Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Your 2010 Giants are 67-52: On the Road in Philly

While there are some positives to take from the SD series, such as Posey, Sandoval, Bumgarner, the bullpen, particularly Casilla, and I guess Fontenot, we lost the series 1-2 at home against the 'Dres.  Makes me crazy because if you take away the games between the two teams, SD is 61-45 and SF is 65-43.  The Giants would have a 3 games lead instead of being 4 games behind.

But things like that happens, for while Lincecum did not do that well, as Bochy said, he seemed to be doing things right, because a lot of the hits were dunk hits that dropped in, which in most games would have been outs.  Even the best pitchers will have one of those days.  Unfortunately, it was when his team really needed him.  This win probably gave SD a lot of confidence going into the final two series we have against them, 4 in SD, 3 in SF on the last days of the season.

However, as El Lefty Malo noted, we still have many weeks left in the season, and if we can gain one game in the standings every two weeks, we would enter the last week with 3 against AZ and 3 against SD, both at home, and only 1 game back.  If the Giants can do that, got to like our odds, though I would note that while we are facing AZ at home, they are facing the Cubs at home.

Now the Giants start a tough road trip and stretch of games.  First three at Philly, then three at St. Louis, the three at home against Dusty's Reds, and you know he's doubly motivated, it's a battle for a playoff spot and you know he would love to show up the Giants, particularly in SF (though his son, the cute guy who almost got run over when JT Snow scored in the World Series, still wants the Giants to draft him when he graduates from high school and can be drafted, I heard in a recent interview).

Game 1:  Roy Oswalt vs. Zito

MLB Notes:
Giants:  After giving up two solo homers in a no-decision against the Cubs, Zito now has surrendered at least one home run in five consecutive games (eight total homers). The last time that happened was June 20-July 11, 2004, while he was with Oakland.
Phillies:  Oswalt had his best start for the Phillies on Wednesday against the Dodgers, allowing five hits and two walks in seven scoreless innings. He also struck out five in the 2-0 victory. Oswalt is now 1-1 with a 2.79 ERA in three starts with the Phillies.
Boy, Oswalt can't catch a break, can he?  He loses three to Lincecum, when Timmy going good, but while Timmy struggling, he gets Zito instead, who has been on a great stretch of dominance.  Zito has had a 2.57 ERA in 6 starts since the ASB.  Zito has pitched there once and had a shutout in 2007, when he was pretty putrid otherwise and the Phillies the strong offensive team it has been over the past few years.  Have to call it even, and give the lean to Oswalt since he's pitching at home.  Should be a good battle, hopefully the Giants can pull off another win, Oswalt is 0-3, 3.15 ERA this season against the Giants.

Game 2:  Joe Blanton vs. Cain

Giants:  Cain battled through a 31-pitch first inning in his last outing, pitching six innings while taking a no-decision against the Cubs. Despite Cain's high pitch count, he was effective in pounding the zone, as 82 of his 121 pitches were strikes.
Phillies:  Blanton continued his trend of putting the Phillies in an early hole Thursday against Los Angeles. He allowed four singles and two walks in the first inning to hand the Dodgers a 3-0 lead. Blanton has an 8.53 ERA in the first inning this season.
Blanton has been struggling all season while Cain has not.  Should be a Giants win.

Game 3:  Cole Hamels vs. Sanchez

Giants:  In his last outing, Sanchez came up short in his guarantee the Giants would sweep the Padres, as the lefty allowed three runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings. Sanchez is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in eight games (four starts) against the Phillies.
Phillies:  Hamels is 1-2 with a 1.81 ERA in his last seven starts, and 5-7 with a 2.85 ERA in 19 starts since April. But the Phillies continue to give him no run support. He has lost his last two starts by 1-0. He hopes for a better showing Thursday.
For the rest of the season, Sanchez needs to put up or shut up.  Hamels is clearly going good, so Sanchez will need his A-game as this game could be the rubber match for the series win, unless Zito can pull off a win against Oswalt.  Still, Sanchez did very well in his one start against the Phillies in 2009, 1 run in 6 IP, 8 K, 3 BB, so while I would give Hamels the lean in a tight battle, don't be surprised if Sanchez handles the Phillies well, as they struggle relatively against LHP, and especially against starters.

vs RHP as RHB 117 .269 .325 .410 .735 .307
vs RHP as LHB 115 .254 .329 .423 .752 .273
vs LHP as RHB 85 .271 .343 .395 .737 .312
vs LHP as LHB 95 .236 .313 .422 .735 .271
vs RHP 232 .260 .328 .417 .745 .288
vs LHP 180 .259 .332 .404 .736 .299
as RHB 202 .270 .332 .404 .736 .309
as LHB 210 .250 .326 .423 .749 .273
vs LH Starter 428 .251 .325 .394 .720 .291
vs RH Starter 1158 .263 .330 .421 .751 .291
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/16/2010.

Giants Thoughts

I blame the Giants showing against the 'Dres on Sanchez's head.  The series would have been hard enough if he didn't put the target on the team's back.  And he couldn't even back up his own words, with his start.  He did what he was suppose to do, keep the team close, but he immediately gave up the 2 run lead that the team gave him in the first inning and took the sails out of the Giants offense.  Maybe if he didn't do that, Rowand would not have thought some play was on and got picked off at the bottom of the second.

Still, 4.0 games back of the division leader with 7 weeks to go and tied for the Wild Card lead is not a terrible position to be in.  I would have loved a series win (or even sweep), but this isn't the end of the world situation, just sub-optimal results, given the tough next nine games vs. Phils, Cards, and Reds while SD faces the Cubs, Brewers and D-backs.

And, despite missing their two top offensive weapons, the Phillies have gone 10-3 in the past two weeks or so, while they have been out, and we are playing them at home, so it will be tough to win the series unless guys step up.  This is the thrill of the playoff chase and the pressure is on.  This is good for our players to experience but some will falter as they try to do more when doing what they were doing before would have been enough.

Playoff Ready

That's a key thing we don't know about our team right now, we don't know if they are playoff ready.  We can take some clues, like Posey's steadiness in the face of everything, but for the most part, we don't really know what's under the hood for most players, for many of them never really competed at the highest levels before.  At least Posey has been in the College World Series plus playoffs in the minors, but they are just practice for the majors, not the majors.

There is a great article today by Andy Baggarly on Aubrey Huff and his evolution into Huff Daddy that happened while he was in college with his good buddy Pat Burrell. The team has to become more like Burrell:

"Pat's the guy who tells you what you need to hear, even when you don't want to hear it," Huff said. "He's mentally strong. He went through all the boos in Philly, and when he went back to get his ring, they gave him a standing ovation. It made him tear up, after going through all that."
Burrell's pennant race experience isn't just rubbing off on the Giants' young players. He's also a compass for veterans such as Huff and Freddy Sanchez, who have played for losing teams their whole career.
After a game at Dodger Stadium last month, Burrell and Huff stayed in the clubhouse and talked for almost two hours.
"He was briefing me on it, how it's going to be," Huff said. "He said, 'It's a different animal, bro. You may think you're ready, but you might be shocked. It's the same game, the same teams. You just have to slow it down.' "

That is an area that I was hoping DeRosa could contribute but his injury took him out of that equation.  Rowand was suppose to supply some of this, but he's clearly not the gamer he was made out to be.  Renteria appears to have some of this, but injuries took him out as well.  So Burrell falling into our lap like this has been a blessing, not only for the offense he has provided, but the veteran savviness and true gamer attitude that he possesses.  I'm beginning to think "what if we re-sign him?" even though that probably means that Schierholtz won't ever get a chance to start for us in RF.

Silver Lining

The good news is that we got two lefties against Phils, who have not done well when up against LHP, plus they are missing Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, their two best hitters, though the reports that that Utley will rejoin the team today, albeit at less than 100% and Howard can come off any day now, but might wait until Thursday to do that - good, less offense they have the better. And the Giants get to face Blanton, he of 4.91 ERA at home this season.  And a major key for the series, and really, the rest of the season, is the re-emergence of the Kung Fu Panda, he will have to continue his resurgence if we are to keep pace with the leaders.  So the Giants at least have a fighting chance to win this series, and an outside chance of sweeping, particularly with Sandoval and Posey heating up, with both homering in recent games, but we are probably just as likely to lose the series as well.  It will be a tough battle:  I can't wait!

Go Giants!


  1. My silver lining has to be how badly the Giants' starting pitching has been lately. They're not that bad, and shave a couple runs off the recent starter ERA (which should happen pretty quick), combined with how well the offense has been, all is well.

    Agree I think the key is Sanchez - he's past the point of raw rookie, that's MadBum's role now. Maybe Sanchez's the one that needs to talk to Burrell. :-)

    I say (hopefully boldly, not foolishly) that winning the next three series, and it's all over. They'll roll through the rest of the season.

  2. It's not fair to lay blame on Sanchez's statements as that is now what cost them in the series against SD. It was a total non-factor. What cost them was poor play, poor defense, poor pitching, and untimely hitting, except for the one that they won. If you want to blame Sanchez for his poor pitching, then I can agree with that.

    Re: Burrell, there is more the Giants hitters can learn from him than just pure veteran savvy. If you watch his at-bats, he is very disciplined at the plate, rarely swinging at poor pitches. He seems to have a plan of attack which is sorely lacking in a lot of Giants hitters. If Burrell could impart some of this approach to the Giants hitters, especially Sandoval (Rowand is a lost cause), he would be worth re-signing for that alone.

  3. Boof, what I'm opining is that Sanchez's statement caused the Giants to play stiff like that, resulting in poor play, poor hitting, poor pitching. And, yeah, I could be wrong, that is why it's my opinion.

    Good point about Burrell. Maybe that's why Rowand has hit OK for the past two months plus now, with Burrell around to push him a bit, like with Huff, Huff hit much better after Burrell joined, though he was OK even before that. Burrell might have done that for Rowand in Philly as well (and AJ in ChiSox).

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