Monday, June 15, 2009

The Giants are 34-28: Acing the Angels

What a great sweep! The pitching won the day - only 3 runs allowed - but the offense also came alive too, scoring 15 runs in the 3 game series for a clear and satisfying sweep of the A's, who has dominated the Giants for years now.

Sure, it was against a last place team, but the A's were winners of 8 of their last 10 games when they came in against the Giants, and had just won 7 in a row, against the White Sox, Orioles, and Twins. While they were not winning teams, both the White Sox and Twins were around .500 teams when the A's faced them, and the Orioles were not that far away from .500, certainly closer than the A's are now or was back then.

The heroes for the weekend were Pablo Sandoval and Nate Schierholtz. Schierholtz was a part of the 3 run rally that clinched the game for Lincecum, drove in a key run in support of Johnson, and hit the 3-run inside-the-park homer, with two outs even, that sealed the game for Cain, plus made a number of key defensive plays which helped get runners out on the basepath, while Sandoval went 4 for 10 in the series, bunting for the first Giants hit in Lincecum's game, which keyed the three run rally, contributed a key hit in the 3 run 7th that won the game for the Big Unit, plus hitting the 2-run homer with two outs that gave Cain a comfortable lead for good and taking a walk that led to Schierholtz's exciting hit.

Also have to point out Matt Cain's 119 pitch complete game with no, zero, nil, zilch, nada, 0 walks and 9 strikeouts, and only 4 hits given up (though one was a solo homer). He was still reaching 95 MPH in the 9th inning, showing his strength did not get sapped. He was locked in. Overall, he has a 2.39 ERA with a 9-1 record. It was his third complete game of the season, though only his second 9 inning complete game (he was credited with one for a rain shortened start).

Game 1: Zito vs. John Lackey

Even when Zito was going well, such a matchup would tilt decidedly towards Lackey. However, this year Lackey has a 6.61 ERA and been very inconsistent since coming off the DL in mid-May. He had a good start against Toronto two starts ago and a good one against LA four starts ago, but bad starts against the Rays one start ago, and Mariners three starts ago, as well as a bad one against the Mariners five starts ago. If he is alternating, he's due to have a good one against us, though not dominating like he usually does in seasons past. Batters are hitting .336/.381/.496/.877 against him.

Zito, meanwhile, has struggled a bit after a good stretch where he helped carry the team with his good pitching. In his last 4 starts, his ERA has been 5.09, but something key happened for Zito in his last start that hasn't happened thus far this season: he struck out more batters than innings pitched. During his career, that has been a good sign that everything is on the right track. So it looks like Zito should win this game, even with his recent poor outings, particularly since he has pitched very well at home thus far this season.

Game 2: Sanchez vs. Ervin Santana

Again, normally Santana would be expected to beat Sanchez, but Santana's ERA thus far is 7.47. He too just returned to the rotation in mid-May and has been inconsistent as well. Plus had a bad last start, against the Rays. Sanchez has been just as inconsistent, however, though commentators thought that Sanchez turned a corner in his last start, even though he gave up 7 walks in only 5.2 innings, because he battled and kept all the walks from scoring, giving up only a solo homerun. I would say that this start must be called a push, either could dominate and win, either could implode and lose.

Game 3: Lincecum vs. Matt Palmer

The former Giants farmhand, who was horrible in 3 starts for us last season, is 6-0 with a 4.11 ERA, which is great. If he had done that for us, the Giants would not have ever let him go. However, the way he pitched he should have lost at least 4 games, though I must admit that he had a nice few starts along the way too, so he could have a nice start against us. However, I think the pressure of facing his old team will get to him and Lincecum should win easily.

Giants Thoughts

Before checking out the starters, I thought that we might have a tough time against them, but Lackey and Santana are still going through spring training, and while they might finally have figured things out, here in SF, I doubt that both of them will figure it out, plus Zito and Sanchez have been OK and show signs of snapping out of it and performing well again. Add that to Lincecum and the Giants should win the series and perhaps sweep it if our starters can come through again.

Schierholtz will be given another start today plus Ishikawa might get to start at 1B, as Sandoval's arm may be recovered enough to play 3B again. If Ishikawa and Schierholtz can continue their hot streak of hitting, as well as Molina, plus Sandoval and Rowand continue to hit well, the Angels could be soundly beaten, much like the A's.

However, Renteria and Burriss have been dead weights on the offense, particularly Renteria batting in the second spot for the most part this season. He has been horrible there whereas when he was briefly put in the #8 spot, he hit well there. The only question is that if Renteria hits 8th, then where would Burriss hit, as he has hit even worse than Renteria for the most part.

Perhaps the Giants could go with a lineup of: Rowand, Schierholtz, Winn, Molina, Sandoval, Ishikawa, Renteria, Burriss and see how that goes, Schierholtz has actually stole more bases in recent years than Renteria and he showed his speed yesterday with this inside-the-park homerun (though it should be noted that the radio announcers said that in almost any other park, that would have been a legitimate homerun over the fence.

I would also like to note Pablo Sandoval's recent streak. After he hit .345/.357/.490/.847 last season, we all knew it would be too much to hope that he could match that and were satisfied with the projections that had him around .800 OPS, but after 57 games and 212 AB, he is now hitting .325/.368/.509/.878. So, not only is he hitting for more power, but he's also taking many more walks, while only striking out a bit more than usual. If he can continue to walk at this frequency, he can hit .300 (which is very possible since he does not strike out that often) and still generate a nice mid-.300 OBP that is good.

Since April 19th, he has hit .357/.397/.567/.964 with 6 HR in 171 AB (29 AB/HR or roughly a 20 HR season), driving in 28 runs in only 171 AB and 44 starts, and 11 walks vs. 21 strikeouts. And since June 4th, he has hit .436/.477/.744/1.221 with 3 HR in 39 AB (13 AB/HR or roughly a 40 HR pace). The Giants have gone 9-3 in this hot stretch.

Ishikawa has also been hot since May 11th, though he has sat for the most part since May 27th. He has hit .381/.469/.500/.969 during that whole period, with 10 runs scored and 6 driven in, in 42 AB and 16 games, 13 starts. He also connected for his first homer and stole his first base. Even since sitting for the most part, he has hit .250/.400/.500/.900 in limited play, only 3 games, 1 start, 4 AB.

1 comment:

  1. Ran across this website called AccuScore that Yahoo has been published results from. What they do is calculates the precise probability each team has of winning each game, winning their division, making the playoffs, advancing in the playoffs, and winning the World Series.

    URL: http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_ylt=AldnEX.B6ApvruyE5imbt9Io0bYF?slug=ys-accuscoreplayoffodds061409&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

    After 10 weeks, the Giants are at 24.3% probability of getting into the playoffs, which is the 6th best in the NL (of course, only 4 teams make the playoffs). They jumped 7.7% in week 10, the second best jump. They have a 13.1% chance of winning the division, which I assume means that they only have a 11.2% chance of winning the wild card, which I find amazing since they are 7 games behind LA while they are leading the wild card by a game (though that could go with the drubbing they are getting tonight, Zito was blasted).

    The D-gers, of course, has the best chance with a 79.2% probability of making the playoffs and 72.9% probability of winning the division. D-Rox actually still has an 8.2% chance, the D-backs 4.8%, and the 'Dres 1.0%.

    How long has it been that the Giants have about a 25% chance of making the playoffs?

    Go Giants!

    ReplyDelete

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