Friday, August 20, 2010

Your 2010 Giants are 68-54: Getting Carded

I have to admit that the Dres are showing more balls than the Giants right now.  Their pitchers have come up big in August while the Giants have struggled until Sanchez's masterpiece versus the Phillies yesterday.  The pitchers have let us down during this critical stretch.

But this was something that could have been foreseen beforehand, once I thought about it.  Each has had their moments when they got tight and overamped and performed poorly.  This is part of the learning process, which I frankly thought would not kick in until September.  Hopefully the Giants have had the spell, the tightness, broken by Jonathan Sanchez's great start yesterday, along with the offense taking down Cole Hamels, who had been incredibly good for over a month up to yesterday's start.  This continues a pattern during the season where the Giants offense have come up big against the opposing teams ace or very good starter.

Now they face the Cards for three in their pitcher's park, so the offense might be a bit stymied again.  Homeruns and runs are hard to come by there, HR's are depressed 20% below the average park, runs almost 10%.

Luckily, we avoid Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia, but still, Westbrook and Carpenter are bad enough, the Giants could lose another series, but the Cards are losers of four straight, and to losers like the Cubs and Brewers, so their tail should be between their legs right now.  Still, they had just swept the Reds in an emotional 3 game series in Cincinnati, so perhaps they used up their adrenaline in that series and has just been tired since.  Not sure why the starter of the third game is not announced, Kyle Lohse just came off the DL and should be the starter in that game, but if they decide to move up the starters, they did have a day off on Thursday and could start Garcia on 4 days rest.  I guess I'll have to update this post once things are clarified.

Game 1:  Jake Westbrook vs. Bumgarner

MLB Notes:
Giants:  The young lefty took a no-decision in his last outing, a duel with fellow youngster Mat Latos of San Diego. Bumgarner threw seven strong innings, allowing two runs on eight hits, for his first quality start in two outings.
Cards:  Westbrook has been everything the Cardinals hoped since they acquired him. He's pounded the zone, with 19 strikeouts against two walks. And he's been an absolute ground-ball machine to boot, with only four flyball outs in three games.
Does not look good for the Giants, Westbrook has been on a roll since the trade and Bumgarner has been up and down in recent starts, though he had a good one in his last start.  However, Bumgarner has shown a lot of guts so far in the majors, so I would expect a good tight game, but with a lean towards Westbrook and his veteran savviness.


Game 2:  Chris Carpenter vs. Lincecum

Giants:  In his last outing, Lincecum struck out the side in the first inning, seemingly warning everyone he was back. Instead, he allowed four runs in the second inning and exited in the fourth, giving up six runs (five earned) in 3 2/3 innings.
Cards:  N/A
If Lincecum is back, this should be a battle of the ages between two Cy Young caliber starters.  If Lincecum is still struggling, it could be a massacre for the Giants.

Game 3:  Kyle Lohse? vs. Zito

Giants:  N/A
Cards:  N/A

Zito had a pretty bad start last time, but he was basically doing OK until they finally got to him in his last two innings.  But zero strikeouts showed that he was just running on fumes and that he would inevitably be knocked out.  He probably should have been taken out after the 5th, then we would have still been close.  I would chalk that up to him being human and not having great stuff and luck every time he starts.  He had been aces in the starts before that since the All-Star break and he is normally a great second half starter, so one would think he should have another good start, particularly in a pitcher's park.

However, he has a horrible track record in St. Louis in this park, though he was unlucky in his last start here, he had nice peripherals, so maybe the balls were falling in for that game.  Still, bad history is not a good thing. Another potential positive is that he has handled the Cards in AT&T, so maybe it is just a matter of time.

If it is Lohse starting against the Giants, then I would have to think it should be a Giants win, but if it is Garcia, then he has actually pitched better with 4 days rest than 5 days, and in that case, it would be a tight battle, could go either way.

Giants Thoughts

As I noted, this would be a tough stretch of games.  Of course, we want our heroes to win every series, win every game, but that doesn't alway happen.  Still, given how things looked, coming out of Philly 1-2, particularly with the way that they have been playing in the last month, is about what one would expect.

Now we face the Cards, and they are coming off a four game losing streak against two bad teams in the Cubs and Brewers.  For that reason, I have to say that the Giants have a chance of winning the series.  But they will be facing two, maybe three, tough pitchers, and not that our pitchers are not tough, but coming off the bad stretch of starting pitching, one must be realistic and see that another 1-2 series is very possible.  

The good news is that Posey and Sandoval appear to be waking from their offensive slumber, plus Burrell and Guillen are hitting.  And Torres continues to hit.  If Huff or Franchez can join the hit parade, then our offense should start winning games for us again.  Hopefully the day off for Huff relaxed his mind a bit and allow him to start swinging the bat like he had been this season, and not tight like it has been lately.

We also need our starting pitchers to come out of their funk.  Sanchez's beauty last night could start another string of strong starts.  All it takes is one pitcher to throw the gauntlet down with a well-pitched game, and the others hopefully will respond with a good effort as well.  Should be a good series in St. Louis, don't know if we can win it, but I think we have a chance if Sandoval hits well this series.

Also, Colby Rasmus has been battling an injury and could miss at least one game, if not more in this series.  Then again, his replacement, John Jay, has been doing well.  And they recently lost their starting 3B and was forced to trade three pitching prospects to the Astros for Pedro Feliz.  Hopefully the Giants can handle him, he hasn't been very good this season.  They also have another ex-Giant in Randy Winn, plus Brad Penny sits on their DL.

And it has been their pitching that has cost them this month, their ERA has gone up a lot.  The starters have been OK, but Jaime Garcia has had a bad month, relatively, with a 4.41 ERA.  And their bullpen has been beat up, so the Giants should try to work the count and drive up the pitch count to get the starters out and get into the bullpen.

Then once we get by the Cards and Reds, then they can start racking up wins, hopefully, as they face next:

  • D-backs (3)
  • D-Rox (3)
Which brings us to the end of August.

Next Crucial Gauntlet in the Stretch

Then it starts again in Sept, with 3 against the D-gers, 3 against the D-backs, 4 against the 'Dres, and 3 against LA again.  The Giants playoff hopes will probably be determined in this key 10 game stretch.  

The D-gers have been struggling lately too but they too have been facing tough teams, and on the road, in Philly and Atlanta.  Who knows where they will be by then, they are currently 6 games behind the Giants, 7 behind the Phillies for the Wild Card, and 12 behind the 'Dres.  They are fighting for their wild card playoff hopes in the time between now and seeing the Giants again.

And the 4 against SD will be the end of a tough 10 game road trip for the Giants.  They need to at least break even, if not win the series, if they are to have any hope of winning the division.  The 'Dres actually have it kind of easy in-between now and meeting the Giants again:  @MIL (3), ARI (3), PHI (3), @ARI (3), COL (3), LAD (3).  Their next tough stretch is right after that:  @COL (3), always tough, @STL (4), @LAD (3), CIN (3).  If the Giants can keep close up to the 4 game series, they should be in good shape, but that is a tall order.  

For now, though, the key thing is to take it one series at a time.  The Cards will be a tough enough opponent as it is, hopefully they start Lohse against us, as that would give us a good chance of winning the series, but if Garcia is against us, and given that we are battling them for the Wild Card, I have to assume they are going to start him, I know I would start him.  We need all our parts working this series - hitting, pitching, defense - to win this series.  Hopefully we caught the Cards in a down period, as they lost to the Cubs and Brewers and the Giants are a much better team than either.

Still a Lot of Baseball Left

And it is too soon to give up on the Giants.  They are still very close to the wild card leaders and close enough to the 'Dres that they can still conceivably catch up with them, though it will be tough.  Ideally, if they can win the Cards series, that would push the Cards further behind them, and it will then be more about beating the Phillies.  But even if that didn't happen, the Giants have the players to snap off another hot streak like they did in July, they have a nice twelve game stretch in the middle of September, basically when SD has their tough stretch, playing Mil (3), @CHI (3), @COL (3), ARI (3), before the season finale against SD.  They can catch up a lot of games in that stretch by sweeping through some of them, or at least winning the series.  


Go Giants!

1 comment:

  1. I guess LaRussa was reading my blog? :^)

    http://twitter.com/hankschulman/statuses/21694755745

    "Tony La Russa just said Jaime Garcia will fill the TBA in the Cards' rotation for Sunday. He'll face Zito."

    ReplyDelete

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