed just 3 hits.  Not sure why Kickham pitched in relief.  Pitching starters in relief on the last day of the season doesn't seem to be the way to send them into the offseason on a positive note.

High A  San Jose Giants topped the Modesto Nuts 5-3:

Joe Panik- 1 for 4.  BA= .297.
Carter Jurica(DH)- 2 for 2, HR(6).  BA= .300.
Adam Duvall(3B)- 2 for 4, 2B, HR(30).  BA= .258.
Alex Burg(RF)- 2 for 4, 2B.  BA= .252.
Justin Schumer(RHP)- 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K's.  ERA= 4.87.

Carter Jurica hits .300 for the season.  Joe Panik falls short.  When was the last time any Giants farmhand hit 30 HR's in a season?

Low A  Charleston River Dogs beat the Augusta Greenjackets 7-1:

Nothing to see here.

Game Wrap 9/3/2012: Giants 9 D'Backs 8

Not sure where to start with this one.  If the Giants go on to win the NL West and more, they and we will probably point to this game as the one where we all knew they were on a mission and were going to refuse to lose. There is just no way the Giants win this game earlier in the season.  They jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first and Barry Zito looked like he might be pitching one of his gems, but it came all unraveled in the 6'th inning when Zito started throwing batting practice for the D'Backs and 2 relievers couldn't stop the bleeding.  D'Backs up 7-4 and the game looked like it might be over.  The Giants offense, though, picked up the pitchers and outscored the D'Backs 4-1 in innings 7-9 before Marco Scutaro hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10'th inning.  Oh, and what a fabulous day at the ballpark.  I don't think I've ever seen it more beautiful than it was today despite all the ridiculous Star Wars costumes in the stands.  Key Lines:

Marco Scutaro- 3 for 6, 2B.  BA= .285.  I've liked Scutaro for a long time but he's surpassing my expectations for him.

Pablo Sandoval- 3 for 5.   BA= .289.  All singles, but hey, gotta start somewhere and I'll take 3 singles from Pablo any time.

Buster Posey- 2 for 5, 2 2B.  BA= .330.  Another day at the office for Buster.  He played 1B today and is looking better out there the more he plays.

Hunter Pence- 1 for 4, 3B, BB.  BA= .262.  Pence drove in 2 in the first with a triple off the wall in Triples Alley.  Pence is hitting .324 over his last 10 games with a .405 OBP.  He's hitting .310 over his last 19 games.

Hector Sanchez- 2 for 5, 2B.  BA= .267.  The Hector has remained remarkably consistent over the course of the season.  Again, what an inspired decision to go with him as backup catcher over Whiteside and CStew!

Brandon Crawford- 3 for 5, 2B.  BA= .246.  Crawford got the start against the LHP when Arias came up lame.  I'm pretty sure he added to his WAR total today!  He started the winning rally in the 10'th for good measure.

Barry Zito- 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 4.51.  Zito started out the game on fire and looked like he could easily pitch a CG shutout.  Things started going south in the 5'th when he gave up a HR to Chris Johnson and when he allowed the first two batters to reach base in the 6'th, Bochy had seen enough.  This time, though, the bullpen only added gas to the fire.  Not sure what went wrong for Zito.  I know he was working up in the strike zone even when he was cruising and that's always dangerous against a longball team like the D'Backs.  A lot of his hits were given up after getting 2 strikes on the batter.

Penny, Machi and Romo pitched scoreless innings with Romo getting the W.  The other remarkable aspect of the game was Romo was the only bullpen mainstay who didn't get a rest.  Bochy was able to keep the D'Backs at bay by throwing the gun fodder out there until the offense tied it up.

With the win, the Giants increased their lead on the 3'rd place D'Backs to 11.5 games.  Meanwhile, the Dodgers are tied with the Padres late in their game.  I will post an update on that later.

Ryan Vogelsong takes the mound against Ian Kennedy who always seems to give the Giants a tough game tomorrow evening.  Go Giants!!

PS:  Dodgers come back to win over the Padres 4-3 in extra-innings to remain 4.5 games behind the NL West leading San Francisco Giants.

Down on the Farm: 9/2/2012

AAA  Tacoma Rainiers pounded the Fresno Grizzlies 10-2:

Roger Kieschnick(DH)- 1 for 4, HR(15).  BA= .307.
Nick Noonan(SS)- 2 for 4.  BA= .297.
Boof Bonser(RHP)- 5 IP, 5 H 3 R, 3 BB, 7 K's.  ERA= 4.50.
Clayton Tanner(LHP)- 1 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 8.40.

Wonder what Roger K's final stat line would have looked like without the injury.  Tanner would appear to be done.  Wonder if the Giants will want to keep working with him next year?

AA  Akron Aeros at Richmond Flying Squirrels cancelled.

High A  San Jose Giants cracked the Modesto Nuts 8-3:

Shawn Payne(LF)- 3 for 5, 2B.  BA= .600.
Ricky Oropesa(1B)- 4 for 4, 2B(30), HR(16).  BA= .263.
Joe Panik(SS)- 1 for 5.  BA= .298.
Ryan Bradley(LHP)- 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 4.90.
Josh Osich(LHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 3.62.
Jose Valdez(RHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA=2.83.

Woohoo Shawn Payne!  Ricky drove in 3 runs to bring his season total to 97 so he still has a chance for 100 on the season with 1 game to go.  Panik's drive to .300 stalled.  Could he still do it with a 3 or 4 hit game today?  I'm still pretty high on Jose Valdez who the Giants should put on the 40 man roster this winter.

Low A  Charleston River Dogs defeated the Augusta Greenjackets 5-1:

Tyler Hess(RHP)- 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 0.00.
Kyle Crick(RHP)- 2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 2.51.

I like Tyler Hess.  He's a big body from Sonoma St.  He spent a couple of years in the Braves organization.  He was apparently released despite putting up decent numbers.  Hope to see him pitching from the bullpen in San Jose next year.  His season line for AZ and Augusta:  1-1, 2.22, 24.1 IP, 5 H, 26 K, GO/AO= 1.59.  Not sure the point of bringing Crick in from the bullpen in the next to last game of the season.

Short Season  NWL regular season completed on 9/1.  Playoffs start tomorrow without the Volcanoes.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Game Wrap 9/2/2012: Giants 7 Cubs 5

On a day when the wind was blowing in at Wrigley Field at near gale force, the Giants finally won a see-saw battle  with a 2 run rally in the 9'th inning.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 2 for 5.  BA= .291.  2 times on base again for Pagan.  He was directly responsible for 3 of the Giants 7 runs, scoring 1 and driving in 2 including the go-ahead run in the 9'th.

Pablo Sandoval- 2 for 5.  BA= .283.  Pablo has had his struggles, but has been driving in runs with 7 in his last 10 games.  I think he's swinging the bat a bit better over his last few games.  He hit a ball that was caught in deep right-center that would have been out of most parks but the wind kept it in.

Xavier Nady- 2 for 2, 2B, 2 BB.  BA= .178.  Nady started the winning rally by drawing a walk.  It would appear that Marmol basically can't pitch out of the stretch.  When Nady is right, he's a ferocious hitter.  He seems to be finally fully healthy and had time to work the kinks out of his swing and timing down in the minors.  Let's keep our fingers crossed that he's this year's September surprise.

Brandon Belt- 1 for 2, 3B.  BA= .267.  Belt's triple was a fairly routine flyball to the warning track in LF that Soriano butchered.  Soriano may have hit a 3 run dinger today, but he gave away at least as many runs with horrendous OF defense.

Gregor Blanco- 0 for 0, SB(20).  BA= .236.  Blanco pinch ran for Nady in the 9'th and drove Marmol to distraction contributing way more to the winning rally than simply stealing 2B.

Brandon Crawford- 0 for 0, BB.  BA= .241.  Crawford came in as a defensive replacement, but drew a key walk in the 9'th to help set up the winning rally.  He also started a not-so-easy DP to end the game in the bottom of the 9'th.

Matt Cain- 5 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 2.98.  Cainer was sailing along pitching a pretty good game when Soriano got absolutely all of a belt high fastball and sent it through the teeth of a strong wind quite high up in the left-centerfield bleachers for a 3 run HR.  It wasn't a great pitch, but I think most hitters would have popped it up.  Soriano still has lightening in his bat.

Bullpen- 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.  Lopez once again got 2 outs while facing just one batter for his 6'th Save.

The Dodgers scored 2 runs in the bottom of the 9'th inning off JJ Putz to beat the D'Backs and hang onto their 4.5 game deficit behind the NL West leading San Francisco Giants while the D'Backs fall to 10.5 games off the pace.

The Giants now return home for a crucial 6 game homestand starting with 3 games against the D'Backs and then 3 against the Dodgers with an opportunity to put the race away or to come back to the pack.  Barry Zito starts if off tomorrow afternoon facing lefty Patrick Corbin.

Down on the Farm: 9/1/2012

AAA  Fresno Grizzlies outlasted the Tacoma Rainiers 4-3 in 12 innings:

Emmanuel Burriss(LF)- 4 for 7, 2B.  BA= .268.
Nick Noonan(SS)- 2 for 6, SB(7).  BA= .295.
Ryan Lollis(CF)- 2 for 4, BB, Sac, Assist(home).  BA= .317.
Heath Hembree(RHP)- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 4.86.
Dan Runzler(LHP)- 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 6.00.

AA  Akron Aeros defeated the Richmond Flying Squirrels 4-1 in 12 innings:

Gary Brown(CF)- 0 for 5.  BA= .279.
Juan Perez(LF)- 1 for 4, BB, SB(18).  BA= .305.
Craig Westcott(RHP)- 6 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, GO/AO= 12/0.  ERA= 4.09.

Those extra-inning games can sure hammer the old BA.

High A  San Jose Giants beat the Modesto Nuts 3-2:

Carter Jurica(DH)- 2 for 3, BB.  BA= .301.
Joe Panik(SS)- 2 for 4.  BA= .298.
Andrew Susac(C)- 1 for 4, HR(9).  BA= .244.
Jarrett Parker(CF)- 1 for 3, SB(27).  BA= .246
Edward Concepcion(RHP)- 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 5.92.

2 games left for Panik to get to .300.

Low A  Charleston River Dogs mauled the Augusta Greenjackets 8-2:

Jose Flores(3B)- 3 for 4, BB, SB(5).  BA= .272.
Devin Harris(RF)- 2 for 5, 3B, HR(8).  BA= .250.
Garrett Buechele(1B)- 2 for 5, 2B.  BA= .256.
Myles Schroder(.155) and Elliott Blair(.201)- 2 hits each.
Danny Sandbrink(RHP)- 5.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 1.35.

'Jackets had 12 hits and 3 BB's and only managed to score 2 runs.

Short Season  Salem-Keizer Volcanoes topped the Tri-City Dust Devils 7-6 in 13 innings:

Trevor Brown(1B)- 4 for 7, 2 2B.  BA= .221.
Mitch Delfino(3B)- 3 for 6, 2B, BB.  BA= .269.
Stephen Branca(2B)- 3 for 6, BB.  BA= .248.
Joan Gregorio(RHP)- 4 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 8 K's.  ERA= 5.54.
Keith Bilodeau(RHP)- 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 3.60.
Mason McVay(LHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 1.19.
Tyler Mizenko(RHP)- 3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 1.99.
Steven Okert(LHP)- 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 2.36.

Despite his relatively high ERA, Gregorio finishes the season with decent secondary numbers.  He's a flyball pitcher and gave up 9 dingers in 76 IP.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Game Wrap 9/1/2012: Giants 5 Cubs 2

Brian Sabean likes to talk about "catching lightening in a bottle."  Well, Xavier Nady, in his first AB as a San Francisco Giant, unleashed a bolt down the 3B line in the first inning of today's game with the bases loaded, driving in all 3 runners.  That was the difference in today's ballgame, folks.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 1 for 4, 3B, BB.  BA= .290.  As long as Pagan is getting on base twice in a ballgame, he's doing his job as a leadoff hitter.  He's done that a lot lately.

Buster Posey- 2 for 4.  BA= .330.  Buster played 1B today to rest his legs.  He just kept on hitting!

Hector Sanchez- 1 for 3, HBP.  BA= .263.  Hector drove in the first run with a bases loaded HBP then ran all the way around the bases from first on Nady's double to score the 4'th run of the first inning.

Xavier Nady- 1 for 3, 2B.  BA= .162.  Nady was hampered by a sore wrist early in the season then was released by Washington after rehabbing it in the minors.  He waited for calls and accepted a minor league assignment from the Giants.  He spent a month in Fresno working out the rust in his swing.   Bay Area native, grew up a Giants fan, former Cal Bear.  Today his dream came true.  Stay hot X-man!  Oh, and he even looks a bit like Pat Burrell.

Tim Lincecum-  6.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 7 K's.  ERA= 5.21.  Timmy tends to pitch much better with a lead.  Probably most or all pitchers do.  Today, he got one and kept the Cubbies at bay into the 7'th inning.

Bullpen- 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's, Save.   Romo got the Save.  Mijares and Mota got a K each to end a mild threat in the 7'th.  Lopez pitched a scoreless 8'th.

The D'Backs and Dodgers square off again tonight, but you know what?  As long as the Giants win, they don't have to worry about what's on the scoreboard!  As it stands right now, the Giants have a 5 game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West.

Matt Cain tries for a series win and a 5-1 road trip tomorrow facing lefty Travis Wood.

Down on the Farm: 8/31/2012

AAA  Tacoma Rainiers destroyed the Fresno Grizzlies 19-3:

Yusmeiro Petit(RHP)- 7 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 10 K's.  ERA= 3.46.

Surprisingly good line from Petit considering the final score of the game.  Grizzlies relievers gave up 14 runs in the last 2 innings.

AA  Akron Aeros strafed the Richmond Flying Squirrels 8-1:

Johnny Monell(C)- 3 for 3, 2 2B.  BA= .258.
Chris Gloor(LHP)- 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 2.81.

Monell hit .341 with 14 XBH's in August.  Gloor left the game after getting hit by a line drive.  That seems to be happening more at all levels of baseball lately.

High A  Modesto Nuts topped the San Jose Giants 3-1:

Dan Burkhart(C-1B)- 2 for 4.  BA= .298.
Cody Hall(RHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 3.24.
Josh Osich(LHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 3.73.

Joe Panik sat this one out so his drive to .300 remains at .297.

Low A  Charleston River Dogs defeated the Augusta Greenjackets 4-1:

Edwin Escobar(LHP)- 8.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 2.96.

Short Season  Tri-City Dust Devils beat the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 10-5:

Mike Merganthaler(RF)- 2 for 4, 2B, HR(3).  BA= .221.
Stephen Johnson(RHP)- 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 4.66.
Ian Gardeck(RHP)- 2 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 4 K's.  ERA= 4.20.