Monday, April 26, 2010

Your 2010 Giants are 10-8: Phooling the Phillies

Well, after the free fall many fans were going through with the Giants first encounter with any difficulties, it is not surprising that many fans were not that happy with the Giants taking two of three from the Cards behind two great pitching performances from Lincecum and Zito.  The Giants only scored 6 runs but won the series by only giving up 3 runs.  And, of course, 3 of those runs were given to the Giants, two were unearned and the third scored on a wild pitch.

Still, the Giants went mano-a-mano with the Cards, our three top pitchers against three of their best (they have a better rotation than us, their 5th starter, Jaime Garcia, had a 0.69 ERA when he faced us first, then Wainwright's 1.50 ERA, and finally Penny's 1.29 ERA), and we came up on top 2-1.  Sure, some runs were given to us, but that's just evening out the bad streak we had during the losing streak, where the balls were not falling in nor were calls coming our way (like Bowker's infield single that was ruled an out and neither he nor the 1B coach argued against the call).

Now the gauntlet continues the Giants face the Phillies.

Game 1:  Roy "Doc" Halladay vs. Jonathan Sanchez

How cool is it that we could be facing one of the best starters in the majors in Halladay with our #4 starter and still have a fair chance at winning the game?

However, the Giants most likely will lose this start, it is, after all, Halladay and as nice as Sanchez has done this season, Halladay has a 0.82 ERA and was among the top pitchers in the AL for years before moving to the NL this season.  Plus, stuck with a loser for years, this is his first taste being with a team expected to win their division and to go deep into the playoffs, so I expect him to be focused almost every game.  Still, Doc is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in two career starts against the Giants (though they were in 2002 and 2004, when we still had a Barry Lamar Bonds in our lineup), with one start in SF in 2004, so there is that.

Game 2:  Jamie Moyer vs. Todd Wellemeyer

That works out nicely for Wellemeyer, as he avoids facing Halladay or Hamels.  Plus Moyer has a 5.00 ERA and age appears to finally be rearing its ugly head with Moyer, who is 47 years old for this season.  With two of the past three seasons with an ERA around 5, that appears to be his talent level now.

However, the Phillies are the #1 team in runs so far this season, and I do not expect Wellemeyer to suddenly figure things out against the best offense in the NL.  Plus, Moyer's peripherals are actually OK (11 K/4 BB in 18 IP with 19 hits), it is just that he has given up too many homers (3 in 3 starts) so the odds favor that he regress in this regard and that combined with an antsy Giants lineup ready to swing aggressively, and yet not have much power, will probably result in a loss.

Game 3:  Cole Hamels vs. Tim Lincecum

Though Hamels has had a tough season so far (5.11 ERA), he was still the Series MVP in 2008 and been a great pitcher for much of his career.  Luckily we have our two-time Cy Young winner going against him.  The Giants should win.

Giants Thoughts

The Giants look like they will lose this series.  It would be a tough first two games, and while The Kid has been great so far and Hamels has not, both has regression kicking in at some point, which could make their start a tough game to win as well, though you have to favor Lincecum based on the season thus far plus career results.

The Giants offense has been struggling lately and there should be a big lineup shakeup soon, particularly with Velez's frozen deer in the headlights performance at leadoff (see how bad the offense is when the leadoff guy isn't getting on base at all?  The same thing happened in previous seasons when we had Dave Roberts up there and, apparently too injured to perform at all).

There was talk about moving Schierholtz to the lead-off spot, but with Torres recent heating up, punctuated by his 3 hit game, Bochy at best would lead off with Torres and bat Schierholtz second.  However, I expect Schierholtz to still be down in the lineup, as Bochy (and other fans) seems to believe in Torres but he's basically been cold all season until his 3 hit night last night (though that is at least a modest 5 game hit streak, but really not that awesome except for the 3 hits, as the other one hit games, to me, is not that grand a hit streak), whereas Schierholtz has been doing it mostly once he got to start some, much like he did last season when he got to start regularly.

With a righty tonight, hopefully that puts DeRosa at 2B and Bowker in LF, Torres in CF, and Schierholtz in RF and a lineup of roughly Torres, Renteria, Sandoval, Huff, DeRosa, Molina, Schierholtz, Bowker (though I would probably prefer Torres, DeRosa, Sandoval, Huff, Schierholtz, Molina, Bowker, Renteria; and there is the chance that Huff sits in favor of Ishikawa as Huff has not done well at all against Halladay during his career, which would change the lineup even more).

With two lefties after that, it is probably Torres, Renteria, Sandoval, Huff, DeRosa, Molina, Uribe/Schierholtz, Schierholtz/Downs, depending on whether Uribe is available or not (though I would probably prefer Torres, DeRosa, Sandoval, Huff, Schierholtz, Molina, Uribe/Downs, Renteria).  Oddly, Schierholtz's unusual success against LHP will get his the starts when lefties are starting, in an odd platoon with Bowker in RF until the Giants decide that Bowker has had enough rope that he earned with his spring training performance.

Until we get a hitter or two producing regularly in the #1/#2 positions of the lineup, we are not going to be scoring that many runs.  And unfortunately, Renteria has hit a very cold streak once his shoulder bursitis started acting up again and none of the replacements of Rowand has been able to do anything at leadoff, and Torres had his three hits batting 8th yesterday.  Add to that we are facing a good team again, it looks like we'll be only scoring 6-9 runs this series but this time giving up more runs to the #1 scoring team in the NL.

It will be a tough series, with some chance of being swept, but with our series win against the Cards, we should end up 3-3 at home after this series, and that would be great against the two leading clubs in the NL, both very likely to make the playoffs in 2011.  Then we face D-Rox at home, and they have not been doing well at all, and if we can eke out a series win there, could end the homestand 5-4, which is pretty good against three tough teams.

I think we just need someone up top to heat up some, and it might take until Rowand is back in the lineup for that to happen.  He is first available to rejoin the team on May 2nd, which is next Sunday, the last game against Colorado at home before starting a road trip.

There is still grumblings by many fans to bring up Buster Posey, but as I've noted, he's not exacting burning up the PCL (though doing well).  They key is that we are still winning and still only one game behind the leader, the surprising San Diegans, though given how well they ended last season, I was afraid of what they might do if some of their prospects started producing this season.  As long as we are relatively close, there is no need to bring up anybody.  We need to keep them down in the minors, first to ensure that we have another season of control over them (and that should happen soon), and secondly, though not as importantly, we avoid them going super-two on his and get another year of arbitration on us.

However, this is not a concern of Giants management, as Sabean has noted in a recent interview that the major league club's needs, as well as the prospect's readiness, will outweigh any monetary or control concerns regarding when a prospect is brought up.  People have been worried about the budget, particularly in future years when Cain's big contract extension kicks in, but I believe this is where Neukom's promise to get the money necessary to implement good baseball decisions will come in, not in signing the big free agents, but in keeping our big free agents from leaving the team.

In other news, Freddy Sanchez just got into his first practice game and could be up to join the team finally within two weeks.  While Uribe has done well playing 2B in Sanchez's stead, I don't expect him to continue to hit well indefinitely.  His career numbers are bad enough that he should cool off at some point.  And it has already, as after a nice hot 5 game start, in the last 12 games, his batting line is .268/.311/.463/.775, which is still OK for a 2B, but not as gaudy as his overall .310/.373/.483/.856 would make people think they are getting with him in the lineup.

However, that is better than what Renteria has been doing recently (due to bursitis in his shoulder; if it's not one thing, it's another thing), so I expect to see Renteria sit more once Sanchez is back with Uribe starting, plus Sanchez will probably still not be 100%, so I expect to see Uribe in the lineup 1-4 times each week, taking starts away from Renteria and Sanchez, depending on the pitching matchups and how either are doing at the moment, and how Uribe is doing.  Shoot, Uribe could usurp Renteria's starting SS role if Renteria don't get better by the time of Sanchez's return in two weeks.

And if Bowker can heat up soon (well, really, now), DeRosa might get starts at 2B as well with Bowker starting in LF, though with the way Bowker is hitting now, I don't see how he isn't the guy to be sent down when Sanchez returns.  Heck, he might even get send down first when Rowand returns, as Downs already has 2 hits and bats righty, which is a missing ingredient on the team right now.


  1. Wow, that's why you play the games!

    If we heard that Sanchez was forced out the game after 5 IP and that Halladay pitches 7 IP, plus Sanchez walked 5 guys and hit another batter, and Whiteside is catching with Molina sitting, and our hottest hitter outside of Pablo, Nate Schierholtz, doesn't get a hit, we would have bet anything that the Giants lost.

    Instead, Sanchez wins his second game of the year and Halladay is handed his first loss in the NL: Welcome to the National League Doc! Amazingly, the Phillies had 19 LOB by their hitters, for a total of 11 LOB in the game. And Sanchez wins this game when he didn't have his pitches going but lost the game where he one-hit the other team. And Whiteside helped him with two hits, both driving in runs, a double and a homer.

    How that changes the series! Now, with Lincecum going in the rubber game, we have a chance to win the series. Plus, the 'Dres got drubbed 10-1 by Florida, so the Giants are tied for first place now in the NL West.

    Go Giants!!!

  2. My favorite moment in the game was Whiteside hitting the foul pole for a HR. Halladay had to feel snakebit, and had to know this wasn't his night to win after that.

    Major props to the bullpen, especially Mota and Romo. Romo's stuff was just sick, totally unhittable!

  3. Yeah, I totally agree, here he is, Mr. Cy Young 2010, and this backup catcher is single-handedly beating him up. Good one!

    Yeah, props to the bullpen! Mota, I admit I was wrong on, I thought he was done but how great has he been?

    And I have loved Romo from the time he came up. I saw him in an interview soon after he joined the Giants and he just seems like the nicest guy and very down to earth and appreciative. I've been rooting for him big time since then and it don't hurt that his stuff is so sick that he strikes out a ton of batters even though he doesn't have much of a fastball.

    Thanks for sharing that DrB!

  4. It was kind of ugly if you followed the game, Wellemeyer just didn't seem to have it, but his pitching line was good: 7 IP, 3 hits, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts, 2 R/ER. And the reliever let one of Wellemeyer's runners to score, else it would have been one run.

    And the Giants offense rose again, scoring 6 runs, supported by Renteria's 3 hits, Huff and Down's HR, and Sandova's 2 RBIs.

    And we can't forget Nate Schierholtz cutting down two Phillies going for doubles at 2B. That first one would have scored on the following double and the tenor of the game would have changed, as that would have left the game tied instead of the Giants leading.

    Giants win the series already! And look to sweep with Lincecum coming up tomorrow!

    Unfortunately SD won so we are still tied with them atop the NL West.

    But still, it is another statement by the much maligned offense, supporting a good outing by Wellemeyer who pitched into the 8th inning.

    And according to Pythagorean the Giants should have two more wins than they have now.

  5. What a game by Linecum! All those strikeouts (another 10+ game with 11) but one walk and just three hits. He did what he had to do to keep his name in the mix for best pitcher of the month in the NL (hard to beat Ubaldo and his no-hitter, but I think the argument could be made, after all, Ubaldo walked 6 batters in that no-hitter).

    Wilson, though, ruined the win, however, giving up those runs and blowing his first save. But that was just bad luck, that hit falling on the foul line then just skipping by the Phillies. We were soo close to sweeping them at that point.

    However, I still love the guy, too many people remember how dominating Nen is, but then nobody will ever measure up to Nen, I think.

    Affeldt, however, oy!, he was just horrible, he's been bad much of the season, don't know what happened to him.

    Velez: WTF!?! He costed us this game, ultimately, though the blame rightly goes mostly to Wilson.

    Torres had 3 RBI, Renteria had 2 RBI, Schierholtz had 5 hits (raising his average to .378) and a walk, scoring 3 runs, Downs had a nice double, he might make the Giants drop an OF instead when Rowand returns to the lineup, particularly given Renteria's balky shoulder and Uribe's recent injury. Molina had 3 hits, but with Huff and DeRosa slump in recent games makes it hard for Molina to drive in any runs, but at least he helped set up runs.

    Maybe give Ishikawa some starts this weekend against Colorado and Bowker too in LF for DeRosa, let them recharge with all the days off over the next week. Look what some rest did for Renteria, 3 straight multi-hit games have raised his BA to .329 and his OPS close to 800.

    We were so close to a sweep too, literally a few outs away...



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