Sabermetricians will say Ryan Vogelsong had a bad outing Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals.
And when you look at the final statistics, it would be hard to argue.
5.1 innings, 9 hits, 5 earned runs, two walks and six strikeouts.
But if you actually sat and watched the game, you’d say Vogelsong pitched well and had a good game … well, almost.
For the first four innings, the Cardinals were not making much solid contact against Vogelsong. Yet, St. Louis had a run on the board.
Vogelsong gave up the first earned run by a Giants starter this season in the first inning. The rally was fueled by two hits — Matt Carpenter’s swining bunt and Carlos Beltran’s two-out looper to right.
After Beltran’s single, Vogelsong would set down 10 of the next 11 hitters he faced.
Then came the most unfortunate fifth inning.
It started with Pete Kozma’s grounder into the hole at short that Brandon Crawford was able to glove. But Brandon Belt was unable to handle Crawford’s short-hopped throw to first, and Kozma was safe on an infield single.
After Kozma advanced to second, then third on a pair of outs — and then Carpenter walked — Vogelsong was in position to get out of the jam when he threw an 0-1 curverball to Matt Holliday. Holliday got out in front of the pitch, but was able to put the bat on the ball and hit a perfect seeing-eye grounder into left field to tie the game at 2-2.
Vogelsong may have escaped the damage right there when Allen Craig hit a sharp grounder between third and short. Pablo Sandoval made a diving smother of the ball, but could not come up with the ball cleanly to record an out.
What made the play even more unfortunate for Vogey and the Giants is that if Sandoval had let the ball go past him, Crawford was in position to field the ball cleanly and throw out Craig.
Instead, the bases were loaded. Then Beltran followed with a clean, two-run single to right to make it 4-2.
The bad luck didn’t end there for the Giants. Trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the sixth, it looked like they were ready to mount a rally when Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt drew one-out walks. Joaquin Arias was called on to hit for Gregor Blanco. Arias then hit a liner to the right side of the infield that first baseman Craig was able to snare and turn into a inning-ending double play.
“A step here or there and we’re talking about a totally different ballgame,” Vogelsong said. “I felt I was forcing the ball early, trying to make it do stuff instead of jut letting it come out. The middle innings got better. I didn’t feel I threw the ball all that terribly.”
And he didn’t. But that’s baseball sometimes.
The end result was a loss that snapped the Giants’ three-game winning streak. It also snapped a seven-game winning streak of meaningful games for the Giants at AT&T Park that dated back to Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.
POWER FROM PENCE AND PANDA: Last season, the Giants hit the fewest home runs in the majors. This season, so far, they have hit four home runs, tying them for 16th in the majors. All four have come off the bats of Pence and Sandoval. The duo hit homers in Wednesday’s win over the Dodgers, and both connected again on Saturday. Pence is hitting .294 so far, and Sandoval is hitting .274. Plus, the Panda said he still feels a little lost at the plate after missing time late in spring training with a sore elbow.
WHO IS THIS GUY IMPERSONATING MARCO SCUTARO? Marco Scutaro went 1 for 4 Saturday, raising his average to .105. At least we think it’s Marco Scutaro. It looks like Scutaro. But the Scutaro we know struck out swinging only five times in 2012 after joining the Giants. He’s already struck out swinging twice in five games this season, including with the bases loaded and one out on Friday. On Saturday, he did something else strange. Last year, Scutaro swung at the first pitch on 13 percent of the time while playing for the Giants. In the bottom of the ninth with two outs, a runner on first and trailing by three runs, Scutaro swung at the first pitch and flied to right to end the game. Who IS this guy?
GOOD THINGS FOR BRANDON BELT? It’s been a rough week for Brandon Belt. First he looks bad against Clayton Kershaw in the season opener in LA. Then he gets food poisoning, which sidelined him for two games and caused him to loose 11 pounds. After an 0-for-4 day on Friday, Belt went 0-for-3 with walk on Saturday, leaving him 0 for 10 on the season. But two of hits outs on Saturday were loud outs, a liner to center in the second and a rope to first in the fourth. After fanning twice against Kershaw on Monday, Belt hasn’t fanned in his two games this weekend. Good things could be on the way for Belt.
MoreSplashHits got up Friday thinking how great it would be to be at AT&T Park for the pre-game festivities, but at least I could watch it on TV.
Then I turned on the MLB Network, which was carrying Friday’s Giants-Cardinals game. But instead of showing the pre-game, the network decided to show Brian Kinney and Harold Reynolds blabber at each other.
OK, no problem. I’ll just go to MLB. TV. But MLB.TV also did show the pre-game, joining the broadcast right before the first pitch.
So, we’d like to thank SFGiants.com show sharing video of the highlights of Friday’s pre-game activities as the Giants raised their 2012 World Series banner.
And it almost turned out like we called it.
MoreSplashHits posted 10 prime candidates to raise the flag on Friday.
Two of them did not participate, as we expected, because they were getting ready for the game: Pitcher Barry Zito, who was warming up in the bullpen, and catcher Buster Posey, who was catching Zito.
“It would have been nice, but I also like my routine,” Posey said of joining the pre-game festivities. “It’s a balance.”
Two other players we listed did not hoist the flag, but were given another honor. NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro and World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval got to throw out the ceremonial first pitches.
As for the flag itself, it was brought in via the bay on a San Francisco fire boat. After it was carried into the stadium, it was handed to Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who walked it to the outfield wall, and passed it off to pitcher Matt Cain.
Cain carried the flag into the stands and to the flag pole, followed by five teammates — each of whom took turns in hoisting the flag up the pole:
Matt Cain — got it
Tim Lincecum — got it
Ryan Vogelsong — got it
Sergio Romo — got it
Hunter Pence — got it
Angel Pagan — DOH!!
OK, we didn’t get Pagan, but 9 out of 10 isn’t bad.
Actually, when I was compiling my list of candidates, I wanted to have five pitchers and five position players. After coming up with Pence, Scutaro, Posey and Sandoval, I needed one more.
I went with Blanco because he’s defensive plays in the postseason stuck out more in my mind. But I could have gone with several candidates like Brandon Crawford (for his defense) and Pagan.
Pagan was a solid choice for his contributions from the start of the season through the playoff run. And he just signed a four-game contract with the Giants last winter.
“This is about sharing the joy, sharing the accomplishment,” Pence said Hunter Pence. “That’s what we do it for. We do it for each other. We do it together.”
Good choices all the way around, and it was a great ceremony. Still, it would have been nice to see Buster in the mix.
“Aw, I had fun watching ‘em,” Posey said of his teammates.
Don’t feel too bad for Buster. He’ll get his time in the spotlight Saturday when he’ll be presented his MVP trophy in a pre-game ceremony.
Six months later, and the St. Louis Cardinals are still looking to score a run at AT&T Park … or against Barry Zito.
After being shut out in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, the Cardinals have now played 21 consecutive scoreless innings at AT&T Park, thanks to Barry Zito.
Now be honest: How many of you expected Zito to extend the Giants’ run of starting pitchers giving up no earned runs? Probably a similar number of those who thought the streak would last past Tim Lincecum.
But Zito was on again, pitching seven shutout innings, giving up four hits and three walks as the Giants won their home opener over the Cardinals, 1-0.
Here is the extent of the Giants’ offense on Friday.
The Fourth Inning
- Gregor Blanco walks
- Brandon Crawford singles to center
- Zito bunts, but Yadier Molina (of all people) mishandled the ball, and Zito is safe on the error.
- Angel Pagan walks, Blanco scores.
And then, if things weren’t strange enough, the Giants’ best contact hitter — Marco Scutaro — comes up in a contact situation … and strikes out swinging.
As it turned out, that one run is all that Zito and the Giants would need.
Zito continue his mastery of the Redbirds. If you added his seven shutout innings Friday to the 7.2 shutout innings he threw in Game 5 of last season’s NLCS and the two shutout innings on the back end of a quality start in St. Louis on Aug. 7, it makes 16.2 consecutive shutout innings by Zito against the Cardinals.
It also marked the 15th consecutive start — including last postsesaon — that the Giants won a game in which Zito started.
Zito’s start Friday marked the first time since the 1976 Milwaukee Brewers that a team had starting pitchers not allow an earned run in the first four games of the season. The Brewers, by the way, went 66-95 in 1976 in Hank Aaron’s final season.
Here’s another interesting stat: The last time the Giants won a game started by Zito by a 1-0 score came on July 16, 2010, when Zito pitched eight shutout innings on two hits, two walks and 10 strikeouts against the Mets.
And now the Cardinals get Ryan Vogelsong on Saturday.
The San Francisco Giants will raise the banner on Friday at their home opener against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Now the question is “Who will raise the banner?”
In 2011 — when the Giants also played their home opener against the Cardinals — reliever Brian Wilson took the honor of hoisting the World Series flag at AT&T Park.
While Wilson played a vital role in the 2010 championship, it should be pointed out that when the Giants opened the 2011 season, the 2010 World Series MVP (Edgar Renteria) was playing for the Reds. And the 2010 NLCS MVP (Cody Ross) was on the disabled list.
So on Friday, when the Giants hoist their 2012 World Series banner, the candidates for the honor are numerous. The Giants have been tight-lipped on who will get the honor and exactly how the act will be performed.
One thing we can say for certain: It won’t be Brian Wilson. Wilson was last seen shopping at a Southern California mall in a ketchup-stained T-shirt.
So who is it going to be? Well, here’s MoreSplashHits’ list of the top-ten candidates. (more…)
For all the moves the Dodgers made, all the big-money contracts they have under their payroll, the only player the Dodgers needed Monday was they haven’t paid … YET.
Clayton Kershaw was on his game Monday, and that left the Giants with only one hope: try to keep the game scoreless until Kershaw exited.
But it didn’t look good when Kershaw needed only 85 pitches to get through eight innings. It looked even worse when Kershaw came out to hit for himself to lead off the eighth, meaning the Dodgers’ ace would be hanging around for another inning or two.
It was over when Kershaw launched George Kontos‘ first pitch of the eighth inning over the center-field fence for his first career home run.
Everything that happened after Kershaw’s blast was completely inconsequential. Sabermetricians will tell you otherwise, but some stats are completely meaningless.
The only stats you need to be worried about are Kershaw’s: 9 IP, 4 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 7 Ks on 94 pitches. The Giants only got one runner to second, and none to third.
So the Giants, a team that was not shut out until June last season, suffered a shutout in their first game of 2013.
Here are some other notes:
- Matt Cain looked good in his first start. He was every bit as good as Kershaw, except for a first inning in which he labored to escape after putting two runners on with no outs. He exited after 93 pitches and six shutout innings, four hits allowed, one walk and eight strikeouts.
- Marco Scutaro went 0-for-4, snapping a 20-game hitting streak he ended the 2012 season with.
- Pablo Sandoval went 2 for 4 and was one of four Giants starters who didn’t strike out against Kerhaw (Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence and Andres Torres the others).
- Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford were each 0 for 3 with two strikeouts. Neither lefty had a chance against Kershaw.
- The two loudest balls hits off Kershaw came off the bat of Pence, who flied out to deep center and deep left for outs.
There’s no point trying to make conclusions from this game. It belonged to Kershaw.
Losing on Opening Day for a third consecutive season stinks, but let’s move on to game 2 of 162.
Remember, the Giants opened the 2012 season 0-3 and 1-4, and still won the World Series. The Dodgers started 3-0 and 9-1 in 2012 and missed the postseason.
In other words, it’s a long season.
Opening day is finally here. And the Giants begin Week 1 of the 2013 against two familiar rivals — the hated Dodgers and the Cardinals, who the Giants beat for the NL pennant in 2012. It marks the fourth consecutive opening day the Giants have played on the road: 2010 at Houston (win), 2011 at LA (loss) and 2012 at Arizona (loss). Week 1 will feature five games on national TV.
GIANTS AT DODGERS
- Monday: Giants (Matt Cain) at Los Angeles Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw), 1:10 p.m., ESPN
- Tuesday: Giants (Madison Bumgarner) at Dodgers (Hyun-Jin Ryu), 7:10 p.m., MLB
- Wednesday: Giants (Tim Lincecum) at Dodgers (Josh Beckett, 7:10 p.m., ESPN2
The Giants won the season series 10-8 from the Dodgers in 2012, winning 5 of 9 at home and 5 of 9 at the Ravine. … The Dodgers won the last series of 2012, the final three games of the regular season when the Giants’ lone win eliminated the Dodgers from postseason contention. … Prior to the series, the Giants won 5 of 6 vs. LA. … This is the 10th time the Giants and Dodgers have opened the season against each other since both teams moved West in 1958. The Giants have gone 6-4; the Dodgers have won the last two (2011, 2008, both in LA). … The Dodgers’ South Korean signing Hyun-Jin Ryu will make his big-league debut on Tuesday. … Giants 2B Marco Scutaro will open the 2013 with a 20-game hitting streak to end 2012 still intact. … Scutaro will be the sixth different opening day second baseman for the Giants in the past six seasons: Ray Durham, Emmanuel Burriss, Juan Uribe, Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Theriot. … Pablo Sandoval will make his fifth consecutive opening day start at third base, the longest such streak at one position for the Giants since Ray Durham started six straight at 2B from 2003-2008.
CARDINALS at GIANTS
- Friday: St. Louis Cardinals (Jake Westbrook) at Giants (Barry Zito), 1:35 p.m., MLB
- Saturday: Cardinals (Shelby Miller) at Giants (Ryan Vogelsong), 1:05 p.m., FOX
- Sunday: Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) at Giants (Cain), 1:05 p.m.
The Giants and Cardinals went 3-3 vs. each other last season, splitting two games in SF and four in StL. … The Giants beat the Cardinals in seven games in the National League Championship Series last fall. … The three pitchers the Giants will send out in this series and the same three pitchers San Francisco started in Games 5, 6 and 7 (all wins) of the NLCS — Zito, Vogelsong and Cain. … The Cardinals were the opponent when the Giants made their home opener in 2011 after their 2010 World Series win. … The Giants won the last 11 regular season starts made by Zito, last 14 starts overall (including postseason). When did the streak begin? Aug. 7 at St. Louis, a 4-2 Giants win.
Guillermo Quiroz may have locked down the final spot on the Giants’ 25-man opening day roster with one swing Saturday.
Quiroz hammered a three-run home run off Bartolo Colon in the seventh inning, accounting for all of the Giants’ run in a 4-3 loss to the A’s in the preseason finale.
Or the decision could have been made before Quiroz came to the plate on Saturday.
The Giants made their final roster moves before Monday’s season opener by purchasing the contract of Quiroz and adding him to the 40-man roster. Outfielder Cole Gillespie, in the mix as a fifth outfielder, was sent to Minor League camp. He’ll likely open the season in Triple-A Fresno.
With Quiroz on the roster, the Giants could use Hector Sanchez as a pinch-hitter. Sanchez is a switch hitter, which gives the Giants more options late in a game.
“He has a good, adjustable bat from both sides of the plate,” Giants vice president Bobby Evans said of Sanchez.
Sanchez battled a sore shoulder this spring. But he caught back-to-back games this weekend in minor league camp in Arizona, and Evans said he looks pretty good.
Still, the very fact that Sanchez was left in Arizona while the rest of the Giants came north shows that the Giants had — and may still have — concerns about Sanchez’s healthy. It seems evident that when Buster Posey gets a day off in the season’s early going, it will be Quiroz — not Sanchez — behind the plate. This will give Sanchez extra time to build strength in the shoulder so it doesn’t act up again.
The 31-year-old Quiroz, who batted .282 this spring, has played in 103 big-league games over eight seasons with the Blue Jays, Mariners, Rangers, Orioles and Red Sox.
Not adding Gillespie means the Giants will open the season with four pure outfielders. But the ability of Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres to play all three outfield positions gives the Giants some flexibility. And the fact that all four outfielders are solid defenders, there won’t be any need to late-inning defensive replacements. Also, Brandon Belt remains an option in the outfield, as well as Joaquin Arias.
The final roster decision focused on Pablo Sandoval, who left Friday’s game with the A’s early after feeling some discomfort in his troublesome elbow.
Sandoval told manager Bruce Bochy that he was better Saturday and wanted to play. The Giants held him out as a precaution. Sandoval played catch before Saturday’s game, and will work out again Sunday before the team flies to Los Angeles Sunday afternoon, just to make sure everything’s working right.
Here is the Giants’ 25-man opening day roster for 2013
Projected Monday lineup:
- CF Angel Pagan
- 2B Marco Scutaro
- 3B Pablo Sandoval
- C Buster Posey
- RF Hunter Pence
- 1B Brandon Belt
- LF Andres Torres
- SS Brandon Crawford
- RHP Matt Cain
Other starting pitchers: LH Madison Bumgarner, RH Tim Lincecum, LH Barry Zito, RH Ryan Vogelsong.
Bullpen: RH Sergio Romo, LH Jeremy Affeldt, LH Javier Lopez, LH Jose Mijares, RH Santiago Casilla, RH George Kontos, RH Chad Gaudin
Bench: C Hector Sanchez, C Guillermo Quiroz, IF Nick Noonan, IF Joaquin Arias, OF Gregor Blanco
Friday was a big day for the San Francisco Giants, when they signed Buster Posey through the 2021 season, perhaps if 2022 if an option is picked up.
The deal, worth as much as $189 million, gives the Giants some cost certainty going forward. The offseason after the 2013 season will be a key one, as the contracts of Barry Zito, Tim Lincecum and Hunter Pence come off the board. It also leaves the Giants with three big holes in their lineup to fill, if they choose not to re-sign any or all of those players.
The Giants now have almost $90 million committed to guaranteed contracts for the 2014 seasons. If you add in a fairly light class of arbitration-eligible players and renewed contracts, the Giants could be sitting at $100 million, with a possible $40-$50 million to dedicate to free agent signings and re-signings.
These signings before opening day are becoming a regular occurrence. In the final days leading up to opening day in 2012, the Giants signed Matt Cain to a six-year, $127.5 million extension. Two weeks later, they signed Madison Bumgarner to a five-year, $35 million deal.
Here’s the breakdown of Giants with guaranteed contracts (club options included, except Barry Zito’s $18 million option in 2014) year-by-year (source: Baseball Reference):
2014 ($89.5 million, 10 players): Posey ($10.5m), Cain ($20m), Angel Pagan ($10.25m), Bumgarner ($3.75m), Jeremy Affeldt ($6m), Marco Scutaro ($6.67m), Pablo Sandoval ($8.25m), Barry Zito ($7m-buyout), Santiago Casilla ($4.5m), Sergio Romo ($5.5m), Ryan Vogelsong ($6.5m-option). Arbitration: Jose Mijares, Gregor Blanco, Joaquin Arias, Tony Abreu, Dan Runzler. Free agents: Barry Zito, Tim Lincecum, Hunter Pence, Javier Lopez, Andres Torres, Chad Gaudin.
2015 ($71.2 million, 7 players): Cain ($20m), Posey ($16.5m), Pagan ($10.25m), Bumgarner ($6.75m), Affeldt ($6m), Scutaro ($6.67m), Casilla ($5m). Arbitration: Blanco, Arias, Abreu, Runzler, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Hector Sanchez, Eric Surkamp. Free agents: Sandoval, Romo, Vogelsong, Mijares.
2016 ($62.4 million, 4 players): Posey ($21.4m), Cain ($20m), Pagan ($11.25m), Bumgarner ($9.75). Arbitration: Blanco, Abreu, Belt, Crawford, Sanchez, Surkamp, Brett Pill, George Kontos, Sandy Rosario, Francisco Peguero, Jean Machi. Free agents: Casilla, Affeldt, Scutaro, Arias.
2017 ($52.9 million, 3 players): Posey ($21.4m), Cain ($20m), Bumgarner ($11.5m). Arbitration: Belt, Crawford, Sanchez, Surkamp, Pill, Rosario, Peguero, Machi. Free agents: Pagan; Blanco; Abreu, Runzler.
2018 ($54.4 million, 3 players): Posey ($21.4m), Cain ($21m-option), Bumgarner ($12m-option). Arbitration: Pill, Rosario, Peguero, Machi Free agents: Belt, Crawford, Sanchez, Surkamp.
2019 ($33.4 million, 2 players): Posey ($21.4m), Bumgarner ($12m-option). Free agents: Cain, Pill, Rosario, Peguero, Machi.
2020 ($21.4 million): Posey ($21.4m). Free agent: Bumgarner.
2021 ($21.4 million): Posey ($21.4m)
2022 ($22 million): Posey ($22m-option)
OK, this much we know: Buster Posey will remain a San Francisco Giant through the 2021 season — at least — and that’s a good thing.
In the two years in which Buster Posey has manage to finish the season on the field, the Giants have won two world championships. In the previous 56 seasons in which Posey was not on the field as season’s end for Giants, they have won zero titles.
How can you put a price tag on that? Well, the Giants tried to Friday, when the signed the 2012 National League MVP to an extension. The exact amount, well, we aren’t quite sure. It could be $161 million or $167 million or $189 million or something completely different.
Here are what the different media outlets are reporting:
Chris Haft of SFGiants.com is calling it an eight-year, $167 million extension. From what we can tell, this is inaccurate. The extension is for eight years on top of the one year he was already signed for, with a total value on the nine years at $167 million.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported the deal as an eight-year extension for $161 million. That extension on top of the $8 million he was due to make this season, it takes the total value to $167 million. Wait! What? I’ve never been good at math, so I’ll need to check with my 8-year-old son when he gets home, but I always thought 161 + 8 = 169.
CSNBayArea.com got a little closer to the right number by saying Posey will be paid $167 million over the next nine season.
But the San Jose Mercury News wins the prize for the most accurate reporting, although it took them about an hour to get it right. Here’s the breakdown (and the numbers add up).
- Signing bonus: $7 million
- 2013 – $ 3 million (the one-year deal for $8 million Posey signed during the arbitration process gets ripped up).
- 2014 – $ 10.5 million
- 2015 — $16.5 million
- 2016 — $20 million
- 2017 — $21.4 million
- 2018 — $21.4 million
- 2019 — $21.4 million
- 2020 — $21.4 million
- 2021 — $21.4 million
- 2022 — $22 million option, $3 million buyout
So if the option is picked up, the deal would be worth $189 million over the next 10 years. Posey will average $18.56 million a season over the next nine years, $18.9 over 10 if the option is picked up in his age 35 season. Posey just celebrated his 26th birthday on Wednesday. Happy Birthday, Buster.
When you consider that the Giants will pay Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum about $20 million each this season, it makes this season look like a great deal.
It also makes it look fairly evident that Posey’s days as a full-time catcher are limited.
A couple of years ago, my daughter and I were in the Giants Store at AT&T Park, and she asks me “What’s up with the panda hat.”
I explained how one of the Giants’ most popular players was nicknamed Kung Fu Panda. She responded: “Oh, then I need to get one of these.”
And thus began a whole line of novelty Giants memorabilia items dedicated to Giants players: Wilson beards, Lincecum wigs (now collector’s items), Baby Giraffes, White Sharks, Melkmen, and on and on.