Friday, June 18, 2010

Your 2010 Giants are 37-28: On the Road Again, Blue Jay Watching

There is an old adage that in baseball, you know the team's going to win 54 games and you know it's going to lose 54 games:  it is what they do with the last 54 games that determine their season.  Which has a corollary adage:  even the worse teams win sometimes and they might do it against you.  I thought of both as the Giants won the series against the woe-some Orioles,  who nonetheless battled nicely and could have won the series if not for some late heroics in game 3 by the offense and pitching.

That ended a great homestand where the Giants went 5-1 and pulled to within one game of the division lead.  Now they hit the road for some DH games in Toronto - not a moment too soon with Renteria back off the DL and, despite hitting well when healthy, finds himself sitting because his replacement has been even better, if not the backbone of this offense.  But even then, the DH might not get him more than one start, as Schierholtz and Ishikawa have been sitting as well as Rowand.

Toronto has been one of the big good surprises of the season, up there with San Diego and Cincy.  Hitting homers at a vitesse incroyable!  And they have been OK at home and on the road this season, pretty even.  However, their goodness was in May and now they are swooning in June, having lost 7 of their last 9 games played.

Game 1:  Brandon Morrow vs. Zito

MLB Notes:

Giants: Zito beat his former team for the first time in his career in his last outing, holding Oakland to two runs on six hits in seven innings of work. Zito made only two mistakes against the A's, giving up two solo home runs, as he earned his first victory since May 14. Zito is 5-2 with a 3.52 ERA in 10 career starts against Toronto.
Blue Jays: Morrow appears to be growing more and more comfortable with the mechanical changes made earlier this season. As he has adjusted to his lowered arm slot, Morrow's pitch velocity has returned to form and he has experienced a strong run on the hill. Over his last four starts, the hard-throwing right-hander has gone 1-1 with a 2.16 ERA, limiting hitters to a .185 average in that span. In his previous nine starts, Morrow went 3-4 with a 6.80 ERA. On Saturday at Colorado, Morrow picked up a loss after giving up just one run over six innings.

Mariner's fans can't look at Morrow and not see Lincecum pitching for them, side by side with King Felix.  But now he's been traded to Toronto and been pretty bad until recently.  Plus, he has actually pitched well at home this season, after his first start hiccup (perhaps jitters first time pitching to new home crowd) he has put together a good string of starts, with 4 DOM starts out of 5.  That's Lincecum-esque.

Zito had been struggling in May, but had two nice June starts sandwiched around a horrible Cincinnati start, which I would not blame on him, that is an extreme hitter's park, so sometimes the pitcher is unlucky.  And Toronto is a pitcher's park.

Given the rejuvenation of both pitchers, I would say that this game should be another tight pitcher's battle.  But I would lean towards Morrow, as he has been almost unbeatable at home as he has not given up more than 2 runs in any start since that first disaster start.

Game 2:  Jesse Litsch vs. Cain

MLB Notes:

Giants: Cain wasn't nearly as dominant in his most recent outing as he had been in his previous three, but he still managed to earn his fourth straight win. Cain threw seven innings, giving up one run on eight hits while striking out four. He threw 116 pitches. Cain has never faced the Blue Jays and is 5-8 with a 2.90 ERA in 15 career Interleague starts.
Blue Jays: After undergoing Tommy John surgery early in 2009, Litsch made finally made his return to the mound for the Blue Jays against the Rockies on June 13. Unfortunately, the outing didn't go as planned for Litsch, as he was crushed for seven runs through only 2 1/3 innings, racking up a pitch count of 80. He allowed three consecutive singles to start the contest, before even recording his first out. This should not be a huge suprise for the Blue Jays as Litsch's rehab assignment was shaky at best -- 1-4 with a 5.59 ERA between Class A Dunedin and Triple-A Las Vegas. The 25-year old right-hander will look to rebound against the Giants on Saturday, a team he has yet to face in his big league career.

It looks like a win for the Giants.  Litsch has been struggling since coming back from his surgery and Cain has been as good as can be.  Then again, Litsch pitched well in 2008, before his arm surgery, though not dominantly, as he does not strike out a lot of batters, so it is more his touch than his velocity that enabled him to do well before.  Still, he had not sign of coming out of it in his last start, so I would expect the Giants to hit him well.  Giants win.

Game 3:  Shaun Marcum vs. Sanchez

We face two good pitchers in Morrow and Marcum, but luckily avoid Romero and Cecil, arguably their two best starters.  Marcum is the best of the three in this series and he pitches great at home.  Sanchez was like Zito, sandwiching a horrible start in Cincy with two great starts.  He has not been that bad lately but not that great either.  I think this should be another pitching battle but I would lean towards Marcum

Giants Thoughts

The offense has been chugging along nicely since Posey was added to the lineup, but he has been an anchor on the offense recently, going 2-19 in 5 games.  I think that is why he got a rest in the last game, so he can recharge his batteries.

But hopefully, that has been offset by Pablo Sandoval possible resurgence, which I wrote on recently.  Pablo has basically been powerless in May.  I still think that he caught some sort of cold/flu and that sapped his strength.  But he was still doing well in his peripherals and in his percentage of line drives, it was just that they were not being stroked with the same power that he had before.  But after a long hibernation (bad for my fantasy team!!!) he has stroked two homers in a few games and from listening to the games, you hear of him lining out or the fielder makes an incredible play to catch his well hit ball.

Seems like it will be a tough battle to win this series with Toronto.  But with Houston as the other road series, the Giants should at least have a 3-3 road record, which is good, because you want .500 on the road and 2 of 3 at home.  So as long as we win one in Toronto, it should be OK, though obviously I would love to win the series.  But it will be tough, because overall I lean towards Toronto right now.

Go Giants!

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