Thursday, September 30, 2010

SF 4, ARI 1: Giants One Win Away From Playoffs

Madison Bumgarner was able to get through 5 innings allowing just 1 run, but every inning was stressful, which meant an early exit for him. Yet he won his first home game of the year, thanks to a strong showing by the bullpen. Santiago Casilla pitched 2 perfect innings, followed by perfect innings by Romo and Bodie Broadus. Brian Wilson got the day off, although if the game was closer he'd likely have come in for the 9th.

But it wasn't closer, because the Giants kept hitting home runs today. Pablo Sandoval started it off with a splash hit. I won't say that he's "back". We've said that enough. Then Andres Torres made the score 2-1 in the 5th inning. He is back. And Buster Posey, who has been hitting the ball hard, but seen his average drop about 15 points in the last week, hit a typical deep left center Posey HR with Aubrey Huff on base. The man has a beautiful swing.

The Giants magic number is 2 now, meaning they can clinch a playoff spot with just one victory this weekend. 2 victories, or a Padres loss tonight along with 1 victory against them on the weekend, and the Giants would win the division.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

SF 3, ARI 1: Closer

When Stephen Drew led off against the Giants by smacking a hanging curve ball into right field, nobody panicked, but it certainly felt a little weird. Lincecum has been in Cy Young form all month, but we've seen left handed D-Backs hit HRs against him a lot. He had trouble in the early innings, and the game was 1-0 into the 4th inning. There was plenty of time left, but it may have started to feel like one of those games. My mom, the sudden Giants fan after 50+ years of complete disinterest in all sports, thought the game was completely lost. Give her a break, she's only been watching a couple days. So even thought my dad and I were relaxed and knew there were plenty of outs left, we both may have had that lingering feeling of a 1-0 loss. And then Pat Burrell happened.

In the 4th inning, Aubrey Huff singled up the middle, and Buster Posey worked a walk. Burrell came up and promptly launched a pitch into the left field bleachers to make the score 3-1. It was just another in a long list of HUGE home runs Burrell has hit for the Giants. And it was vital that he hit it, because after the HR, the Giants hit just like they did before it. In all fairness, tonight WAS one of those games, except for the Burrell magic.

But that was all the Giants needed, because Tim Lincecum was able to get past his early struggles, and finish 7 strong innings. His final line reads: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 11 K. Javier Lopez worked the 8th, and Brian Wilson finished a somewhat stressful 9th to get finish the game. The Giants remain 2 games up with 4 to play, magic number at 3. This pretty much means all they have to do is win 2 of the next 4 games. Do it.

Tim Lincecum struck out 11 tonight, raising his league leading strikeout total to 231. He is guaranteed to keep that lead, which will give him his 3rd straight strikeout title. This is something that has only been done twice in the NL since WWII, by Warren Spahn and Randy Johnson. That is amazing to think about. While leading the league in strikeouts is really just one aspect of pitching, it's still fascinating to look at the list of great NL pitchers that failed to do what Lincecum has done. Koufax, Drysdale, Gibson, Marichal, Seaver, Carlton, Ryan, Richard, Gooden, Schilling. 7 Hall of Famers there, and Schilling will be one soon. And J.R. Richard and Doc Gooden were both very dominant in their short careers. And none of these pitchers did what Tim Lincecum has done.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

SF 4, ARI 2: Isn't This Fun?

Tonight's game didn't look so hot at first. Jonathan Sanchez started the game by walking the first batter on 4 pitchers and walked 4 Diamondbacks in the first 2 innings. His control was obviously terrible, but worst of all, he was missing high in the zone. Giants fans everywhere were calling for his head, but yours truly believed in Dirty the whole time and in the end, he made me look good. In 6 innings, he allowed just 2 runs. It may not have been pretty but all that matters is that he minimized the damage. People remain remarkably impatient with a guy who has a 3.15 ERA and tonight became the 4th Giants lefty to have 200 K's in a season. Sounds pretty okay to me for a 4th starter.

Andres Torres got the scoring started with a leadoff triple in the 3rd, scoring on a Mike Fontenot RBI single. The big hit that really seemed to turn around the game was Juan Uribe's home run an inning later that tied the game 2-2. It was a bomb hit into the left field stands that really got the crowd going. In the 6th, pinch-hitter Nate Schierholtz brought home Pablo Sandoval on an RBI single, giving the Giants the lead. An insurance run was added in the 7th on a Pat Burrell RBI single. Insurance runs are always nice and fluffy.

The Padres lost tonight and the Giants now lead the division by 2 games. As I mentioned before, the crowd was really into this game. Everybody knew the implications and what was at stake. It felt like the playoffs and it was great. For a few years now, late September games haven't really mattered for the Giants and I'm glad that's over. This is really, really fun.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

SF 4, COL 2: Cained

Did you know that Matt Cain is my favorite player on the Giants? That's right. I decided in 2006, his first full season. When I am an old man, still a Giants fan of course, and someone asks me, "Who was your favorite Giants player? Who did you love the most?", the answer will be easy. It was Matt Cain. Matt Cain, the one with great stuff, no doubt, but never the greatest stuff on the team. Matt Cain, who got his share of attention, but never the most. Matt Cain, the one with the most heart, the most grit on the team. Yes, I, the David Eckstein hating, stat-quoting baseball fan, I am talking about heart and grit. Because while the "intangibles" can't truly measure who the best are, they can measure what we love, what we admire. And watching Cain pitch for 5 seasons now, we have seen those intangibles show up again and again, whether its accepting a losing record with stoicism and grace, getting out of jam after jam, or pitching shut down innings like no one else. And then, in the biggest game of the year, of his career, hell, the biggest Giants game since Finley's grand slam in 2004, he almost throws a no hitter, and goes 9 innings to secure the win. Amazing.

The Rockies that were smoking the ball last night looked completely helpless at the plate today, as Cain was throwing strikes with his fastball AND curve. CarGo and Tulo could do nothing against him. After losing the no hitter, on a questionable base hit that Juan Uribe double clutched on, Cain gave up a 2 run homer to Melvin Mora. But he didn't lose his composure one bit, and got out of the inning, then, with 100 pitches, went out to finish the 9th. Props to Bochy for having complete confidence in him. He even ended the game with a "Wainwright to Beltran hook" (all curveballs that strike out the last hitter of the game, looking, remind me of Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS). Cain's final line was 9 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, with a game score of 80. It was his 4th complete game of the season. He had 4 last year as well. Not quite Bob Gibson, but impressive for a 25 year old pitcher these days.

Cain has flirted with no hitters many times before, and I believe, one of these days he will get one. While he isn't quite one of the upper elite pitchers, yet, he is definitely one of the hardest to hit in baseball. His lifetime 7.59 hits per 9 innings is 5th among active pitchers, and 2nd only to Johan Santana among active starters. Yeah, he's that hard to hit. Unfortunately, his no hitter today ended rather strangely. Jay Payton his a groundball up the middle, and Juan Uribe double clutched before throwing to first. Payton was safe. It's very possible that Payton would have been safe even if Uribe hadn't double clutched, but, in my opinion, a double clutch like that constitutes an error on the part of the fielder. Oh well. If you want to care about no hitters, you have to accept the idea of official scorers.

The Giants scored 4 runs today, and it could have been a lot more, because Jorge De La Rosa was not good. He kept missing on the outside corner, and seemed to be upset about it. Too bad for him that Tom Glavine is the only pitcher who'll ever get that call. Freddy Sanchez, much maligned on this blog this summer, hit a 2 run HR in the first inning to give the Giants a quick lead. Well done, Singles Hitter. And Cody Ross just might be starting to heat up.

The Giants off day tomorrow should do them and the fans some good. Arizona is coming to town, and though they are a last place team, remember: they swept the red hot Rockies this past week. I can't think of anything worse than Adam LaRoche hurting us in the last week of the season.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

COL 10, SF 9: That Was Not Good, Folks

Okay, maybe this game wasn't as bad as that infamous Ryan Spilborghs grand slam in the 14th inning game, but this one was all sorts of messy. Normally, I might write some sad excuse for a recap, but this game deserves some in-depth analysis.

Right away, the Giants got on the board with an opposite field home run from Freddy Sanchez to give them a 1-0 run in the 1st. It was an encouraging start especially because the Rockies starter, Jason Hammel, wasn't looking too sharp. Unfortunately, Barry Zito didn't have his best game either. In the bottom of the 1st, Zito walked 2 batters and gave up 2 hits, resulting in 2 runs. The Giants got solo shots from Andres Torres and Aubrey Huff in the 3rd, giving them the lead, but Zito couldn't protect it.

The 5th inning was a disaster and that's really where the game changed. The Giants now had a 4-2 lead, but Barry Zito gave up a pair of triples to start the inning. With a 4-3 lead and a runner on, Bruce Bochy pulled Zito mid-at bat to bring in Chris Ray from the bullpen. Some didn't like the move to take out Zito so early, but I had no problem with it. He was wild and could never get on a roll. I did take issue with the decision to bring in Chris Ray, though. All year, Ray has been the pitcher that Bochy goes to when the Giants are trailing by a run or two, not with a 1 run lead on the road. It seemed like an odd choice, especially with guys like Casilla, Lopez, Ramirez, Romo, and even Mota and Affeldt available. Anyway, Ray allowed a 2-run homer to the first batter he faced, Troy Tulowitzki, and the Rockies had a 5-4 lead. The inning wasn't over as Ray gave up another deep flyball, Cody Ross slipped, and the Rockies had another triple. At the end of all that mess, the Rockies had scored 4 runs and had a 6-4 lead. There were defensive issues, bad strike zone calls, and questionable managerial decisions. It was the definition of a disaster inning.

And then the Rockies had their own version of a disaster inning. After losing the lead in such a disgusting way, the Giants didn't seem affected by it. Juan Uribe and Mike Fontenot lead off the inning with singles. Pinch-hitter Travis Ishikawa then blooped a single to score a run. The next batter, Cody Ross, hit what seemed like a flyout to left field, but it turned out to be a home run. Freddy Sanchez then doubled and advanced to 3rd on flyout, eventually scoring on a wild pitch. Five runs and a 9-6 lead. Life was good again.

But then there was more weirdness. I'm sorry for the back and forth, but this is how it felt. The Rockies scored in the bottom of the 6th to make the score 9-7. Fast forward to the 8th inning when the Rockies had two runners on with 2 outs and Brian Wilson was brought in to try for a 4-out save. The batter was Troy Tulowitzki, who hit that 2-run homer earlier to give the Rockies the lead. This time, Tulowitzki lifted a high flyball to right field that hit off the wall. The Giants were lucky that it wasn't hit out, but in any case, the Rockies tied the game and gave Wilson his 5th blown save in 50 opportunities. No one scored in the 9th, so it was on to extras.

Extra innings were no different. Tulowitzki screwed the Giants again. One out, a runner on 1st, and Tulowitzki hits a ball to the left-center gap. It took extra long for Burrell to get to the ball because he was playing the line. He had no chance, and the Rockies won the game.

Besides the constant lead changes, this game was weird on so many levels. After a pitcher's duel the night before, this was a typical Coors Field game. The Giants' streak of 18 games allowing 3 runs or fewer is over. The strike zone was kind of ridiculous and inconsistent all night. It could be argued that in the 5th inning and 10th inning, bad balls and strikes calls affected the game, but I won't make excuses. Andres Torres had to leave the game early with slight discomfort. He hit a home run and it doesn't seem too serious, but you have to wonder if he was rushed back too soon. That's a huge deal. The Braves, Padres, and Rockies all won today, and the Giants are no longer in first place in the West. But I find myself not too upset about the game and I don't really know why. Maybe it's because it was unlikely that the Giants were going to sweep on the road at Coors Field, and out of all the games, this one was the one they were most likely to lose. Of course, that means they need to win tomorrow, but I might have more confidence in Matt Cain than any other starter on the staff.

It was a loss, but this being the most important series of the year so far, it's really lived up to expectations. We've known that this race would probably come down to the wire and this game felt like playoff baseball. It doesn't even matter that much that we're half a game back in the standings because it goes back and forth almost everyday. This is exciting, intense baseball.

Sorry for the very long recap. There was so much to cover and I wouldn't be surprised if there mor then a few errrs in their.

Friday, September 24, 2010

SF 2, COL 1: Pitcher's Duel at Coors. Huh?

Both pitchers tonight, Tim Lincecum and Jhoulys Chacin, were great. Fortunately for us, Chacin made one mistake in location and Pat Burrell made him pay. With a runner on 1st, Chacin hung a fastball and Burrell smashed it for a no doubt homer to give the Giants a 2-1 lead. And it was glorious.

The mistake pitch came after the Rockies were able to get a run off of Tim Lincecum in the 6th inning. Lincecum actually had a perfect game going through 5 innings until he gave up a leadoff double to Seth Smith. On a groundout, Smith moved to 3rd and scored on a single that Aubrey Huff couldn't quite get to. At the time, 1 run from the Rockies seemed like a death sentence, as the Giants were showing no ability to score. It only made Burrell's homer that much sweeter.

The Giants did win, but let's point out that the same lineup that scored 13 runs last night could only manage 2 tonight. So many people are so quick to criticize Bochy's lineups these days, but I don't see what he's doing wrong. Everyone was so happy that he used the same lineup again tonight, but that lineup mostly failed to score. What is he supposed to do? What batters would people rather see? Maybe you wanted him to bench Pablo Sandoval in favor of Renteria or Fontenot? He did that, but really, how much of a difference is that going to make? The fact is, Bochy is playing the same guys he's been playing all year. Huff, Posey, Burrell, Guillen, Uribe, and Sanchez are in there every day. For whatever reason, they aren't consistently scoring runs right now. That's not on Bochy. With Torres out, the Giants are not going to have a good leadoff hitter. You can't expect Bochy to come up with a magical replacement for him. It sucks, but sometimes star players get injured and teams have to overcome it. There's nothing Bruce Bochy can do besides relying on this historic run by his pitching staff. Rant over.

Huge Win! Tim Lincecum was huge when he needed to be, and so was Pat Burrell. Let's all root for the Reds tonight!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


The big story from today's game is the offensive explosion that began in the 2nd inning, but before we get to that, let's say a little something about 21 year old Madison Bumgarner. On a night when every ball hit in the air seemed to carry, Bumgarner allowed 0 runs in 7 innings, with 7 hits. Most importantly, he only walked 1 while striking out the Cubs 9 times. For such a young rookie, his control is impressive, with a K/BB ratio over 3.00 after tonight. The Giants' pitching staff extended its streak of games with 3 or fewer runs allowed to 17. The record is 20. To tie that, they'll have to hold Colorado to 3 or fewer every game this weekend in Denver. If that happened, it would probably mean winning at least 2/3. Get it done.

These huge blowout wins really are the hardest to write recaps for. It's hard not to just list all the great things everyone in the lineup did. Well, Juan Uribe was the big hero, homering twice in the same inning. Buster Posey pulled a home run, which never happens. He could also be pulling ahead in the NL Rookie of the Year race. Singles Hitter Freddy Sanchez went 4-5, and one of them was a double!!! Mike Fontenot, the VROOM VROOM at the top of the lineup, got 2 hits, and Cody Ross had his 1st good offensive day with the Giants, homering and collecting 2 other hits.

It was a good day. The Giants had a team meeting before the game to discuss hitting, and came out and scored 13 runs on 19 hits. And now they go to Colorado. Only 9 games left, 6 against teams neck and neck with the Giants for division lead and Wild Card. This, you could say, is truly the beginning of the end. Or just the very beginning...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Jonathan Sanchez good, not great. Offense sucked majorly. Read the post below this. It's nice. BOOM. Done.

The Great ROY Debate

There's been a lot of talk on twitter today about the NL Rookie of the Year award, Posey v. Heyward. Of course, all Giants fans, including myself, would like for Posey to win that award, just as we would like any player on the Giants to win an award they seem eligible for. But in the fervor over Posey's recent heroics, we at 8thInningWeirdness believe Giants fans may be going too far in handing the trophy to Gerald Demp already. A little perspective might be necessary.

Jason Heyward lived up to all the Spring Training hype when he homered in his 1st at bat of the season. He has been red hot of late, and a few weeks ago looked like the odds-on favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award for the NL. However, recently our very own Buster Posey has been hitting monster home runs and throwing runners out with precision. It's suddenly become a much closer race, and in my view it is an absolute tie right now.

When it comes to discussions about regular season MLB awards, we have to always make the distinction of who WILL win and who SHOULD win. We know that the BBWA still has certain prejudices, which will be tested mostly in this year's American League Cy Young voting. While it is nice to be informed about who will probably win a given award, the much more interesting and substantive debate is about who, given the evidence presented, should win the award. Here are the points in favor of either Heyward or Posey:


  • Aside from a DL stint, he has played the entire season. Posey missed the first 2 months.
  • His offensive rate numbers are just as good as Posey's. Their wOBA's stand at .385 and .382 respectively.
  • His WAR (fangraphs) is 4.6, while Posey is at 3.9. WAR makes up for the fact that Posey plays a tougher position, yet Heyward is still ahead.
  • Heyward is going straight to Cooperstown. Okay, that isn't a very valid reason to vote for him for ROY this year, but it should at least be recognized. Heyward is one of a very select group of 20 year old rookies that had the kind of plate discipline he is showing. It's marvelous. Magnificent. Unreal. Guys this young just don't do this. Unless they are THAT great. His middle-of-career slashline has been predicted as .300/.420/.600. The numbers have shown that this year he has lived up to all the hype that surrounded him. Does his career projection matter when it comes to deserving the ROY award? No, not at all. But it could still be a factor in a voter's mind. And just the fact that he is a 20 year old rookie with a .400 OBP could be enough.

  • Posey missed 2 months, but that isn't his fault. His rate numbers might not be quite as good if he had played a full season, but it's possible his counting numbers would surpass Heyward. Possible.
  • Posey is behind in WAR, but a lot of that has to do with the playing time. In fact, it's amazing he is so close in WAR with 2 fewer months played.
  • The reason he is close to Heyward with WAR is because he plays catcher. Catcher is the toughest position to play, much harder than corner outfield.
  • WAR doesn't account for the handling of the pitching staff. Posey is the catcher for what now ranks as the best pitching staff in the league.

Looking at the arguments for both, I think it all comes down to one thing: how do you feel about Posey missing the first 2 months of the season? It was management's fault, not his, but still, shouldn't Heyward get credit for playing a full season? I don't know. If Posey had far surpassed Heyward in production, then yes, the playing time would be easy to overlook. But he hasn't. They are about the same. That's why at this point I think it's a tie, and whoever finishes stronger deserves the award.

There are, of course, some very BAD reasons to vote for either of them. A few were included above. Just because Jason Heyward might look like a future Hall of Famer, doesn't make him the Rookie of the Year. Buster Posey, like all catchers, deserves very LITTLE credit for the performance of the pitching. Either one might end up leading their team to the playoffs. We should all agree that is completely irrelevant for a regular season award. And then of course their is the strange, yet completely Brucean view from Bruce Jenkins in the Chronicle today, where he stated:

"If Posey doesn't win the NL ROY award, voters simply aren't paying attention. Jason Heyward is having a tremendous year in the Braves outfield...Posey is simply in another world."

As Giants fans, we need to realize something: Buster Posey is a terrific player. But compared to Jason Heyward, he is NOT in another world. It isn't surprising to see Jenkins going overboard like this, especially on Fire Joe Morgan Day over at Deadspin. I just hope that Giants fans can be a little more fair and honest. It's easy to watch a player everyday, and be in awe of his talent, and then assume that he must be the best (these kinds of judgments occur with the Gold Glove awards all the time). Perhaps Posey will be a more deserving ROY than Heyward on October 3rd. But it's very, very close.

20 minutes later...

I think I just realized: yeah, it would be great for Posey to win the ROY, but really, who cares? It's not that great of an award anyway. Bobby Crosby won it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

SF 1, CHC 0: Poseyed

So, Carlos Zambrano showed why the Cubs overreacted by sending him to the bullpen earlier in the year and why it was silly to think that the Cubs would ever trade him for Aaron Rowand. Remember that rumor? Zambrano struck out 8 batters tonight and held the Giants to 0 runs, but he also walked 5 guys and threw 116 pitches in 6 innings. It was up to the Chicago bullpen to give up some runs to the Giants.

The bullpen also pitched pretty well for the Cubs, but they still got poseyed. Buster will do that to you. In the 8th inning, Posey hit a solo shot to center field that barely cleared the fence and finally put the Giants on the board. That was all they'd get and all they'd need. Ramon Ramirez, Sergio Romo, and Brian Wilson combined for 3 innings of perfect relief to close out the game.

Matt Cain was fantastic. What else is new? Cain struck out just 2 Cubs, but he only allowed 4 baserunners (2 H, 1 BB, 1 HBP) and 0 runs in 6 innings. He was pulled early after just 82 pitches because Bochy needed some offense yet again. I'm not sure that makes much sense because if the starters can't score what's a bench guy gonna do? Might as well keep your great starting pitcher in the game. Oh well, it didn't matter. Like I said, the bullpen was very good. Did you know that the Giants' pitching staff has allowed 3 runs or fewer in their last 15 games and it's just the 3rd time a team has done that in the live ball era? I'll end the recap with that really cool stat.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

SF 9, MIL 2: Jose Guillen Is Relevant

When the Giants acquired Cody Ross, I declared Jose Guillen redundant, irrelevant, and useless, and said that he should be relegated to a pinch hitting role. Guillen hasn't completely caught fire since then, but he's had some good games and big hits, none bigger than his 1st inning, 2 out grand slam against Milwaukee today. The Giants never looked back, scoring 5 more runs, including 2 on a Guillen single later in the game.

Guillen is a better option for the Giants not just because he's hitting lately, but because Cody Ross is failing to do so. In a very small 47 PAs, Ross' Giants slashline is .195/.277/.220/.496. Means nothing, really, because of small sample size, but still, may Andres Torres return as fast as possible. Ross' slashline may have looked a little better after today if a leadoff home run hadn't been brought back by Ryan Braun. Braun made an amazing play, and he let everyone know that he thought so too. What a hateable player he is.

Barry Zito did a good job of shutting the Brewers down after the Giants scored 4 runs in the 1st inning. He hasn't always been successful doing that, sometimes giving up a little momentum after the offense scores. Braun homered in the 6th to make the score 6-2, but Zito was able to finish the inning, and Bochy wisely got him out of their before any weirdness happened.

A big part of the Giants offense today was the patience they showed, in stark contrast to the past 2 games. They drew 7 walks as a team. Buster Posey had 3 himself, and Pat Burrell 2, both helping set up Jose Guillen's RBI situations. With the win today, the Giants moved back into 1st place in the West. The Padres just aren't the same team anymore that they were for 5 months, and Colorado gave up a 6-1 lead to the Dodgers, losing in the 10th inning. But I don't expect either team to completely go away. The Giants' postseason chances are gonna all come down to the final series against each of those teams. On Friday, the Giants travel to Denver for a weekend series. If they play well, it could mean a playoff spot. If not, it could be another "This is not good, folks" moment.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

MIL 3, SF 0: Randy Wolf is NOT Clayton Kershaw

On Tuesday, the Giants lost 1-0, getting shutout by future Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw. The offense did very little that night, something we are very familiar with, but I decided that it was unfair to blame them for not scoring. When Kershaw is on like that, he's very tough to hit. And the Giants went on to win the next two games of the series, taking over 1st place in the West.

Tonight the same excuse will not be given. The Giants arguably looked WORSE tonight than they did on Monday, and it was against a pitcher, Randy Wolf, who has shown all year that he might be nearing his end in terms of effectiveness. Anytime the Giants let an older, mediocre pitcher move that quickly through the game, I'm reminded of the game at Dodger Stadium in 2006, when Maddux and Schmidt battled, matching each other for 8 scoreless innings. The Giants made Maddux throw 68 pitches in those 8 innings. (By the way, I'm not calling Greg Maddux, greatest pitcher possibly ever (GPPE), mediocre.) And that's what happened tonight, as the the team that scored 10 runs last night managed only 3 singles off of Randy Wolf, the man who gives up 9 hits per 9 innings.

Not that we shouldn't have seen this coming. It would be foolish to think that the Giants could trot out the same lineup from last night and expect them to score 10 runs again. Reality is like gravity, pulling Giants fans back down to earth with a snap the moment they see a few baseballs fly out of the yard. I wonder what juggling Bochy will do now with the batting order.

But the offense wasn't the only thing to disappoint tonight. The San Francisco defense looked terrible, like a bunch of rookies were playing the infield. One bad decision and throw after another. The starter, Madison Bumgarner, did his best to limit the damage. He ended up allowing 9 hits in less than 6 innings, but we know he pitched better than that. That's why we look at BABIP.

FJM Friday: Worst Sportswriter - Bruce Jenkins in a Runaway

The Bruce is back in town! Our favorite "writer" over here at 8thInningWeirdness titled this week's 3 Dot Lounge blog post "MVP: Tulo in a Runaway". This is by no means the worst piece Bruce Jenkins has ever written. But it's still pretty fuckin' stupid. Enjoy.

It's a good thing pennant races aren't decided on the shortstop position alone. If that were the case, Colorado would leave the Giants in the dust. While San Francisco can only think of how to improve the position next year, Troy Tulowitzki is making a strong case for MVP -- and for my money, it's an easy call.

Read that again. Bruce Jenkins just wrote the most worthless paragraph in the history of sports journalism. We get what you want to say, Bruce: The Rockies have a better shortstop than the Giants. Why the hell did you have to dream up an absurd scenario where that one player is what decides pennant races? But enough about your completely inane ways of proving a point. It's that last sentence that bothers me the most. Tulowitzki isn't even in the top 3 for MVP. Joey Votto will probably win it, you could say Ryan Zimmerman is just as worthy, and Albert Pujols is still the best player in baseball.

Nothing against Albert Pujols or Joey Votto...but they don't have Tulo's entire package: great hitter, clutch hitter, world-class defense in the middle infield, and a perfect example of a team's ideal: Your best player is also the one who wants it most.

I understand what you mean: Pujols can't play shortstop, so he doesn't have Tulo's entire "package". Technically, it's an okay statement to make. But still, I find it very troubling when we can speak of a player having more of a "baseball package" than Albert Pujols. Tulowitzki is one of the best shortstops in baseball. He's young. He's good on defense. He hits for average and power. He's great.

But Albert Pujols? Albert Pujols will most likely retire as the greatest right handed hitter in baseball history. Better than Aaron, Mays, A-Rod, Frank Thomas, Manny Ramirez, DiMaggio, Rogers Hornsby, etc. A better hitter than all of them. He could go down as one of the top 5 baseball players of all time. Most likely top 10 at least. He's that good. Please don't tell me that Troy Tulowitzki has something that Pujols doesn't, even if you might be correct literally.

Also, that last part is enraging. What a surprise: a white middle infielder is the one on the team who clearly wants "it" most.

Tulowitzki has missed a number of games due to injury this year, and that's the only reason Colorado isn't leading the division.

And the reason why he shouldn't be the MVP. He hasn't played as much as Votto, Pujols, or Zimmerman, and his performance, unlike Joe Mauer's 5 month MVP season in 2009, has not been so head and shoulders above everyone else to warrant ignoring that fact. He's only got 461 plate appearances this season, in the middle of September. That's not enough. Not when Joey Votto is having the kind of season he's having. And just as we must take into account the park factor with Carlos Gonzalez, we must with Tulowitzki. He's a great hitter, but he benefits from Coors Field. Consider this: Tulo's regular OPS is .964. Zimmerman's is .894. But their OPS+ numbers are 140 and 141 respectively.

Earlier this season at AT&T Park, there was a game in which Tulowitzki made one of those mind-blowing plays from deep in the hole at shortstop, then homered deep into the left field bleachers on a chilly, windy night.

This Tulowitzki guy is starting to get some serious Jeter-treatment from sportswriters. At least he's good, I guess.

It was an evening that defined the best shortstop in baseball, and he's done it time and again this season.

I guess now we could argue that Tulowitzki is the best shortstop in baseball. But I don't think he's the runaway, the way A-Rod was 10 years ago. I might be foolish to say this, but I'd still take Hanley Ramirez and his horrible defense at short ahead of Tulo. 3 straight seasons with an OPS+ over 140 for Hanley. This is Tulo's first season at 140. He could end up being just as good, but I see Hanley as the more talented hitter. But I'd never expect Bruce Jenkins to write about Hanley Ramirez the way he just did about Tulo; Ramirez has certain traits that disqualify him from the title of "wanting it most".

Thursday, September 16, 2010

SF 10, LA 2: Diiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrtttyyyyyyyyy

Wow, that was pretty great.

Not only did Jonathan Sanchez give up just 4 H, 1 ER and strike out 12 Dodgers, he didn't walk a single batter. He was just beautiful. It's the kind of beauty that's impossible to stop thinking about. Just thinking about how beautiful he is makes me smile. When I think of him, nothing in the world can bother me. Thinking of him makes me feel like I'm in the middle of an open field dancing and playing with flowers and butterflies. You know what it is that Jonathan and I have? It's love. Congratulations Mr. Sanchez, you will be who I'm thinking about when I go to sleep tonight. What?

Now that I've expressed my love for a man over the worldwide web for billions of people to see, I'll talk about something else. Actually, no. Sanchez lived up to his nickname tonight, Dirty Sanchez. The nickname is so obvious and simple, but it's perfect. The Giants are in first place. He can be absolutely nasty and starts like tonight show how valuable he is. If you read this blog a lot, you probably know that I'm in favor of trading him for a bat. But he is too valuable to give up for anything. The Giants are in first place. A 27 year old left-handed pitcher with a 3.21 ERA and a 9.3 K/9 is only worth giving up for a legitimate middle of the order hitter. If you can't get that, you keep him. It's just a bonus that he happens to be frickin' beautiful!

The pitching wasn't the only bright spot tonight. The Giants found themselves down by a run after half an inning because of a double and a throwing error by Juan Uribe, but that didn't scare the offense. The Giants are in first place. In the bottom half of the 1st, Aubrey Huff tripled and Buster Posey promptly brought him in with an RBI double. Then in the 3rd, with 2 runners on Aubrey Huff blasted a 3-run shot over the right field wall. I bet you can't guess what awesome thing I'm going to say next, though. The Giants are in first place. The next batter, Buster Posey, also blasted a home run, this one into the left field bleachers to give the Giants a 5-1 lead. It was the Aubrey and Buster Show! Against the Dodgers. With the division lead on the line. Epic. The Giants are in first place. There was also a Jose Guillen homer and a couple more RBI hits and the Giants ended up with 10 runs. Against the Dodgers. With the division lead on the line. Epic.

Edgar Renteria went 4-for-5. Say hello to your new leadoff hitter!

The Giants are in first place.

SF 2, LA 1: Matt Cain Is Good

Maybe the most important thing I learned tonight is that Dodger fans are even more idiotic than I thought. But I'm not going to go into that right now, it's a story for another time.

The game itself was also pretty important. For most of it, the offense was looking dormant against Giant killer, Chad Billingsley. It really wasn't a surprise because the lineup was terrible. Eugenio Velez, a career .696 OPS player, was hitting leadoff. Yeah, that bad. It's just not going to be the same without Andres. Anyway, despite the poor lineup, the Giants had plenty of chances. In total, they left 17 men on base and were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, with both hits coming after the 6th inning. Fortunately, two runs were all they would need. Mike Fontenot blooped a single to right field in the 7th to give the Giants a 1-0 lead and Aubrey Huff added an insurance run in the 8th by scoring on a fielder's choice.

They only needed 2 runs because Matt Cain was great. His final line of 7 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, and 5 K's looked great, but he could've gone even longer. After 7 innings he had thrown just 91 pitches, but he was lifted in the 7th for a pinch-hitter because the Giants needed to score some runs. Sergio Romo pitched a perfect 8th and even though Brian Wilson allowed an Andre Ethier homer in the 9th, it didn't matter. The idiotic Dodgers fan behind me had nothing to say.

I like winning series. Let's do it tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

LA 1, SF 0: Giants One-Hit The Dodgers!

And lose! I don't even know what to say about this game, because I'm having trouble assigning blame in a game where you'd think the blame is obvious. Barry Zito, though he failed to finish the 6th inning, pitched very well. The only run he gave up was unearned, coming on an error by Juan Uribe with the bases loaded and 2 outs. But can we really put the loss on Uribe for that 1 error? It must be the offense's fault. They lost their 2nd 1-0 game in 4 days. And as easy as it is to talk about the shortcomings of this offense, and to point out that it is foolish to think that going into next year with a similar lineup would make the Giants a playoff team, tonight I don't think is the night to blame the offense. Because Clayton Kershaw is one hell of a pitcher. This wasn't Wade LeBlanc pitching. This was Kershaw, and he's gonna be annoying us for years to come.

He has a GREAT curveball. When he spots it on the outside corner to a right handed hitter, there's nothing that can be done. And tonight that's what he was doing. Many times, Giants fans have watched their starters lock in and completely baffle a good lineup like the Phillies or Brewers. So what could be expected when Kershaw is pitching like that and the Giants lineup is hitting. They had no chance. Great pitching seems to always have the edge in the end. So it goes for the Giants.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Replacing Our Beloved Andres Torres

As you know, Andres Torres is out for at least 2 weeks after having his appendix taken out. We talked about it a little bit in yesterday's recap, but Torres has been one of the most valuable Giants this year, having a 5.4 WAR, 2nd among all NL outfielders. Obviously, replacing him is going to be difficult not only because he's produced on offense, but also because he's been one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball this year. Let's look at the possible replacements for the next 2 weeks.

Cody Ross: Ross is probably the best option, especially against left-handed pitchers. He has a career .941 OPS against lefties and he's not a bad defender. He has a good amount of power, again especially against lefties, and he has experience playing center field. While he doesn't hit righties as well (.718 career OPS), he might be the best option against them too.

Aaron Rowand: Whenever Torres has needed a day off this year, Aaron Rowand has been the replacement and I'm not really sure why. Not only is he no longer a very good defender in center field, he has an OPS under .700 and often hits leadoff when he's in the lineup for some reason. Despite all of this, he's probably the second best option to replace Torres. He doesn't have Torres' range in center field, but he's not a terrible defender. He still has some power left, so I wouldn't be opposed to him getting a couple of starts, but he should be nowhere near the leadoff spot.

Darren Ford: Ford would probably be the best replacement for Torres defensively. His amazing speed gives him a lot of range playing in center, and he's always been regarded as a good defender, but he cannot hit at all. He couldn't even muster an OPS over .700 in AA, so he should not be getting regular at-bats in the major leagues. Many think his speed would be an asset in the leadoff spot, but if he never gets on base, what's the point?

Nate Schierholtz: Schierholtz would be an unknown in center field. He may have had some experience playing there in the minors but I don't think he's played there in the majors. He has good speed for a guy his size, but he probably would have average range in center. Additionally, I'm not sure he's a much better option than Ross. Schierholtz has actually hit lefties better than righties in his career, but Ross hits lefties much better.

Acquire another outfielder: This idea was first brought up by Andrew Baggarly and I'm not sure if I like it. The name he threw out was Scott Podsednik, and while he may be an adequate replacement, I'm not sure it'd be worth giving up a player for basically a 2 week rental. And Podsednik is pretty average.

So, I'm thinking Cody Ross is the best option to replace Andres Torres for the time being. But whatever happens, none of these guys should be replacing Torres in the leadoff spot. None of them really hit well enough or get on base enough for a leadoff hitter. Right now, while he's obviously not a perfect fit, Freddy Sanchez may be the best option to hit atop the order. Of course we all know that Aaron Rowand will be leading off and roaming center field for the next 2 weeks, so why did I even write this post? Andres, please get well soon.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

SF 6, SD 1: Lincecum Lincecum Lincecum

Yesterday, at the end of the recap for the Giants' 1-0 loss to San Diego, I wrote this:

We'll get them tomorrow. The Old Lincecum is going up against a terrible lineup. He has to shut them out. Mat Latos will finally have a non quality start. It's gotta happen that way.

You're welcome.

What a beautiful day for baseball. Football, not so much. Oh well. Wait till October/November (fingers crossed) to worry about football. Right now the Giants are all that matters, and they certainly delivered today. It all started in the 1st inning with Buster Posey's first pitch swinging against Mat Latos, hitting a 2 run HR into the right field seats. The Giants would get more, thanks to multiple hit games from Posey, Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, and Juan Uribe. But those 2 runs were all they ended up needing, because Tim Lincecum IS Tim Lincecum again.

Lincecum's pitch count ran a little high, and he had to get out of a couple jams, but that's to be expected in most games. The difference was he was able to handle those problems much easier, because his control was the best we've seen in months. He was around the knees all day. His final line of 7 innings, 1 ER, 7 hits, 1 BB, and 9 K's is very encouraging. That's 1 walk and 20 strikeouts in his last 2 appearances. He's turning it around at the perfect time. The whole pitching staff is, in fact. In August, the team ERA was 4.55. So far in September, it's 1.84.

I saved the bad stuff for the end. Andres Torres is going to be out at least 10 days, probably 2 weeks, maybe the rest of the regular season. Its a huge blow to the team, and one they'll just have to make up for with more hitting from everyone. Torres has been very cold of late, but he's still one of the 1st guys I'd pick to come up to bat with the game on the line. The part that might be harder to replace is his defense in center field, which has been superb. Having a guy with his range in an outfield that often features Pat Burrell and Jose Guillen on the corners is crucial, and no one on the bench really can match it. Aaron masquerades as a good center fielder because of the "reckless abandon" he demonstrates out there, but he is average at best, and anyway, we do not want his bat in the lineup. Cody Ross seems like a much better option. Can Nate Schierholtz play center field? I don't know.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

SD 1, SF 0: 2nd Place? Yup.

Madison Bumgarner looked great today. As Keith Law pointed out on Twitter, pitching in Petco Park against the Padres will have that effect. Bumgarner went 7 innings, gave up only 3 hits, 1 of which was a HR, struck out 4 and walked none. He only had 79 pitches when he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the 8th, and could have conceivable gone the full 9 innings.

Unfortunately the Giants themselves only managed 3 hits against the Padres the entire game. Yeah, it was one of THOSE games. Not much else to say.

I agreed with Bochy's decision to lift Bumgarner in the 8th. At that point, your offensive outs are extra precious, and you can't waste any on a pitcher batting. On the other hand, I didn't understand the decision to pinch hit Pablo Sandoval for Freddy Sanchez. Sanchez is a hot hitter, hotter than Sandoval. It seemed like Bochy was going for the more powerful bat in hopes the Giants could tie the game with a HR. I don't agree with that. Especially in Petco Park, you don't play for the HR. You try to string together hits. And Freddy Sanchez would have been a better option for that. Whatever. We'll get them tomorrow. The Old Lincecum is going up against a terrible lineup. He has to shut them out. Mat Latos will finally have a non quality start. It's gotta happen that way.

Friday, September 10, 2010

SF 1, SD 0: First Place? Yup.

Hey, I don't care how it's done, as long as it's done. And tonight it was done. And when it was done I was happy. Done.

That was weird. Maybe it's not an unfamiliar type of game for Giants fans because that's how it goes against the Padres. With the exception of last night, usually we can't score against them or maybe we're able to squeeze out a run or two. And it figures that after Jonathan Sanchez lost a game in which he allowed just 1 hit earlier this year, the Giants would win a game where Sanchez walked 7 batters and threw as many balls as strikes. I guess it all evens out.

The player of the game has got to be Nate Schierholtz. With 1 out in the 7th inning, Aubrey Huff was on 3rd and Schierholtz had come in to pinch-run for Jose Guillen at 1st. Juan Uribe decided to hit what would've been a double play grounder to 2nd, but Nate slid aggressively into the bag, and the throw was late to first. Aubrey Huff scored to give the Giants a 1-0 lead, and that was all they'd need. Not always pretty, but I'll take it.

I don't like to complain when we, but something needs to be asked. Why the hell did Wilson swing the bat in the 9th?? He should've struck out and let Torres attempt to drive the runners in. I don't understand letting a pitcher, especially a reliever, bat in that situation when insurance runs are needed. We're lucky it didn't cost us. And why did Uribe feel the need to wrap is hand around the catcher's leg as he was crossing home?? That was a bizarre play.

WE ARE TIED FOR THE DIVISION LEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ahem. I'm pretty sure a late night FJM Friday post is in the works. I don't want to make any promises, but I think it's happening. You'll want to read it because Scott Ostler wrote a pretty ridiculous thing for the Chronicle today.

FJM Friday: Bench Ostler

I don't know much about Scott Ostler. I always get him and John Shea mixed up. And I rarely read the Chronicle anymore, unless it is ruthlessly/pathetically looking for articles to appear on Fire Joe Morgan Friday. I feel like I've heard him on KNBR before, but that might have been John Shea. Except it was probably Scott Ostler, because I remember the guy being kinda awkward and not very engaging, giving lots of short answers. John Shea looks like a nice guy, who would wanna talk. Scott Ostler looks like, um, someone that might be like that guy I heard on KNBR a couple years ago. Whatever. Scott Ostler wrote some really dumb things in today's Sporting Green, so here they are in bold, with my thoughts in regular text.

Bench Panda. The Giants are making a dash for the playoffs. They need runs. Time to bench Pablo Sandoval.

Uh oh. This can't be going anywhere intelligent.

Sandoval's batting average is 61 points lower than last season, 76 points lower than 2008. Hello. Something is wrong.

As long as you're going to use the sarcastic "hello?" as a device in your article, please include the recommended question mark, a punctuation tool that provides the tone necessary for accomplishing your intended sarcasm. Also, did you really just cite his 2008 batting average? When he had 154 plate appearances?

He cannot hit right-handed. Against lefty pitchers, he's at .233. With one home run. One.

Yes, Pablo Sandoval has struggled mightily this year against lefties. But splits, especially single year ones, can be very deceptive, and should be analyzed with caution. Here's why:

Sandoval, right handed, 2010: 146 PAs - .233/.288/.316/.603
Sandoval, right handed, 2009: 159 PAs - .379/.428/.600/1.028

Pablo Sandoval can't hit left handers. Pablo Sandoval CRUSHES left handers. Which is it? Well, it's neither. Sandoval was simply a better hitter last year, and it happened that he was STRONGER from the right side. This year, for whatever reason, he is struggling as a hitter, and he happens to be weaker from the right side. Why? Quite simply, randomness. That's what it is. It's random. If Sandoval had a serious problem seeing lefties or with his right handed swing, he wouldn't have made it this far as a switch hitter. And he wouldn't have OPS'd over 1.000 last year as a right handed hitter.

He would be better off batting lefty against lefty pitchers, so at least he could concentrate on grooving his lefty swing. That's not going to happen.

This is not a good idea. There is a reason that switch hitters are switch hitters. It is an advantage to hit in the opposite direction of the pitcher. Yet I hear this a lot, that a switch hitter should just focus on the one side. It's usually the side that he is appearing to hit well from. But that kind of thinking ignores what I presented above, that switch hitters don't naturally hit better from a particular side, that it is randomness that makes it appear so.

But at the very least, Sandoval should sit down every time the other team throws a lefty. Take a seat.

Please stop writing with the short phrase style of Ernest Hemingway. "Take a seat". "Hello". "One". We get it. You are making a point. This is not a telegram. Stop. (Yes, I did do right there EXACTLY what I just told you not to.)

Juan Uribe can play 3rd. Aubrey Huff. Freddy Sanchez. Get hot bats in the lineup.

You didn't seriously just suggest that Aubrey Huff play 3rd base. Okay, you did. And yes, Aubrey Huff has played 3rd base in the past. But still, hell no. Aubrey Huff should not play 3rd. Of course, all 3 of these players CAN conceivable play 3rd base in place of Sandoval. But they all already have positions in the starting lineup. So who replaces them?

Shortstop (Uribe): Renteria = Not better than Sandoval
2nd Base (Sanchez): Fontenot = Not better than Sandoval
1st Base (Huff): Ishikawa = Not better than Sandoval, ESPECIALLY NOT AGAINST LEFTIES!

None of these players is better offensively RIGHT NOW than Sandoval, nor do they have the offensive potential of Pablo. So this does not improve the Giants scoring in the least.

I'm not saying the Giants should give up on Panda. But the final 3 weeks of the season is all about now; it's not the time for a reclamation project.

You're right, and if the Giants had a better hitter to put in the infield, then it might be the right move. But any of the hitters that would ostensibly take Sandoval's place as an everyday player are NOT better offensively. Any defensive improvement is negligible at best. So stick with Sandoval, because there's nothing else to do, and he COULD always suddenly heat up.

Oh, one more thing before the clock strikes midnight. Brian Wilson is not a candidate for the NL Cy Young. And he shouldn't be. No reliever should ever be, unless he pitches maybe 100 innings, has a perfect save percentage, and allows .500 baserunners per inning. Only then. Goodnight.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

SF 7, SD 3: Giants Win Important Home Game

You wanna know something? It's a little bit easier to write a recap when the Giants lose because it's easier to complain. When the Giants lose I can criticize the players, the manager, anyone. I can vent, I can curse, I can be angry. It's just easier to focus on the negative. So, maybe tonight's recap will be harder to write, but that's okay because everything went well in this game.

You have to love it when your leadoff hitter sets the tone for the offense and Andres Torres did just that, hitting a leadoff triple to start the game. Freddy Sanchez brought him in with an RBI single to give the Giants a 1-0 lead, but the real story of this game was the power display. Aubrey Huff went deep with a 2-run homer in the 3rd. Juan Uribe hit a solo shot in the 4th. Buster Posey hit a 2-run BOMB in the 5th. And Pat Burrell capped it off with another homer in the 6th. Four home runs in Petco Park, probably the hardest place to go deep in the majors. I just hope they saved some runs for the rest of the series.

Matt Cain was also very good. Actually, he was probably even better than his stat line would suggest. He went 8 IP giving up 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB with 8 K's but really, his only 2 mistakes came on 2 pitches. In the 3rd, he gave up a solo home run to Will Venable and a 2-run shot to Ryan Ludwick late in the game when it didn't really matter. All in all, he was very good. It's feels really nice when the offense and pitching produce at the same time.

How sad are Padres fans? There were just as many Giants fans as Padres fans there. You would've thought it was a home game. I get that the Padres are the most boring team in the league, but they're still in a playoff race. Terrible.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

ARI 3, SF 1: Every Game Is Crucial Now

It seems a bit silly to care about each and every game right now and to react so strongly when the Giants lose. But it really isn't silly at all. This is the last month of the season and when you have a chance to sweep a very, very bad team on the road, you better capitalize. And you know what else? San Diego still scares me. They may have had a 10-game losing streak, but they're about to sweep LA and I don't doubt that they can still shut down our offense and score just enough runs to beat us. With the Rockies slowly creeping up behind us and the most important series of the year so far coming up, tonight's loss was very disappointing.

The loss was that much worse because Barry Zito pitched well for the first time in over a month. It seems like right now he can do no right, as he was hounded by Giants fans on Twitter early tonight when he gave up a couple of runs, but his start was solid. He went 6 IP, giving up 4 H, 2 ER, and 3 BB with 7 K's. That kind of performance should normally be good enough to get the team a win, but the offense failed the Giants tonight.

The only run came from a Freddy Sanchez home run. Surprise!

Tomorrow is the start of an absolutely CRUCIAL series against the Padres. It would've been nice to have been ahead in the standings before facing them, but the Giants have a chance to do some real damage this weekend anyway. It's looking like by the end of the night, they will be 2 games back in the West. It's a 4 game series, so the Giants will need to win at least 3 games to be tied or ahead of San Diego. On the other hand, if the Giants completely fall flat, they'll be in big trouble. Let's hope the pitching staff and the offense bring their A-games this weekend.

It's A Slow Day

It's cold and overcast here and I'm basically using that as an excuse for me not being able to come up with something to write about today. So, I thought I'd throw out a question for you guys.

Barry Zito is starting tonight, and as the rotation has started to heat up in September, Zito is the lone starter who has not found his groove. As a result, there seems to be a lot of negativity and hate surrounding Zito. I'm not saying it's unwarranted hate, he hasn't looked good for over a month now, but a thought came into my mind.

When the Giants make the playoffs, and if they go with a 3-man playoff rotation, who are your 3 guys?

This is NOT if the season ended today. By the end of the season, when the playoffs come around, which 3 guys do you want starting for the Giants? I think it's an interesting question because despite Zito's struggles, both heads of 8thInningWeirdness would go with Lincecum, Cain, and Zito. But I have a feeling that many of you would choose Bumgarner, maybe Sanchez over Zito.

I think Lincecum and Cain are locks for everybody. If you don't have both of them in your lineup, I would really like you to explain yourself. So, the focus is on the 3rd starter. Personally, I go with Zito because of his postseason experience and because I still think he'll be our 3rd best option. Sanchez is the most erratic of all the Giants starters and by the time the playoffs roll around, Bumgarner might be worn out.

Anyway, leave your 3-man rotation in the comments section and explain why you chose those guys.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

SF 6, ARI 3: Tim Lincecum Is A Nasty Man

So, Tim Lincecum might be back. Yeah, I'm thinking he's gonna be okay. Ignore the fact that he had a rough 7th inning, giving up a 2-run homer and an RBI triple. Tonight he looked like the former Cy Young winner, giving up 5 H and 0 BB with 11 Ks in 6 2/3 innings. He was nasty.

Of course it helped that he got some early run support. The Giants put up 3 runs in the first inning, the first 2 coming on an Aubrey Huff home run. After Buster Posey doubled, Jose Guillen singled him in to make the score 3-0. Now, you make think I'm lying, but Freddy Sanchez hit an opposite field homer in the 5th. Yeah, I was surprised too. The Giants weren't done yet as Pat Burrell hit his own 2-run shot to give the Giants a 6-0 lead. All the scoring was significant because the last time they faced Barry Enright, a game I had to sit through, they couldn't hit anything.

Tonight is already a great night. It could be greater if the Dodgers would beat the Padres, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. God, they're useless.

Monday, September 6, 2010

SF 2, ARI 0: My Pitching Rocks. Your Pitching Sucks.

I love it. For the past few years, our offense has not been very good. It's been better this year, but still not the strength of the team. And rightfully so, people have wanted more offense for a long time. But damn, I'll take good pitching and bad offense over a good offense and bad pitching any day. There's just nothing more beautiful in baseball than a well-pitched game and the Giants have been having a lot of those recently.

In case you couldn't tell from my introduction, Madison Bumgarner and the bullpen pitched really, really well. Bumgarner was able to hold the D'Backs to just 5 H and 0 ER in 7 1/3 innings, while striking out 7. In the 8th, Bumgarner did give up a leadoff double to the pitcher, Ian Kennedy, and he was promptly taken out of the game. After a flyout that moved Kennedy to 3rd and a walk issued by Sergio Romo, there were runners on 1st and 3rd with 1 out. It was probably the most difficult situation in the game for the Giants and Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez came in to shut down the next two batters. It doesn't really matter if John Bowker even becomes a future All-Star as long as Lopez and Ramirez keep contributing like this to help the Giants into the playoffs.

Unfortunately, Bumgarner didn't get any run support. He couldn't even get measly Felix Hernandez-type support. He got nothing. The Giants got shut down by Ian Kennedy and a couple Diamondbacks relievers and couldn't score until the 11th inning. In that 11th inning with 2 outs, Aubrey Huff singled. Then Buster Posey. And then Nate Schierholtz hit a 2-run triple. Wait, sorry that was a typo. Ha, hahaha, silly me. Not Nate Schierho....OH WAIT IT WAS NATE SCHIERHOLTZ! Holy crap, the guy who's been pretty much forgotten on offense among the 57 outfielders on the roster hit a triple to put the Giants on the board. Brian Wilson finished it off, as usual. Game Over.

The Giants can be tied for the division lead after tonight, with a little help from our enemies down south. Break out those red rally thongs, people.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

SF 3, LA 0: Uhh, Sanchy, Uhh...

I'd heard of Jonathan Sanchez's perfectly shaped and groomed eyebrows before, but it wasn't until tonight that I actually saw the abominations. It's a good thing he pitched one of the best games of his career tonight, because if he hadn't I would probably use this whole recap to question something of his. Go forth, Jonathan, pluck thine eyebrow hairs out, as long as you keep throwing strikes.

Sanchez has gone longer than 7 innings, but he's probably never pitched a bigger game than tonight. Against the Dodgers, in LA, on national tv, in the middle of a September pennant race. And what did he bring? 7 inning, 3 hits, 9 K's, and only ONE WALK. After a perfect 1st inning, it looked like he was starting to lose it in the 2nd when he walked Casey Blake and hit James Loney. But a beautifully turned double play from Juan Uribe got him out of the inning, and from that point he dominated. He only left after the 7th because his pitch count was up to 112, and there was no reason to send him back out. Sergio Romo and Brian Wilson both had perfect innings to close out the game.

The reason Sanchez could comfortably leave the game was because Juan Uribe brought the power again tonight. The Giants already had a 1-0 lead thanks to a sac fly by Sandoval that scored Posey. In the 7th inning, Juan Uribe, who had already been intentionally walked twice, came up with a runner on and flipped a HR into the left field seats. We are used to see Uribe's HRs get driven out, like last night, but this power display was all hands, as he was off balance a bit and didn't get his lower body into the swing. That HR pretty much sealed the deal, as it just didn't seem like the reeling Dodgers would come back from a 3 run deficit. And they never even got close to threatening it. The Giants now go to Arizona, a place they seem to always hit well (although everyone hits well there pretty much). Maybe they could have the division lead BEFORE they visit San Diego for a crucial 4 game series.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

SF 5, LA 4: ...And Thence We Came Forth To See Again The Stars

Juan Uribe does not get on base that much. He plays a lot of positions in the infield, but he's not great at any of them. But goddamn can he hit one out, and it always seems to happen when it matters most. And that's why even with his surprisingly bad OPS+ of 91, he's one of the more valuable players on this team. Jeez, I sound like some writer I'd mock on FJM Friday. You can get that way after a 5-4 comeback win in LA.

But Uribe's no doubter against Broxton was just the final bomb in a barrage of HRs by the Giants near the end of the game. Matt Cain was looking good to begin the game, but the 4th inning was not kind to him. Thankfully, he was able to recover and go 3 more innings, with a final line of 7 innings, 7 hits, 4 ERs, 1 BB, and 6 K's. Buster Posey's HR in the 7th started the Giants comeback, and it was quite impressive. One of the longest HRs I think I've seen a right handed hitter hit at Dodger Stadium. Then Edgar Renteria started the 8th inning with a ball down the left field line that stayed fair to make the score 4-2. Good by Edgar, but I'd be disappointed if that 1 HR earned him lots more playing time. It probably will.

Pat Burrell then came up, and after falling behind 0-2, he battled and battled before sending a shot into left center to make the score 4-3. The Octavio Dotel trade just keeps looking worse and worse for the Dodgers. So does Jonathan Broxton. What the hell happened to him? I remember the days when he was the best of the 3 NL West California Closers. His stuff was electric, and he was giving up just over 5 hits per 9 innings. Now he's post 2005 Brad Lidge. Can't be counted on at all. Sounds good to me.

We've said a lot after Giants losses that "these are the games bad teams lose." Well, this was the kind of game a good team wins. And the Giants are a good team. Good enough? Maybe. The Padres lost today for the 9th straight time. They are falling apart. Hopefully they don't find a way to put it all together right when the Giants go to Petco next week.

Friday, September 3, 2010

LA 4, SF 2: At Least The Padres Suck Too

It wouldn't have mattered if Barry Zito had pitched a good game today. The Giants managed 2 hits the entire game, and only had 2 more baserunners, both walks from Pat Burrell. That was it. Just another night in Chavez Ravine against Chad Billingsley.

Zito had no command tonight, which is why I somewhat questioned the decision to intentionally walk Barajas to face Billingsley the pitcher with the bases loaded. I understand that Barajas, even though he's not very good, is 10 times the hitter Billingsley is. I just hate the idea of forcing your pitcher to load the bases when he is already struggling with command. We know what happened: Zito went 2-2 to Billingsley and then left a fastball up for him to hit into left field, scoring 2 runs for the Dodgers. That was all they needed.

I got nothing more to say. Read the post below this on the front page to make yourself feel better. It's me being an asshole/douche/prick, and it was fun.

FJM Friday: The AT&T Myth

I try not to read Ray Ratto that much. It's not that he's a terrible writer, it's simply that I can get discouraged when he is able to pen such hilarious lines like:

" would think that Oakland's 4-gamer in NY would cause some local buzz. One would also think that the Easter Bunny is a Teamster."

That's good stuff, folks. So good, I decide to avoid Ray's blog most of the time, because the last thing I want to do is unintentionally start copying his literary style. That would be like one thinking the Tooth Fairy is none other than Doctor Samuel Johnson (huh?).

Anyway, here's a 'lil piece from Ray's CSNBA blog. In this article, he's talking about the explosion of offense we saw in the recent Reds series, and how the extreme (for SF) heat that week turned AT&T Park into U.S. Cellular Field. He proposes that the Giants, if they knew what was best for them, would move their home park to a place that is more conducive for hitting. I know that this piece isn't completely serious, and was written mainly so Ray could craft some humorous gems, as you'll see below. But still, I feel that he is at least SOMEWHAT serious about what he is saying, and what he believes about AT&T Park.

Remember: his words in bold, mine in regular text. Because we use white instead of black for our letters on this blog, sometimes it can be hard to distinguish bold from regular. Hint: the bold stuff is the stuff that is 100% wrong.

Aha! The problem with the Giants' offense finally reveals itself. The ballpark is in the wrong place. Way the wrong place.

The ballpark is in a beautiful location. Every time I sit in the last row of the upper deck, I feel like I have the best seat in the house because of my view of the Bay. It's the best ballpark in baseball. Way the best.

After beating the Cincinnati Reds twice in 3 days by scoring a preposterous 38 runs in 3 games, it can be the only explanation left in a season full of explanations.

There are many explanations for the Giants still having an offense that struggles this season. It could be that they are 8th (out of 16 NL teams) in OBP. Same with slugging. The ONLY explanation is certainly not that it just isn't hot enough in SF. This becomes very clear when we look at the team splits and realize that they slug higher at home than on the road.

The heat...has turned The Thing on King into a veritable bandbox, as verified by manager Bruce Bochy after Tuesday's 16-5 win.

The Thing on King. I like that. I couldn't have thought of something that insanely clever. But I have one question, Ray: why? Oh, it's hilarious, but why say it?

"Most hitters like this kind of weather," he said while walking back to his office. "Days like this, the ballpark plays pretty fair." The intimation, of course, being that it typically isn't, and actually never was. It was, is, and until they lower the right field wall to, say 2.5 feet, a place for pitchers to do their best work. and hitters? Pfah!

More like: research? evidence? science? Pfah!

Nearly all research has concluded that AT&T Park is neutral for the most part. Yes, it can be tough with HRs for left handed hitters. But when it comes to hitting, scoring runs, or what we call "offense", it is right in the middle. Baseball Reference's park factor score for AT&T Park in 2010 is 104, where over 100 favors batters. I could end this right here, because the main point of your article has been proven wrong, but instead I'm gonna keep going and make this post unnecessarily long. It's what I do.

In other words, the Giants need to move the park. To, say, Livermore. Or Morgan Hill. Or Paso Robles.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it can get a 'lil hot in those places. Too bad you didn't give a few more examples, though, maybe 5, or even 7! I wasn't quite sure where you were going with that.

It's either that, or listening incessantly to more years of sports talk radio topics like "Brian Sabean can't develop hitters and he hates math." And I think we can all agree that we've had as much of that heroin-laced idiocy as we can stand.

Heroin? Really? If you were gonna go with the unoriginal, obligatory drug reference, couldn't you have said something better than heroin? Dope fiends just fall asleep when they shoot up, not call sports talk radio. When I read Thomas de Quincey's "Confessions of an Opium Eater" (I actually haven't read it yet, but let's pretend I have for the sake of the awesome 1821 reference), I don't remember him writing editorials in the Westmoreland Gazette about how overrated a cricketer William Clarke was. Oh, and Brian Sabean can't develop hitters for the most part, and he does appear to hate math.

39 runs in 3 games by the home team has never happened in this park. It didn't happen in the Barbie Fun House that was Candlestick Park, either. In fact, it hadn't happened since 1933.

Hasn't it been that hot at AT&T Park at SOME point in the last 10 years? And they didn't score 39 runs. You act as if what happened against the Reds wasn't what it was: just an anomaly, a freak occurrence. Not to mention the Giants franchise played their home games at the Polo Grounds from 1933 to 1958. The Polo Grounds, except for deep center field, was a hitter's paradise. In other words, your point is completely invalid.

While Giants honks will bathe in the comeback, and eternal pessimists will rage over the 5 errors, the secret truth here is that the solution to the offense doesn't require attacking the free agency market. It requires attacking the real estate market.


Will this happen? Not while Baer lives, and not while the housing market remains flat. But watching the gentlemen seriously rake against what is, despite the current evidence, a good pitching staff demands an explanation, and the only thing different about this series was that it was played in Fresno conditions. Hot, with night and morning going to be hot.

Why are we talking about this? We should move the Giants home park as soon as possible because they scored a lot of runs on 3 hot days? And the housing market? Huh? I realized something just now that I hadn't when I started: this is one STUPID FUCKING ARTICLE!

(Hmmm. Maybe that explains how hitters who play in SF tend to stagnate but go down to Central Cali and hit like Tony Gwynn on crank).

Let me say there is NOTHING funnier than saying a person is like someone else "on ______". Gets me EVERYTIME. And it's one of those comedic tricks that just never gets old. Kinda like sarcasm.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

SF 2, COL 1: That Feels More Like Giants Baseball

Ah, low scoring offense and dominant pitching, we have missed you. You bring so much tension, torture, and excitement. And you are especially great when you work together to squeeze out a win.

The first thing that needs to be mentioned about this game is Tim Lincecum's performance. He was absolutely dominant again and it was beautiful. Forget Pablo Sandoval being back, forget Freddy Sanchez being back. The guy who really needs to be back is Tim Lincecum. Really, the Giants are going to need Timmy to be an ace and lead the staff if they are going to go anywhere in the playoffs and he looked like an ace once again tonight. His beautiful stat line from tonight looks like this: 8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, and 9 K. It's so important that the Giants take advantage of the Padres' losing streak (now at 7 games) and I know I keep saying it, but the pitching is going to have to lead the charge. That's now 4 quality starts in a row and hopefully Zito can make it 5 on Friday. With these starters pitching as well a they have throughout the last turn in the rotation, the Giants will go on a run. I feel like I'm saying the same thing over and over again, but the the idea of the pitching staff being it's dominant self again gets me so excited. I'm giddy.

Now I'll talk about the little offense that there was. In the 4th inning, Carlos Gonzalez hit a solo home run off of Lincecum to give the Rockies a 1-0 lead. Whatever. Then in the 5th inning, after a Jose Guillen single and a Buster Posey walk, Mike Fontenot had an RBI single, tying the game at 1-1. With the game tied and it seeming like the Giants were never going to score again off of Jimenez, Mike Fontenot drew a walk. The next batter, Tim Lincecum laid down a sac bunt getting Fontenot over to 2nd base. Then, September call-up, Darren Ford, came in to pinch-run. Right away, on a wild pitch from Jimenez that barely got away from Miguel Olivo, Ford stole 3rd and on a throwing error from Olivo, went home. It's too bad he can't hit, but the guy can RUN. It was amazing that he came home all the way from 2nd on that play. The Giants led 2-1 and Brian Wilson closed it out with a perfect 9th. Simple. Business as usual. Whatever.

Not to boast, but as time goes on, I love the name of this blog more and more. I will admit that Reza and I were a little iffy on the name 8thInningWeirdness when we first started the blog, but it's the perfect name for a Giants blog because there will always be 8th Inning Weirdness.

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Bench...

It's September: time to welcome in the guys that aren't going to help us at all!

At least that's how it looks to me. Dan Runzler and Edgar Renteria will be coming back. Runzler should help in the bullpen, especially if Jeremy Affeldt continues to struggle. Renteria should be useful for pinch hit walk off singles in the 16th inning. Other than that, some guys we've seen before (Velez, Rohlinger, Burriss) could all join the team. Maybe they could start a poker tournament amongst themselves to occupy their time.

Then there is Dontrelle Willis. Looks like the Giants WANT to bring him up, but is it a good idea? He's only pitched 10.1 innings with the Giants minor league teams, so it's a very small sample size. But they have not been pretty. At all. Too bad. I wish Dontrelle could help the Giants. Last night I fell in love with Aroldis Chapman's delivery, and it's not too different from Willis'. Guys like that have a real old school feel about them, which is great because baseball is all about history. Unfortunately, Dontrelle's career might finally be history, unless the Giants take a wild chance and bring him up this September.

It doesn't appear that the Giants will come close to having a late season rookie debut as exciting as Aroldis Chapman was for the Reds last night. In all likelihood, Brandon Belt will go straight from Fresno to the Arizona Fall League once the AAA season is over. I'm fine with that. There aren't many at bats to go around, so instead of spending all his time on the bench, Belt can continue his development towards being the next Will Clark.

Outfielder Darren Ford was added today to the major league roster from AA Richmond. Last year, Ford had a good year offensively in San Jose, putting up a .300/.386/463/.849 line. This year, with more at bats in Richmond, his offense has dropped off. Of course, we know that the Eastern League can be tough to hit in, but his .680 OPS does not make him a great offensive replacement. Ford is reported to have great speed, so he could be a good pinch running option late in the game. However, I hope Bruce Bochy doesn't take that to mean he should be stealing bases. Ford had 3 great base stealing seasons in A ball, stealing 60+ each year with a success rate of 82%. However, last year in San Jose and this season in Richmond, he's stolen far fewer, and only at a 72% rate. I know that may seem like not much of a decline, but that 10% makes a HUGE difference. At 72%, you are barely breaking even in providing value with your stolen bases. At 82% with a large counting number like 67, you are helping a lot. If Darren Ford is getting caught a lot in AA ball, it's probably not a good idea to give him the green light in the big leagues.