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.