There came a moment in Thursday’s game against the Rockies when I knew the Giants were going to win.
It came in the fourth inning when Matt Cain slapped a single to left to score the final run of a five-run inning, cutting the Rockies’ lead to 6-5.
To watch Cain’s knock, click here.
Right there, I knew it was in the bag.
Why? Well, it’s because, with that RBI and the subsequent 8-6 win, the Giants are now 23-0 since last May 9 when one of their pitchers records an RBI. And that includes the postseason.
Don’t believe me? Here’s the list:
- May 16, 2013 — Matt Cain, d. Rockies 8-6
- May 10, 2013 — Cain, d. Braves 8-2
- May 8, 2013 — Barry Zito, d. Phillies 4-3
- April 11, 2013 — Ryan Vogelsong, d. Cubs 7-6
- April 10, 2013 — Zito, d. Rockies 10-0
- April 3, 2013 — Tim Lincecum, d. Dodgers 5-3
- April 2, 2013 — Madison Bumgarner, d. Dodgers 3-0
- Oct. 24, 2012 — Zito, d. Tigers 8-3 (Game 1 of World Series)
- Oct. 22, 2012 — Cain, d. Cardinals 9-0 (Game 7 of NLCS)
- Oct. 21, 2012 — Vogelsong, d. Cardinals 6-1 (Game 6 of NLCS)
- Oct. 19, 2012 — Zito, d. Cardinals 5-0 (Game 5 of NLCS)
- Sept. 26, 2012 — Cain, d. Diamondbacks 6-0
- Sept. 22, 2012 — Bumgarner, d. Padres 8-4
- Sept. 14, 2012 — Santiago Casilla, d. Diamondbacks 6-2
- Sept. 11, 2012 — Bumgarner, d. Rockies 9-8
- Aug. 23, 2012 — Zito, d. Braves 5-2
- Aug. 17, 2012 — Cain, d. Padres 10-1
- Aug. 11, 2012 — Cain, d. Rockies 9-3
- Aug. 5, 2012 — Lincecum, d. Rockies 8-3
- July 21, 2012 — Cain, d. Phillies 6-5
- June 12, 2012 — Bumgarner, d. Astros 6-3
- May 18, 2012 — Zito, d. Athletics 8-6
- May 12, 2012 — Cain, d. Diamondbacks 5-2
The last time the Giants lost a game when one of their pitchers drove in a run came on May 9, 2012, when Lincecum got an RBI in a 6-2 loss to the Dodgers.
So who needs a DH?
Sorry, I haven’t blogged in a couple of days. Those two games in Toronto did not inspire me.
But the Giants left Canada with one burning question: What to do about Ryan Vogelsong?
I’ll admit that even as Vogey has struggled this season, I keep expecting that his next start will be the one in which he finds his groove again.
But then it just keeps getting worse. Since his April 22 start against the Diamondbacks, when his ERA sat at 5.68, it has steadily climbed over his last four starts to 6.23, 7.20, 7.78 and now 8.06.
And, heck, that doesn’t even include the five UNEARNED runs he allowed on Wednesday.
Manager Bruce Bochy said the two errors that contributed to a five-run first inning for the Blue Jays were the worst things that could have happened to Vogelsong, putting a struggling pitcher in a bad situation early.
“We’re trying all we can to get him in track,” Bochy said. “He’s trying his hardest. You work as hard as he did and you’ll lose a little command.”
Vogelsong wasn’t looking for excuses, saying that things aren’t always “sunshine and roses” and you have to be able to pitch through trouble.
Still Vogelsong continues to insist that he feels like he’s really close to where he needs to be.
“Things have got to turn around in my favor here eventually,” he said. “I shattered two bats (in the first inning) and sawed them off and they both go for hits. You’ve just got to ride it out.”
True, but between the broken bats and dropped outs, there were a lot of VERY hard hit balls, even many of the six outs recorded were on hard-hit balls.
Bochy would not say if Vogelsong will make his next start, which is set to come Monday at home against the Nationals, going with the same “we’ve got options and we’ll explore them” line he used after Vogey’s previous start.
Is it bad form to mention the last time Vogelsong faced the Nationals at AT&T Park he got lit up for eight runs on nine hits on 2.2 innings?
Prior to Wednesday’s start, that Aug. 13 start vs. the Nats last year was Vogelsong’s shortest in a Giants uniform.
If we had to guess, we’d say the Giants will give Vogelsong at least one more turn in the rotation to figure things out. A four-game series in Colorado often requires heavy use of the bullpen.
And if the Giants skip Vogey on Monday, that likely means Chad Gaudin would be the likely fill-in starter.
And if that’s the case, Gaudin doesn’t pitch this weekend in Colorado, and I doubt the Giants want Vogey coming out of the pen in Coors.
So who knows? Last year’s debacle against the Nationals started a seven-start stretch in which Vogey posted on ERA above 10. Maybe this year’s start vs. the Nats will be the one that gets him off this eight-start stretch with an ERA above eight.
Right now, it’s all we can hope for.
When the Giants re-signed Marco Scutaro to a three-year, it would have been a lot to expect the same Scutaro who produced during the last two months of 2012 and into the postseason.
But we’d be happy with something close to that.
As the season start, we saw a Scutaro who struggled. Then we learned he was still battling back issues that plagued him during spring training.
Then he got hot, and things were good. Then he started to scuffle again. And not only scuffle, but strike out, which is something he just didn’t do last year.
Well, those days are over as Scutaro is swinging the bat well, again.
Scutaro extended his hitting streak to 12 games on Sunday with another solid game that included his first home run of the season. He’s batting .479 (23-for-48) during that binge, indicating his relief from back pain.
Over the past week, Scutaro went 14 for 30 (.467) with four doubles, a triple, home run and no runs scored. He did not draw a walk but he also didn’t strike out.
And that make Scutaro MoreSplashHits’ player of the week for the Week of May 6-12. He’s now batting .305 for the season.
It was a busy weekend for MoreSplashHits. Hey, it was Mother’s Day weekend, so we weren’t blogging much.
But we were stilling watching the Giants, and Sunday’s game provided us with another Splash Hits.
It was Sandoval’s first Splash Hit since Aug. 31, 2011 and the seventh of his career. That ranks him second all-time behind …. some guy named …. Bonds, whoever that is.
Brandon Belt had delivered the last three Splash Hits. Belt also homered Sunday, but he hit his the other way to left field. Here’s a list of Splash Hit leaders.
- Barry Bonds 35
- Pablo Sandoval 7
- Brandon Belt 3
Sunday’s home runs helped cap a relaxing weekend for Giants fans. Prior to Friday, the Giants had only won two games without the need of a save or walk-off win.
None of the three wins against the Braves over the weekend required a save or walk-off win, with the Giants winning 8-2, 10-1 and 5-1. Before Friday, the Giants’ run differential was 0. Now, it’s +19.
A big sigh of relief was released by San Francisco Giants fans on Friday.
For the first time since April 21, they didn’t have to sweat out a victory as Matt Cain pitched eight solid innings and the Giants tallied a six-run fourth inning to beat Tim Hudson.
It was the second consecutive solid start from Cain, who looks more and more like he’s returning to his ace form. Here are a series of tidbits about Friday’s game.
- The Giants fans finally got a breather. It was only the third time the Giants have won a game that didn’t require a save or a walk-off win. The other two came in shutout wins in games started by Barry Zito.
- The lone two runs allowed by Cain came on a two-run home run in the fifth by Brian McCann. Sixteen of the last 20 runs Cain has allowed has come via the home run.
- McCann’s home run was the 26th time an opponent has hit a home run on the fly into San Francisco Bay. We don’t call it a Splash Hits, because those are just reserved for blasts of Giants’ bats.
- It was the first win by the Giants over Tim Hudson since April 8, 2006. Hudson had gone 6-0 with a 2.48 ERA against the Giants since then.
- Cain contributed to the six-run fourth with his first RBI of the season. Cain was the last of the five Giants starting pitchers to record an RBI.
- Including last season’s postseason, the Giants have won 22 consecutive games, dating back to May 9 of last year, in which a pitcher has recorded an RBI.
- Marco Scutaro had two hits in the fourth inning, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. He will likely get the day off on Saturday.
- The Giants improved to 4-0 at home on games played on Friday.
Ryan Vogelsong’s ERA started at 8.44 after giving up five runs in 5.1 against the Cardinals in his first start of the year.
Then Vogelsong started dropping his ERA over the next three starts to 7.15, 5.89 and 5.68. You would have expected that trend to continue this early in the season.
And yet, Vogey’s ERA has gone the other direction over his last three starts: 6.23 after 5 ER in 5 IP vs. the Padres, 7.20 after 7 ER in 4.2 IP vs. the Dodgers and 7.78 after 6 ER in 4.1 IP vs. the Braves on Thursday.
To his credit, Vogelsong says he expects to make his next start Wednesday in Toronto. “Why wouldn’t I?” he said. He says his health and stamina are fine, and he feels “he’s close” to being where he needs to be.
And, of course, he’s overcome his share of adversity in his career.
I came through it after 13 years,” Vogelsong said. “I came through it after August of 2011. I came through it after August and September of 2012 , and I’ll come through it again this year.”
OK, let’s examine that.
When Vogelsong mentioned August of 2011, my first reaction was “He was bad in August 2011? I don’t remember that.” And there was good reason for that: He wasn’t that bad.
After his first start in August of 2011, Vogelsong was 9-1 with 2.19 ERA. He then lost six of his next seven starts, but his ERA rose to just 2.66. He had one start in which he gave up five runs in five innings, but did not allow any more than three runs in any of those other starts. So the issue wasn’t Vogey; it was the Giants offense.
But August-September of 2012 was something completely different. In a seven-start stretch, he went 2-4 with a huge 10.31 ERA. Vogelsong responded by giving up just one earned run in his final three starts (17 innings) of the regular season. Then in the postseason, he was 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA in four starts.
The Giants didn’t skip Vogey during that ugly stretch, and the Giants were in the middle of a pennant chase. But manager Bruce Bochy said the Giants were considering all options when it come to Vogelsong.
That fifth inning has been ugly, no doubt. Hitters are batting .500 in the fifth. While home runs allowed have been balanced, opponents have six doubles and triples in the fifth to only two in innings 1-4.
Opponents hit Vogelsong better each time they face him: .271 first time through the lineup, .333 second time, .367 third time. And strikeouts have gone down: 20 first time, 11 second time, 6 third time.
There is one caveat to these numbers. Of the 12 fifth-inning runs allowed in the fifth inning, 10 have come in his last two starts (6 vs. Dodgers, 4 vs. Braves). Also four of those runs were scored after Vogelsong left the game because the reliever could not keep the inherited runners from scoring.
Still, the numbers are ugly, so it’s time to consider the options. So here they are:
BACK OFF BETWEEN STARTS: Vogelsong is a hard worker, a by-product of his path back to big leagues. He takes nothing for granted, and that’s why we love him. But that attitude could have a flip side. “If anything, he might work too hard at times,” Bochy said. So the Giants might monitor his throwing sessions between starts.
SKIP HIS NEXT START: The Giants have a off day on Monday, so they could skip Vogelsong’s turn in the rotation to give him time to work on things in the bullpen. But that would only move his next start from Wednesday in Toronto to Saturday (May 18) in Colorado. But how much good would three extra days rest do? Also, do you want to skip a start in Toronto to make one in Colorado? If he pitches on his normal turn, he would miss the four-game series at Coors.
SEND HIM TO THE PEN, FIND A REPLACEMENT: Vogelsong’s struggle set off calls to find someone in the minors to replace him. Well, this has been weakness of the Giants since spring training, and it hasn’t gotten much better. At Fresno, the starters include Chris Heston (3-2, 5.82 ERA), Mike Kickham (0-4, 5.65), Yusmeiro Petit (2-3, 6.69) and Boof Bonser (1-2, 5.45). The best option might be Shane Loux (3-1, 4.21), if that idea excites you. The numbers are better at Double-A where you have Justin Fitzgerald (3-0, 1.09) and Jack Snodgrass (3-0, 2.60). But the AA Atlantic League is a pitcher-friendly league, while the PCL is hitter-friendly. We’ve seen what making the jump from AA to AAA has done to the likes of Heston and Kickham. Making the jump all the way to bigs is a larger leap. Plus moving Vogelsong to the pen thins out an already overtaxed bullpen. Using long reliever Chad Gaudin as a spot starter is iffy. He’s only made one appearance of 3 innings, so stretching him out is no given. Plus, again, it thins out the pen.
KEEP HIM IN THE ROTATION AND LET HIM WORK IT OUT: These appears to be the most likely option, at least for now. While Bochy did talk about “options” he also said: “I do think the pitches caught up with him in the fifth,” Bochy said. “He worked pretty hard and he was up to 90 pitches in 4 1/3 innings. Up to that point, he was pretty good.” So while the Giants would love to get 6 or 7 solid innings from Vogey in Toronto, where the DH allows pitcher to go deeper into games, he may be on a very short leash, with Gaudin ready to pick up the innings on the back side.
Winning a game to stop a losing streak — even a modest two-game skid — is always a good thing.
But you might not realize how big Andres Torres’ game-winning single on Wednesday was.
I had been thinking that the Giants have been kind of streaky this year. But when I looked, I didn’t realize they were streaky in a funky way.
It started with ONE LOSS to the Chicago Cubs on April 12, which was followed by …
TWO CONSECUTIVE WINS, both over the Cubs on April 13-14, which was followed by …
THREE CONSECUTIVE LOSSES, in a sweep vs. the Brewers in April 16-18, which was followed by ….
FOUR CONSECUTIVE WINS, in a sweep of the Padres and a win over the Diamondbacks over April 19-22, which was followed by …..
FIVE CONSECUTIVE LOSSES, two losses to Diamondbacks and a sweep vs. the Padres after April 23-28, which was followed by …..
SIX CONSECUTIVE WINS, during consecutive sweeps of the Diamondbacks and Dodgers over April 30-May 5.
When the Giants dropped the first two games against the Phillies on Monday and Tuesday, I suddenly became worried that they might be on their way to a seven-game losing streak.
So thanks to Andres Torres for breaking the streak.
In the midst of a carbon-copy defeat to the Phillies on Tuesday, we thought you might need a pick-me-up.
I think it’s safe to say that Giants fans know how valuable Hunter Pence was to the Giants’ run to the World Series title last season, even if the numbers don’t say so.
Pence hit .219 with seven home runs, but 45 RBI in his 33 games after being acquired in a trade with the Phillies.
Those numbers make his stats with the Phillies preceding the trade look all-star quality: .271, 17 HR, 59 RBI in 101 games.
Yet, Pence told philly.com that he wasn’t upset with the Phillies for trading him away. He felt like he let the team down, leading to their sub-par 2012 season.
“To be honest with you, I felt really guilty,” Pence said. “I felt like I did something wrong. Obviously I shouldn’t have looked at it that way, it was the wrong way to look at it. But I was heavily invested in bringing the Phillies back, and it felt like . . . I felt guilty. I felt like it was my fault that it fell apart.”
“That’s 100 percent what I did,” Pence said. “And in this game, I say it a lot: You can’t try; you’ve got to trust. And I was trying to make it happen. But there was a great lesson for me in that experience, there was a letting go. There was a lot I had to learn.”
Perhaps, he didn’t learn that lesson right away, leading to down numbers during his two months with the Giants. Perhaps, he was trying to hard to prove his worth after being acquired by the Giants, and trying to replace Melky Cabrera, who was suspended shortly after Pence’s arrival.
The numbers masked his other contributions to the Giants: his clubhouse presence, his defense in right field, his pre-game speeches during the postseason. He batted .200 (4 for 20) in the NLDS vs. the Reds, but he had one of the bigger at-bats in the series. In Game 3, Pence battled a cramp in his calf and gutted out a big 10th-inning at-bat that produced a base hit that led to the Giants’ go-ahead run in a 2-1 victory that started a string of six consecutive wins in elimination games.
This offseason, he worked on his approach at the plate to eliminate chasing pitches out of the strike zone and making better contact — two important skills when you play your home games at AT&T Park.
It’s the kind of adjustment so many other ex-Giants failed to make when they moved from another home park to AT&T Park (Read: Aaron Rowand).
Now the numbers reflect those adjustments: 6 HR, 20 RBI, .288 AVG, .321 OBP, .500 SLUG in 33 games, very much mirroring his career averages of .285 AVG, .338 OBP, .475 SLUG. He’s also been 5 for 5 on stolen base attempts.
And who couldn’t like a guy who rides his scooter to the ballpark?
Hunter Pence must have been fired up to face his former teammates. The Giants outfielder went 3 for 3 with a double and home run against Cliff Lee on Monday.
Unfortunately, Pence was the only Giant who figured out Lee on Monday. Lee pitched eight solid innings Monday night to improve to 4-0 at AT&T Park — well, at least in the regular season.
And so ends the Giants’ six-game winning streak.
You know how 17 of the Giants’ 19 wins this season have required a save or a walk-off win? Well, the losses have come in similar fashion. Monday’s loss was only the fourth this season by the opposition that didn’t require a save or walk-off hit.
That means that 36 of the Giants’ 42 to games this season have been decided by three runs or fewer. Monday’s game almost became game No. 37, but the Phillies tacked on a run in the ninth.
Madison Bumgarner had his worst outing of the season. He danced through trouble in the first and second innings, which came back to bit him when Michael Young delivered a two-run double in the second. His two walks came in the first two innings, contributing to his troubles. He also had two wild pitches, one resulting in a run.
Bumgarner, who entered the game with 1.55 ERA, left it with a 2.31 ERA. However, that could change.
Interestingly, the Giants are appealing a ruling by the official scorer, seeking to change Eric Kratz’s infield single to error.
With a runner on first and no outs in the second, Kratz hit a bouncer up the middle that Marco Scutaro gloved behind second base. In his haste to try to turn two, he attempted to flip the ball to Brandon Crawford with his glove. The ball fell to the ground and both runners were safe.
The play was originally ruled an error, then later changed to an infield hit.
MoreSplashHits reviewed the play, and it was indeed an error. If Scutaro reaches into his glove and makes the feed to Crawford with his right hand, they get the force at second, but probably not the double play. Scutaro’s effort to make a quicker feed to keep the double play possible resulted in the errant feed. Error.
However, as CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly reported, the league rarely overturns the ruling of the official scorer, even if he’s wrong.
In another odd stat, the Giants did not leave a runner on base the entire game. It’s the first time they’ve done that since 2008. The Giants had five hits and no walks. Two of the hits led to runs (both by Pence). The other three were erased on double plays.
The Giants went 6-0 last week, leaving them 19-12 for the season, 1st in the NL West , 1 game behind of the Rockies.
- Monday: W, 6-4 vs. Diamondbacks; WP: Machi (1-0); HR: Belt (2).
- Tuesday: W, 2-1 vs. Diamondbacks; WP: Rosario (1-0); HR: Sandoval (4).
- Wednesday: W, 9-6 vs. Diamondbacks; WP: Kontos (2-1); HR: Pagan (1), Pence (5), Belt (3).
- Thursday: idle.
- Friday: W, 2-1 vs. Dodgers; WP: Romo (2-2); HR: Posey (4).
- Saturday: W 10-9, vs. Dodgers; WP: Casilla (3-2); HR: Torres (1), Quiroz (1)
- Sunday: W, 4-3 vs. Dodgers; WP: Cain (1-2).
Six wins, five come-from-behind wins and one hang-on-to-win. Lots of excitement (maybe too much). Brandon Belt’s two-run single in the eighth, Pablo Sandoval’s two-run homer in the ninth, Belt’s three-run homer in the eighth, Buster Posey’s walk-off homer in the ninth, Guillermo Quiroz’s walk-off homer in the 10th, Hunter Pence’s four-RBI game.
PHILLIES (14-18) AT GIANTS
- Monday: Phillies (Lee 2-2) at Giants (Bumgarner 3-0), 7:15 p.m.
- Tuesday: Phillies (Kendrick 3-1) at Giants (Lincecum 2-1), 7:15 p.m.
- Wednesday: Phillies (Pettibone 2-0) at Giants (Barry Zito 3-1), 12:45 p.m.
We can tell you this much about the opener to this series: expect a low-scoring game. Bumgarner has a 1.55 ERA, but he has no decision in his last three starts. Why? The Giants don’t like scoring runs for him. When he’s left his last three starts, the score has been 2-2, 1-1 and 1-1. The Giants have given him 2.83 runs of support. But the Phillies have give Cliff Lee 2.67 runs of support. Bumgarner is 1-1 with 2.57 ERA in two starts vs. the Phillies. However, Lee is 4-0 with 0.63 ERA in 5 starts vs. the Giants (that doesn’t include Game 1 of 2010 World Series). It does include his 10 shutout innings in a game at AT&T Park last year (that the Phillies eventually lost in 12). … The Giants went 4-2 against the Phillies last year, winning 2 of 3 at hom and 2 of 3 in Philly.
BRAVES (18-12) at GIANTS
- Thursday: Braves (Teheran 1-0) at Giants (Vogelsong 1-2), 7:15 p.m. MLB Network
- Friday: Braves (Hudson 4-1) at Giants (Cain 1-2), 7:15 p.m.
- Saturday: Braves (Maholm 3-3) at Giants (Bumgarner 3-0), 1:05 p.m., MLB Network
- Sunday: Braves (Medlen 1-4) at Giants (Lincecum 1-2), 1:05 p.m.
Giants won 4 of 7 games vs. the Braves last season, splitting a four-game set in San Francisco in August. … The Braves are second in the NL in home runs. They face Cain on Sunday, who has surrendered nine homers this season. … Catcher Brian McCann comes off the DL this week, but Justin Heyward remains on the DL. … The Braves opened the season 12-1, but have gone 6-11 since then. They’ve lost 7 of their last 10.
You go 6-0 during the week, and you’re going to have a ton of player-of-the-week candidates.
But all of those late-inning home runs and come-from-behind victories wouldn’t be possible unless you have a lock-down closer to complete the victory.
So that’s why we’re going with Sergio Romo as our San Francisco Giants’ player of the week for Week 5.
Romo made five appearance in the six games last week, earning four saves and a win. He did not allow a run in five innings of work, nor did he allow a walk. He gave up just three hits, while striking out five.
Romo has 12 saves on the season with a miniscule 0.83 WHIP to go with his 1.72 ERA.
The Giants completed a three-game sweep of the Dodgers on Sunday night with a 4-3 win. But what’s more important — alright, at least AS important — is that Matt Cain got his first win of the year.
Cain pitched 7.1 innings, giving up one run on 5 hits and 3 walks. He struck out 4. It was his walk to Matt Kemp in the eighth that led to his exit after 109 pitches. When three relievers could not prevent Kemp from eventually scoring, that’s when Cain picked up his lone earned run.
For only the third time in seven starts this season, Cain did not allow a home run. Not too surprising since eight of the nine homers Cain has allowed have come on the road.
But it’s also important to note because prior to Sunday’s start, 14 of the previous 17 runs Cain had allowed had scored via the home run. His ERA this season on balls that did not leave the yard: 2.57 — and that includes the disastrous nine-run inning against the Cardinals on April 7.
So the morale to the story is: If Cain can keep from giving up the long ball, he’s the Matt Cain we’ve all grown to know and love.
Or is it something else? Could it be, perhaps, the Dodgers?
Consider this: Cain’s ERA this season in two starts against Big Blue: 0.68 in 13.1 innings. Against everyone else: 7.85 in 28.2 innings.
We may get a better idea after his next start, which is slated for Friday at home against the Braves, who ranked second in the NL in home runs.
After that, his next start comes against the Rockies. Colorado leads the NL in home runs, and the game will be played in Coors Field.
Here’s a breakdown of Cain’s starts this season, courtesy of Baseball Reference
|1||237||1||Apr 1||SFG||@||LAD||L,0-4||GS-6||99||6.0||4||0||0||1||8||0||1||0.00||1b start tie||6b 3 out tie|
|2||238||6||Apr 7||SFG||STL||L,3-14||GS-4||L(0-1)||5||3.2||7||9||9||2||2||0||0||8.38||1t start tie||4t 1-3 2 out d5|
|3||239||11||Apr 12||SFG||@||CHC||L,3-4||GS-7||4||7.0||7||2||2||2||6||2||0||5.94||1b start tie||7b 3 out d2|
|4||240||16||Apr 18||SFG||@||MIL||L,2-7||GS-6||L(0-2)||5||6.0||7||7||7||0||4||3||1||7.15||1b start tie||6b 3 out d6|
|5||241||21||Apr 23||SFG||ARI||L,4-6||GS-6||4||6.0||5||4||3||1||6||1||0||6.59||1t start tie||6t 3 out d4|
|6||242||26||Apr 29||SFG||@||ARI||W,6-4||GS-6||5||6.0||5||4||4||4||6||3||0||6.49||1b start a 2||6b 3 out tie|
|7||243||31||May 5||SFG||LAD||W,4-3||GS-8||W(1-2)||5||7.1||5||1||1||3||4||0||0||5.57||1t start tie||8t 1– 1 out a4|
Really, we should be immune to the San Francisco Giants’ flair for the dramatic. But then they do something we just didn’t see coming.
Duane Kuiper said it best: “You think you know, but you just don’t know.”
After Hunter Pence struck out to open the bottom of the 10th inning, manager Bruce Bochy sent Guillermo Quiroz to the play to face Brandon League. Quiroz was the Giants’ last available position player on the bench.
After loading the bases with one out in the ninth and failing to score with their best hitter at the plate — Buster Posey grounded into a double play — it didn’t look promising in the 10th with one out and Quiroz at the plate.
Then the reserve catcher who only had eight plate appearances so far this season served a League pitch into the left-field bleachers for the second game-winning home run in as many nights.
It was only Quiroz’s third career home run in 110 big-league games spanning over nine seasons from 2004-2013. He hadn’t homered in a big-league game since 2008.
It was the Giants’ fifth consecutive victory — including the last four in which the Giants hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning or later:
- Tuesday, Pablo Sandoval, two-run HR, 9th inning vs. Arizona
- Wednesday, Belt, three-run HR, 8th inning vs. Arizona
- Friday, Buster Posey, solo HR, 9th inning vs. LA Dodgers
- Saturday, Guillermo Quiroz, solo HR, 10th inning vs. LA Dodgers
OTHER WILD NOTES FROM SATURDAY
- The Giants looked as if they were headed to an easy win as they took a 5-0 lead after three innings thanks to Ryan Vogelsong’s first start of the season in which he opened with three scoreless innings. After the Dodgers scored a run in the fourth, the Giants responded to take a 6-1. Then the Dodgers tallied for seven runs in the fifth.
- As bad a seven-run inning looks, Vogelsong did not get help from his defense. Shortstop Brandon Crawford double-clutched on a potential double-play ball, resulting in only one out. If the Giants turn two there, the Dodgers likely score only one run that inning.
- With the seven-run fifth on Saturday, it means the Giants have surrendered at five-run inning (Rockies), six-run inning (Padres), seven-run inning (Dodgers), eight-run inning (Brewers) and nine-run inning (Cardinals) this season.
Giants announcer Duane Kuiper said it best after Brandon Belt’s go-ahead three-run homer in a 9-6 win over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday.
“And the Giants have done it again.”
Some Giants fans have tried to attach the “torture” label on the 2013 Giants. But this team is much different from the 2010 team which inspired the label.
The 2010 team didn’t score a lot and pitched really well. That meant they played a lot of close games. But they were different than this year. The Giants had a narrow lead late, then would torture fans by barely holding onto those leads.
Even though the 2013 team has also played a ton of close games, because the team’s starting pitching has been so shaky, they find themselves having to rally late.
It’s torture when you’re team has a narrow lead and struggles to hang onto it. When your team is behind, there’s a feeling that they’ll probably lose. When they end up winning, it’s a bonus.
The Giants are becoming so proficient at these late-game comebacks, it’s almost becoming expected. Almost.
“We believe somebody’s going to do it,” Belt said, “and somebody does it. It’s amazing.”
Belt’s home run was the Giants’ ninth this season in the eighth or ninth innings. When you consider that the Giants have hit 21 total home runs, that’s an impressive percentage.
Even more impressive is that six of those nine home runs either tied the game or gave the Giants the lead. Five of those home runs have come against the Diamondbacks bullpen.
“These guys have been amazing,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “They’re not base hits. We need the long ball, and they’re coming through.”
It’s interesting to look at the numbers on the Giants’ late-game performances.
The Giants have hit 12 home runs in innings 1-7, and 9 in innings 8-9. The Giants homer once every 68 plate appearances in innings 1-7. They average a home run every 24 PAs in innings 8-9. In the ninth inning alone, the rate drops to one every 19.4 PAs.
Yet the Giants hit better earlier in the game — they hit .268 in innings 1-3, .266 in innings 4-6, but only .240 in innings 7-9.
However, they are more aggressive and efficient on the basepaths. They have seven steals in 10 attempts in innings 1-6, but 8 for 8 in innings 7-9.
They’ve also feasted on relievers. They have 11 home runs in 706 PAs against starting pitchers (1 every 64); 10 home runs in 358 PAs vs. relievers (1 every 36).
So are the Giants clutch or living dangerously?
Well, both. They’re living dangerously because their starting pitching has been putting them in bad situations, except when Madison Bumgarner starts. In those cases, they don’t score runs.
When MadBum starts, the Giants have scored 3, 4, 3, 3, 2 and 2. And not all of those runs were scored when MadBum was still in the game.
While it would be nice to win a game 6-1, that requires the starters — other than just MadBum — to keep the other team off the board.
But it’s nice to know that there is no quit in the 2013 Giants.
The Giants have hit just 18 home runs this season, second fewest among NL teams (and with Giancarlo Stanton going to be sidelined for a while, the Marlins don’t figure to add many to their total of 12).
But don’t tell the Arizona Diamondbacks about the Giants’ power shortage. Because against Arizona, it seems whenever the Giants need a big blast they’ve got one.
For the fourth time in five games this season against the Diamondbacks, the Giants have hit a home run in the eighth or ninth innings to erase a deficit.
- On April 22, Buster Posey hits a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game 4-4. The Giants would win the next inning 5-4.
- On April 23 vs. Arizona, Brandon Belt hits a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to tie game 4-4. Arizona would wind up winning in the 11th, 6-4
- On April 24 vs. Arizona, Brandon Crawford hits a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth to tie game 2-2. Arizona would win the game 3-2 in the 10th.
So when Josh Wilson hit a solo home run, giving Arizona a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth of Tuesday, the stage was set for some more late-inning thunder from the Giants.
And thankfully, they got some help from Arizona manager Kirk Gibson.
Gibson actually pulled a Bochy.
After Wilson’s home run off Santiago Casilla in the eighth gave Arizona the lead, Gibson opted to let pitcher Trevor Cahill hit for himself with one out in the eighth.
Despite holding a narrow 1-0 lead, the move appeared to be a sound one as Cahill was shutting out the Giants on three hits and he had only thrown 82 pitches through eight innings.
Angel Pagan led off the ninth and worked the count full on Cahill before shooting a single into right field. That led Gibson to come get Cahill and bring in J.J. Putz.
“I didn’t want him to take the loss,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. “I had confidence in my closer and it didn’t work out.”
Thanks a lot, Gibby.
Pagan stole second, Marco Scutaro struck out, then Pablo Sandoval hammered a Putz pitch deep over the wall in right center for a 2-1 Giants led.
Sergio Romo would come in and set the Diamondbacks down in order in the ninth for his 10th save of the season.
It game the Giants their 15th win in April. If the Giants win 15 games every month, they’ll win 90 games for the season. So the blast ended April on a positive note. It gives the Giants the chance to salvage the road trip with a 3-3 mark with a win Wednesday. And it means they didn’t completely squander seven shutout innings from Madison Bumgarner, who lowered his ERA 1.55.
When I flipped on the game Monday, I was surprised to see Gregor Blanco in the No. 6 spot of the lineup. I thought “huh, Gregor sixth, Brandon Belt seventh.”
Then Brandon Crawford came up, and I thought “Is something wrong with Belt?”
Nope. Nothing wrong. Belt was just batting eighth. Why? Well, it had to do with his history against Arizona pitcher Ian Kennedy. Belt was 2 for 15, which to me seemed like a pretty small sample over the course of two-plus seasons.
But the bigger stat that factored in for Bochy was the nine strikeouts. So Bochy put Belt at No. 8. Maybe he was playing the numbers, which is a little curious because the numbers says Belt was one of the hotter Giants over the past week.
But maybe he was simply trying to get a message to Belt to focus more on his approach against Kennedy … against every single pitcher he faces.
If it’s the latter, it worked.
Belt took a couple of pitches from Kennedy in his first at-bat, then turned on an inside fastball and sent it over the fence in right field for a home run. Belt finished 1 for 3 against Kennedy, flying out to deep right and center in his other two at-bats.
“Try not to panic,” he said, smiling. “But actually, coming into the game, I had a solid approach. I saw him a few times and had an idea what he was trying to do. I wanted to lay off all the pitches up and away he’s gotten me on.”
In the eighth, Belt came up with two outs and the bases loaded. He worked the count to 3-1 against Brad Ziegler.
He said the thought about taking another pitch in hopes of drawing the walk that would give the Giants the lead. Instead, he saw a pitch he liked and slapped it up the middle for a two-run single.
“You’ve just got to adjust and I’m doing a better job adjusting now,” he said. “I’ve got to be ready to adjust again the next time.”
Is that Belt talking? Or is it Bochy? Who cares, because right now it’s working.
- CAIN AND THE LONG BALL: The Giants got their first win in a game started by Matt Cain this season, although Cain didn’t get the win after surrendering three home runs in the fourth inning. It makes nine home runs Cain has allowed this season. But if there’s a trend, it’s that eight of those have come on the road … in hitter-friendly parks. His next two starts are at home, then May 16 … at Colorado … COLORADO. Hopefully, Cain will figure out how to keep the ball in the park by then.
- PANDA IN PAIN: Pablo Sandoval left Monday’s game in the sixth inning with pain in his troublesome elbow. It’s the same elbow that sidelined him more than a week during spring training and almost put his season-opener in doubt. Sandoval insists the move was purely precautionary and he wants to play Tuesday. Bochy was leaning more toward giving the Panda the day off.
- SWINGING SCUTARO: If you watched Monday’s game, you saw a rarity. Marco Scutaro, who almost always takes a first strike, swung at the first strike four times. The result was a 3-for-4 game with a double, a walk and two runs scored. It was almost as if Scutaro was using his own scouting report against the pitchers. Pitchers know Scutaro takes a strike, so they come early with fastballs. Knowing that, Scutaro pounced. Scutaro, who has been battling back stiffness early this season, was looking to break out of any early-season funk. His three hits Monday jumped his average from .222 to .237.
- KRUKOW’S NUTTY COMMENT: The quote of the day from Monday’s broadcast came during the Giants’ eighth-inning rally. Crawford fouled off a pitch that took one hop behind the plate and nutted home-plate umpire Dale Scott. Scott took a couple of minutes to compose himself before returning to his work. Duane Kuiper said: “He’s a gamer.” That led Mike Krukow to respond: “I’d be doing snow angels in the dirt.”
The Giants went 1-5 last week, leaving them 13-12 for the season, 3rd in the NL West , 2 games behind the Rockies and Diamondbacks.
- Monday: Giants 5, Diamondbacks 4. WP: Romo (1-1); HR: Posey (2).
- Tuesday: Diamondbacks 6, Giants 4 (11). LP: Casilla (2-2); HR: Belt (1).
- Wednesday: Diamondbacks 3, Giants 2. LP: Gaudin (0-1); Crawford (4).
- Friday: Padres 2, Giants 1. LP: Lincecum (2-1).
- Saturday: Padres 8, Giants 7 (12). LP: Romo (1-2). HR: Crawford (5).
- Sunday: Padres 6, Giants 4. LP: Vogelsong (1-2). HR: Posey (3).
Normally, coming into the week on a five-game losing streak, we’d be glad to have Matt Cain on the mound. He’s the stopper. But the Giants haven’t won a game in which Cain has started since Game 4 of the World Series. That makes five straight losses in Cain starts for the Giants, even though Cain is only 0-2 himself. And what has been biting Cain? The long ball. So having him start at Arizona’s Chase Field won’t make any fans feel any better. The Giants placed reliever Jose Mijares on the bereavement list after the death of his grandmother. Sandy Rosario was called up from Fresno, but may not be with the big club long as Jeremy Affledt is due off the DL some time this week.
GIANTS AT DIAMONDBACKS (15-10)
- Monday: Giants (Cain 0-2) at Diamondbacks (Kennedy 1-2), 6:40 p.m.
- Tuesday: Giants (Bumgarner 3-0) at Diamondbacks (Cahill 1-3), 6:40 p.m.
- Wednesday: Giants (Lincecum 2-1) at Diamondbacks (McCarthy 0-3), 6:40 p.m
The Giants lost two of three to Arizona last week, and the key to the losses for the Giants was failing to produce offense early in the game. The first two games included comebacks from deficits of 4-2 and 4-0 after the seventh inning. … The Giants went 4-5 at Chase Field last season, but won 4 of their last 5 games there after dropping the first four. … Each team will send only one pitcher in this series who pitched in last week’s series in San Francisco. Both fared well and pitched in the same game. Arizona’s Ian Kennedy went 6 innings, giving up 1 run on 4 hits with 4 strikeouts. Bumgarner went 7.1 innings, giving up one run on five hits with 7 strikeouts. … By missing Patrick Corbin and Wade Miley, the Giants miss Arizona’s two best pitchers by ERA. They meet Brandon McCarthy, who has struggled to a 7.48 ERA. Trevor Cahill is 1-3, but sports a nice 3.00 ERA. … It might not make you feel better about Cain pitching, but he’s 8-4 with a 4.13 ERA at Chase Field. … Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt is a Giant killer (7 HR, 23 RBI, .310 in 30 games). He’s particularly good against Giants pitchers who names rhyme with Wincecum (5 HR, 10 RBI, .588).
DODGERS (12-12) at GIANTS
- Friday: Dodgers (Kershaw 3-2) at Giants (Zito 3-1), 7:10 p.m.
- Saturday: Dodgers (Lilly 0-0) at Giants (Vogelsong 1-3), 6:05 p.m. MLB Network
- Sunday: Dodgers (Ryu 2-1) at Giants (Cain 0-2), 5 p.m. ESPN
The Giants took 2 of 3 in Los Angeles to open the season. … The Dodgers are expected to get SS Hanley Ramirez back in the lineup this week after suffering a hand injury during the World Baseball Classic. … The projected starters for the Dodgers is based on the notion that they’ll use their off day Thursday to skip their No. 5 starter. If they don’t, rookie Matt Magill will get the Friday start. But with Chris Capuano due back from the DL early next week, they’ll likely just skip the No. 5 spot. … If that’s true, the Giants will face Clayton Kershaw on Friday. Kershaw has enjoyed more success against the Giants than any other team. He’s 9-4 with a 1.28 ERA in 17 starts against the Giants. … It’s a good thing that Barry Zito is slated to face Kershaw on Friday. Zito has not allowed a run at home in three starts this season. He’s averaged 7 innings in all three home starts, yet has only throw 6.1 combined innings in his two road starts. … The Dodgers broke camp with 8 starting pitchers. But they have since traded Aaron Harang and lost Zach Greinke, Chad Billingsley and Chris Capuano to the DL.
Remember when the Giants are 12-8 after three weeks? Remember that the Giants did that despite Buster Posey hitting his stride?Remember how we thought the offense would really take off once Buster found his groove?
Well, Buster found it last week, hitting .429 (9 for 21) with two home runs, 6 RBI, three walks, just one strikeout. He had .500 OBP and a 1.310 OPS.
Pretty good huh? So what did the Giants do last week? They went 1-5.
This further proves that baseball is a team game, and the Giants need production up and down the lineup to succeed.
Last week’s player of the week — Brandon Crawford — hit .217 last week. Week 2′s POY, Marco Scutaro, hit .185.
We hope this isn’t a trend because we need Buster to stay hot.
Oh, and the Giants’ second best hitter last week? Any guesses? How about Brandon Belt (.389 avg, .476 OBP, 1.087 OPS).
Given the Giants’ three-game losing streak, we thought Giants fans might need something to cheer them up.
The Giants have a longstanding tradition of producing clever commercials, and this year’s spots include a send-up to Hunter Pence’s pre-game speeches during last season’s World Series run and the movie classic “Animal House.”
- Hunter Pence as Bluto
- Buster Posey at Otter
- Tim Lincecum as Boon
- Brandon Belt as D-Day
- Madison Bumgarner as Stork
- Barry Zito as Pinto
- Jeremy Affelt as Hoover
To watch the spot, click on the below image.
Not bad. Not bad.
It seems appropriate that the Giants pay tribute to “Animal House” consider their roster includes a Panda, Baby Giraffe, White Shark, Horse, Crazy Horse and a Gopher. OK, that last one hasn’t caught on as we had hoped, but we’re not giving up.
If you want to see how the Giants’ effort measure up to the original, look here:
Or you can look at the Giants doing their impersonation of Hunter Pence.
I think it was during a game in 2010 in San Diego that Giants announcer Duane Kuiper first coined the term “Giants baseball: Torture.”
Well, Friday’s game in San Diego felt a lot like 2010 all over again.
Tim Lincecum pitched a quality start (he gave up two runs in seven inning, striking out nine). But it didn’t matter because two runs were all the Padres needed to win this one. Even Luke Gregerson had a shutdown inning.
The 2013 Padres are not the 2010 Padres. And the 2013 Giants are not the 2010 Giants.
But for one night, it looked that way.
The Giants wasted some early opportunities to score more runs, then the hitters went into shutdown mode.
Angel Pagan opened the game with a single, stole second, went to third on a Marco Scutaro groundout and scored on a wild pitch in the first inning. Buster Posey then added a two out single.
The Giants got two more hits in the second, but got nothing to show for it thanks to a double-play ball.
In the third they put two on and nobody out, but the Padres’ Andrew Cashner retired Pablo Sandoval, Posey and Hunter Pence in order to end that threat. It started a string of 19 consecutive Giants hitters to be sent down.
Needing some ninth-inning magic YET AGAIN, the Giants almost pulled it off. Posey lined a one-out single to right. Brandon Belt added a two-out single to put runners on first and third. But Brandon Crawford grounded to second to end the game.
And the Giants wasted a nice outing from Lincecum.
The Freak got into a funk in the second and third innings. He wriggled himself out of a jam in the second, thanks to a double play. And he almost did it again in the third. But a pair of two-out singles plated the Padres’ lone two runs of the game. Other than that, it was six more scoreless innings.
That makes 29.2 innings thrown by Lincecum this season. All 12 earned runs he’s allowed have come in four innings. The other 25.2 have been scoreless. He lowered his ERA to 3.64.
The loss makes three in a row for the Giants. But never fear, Barry Zito is here.
The Giants have won 13 games this season. Seven of those wins have required a save. Two others were walk-off wins. The other two were 10-0 and 5-0 wins with Barry Zito on the mound.
So with Zito pitching, we can all just sit back, relax and enjoy an easy win.
Some fans were surprised to see the Giants break camp with three catchers. Manager Bruce Bochy liked the flexibility having three catchers gives him with late-inning substitutions. He also liked having a switch-hitting bat on the bench in Hector Sanchez.
But as Sanchez has struggled at the plate, the Giants may consider sending him back to the minors to get more at-bats. His spring at-bats were limited by a sore shoulder. Guillermo Quiroz getting a start on Wednesday may be an indicator that the Giants could be leaning in this direction.
If the Giants decide to send Sanchez down, who is the prime candidate to replace him?
Well, Brett Pill is stepping up. Pill was a candidate to make the club in spring training before a knee injury derailed those plans. Pill is back playing and he’s heating up.
Pill is hitting .354 with 5 home runs and 21 RBI in 17 games this season for Triple-A Fresno. He is on a 7-game hitting streak in which he is hitting .448 (13 for 29). He has belted home runs in each of past two games.
Also interesting is that he has only 11 strikeouts in 65 at-bats.
Pill has been playing first base for Fresno. If you start noticing him playing left field (or even third base), then that would be a sign that the Giants might be preparing to call him up.
- RHP Yusmeiro Petit has looked sharp in his last two starts. He struck out 13 — one short of Tim Lincecum’s Fresno record — in just six innings of work against Tacoma on April 19. He held Reno to three runs in six innings on Thursday in a win.
- 2B Carter Jurica is hitting .450 (9 for 20) in his last five games, raising his average to .371 on the season, 11th in the PCL. He also has a .436 OBP.
- 3B Adam Duvall: Duvall was off to a hot start, earning player of the week honors in the Eastern League. But he was placed on the disabled list with a disabled list and not expected back until early May.
- SS Joe Panik: Panik is heating up. He’s on a six-game hitting streak during which he’s hit 10 for 20, raising his average to .288. He’s also homered in two of the past three games. He’s also drawn four walks in the past three games, raising his OBP to .374.
- OF Javier Herrera. Herrera has a 8-game hitting streak, during which he’s 10 for 22 and raising his average to .324. He’s also sixth in the Eastern League with a .432 OBP.
- RHP Justin Fitzgerald. The 27-year-old pitcher continues to have a stellar 2013 and may soon earn a promotion. He threw five shutout innings with 10 strikeouts and one walk against Altoona. His season ERA is 1.42 with 29 Ks to BBs in 19 innings.
CLASS A SAN JOSE
- RHP Kyle Crick: One of the Giants’ top pitching prospects went on the DL with an oblique strain.
- RHP Clayton Blackburn: Another top pitching prospect continues to pitch well. Blackburn has a 1.64 ERA with 25 Ks and 2 BB in 22 innings.
- 1B Angel Villalona: The one-time top prospect continues to progress. He is hitting 7 for 21 over his last five games with 1 HR and 7 RBI. He’s still hitting .193 for the season.
CLASS A AUGUSTA
- RHP Chris Stratton: The 2012 first-rounder suffered his first loss on Thursday, giving up four runs in six innings. But he also struck out 11. He has a 2.38 ERA and 28 Ks and 8 BB in 22.2 innings.
- RHP Martin Agosta: Another pitching prospect is 3-1 with 1.71 ERA with 27 Ks and 7 BB in 21 innings.
- RHP Joan Gregoria: He is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA with an eye-popping 25 Ks and 1 BB in 19 innings. He only pitched two innings in the nightcap of the doubleheader Thursday. No explanation there that I could find.
The shield honoring Barry Bonds’ 756th career home run that broke Hank Aaron’s record has gone missing.
Last weekend, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Scott Ostler wrote about the missing shield, which resided on the right-center field wall at AT&T Park to mark the spot where Bonds’ home run ball landed. All that is left is some adhesive residue where the shield used to be.
The Giants say they didn’t take the shield down, and don’t know who did or what they did with it. The team is working on getting the shield replaced.
Well, MoreSplashHits believes justice should be sought and the perpetrators pursued in this crime against Giant Nation. And we’ve assembled this list of some prime suspects.
No. 10 Jeff Kent
We all know Kent and Bonds were not the best of friends. And we know Kent can’t be trusted (He once told the Giants he broke his hand while washing his truck when he really did it in a spill on a dirt bike). He has questionable character (he signed to play with the Dodgers). AND he was at AT&T Park during the first homestand. Hmmmmm.
9. John Smoltz
Bonds’ didn’t have a lot fans around baseball, least of all among pitchers. There’s the story of Bonds walking into the clubhouse and pointing out pitchers who he had hit home runs off of. Well, no pitcher surrendered more of Bonds’ 765 career homers than John Smoltz. Actually, Bonds hit nine home runs off Smoltz and Greg Maddux, but Bonds had 39 fewer at-bats against Smoltz. That makes him a prime candidate.
That sneaky fox is always trying to swipe our stuff.
7. Greg Anderson
Anderson was Bonds’ boyhood friend and personal trainer. He refused to testify against Bonds during his perjury trial. Maybe the shield was part of the deal to keep Anderson quiet. Or maybe Anderson thought he deserved more. And we all know he’s willing to do the time in jail.
6. Matthew Parrella and Jeffrey Nedrow
Parrella and Nedrow were the U.S. attorneys who prosecuted Bonds’ perjury case after a four-year (FOUR YEARS!!!) investigation into whether a witness lied to a grand jury in a case in which the defendents were eventually found guilty. The perjury investigation lasted longer than the BALCO investigation. The case resulted in one guilty verdict out of four, and that was for obstruction of justice. That verdict is currently under appeal. That shield was a constant reminder of how this witch hunt failed. Maybe the government should spend four years investigating these guys and their predecessors.
5. AT&T Park Seagulls
We wouldn’t put anything past these ballpark scavengers.
4. Barry Bonds
Why not Barry? Perhaps he thought it would the shield would look nice over his fireplace. Bonds could be thinking “I hit the homer; the shield is mine.” Plus his personal service contract with the team is about to expire, so maybe he thought it was time to swoop in. And he is a convicted felon …. at least, for now.
3. Mike Bacsik
Bacsik’s name has gone down in infamy as the pitcher who surrendered Bonds’ 756th home run. Of course, if you asked your average fan “Who was the pitcher who gave up Bonds’ 756th home run?” They would struggle to come up with answer. Maybe that’s because Bacsik did not have a distinguished career. Or maybe it’s because Bonds’ record-breaker is not as celebrated as Hank Aaron’s 715th homer. So to keep from becoming the next Al Downing, Bacsik lifted the shield in an effort to send the moment more into obscurity.
2. Bud Selig
Back in 2007, the commissioner started to follow Bonds around as he approached Aaron’s record. And who can forget on the night Bonds tied Aaron’s mark at Petco Park the image of Selig standing with his hands in his pockets while the rest of the stadium cheered Bonds’ accomplishment. What a weenie. Selig is a friend of Aaron’s, having signed the slugger and bringing him back to Milwaukee late in his career. Also, Selig always consider Bonds the poster boy of his failings as commissioner to get PED testing done earlier and put an end to the steroids era. Bonds’ playing days are over, but maybe that shield serves as another reminder to Selig. Plus, he’s a weenie.
1. Torii Hunter
Oh, so we’re looking for someone who took something that rightfully belonged to Bonds. Who else are you going to consider than Hunter? Need evidence, we offer you this image from the 2002 All-Star Game.
Remember last year when Brandon Crawford finished second in All-Star voting at shortstop, and people cried out injustice.
Well if he finishes second again this year, they may cry injustice again … but this time because Crawford didn’t finish first.
It’s still early, but Crawford still building a season with All-Star credentials with the bat to go with his soon-to-be Golden Glove.
Crawford delivered an RBI double to right-center in the seventh, giving the Giants a 1-0 lead.
After the Diamondbacks rallied to take the lead in the ninth, Crawford smacked a solo home run to right to tie the game.
So who is leading the Giants in hitting this season? Brandon Crawford (.320).
Who leads the Giants in home runs? Brandon Crawford (4, tied with Hunter Pence)
Crawford’s late inning heroics — it was the third time in three games that the Giants tied the game in the eighth or ninth innings with a home run — went for naught as the Diamondbacks tallied a run in the 10th for the win, and to take the series.
But that was only because Crawford didn’t get a chance to bat in the 10th. He was on deck when Joaquin Arias made the final out.
- Despite the series loss, the Giants still had a 4-2 homestand, maintaining their pace of winning at home (8-4) and playing .500 baseball on the road (5-5).
- Bochy did his let-the-pitcher-hit-only-to-yank-him-in-the-next-inning strategy again. With a runner on third and one out (and the Giants leading 1-0), Bochy let Bumgarner hit. He struck out. The next half inning, Bumgarner was lifted after allowing the tying run to score with one out. I would have preferred to see Bochy get that run in from third, then hand a 2-0 lead over to the bullpen.
- Sketchy defense hurt the Giants again. Arizona’s ninth-inning rally was started with two outs when Angel Pagan misread a pop-up by Didi Gregorious. Instead a fly out to shallow center and the third out, Pagan went back at first and the ball dropped for a hit. To make matters worse, Pagan didn’t react quickly enough to make a play on Gregorious as he tried to take second.
After the Giants tied the game in the eighth inning and two out, Joaquin Arias came up against right-hander David Hernandez.
Arias got his second consecutive start at first place against a left-hander in place of the struggling Brandon Belt.
But with a right-hander on the mound in Hernandez, I wondered why manager Bruce Bochy didn’t replace Arias with Belt in the eighth.
But Bochy showed why he’s a better manager than I am.
In the top of the ninth, after the Diamondbacks put the go-ahead run on second, Bochy made the double-switch. In came Sergio Romo from the bullpen for Jose Mijares. The other part of the double switch was Belt in for Arias at first base, meaning Belt would bat third in the bottom of the ninth.
After Romo ended in the top of the ninth on one pitch, Andres Torres led off the bottom of the ninth with a single. Brandon Crawford sacrificed him to second, bringing Belt to the plate.
Belt came into Monday batting .183. Not great, but there had been signs of improvement. Over his previous six games, Belt was hitting .294 (5 for 17), but six of his 12 outs were by strikeout.
Bochy along with hitting coaches Hensley Meulens and Joe Lefebvre met with Belt during batting practice Monday, telling Belt to slow down his body movements at the plate.
Well, the advice worked, as Belt slapped a pitch from Tony Sipp into left-center for a game-winning single.
“When you get to this point you feel like you’ve heard a lot of things, but sometimes you forget it, and it’s nice to have another set of eyes to remind you,” said Belt, who added that Monday’s single was his first big-league walk-off hit.
Despite the big hit, it’s unlikely he’ll be in the lineup Tuesday, as Arizona sends another left-hander in Patrick Corbin. Look for Posey at first base, with Hector Sanchez or Guillermo Quiroz catching Matt Cain.
Posey took a shot to the neck off a foul ball in the second inning. But Posey also delivered some shots to the ball with his bat.
His first-inning double helped the Giants tie the game 2-2. He also had another RBI double in the sixth inning when he was robbed by a nice catch by former teammate Cody Ross in his first game at AT&T since leaving the Giants as a free agent after the 2011 season.
But Posey got the last laugh, blasting a two-run home run over the center-field wall, tying the game against at 4-4. It was Posey’s second home run in as many games. The normal mild-mannered Posey even showed a little emotion with a pump fist around the base paths.
We figure he’s earned a day off from catching duties for that.
The Giants went 3-3 last week, leaving them 12-7 for the season, 2md in the NL West , 1.5 games behind the Rockies.
- Tuesday: L 10-8 at Brewers. LP: Zito (2-1). HR: Crawford (2).
- Wednesday: L 4-3 at Brewers. LP: Casilla (1-1).
- Thursday: L 7-2 at Brewers. LP: Cain (0-2). HR: Crawford (3).
- Friday: W 3-2 vs. Padres. WP: Casilla (2-1).
- Saturday: W 2-0 vs. Padres. WP: Lincecum (2-0). HR: Sandoval (3).
- Sunday: W 5-0 vs. Padres. WP: Zito (3-1). HR: Posey (1).
Hot-and-cold week for the Giants, swept in Milwaukee, sweeping at home. It really shows what flies balls do at Miller Park and what they do at AT&T. The Brewers hit 7 home runs in the series, compared to 2 by the Giants. Meanwhile, the Padres only managed one home run at AT&T, accounting for one of their two runs in the series.
DIAMONDBACKS (10-8) at GIANTS
- Monday: Diamondbacks (Miley 2-0) at Giants (Vogelsong 1-1), 7:15 p.m.
- Tuesday: Diamondbacks (Corbin 2-0) at Giants (Cain 0-2), 7:10 p.m.
- Wednesday: Diamondbacks (Kennedy 1-2) at Giants (Bumgarner 3-0), 12:45 p.m.
The Giants will see a familiar face when the Diamondbacks come to town. Cody Ross signed as a free agent with Arizona last winter after playing last season with the Red Sox. Ross was the NLCS MVP in 2010 and played all of 2011 with the Giants. … The Giants went 9-9 against Arizona last season, but won 4 of the last 6 meetings. … Giants enter the season having won eight consecutive games against NL West opponents. … Arizona has lost 4 of its last 6 games.
GIANTS at PADRES (5-13)
- Friday: Giants (Lincecum 2-0) at Padres (Stults 2-2), 7:10 p.m.
- Saturday: Giants (Zito 3-1) at Padres (Marquis 1-1), 5:40 p.m. MLB Network
- Sunday: Vogelsong (1-1) at Padres (Richard 0-1), 1:10 p.m.
Petco Park has not been kind to the Giants in past season. But last year, the Giants won each series in San Diego, winning 6 of 9 there. … And that certainly gives Giants fans something to cheer as they generally outnumber Padres fans at Petco. … This year’s Petco will have a new look as the fences were brought in. … The Padres starting pitchers for this season is a bit in flux. The team currently only has four healthy starting pitchers after Tyson Ross went on the DL. He has not been replaced in the rotation, but the Padres could stick with their first four pitchers as Thursday is an off day for the Padres. … OF Carlos Quentin will have finished with his eight game suspension by the time the Giants come to town. … The Padres have won five games this season, four against the Dodgers.
There were two issues at play when it came to drafting a shortstop for my fantasy baseball team.
First, there was my undying allegiance to the Giants. And then there was the fact that I was the last owner in my league to draft a shortstop. As there weren’t a lot of exciting names left on the draft board, I figured ‘why not go with a Giant.’
So I picked Brandon Crawford.
But I also felt after his solid spring that Crawford was ready to make a significant contribution to the Giants with his bat as well as his glove.
Heading into this week, Matt Holliday was the highest scoring position player on my fantasy team. Just behind in the No. 2 spot … Brandon Crawford.
Crawford is MoreSplashHits’ pick for the San Francisco Giants player of the week for Week 3 after he hit .381 (8 for 21) with two home runs, two RBI and 6 runs scored in six games. Crawford had been so hot that manager Bruce Bochy moved Crawford from his normal No. 8 position in the lineup to No. 5 and No. 6 for a couple of games.
Crawford currently sits second on the Giants with home runs with 3. Among Giants starters, he leads the team in hitting at .317 (Nick Noonan is hitting .389 in 18 ABs) and he leads all Giants (with more than 5 ABs) in slugging (.524) and OPS (.927).
We don’t know how long B-Craw can keep this going. But as long as he does, it’s good news for me — as a Giants fan and a fantasy baseball owner.
Seven innings, zero runs. Sound familiar?
Well, of course, that’s what Barry Zito did in his first start this season at AT&T Park.
And in his second.
And in his third.
You know how they post Ks on the right-field wall at AT&T Park for strikeouts by Giants pitchers. Well, maybe when Barry Zito pitches at AT&T, they should post zeros instead.
Zito improved his string of scoreless innings at home to 21 innings this season with another shutdown performance Sunday in a win over the Padres.
It is also the 10th consecutive Barry Zito start at AT&T Park that the Giants have won, dating back to last postseason and regular season.
Sunday’s outing dropped Zito’s season ERA to 3.42, and it was the second win this season by the Giants that didn’t require a save or a walk-off hit. The other game also was a Zito start.
Who would have thought the day when Zito starts is the day the bullpen gets some rest?
And there was some more good news for the Giants. Buster Posey smacked his first home run since Game 4 of last year’s World Series — and that includes all of spring training — when smacked a two-run shot to left in the fifth inning. It was also the Giants’ first home run this season not hit by a guy named Pence (4), Sandoval (3) or Crawford (3).
- Chad Gaudin pitched the final two innings without giving up a run to lower his ERA to 0.73.
- It was the Giants’ major league-leading fifth shutout win of the season. Three of those wins were games started by Zito.
- It was the Giants’ second consecutive three-game sweep at home.
- The win improved the Giants’ record against NL West foes to 8-1. They’ve won eight in a row since losing the season-opener to the Dodgers.
- Because of his ugly outing in Milwaukee, Zito is averaging just under 6 innings per start this season. At that pace, he would pitch 189.1 innings if he makes 32 starts. Important to note because his $18 million option for 2014 kicks in if he pitches 200 innings this season.
Tim Lincecum is 2-0. He was had a win-loss record two games over .500 in 2012. He was never one over .500. The best he was in 2012 was 2-2 after five starts.
Tim Lincecum’s ERA is 3.97. The only time his ERA was that low in 2012 was after he retired the first batter he faced IN THE ENTIRE SEASON.
The Giants won a game by shutout when Lincecum started. That only happen once in 2012 — on June 27 against the Dodgers.
And the Giants are 4-0 this season when Lincecum starts. In fact, going back to September of last season, the Giants are 9-1 in Lincecum’s last 10 regular-season starts.
So everything is right with Tim Lincecum, right?
Well, we aren’t about to go that far, but Saturday’s win over the Padres was by far his best start of the season.
He avoided the blow-up innings that hurt him against the Rockies and Cubs. And he didn’t put himself in dangerous situations by walking batters, like the seven he walked in his first start of the season against the Dodgers.
The bottom line for Lincecum on Saturday: 6.2 IP, 0 runs, 4 hits, 2 walks and 8 strikeouts.
“I just went out there today with purpose and knowing that every pitch has got a meaning to it,” Lincecum said. “When I can go out there and do that and you can stick to your game plan and know that it’s going to work, it gives you something like a springboard to jump off of, instead of kind of going out there aimlessly.”
The only time Lincecum really got himself into a tight spot came in the third inning, when he gave up a lead-off single to Alexi Amarista. After striking out John Baker and getting Andrew Cashner out on a sacrifice, Lincecum walked Everth Cabrera before Will Venable loaded the bases on a swinging bunt.
A blow-up inning looked possible when Chase Headley came to the plate and worked the count to 3-1.
“I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to walk this guy, I’ve got to challenge this guy and be aggressive,’ ” Lincecum said. “That’s what I was thinking all day. I’m not going to try to nitpick around these guys like I have in the past. Even if it’s down the middle, I’ve got throw every pitch with a meaning and that was the difference today.”
Lincecum ran a fastball in on Headley, who may have helped Lincecum out by swinging at the pitch. He grounded out to second to end the inning.
Lincecum set the side down in order in four of the seven innings he started. He stretched to scoreless streak to 10.2 innings. In fact, he has not allowed an earned run in 19.2 of the 22.2 innings that he’s pitched all season.
Has Timmy returned to his former self? Too early to tell. His next start will come next Friday against these same Padres in San Diego, but we may not get a real good answer until his next start which comes against the Diamondbacks in Arizona, where trouble seems to find him.
But he was on Saturday, and the Giants needed him to be. They only mustered four hits and scored only when Pablo Sandoval sent a two-run home run to right in the fourth.
There’s nothing good to blog about after the Giants got swept by the Brewers in a series in which Buster Posey continues to struggle, Barry Zito got lit up for the first time in a long time , and Matt Cain got lit up AGAIN.
So there was only thing that Giants fans could smile about from the three-game in Milwaukee and it came compliments of Jean Machi.
During Tuesday’s CSN Bay Area broadcast, announcers Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow were talking about a Giants transaction that day which brought reliever Jean Machi from Triple-A Fresno to fill the roster spot of Jeremy Affeldt, who went on the DL.
So the camera naturally cut to Machi in the bullpen, sitting next to Jose Mijares. And we got this:
And lingered into Wednesday.
So when Machi actually got into the game Wednesday, it set off a wildfire of flatulence tweets on Twitter.
And MoreSplashHits will admit that we got into the act.
Here are our Machi tweets @Moresplashhits on Wednesday
“#SFGiants call on Jean Machi, because they seek some relief.”
“In case you were wondering, Machi wasn’t praying behind the mound there.” (Machi squatted down behind the mound after making his warm-up pitches)
“When the catcher visits mound to talk to Jean Machi, the catcher covers his face with his glove.”
“Krukow after that last pitch from Machi ‘That was nasty’ and he wasn’t talking about the pitch.”
“When Jean Machi is pitching, #SFGiants infielders refuse to play in.”
“Giants lose to Brewers. Didn’t matter. With Jean Machi now on team, it wasn’t going to be a happy flight anyway.”
Depending on how you look at numbers, San Francisco Giants starting pitchers are actually making the grade
So when you were in school, did you prefer teachers who graded on letter grades (A, B, C, etc.) or on a strict percentage basis (100%, 90%, etc.)?
I preferred the letter-grade system. Why? Under that system, a failure is a failure. If you bomb a quiz, you regroup and come back next time.
But under the percentage system, there are degrees to failure: 50 percent, 40 percent, 30 percent, etc. If you bomb a quiz under this system, it could take you a long time to recover.
If people use the ERA as way to grade pitchers, the majority of Giants starters are failing. But ERA penalizes degrees of failure, which are very difficult to recover.
If you give up six runs in a game, you’re probably going to lose. So if you give up an seventh run, eighth run or ninth run, those runs generally don’t turn many wins into losses. But they can blow up an ERA.
And it’s easier to blow up an ERA than it is to fix it.
So let’s break down the Giants starters.
First off, we’re going to excuse Madison Bumgarner from this exercise, because’s he’s been the teacher’s pet with his 1.77 ERA. Go out and play, MadBum.
Barry Zito: 4.86 ERA, 9 ER in 16.2 IP
Eight of his nine earned runs came in 2/3 of an inning on Monday. In his other 16 innings, he’s allowed one run or an 0.56 ERA.
Tim Lincecum: 5.63 ERA, 10 ER in 16 IP
Nine of his 10 earned runs came in two innings of work. In his other 14 innings, he’s allowed one run or an 0.63 ERA.
Matt Cain: 5.94 ERA, 11 ER in 16.2 IP
Nine of his 11 earned runs came in 2/3 of an inning against the Cardinals. In his other 16 innings, he’s allowed two runs or 1.13 ERA.
Ryan Vogelsong, 7.15 ERA, 9 ER in 11.1 IP
Seven of his 9 ER came in two innings. In the other 9.1 IP, he’s allowed two runs or 2.00 ERA.
Even if you looked at the team’s ERA, which includes the bullpen, right now the Giants rank 11th in the NL with a 4.26 ERA.
But if you removed Cain’s nine-run inning and Zito’s eight-run inning, suddenly the Giants’ team ERA is 3.08 or second-best in the NL.
Bottom line, blow-up innings are rare, but damaging to an ERA. They skew the numbers. If you look harder, the Giants pitching is just fine.
Barry Zito said Tuesday: “Baseball’s kind of a strange game.”
Yeah, Barry, we got that.
Zito came into Tuesday’s game against the Brewers have thrown 14 scoreless innings. He left Tuesday’s game with a 4.86 ERA.
The Brewers tagged Zito for nine earned runs in less than three innings of work, including eight runs in third inning alone.
Despite his now-inflated ERA, Zito still has the second-best ERA among Giants starters:
- Madison Bumgarner 1.77
- Barry Zito 4.86
- Tim Lincecum 5.63
- Matt Cain 5.94
- Ryan Vogelsong 7.15
Yikes! And the Giants are 9-5?
The Giants had won 16 consecutive games, including postseason, and 13 in a row in just regular-season games when Zito had started dating back to last August. But that streak is over.
Now the longest streak for Giants wins in games started by a particular pitcher during regular-season games belongs to Tim Lincecum, with four.
Zito said that he actually felt better Tuesday than he had in his previous two starts. And even after he got himself into trouble in the third, you thought it was possible that he might get himself out of the mess.
It all started with a single to the opposing pitcher, Wily Peralta. Then Zito hit Norichika Aoki — on a 1-2 pitch. Jean Segura hit a ball that Brandon Crawford was able to get to, but not able to corral. It went for an infield single and the bases were loaded.
Then Zito struck out Ryan Braun. After falling behind 2-0 to Rickie Weeks, Zito evened the count to 2-2. But Weeks worked the count full, then hooked a pitch right on the left-field line for a two-run double. Jonathan Lucroy’s single made to 5-3.
OK, no problem. The Giants have rallied before. They could do it again.
But Lucroy’s single was followed by one from Alex Gonzalez, and another from Carlos Gomez to load the bases again. Then came the big blow: a grand slam from Yuniesky Betancourt.
The Giants go to Milwaukee and get beat by Yuniesky Betancourt.
Suddenly, it was 9-3 Brewers in the third.
And yet, the Giants weren’t out of it. So much so, that they would actually wind up regretting some missed opportunities.
Brandon Crawford’s home run in the fourth made it 9-4.
A Pablo Sandoval single in the fifth made it 9-5. The Giants loaded the bases with no outs, but could only add one more run on Brandon Belt’s sacrifice fly, even though it looked for a moment that the ball might sail over Braun’s head for a bases-clearing double. Instead, it was just 9-6 Brewers.
The Giants loaded the bases again in the sixth, this time with one out. But again, only got one run on a Sandoval sacrifice fly, cutting the deficit to 9-7.
That’s the closest the Giants could get.
Now they find themselves 9-5 overall, and a half-game behind the Colorado Rockies in the NL West.
The Rockies are now 10-4: 0-3 vs. the Giants and 10-1 against anyone but the Giants (actually it’s just the Pirates, Padres and Mets).
Yeah, it’s a strange game.
The last two times Jeremy Affeldt went on the disabled list, there was an interesting to story to go with it.
But not this time. Affeldt was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique strain on Tuesday. At least, not yet.
Affeldt told manager Bruce Bochy he didn’t feel anything when he pitched on Sunday, when he walked three leading to two runs that allowed the Cubs to take the lead in the eighth inning. He said he didn’t feel anything until Monday’s off day, and an MRI on Tuesday confirmed the oblique strain.
The Giants said they didn’t know how or when Affeldt hurt himself. Could it be he’s not telling us something?
The last time Affeldt went on the DL was last year when his son, excited to greet his father as he came home from a game, jumped off the sofa and into his father. Affeldt suffered a sprained knee.
Affeldt’s previous trip to the DL to that came late in the 2011 season, when while BBQing on a day off in San Francisco, Affeldt sliced his hand with a knife trying to separate frozen hamburger patties.
So there’s got to be a good story with this one.
Here are some possibilities:
- He hurt his side by laughing so hard while attending a performance of Second City while in Chicago.
- He hurt himself while performing the “Schlemiel! Schlimazel!” bit from Laverne and Shirley with George Kontos during a visit to the Shotz Brewery in Milwaukee.
- It happened while giving Hunter Pence a high-five following Pence’s game-tying home run on Sunday. If that’s the case, the Giants are lucky not to have more players on the DL.
- Affeldt jumped out of bed after having a nightmare, thinking the Giants were staying at the haunted hotel frequented by MLB teams while staying in Milwaukee.
- Pablo Sandoval was really excited to see Affeldt return to the team hotel, so he got up on the bed and ….
Any of those explanations would be good.
Anyway, the Giants called up Jean Machi to fill Affeldt’s roster spot. Machi had thrown five scoreless innings in five appearances this year for the Fresno Grizzlies. He has allowed five hits and one walk while striking out five.
The Giants went 6-1 last week, leaving them 9-4 for the season, 1st in the NL West , 0.5 games ahead of the Diamondbacks and Rockies.
- Monday: W 4-2 vs. Rockies. WP: Bumgarner (2-0). HR: Pence (3).
- Tuesday: W 9-6 vs. Rockies. WP: Casilla (1-0). HR: Crawford (1).
- Wednesday: W 10-0 vs. Rockies. WP: Zito (2-0).
- Thursday: W 7-6 vs. Cubs. WP: Vogelsong (1-1).
- Friday: L 4-3 vs. Cubs. LP: Romo (0-1)
- Saturday: W 3-2 vs. Cubs. WP: Bumgarner (3-0).
- Sunday: W 10-7 (10) vs. Cubs: WP: Kontos (1-1).
The Giants continue to get fat against the Rockies and Cubs. If not for a couple of wind-blow balls on Friday, leading to Sergio Romo’s first blown save of the season, the Giants might have had a perfect week. On the other hand, the Giants also had wins when they rallied from being down 6-2, 5-0 and 4-1. Giants are still waiting for Buster Posey and Brandon Belt to start hitting, and the starting rotation has had some mixed results. So room for improvement. In Week 3, the Giants face two teams they had success against in 2012 and that are struggling early in 2013.
GIANTS AT BREWERS (3-8)
- Tuesday: Giants (Barry Zito 2-0) at Brewers (Peralta 0-1), 5:10 p.m.
- Wednesday: Giants (Ryan Vogelsong 1-1) at Brewers (Lohse 0-1), 5:10 p.m.
- Thursday: Giants (Matt Cain 0-1) at Brewers (Gallardo 0-0), 10:10 a.m. MLB Network
The Giants went 4-2 against the Brewers in 2012. … The Brewers are struggling to score runs, and the issue is hitting in the clutch. The Brewers rank 10th in the NL in team hitting (.252) but 14th in runs scored (36). … Miller Park is the perfect setting for Posey to get rolling. He loves, loves, loves to hit in Milwaukee. He is a career .500 hitter (12 for 24) with 6 HRs and 15 RBI in seven games there. … There are three starting pitchers in the NL who have yet to allow an earned run — Atlanta’s Paul Maholm (20.1 IP), Jake Westbrook (15.2 IP) and Barry Zito (14.0 IP). … But Miller Park has not been kind to Zito. He is 0-4 there with an ERA of 7.67. But those starts came before Zito’s renasance that started last August, during which the Giants have won 16 consecutive Zito starts.
PADRES (3-10) at GIANTS
- Friday: Padres (Volquez 0-3) at Giants (Madison Bumgarner 3-0), 7:15 p.m.
- Saturday: Padres (Richard 0-1) at Giants (Barry Zito 2-0), 6:05 p.m.
- Sunday: Padres (Stults 2-1) at Giants (Ryan Vogelsong 1-1), 1:05 p.m.
The Padres have always been a team that tends to give the Giants fits in recent seasons. But the Giants went 12-6 against the Friars in 2012. … The Giants will not see Carlos Quentin in this series. The Padres outfielder dropped his appeal of an eight-game suspension for charging the Dodgers’ Zach Greinke last week. Good news for the Giants; Quentin has 5 HRs and 12 RBI in 34 games against the Giants. … But the Padres should get 3B Chase Headley back after missing the first couple of weeks of the season with a broken finger sustained during spring training. … Padres’ Volquez has an 11.68 ERA in three starts this season. … The Padres’ team average of .238 is fourth-worst in the NL.
Remember when Marco Scutaro got off to a 2-for-23 start and we were wondering what was wrong with the Giants second baseman?
Was it his sore back? Was it bad habits when he battled a sore back in spring training?
Well, whatever it was, it’s gone.
Scutaro got well against Rockies and Cubs pitching, hitting .444 (11 for 25), with four runs, three doubles, 4 RBI and just one strikeout. Now, that’s more Scutaro-like.
For that, Scutaro was MoreSplashHits’ pick as the Giants player of the week for Week 2, over the likes of Brandon Crawford and Santiago Casilla.
Crawford hit .364 (8 for 22) with five runs, one double, one home run, 5 RBI and 5 walks last week. Casilla pitched six scoreless innings, allowing just one hit, no runs, on walks, while striking out six. He picked up a six-out save.
On Sunday in Chicago, the Giants needed a hero. They found one in Hunter Pence.
In doing some research on nicknames for Giants players, I discovered that Hunter Pence’s nickname is Captain Underpants. Well, at least according to Baseball Reference.
I searched for an explanation on the Underpants moniker and all I could find was a story when Pence played in the minors, a heckler mistakenly thought the stadium P.A. guy said “Underpants” when introducing “Hunter Pence.” The heckler then called Pence “Underpants” the rest of the game.
From Underpants, the title “Captain” was added, a reference to the children’s novel series in which two 4th graders hypnotize their mean principal to become the pseduo-superhero Captain Underpants.
Well, whatever you want to call him, he’s been a hero for the Giants in 2013.
Pence belted his fourth home run this season for the Giants. In 59 games after being acquired in a trade with the Phillies last season, Pence hit seven home runs for the Giants.
He came through in the clutch Sunday when with two outs and on a 2-2 pitch from Shawn Camp, Pence launched a homer to left-center to tie the game at 7-7.
The Giants added three runs in the 10th for a 10-7 and take the series from the Cubs, 3-1.
Amazingly, the Giants won for the third consecutive time that Tim Lincecum has started. In all three games, the Giants have had to come from behind.
After rallying from a modest 1-0 deficit to beat the Dodgers on April 3, the Giants had to erase a 6-2 deficit against the Rockies to win 9-6 on Tuesday.
On Sunday, after surrendering two-run homers to Starlin Castro and Nate Schierholtz in the first inning to give the Cubs a 4-1 lead, Lincecum settled down to four scoreless innings to keep the Giants in the game. He was actually in line to get the win after the Giants scored four runs in the sixth.
The Giants got creative with their runs scored, or should we say the Cubs did. The Giants scored runs on a passed ball, a wild pitch and a balk.
But the Cubs rallied to take the lead themselves by scoring two runs in the bottom of the eighth off just one hit. Jeremy Affeldt issued three walks, including one with the bases loaded, and Alberto Gonzalez added a sacrifice fly.
After Pence tied it in the ninth, the Giants tallied three runs in the 10th on singles by Hector Sanchez, Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey and a double by Marco Scutaro — as well as the aforementioned balk from Camp.
Sergio Romo came in to save it in the bottom of the 10th. Although we’ve stated we don’t like using Romo to save three-run leads, with the day off Monday, we had no problem with going to Romo in this situation.
The win gave the Giants a 3-1 series win. The series opened and closed with Giant comebacks. The Giants rallied from 5-0 down to beat the Cubs 7-6 in the series opener. They even erased a 2-0 deficit in the top of the ninth Friday, before giving the lead back in the bottom of the ninth for their lone loss in the series.
Saturday started with smiles for Nate Schierholtz. It ended with a loss.
Now you know how the rest of your ex-teammates on the Giants feel.
During batting practice Saturday, Giants manager Bruce Bochy presented Schierholtz with his World Series ring.
When presenting the ring, Bochy told Schierholtz: “Thanks for everything you did for us. If not for you, we never could have rallied around Hunter Pence‘s inspiring pre-game speeches.”
OK, so he didn’t say that.
But as a member of the 2012 Giants, Schierholtz received his ring Saturday. It was cool that Bochy packed away Schierholtz ring on the trip to Chicago. It was a little odd that he would decide to wait until before the third game to give it to him.
Oh well, better to wait two days than three months, when the Cubs visit San Francisco in late July.
It could have been that Bochy was waiting to give the ring to Schierholtz in the first game that Nate was not in the lineup.
And even though he was on the bench, Schierholtz (or his absence) factored in Saturday’s game.
In the seventh with one out and pitcher Madison Bumgarner on second, Marco Scutaro looped a single into right. Bumgarner waited to see if the ball would fall, so he got a late break off of second. Still, third-base coach Tim Flannery sent Bumgarner. Any kind of a good throw would have easily got MadBum at the plate. But right-fielder Scott Hairston‘s throw was anything but good, and Bumgarner scored to make it 3-0.
If Schierholtz is in right, there’s no way Flannery sends Bumgarner home. Pablo Sandoval followed by grounding into an inning-ending double play. So instead of being 3-0, it might have been 2-0, and Dioner Navarro‘s pinch-hit homer in the seventh might have tied the game.
Schierholtz again could have been a big factor in the eighth. The Cubs put the first two runners on, and Alfonso Soriano hit a ball sharply off the chest of Sandoval. But shortstop Brandon Crawford picked up the ricochet and threw out Soriano at first. BARELY (if at all). If Soriano had been called safe, then Schierholtz comes to the plate as a pinch-hitter with a chance to do big damage.
But with the out called, it left first base open. So Bochy walked Schierholtz. Then Wellington Castillo hit the first pitch into a double play to end the inning.
- Bumgarner had his third outstanding start of the season, giving up just the two-run pinch-hit homer to Navarro on his 110th pitch of the day. He finished allowing two runs on six hits and two walks in 6.2 innings. He fanned six and has a 1.77 ERA on the season.
- Santiago Casilla was outstanding in posting a six-out save. He only allow one baserunner, and that was on the intentional walk to Schierholtz.
- Marco Scutaro is back. After starting the year 2 for 23, he’s now hitting .286 after going 3 for 4 on Saturday.
At the top of the list on concerns for the San Francisco Giants heading into the 2013 season was the organizational depth at starting pitching.
Should something go awry with one of the Giants’ five starting pitcher, there are questions on who would be able to step in and fill the void.
At the top of that list in right-hander Chris Heston. Heston was the Double-A Eastern League pitcher of the year in 2012, which is worth noting because former Giants prospect Zach Wheeler also pitched well in the Eastern League last year.
In his first two starts at Triple-A, Heston is learning the difference from pitching in the pitcher-friendly Eastern League and the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. (more…)
Well, you knew it couldn’t last forever.
Sergio Romo was absolutely brilliant through the first 10 games of the year. He was 6 for 6 in save opportunities, had an ERA of 0.00 and had only allowed two baserunners.
But Wrigley is Wrigley, and the Cubs used the wind to their favor.
After the Giants rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth to take a 3-2 lead, Dioner Navarro greeted Romo in the bottom of the ninth with a wind-blown solo home run to right.
It was the third wind-blown homer of the day for the Cubs. All three would have been outs on Thursday. All three would have outs at AT&T Park — well, at least two would have been for sure.
It spoiled what looked to be another great day to be a Giant. After being stifled for 7.1 innings by Carlos Villanueva, the Giants finally got into the Cubs’ shaky pen and it paid off in the ninth.
Marco Scutaro started the rally with a one-out double to left-center. Pablo Sandoval followed with a bloop single to right, scoring Scutaro. Buster Posey was hit by a pitch. After Hunter Pence forced out Posey at second (on a play that look REALLLLY close to being a double-play), Brandon Belt lashed a double to right, scoring Sandoval and then Pence all the way from first for the lead.
With Romo in the ninth to close it, it looked like game over. But not on Friday. Not at Wrigley.
But Romo then got the next two Cubs out, and announcers Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow raised a good point.
Lefty Javier Lopez was warming up in the bullpen, and they wondered whether manager Bruce Bochy would bring in Lopez to face the left-handed DeJesus.
Krukow’s point, and I would agree, was that Romo’s job was to get the save. Now, with that gone, there’s no point taxing Romo with more pitches, especially when he was pitching in his fourth game in five days. (I would also argue that Bochy should not have used Romo to protect a three-run lead in the ninth inning Tuesday against the Rockies).
But Bochy left Romo in to face DeJesus. Romo was one strike away from ending the inning. But he tried to sneak a fastball by DeJesus, which he promptly laced to center for a single.
Then he made the same mistake to Starlin Castro. Slider, slider, slider for a 2-1 count. Then, on his 20th pitch of the inning, a fastball that Castro doubled off the wall in right center for the game winner.
The Giants talked this spring about not overworking Romo as he makes the transition into a full-time closer. And yet, 11 games into the season, Bruce Bochy has turned into Dusty Baker.
Hopefully, if some good comes out of this loss, it will make the Giants rethink how they use Romo in the future.
The San Francisco Giants have a menagerie of animal nicknames for their players.
Kung Fu Panda
They all make for good sellers at the Giants Dugout store.
And now that other items like the Timmy wigs (he cut his hair) and Wilson beards (off the team) are now in the clearance bins, maybe it’s time for another fuzzy nickname.
And rookie infielder Nick Noonan appears to be the perfect candidate.
Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when Noonan comes to the plate is to yell “Noonan! Noonan!” in reference to the Danny Noonan character from “Caddyshack.”
Well, that’s not a good nickname. You don’t want Giants fans yelling “NNNNNNoonan!” whenever he comes to the plate. But if you want a cute and fuzzy nickname, you just need to take the Caddyshack reference a step further.
Noonan = Caddyshack = Gopher!
Somebody cue Kenny Loggins!
Noonan has certainly earned it. He went 3 for 5 with two runs in Thursday’s game against the Cubs, raising his season average to .455 (5 for 11) and helping the Giants rally from an early 5-0 deficit.
And think about, the nickname worked on Thursday. Bill Murray is a big Cubs fan. Murray starred in Caddyshack as the groundskeeper who was tormented by …. The Gopher! The Gopher tormented the Cubs on Thursday.
Last season, the rookie call-ups from Fresno didn’t fare so well. Charlie Culberson, Conor Gillaspie and Francisco Peguero struggled to hit their own weight.
But Noonan is holding his own after he became the Giants’ fallback option for a reserve infielder. He may even allow the Giants to forget about Tony Abreu, who still hasn’t begun his rehab assignment from quad troubles that sidelined him during spring training.
Noonan can play second base (where he got his first big league start Thursday in place of the resting Marco Scutaro), shortstop and third base.
So let’s hear it for Noonan, a.k.a The Gopher. Let’s get some legs on this nickname. Spread the word.
I expect to see gopher hats in the Giants Dugout stores by the end of the month.
When the Giants handed the starting shortstop job to Brandon Crawford prior to the 2012 season, they told him that all he had to worry about was playing good defense.
The Giants would take any kind of offensive production he could offer.
But I’ve always like what I saw from Crawford, from the day he got called up to the majors. And it wasn’t just his grand slam in Milwaukee in his big-league debut. Even as he battled to hit .200 for the Giants that season, he just had the look of a good hitter.
But results have been slow in coming. Crawford followed up his .204 2011 season by hitting .248 in 2012. I felt 2013 could be a big season at the plate for Crawford. It was one reason why I drafted him in fantasy baseball league (and, yes, it’s an NL-only league; and, yes, I was the last owner to select a shortstop).
After a quiet first week, Crawford is starting to produce at the bottom of the lineup, and Tuesday brought one of the bigger moments of the brief big-league career.
With the Giants trailing 6-2 in the bottom of the sixth, the Giants got something going after walks to Gregor Blanco and Hector Sanchez to open the inning. Colorado starter Juan Nicasio was replaced by Adam Ottavino.
Crawford greeted Ottavino with a three-run home run to left — his first opposite-field home run since opening the 2011 with Class A San Jose rehabbing a broken finger suffered in spring training that year.
“I’ve kind of lost the feeling for opposite-field home runs,” Crawford quipped afterwards.
It was only his second home run in 363 at-bats at AT&T Park, and it was the first home run this season for a Giant not named Pence or Sandoval.
Here’s another interesting home run fact for Crawford: he’s hit eight home runs in his career — three have been three-run homers and two have been grand slams.
The Giants don’t need Crawford to be a .300 hitter for them to succeed. But if he manages to hit .260 or .270, it will be big boost.
And Tuesday’s win wasn’t just about Crawford’s blast. It was a team effort. Every Giant who took at least one plate appearance Tuesday got a hit or a walk — well, except Brandon Belt who went 0 for 5.
Angel Pagan went 3 for 5, Marco Scutaro went 3 for 4, Pablo Sandoval was 1 for 3, Hunter Pence was 2 for 5, Blanco was 1 for 3 with two walks, Sanchez drew two walks (SANCHEZ!!!). Even Tim Lincecum and pinch-hitters Nick Noonan and Andres Torres were 1 for 1, as the Giants banged out 14 hits and drew six walks.
And the bullpen was once again outstanding in relief of Lincecum, throwing four shutout innings, allowing no hits and only one walk. Good job by Jose Mijares, George Kontos, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo, who is now 5-for-5 on save pops.
Lincecum had a terrible second inning, but he might have escaped trouble with a little help from his defense. After walking Troy Tulowitzki to open the inning, Michael Cuddyer hit grounder to Marco Scutaro. Instead of taking the sure out at first, Scutaro try to throw the lead runner out at second. His throw was off the mark, allowing Tulowitzki to take third. Todd Helton’s infield chopper brought the first out of the inning, but it also allowed Tulowitzki to score. After a walk to Wilin Rosario, a wild pitch and stolen base put runners on second and third, Lincecum struck out Chris Nelson for the second out. With the pitcher Nicasio up next, it looked as if Lincecum would get out of the jam having allowed just the one run (on zero hits). But Lincecum inexcusably walked Nicasio to load the bases. Dexter Fowler followed with a two-run double, and Josh Rutledge hit a two-run single to make it a five-run rally.
“You have to feel good after the team wins, especially coming back from the hole I put them in there in the second inning,” Lincecum said. “I feel good about that. But I’m going back to the chalkboard after every start and going into refining mode and trying to fix the errors. That second inning really was a doozy for me.”
Yes, it was.
I’ve been watching baseball games for more than 30 years. But I ran across something I never realized before. So I thought I’d share with you.
So I was watching a San Francisco Giants game recently when someone asked me “What is up with all that gunk on Pablo Sandoval’s helmet?”
My response: “Aw, it’s just something baseball guys do.”
Friend: “Is there any purpose to it?”
Me: “Is there any purpose to baseball players spitting every 30 seconds?”
Friend: “Well, it’s disgusting. They should make a rule against it.”
I shrugged the suggestion off. I mean, Pablo’s not the first nor the only player to encase his batting helmet in gunk.
I can remember Craig Biggio doing it in the 1990s and early 2000s.
And Vladimir Guerrero was another culprit.
And, of course, Manny Ramirez.
It just seemed like an age-old tradition.
But last week while watching game, one of the TV commentators talked about the gunk on the helmets, and gave a perfectly logical explanation that never dawned on me before.
It’s pine tar, that sticky substance that is normally on a rag on the on-deck circle for batters to apply to the handle of their bat for a better grip.
Well, some hitters will also rub that pine tar rag on their helmets as they head to the plate. Why? Well, if you’re in the middle of a particularly long at-bat and you want a little more stick to your grip, you don’t have to walk back to the on deck circle to grab the pine tar rag — and the umps probably wouldn’t let you — you just have to adjust your helmet and get a little more pine tar.
But some players have taken this practice to the new level. Take a look at this image of the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp.
I was watching Kemp last week, and I saw that stain on his shoulder. I couldn’t remember Kemp making a diving play in the outfielder or sliding on the basepaths to get that stain. And even if he had, how could the only stain be on his shoulder.
Then I realized that Kemp, instead of rubbing his batting helmet in pine tar, he rubs the rag on his shoulder for his extra supply when he is at the plate.
Of course, there is an inherent danger to carrying all this pine tar on your body. What if you helmet flies off your head as you’re racing down to first base. The pitcher could pick the helmet up for the hitter and hand it back to him. Looks like a nice gesture until you realize that the pitcher has some sticky pine tar on his pitching hand and is now able to snap off some wicked sliders or curveballs.
Something to think about.
And, of course, whenever you play around with pine tar, it’s always a good idea to be careful.
You don’t want to end up like this guy.
There were several good things to talk about after Monday’s win over the Colorado Rockies — Hunter Pence‘s three-run homer, Buster Posey‘s first RBI of the season, Madison Bumgarner battling through a less-than-perfect outing to earn the win.
All good topics, but we are going to give it up to the bullpen.
After Bumgarner left with two out in the sixth, Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt and Sergio Romo came in and retired 10 of the final 11 batters the Rockies sent to the plate, six of them by strikeout. The only batter to reach was Josh Rutledge, who doubled off Romo to lead off the ninth.
Rutledge was the first batter that Romo has allowed to reach base off him this season.
In fact, going back to last postseason, Romo had retired the last 24 batters he had faced — nine this regular season and the final 15 of the postseason (9 in the World Series and the final five of the NLCS Games 5, 6 and 7).
When protecting a lead, Giants relievers have an ERA of 0.87 with only two hits and no walks allowed in 10.1 innings. In all games, Giants relievers not named George Kontos have a combined ERA of 1.62.
- Sergio Romo 4 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 Ks
- Jeremy Affeldt 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks
- Chad Gaudin 5 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 Ks
- Santiago Casilla 2 IP, 0 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks
- Javier Lopez 1.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
- Jose Mijares 1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
- The Giants’ win Monday was their seventh in a row against the Rockies dating back to last September.
- Bumgarner wasn’t early as sharp Monday as he was last Tuesday in Los Angeles. But he muddled through to keep the Giants in the lead. He gave up two runs on five hits and five walks over 5.2 innings. He struck out five.
- Buster Posey looked lost against Jorge De La Rosa, striking out twice and popping out. But against Chris Volstad in the eighth, he slapped a pitch into right field for an RBI single, his first RBI of the season.
- Pence’s three-run homer to left was this third of the season in just seven games. It took him 38 games last year to hit his third home run after being acquired by the Giants from the Phillies. It was his second at AT&T this season. He only hit two last season at AT&T as a member of the Giants over a span of two months.
The Giants went 3-3 last week, leaving them 3-3 for the season, fourth in the NL West, 2 games behind the Rockies and Padres.
- Monday: L 4-0, at Dodgers; LP: Kontos (0-1)
- Tuesday: W 3-0, at Dodgers; WP: Bumgarner (1-0)
- Wednesday: W 5-3, at Dodgers; WP: Lincecum (1-0); HR: Pence (1), Sandoval (1).
- Friday: W 1-0, Cardinals; WP: Zito (1-0)
- Saturday: L 6-3, Cardinals; LP: Vogelsong (0-1); HR: Pence (2), Sandoval (2).
- Sunday: L 14-3, Cardinals; LP: Cain (0-1).
Mixed results in week 1, due in part to inconsistent hitting. Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval got their hits, but others are trying to find their stroke. Giants were able to win three games because of solid pitching. The first four starters did not allow an earned run. That ended over the weekend, and the Giants dropped two to the Cardinals. But this week they face two teams that they had big-time success against in 2012.
ROCKIES (5-1) AT GIANTS
- Monday: Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa 0-0) at Giants (Madison Bumgarner 1-0), 7:15 p.m.
- Tuesday: Rockies (Juan Nicasio 1-0) at Giants (Tim Lincecum 1-0), 7:15 p.m.
- Wednesday: Rockies (Jeff Francis 1-0) at Giants (Barry Zito 1-0), 12:45 p.m.
The Giants went 14-4 against the Rockies in 2012. But the Rox are healthy and hitting in 2013 and have won five in a row since dropping a 5-4 decision to the Brewers in the season opener. … It’s the first time since 1995 that the Rockies have won their opening two series of a season. They beat the Brewers 2 of 3 in Milwaukee and swept the Padres at Coors Field … Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler have been hot … OF Michael Cuddyer is sidelined with a sore wrist. Eric Young Jr. will start for Cuddyer and bat leadoff on Monday. … De La Rosa gave up four earned runs on five hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings against the Brewers in his first start.
GIANTS AT CUBS (2-5)
- Thursday: Giants (Ryan Vogelsong 0-1) at Cubs (Carlos Villanueva 0-0), 11:20 a.m.
- Friday: Giants (Matt Cain 0-1) at Cubs (Jeff Samardzija 1-1), 11:20 a.m.
- Saturday: Giants (Bumgarner 1-0) at Cubs (Edwin Jackson 0-1), 10:05 a.m., FOX
- Sunday: Giants (Lincecum 1-0) at Cubs (Travis Wood 1-0), 11:20 a.m., WGN
The Giants won six of seven meetings with the Cubs in 2012. They swept the Cubs in four games in San Francisco in June and won two of three in Chicago in early September. … Like the Giants, the Cubs also have struggled with the bats. They scored 13 runs in their first six games. After one bad week, Carlos Marmol is out as the Cubs’ closer and replaced by Kyuji Fujikawa. Fujikawa was a closer in Japan for 12 season before signing with the Cubs in the offseason. … The Giants will meet former teammate Nate Schierholtz, who is playing right field for the Cubs and playing well. He’s hitting .316 with a home runs and four RBI in six games.
When you try to put a blog post after every San Francisco Giants (except when a spring break trip takes you away from internet access), it’s sometimes a challenge to try to post something positive.
Sunday’s game against the Cardinals was one of those games.
While we can’t guarantee any of these will perk you up after Sunday’s loss, these come from our best efforts
- The pre-game ring ceremony was cool. You can watch the video of the ceremony above.
- Angel Pagan, normally a cold starter to the season, continues to hit the ball well with a double and his first triple of the season.
- After getting just two hits in their first 24 at-bats with runners in scoring position, the Giants got two hits in three at-bats with RISP in the third inning. The Giants are now 5 for 30 with RISP on the season (.167).
- Brandon Belt got his first hit of the season.
- Nick Noonan got his first career hit in the ninth inning, a neat highlight if you were determined enough to wait around to watch it.
- Even though he still hasn’t found his swing, Pablo Sandoval got two more hits.
- Guillermo Quiroz is hitting 1.000 for the season.
- Chad Gaudin pitched three shutout innings, giving up just one hit and striking out four.
- Sunday’s loss only counts as one in the standings.
- To quote Marty Feldman from “Young Frankenstein”: It could have been worse; it could have been raining.
Did any of that make you feel any better? No? Well, if it’s any consolation, Matt Cain feels worse.
For three innings, Cain had Giants fans thinking two things: “Could Matt Cain possibly through ANOTHER perfect game?” and “Watch out Orel Hershiser; Matt Cain is coming after your consecutive scoreless innings streak.”
Cain sailed through the Cardinals’ lineup the first time through — nine up, nine down on 28 pitches. Extending back into last season, it stretched Cain’s scoreless innings streak to 11 innings.
But before the fourth inning was over, all that was a distant memory. Cain’s fourth went: single and error, single, sac fly (1 run), walk, single, ground-rule double (2 runs), single (1 run), single (1 run), foul pop-out by pitcher, walk, single (2 runs).
He left with two on and two out. Beltran’s single against Jose Mijares plated two more runs charged to Cain. All totaled: nine earned runs on seven hits and two walks.
Oh well. Luckily, there’s another game tomorrow.
Sabermetricians will say Ryan Vogelsong had a bad outing Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals.
And when you look at the final statistics, it would be hard to argue.
5.1 innings, 9 hits, 5 earned runs, two walks and six strikeouts.
But if you actually sat and watched the game, you’d say Vogelsong pitched well and had a good game … well, almost.
For the first four innings, the Cardinals were not making much solid contact against Vogelsong. Yet, St. Louis had a run on the board.
Vogelsong gave up the first earned run by a Giants starter this season in the first inning. The rally was fueled by two hits — Matt Carpenter’s swining bunt and Carlos Beltran’s two-out looper to right.
After Beltran’s single, Vogelsong would set down 10 of the next 11 hitters he faced.
Then came the most unfortunate fifth inning.
It started with Pete Kozma’s grounder into the hole at short that Brandon Crawford was able to glove. But Brandon Belt was unable to handle Crawford’s short-hopped throw to first, and Kozma was safe on an infield single.
After Kozma advanced to second, then third on a pair of outs — and then Carpenter walked — Vogelsong was in position to get out of the jam when he threw an 0-1 curverball to Matt Holliday. Holliday got out in front of the pitch, but was able to put the bat on the ball and hit a perfect seeing-eye grounder into left field to tie the game at 2-2.
Vogelsong may have escaped the damage right there when Allen Craig hit a sharp grounder between third and short. Pablo Sandoval made a diving smother of the ball, but could not come up with the ball cleanly to record an out.
What made the play even more unfortunate for Vogey and the Giants is that if Sandoval had let the ball go past him, Crawford was in position to field the ball cleanly and throw out Craig.
Instead, the bases were loaded. Then Beltran followed with a clean, two-run single to right to make it 4-2.
The bad luck didn’t end there for the Giants. Trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the sixth, it looked like they were ready to mount a rally when Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt drew one-out walks. Joaquin Arias was called on to hit for Gregor Blanco. Arias then hit a liner to the right side of the infield that first baseman Craig was able to snare and turn into a inning-ending double play.
“A step here or there and we’re talking about a totally different ballgame,” Vogelsong said. “I felt I was forcing the ball early, trying to make it do stuff instead of jut letting it come out. The middle innings got better. I didn’t feel I threw the ball all that terribly.”
And he didn’t. But that’s baseball sometimes.
The end result was a loss that snapped the Giants’ three-game winning streak. It also snapped a seven-game winning streak of meaningful games for the Giants at AT&T Park that dated back to Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.
POWER FROM PENCE AND PANDA: Last season, the Giants hit the fewest home runs in the majors. This season, so far, they have hit four home runs, tying them for 16th in the majors. All four have come off the bats of Pence and Sandoval. The duo hit homers in Wednesday’s win over the Dodgers, and both connected again on Saturday. Pence is hitting .294 so far, and Sandoval is hitting .274. Plus, the Panda said he still feels a little lost at the plate after missing time late in spring training with a sore elbow.
WHO IS THIS GUY IMPERSONATING MARCO SCUTARO? Marco Scutaro went 1 for 4 Saturday, raising his average to .105. At least we think it’s Marco Scutaro. It looks like Scutaro. But the Scutaro we know struck out swinging only five times in 2012 after joining the Giants. He’s already struck out swinging twice in five games this season, including with the bases loaded and one out on Friday. On Saturday, he did something else strange. Last year, Scutaro swung at the first pitch on 13 percent of the time while playing for the Giants. In the bottom of the ninth with two outs, a runner on first and trailing by three runs, Scutaro swung at the first pitch and flied to right to end the game. Who IS this guy?
GOOD THINGS FOR BRANDON BELT? It’s been a rough week for Brandon Belt. First he looks bad against Clayton Kershaw in the season opener in LA. Then he gets food poisoning, which sidelined him for two games and caused him to loose 11 pounds. After an 0-for-4 day on Friday, Belt went 0-for-3 with walk on Saturday, leaving him 0 for 10 on the season. But two of hits outs on Saturday were loud outs, a liner to center in the second and a rope to first in the fourth. After fanning twice against Kershaw on Monday, Belt hasn’t fanned in his two games this weekend. Good things could be on the way for Belt.