June 2012

San Diego Padres 6, San Francisco Giants 5: Tim Lincecum not quite dominant, but close

BOX SCORE

At first glance at Tuesday’s start, it seems like the same old story for Tim Lincecum.

One bad inning.

Lincecum gave up four runs on five hits — and just one walk — in six innings of work. All four runs (not to mention four of the hits and the lone walk) occurred in the second inning.

In the other five innings, Lincecum set down 15 of the 16 batters he faced. Carlos Quentin’s sixth-inning double was the lone baserunner in those innings. All eight of Lincecum’s strikeouts came after the Padres’ four-run second.

But even the second inning wasn’t as terrible as it looked.

It started off bad, with a Quentin home run followed by a Chase Headley double.

After John Baker flied out, Logan Fosythe walked, then Everth Cabrera singled home the second run.

But this is where Lincecum almost escaped without further damage.

Anthony Bass, attempting to sacrifice, bunted hard to Brandon Belt, who threw out Forsythe at third. But in making the glove exchange, third baseman Joaquin Arias dropped the ball, preventing an inning-ending double play.

However, on second glance, the Giants were lucky to get one out on the play.

Replays showed that Arias not only came off the bag before catching the ball, it’s not even clear he caught the ball cleanly at all. So could have easily had been bases loaded with one out.

That’s important because Cameron Maybin then hit a Lincecum changeup off his shoe tops for a broken-bat, two-run double.

Lincecum said: “Nine times out of 10 if I throw that same pitch to him, maybe it’s a double play.”

Well, as long as Starlin Castro isn’t your shortstop.

But after the second, Lincecum shut down the Padres and gave his team a chance to rally, which they did by tying the game with a three-run sixth.

The Giants even took the lead in the seventh, giving Lincecum the chance to get the win.

But home runs in the eighth by Quentin and in the ninth of Forsythe (his first career home run) turned a possible win into a Giants loss — the seventh consecutive loss in a Lincecum start.

Since May 4, the Giants are 0-7 in Lincecum starts; 19-5 in starts by the other four starters.

UP NEXT

Madison Bumgarner starts against Clayton Richard in a funky San Diego 3:35 p.m. start.

San Francisco Giants stick with college pitchers strategy in Day 2 of MLB Draft

The Giants’ first-round selection of Chris Stratton out of Mississippi State was apparently not an anomaly in the Giants’ draft strategy.

It became very clear Tuesday what that strategy was … college pitchers, finishing their junior seasons.

Seven of the first eight players the Giants picked in this year’s draft fit that description.

Here’s a breakdown of those players selected Tuesday.

Second round

No. 84 — RHP Martin Agosta, St. Mary’s (CA) College – Like Stratton, Agosta emerged this season after going 10-12 in his first two seasons with the Gaels. He was 9-2 with 2.18 ERA and 95 strikeouts and 27 walks in 103.1 IP his junior season. The 6-1, 180-pounder throws a fastball in the 92-94 range with a curveball and changeup. On being selected by the Giants, he said: “I can’t believe my hometown team selected me. I was joking with my dad (that) I’ll probably get drafted by the Dodgers. And to be selected by the Giants is just a total dream come true.”

Third round

No. 115 — OF Johnathan “Mac” Williamson, Wake Forest – The 6-4, 240-pound outfielder belted 17 HRs and 52 RBI while hitting .286 for in 53 games for the Demon Deacons during his junior season. The right-handed batter fanned 41 times and walked 23 times in 192 ABs last season. He also was hit a team-high 13 times. He came to Wake as a top pitching prospect in North Carolina, but became one of the top power hitters in the ACC.

Fourth round

No. 148 — LHP Steven Okert, Oklahoma – Okert, a junior, is 9-7 with 2.78 ERA in 29 games (five starts) for the Sooners, who are will face South Carolina this weekend in the NCAA Super Regionals. He’s struck out 75 and walked 35 in 81 IPs. The 6-3, 210-pounder has recorded five saves after moving into the Sooners’ closer role. Could be on fast-track to majors as a reliever.

Fifth round

No. 178 — LHP Ty Blach, Creighton – Another college pitcher finishing his junior season, Blach was 6-6 with a 2.69 ERA in 21 starts (120.1 IP) for the Bluejays. He struck out 83 and walked 28. The 6-1, 200 pounder went 10-3 with 2.65 ERA as a sophomore.

Sixth round

No. 208 — RHP Stephen Johnson, St. Edwards Univ. (Texas) – The 6-4, 205-pounder is a hard-throwing right-hander whose draft stock surged after switching from starter to reliever. He has a plus fastball that can approach triple digits, but command is an issue. He was a first-team NCAA Division All-American as a junior in 2012, going 1-2 with 1.45 ERA and 18 saves. He struck out a whopping 74 batters in 43.1 IP, with 17 walks.

Seventh round

No. 238 — RHP Eduardo Encinosa, Miami (Fla.) – The 6-5, 242-pounder, who goes by “E.J.” was 3-3 with eight saves and an 2.79 ERA in 24 relief appearances (29 IP). He struck out 39 and walked 17. He’s another converted reliever, who went 5-6 with 3.45 ERA in 15 starts for the Hurricanes as a sophomore. But he had a team-best 2.20 ERA in 29 relief outings as a freshman. He was drafted in the 23rd round by the Twins out of high school in 2009.

Eighth round

No. 268 — LHP Joseph Kurrasch, Penn State – The 6-2, 205-pounder is a sophomore out of San Juan Capistrano, Calif. He pitched for Cal as a freshman before sitting out the 2011 season after transferring to Penn State. He went 4-2 with a team-best 2.05 ERA in 16 appearances (11 starts) for the Nittany Lions. He struck out 78 and walked 46 in 87.2 IP.

Other Giants selections

  • Ninth round, No. 298 — OF Shilo McCall, Piedra Vista HS, Farmington, N.M.
  • 10th round, No. 328 — C Trevor Brown, UCLA
  • 11th round, No. 358 — OF Ryan Tella, Auburn
  • 12th round, No. 388 — SS Jeremy Sy, Louisiana-Monroe
  • 13th round, No. 418 — OF Ryan Jones, Michigan State
  • 14th round, No. 448 — OF Tyler Hollick, Chandler Gilbert CC (Ariz.)
  • 15th, round, No. 478 — C Leonardo Rojas, Miami-Dade CC

San Francisco Giants 3, Chicago Cubs 2: 11 runs equal four-game sweep

BOX SCORE

Riddle: How many runs does it take to sweep the Chicago Cubs?

Answer: 11.

That’s how many runs it took the Giants to sweep a four-game series from Chicago, winning 4-3, 2-1, 2-0 and 3-2 on Monday.

And just conside how the Giants scored their runs over the weekend.

  • A bases-loaded walk
  • An RBI groundout
  • An RBI single that should have record an out at home but the catcher dropped the ball.
  • Gregor Blanco scoring from first on a single when Alfonso Soriano fell asleep in the outfield.

That trend continued Monday.

The Giants plated their first run on an RBI double by Brandon Crawford. But that led to the Giants having second and third with no outs, and they weren’t able to add more runs.

But after that, the Giants scored the tying run in the fifth on a double play grounder that didn’t produce a double play when Starlin Castro forgot how many outs there were.

In the fifth, the Giants loaded the bases with no outs. Joaquin Arias lined out to second. Brandon Crawford then hit a tailor-made double-play grounder to second. Darwin Barney fed the ball to Castro, who stepped on the bag, avoided the sliding Brandon Belt and started jogging to the dugout as Buster Posey sccored.

Whoops, Starlin, Belt’s forceout was only the second out of the inning.

The Giants AGAIN loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh. Arias hit a grounder to Castro. But the Cubs were willing to give up a run for two outs, as the Cubs turned turn as Posey scored the go-ahead run.

Lucky for the Giants, Dale Sveum forgot which team he was managing. These are the Cubs, who had scored six runs all weekend.

He was willing to give up a run for two outs. The Giants were glad to trade two outs for a run.

And the final was 3-2.

The Giants went 6-1 on the homestand scoring a total of 19 runs.

The pitching was great. The defense was solid. The hitting …..

Oh well, we’ll take the first four-game winning streak of the season.

And things have to get better for the offense. The Giants are heading to San Diego next.

UP NEXT

Tim Lincecum’s best start of the season came against the Anthony Bass and the Padres. The Freak will get that matchup again Tuesday with a 7 p.m. game at Petco Park.

San Francisco Giants select Mississippi State pitcher Chris Stratton in the first round

The last time the Giants drafted a player from Mississippi State in the first round of the draft, it worked out pretty well for them.

The Giants had J.T. Snow on hand for the draft Monday, but maybe another former first baseman in the organization had some influence in their first-round pick … i.e. Will Clark.

Chris Stratton

The Giants selected right-handed pitcher Chris Stratton from Mississippi State with the No. 20 overall pick.

With high school players going off the board left and right on Monday, the Giants went with the college route as their farm system is getting a little thin on starting pitchers who can help the team soon at the big-league level.

Stratton is a 22-year-old junior at MSU. He’s 6-3, 198 pounds with a fastball that clocks in the 91-95 mph range and a plus slider.

He was only 10-10 with a 5.25 ERA in his first two seasons with the Bulldogs, but he did have 152 strikeouts in 154.1 innings.

But he put it all together in the 2012 season, going 11-2 with 2.38 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 109.2 innings.

Stratton has drawn comparisons to Kansas City’s Aaron Crow or Arizona’s Daniel Hudson.

He’s from Tupelo, Miss., where he was coached in summer ball by Kirk Presley, a former first-round pick by the Mets in 1993. Presley? Tupelo? Yes, Kirk Presley was The King’s second cousin.

Contrasted to last year, when some felt the Giants reached in taking shortstop Joe Panik late in the first round, Stratton was projected as a potential top-10 pick by some.

So when he fell to 20th, the Giants were quick to snatch him up.

Stratton was the Giants lone pick Monday, as they did not pick up any sandwich picks from free agents lost last offseason.

Bruce Bochy blowing smoke with threats of benching Pablo Sandoval

Giants skipper Bruce Bochy caused a stir Monday with his comments regarding Pablo Sandoval and his future at third base.

Bochy said the Giants have not been happy with The Panda’s conditioning since heading on the disabled list in early May.

Bochy went so far to say Sandoval’s playing time at third base could be limited if the Panda were not in good shape.

Bochy had a less-than-cordial discussion with Sandoval on Saturday.

“He’s been told we have enough first basemen,” Bochy said. “That said, hopefully we’re not forced to make a change. That’s in Pablo’s hands.”

The Giants have been very happy with the defense of Joaquin Arias since being moved to third base for the first time in his career during Sandoval’s DL stint. Arias made several nice plays over the weekend that helped the Giants beat the Cubs in close games.

“Being able to make the plays Joaquin has been making, that’s so vital. You look at how important the plays were in (Sunday’s) ball game. That’s part of when (Sandoval) comes back up here. It’s not just the hitting. It’s how he’s playing third base, which is what he’s doing today.”

Defense is vital in low-scoring, tight games. But you know else helps? Runs.

The Giant won three straight over the Cubs, but averaged fewer than three runs in each of those wins.

Since Sandoval went on the DL on May 2, the Giants have hit one home run at AT&T Park … ONE … and that was by Gregor Blanco.

Sandoval ranks second on the Giants in home runs with five, one behind Buster Posey … and Sandoval hasn’t played in almost five weeks.

The Giants have long tried to find ways to keep Sandoval focused and motivated.

They sent him to the bench when his weight became a problem in 2010. But in 2010, as his weight went up, his offensive production went down.

During that offseaosn they threatened Sandoval with a trip to the minors if he didn’t get himself in shape. Sandoval responded by working out in the offseason and improving his conditioning.

Then, he had a solid 2011 season.

When his weight crept up late in 2011 and stayed that way into 2012, the Giants said they weren’t concerned.

But now they’re concerned, and Bochy is trying to get Sandoval back on track. And having just given him a three-year contract for $17 million, the only chip the Giants have to play is playing time.

But it’s a completely empty threat.

There’s no way the Giants can hope to keep things going by winning games 2-1 or 2-0. There’s no way they can keep rolling out an infield filled with .230 hitters.

They need some offense, even if that means putting the Panda’s big butt in the lineup at third base.

Sandoval will play his third game with Class-A San Jose on Monday, getting his first start at third base. If all goes well, Sandoval would join Triple-A’s Fresno on Tuesday.

While early hopes has Sandoval being ready to return for Friday’s opener against the Rangers, being back for the July 12 series opener at home against the Astros seems more likely.

Sandoval is still sore batting from the right side. So keeping Sandoval in Fresno a couple more days makes sense.

Plus, there are fewer good places to eat in Fresno than San Francisco.

San Francisco Giants 2, Chicago Cubs 0: Barry Zito needs to buy Alfonso Soriano dinner

BOX SCORE

A rare thing happened Sunday at AT&T Park, something Giants fans haven’t seen in the past five-plus seasons.

Manager Bruce Bochy came out of the dugout to pull Barry Zito from the game after Zito walked a batter, and the crowd at AT&T booed.

OK, that’s not so rare. But try this on for size.

They booed Bruce Bochy.

Zito threw 8 1/3 scoreless innings Sunday. But after giving up a one-out walk to Darwin Barney, Zito was pulled despite throwing only 96 pitches.

“Your heart’s telling you ‘Hey, give him a shot” at the shutout, Bochy said. “But your brain’s telling you the right thing to do is go get him and bring in (Sergio) Romo.”

In other words, if the Giants were up 6-0, Bochy leaves Zito in the game. But with the tying run at the plate, calling on Romo was the right call.

Romo struck out Starling Castro and got Alfonso Soriano to hit a come-backer for the final outs.

So Zito’s chance for a second shutout this season went by the wayside. But thanks to Romo, he did get the victory to improve to 5-2.

And while he’s at it, Zito should also thank Soriano for the win. Thanks to the outfielder’s inept defense, the Giants were able to put two runs on the board.

The first defensive lapse by Soriano came in the fifth inning when the Giants were still searching for their first hit off Travis Wood.

Angel Pagan hit a deep liner to left that just about any other left fielder in the National League (yes, perhaps even Aubrey Huff) should have been able to catch. But Soriano didn’t read it right and his sore legs allowed the ball to sail over his head for a double, extending Pagan’s franchise-record home hitting streak to 27 games.

One out later, Joaquin Arias, who had been 3 for 17 with two outs and runners in scoring position, slapped a single to right. Cubs right fielder Reed Johnson threw home and the ball appeared to arrive just ahead of the sliding Pagan at home, but catcher Koyie Hill could not corral the throw, and Pagan scored the game’s first run.

It stayed 1-0 until the eighth when Gregor Blanco walked with one out. Blanco was running with the pitch when Melky Cabrera singled to left. Blanco motored to third, and when Soriano was slow getting to the ball and then threw it into second, Blanco raced all the home for a 2-0 lead.

It would surprise us to see Soriano sitting on the bench Monday afternoon.

But that should distract us much from the solid outing from Zito. The lefty lowered his ERA to 2.98 after giving up just four hits and two walks, while fanning five.

Zito’s outing shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, especially given the opponent.

One of Zito’s three victories in 2011 came against the Cubs on June 28, when Zito was making his first start in more than two months on the DL. On that day, he limited the Cubs to two runs on four hits in seven innings in a 6-3 Giants win in Wrigley Field.

In his next start Friday at AT&T, Zito will get the opportunity to do something he didn’t get the chance to do in 2010 — pitch against the Texas Rangers.

UP NEXT

The Giants will try to go for the sweep and post their first four-game winning streak of the season when they send Ryan Vogelsong against Jeff Samardzija at 12:45 p.m. Monday.

San Francisco Giants 2, Chicago Cubs 1: Dead-ball era brought back to life

BOX SCORE

The San Francisco Giants turned back the clock to 1912 on Saturday, figuratively and literally.

The Giants and Cubs broke out the 1912 uniforms to commemorate the four-year anniversary of the Cubs’ last World Series (which they shouldn’t have actually won … see Fred Merkle).

Then the Giants won a game in dead-ball fashion, scoring both runs with the benefit of an RBI hit.

The Giants loaded the bases in the sixth on singles by Ryan Theriot, Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan. Then scored on a walk by Aubrey Huff and an infield forceout by Joaquin Arias.

The rest of the work was done by Matt Cain.

Cain had a rough moment in the fourth, giving up a two-out solo home run to David DeJesus followed by a double to Alfonso Soriano.

In his other seven innings of work, he limited the Cubs to three hits and two walks in eight innings, throwing 117 pitches.

Three of the Giants’ six hits came in that sixth inning. Cain had one of the remaining three hits. The walk to Huff was the Giants’ lone walk in the game.

Giants pitching have shutout the Cubs so far this series when they’ve kept the ball in the yard.

UP NEXT

The Giants hope to break out offensively when Barry Zito faces Travis Wood at 1:05 p.m. Sunday. The game will be carried live on WGN.

Bob Brenly’s funny schtick about The Stick

When I first subscribed to MLB.TV, I decided it was worth it to get the premium package so that I had the choice to pick the Giants feed.

So instead of having to endure the opposition’s broadcast crew, I watch Kruk and Kuip for most of my Giants viewing.

But my schedule Friday took me away from the computer. So I decided to DVR WGN’s broadcast and watch the game when I got home.

The bad part of that is it subjected me to the obligatory showing of the Buster Posey/Scott Cousins play from last May when Posey made his first plate appearance. And of course, that replay has to be quickly joined by the moronic comment about how that play “ended the Giants’ playoff hopes in 2011″ even though the Giants were still in first place in the NL West well into August.

The upside is that it did allow us to hear Bob Brenly’s funny reflections on Candlestick Park.

Now, some former Giants, like Duane Kuiper or Mike Krukow, will associate The Stick with some fond memories.

But not Brenly, who played almost his entire nine-year big league career with the Giants and at Candlestick.

Brenly’s broadcast partner Len Kasper mentioned how he enjoyed hearing his partner’s off-colored remarks about the Stick as they would drive past it after flying into the Bay Area from San Francisco International.

“This time I just asked for a moment of silence for all of us who had to play our careers in that dump,” Brenly said Friday.

But then Kasper took Brenly to task saying “I know you’ve got a soft spot in your heart for Candlestick.”

Brenly then gave in … a bit.

Brenly said that it was true “only because it was the first place I played in the major leagues. And in that respect, it will always have a special place in my heart.”

Then he added: “But it moved to other parts of my anatomy later in my career.”

Brenly added that after visiting other ballparks with better facilities and less wind and cold, The Stick paled by comparison.

“Underweight fans at The Stick had to put rocks in their pockets to make sure they didn’t get blown around the park like a hot dog wrapper.”

And this from a guy who now calls Wrigley Field home.

San Francisco Giants 4, Chicago Cubs 3: Madison Bumgarner was great … for eight innings.

BOX SCORE

In almost a blink of an eye, Friday’s Giants-Cubs game went from a being a 4-0 snoozer win for the Giants to a one-run nail-biter with the Cubs putting the go-ahead in scoring position.

So how did that happen?

Well, let’s take a look at Madison Bumgarner’s night.

At the start, four of the first five balls the Cubs put into play went for singles. But Cubs didn’t do any damage with that because MadBum recorded five of his first seven outs by strikeout. The other two outs came on the the only other ball the Cubs put in play, a double-play grounder by Steve Clevenger.

From there, Bumgarner set down 15 of the next 17 batters, including one double play.

So when he went out for the ninth inning, having thrown 97 pitches, it looked like Bumgarner was headed for his first career shutout.

But after falling behind his first two batters in the ninth — and giving up back-to-back singles — MadBum got the hook from Bruce Bochy.

Normally, I feel Bochy tends to let his starters linger too long. But in this case, with MadBum at 102 pitches, I would have liked to see him face another batter.

But Bochy called on closer Santiago Casilla in what was now a save opportunity. Casilla gave up a three-run homer to Alfonso Soriano, one thing that MadBum is particularly good at avoiding.

Now, a one-run game, Casilla got Reed Johnson for the first outing before giving up a double to Bryan Lahair. Darwin Barney reached on a swinging bunt. Casilla hurt his knee on the play and came out of the game (although Bumgarner indicated later he didn’t think the injury was serious).

Javier Lopez came in and got Clevenger to ground out to first, advancing the runners to second and third. Lopez then got David DeJesus to fly to center to end the game.

Phhhew.

OTHER NOTES

  • OF Angel Pagan went 1 for 4 to extend his hitting streak at home to 25 games, the best by any player in franchise history.
  • Maybe that stint on the DL is just what 2B Ryan Theriot needed. He went 3 for 3 with a double and walk on Friday. He’s 8 for 21 since coming off the DL is now hitting .234 for the season. He was hitting .179 when he went on the DL.

UP NEXT

Matt Cain faces Matt Garza in game 2 of the series at 4:15 p.m. Fox game on Saturday. That means if you’re local Fox affiliate chooses not to carry the Giants vs. Cubs (like the Portland affiliate which thinks we care about the Damn Yankees vs. the Tigers) it means the game won’t be available on MLB.TV. Why does Fox think by blacking out a game on MLB.TV it means we’ll have no choice but to watch the Yankees-Tigers? I’ll be listening on KNBR.

San Francisco Giants Friday Farm Report: Chris Dominguez gets promoted

In a curious move this week, the Giants promoted 3B Chris Dominguez from Double-A Richmond to Triple-A Fresno on Wednesday.

Dominguez was hitting .223 with 2 HRs and 19 RBI in 49 games for the Flying Squirrels. He also had 50 strikeouts and only seven walks.

Dominguez was drafted in the third round of the 2009 Draft out of Louisville and was rated at the No. 9 prospect in the Giants’ system by MLB.com.

He has a strong arm at third base, and hit 18 HR with 85 RBI and batted .266 in 141 games between Class A San Jose and AA Richmond in 2011.

Dominguez made his first start in the outfield on Thursday. He struck out in his first three at-bats before delivering an RBI single in the ninth to lift Fresno to a 2-1 win over Sacramento.

Other minor-league player news

  • SP Yusmeiro Petit, Fresno: Petit was the Pacific Coast League player of the week for May 21-27 after gave up one run on seven hits in 13 IP and 19 strikeouts in two starts. He followed that up by giving up one run (unearned) on three hits in 7 innings and 8 strikeouts vs. Sacramento on Thursday. He’s 1-2 with 3.58 ERA for the season.
  • OF Roger Kieschnick, Fresno: Kieschnick was hitting .302 with 4 HR and 12 RBI over this past 10 games before hurting himself crashing into the fence trying to run down a home run ball Tuesday in Sacramento, landing on the disabled list.
  • 3B Conor Gillaspie, Fresno: Gillaspie was activated from the disabled list, going 2 for 6 in two games since coming off the DL. He’s hitting .287 since being sent back to Fresno from the Giants.
  • RHP George Kontos, Fresno: The pitcher acquired in trade with the Yankees for Chris Stewart is 2-0 with a 1.82 ERA in 21 appearances for Fresno. He has 23 strikeouts and five walks in 29.2 IP.
  • C Tommy Joseph, Richmond: Joseph is heating up after a slow start. He’s up to .279 on the season with 3 HR and 13 RBI. He’s hitting .343 over the past 10 games with a .400 OBP.
  • RHP Chris Heston, Richmond: Heston continues to be lights-out in Double-A. He’s 5-2 with an 0.70 ERA in 10 stars, with 59 Ks and 15 BBs in 64.2 IP. He struck out 11 over six innings on Sunday vs. Trenton.
  • RHP Brett Bochy, Richmond: After getting tagged for four run on May 10, Bochy has returned to his scoreless ways, giving up 0 runs in 6.2 innings since then. He has a 1.42 ERA, but has been unscored upon in 17 of his 18 outings this season.
  • 3B Adam Duvall, San Jose: Duvall had 4 HR, 9 RBI and .364 over the past 10 games, bringing him to 11 HR, 32 RBI and .280 for the season.
  • OF Jarrett Parker, San Jose: Hey, we’ve got good news to report on the free-swinging Parker. He’s hitting .344 with .432 OBP over the past 10 games. He has not fanned in his past two games, and that’s saying something. He’s up to .219 for the season with 5 HR, 15 RBI.
  • LHP Jack Snodgrass, San Jose: Snodgrass bounced back from getting dinged for 5 runs on 3.2 IP against Stockton to limit Visalia to one run on three hits in 6 IP. He’s 5-1 with 2.34 ERA on the season and will look to end San Jose’s five-game skid on Friday.
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