June 2012

San Francisco Giants 6, Houston Astros 3: A night of firsts for Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Belt

BOX SCORE

The Giants’ 16-game homeless streak at home ended Tuesday with the most unlikely of sluggers.

Madison Bumgarner belted his first career big-league home run in the third inning to snap the string.

It was his first home run since going deep on April 25, 2010 while playing for the Fresno Grizzlies at Portland’s PGE Park.

It was so long ago that PGE Park is no longer PGE Park, and the Portland Beavers are no longer the Portland Beavers.

Then in the eighth, Brandon Belt gave the Giants some breathing room by hitting his first home run of the season, a two-run shot that one-hopped off the arcade and into the bay (technically not a SplashHit; Belt has the last splash hit on Sept. 27 of last season).

So the last three home runs hit at AT&T Park by a Giants was that player’s first home run of the season: MadBum, Belt and Gregor Blanco. Um, not exactly Mays, McCovey and Cepeda.

But the real story Tuesday was another dandy from Bumgarner, who fanned 12 Astros before starting to wane in the eighth and getting pulled.

He finished with 2 runs (one earned) on six hits and no walks in 7 2/3 innings. He threw 98 pitches.

He’ll pitch next Sunday in Seattle against Felix Hernandez.

UP NEXT

Matt Cain takes the mound against J.A. Happ at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday. It’s the first of three lefties the Giants will face over the next three days.

Texas Rangers 5, San Francisco Giants 0: Another unhappy Tim Lincecum Day

BOX SCORE

Sunday was another trek down improbability lane.

The Giants moved to 0-8 in games started by Lincecum since May 4. They are 22-5 in all other games.

That stat is simply staggering.

Lincecum’s state line Sunday fell right into his normal pattern this season: five runs on nine hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings. He gave up five singles, three doubles and a triple.

Unlike some of his past outings, it wasn’t one bad inning. He gave one run in the third, two in the fourth and two in the sixth.

Yet with good defense, Lincecum could have escaped with just one run allowed. With great defense, he could have not allowed a run at all.

Let’s take a look back:

In the third with a runner on third and two out, Adrian Beltre sent a one-hop bullet past Pablo Sandoval. It was hit so hard that it went for a double despite being hit to Sandoval’s left. It was a clean hit, but with quicker reflexes and range, it could have been an outing.

In the fourth with a runner on first and one out, Craig Gentry hit a sharp grounder to Sandoval, who went to backhand the ball. But it hit off the heel of his glove and went for an infield hit. Now with two one and one out, Alexis Ogando tried to bunt the runners over. His bunt was hard and to the left of Lincecum. Instead of charging the ball, Sandoval retreated at first to cover third. By the time he recovered, Ogando was safe with another infield hit. Ian Kinsler then pulled a double down the left-field line to score two.

Now some may say that even if Ogando had been thrown out, Kinsler’s double still would have scored two. But with two out and first base open, Lincecum may have taken a different approach with Kinsler. The bigger play was Sandoval’s inability to field Gentry’s grounder. If he does that, Lincecum like gets out of the inning by getting Ogando out.

In the sixth with one on and no out, Sandoval fielded Robbie Ross’ bunt. But his throw to second required an extra effort by Brandon Crawford to catch the ball and eliminated any chance at a double play. Kinsler then grounded to Crawford, who in his haste to try to turn two made a bad exchange from glove to hand. So instead of getting one out, or maybe even two, both runners were safe. It was ruled a hit. Then Elvis Andrus hit a one hopper right at Sandoval, who did not field the ball cleanly and was only able to get the force out at second, instead of an inning-ending double play. So Lincecum got three straight infield grounders, but only two outs. Then Josh Hamilton hammered a two-run double to end Lincecum’s day.

So with some defensive help, Lincecum’s day could have been much different. But the Lincecum of old would generally find his way out of trouble, even if the defense helped create the mess. But not this Lincecum.

Lincecum gave up four extra base-hits. Three of them came with two outs and runners on base, leading to all five of his runs allowed.

Not that much of this mattered Sunday. With the Giants’ inept offensive effort Sunday, all the Rangers needed was that first run.

But we grow tired of making excuses for Lincecum. He needs to get this figured out and soon.

The schedule is there to help him. His next start will come Saturday in his hometown (hometownish, he’s actually from Renton) of Seattle against the weak-hitting Mariners. Then, he’ll face another weak-hitting team — the Athletics in Oakland.

Of course facing a weak-hitting team in a pitcher-friendly park didn’t help Lincecum last week against the Padres, so we’ll see.

San Francisco Giants 5, Texas Rangers 2: Ryan Vogelsong is a hit … once again

BOX SCORE

I can remember watching one of those “experts” on TV making some preseason predictions about the Giants.

The “expert” admitted that pitching was the Giants’ strength. But their starting rotation had some question marks. Sure, he analyzed, they had studs in Tim Linecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner. But you never what you were going to get from Barry Zito, he said, and it was no given that Ryan Vogelsong could repeat his 2011 performance.

Well, it’s true that Zito has been a pleasant surprise in 2012 (Lincecum an unpleasant one). But for Giants fans who watched him last year, there is no surprise about what Vogelsong has done.

Vogelsong was a rock in 2011. A steady performer. Not flashy. He wasn’t going to throw a no-hitter or strike out 10. He was just going to give you quality innings and give the Giants a chance to win.

And after he found his rhythm after back issues delayed the start of his 2012, Vogelsong has again hit his stride and may be even better than he was in 2011.

Vogelsong held the Rangers to one run on three hits in 7 2/3 innings Saturday. The lone run came on a solo home run that Mitch Moreland nearly hit to Alameda, as Vogelsong labored into the eighth inning.

Vogelsong won his fifth consecutive decision. More importantly, in his 10th start of the season, Vogelsong recorded his ninth quality start.

It was the sixth start since May 3 in which Vogelsong pitched at least seven innings and gave up no more than one earned run.

Could it get much better than that? Well, yes. Vogelsong also got his first hit of the season, leading to the Giants’ first run of the game.

OTHER NOTES

  • Pablo Sandoval, in his first start since being activated from the DL, went 1 for 4 with a run-scoring single.
  • The Giants have not him a home run at AT&T Park in their past 15 games. The club record is 16 set in 1980. Nate Schierholtz almost snapped the streak when he hit a ball high off the right-center field wall for a triple.
  • The game also snapped a nine game home streak in which the Giants did not score more than four runs in a game.

UP NEXT

Tim Lincecum returns to the mound in search of his first win since April 28. The Rangers will send Alexi Ogando. Texas is hoping to get 60 pitches out of Ogando, so it will be a bullpen game for the Rangers. Let’s hope it’s not the same for the Giants.

San Francisco Giants back in Panda-Mode: Pablo Sandoval activated

You know, sometimes Bruce Bochy is better off just keeping his mouth shut.

Earlier this week, in some kind of feeble attempt to use the media to motivate Pablo Sandoval into keeping himself in better shape, the Giants skipper intimated that the Pablo’s job at third base was not secure if Sandoval could not keep himself in good enough shape to play the position effectively.

It’s not just about offense; it’s about defense, too, Bochy said.

Then, just hours — no, not even hours, MINUTES — after the Giants suffered their first shutout loss of the season, and not coincidently on the same night Sandoval belted two home runs for the Fresno Grizzlies, a phone call was made to the San Joaquin Valley.

“Hello? Pablo?”

On Friday night, after a 5-0 loss to the Rangers in which the Giants only advanced one runner to second base (and that was only for one second when Barry Zito was caught overrunning the bag), the Giants activated Sandoval from the disabled list and optioned Brett Pill to Triple-A.

So let’s recap.

When the Giants sent Sandoval on a minor-league assignment a little more than a week ago, the target return date at AT&T for the Panda was Friday’s series opener with the Rangers.

Then on Monday, Bochy said the Panda was a little to spongy around the middle and he would be activated by Tuesday’s opener with the Astros.

In reality, the delay in Sandoval’s return had less to do with his girth and more to do with the fact that the Rangers had planned to start two lefties in the series at AT&T — Matt Harrison and Derek Holland.

Sandoval’s progress from the left side of the plate is slightly ahead of the right side because the surgery he had in early May was on his left hand, the bottom hand on the bat when he bats right. He did bat right-handed in a game Thursday at Fresno, going 0 for 5. His two homers Friday came from the left side.

But when Holland landed on the DL this week and was replaced by righty Alexis Ogando for Sunday’s start — not to mention Friday’s shutout loss and the Melky Cabrera’s tender hamstring — it was time to speed up the return of Panda Mode.

The Giants’ goal when Sandoval went on the DL was to simply tread water until he got back. They did better than that, going a major league-best 21-11 since May 5.

Now they are looking for Sandoval to provide an offensive spark to a team that has not scored more than four runs in their last nine home games.

So here’s Saturday’s projected lineup

  1. LF Gregor Blanco
  2. 2B Ryan Theriot
  3. 3B Pablo Sandoval
  4. C Buster Posey
  5. CF Angel Pagan
  6. 1B Brandon Belt
  7. RF Nate Schierholtz
  8. SS Brandon Crawford
  9. P Ryan Vogelsong

Texas Rangers 5, San Francisco Giants 0: Giants shut out, but at least they got a hit

BOX SCORE

The Giants were shut out for the first time this season. But you can say one thing good about it — at least they got a hit.

The Dodgers could not say the same thing.

The Dodgers fell victim of a no-hitter when six Mariners pitchers kept them hitless in a 1-0 Seattle win on Friday.

By comparison, the Giants’ first shutout loss of the season doesn’t seem so bad.

The Giants became the last National League team to be shut out, and only two AL team have not been shut out — the Tigers and Indians.

The first shutout in the 58th game of the season is not so bad. Not that it should have come as much of a surprise when Bruce Bochy’s lineup was announced Friday.

That lineup was missed the Giants’ No. 3 and 4 hitters from the past month — Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey. Cabrera sat out with a strained hamstring, and Posey got his normal day off when Barry Zito pitches.

What do you get when you take Cabrera, Posey (not to mention Pablo Sandoval) out of the lineup? The 2011 Giants.

It was the fourth time this season the Cabrera and Posey failed to reach base safely in the same game. The Giants are 0-4 in those games.

Of course, it was really hard for either to reach base when neither had a plate appearance.

So then basically the game was over when Zito gave up a leadoff home run to Ian Kinsler to open the game.

OTHER NOTES

  • The Rangers win Friday was their first in 12 games at AT&T Park, including two during the 2010 World Series.
  • Angel Pagan went 0 for 4, failing to hit the ball out of the infield, to snap his 15-game hitting streak and a 28-game home hitting streak.

UP NEXT

The Giants hope to get their hitting restarted Saturday when Ryan Vogelsong faces Scott Feldman at 1:10 p.m. Saturday. Feldman has given up 19 runs on 17 hits in his last four starts since replacing Neftali Feliz in the starting rotation.

San Francisco Giants Friday Farm Report: Chris Heston outpitching Zach Wheeler

There’s not a lot of good news out last season’s trade for Carlos Beltran.

Beltran did not lead the Giants back to the postseason, as hoped.

The Giants did not re-sign Beltran in the offseason.

Beltran is tearing it up with the Cardinals.

And so is the player the Giants dealt to get Beltran, pitcher Zach Wheeler.

Wheeler, pitching for the Double-A Binghamton Mets, improved his mark to 6-2 this season with a win Thursday over Harrisburg. He is second in the Southern League with a 1.66 ERA with a 0.96 WHIP and 67 strikeouts against 25 walks in 52.2 innings this season.

People are starting to wonder if Wheeler has anything less to prove at Double-A.

But if Giants fans can draw a silver lining out of that trade last season it’s that they still have a pitcher in the organization who is outpitching Wheeler in the Southern League.

Richmond’s Chris Heston also improved to 6-2 after pitching seven solid innings Thursday. In fact, Heston pitched six scoreless innings before giving up three in the seventh. Those three runs bumped his season ERA from 0.62 to 0.98.

Heston’s WHIP (0.92) is better than Wheeler’s and he has almost as many strikeouts (66), although he has thrown more innings (73.2).

Heston does come with the same accolades as Wheeler. Heston, 24, was drafted in the 12th round in 2009 out of East Carolina. After two uneven pro seasons, he made a big step forward in 2011, going 12-4 with 3.16 ERA for Class A San Jose.

Wheeler is younger (22) and was a first-round pick (sixth overall) in 2009 out of East Paulding HS in Dallas, Ga. He was 7-5 with a 3.99 ERA for San Jose in 2011 before being traded.

Looking for more good news from the rest of the organization is a bit tougher, but we’ll do our best

Triple-A Fresno

RHP Yusmeiro Petit: Petit continued his hot streak, throwing six scoreless innings in a 5-2 win Tuesday over Salt Lake. In his last four starts, he has an 0.35 ERA with 31 strikeouts an four walks.

RHP George Kontos: There has been a call for the Giants to call up Kontos to help shore up their wounded bullpen. Kontos, acquired late in spring training from the Yankees for catcher Chris Stewart, is 2-0 with 1.71 ERA in 23 appearances for the Grizzlies. he has 26 strikeouts and 7 walks in 31.2 IP. He has an 0.60 ERA in his last 15 innings and has not allowed a run in his last 6.2 IP (and only two hits). But it’s also worth noting that other Fresno pitchers were doing well before getting called up like Travis Blackley (0.39 ERA in Fresno), Shane Loux (0.43) and Steve Edlefsen (1.42).

RHP Heath Hembree: The “closer of the future” for the Giants has hit a major rut in Fresno. He has not recorded a save since May 5 and has surrendered runs in five of his past six outings and seven of his past nine. He has not appeared in a game since getting tagged for three runs on June 2 as he’s been home with strep throat and lost eight pounds.

OF Roger Kieschnick: Kieschnick’s solid 2012 season was derailed a bit when he suffered a hairline fracture in his left shoulder slamming into a wall on May 29. He’s out 4-6 weeks.

OF Justin Christian: Christian recorded his 1,000th career minor-league hit last Saturday, going 2 for 2 against Salt Lake. Christian, hitting .421 over his past 10 games, sat out Thursday’s game with sore ribs and a bad back.

Double-A Richmond

LHP Chris Gloor: Gloor has not allowed a run in his past 18 innings, lowering his ERA to 2.81. The reliever has given up 13 hits, four walks and fanned 13 over that stretch that goes back to May 1.

Class A San Jose

1B Ricky Oropresa: Oropresa went 3 for 3 with two home runs and RBI as the Giants snapped a 10-game losing streak on Wednesday. He batted .333 (11 for 33) over the past week and is hitting .267 for the season.

OF Jarrett Parker: Parker’s average continues to climb after an abysmal start. He’s now hitting .258 with 6 HRs and 22 RBI. He’s currently riding five-game hitting streak that includes a 4-for-4 night Tuesday at Lancaster. He is hitting .462 (12 for 26) over the past week with just five strikeouts and four walks.

LHP Jack Snodgrass: Snodgrass picked up his team-high sixth win in pitching the Giants to that skid-snapping win on Wednesday. He is 6-2 with 2.89 ERA. His win Wednesday was his first since May 16. He gave up four runs on 10 hits in seven innings, striking out seven.

San Francisco Giants 8, San Diego Padres 3: Guess we can’t rag on Ryan Theriot anymore

BOX SCORE

I have to admit that MoreSplashHits was not very excited when the Giants signed Ryan Theriot to a one-year deal in the offseasn.

We weren’t anymore excited when the Giants kept him after a poor spring.

Even less excited when Bruce Bochy kept running Theriot out at second base earlier in the season when he was hitting well below the Mendoza Line.

When the Giants sent Theriot to the disabled list on May 10 with an inflamed elbow, MoreSplashHits speculated that the injury could have been fabricated to give Theriot some time off to work on things.

That may very well have been the case, or he may have actually had an inflamed elbow. But whatever Theriot did over those 15 days on the DL, it certainly work.

Theriot was hitting .179 with one double, 2 runs, and 2 RBI when he went on the DL. Since coming off the DL on May 25, he’s hitting .413 (19 for 46) with three doubles, eight runs and six RBI.

Theriot went 4 for 5 with a double, run and RBI in the Giants’ 8-3 win over the Padres Thursday, raising his season average to .284.

Not only that, but he’s also played a solid second base defensively.

And the Giants are 9-4 since Theriot came off the DL.

Theriot’s recent surge led Giants manager Bruce Bochy to declare that Theriot will be his second baseman when Pablo Sandoval comes off the DL next week. Four week ago, that wasn’t the case with Bochy saying that Joaquin Arias would see most of the starts at second when the Panda returned.

We doubt others will do so, but MoreSplashHits is not above admitting we were wrong about The Riot.

OTHER NOTES

  • We noted Wednesday that the Giants have hit as many home runs as errors they have committed in the previous nine games — one of each. Well, that almost held true on Thursday. The Giants kicked the ball around for four errors Thursday, sending them back into the MLB lead. But they also belted three home runs — one each by Buster Posey, Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco.
  • The Giants stole three bases on Thursday (Theriot, Melky Cabrera and Pagan) on three attempts, making them six for seven on steal attempts in the series.
  • Because of two errors in the inning, all three runs the Padres scored off Matt Cain in the third were unearned. Cain went seven strong innings for the win, dropping his ERA to 2.41.
  • Santiago Casilla made his first appearance his bruising his tibia last Friday. Wearing a knee brace, Casilla earned a four-out save, although he wasn’t his usual overpowering self. He walked two, gave up one hit and did not strike out a batter.

UP NEXT

Barry Zito goes to the hill Friday as the Texas Rangers make their first visit to AT&T Park since Game 2 of the 2010 World Series. Matt Harrison will start for Texas, which is 0-11 in games at AT&T Park. Game time is 7:15 p.m.

San Francisco Giants 6, San Diego Padres 5: Giants discover the power of good defense

BOX SCORE

The Giants did something Wednesday that they haven’t been able to do since May 27 in Miami.

They hit a home run.

And it came off the potent bat of Gregor Blanco.

Blanco’s blast not only helped the Giants win for the seventh time in nine games — nine games with just one home run — it moved the Giants out of a 29th-place tie for home runs by a team in the majors.

It was the Giants’ 32nd home run of the season, one ahead of the Padres.

In fact, if the Giants were to hit eight home runs in Thursday’s game, they would still rank 29th in the majors in home runs.

One of the Bay Area scribe’s recently wrote that the Giants cannot expect to keep up their winning ways with such little power productions. But the Giants are finding other ways to score runs and win games.

Besides hitting just one home run in the past nine games, the Giants also have only one of another stat: Errors.

That’s right. Even though the Giants rank first in the National League with 51 errors (only second in the majors behind the Orioles’ 52), they have only committed one error in the past nine games. They are on a six-game errorless streak.

They have not committed an error by an infielder since May 26, and have not had a multi-error game since May 23, the last time shortstop Brandon Crawford committed an error.

It addition to good glove work, the Giants have been good with the bats in other ways.

Their 506 hits ranks fifth in the majors and third in the NL behind the Cardinals and Phillies.

Their 22 triples leads the majors.

And even though they don’t hit fly balls over the fence, they hit them deep enough score runs. Their 23 sacrifice flies is tied for the major league lead with the Red Sox.

On Wednesday, the Giants knocked out 11 hits. Every positions player had at least one, with Blanco, Melky Cabrera and Brett Pill (he really need that) having two-hit games.

Buster Posey lifted his team-high five sacrifice fly.

So the Giants are showing that good pitching, hitting and defense is good enough to win … at least against the Padres, Cubs and Diamondbacks. Doing that against the Rangers may be a different story.

UP NEXT

Matt Cain takes the hill against Jason Marquis in a 12:35 p.m. game on Thursday.

San Francisco Giants conclude MLB draft with 21 more college players

The Giants stuck with their college-player approach in the draft in Day 3.

The Giants almost drafted as many players from the University of Louisiana-Monroe (three) than they did out of high school in Day 3 (four).

In fact, the four prep players the Giants drafted were their final four picks.

Here are the rest of the Giants’ selections:

Round 16 — RHP Ian Gardeck, Alabama

Round 17 — RHP Chris Johnson, Portland

Round 18 — SS Matthew Duffy, Long Beach State

Round 19 — LHP Randall Ziegler, Louisiana-Monroe

Round 20 — 3B Mitchell Delfino, California

Round 21 — C Benjamin Turner, Missouri

Round 22 — CF Brennan Metzger, Long Beach State

Round 23 — LHP Andrew Leenhouts, Northeastern

Round 24 — CF Andrew Cain, UNC-Wilmington

Round 25 — C Sam Eberle, Jacksonville State

Round 26 — LHP Mason McVay, Florida International

Round 27 — LHP Chris Fern, Union College (Ky.)

Round 28 — 1B Joseph Rapp, Louisiana-Monroe

Round 29 — OF Shayne Houck, Kutztown Univ.

Round 30 — CF Michael Blanchard, Austin Peay

Round 31 — RHP Jason Forget, Florida Gulf Coast

Round 32 — LHP Chris Pickering, Rhode Island

Round 33 — RHP Brandon Farley, Arkansas State

Round 34 — LHP Zach Edgington, UC Santa Barbara

Round 35 — RHP Daniel Grazzini, College of San Mateo

Round 36 — LHP Clint Terry, College of San Mateo

Round 37 — SS Drew Jackson, Miramonte HS, Orinda, Calif.

Round 38 — Nolan Long, RHP Waterford (CT) HS

Round 39 — 2B Kevin Fagan, North Broward Prep HS, Coconut Creek, Fla.

Round 40 — RHP Tyler Ferguson, Clovis West HS (Calif.)

MoreSplashHits stays in the Top 50 of MLB Fans blog

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MoreSplashHits had another solid month blogging about the Giants, finishing in the Top 50 for page views for the month of May.

It was the second consecutive month MoreSplashHits placed 46th among fan blogs. It’s the fourth time in the past two years MoreSplashHits has ranked in the top 50, never higher than 44th.

So as a thanks to those following and to commemorate that back-to-back showing at No. 46, we share this pictorial showcase of some classic No. 46s in San Francisco Giants history.

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