June 2010

Martinez gets the call, not Bumgarner

The Giants made it official on Friday — Todd Wellemeyer was sent to the disabled list.

And despite the hopes of many Giants faithful, Madison Bumgarner did not get the call from Fresno. Joe Martinez did.

That will surely set of an angry torrent of comments online and light up the phones on sports radio, More Splash Hits is not going to get in line with the Bumgarner-now clan.

Bring Joe Martinez up now makes sense. Let’s explain.

For one, the Giants need some depth in the bullpen, and Martinez has experience as a long reliever. For another, the schedule provides opportunities for Martinez to come out of the pen.

At this point, Bochy indicated that Martinez will be used out of the pen, if needed, this weekend. But if the Giants don’t need him, we can expect that Martinez would be in line to pitch in Wellemeyer’s spot in the rotation on Tuesday against the Orioles.

Then the Giants have two off days in five coming up. That means the Giants won’t need a No. 5 pitcher again until June 26 at home against the Red Sox. In theory at least, if Wellemeyer only needs 15 days on the DL, he could return to pitch on the 26th. But we’ll consider that a long shot.

However, if Wellemeyer does not return by the final homestand in June, the Giants would be wise to leave him on the DL or on some rehab assignment until the All-Star Break. Starting July 1, the Giants embark on a 11-game road trip to Colorado (Yikes! We just had a scary vision of Wellemeyer pitching in Coors Field), Milwaukee (Yikes, we just had a similar vision) and Washington.

Now the Bumgarner boosters may still get their wish. If Martinez is needed in long relief this weekend, the Giants will need a No. 5 starter on Tuesday and it could be Bumgarner. He will start serving a three-game PCL suspension on Saturday, meaning that he could be available to get a call-up Tuesday and pitch for the Giants.

Our thinking is that the Giants hope they can throw Martinez on Tuesday. But then mark June 26 and a potential date for Bumgarner.

Orange is beautiful

The Giants improved to 5-0 on Orange Friday after beating the Oakland Athletics 6-2 on Friday at AT&T Park.

And things could not have looked better. Tim Lincecum looked like his old self, pitching strong into the eighth inning. The Giants got their first home run from Pat “The Bat” Burrell and Bengie Molina hit his first home run in more than a month.

And for the first time in a long time, Bruce Bochy finally ran out a lineup that made sense.

Andres Torres leading off followed by Freddy Sanchez and Buster Posey in the No. 3 hole.

On Thursday, Bochy had become so spooked by the Giants’ penchant for hitting into double plays — and most notably Pablo Sandoval’s penchant for hitting into double plays — that he had he put on a suicide squeeze with a two-run lead, runners on first and third, one out and with his No. 3 hitter up. Sandoval missed the signed and the whole thing blew up from there.

After watching that, Splash Hits was thinking that if you don’t have confidence in your No. 3 hitter to drive in runners, then that player shouldn’t be your No. 3 hitter.

Putting a rookie into that spot may put pressure on a young player. But Posey has shown poise beyond his years so far. And, not only that, but he’s been raking.

Juan Uribe was the cleanup hitter. True, he’s not your typical cleanup hitter. But he does lead the team in RBI this season. And recently, he’s shown a bit more patience at the plate. Twice on Friday, he worked the count full. He walked three times in Thursday’s game. THREE TIMES … IN ONE GAME … JUAN URIBE!?!!!!

Uribe was followed by Pat Burrell, who followed a Uribe walk in the third with his first home run as a Giant. After Burrell came Molina, Sandoval and Rowand.

The only part of this lineup that I would change is flip-flopping Molina and Sandoval. Otherwise, it made sense.

Let’s see what Bochy comes up with tomorrow night.


Steel City shocker

Well, who could have ever seen this coming?

If there were only some way Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean could have been warned ahead of time.

If only there were symptoms, signals or other kinds of harbingers.

If only there were some way of telling that Todd Wellemeyer was going to get lit up like a Fourth of July fireworks display on Saturday in Pittsburgh, in his first road start since the last time he got lit up on the road in Arizona.

In case you weren’t following, Wellemeyer gave up six runs (all earned) on nine hits and three walk in three-plus innings of work. His road ERA jumped by a run and he entered with a 9.35 road ERA.

He gave up two more home runs, giving him a team-high 12 that he’s surrendered on the year. Nine of those 12 home runs … on the road. Before 12 of the 20 batters he faced Saturday reached base, opposing hitters already had a .400 OBP against him on the road.

And all of this leaves Bochy acting like some bewildered puppy.

“For some reason, he’s struggled on the road,” Bochy told the San Jose Mercury News. “It’s hard to figure out because he’s thrown so well at home.”

Oh, gee willikers! Maybe it’s because when Wellemeyer’s pitches miss their mark, those high fly balls in the outfield get caught at AT&T Park and fly over the wall just about everywhere else.

And now the Giants have to think about Wellemeyer’s next scheduled start, which is slated for Thursday afternoon against the hot-hitting Reds and their band-box ballpark.

Wellemeyer said: “I’m hoping that two good starts and one bad one doesn’t take me out of the rotation.”

ONE bad start!?!?

The Giants need to send Wellemeyer for an MRI on his head. Clearly he’s got some sort of post-traumatic syndrome.

Todd, have you forgotten the start in Arizona (5 ER, 3 HR in 5 IP) or the one in New York (4 ER, 5 BB in 4.1 IP) or the one in LA (7 ER, 3 HR in 4 IP).

Let’s hope Sabean and Bochy haven’t forgotten.

Interesting developments from Fresno

It’s not everyday you can title a blog post like that.

Even though Thursday was an off day for the Giants, there were some interesting developments.

First, outfielder John Bowker was optioned to Triple-A Fresno, leading to speculation that recent free-agent acquisition Pat Burrell would get called up to the big club.

Burrell played Thursday in Fresno, going for 0 for 2 with a walk before leaving the game in the sixth inning.

The thinking is that Burrell left the game to catch a plane to Pittsburgh, where the Giants open a seven-game road trip on Friday.

Also on Thursday in Fresno, Mark DeRosa played his first game for the Grizzlies in his rehab stint. He went 3 for 4 with a double and RBI. It was a far more encouraging outing that his game in San Jose, when his post-game comments sounded a lot like a guy who was headed to season-ending surgery.

Thursday’s performance gives a little more credence to the idea of DeRosa trying to battle his way through his wrist problems and play out the season.

But the big question now is how does an active roster than includes Pat Burrell and Mark DeRosa — not to mention a healthy Edgar Renteria by mid-to-late June — find enough playing time for Juan Uribe and Buster Posey?

The word is that Burrell will be used off the bench, mostly as a pinch-hitter. We can expect DeRosa, with his health issues, to possibly fill the utility role that Uribe was expected to fill.

As it stands right now, the Giants’ five bench players on the active roster are: C Eli Whiteside, 1B Travis Ishikawa, OF Nate Schierholtz, IF Matt Downs and (presumably) OF Pat Burrell.

If DeRosa eventually comes off the DL, we can expect Downs to head back to Fresno. If DeRosa stays healthy and Burrell is productive when Renteria comes off the DL, then what? Who goes down then? Ishikawa and Schierholtz are out of options. So that either leaves Whiteside or sending down a pitcher and carrying only 11 pitchers on the roster.

Something to think about.

Madison Bumgarner update

Madison Bumgarner threw another quality start Wednesday, giving up three runs (two earned) in 6.1 innings against the Las Vegas 51s.

Bumgarner actually pitched five scoreless innings before allowing two runs in the sixth on two singles and a double. A third run scored in the sixth on an error. After giving up back-to-back singles in the seventh, he was pulled from the game.

He is now 5-1 with a 2.73 ERA.

It was Bumgarner’s seventh quality start in his last nine starts. He has not given up more than two earned runs in his past nine starts.

Since a pair of disastrous starts to open the year, Bumgarner is 5-0 with a 1.29 ERA.

We throw this information out as the Giants prepare to depart for a seven-game road trip in which Todd Wellemeyer (he of the 9.35 road ERA) is slated to make two starts.

Of course, the Giants could minimize Wellemeyer’s impact on the road trip by skipping his turn, given Thursday’s off day. That would limit him to one start during the road trip, while also adding to the Giants bullpen depth in the opening days of the road trip while they figure out what to do with ailing Jeremy Affeldt.

But, of course, this all makes too much sense for Bruce Bochy and the Giants to consider.

Surprise, surprise: Giants win

Isn’t it funny that just when things look their most bleak, you get an unexpected break.

That’s about the only way to explain the Giants’ 4-1 win over the Rockies on Wednesday.

Just when the Giants looked like they were again going to send their fans toward a Golden Gate leap, they put together an unlikely rally capped by a hit by their least likely hero.

It all started in the third inning when Buster Posey led off with the Giants’ first hit off Colorado’s Jeff Francis. Aaron Rowand promptly followed by grounding into a double play.

The next inning, Freddy Sanchez had a one-out single. Pablo Sandoval followed by hitting the next pitch into another double play.

In the fifth, Juan Uribe led off with another single. With Bengie Molina up, the Giants tried to avoid a double play, and then ran into one. Uribe was sent on a 3-2 pitch to Molina, who swung and missed — for Francis’ first strikeout of the night — and Uribe was hung out to dry.

Aubrey Huff’s follow-up single figured to only highlight the fact that the Giants’ inability to execute some situational hitting cost them another run. But the Posey followed with another single, and we were thinking maybe the Giants could salvage something out of this inning.

Then Rowand stepped to the plate.

First thought: Geez, not Rowand. Here comes another weak groundout or strikeout.

Second thought: No wait. Rowand’s not going to see a pitch to hit, with pitcher Matt Cain on deck and two outs.

Third thought: No wait again. Rowand is going to strikeout on three pitches WAY out of the strike zone.

Francis’ first pitch to Rowand was a fastbast in tight that Rowand took. Then I think we all knew what was coming next: changeup down and away.  But that’s not what Francis threw. Instead, he came with another fastball, belt high, right over the plate.

Rowand hammered the pitch to center for a two-run double.

The hit seemed to spark two other struggling Giants. The next inning, Sandoval delivered an RBI double to left-center. That was followed an RBI single by Bengie Molina.

And to think, it all started with a gift by Jeff Francis. Thanks, Jeff.