SD won, so the Cubs didn't help there, too bad, because Wells had been doing well, and now the Cubs have a former Pirate pitching, Tom Gorzelanny, against SD's Garland today, so probably no help from them today (but that's OK, they had already won two games in SD, that's what I wanted at minimum).
And who knows, Gorzelanny has had a nice season (4.28 ERA) so he might have one last good start in him, though he has been pounded in two of this last three start, four of last 6, and five of last 8. However, it looks like he was injured earlier in this month and just had his first start back, totally wild. Before that start, his ERA was below 4, which was pretty good. If he got his kinks out, he could have a nice start, particular in pitcher's park Petco Park. However, in two starts there, pounded...
By finally winning a game against the Cubs, the 'Dres ensure that the Giants cannot win the NL West without beating SD once this weekend. But as I noted yesterday, one more Giants win or 'Dres loss today would mean that the Giants only have to win one game to win NL West. So, once again, the Giants need to win today, this time to avoid needing to win series against 'Dres.
Braves kept up too - Marlins was no help, getting swept, as Hanley didn't play at all during the series. I guess they needed and missed Co-Dy. They are still half a game behind the Giants and depending on how the Giants do today, will either be tied with or one game behind the Giants. Ideally, whatever happens with the Braves, the Giants probably would want to avoid the Phillies, both because of their pitching and hitting, as well as the fact that our pitchers would get one more day of rest if we were in the other series (Game 1 with Phillies on Oct. 6th; Game 1 for other playoff teams on Oct. 7th). That would mean winning NL West and finishing ahead of the Reds.
Speaking of the Reds, Jeff Fletcher tweeted that if the Reds lose one more game and (he had "or" but I think he meant "and") the Giants or 'Dres win on Thursday, the Reds would end up 3rd in the NL, with the NL West winner 2nd and WC slot, of course, 4th. This is because the Giants won the season's series with them and thus would win any tie-breaker. As the Giants are two games ahead of the Reds, the magic number for the Giants to finish tied or above Reds is 2, as long as they win the NL West title.
Lincecum is just amazing. He did all that yesterday while very sick. Looked like he would not last out of first inning or two, but ends up giving up just that one run, on the homer on the second pitch of the game: way to recover from that! And he ended up striking out 10, the 26th time in his career to record double-digit K's and 7th this season. Also, as Baggarly tweeted, because his competitors for this title have been shut down for the season, The Kid will join Randy Johnson and Warren Spahn as the only pitchers since WW II to lead NL in strikeouts in 3 consecutive seasons.
It was also tweeted that Lincecum has the most strikeouts by any player since 1893 in their first four seasons with 907 strikeouts; the prior record holder was Doc Gooden with 892. I had thought long ago that Jerome Williams would be the one doing what Gooden did (some prospecthounds were comparing his minor league stats with Gooden's). But better late than never, though with Lincecum. He has been doing historical things that had never been done before and just continues to do that. The Giants (and their fans) are truly fortunate.
Giants Rotation Against SD
As has been tweeted by many, and blogged about by Baggerly, the Giants announced their rotation for the 'Dres series. Baggerly explained what it means pretty well, so I'll go with that:
As you’ve probably heard by now, the Giants altered their rotation for the Padres series.I would also add that this is also to put the Giants knee on the necks of the 'Dres chances of winning the NL West. The Giants will need to win at least one game in the SD series now to win the division. Worse case scenario is if the Giants lost and 'Dres won today, the Giants would need to win two games in the series. However, if the Giants win or if the 'Dres lost today, then the Giants would only need to win one game of the series to win the NL West.
Bruce Bochy moved up Matt Cain to pitch Friday (against Clayton Richard). Cain switched spots with Barry Zito, who will go Saturday on two extra days of rest (against Tim Stauffer). Jonathan Sanchez remains the guy Sunday against Mat Latos.
Bochy said it was simply to keep Cain on regular rest, nothing more. That’s because Bochy is loathe to say anything about lining his playoff rotation, both out of respect to the opposition and also because he might raise the wrath of the many, many baseball gods that rule the universe. (Such as Lothar, maker of bad-hop infield singles.)
It’s pretty clear what is happening. Bochy is moving up Cain because he’d follow Tim Lincecum in Game 2 of an NL Division Series. Also, if something wacky happens and the Giants tie with the Padres and Braves, possibly necessitating two tiebreaker games to get in, the Giants would have Cain on three days of rest in the second game.
Who is #3 Starter?
Baggerly also had good speculation about the third starter and why the Giants might go with a different option depending on the situation:
How would the Giants decide a Division Series Game 3 starter between their three left-handers? That’s a question they’re not ready to touch yet.To me, Zito is auditioning for the post-season rotation. If he has another off start on Saturday while Bumgarner pitches well today, he could get bumped anyway. In any case, I don't see how the Giants don't go with Sanchez #3, he has been pitching so well, and particularly in a short 5 game series.
And really, circumstances will dictate the decision. For instance, if the Giants have home field, then Game 3 would be on the road – most likely in a bandbox like Cincinnati, or possibly Atlanta. They might turn to Sanchez or even Madison Bumgarner, who has a 1.91 ERA on the road, before Zito.
But if the Giants don’t have home-field advantage, Game 3 would be at AT&T Park. And my hunch is that they would send Zito to the mound, backing him up with Bumgarner and not afraid to make a quick change.
Either way, Lincecum and Cain are the Giants’ top two pitchers. And you want them out of the gate first, so you can come back to them as often as possible.
In a 5 game series the third game is actually pivotal in all scenarios. If the Giants had lost the first two games, they really need to win that third game or they will be eliminated. If the Giants had split the first two games, the loser of the third game then needs to win the last two games, while the winner only needs to win one. Lastly, if the Giant had won the first two games, if the Giants win the third game, they win the series, but if the lose, the other team now is back in the series, only one game behind and feeling hopeful again. Not as urgent in this last case, but still, winning would give our pitchers extra rest before the NL and save our best pitchers for next series.
Because Bumgarner is going way beyond his prior IP totals, I don't see how he is not in the bullpen as long man, but that Bochy will have a quick trigger in pulling a struggling starter before the disaster start makes it too hard for the team to come back from. There is enough days inbetween series that even if the first series go the full number of games that Lincecum can pitch in the NLCS on regular rest, but if there is a 5th game, Cain would be pitching on shorter (4 days) rest, which is probably OK, but still. I would be OK with Bumgarner starting 2nd game of NLCS to allow Cain more rest in game 3, as that would still allow Cain to pitch again in NLCS, game 7. And if need be, on shorter rest in game 6.
I can see him being the #3 starter next season in the playoffs (for the season, I think the Giants will keep current order, to mix up styles and such, plus put less pressure on Sanchez and Bumgarner still). I think that he's that good.
Keep Buster as Catcher
There were some people on ExtraBaggs complaining that Buster should be "saved" by moving him to another position, as then he wouldn't be slumping now, because he's worn out playing catcher. Here is my response to them (plus my inevitable tweeks):
About Posey, while our rotation is one of the best right now, and could become one of the best ever in a few years (thank you Brian Sabean, hope you get an extension), does anyone really think that the historic 17 game (and now 20 of 21 games, wonder if that has happened before in MLB history) streak of 3 runs allowed or less happens without Buster? Sure, move him off catcher when he signs a 10 year, $300M contract with us, but for now, let him catch, he looks like he can become among one of the best ever.
And Posey is not slumping in September. In Sept, he has hit 6 HR in 86 AB, with a batting line of .244/.337/.500/.837 and his .224 BABIP suggests some extreme bad luck in balls falling in. If that is a slump, I hope he continues slumping.
In fact, Posey's OPS was rising most of the month until recently. His "slump" has been all of 5 games, from Sept 24 to now. What, he can't have a stretch of 5 bad games hitting now, is he suppose to walk on the waters of McCovey Cove next?
And as I noted, his abnormally low BABIP is the cause of his bad batting average, but as one can see, he has adjusted by taking many more walks to keep his OBP OK this month. This wunderkind can do it all!
There is a reason so many former catchers are managers: they are leaders in the clubhouse. They become good at it because they are essesntially managing the personalities of the 12 man pitching staff, so it is not as big a leap to then manage 25 personalities. Buster is the superstar leader our team has been looking for. For a long time, the Giants have had superstars but none of them were really leaders. Buster is a leader and he will lead us (along with our pitching staff) to the World Series and hopefully our long awaited World Series championship.
Giants Future So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades
In fact, I think the 2010's will be considered the Giants era, where they will dominate with pitching and enough hitting to keep the wins piling up. They will return to their former glories of about 100 years ago, much like Boston did recently, and win some World Series championships. And I predict that the A's will help finance this extended era of excellence by giving a lot of financial concessions to the Giants when they get approval to become the San Jose A's (would San Jose Giants move to Oakland then? :^) but then would have to concede lots and lots of money to the Giants like the Nats had to give up to Orioles.
And I think the Giants will be led by the tandem of Lincecum and Posey. Both are doing historical things (Lincecum with Cy Youngs and strikeouts; Posey guiding pitchers to 17 game streak) and with them around the Giants should be in good shape for years. Of course, they can't do it all alone, with other good to great players contributing, but I think the two of them will be our performance leaders who will dominate the opposition into submission when all is said and done.