Giants announcer Duane Kuiper said it best after Brandon Belt’s go-ahead three-run homer in a 9-6 win over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday.
“And the Giants have done it again.”
Some Giants fans have tried to attach the “torture” label on the 2013 Giants. But this team is much different from the 2010 team which inspired the label.
The 2010 team didn’t score a lot and pitched really well. That meant they played a lot of close games. But they were different than this year. The Giants had a narrow lead late, then would torture fans by barely holding onto those leads.
Even though the 2013 team has also played a ton of close games, because the team’s starting pitching has been so shaky, they find themselves having to rally late.
It’s torture when you’re team has a narrow lead and struggles to hang onto it. When your team is behind, there’s a feeling that they’ll probably lose. When they end up winning, it’s a bonus.
The Giants are becoming so proficient at these late-game comebacks, it’s almost becoming expected. Almost.
“We believe somebody’s going to do it,” Belt said, “and somebody does it. It’s amazing.”
Belt’s home run was the Giants’ ninth this season in the eighth or ninth innings. When you consider that the Giants have hit 21 total home runs, that’s an impressive percentage.
Even more impressive is that six of those nine home runs either tied the game or gave the Giants the lead. Five of those home runs have come against the Diamondbacks bullpen.
“These guys have been amazing,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “They’re not base hits. We need the long ball, and they’re coming through.”
It’s interesting to look at the numbers on the Giants’ late-game performances.
The Giants have hit 12 home runs in innings 1-7, and 9 in innings 8-9. The Giants homer once every 68 plate appearances in innings 1-7. They average a home run every 24 PAs in innings 8-9. In the ninth inning alone, the rate drops to one every 19.4 PAs.
Yet the Giants hit better earlier in the game — they hit .268 in innings 1-3, .266 in innings 4-6, but only .240 in innings 7-9.
However, they are more aggressive and efficient on the basepaths. They have seven steals in 10 attempts in innings 1-6, but 8 for 8 in innings 7-9.
They’ve also feasted on relievers. They have 11 home runs in 706 PAs against starting pitchers (1 every 64); 10 home runs in 358 PAs vs. relievers (1 every 36).
So are the Giants clutch or living dangerously?
Well, both. They’re living dangerously because their starting pitching has been putting them in bad situations, except when Madison Bumgarner starts. In those cases, they don’t score runs.
When MadBum starts, the Giants have scored 3, 4, 3, 3, 2 and 2. And not all of those runs were scored when MadBum was still in the game.
While it would be nice to win a game 6-1, that requires the starters — other than just MadBum — to keep the other team off the board.
But it’s nice to know that there is no quit in the 2013 Giants.
The Giants have hit just 18 home runs this season, second fewest among NL teams (and with Giancarlo Stanton going to be sidelined for a while, the Marlins don’t figure to add many to their total of 12).
But don’t tell the Arizona Diamondbacks about the Giants’ power shortage. Because against Arizona, it seems whenever the Giants need a big blast they’ve got one.
For the fourth time in five games this season against the Diamondbacks, the Giants have hit a home run in the eighth or ninth innings to erase a deficit.
- On April 22, Buster Posey hits a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game 4-4. The Giants would win the next inning 5-4.
- On April 23 vs. Arizona, Brandon Belt hits a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to tie game 4-4. Arizona would wind up winning in the 11th, 6-4
- On April 24 vs. Arizona, Brandon Crawford hits a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth to tie game 2-2. Arizona would win the game 3-2 in the 10th.
So when Josh Wilson hit a solo home run, giving Arizona a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth of Tuesday, the stage was set for some more late-inning thunder from the Giants.
And thankfully, they got some help from Arizona manager Kirk Gibson.
Gibson actually pulled a Bochy.
After Wilson’s home run off Santiago Casilla in the eighth gave Arizona the lead, Gibson opted to let pitcher Trevor Cahill hit for himself with one out in the eighth.
Despite holding a narrow 1-0 lead, the move appeared to be a sound one as Cahill was shutting out the Giants on three hits and he had only thrown 82 pitches through eight innings.
Angel Pagan led off the ninth and worked the count full on Cahill before shooting a single into right field. That led Gibson to come get Cahill and bring in J.J. Putz.
“I didn’t want him to take the loss,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. “I had confidence in my closer and it didn’t work out.”
Thanks a lot, Gibby.
Pagan stole second, Marco Scutaro struck out, then Pablo Sandoval hammered a Putz pitch deep over the wall in right center for a 2-1 Giants led.
Sergio Romo would come in and set the Diamondbacks down in order in the ninth for his 10th save of the season.
It game the Giants their 15th win in April. If the Giants win 15 games every month, they’ll win 90 games for the season. So the blast ended April on a positive note. It gives the Giants the chance to salvage the road trip with a 3-3 mark with a win Wednesday. And it means they didn’t completely squander seven shutout innings from Madison Bumgarner, who lowered his ERA 1.55.
When I flipped on the game Monday, I was surprised to see Gregor Blanco in the No. 6 spot of the lineup. I thought “huh, Gregor sixth, Brandon Belt seventh.”
Then Brandon Crawford came up, and I thought “Is something wrong with Belt?”
Nope. Nothing wrong. Belt was just batting eighth. Why? Well, it had to do with his history against Arizona pitcher Ian Kennedy. Belt was 2 for 15, which to me seemed like a pretty small sample over the course of two-plus seasons.
But the bigger stat that factored in for Bochy was the nine strikeouts. So Bochy put Belt at No. 8. Maybe he was playing the numbers, which is a little curious because the numbers says Belt was one of the hotter Giants over the past week.
But maybe he was simply trying to get a message to Belt to focus more on his approach against Kennedy … against every single pitcher he faces.
If it’s the latter, it worked.
Belt took a couple of pitches from Kennedy in his first at-bat, then turned on an inside fastball and sent it over the fence in right field for a home run. Belt finished 1 for 3 against Kennedy, flying out to deep right and center in his other two at-bats.
“Try not to panic,” he said, smiling. “But actually, coming into the game, I had a solid approach. I saw him a few times and had an idea what he was trying to do. I wanted to lay off all the pitches up and away he’s gotten me on.”
In the eighth, Belt came up with two outs and the bases loaded. He worked the count to 3-1 against Brad Ziegler.
He said the thought about taking another pitch in hopes of drawing the walk that would give the Giants the lead. Instead, he saw a pitch he liked and slapped it up the middle for a two-run single.
“You’ve just got to adjust and I’m doing a better job adjusting now,” he said. “I’ve got to be ready to adjust again the next time.”
Is that Belt talking? Or is it Bochy? Who cares, because right now it’s working.
- CAIN AND THE LONG BALL: The Giants got their first win in a game started by Matt Cain this season, although Cain didn’t get the win after surrendering three home runs in the fourth inning. It makes nine home runs Cain has allowed this season. But if there’s a trend, it’s that eight of those have come on the road … in hitter-friendly parks. His next two starts are at home, then May 16 … at Colorado … COLORADO. Hopefully, Cain will figure out how to keep the ball in the park by then.
- PANDA IN PAIN: Pablo Sandoval left Monday’s game in the sixth inning with pain in his troublesome elbow. It’s the same elbow that sidelined him more than a week during spring training and almost put his season-opener in doubt. Sandoval insists the move was purely precautionary and he wants to play Tuesday. Bochy was leaning more toward giving the Panda the day off.
- SWINGING SCUTARO: If you watched Monday’s game, you saw a rarity. Marco Scutaro, who almost always takes a first strike, swung at the first strike four times. The result was a 3-for-4 game with a double, a walk and two runs scored. It was almost as if Scutaro was using his own scouting report against the pitchers. Pitchers know Scutaro takes a strike, so they come early with fastballs. Knowing that, Scutaro pounced. Scutaro, who has been battling back stiffness early this season, was looking to break out of any early-season funk. His three hits Monday jumped his average from .222 to .237.
- KRUKOW’S NUTTY COMMENT: The quote of the day from Monday’s broadcast came during the Giants’ eighth-inning rally. Crawford fouled off a pitch that took one hop behind the plate and nutted home-plate umpire Dale Scott. Scott took a couple of minutes to compose himself before returning to his work. Duane Kuiper said: “He’s a gamer.” That led Mike Krukow to respond: “I’d be doing snow angels in the dirt.”
The Giants went 1-5 last week, leaving them 13-12 for the season, 3rd in the NL West , 2 games behind the Rockies and Diamondbacks.
- Monday: Giants 5, Diamondbacks 4. WP: Romo (1-1); HR: Posey (2).
- Tuesday: Diamondbacks 6, Giants 4 (11). LP: Casilla (2-2); HR: Belt (1).
- Wednesday: Diamondbacks 3, Giants 2. LP: Gaudin (0-1); Crawford (4).
- Friday: Padres 2, Giants 1. LP: Lincecum (2-1).
- Saturday: Padres 8, Giants 7 (12). LP: Romo (1-2). HR: Crawford (5).
- Sunday: Padres 6, Giants 4. LP: Vogelsong (1-2). HR: Posey (3).
Normally, coming into the week on a five-game losing streak, we’d be glad to have Matt Cain on the mound. He’s the stopper. But the Giants haven’t won a game in which Cain has started since Game 4 of the World Series. That makes five straight losses in Cain starts for the Giants, even though Cain is only 0-2 himself. And what has been biting Cain? The long ball. So having him start at Arizona’s Chase Field won’t make any fans feel any better. The Giants placed reliever Jose Mijares on the bereavement list after the death of his grandmother. Sandy Rosario was called up from Fresno, but may not be with the big club long as Jeremy Affledt is due off the DL some time this week.
GIANTS AT DIAMONDBACKS (15-10)
- Monday: Giants (Cain 0-2) at Diamondbacks (Kennedy 1-2), 6:40 p.m.
- Tuesday: Giants (Bumgarner 3-0) at Diamondbacks (Cahill 1-3), 6:40 p.m.
- Wednesday: Giants (Lincecum 2-1) at Diamondbacks (McCarthy 0-3), 6:40 p.m
The Giants lost two of three to Arizona last week, and the key to the losses for the Giants was failing to produce offense early in the game. The first two games included comebacks from deficits of 4-2 and 4-0 after the seventh inning. … The Giants went 4-5 at Chase Field last season, but won 4 of their last 5 games there after dropping the first four. … Each team will send only one pitcher in this series who pitched in last week’s series in San Francisco. Both fared well and pitched in the same game. Arizona’s Ian Kennedy went 6 innings, giving up 1 run on 4 hits with 4 strikeouts. Bumgarner went 7.1 innings, giving up one run on five hits with 7 strikeouts. … By missing Patrick Corbin and Wade Miley, the Giants miss Arizona’s two best pitchers by ERA. They meet Brandon McCarthy, who has struggled to a 7.48 ERA. Trevor Cahill is 1-3, but sports a nice 3.00 ERA. … It might not make you feel better about Cain pitching, but he’s 8-4 with a 4.13 ERA at Chase Field. … Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt is a Giant killer (7 HR, 23 RBI, .310 in 30 games). He’s particularly good against Giants pitchers who names rhyme with Wincecum (5 HR, 10 RBI, .588).
DODGERS (12-12) at GIANTS
- Friday: Dodgers (Kershaw 3-2) at Giants (Zito 3-1), 7:10 p.m.
- Saturday: Dodgers (Lilly 0-0) at Giants (Vogelsong 1-3), 6:05 p.m. MLB Network
- Sunday: Dodgers (Ryu 2-1) at Giants (Cain 0-2), 5 p.m. ESPN
The Giants took 2 of 3 in Los Angeles to open the season. … The Dodgers are expected to get SS Hanley Ramirez back in the lineup this week after suffering a hand injury during the World Baseball Classic. … The projected starters for the Dodgers is based on the notion that they’ll use their off day Thursday to skip their No. 5 starter. If they don’t, rookie Matt Magill will get the Friday start. But with Chris Capuano due back from the DL early next week, they’ll likely just skip the No. 5 spot. … If that’s true, the Giants will face Clayton Kershaw on Friday. Kershaw has enjoyed more success against the Giants than any other team. He’s 9-4 with a 1.28 ERA in 17 starts against the Giants. … It’s a good thing that Barry Zito is slated to face Kershaw on Friday. Zito has not allowed a run at home in three starts this season. He’s averaged 7 innings in all three home starts, yet has only throw 6.1 combined innings in his two road starts. … The Dodgers broke camp with 8 starting pitchers. But they have since traded Aaron Harang and lost Zach Greinke, Chad Billingsley and Chris Capuano to the DL.
Remember when the Giants are 12-8 after three weeks? Remember that the Giants did that despite Buster Posey hitting his stride?Remember how we thought the offense would really take off once Buster found his groove?
Well, Buster found it last week, hitting .429 (9 for 21) with two home runs, 6 RBI, three walks, just one strikeout. He had .500 OBP and a 1.310 OPS.
Pretty good huh? So what did the Giants do last week? They went 1-5.
This further proves that baseball is a team game, and the Giants need production up and down the lineup to succeed.
Last week’s player of the week — Brandon Crawford — hit .217 last week. Week 2′s POY, Marco Scutaro, hit .185.
We hope this isn’t a trend because we need Buster to stay hot.
Oh, and the Giants’ second best hitter last week? Any guesses? How about Brandon Belt (.389 avg, .476 OBP, 1.087 OPS).
So let’s review the week as it is right, shall we?
Monday, the Giants trail 4-2 in the eighth, but they get a two-run homer from Buster Posey in the eighth to tie it, and a pinch-hit RBI single by Brandon Belt in the ninth to win it, 5-4.
Tuesday, the Giants trail 4-0 in the eighth, but they rally for two in the eighth and two more in the ninth (on a Belt two-run homer) to tie it and send it into extra innings. They lose it in 11, 6-4, when an error and wild pitch contribute to the Diamondbacks rally.
Wednesday, the Giants trail 2-1 in the ninth when they tie it on a Brandon Crawford home run. But Arizona scores in the 10th to win it, 3-2.
Friday, the Giants get a solid seven innings from Tim Lincecum, but can’t get him much offense and lose, 2-1.
That’s four games, three one-run games, two extra-inning games, and 1-3 record.
The Giants were due for a breather and figured to get one with Barry Zito on the mound. After all, the only two wins this season that didn’t require a save or walk-off hit featured Zito on the mound.
It looked that way as Crawford belted a three-run home run to help the Giants build a 5-0 lead through three innings.
And then the big inning hit. But we can’t really blame Zito much.
The Padres rally in the fourth was sparked by a two-base error by Andres Torres, when he completely whiffed a liner to left (and you thought Torres could only whiff at the plate).
Six runs would score in the inning, although only one was earned to Zito.
And if we’re looking to hand out blame, maybe we should send some Bruce Bochy’s way.
We’ve seen these two-run or three-run rallies get ugly on Zito before. But I think the lefty’s recent run on success led the skipper to leave his pitcher in and see if he could work his way out of it.
If this rally had come last season — any other season in a Giants uniform — Bochy would have had a quicker hook. Bochy needs to help Zito by going to get him during long innings. He loses his stuff when he asked to stay out there too long.
The Giants still managed to reclaim the lead on Hunter Pence’s two-run triple, but the Padres rallied to tie it 7-7.
It stayed that way in the eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th until the Padres put runners on first and third with one out.
Nick Hundley hit a sharp one-hopper to Marco Scutaro for a potential inning-ending double play. But Scutaro could not corral it, and it went for a game-winning error.
And now the Giants turn to Ryan Vogelsong on Sunday against Jason Marquis. The Giants don’t need a breather. A win would right now would provide a breath of fresh error after a third consecutive one-run loss.
Given the Giants’ three-game losing streak, we thought Giants fans might need something to cheer them up.
The Giants have a longstanding tradition of producing clever commercials, and this year’s spots include a send-up to Hunter Pence’s pre-game speeches during last season’s World Series run and the movie classic “Animal House.”
- Hunter Pence as Bluto
- Buster Posey at Otter
- Tim Lincecum as Boon
- Brandon Belt as D-Day
- Madison Bumgarner as Stork
- Barry Zito as Pinto
- Jeremy Affelt as Hoover
To watch the spot, click on the below image.
Not bad. Not bad.
It seems appropriate that the Giants pay tribute to “Animal House” consider their roster includes a Panda, Baby Giraffe, White Shark, Horse, Crazy Horse and a Gopher. OK, that last one hasn’t caught on as we had hoped, but we’re not giving up.
If you want to see how the Giants’ effort measure up to the original, look here:
Or you can look at the Giants doing their impersonation of Hunter Pence.
I think it was during a game in 2010 in San Diego that Giants announcer Duane Kuiper first coined the term “Giants baseball: Torture.”
Well, Friday’s game in San Diego felt a lot like 2010 all over again.
Tim Lincecum pitched a quality start (he gave up two runs in seven inning, striking out nine). But it didn’t matter because two runs were all the Padres needed to win this one. Even Luke Gregerson had a shutdown inning.
The 2013 Padres are not the 2010 Padres. And the 2013 Giants are not the 2010 Giants.
But for one night, it looked that way.
The Giants wasted some early opportunities to score more runs, then the hitters went into shutdown mode.
Angel Pagan opened the game with a single, stole second, went to third on a Marco Scutaro groundout and scored on a wild pitch in the first inning. Buster Posey then added a two out single.
The Giants got two more hits in the second, but got nothing to show for it thanks to a double-play ball.
In the third they put two on and nobody out, but the Padres’ Andrew Cashner retired Pablo Sandoval, Posey and Hunter Pence in order to end that threat. It started a string of 19 consecutive Giants hitters to be sent down.
Needing some ninth-inning magic YET AGAIN, the Giants almost pulled it off. Posey lined a one-out single to right. Brandon Belt added a two-out single to put runners on first and third. But Brandon Crawford grounded to second to end the game.
And the Giants wasted a nice outing from Lincecum.
The Freak got into a funk in the second and third innings. He wriggled himself out of a jam in the second, thanks to a double play. And he almost did it again in the third. But a pair of two-out singles plated the Padres’ lone two runs of the game. Other than that, it was six more scoreless innings.
That makes 29.2 innings thrown by Lincecum this season. All 12 earned runs he’s allowed have come in four innings. The other 25.2 have been scoreless. He lowered his ERA to 3.64.
The loss makes three in a row for the Giants. But never fear, Barry Zito is here.
The Giants have won 13 games this season. Seven of those wins have required a save. Two others were walk-off wins. The other two were 10-0 and 5-0 wins with Barry Zito on the mound.
So with Zito pitching, we can all just sit back, relax and enjoy an easy win.
Some fans were surprised to see the Giants break camp with three catchers. Manager Bruce Bochy liked the flexibility having three catchers gives him with late-inning substitutions. He also liked having a switch-hitting bat on the bench in Hector Sanchez.
But as Sanchez has struggled at the plate, the Giants may consider sending him back to the minors to get more at-bats. His spring at-bats were limited by a sore shoulder. Guillermo Quiroz getting a start on Wednesday may be an indicator that the Giants could be leaning in this direction.
If the Giants decide to send Sanchez down, who is the prime candidate to replace him?
Well, Brett Pill is stepping up. Pill was a candidate to make the club in spring training before a knee injury derailed those plans. Pill is back playing and he’s heating up.
Pill is hitting .354 with 5 home runs and 21 RBI in 17 games this season for Triple-A Fresno. He is on a 7-game hitting streak in which he is hitting .448 (13 for 29). He has belted home runs in each of past two games.
Also interesting is that he has only 11 strikeouts in 65 at-bats.
Pill has been playing first base for Fresno. If you start noticing him playing left field (or even third base), then that would be a sign that the Giants might be preparing to call him up.
- RHP Yusmeiro Petit has looked sharp in his last two starts. He struck out 13 — one short of Tim Lincecum’s Fresno record — in just six innings of work against Tacoma on April 19. He held Reno to three runs in six innings on Thursday in a win.
- 2B Carter Jurica is hitting .450 (9 for 20) in his last five games, raising his average to .371 on the season, 11th in the PCL. He also has a .436 OBP.
- 3B Adam Duvall: Duvall was off to a hot start, earning player of the week honors in the Eastern League. But he was placed on the disabled list with a disabled list and not expected back until early May.
- SS Joe Panik: Panik is heating up. He’s on a six-game hitting streak during which he’s hit 10 for 20, raising his average to .288. He’s also homered in two of the past three games. He’s also drawn four walks in the past three games, raising his OBP to .374.
- OF Javier Herrera. Herrera has a 8-game hitting streak, during which he’s 10 for 22 and raising his average to .324. He’s also sixth in the Eastern League with a .432 OBP.
- RHP Justin Fitzgerald. The 27-year-old pitcher continues to have a stellar 2013 and may soon earn a promotion. He threw five shutout innings with 10 strikeouts and one walk against Altoona. His season ERA is 1.42 with 29 Ks to BBs in 19 innings.
CLASS A SAN JOSE
- RHP Kyle Crick: One of the Giants’ top pitching prospects went on the DL with an oblique strain.
- RHP Clayton Blackburn: Another top pitching prospect continues to pitch well. Blackburn has a 1.64 ERA with 25 Ks and 2 BB in 22 innings.
- 1B Angel Villalona: The one-time top prospect continues to progress. He is hitting 7 for 21 over his last five games with 1 HR and 7 RBI. He’s still hitting .193 for the season.
CLASS A AUGUSTA
- RHP Chris Stratton: The 2012 first-rounder suffered his first loss on Thursday, giving up four runs in six innings. But he also struck out 11. He has a 2.38 ERA and 28 Ks and 8 BB in 22.2 innings.
- RHP Martin Agosta: Another pitching prospect is 3-1 with 1.71 ERA with 27 Ks and 7 BB in 21 innings.
- RHP Joan Gregoria: He is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA with an eye-popping 25 Ks and 1 BB in 19 innings. He only pitched two innings in the nightcap of the doubleheader Thursday. No explanation there that I could find.