Monday, May 18, 2009

2009 Giants are 19-18: Facing Padres in Petco

That's why they play the games: Giants lost their first series at home, 1-3, to the Mets. They should have won both the middle games, but their pitching let them down, big time! But that happens, you still have to keep the big picture in mind.

It Takes a Village

The offense started to show off a bit more of their potential this weekend against the Mets. Unfortunately, the pitching decided to take the weekend off and was battered until Matt Cain shut the door down and won, though again he was effectively wild, walking 5 in 6 IP, but giving up only 3 hits but with only 2 strikeouts. Eh, it was in the win column, he is now 4-1.

Oddly enough, even though the Giants had been winning most games where the offense scored 4 runs or more, they lost all three games where they scored 4+ runs and won the one where we scored only 2 runs. We even beat up on the great Johan Santana, who had a sub 1.00 ERA before facing the powerless Giants, who ended up scoring 6 runs off him (4 earned), but still lost when Randy Johnson was even worse. The team averaged 4.50 runs per game in this series.

A number of hitters are starting to get hot. Rowand had a big outburst against Johan Santana, of all pitchers, and apparently he's been Zito-like in that the more he puts it upon himself, the worse he performs. Ishikawa has been hitting ever since he had a "semi-benching": the press reported that Bochy was thinking of setting him down, and now he has hits in 5 of his last 6 games, going 8 for 20 (.400), scoring 3 runs and driving in 3 runs, plus a walk (though 5 K's still). Winn is another who has been hitting much better of late, which makes the top of the lineup more potent, with Burriss, Renteria, Sandoval, and Molina hitting too.

Next Up: 'Dres at Petco

Unfortunately, next up is one of the worse pitchers parks in the majors, Petco, home of San Diego. That could cool off (relatively) our hitters quickly. Luckily, we skip Peavy this time, though still get to face Chris Young still.

Game 1: Zito vs. Young

This looks like a fair chance to win, but all is not as it seems. Zito has been pitching well of late, for the first 6 innings, before petering out in the 7th, while Young has been pitching poorly, on and off, all season long. However, it should be noted, that also reflects his performance on the road: thus far at home, he has been pretty good, 19 IP, 14 hits and 6 walks, 18 strikeouts, only 5 ER for 2.37 ERA. Plus, Zito faces some pressure pitching at his boyhood home town, and he has not always done his best when there is pressure. So I would put this game as a coin toss whether we can pull off a win. Our results here probably will affect the whole series, whether it turns bad or good.

Game 2: Sanchez vs. Gaudin

Two starters who are both wildly ineffective in many starts this season facing each other, though we don't have an exact idea how well Gaudin will pitch, this is his first start at home in San Diego; he had pitched his prior four starts on the road, and frankly probably better than Sanchez has lately. Still, I think another coin toss.

Game 3: Lincecum vs. Correia

We face our former #5 starter who barely made the 'Dres pitching rotation with our ace of the staff and arguably the best pitcher in the majors since the 2008 season began, heck, since mid-2007 season. We should win this one unless Lincecum loses it again, which is very doubtful, but as we saw last time, is possible.

Giants Thoughts

The Giants go on a road trip along the West Coast, facing San Diego first, then Seattle, before coming home. Both are pitcher's parks, SD especially so, thus the offense will be pushed to produce. However, the hitters have been coming out of their collective funk, one by one, and most of the lineup has been producing most games lately. That helped fuel the long stretch of winning series (and not losing series) - the Mets series is the first series loss since the bad 6 game losing streak on the road with LA and SD.

Thus far this season, so goes our pitching rotation and staff, so goes our team, offense good or bad. So we need Zito to continue his general excellence if we hope to win the SD series, as Sanchez is not someone to rely on right now, he is pitching like a #5 starter right now, unfortunately.

And so has Randy Johnson, unfortunately. He has been pitching horribly, nothing like what his 2008 season and his proclaimation that he was healthy this season would portend. However, he is 45 years old, and the wheels on the bus has been due to fall off any year now. It appears that the D-backs made the right decision to pass on keeping him around, but if you look at his numbers, he is still striking out a lot of guys while not walking that many (though it could still use some reducing), so his main problem is that his BABIP is sky-high, way above the .300 that most pitchers regress to the mean, at .337 and his HR/FB is at 24.4%, above the 10% pitchers regress to. His overall numbers, however, is not that far from his numbers last season, other than HR has been his bugaboo.

Then we got Johnson, Cain, and Zito facing the Mariners. With two long-time American Leaguers, they hopefully can get comfortable facing an AL team, but since Johnson had his bad outing against Arizona, returning to his former home, I worry that he's going to have another bad outing against Seattle.

However, if he can pitch well - and he's been tantalizingly good for one game at a time this season - then with Cain and Zito, we should at least be competitive for winning this series with the Mariners, though it won't be easy, as we face their three best starters, Bedard, Washburn, and King Felix, who have all been pretty dominating, though Hernandez has had a horrible May so far, and thus give us a better chance in his start. Without Johnson at his best, we probably lose this series and there is a strong chance of being swept.

It will be interesting to see what Bochy does with Ishikawa this series. There are two tough lefties, but Ishikawa has been hitting lately and Aurilia hasn't. Also, Ishikawa is from the Seattle area and he might feel the pressure to do well, which has typically put him outside of his game, and make him into a poor run producer.

I also wonder who will get the DH duties. I assume he would rest an OF or two, plus perhaps the vet SS, whether Renteria or Uribe, at that time, plus Molina one game to give Zito either Holm or Sandoval. Luckily, so far, Zito has pitched well enough that he hasn't been bothered by having the team's best hitter sitting on the bench during the games he pitch in.

Good test of the offense, whether it can continue it's rise of the past week or so, or if they are shut down by the opposing pitching. I think they can continue, but first SD then that trio of starters, I suspect that the offense will fall flat and not do well on the road. But they did give Santana a good beating, so maybe this is the trip the offense finally lets loose and do well.

Good test of the resiliency of the starting rotation and bullpen, whether it can shake off the implosion at the hands of the Mets, and start another good stretch of good pitching. Both starters and relievers were equally bad during the Mets series until Cain's start. With a rotation like our, we should not endure many long losing streaks, but we will probably be bouncing around .500 much of the season because of the offense.


  1. We should bring Guzman up for the Seattle series to DH. It's his best shot to get a chance this season and we wont have to watch him play D.

  2. I neglected to mention this, but I would prefer to use the opportunity to play Schierholtz for all three games - though as I noted, this series will be tough on any young hitter trying to show how good they are, since we are facing Bedard, Washburn, and King Felix.

    Plus, we would need to clear a spot on the 40 man (though with the latest Lowry drama, he could be DFAed for all the Giants care) to bring up Guzman. I think maybe later when we go to play more AL teams on the road, in the middle of June, things will be clearer by then.

    For example, Ishikawa has gotten on base twice tonight already then lined out to 1B, not a bad night at the plate again.

    As I've noted, Ishikawa last season hit way better in AAA than Guzman is doing right now, both for HR and OPS, so why would Guzman be any better than Ishikawa right now? He needs to play 1B and learn that position in the minors, not while our MLB pitchers are trying to win games.

  3. I'm not calling for Guzman to replace Ishi. That's why I suggested the DH. I wouldn't mind Schierholtz getting the extra ABs though.

  4. Jeez, we are absolutely hanging our starters out to dry this series, this is getting a little painful to watch. Bats better come alive for the franchise tonight

  5. Need to remember two things about the series so far:

    First, it's Petco Park, one of the most extreme pitchers parks in the majors.

    Second, both Young and Gaudin have the Giants number. Gaudin, formerly of the A's, was so unwanted that the Cubs, who need starting pitching, released him and the 'Dres signed him to a minor league contract. However, for his career, in 11 games and 29.1 IP against the Giants, he has a 2.76 ERA, even though he walked 16 hitters and gave up 27 hits (only 15 strikeouts) for a 1.45 WHIP. For his career, his ERA is 4.43 and WHIP is 1.52. Plus, he has pitched well in Petco thus far (though limited) in his career.

    Young, meanwhile, in 3 starts against the Giants this year, has 20 IP with 0.45 ERA and 0.90 WHIP.

    With a history backdrop like that, the Giants were most probably not doing to do well against the two. I was just hoping that because Gaudin has not been that good this year, that he would be more vulnerable to the Giants, but like he did in his A's days, he confounded the offense.

    And despite Young's struggles this year, he's been a good pitcher, so I normally would expect a loss, except that Zito has been pitching exceptionally well after his first two starts stunk.

    But yeah, with Correia starting, one would hope that whatever flaw the Giants saw that caused them to release him, they can attack that and pick up the offense today.

    Sorry Matt, did not mean to say that you were saying that, I was addressing what I've been seeing other's say about bringing up Guzman over Ishikawa.

    The only good news I can pass on right now is that the Mariners appear to be struggling right now, so it might be the best time to face them all season.



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