April 2011

Southern California is lovely in April … except for the Giants

Sorry, it’s Spring Break and MoreSplashHits was away from the computer since our last post. Just  as well as there wasn’t much good news to report.

The schedule makers really didn’t like the Giants when they made out the 2011 schedule.

First, they only schedule nine of the Giants’ first 31 games at home and only 15 of their first 44.

Then, they didn’t have the World Series champions open at home (I know, the schedules are put together like a year ago, but it’s still annoying).

Then, they go and have the Giants open at LA and San Diego. Couldn’t have picked a nice road trip to Phoenix and Denver? Trips to Southern California in April have not gone well for the Giants.

Counting this season’s 1-4 road trip (so far), the Giants are 2-15 in April in games at Los Angeles and San Diego over the past three years.

Remember, the Giants had a 1-5 road trip to SoCal in April last season and still went on to win the World Series. This road trip is a bit more annoying because it’s to open the series.

So if the Giants can scramble and get a win Wednesday with Tim Lincecum on the mound, a 2-4 road trip might sound just fine. Compared to last season, the Giants will be one game ahead of last season.

You heard it here first: Freddy Sanchez is hot

Phew!

Well, that felt good.

After two frustrating losses to the Dodgers, the Giants finally broke into the win column in 2011 with a 10-0 win on Saturday.

Apparently, the Giants read MoreSplashHits most recent post in which we detailed how the Giants have struggled to score runs without hitting a home run going all the way back to the World Series.

Well, on Saturday, the Giants scored 10 runs and nine of those runs scored without a home run.

The Giants drew walks, slapped hits, got runners over and got them in.

If there’s anything that we can be critical about the Giants on Saturday, it’s that they scored 10 runs when they only needed one.

Too bad we can’t get a little run equity.

The Giants only needed one run because Matt Cain was again brilliant, shutting out the Dodgers over six stellar innings. Cain could have gone farther, having throw 87 pitches through six innings. But with the Giants up 8-0, there was no point.

Freddy Sanchez was the star of the game. Hmm, somewhere I read about how Sanchez was swinging the bat better than any Giant in the early going. Can anyone remember where I read that?

Anyway, Sanchez went 3 for 4 with walk, double and the Giants’ lone home run. He also scored two runs and drove in three.

Miguel Tejada, starting in the leadoff spot for the first time in 12 years, went 2 for 5 with two runs and two RBI.

Mark DeRosa, making his first start of the year, went 2 for 5 with two runs, two RBI and a double.

Even Aaron Rowand had a solid game, going 2 for 5.

It was a great day all around, and Bruce Bochy was able to get all 13 position players on the roster into the game and at least one at-bat.

Now, the Giants look to get the split on Sunday night. Remember, the mantra: “Win series at home; play .500 on the road.” A 2-2 open series in L.A. would be a good series.

The Giants send Barry Zito to the mound, just a few days after he was involved in a late-night auto accident. 

Say what?!? Tejada in the leadoff spot?!?

Just got a peek at the Giants’ lineup for Saturday. Not exactly the kind of lineup that instills confidence for a team struggling to swing the bats.

But MoreSplashHits sort of saw this coming.

Managers often like to get their reserves into the starting lineup during the first week of the season.

So as Mark DeRosa and Aaron Rowand are right-handed batters, it figures Bochy would want to start them against at lefty. And as the Dodgers’ Ted Lilly is the only lefty the Giants will face over the next few days, we sort of saw this coming.

Also, Andres Torres and Pablo Sandoval are weaker hitters from the right side than the left.

So here’s the the lineup for today.

SS Miguel Tejada (R)

2B Freddy Sanchez (R)

RF Aubrey Huff (L)

C Buster Posey (R)

OF Pat Burrell (R)

3B Mark DeRosa (R)

1B Brandon Belt (L)

CF Aaron Rowand (R)

SP Matt Cain (R)

Doesn’t instill a lot of confidence, does it?

And what’s up with Tejada at the leadoff spot? I suppose the silver lining here is that Bruce Bochy has finally realized that Aaron Rowand in NOT a leadoff hitter. And if Rowand is going to be in the starting lineup, this is exactly where he should be in the lineup.

But Tejada leading off? Yeah, I don’t get that either.

If MoreSplashHits were making out the lineup, we’d make three simple adjustments.

Sanchez batting leadoff. He’s been swinging the bat as well as any Giant in the early going, so have him in the No. 1 spot.

DeRosa would then follow at No. 2. That’s where he often resided in the lineup last season before he went on the DL.

Then Tejada in his normal spot in the No. 6 spot.

But no one asked MoreSplashHits. Let’s hope that’s Bochy’s only mistake today.

Big Belt and a bunch of bobbles

MoreSplashHits is still trying to figure out what’s worse.

The fact the Giants still don’t have their first win of the 2011 season.

That both losses to open the season were to the hated Dodgers.

That they’ve wasted two solid pitching effort.

That the Giants aren’t hitting well.

That despite all that, the Giants still could have won if they had simply played with more focus on defense.

For the second straight night, the Giants basically gave a victory to the Dodgers, losing 4-3 Friday night.

If there’s good news, it was the performance of rookie Brandon Belt. Belt hammered a 2-0 pitch from Chad Billingsley in the fourth over the center-field fence for his first career home run, a three-run shot.

But the rest of the night, the Giants failed to deliver a clutch hit. Buster Posey struck out in the seventh with a bases loaded.

Here’s an interesting stat to note. Dating back to the World Series, 12 of the last 13 runs the Giants have scored have come via the home run.

There was Belt’s 3-run blast Friday, Pat Burrell’s solo shot Thursday, Edgar Renteria’s three-run homer in Game 5 of the World Series, Buster Posey’s solo shot and Aubrey Huff’s two-run shot in Game 4 of the Series and solo home runs by Cody Ross and Andres Torres in Game 3.

The only non-homer produced run in that stretch was an RBI double by Torres in Game 4.

But unlike in the Fall Classic, the Giants aren’t doing the little things to win so far in 2011.

On Friday night, the Giants were up 3-1 in the sixth when Matt Kemp led off with a single. Kemp then went from first to third on a slow chopper by Marcus Thames.

Sandoval charged the ball and never looked over to Kemp before throwing Thames out at first. Kemp never stopped to go from first to third.

The mental lapse came back to get the Giants when Kemp scored on a sacrifice fly by James Loney.

After Rod Barajas singled to left, Aaron Miles rolled a swinging bunt to Sandoval at third. Sandoval charged, bare-handed the ball, then threw wide to first, allowing Barajas to advance to third and Miles go to second.

Instead of eating the ball, as he had no chance of getting Miles, Sandoval compounded the situation by throwing the ball away.

But it looked as if the Giants might escape the game when Hector Gimenez hit a weak bouncer back to Jonathan Sanchez. But the lefty took his eye off the ball, and dropped it, allowing Barajas to score the tying run.

Guillermo Mota relieved Sanchez and gave up a single to Rafael Furcal, scoring Miles with the go-ahead run.

So, some dumb luck (three balls that didn’t leave the infield grass), bad decisions and bad fielding left the Giants 0-2.

The Giants turn to Matt Cain to help stop the slide on Saturday afternoon. Let’s hope the Giants play some better defense behind the right-hander.

Ugly story from Opening Day at the Ravine

MoreSplashHits would like to send prayers for a speedy recovery to the San Francisco Giants fan who was hospitalized after being attacked by Dodger fans in the parking lot at Dodger Stadium Thursday night after the Dodgers’ 2-1 win over the Giants.

L.A. Police said a man was sent to the hospital with a serious head injury after being attacked by two unidentified men wearing Dodgers clothing.

The fan’s condition was said to be improving to serious, police said.

The unprovoked attack occurred when the two assailants approached three fans in Giants apparel.

Witnesses said the two men attacked the three fans, kicking and punching them and shouting expletives about the Giants as they delivered the blows.

The assailants fled the scene as people tried to assist the injured man. Police said the incident was captured on a security camera, and witnesses were able to provide descriptions of the assailants.

The report really hit home with MoreSplashHits, who was a Giants fan who grew up in the L.A. area. I attended many Dodgers-Giants games at Chavez Ravine, and had to endure many taunts from drunken Dodger fans when I was young. And that was in the late 1970s when the Giants were not very good.

In fact, it got so bad that I stopped wearing Giants clothing to the games until the mid 1980s, when the Giants fielded better teams and I was old enough to defend myself. When I was younger, I was always afraid of my dad getting into a fight with these drunken idiots who would lob curses at a 9-year-old kid.

But MoreSplashHits hopes Giants fans don’t get caught up in this story and assault any Dodgers fans when LA comes to San Francisco later this month.

And there’s one important aspect of this story that you need to remember: These two idiots were not true Dodger fans.

True Dodger fans would have left the premises by the eighth inning.

Pin this one on the pen

It was the top of the ninth and Pat Burrell was dug in against the Dodgers’ Jonathan Broxton.

Broxton deals, and Burrell rips a laser to left that sails over the fence for a solo home run.

In my living room, I just shake my head and throw up my hands in disgust.

My wife looks at me puzzled.

“That was a Giant who hit that home run, right? So why are you upset?”

I tried to explain it was because the Giants had just allowed the Dodgers to score a second run a half inning before. But she didn’t understand, and I was in no mood to explain it her.

But I’ll explain it now.

When Santiago Casilla entered the game in the bottom of the eighth and the Giants trailing 1-0, I said “OK, guys let’s keep it a one-run game because that chump Broxton is in the bullpen and we can get a run off that Bozo.”

OK, I actually didn’t say anything because there was no one in the room at the time and that would be weird. But I thought it, loudly.

Then Casilla walked Kemp, allowed him to steal second and then score on a double to James Loney. Casilla was able to get out of the inning with no further damage, even though it took him a gazillion pitches to do the job. But in the end, that one run was enough. The Dodgers beat the Giants 2-1 on opening day.

Tim Lincecum took the loss, but I’m pinning this one on Casilla.

Actually, there was plenty of blame to go around.

The Dodgers scored their first run in the sixth without the benefit of a hit.

Lincecum walked Kemp, but then got Loney to roll a grounder to short. Even though the ball was not sharply enough for a double play, Miguel Tejada hastily tried to turn one. His errant throw shot past Freddy Sanchez into right field, putting runners on the corners.

After Lincecum hit Juan Uribe with a pitch (I had some mixed feelings there about that), Buster Posey tried to catch Kemp napping off of third base. But his throw was behind Kemp, allowing him to score.

The errors were not a byproduct of a lack of range or ability, but a result of the Giants trying to do too much. Those errors were as much mental errors as physical ones.

And then the offense struggled to mount much of a threat against the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw.

Ah well. A 2-1 loss. It’s not like Giants fans are not used to that.

A friend of mine once said the problem with baseball is that the season is too long and there are too many games. So many games, that a single result is not all that important.

But I feel that’s what makes baseball great.

A win can put a smile on your face for 24 hours. But even after a loss, you know that tomorrow can bring renewed hope.

So we’ll go with that, and try not to lament the fact that the Giants’ aspirations of becoming the first team in MLB history to go 162-0 have gone up in smoke. Guess, it’s something to aim for next season.

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