Friday, October 01, 2010

Your 2010 Giants Magic Number is 1

What a season, what a great playoff stretch - literally with Huff's red Rally Thong (read about at ExtraBaggs; it is 19-8 so far) - the Giants are on the precipice of making the playoffs for the first time since 2003.  None of the Giants from that team are still on the active roster, though JT Snow is now a special assistant to Neukom and Aurilia does the pre-game show for the Comcast TV broadcasts (and probably does other TV stuff too, I bet, I don't have cable). 

Speaking of ExtraBaggs, there were a lot of good info there, some of which I'll excerpt here, please read the whole post for his great writing, stories, lots of funny stuff, and, most important of all, Giants information:

Bruce Bochy has gone with a set lineup recently, but he acknowledged there would be a few changes with a left-hander, Clayton Richard, going today.

You probably know that Tim Lincecum will join Randy Johnson and Warren Spahn as the only pitchers since World War II to lead the NL in strikeouts for three consecutive seasons.

Here’s another amazing Lincecum strikeout stat: He has 907 career strikeouts – the most by any player in his first four seasons since 1883.

Dwight Gooden struck out 892 in his first four seasons (in 924.1 innings). Lincecum has more, and in just 811 innings.

And from a team standpoint, the Giants staff has fanned 1,306 this season, breaking the franchise record of 1,302 that was set last season.

-  Here’s the full list of Willie Mac honorees who will gather today when the Giants recognize this year’s winner: Larry Herndon, Darrell Evans, Mike Krukow, Dave Dravecky, Robby Thompson, Mike Felder, Kirt Manwaring, Mark Leiter, Shawon Dunston, J.T. Snow, Jeff Kent, Marvin Benard and David Bell.

The most important attendee, Willie McCovey, will be there, I’m told. After all he’s gone through while recovering from a major, 12-hour back surgery in August, there might not be many dry eyes on the field.

One unfortunate consequence of moving up Matt Cain to pitch today: He might not be able to participate in the ceremony. Cain was last year’s winner.

This year’s team has no shortage of inspirational candidates. Andres Torres, Juan Uribe, Pat Burrell and Huff would seem to be the players who’ve had the biggest influence in the clubhouse or have inspired the most with their attitude and play.

San Diego Series

Giants just need to win one to win the NL West division title and beat cry-baby Mat Latos' 'Dres.  The Giants shuffle rotation to put our biggest gun left against the 'Dres, as San Diego faces our gaunlet of pitchers.

Game 1:  Clayton Richard vs. Cain

MLB Notes:
'Dres:  Richard has been inconsistent in September, going 1-3 in five starts with a 5.27 ERA despite tossing a shutout and six innings of one-run ball during that span. He's 3-1 with a 1.52 ERA in five starts against the Giants this season.

Giants: Cain flirted with a no-hitter in his last outing, a brilliant complete-game win against the Rockies. Cain has faced the Padres four times this season, posting a 1-2 mark with 4.05 ERA, with his lone win coming in an eight-inning gem on Sept. 9.
Despite his great performance against the Giants this season, as I've been noting all season, Richard is more of a middle rotation guy, and he should regress at some point.  Plus, he's never thrown so many innings before, so his arm has got to be feeling some of the effects of that.  Meanwhile, Cain has been aces all season long and even raised it a big notch in September.  Should be a Giants win, which would be nice present for Cain's 26th birthday today.

Game 2:  Tim Stauffer vs. Zito

MLB Notes:
'Dres:  Stauffer continues to shine as a member of the rotation. He allowed one run over seven innings in his last start against the Cubs on five hits. He's allowed seven runs in five starts in September and is pitching as well as anyone in the rotation.

Giants:  The Giants will send out their most experienced arm in the opener of the season's final series against the Padres. Interestingly, Zito has only faced the Padres once this season, giving up three runs in five innings in a 3-2 loss on May 11.
Wow, that is another reason to swap.  Richard vs Zito and Stauffer vs. Cain would have been pretty even.  Cain vs. Richard, as noted above, I would have to give Cain the nod.  And Zito when he's going good could be even with Stauffer.  But I would have to give Stauffer the lean, in a tight battle, because while I think Zito will be OK in this start, Stauffer has been that much better all season.

In any case, hopefully the Giants have already clinched in Cain's start and all would be moot, and the Giants could start resting guys who probably can use it, Posey, Torres, Huff, Burrell, Franchez, Uribe, Wilson, Wilson's beard (read ExtraBaggs for more info on that). 

Game 3:  Mat Latos vs. Sanchez

MLB Notes:
'Dres:  Latos allowed two earned runs (four total) in 5 2/3 IP in his last start against the Cubs. He has won once in his last eight decisions and hasn't been as sharp as he was earlier in the season. The Padres' playoff hopes could well ride on Latos' arm.

Giants:  If the rotation holds true and the race stays tight, this is a very appealing season finale. Earlier this season, Sanchez guaranteed the Giants would sweep the Padres. His guarantee didn't hold. This game could have much more than words on the line.
The Giants really should have clinched by now.  If not, then it will be up to Sanchez to hold to his words of promise last month when he unwisely mouthed off about how the Giants were better and would sweep past the 'Dres.  That has actually happened, but not before the 'Dres spanked the Giants and made this weekend necessary for determining the NL West Division Title winner. 

Latos is also way past his prior innings pitched in a season as well, and he appears to be feeling the effects of that.  Sanchez, meanwhile, has been masterfully handled by Posey when he does not have it - and he's still as wild as he was before, only Buster has been able to help him limit the damage when he puts the runners on base.  Plus, more importantly, he appears to be developing and maturing, being able to handle adversity better.  It should be a close battle, but I would have to lean to Sanchez and the Giants, particularly since Bochy would have a short leash on Sanchez and would bring in the bullpen to take care of things.  And you never know, they could decide to start Lincecum.

Giants Thoughts

The Giant should win the NL West title.  The rotation is lined up nicely, an advantage the Giants could take because they had last Monday off and the 'Dres didn't.  The Giants only need to win one game while the 'Dres would have to sweep.  However, they have played the Giants tough all season until the last series, so you never know. 

There are some wild permutations where the Giants could end up with the wild card and the 'Dres win the NL West, but that is something the Giants would back into by playing pretty terribly in all three games.  Plus even a crazy scenario where there would be a tie between the Giants, 'Dres, and Braves.  But they haven't done terrible that often for a long while now, and certainly not over a three game stretch, so they should win the NL West.

Another issue is who plays Phillies, which most Giants fans want to avoid.  Right now most likely Reds are the lucky team to play the Phillies, as the Giants and Braves most likely will make playoffs, which would force the Reds to play the Phillies since they cannot play Wild Card Braves.   Basically, assuming the Giants make the playoffs, if the Giants win one game and the NL West, they avoid the Phillies in the playoffs.  They would have to fall into the wild card to play the Phillies. 

The pitchers should be there, the question is whether the hitters will do enough to support the pitching in this final series of the season and into the playoffs?  So far, they have done the job very well.  More importantly, a number of players are hitting well now, Posey, Burrell, Torres, Huff, Sandoval, Ross, plus hopefully Franchez is healthy and hitting too.  Plus Uribe socks one out every so often enough to turn a game, so we got that too.

But first, there is the matter at hand, which has been the Giants mantra, it seems, in all the interviews with them, particularly this month:  worry about today's game and focus on that; worry about tomorrow's game tomorrow.  And that really is true, when you are so far back that late in the season, all you can really do is focus on winning today's game, one game at a time, then you can put your head up and see where you are.  And where they are is they are on the brink of winning the NL West division title.

Go Giants!  Return us to the playoffs!

P.S. I think Andres Torres should win the Willie Mac award this season.  His rise to starter after over a decade of minors and journeyman status should be an inspiration to all (well, all except Rowand, I suppose).  Huff and Burrell probably would have won it almost any other season, but I have to give it to Torres.  But if any of these three wins, I don't think it would be that big an upset, they are all worthy.  Maybe a 3-way tie for the 30th Willie Mac?

P.S.S.  I will end by noting that the Giants would have already clinched the NL West title if that stupid and blind umpire had correctly called Ishikawa safe in that Mets game long ago, and not given it to the catcher and the Mets for "good effort".  The baseball fates owe us! (umpires too, maybe they can make it hard for SD pitchers to get strikes while giving the Giants a wide zone;  just a suggestion :^)

2 comments:

  1. OGC,

    They did it! Congratulations on staying upbeat on the Giants, yet analytical at the same time. Great job of blogging the season.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Listen to the latest Zito song!!!

    http://slumwords.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/the-ballad-of-barry-zito/

    ReplyDelete

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