Thursday, August 23, 2012

Your 2012 Giants are 69-55: Chopping the Braves

The Giants get to face the Braves for four at home, which is good since they are potentially one of the teams we are battling for a wild card spot, should the dastardly D-dogs leap ahead of us again in the standings.  But it is for four games, so the Giants will need to continue to step up and take the series if they hope to win the division title and avoid the difficulties that being a wild card now engenders.
Game 1:  Hanson vs. Zito
Tommy Hanson: In his first start since returning from the 15-day DL on Friday, Hanson made his first quality start since the All-Star break. Hanson said his command was much better after the time off allowed his strained back to heal.
Barry Zito: The Giants are 13-11 in Zito's starts, though he personally has won just once in his last six outings. He has struggled in the first inning, posting a 6.75 ERA in that frame. He's 8-3 when he pitches a scoreless first inning.
From the MLB report:  Lately, Zito has struggled. In his last four starts, he has a 7.52 ERA and has twice pitched fewer than five innings. However, he dominated the Braves when the two teams met in Atlanta last month, throwing seven shutout innings in the Giants' 9-0 victory.

Hanson was suppose to be one of their future aces, with great to good seasons in the past three years, 2.89 ERA, 3.33 in 2010, then 3.60.  But he has had a bad season overall this season, with a 4.27 ERA and it shows with his drop in K/BB ratio from 3.09 the past two seasons to only 2.13 this season.   However, as noted above, he got healthy with his DL and had a good start.  

He has only faced the Giants once before in AT&T and he shut them down:  7.0 IP, with 3 hits and 1 walk, for 1 R/ER along with 7 K's.  Still, Giants have a number of players who were with other teams and they rank high in PA faced:  Pence (17 PA), only .544 OPS; Sandoval (12 PA) only .250 OPS; Pagan (11 PA) only .522 OPS; Posey (8 PA) only .393 OPS; Theriot (6 PA) only .333 OPS.  Otherwise, no hitter has faced him before.  The Giants most likely will have a tough game scoring against him.
Braves are only 22-25 against LHP this season, so Zito has that in his favor.  He has done well against Atlanta in Atlanta:  1.64 ERA in 5 starts.  Alas, we are playing in SF in this series, and there he has never faced the Braves.  And his only home game against Atlanta was back in 2003 (3 ER in 7 IP, but only 2 PQS).  Still, that gives him a 2.03 ERA career and 0.96 ERA as a Giant against Atlanta.

That would suggest that he would do well.  However, the Braves have a number of hitters who have done OK against him.  Johnson (.310/.375/.379/.754 in 32 PA), Uggla (.273/.304/.500/.804 in 23 PA), Jones (.167/.167/.500/.667 in 12 PA, 2B and HR), Prado (.286/.444/.286/.730 in 9 PA), Freeman (.500/.667/1.000/1.667 in 3 PA).

Zito has not done well in the last 28 days, with a 7.36 ERA in 5 starts.  But he has pitched better at home than on the road (4.35 ERA vs. 4.50) but only slightly.   Still, with 3 DIS starts out of 4 starts in August, he's not exactly at the peak of his game right now.  I have to think that Bochy will keep Zito in there until things implode, at which point he will bring in Hacker to bridge to the rest of the bullpen. 

Have to think the Braves pull out a win in this start.  Hanson is going to be tough to score against.  However, since Zito seems to have Atlanta's number (despite all the hitters who have hit OK against him above), one would think that he would at least keep it close, particularly since the Braves have troubles against LHP. 

Game 2:  Sheets vs. Vogelsong
Ben Sheets: After allowing just two home runs in 38 innings this year, Sheets gave up a career-high four in six innings Saturday. After a brilliant return to the Major Leagues in July, Sheets has struggled in back-to-back starts, both losses.
Ryan Vogelsong: Vogelsong has compiled a 5-4 record with a 2.29 ERA at AT&T Park this year. His ERA has risen from a NL-best 2.27 during his current two-start mini-slump. Of the 17 hits he allowed in his last two outings, 15 were singles.
Sheets has not done well in 3 prior starts against the Giants, with a 4.24 ERA and 5.8 K/9 in those starts.  However, these starts were in 2002, 2008, and 2010, when he was younger and healthier and before he took 2011 off because of arm ailments, plus his 2010 season was cut short due to health issues (Beane sure spent his $10M well on Sheets; NOT!). 

Looking at his starts this season, he has had 5 DOM starts in 7 (a great 71% DOM) with no DIS starts, despite his last start's 4 HR.  Hard to tell with just a couple of games, but Sheets appeared to have lost out to the BABIP gods in his last two starts, as a lot of hits fell in for his Mets start and he only gave up 4 hits in 6.0 IP in his last start, with the bad luck that all four were homers.  Still, that last start only counted as a 2 PQS, so it was not like he was all that sharp and unhittable either.  I would bet on a tough game against him, especially since he's a RHP, which the Giants have roughly a .500 record against.

For what's it worth, he has faced a number of Giants in his career, with only Sandoval (.400/.500/1.000/1.500, 1 HR in 5 AB plus single and walk), Blanco (.200/.429/.400/.829) and Scutaro (.333/.429/.333/.762) having any success.  Only Pence (19 PA with .610 OPS) and Theriot (16 PA with .375) have multiple games experience. 

Vogie has shut down the Braves in Atlanta earlier this season (6.0 IP 1 R/ER, with 7 K's only 2 BB).   He also shut them down in a relief appearance in 2011 (3.1 IP, 0 R, with 2 K's, no walks).  That would suggest that Vogelsong has their number, with a 0.96 ERA in 2 appearances, 9.1 IP with 9 K's vs. 2 BB.  Still, not a lot of evidence either.  Most hitters only have one game results, best were Heyward (.833 OPS in 4 AB), Bourn (.333/.333/.333/.667 in 3 PA), Francisco (2.500 OPS in 2 PA, HR).  Janish (.393 OPS in 8 PA), Uggla (.000 OPS in 5 PA), Freeman (.500 OPS in 4 PA), McCann (.250 OPS in 4 PA), Prado (.500 OPS in 4 PA). 
Should be another pitcher's duel, both pitchers should be tough to hit against.  Give the Giants a slight lean for Vogelsong's recent dominance the past two seasons and home advantage.  However, lean back because Vogelsong has had two rough starts (relatively for him), and thus it becomes our bullpen against their bullpen.  We could easily be 0-2 after these two games, but hopefully one of the starters can hold the fort on scoring for the Giants.  And we could be 2-0, after all, the Braves lost the series to LA just before LA got swept by the Giants.  By that equation, we should be better than the Braves.

Game 3:  Minor vs. Bumgarner
Mike Minor:  (old one from prior Nats start) Minor has lost back-to-back starts despite continuing his strong second-half form. He has allowed 10 runs in 37 2/3 innings in the second half, striking out 29 and walking six batters. The 24-year old has lowered his ERA by more than a run.  ogc update: Gave up only 1 ER in 7.0 IP to LAD.
Madison Bumgarner: Bumgarner has recorded eight consecutive quality starts. He has struck out 61 since the All-Star break, leading all National League pitchers. Opponents are batting .167 (21-for-126) off Bumgarner with runners in scoring position.
Minor is a LHP and the Giants have been dominating LHP, with a great record against them.  Minor has been on a pretty good streak himself, though, since the ASB.  He has never pitched against the Giants in SF, but has faced them twice in Atlanta, giving up only 1 run in 12.0 IP with 16 K's and only 3 walks.  Clearly an immovable object vs. irresistable force situation.   However, as my PQS studies have shown, it is really up to the pitcher, so count on the Giants have a hard time against Minor in AT&T here.

Bumgarner is a pretty darn good LHP himself though.  And he has been doing well all season, not just recently.  He has done great against Braves in Atlanta, but in his one start last season against them, only lasted 2.2 IP, giving up 4 runs, 3 earned (4 hits and 2 walks, vs. 2 K's).   In general, he has a 2.97 ERA in AT&T for his career. 

Have to think that the game will be a close battle, with Bumgarner getting the lean for how well he has done against the Braves in his career plus how well he has done recently plus how well the Giants have done versus LHP, plus how poorly the Braves have done versus LHP, and lastly for their home park advantage. 

The Giants could be 0-3 as almost easily 3-0 by this point.  The baseball gods being what they are - mostly random - probably will be 1-2 or 2-1 at this point.  
Game 4:  Hudson vs. Lincecum
Tim Hudson:  (old one from prior Nats start) Hudson bounced back from one of his worst starts of the season by throwing 6 1/3 shutout innings against the Padres last Tuesday. Since Hudson lost to the Nats on July 1, the Braves have won all eight of his starts, With Hudson posting a 3.12 ERA.  ogc update:  Nats pound on him, 4 ER in 6.0 IP, raiseing ERA to 3.69.
Tim Lincecum:  Lincecum's shocking overall numbers mask his second-half improvement. He's 4-3 with a 3.10 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break. Still, the 86 earned runs he has allowed exceed his 2011 total by 20.
The original Timmeh vs. the new one?  Both are short right-handers not expected to do that much for that long in the majors.  Needless to say, both have surpassed what people might have thought when they saw their short statures. 

Hudson has done well against the Giants during his career, with a 3.27 ERA in 6 starts in AT&T, but he only struck out a paltry 4.6 K/9 and had a poor 1.75 K/BB ratio.  One HR in 41.1 IP helped greatly, and his good walk rate (2.6 BB/9) was a plus as well.  His starts PQS score has dropped over the years:  4 PQS in 2001, 5 in 2002, 0 (DIS) in 2006, 3 in 2007, 4 in 2010 (but only 2 K's in 7 IP), and 3 in 2011.  So he's not the dominant pitcher he was before, he's now a crafty righty type. 

In his career, he has dominated Giants hitters but, luckily for us, we have acquired two hitters who have had success against him:  Pagan (.355/.364/.484/.848 in 33 PA) and Pence (.333/.412/.400/.812 in 17 PA).  Also, Posey has had his number (.571/.600/.571/1.171 in 10 PA/7 BA).  However, Sandoval has not well (.286 OPS in 14 PA; but wow, ZERO K's in 14 AB).  Scutaro has an oh-fer-four, Theriot .167 OPS in 12 PA/AB.  Only Belt has more than one game experience (7 PA) but only .452 OPS. 

For Timmy, it was the worse of time, then it was pretty good time since the ASB.  For his career, he has a 2.80 ERA in 5 starts against the Braves in SF.  He's been pretty good on the road too (3.48 ERA) in Atlanta, though he did not face them earlier this season.  He has a career 3.17 ERA at home, and he has been much better at home than on the road, 3.92 ERA vs. 6.99 ERA.  However, his PQS scores have not been pretty in August, despite better ERA since ASB:  3, 3, 0, 4.  He was very close to losing his DOM in his last start, if Bochy didn't take him, and even before then, had Kemp's deep fly ball been a hit or even a homer, it did have that distance.

Should be another tough game, with the silver lining being that the Giants now have Pagan and Pence, and maybe Lincecum is stepping forward and pitching going forward instead of throwing, as Bochy asked for.  Most likely the teams will end up 2-2 in this series, but either team could easily be up 3-1.  Still, there probably will be cries over the Giants offense, even though it looks like they are sending up pretty good starters up against us.
ogc Thoughts

Every series will be key in some way going forward.  In this case, the Giants want to win the series for a number of good reasons.  First of all, put continued pressure on LA.  Second, put some distance between the Giants and potentially one of the teams they'll be batlling should the Giants fall back into the wild card race, as the Braves currently holds one of the wild card spots.  Thirdly, they are playing at home against a good team, always a good reason to want to win the series.  Lastly, they have a lot of momentum coming from sweeping the D-gers, particularly on the road, and to just play .500 would be disappointing.

However, the Braves are not a team easy to push over.  After all, despite all of their troubles with their starting rotation, both injuries and poor performances, they are actually 2 games ahead of us with their record of 71-53.  And they are 19-11 in their last 30 games, while the Giants are only 16-14.  And 35-24 on the road, which goes against the Giants great 35-26 home record (Atlanta has actually been better on the road than at home.   And their manager has been positive in 1-run games the past two seasons, +3 in 2011 and currently +6, so perhaps he's good like Bochy in maintaining a .500 record, has that skill. 

And they do beat up on RHP, with a great 49-28 record so far this season, though that is mainly at the hands of under .500 teams, who they beat up (44-21) but are not so good against over .500 teams (27-32).  Then again, neither are the Giants, only 29-32 against over .500 teams (40-23 against under .500 teams).  However, the Giants are only 42-42 against RHP and the Braves are smartly throwing 3 RHP against us (Maholm could have pitched in this series, he was in the rotation just before, and he has had a great 2.40 ERA and 26 K vs. only 6 BB in 30.0 IP, but still, is a LHP).  But also, the Giants smartly has both their LHP  going against the Braves, it is possible the Giants aligned the rotation for this (but more particularly for the LA series, as both worked out well). 

Still, sometimes, when hitters are hot, it is hard for any pitcher to hold him down.  Pagan was super hot during the sweep and has been hot since Cabrera was suspended, hitting .481/.500/.704/1.204 in those 6 games.  As well, Arias was even hotter, .529/.529/1.000/1.529.  If only he knew how to play LF, because neither Blanco (.450 OPS) or Christian (.091 OPS) has done anything since Melky said good-bye.

Interesting tidbit from KNBR this morning, though, about that:  apparently Melky took off with his tail turned once the news came down that he was suspended, without saying anything to the team.  He must have known that it was coming, so I would think that he would have already thought about what he might do if and when the news broke out.  And he just hightailed it out of there with not even a word of apology to the team, or anything to explain himself.  The morning show wondered if the Giants might be playing with anger because of that.

I've also speculated here previously that perhaps the Giants are playing with purpose as well.  Melky was having an MVP type season and now that's tainted by the drug usage.  It is only natural that other teams and fans think that the Giants do not deserve to be where they are right now because of that, as clearly, without all the Melky production, the Giants would not even be battling LA for the division lead at that time, they would be back with AZ or worse.  The Giants rallying call right now might be to prove that they deserve to be in the playoffs, Melky or no Melky. 
Unfortunately, the rallying call is not being heard by many players.  Only Scutaro is hitting well in those 6 games (skipping the gut punch game in the last game against the Nats):  .385/.370/.538/.909.  The other starters are not doing so well:  Posey (.739 OPS), Crawford (.697), Pence (.689), Sandoval (.673), Belt (.485), Hanchez (.000 in 10 PA/AB).   Though, I suppose, in aggregate, Posey, Crawford, Pence, and Sandoval aren't doing that bad either, as not every hitter is always hot in any particular 6 game stretch, as long as there is some hitting in the lineup, with the hot hitters, it can do well.  And it has, .284/.318/.408/.726 in those 6 games vs. .264/.324/.387/.711 for the season. 

So perhaps what I should say is that Arias and Pagan has heard the call and lead the team, and now we will need other hitters to pick up the slack and take the baton from them, much as it can be said that they took the baton from Posey, who has single-handedly carried the team on his back since the All-Star break.  Even with that subpar stretch, Buster Posey is still hitting .408/.487/.712/1.199 since the All-Star game, with 9 HR in 125 AB and 36 RBI in 34 starts (35 games).

And as I noted in a post before, Pence has been doing his job, which is driving in runs.  Despite his lousy .193/.239/.313/.552 batting line with the Giants, he has an excellent 15 RBI in 21 games, and 4 RBI in his last 6.  And that is because when there is a RISP, he has hit very well, .296/.313/.593/.905.  Where he has fallen down on the job is getting rallies started when the bases are empty or there is a runner on first, hitting a very poor .154/.195/.205/.400 with no runners and even poorer .118/.211/.118/.328 with a runner on first.

And it is not like that is unusual for him, either, as he only has 4 strikeouts in 27 AB, for a good 85% contact rate when there are RISP.  Apparently pitchers feel the need to pitch to him with RISP because they don't want to walk him, but then pitch him tough when there are no RISP because they don't want him to start a rally.  Of course, they shouldn't be doing this, but, of course, that's assuming that they are doing this, as that is what the data shows. 

More probably, this is just SSS with regression to the mean, as he was the opposite with the Phillies, his RISP was only .703 OPS, while he had a .760 OPS with no runners and .986 OPS with a runner on first.  For his career, he has hit better with runners on, better with runner on first (.894 OPS) than RISP (.827 OPS is still pretty good), than bases empty (.785 OPS which is good).

So the good news is that he's still driving in runs while his overall batting line is horrible.  And he's been getting better in his time with us.  The thing is that he was out of whack for much of July for the Phillies and was just figuring things out when he is traded, which I think set him back a little, in terms of getting comfortable.  In his first 7 games, he only hit .133/.156/.233/.390 (but with 5 RBI in 7 games).  In his next 7, which ended before the Melky suspension, he hit .241/.267/.379/.646 (6 RBI in 7 games).  Around that time he said that he was close, at which point he had his 3-hit game, then Melky put the pressure on again with his suspension.  And in the 7 games after Melky, he hit .208/.300/.333/.633 (4 RBI in 7 games).

To get the Giants offense going in the next 10 games, we will need one or ideally both of Pence and Pablo to start hitting like they can, to be the leaders of the offense.  Relying on Pagan and Arias to continue their hot hitting is not an option, just be glad that they did what they did.  Pablo was showing some signs with his hard outs, but then his hammy acted up.  Plus Posey's too.  Pence hopefully can carry the load during this crucial 10 game period where the Giants need to at least split with Atlanta, then win both series against the Astros and Cubs on the road, if they hope to be still in good shape in the standings, as the next six games after that is 3 against AZ then 3 against LA, both at home (good for us). 

Getting a nice finishing kick with these 10 games is also good because that's the last of non-NL West teams we play against for the rest of the season.  That's 28 games against the NL West in Sept/Oct, with 6 against the D-gers (and that's the last 3 games of the season, where it looks like we'll be playing for the division title with them unless we can get more separation), 9 against the D-backs (can't forget them, they are only 5.5 games behind and a good showing by them against us could vault them back into the NL West division title race), 7 against the D-Rox (any games in Colorado are tough games, no matter how bad their team is; lucky that is ony 3 games, as we have 4 at home), and 6 against the 'Dres. 

That's 18 tough games, for sure, and SD, despite us winning that series against them, has actually been playing well for the past two months, so one could argue that the only easy games will be the 4 against Colorado in AT&T, with the other 24 tough games against teams dying to knock us off, particularly AZ after Melky because Gibson is publicly steamed over how Melky benefited the Giants during his time of using. 

So the Giants need to take care of things now, don't let down against the Braves, then taking it to the Astros and Cubs, because it won't be easy after that against the NL West gauntlet.  Luckily, Lincecum and Cain appears to be coming out of their funk, just in time for Zito to go into his funk, and Vogelsong appears to have some struggles with his command late in the season - he had a similar pause last season as well, in August, before having a nice finishing kick in September.  Now we need both Sandoval and Pence to join the hitting parade, per their career numbers, and that solid core in the middle will mean better pitches for Pagan and Scutaro to hit, as no starter will want to walk anyone ahead of Pablo, Posey, Pence.  Any supplemental hitting from Arias, Belt, Crawford, and the LF would be great as well.

Go Giants!


  1. Missed this, forgot to check for the lineup: Christian on 15-day DL with sprained wrist - which he got when he gave his all to make a great catch in yesterday's game - and Francisco Peguero called up. No news on how Bochy will use him.

    That was quite a catch, though honestly, when I saw the replay, I thought for sure he broke his wrist. It's amazing that he finished the game.

    Also, Posey's hammy is still touchy, though "a lot better" according to Bochy, so he's sitting again to rest up for the rest of the series. It worked out that Zito is also starting, so that works out too, since Hector has caught him most of this season (4.33 ERA with Hector, 4.73 ERA with Buster this season). Plus this gives Belt a start, hopefully he can get some hits today, we will need it with Posey out.

  2. Giants take the first game on a great start by Barry Zito, 8 shutout innings until he gave up two hits in the 9th, then the bullpen allowed them to score. And he had no or a slim lead until the Giants pushed through 4 runs in the bottom of the 5th through Hunter Pence's bunt single, which started up the scoring. While he's had the Braves numbers for years, you really never know what you are going to get from Zito. 3 PQS start, needed either one more K or one less walk to get a 4 PQS, so he was close.

    All the position players had a hit and Zito even got a walk too. Though ultimately not necessary, Hanchez's 2-run bloop double, put the game out of practical reach until the 9th, making the game 5-0 instead of 3-0. Hopefully he's getting his stroke back, he hasn't done much since he went on the DL. His ability to drive in runs in the early parts of the season really helped our offense, making the loss of sitting Posey less and he was a great improvement over what Belt was doing in the early season.

    Saving the best for last, Pagan ignited the offense again, getting on base 3 times via a single and two walks, plus he stole a base too.

    1. Should have also mentioned that is four wins in a row and nine of their last twelve. They are now 14-8 for the month. They gained a half game on both extending lead to three games over LA, six over AZ.

  3. I posted this at The Hardball Times, which has an article about Bochy returning to .500 record for his career:

    Nice history lesson, thanks!

    The amazing thing is that in his career, as my research showed, he is +77 in 1-run games over his managerial career. Even though he only managed 6-7% of the team seasons during his career, he holds 40%+ of the times that a manager had a +8 or higher more wins in 1-run games. The Null Hypothesis testing on whether he is a .500 manager in 1-run games has him statistically significantly at the 95% confidence level that he is above .500.

    Without that boost in his career, he would probably be still years away from reaching .500 again. And, out of the 5 times he has made the playoffs, swapping out half of his plus total (i.e. assuming a 1-run win turns into a 1-run loss, changing a +4 season to a 0 season), he would have been out of the playoffs for sure twice, two other times his team would have fallen to a tie or 1 game lead, which could have resulted in a fall out of the playoffs (say, if his win turned loss was to the next team in standings). Only his one World Series season with the Padres would have been still a playoff team for sure.

    1. I screwed up in my addition! DOH!

      He should be +78 in 1-run games, 465-387, a .546 winning record in 1-run games. That works out to an 88 win season over a 162 season.

      There was no link to how good his team was. Mostly, his Padres teams were bad or worse. Early in his career, it did seem like when he had good teams, he had better 1-run differentials, but he had a +5 season where they went 86-86 in that period, then later a +9 season when they were 79-83.

      But basically, when he had a good team, he contributed a large part of their margin. In his 1996 playoff team, they were 91-71, +20 and that team was +9 in 1-run games. In his 1998 World Series team, they were 98-64, +34 and that team was +8 in 1-run games. In 2005, that first place team was 82-80, +2, while they were +9 in 1-run games. In 2006, that first place team was 88-74, +14, while +8 in 1-run games. In 2010, the team was 92-70, +22, and was +4 in 1-run games.

      This would look even more amazing than above analysis if I just took those wins away from each season, that 2006 team would have been 82-71, that 2005 team 73-80, that 2006 team, 80-74, that 2010 team, 88-70.

  4. Wow, D-gers are rumored to be in negotiations for HUGE trade with Boston to get A-Gon: in return, they would take on Josh Beckett's and Carl Crawford's horrendously big contracts (plus Nick Punto).

    I didn't think that LA could swing a deal for AGon, but if they take on big contract mistakes, maybe...

    That's three of Boston's biggest contract obligations, LA would have to take Lackey's contract to make a clean sweep.

    Unless they eat Beckett's contract, he will have to pitch for them. Looking at his stats, he looks like he had an injury of some sort in June, resulting in only 3 starts, and he has been bad in July then horrible in August. That should counter any plus they get from getting A-Gon upgrade over Loney at 1B. Unless they see something that they can fix with Beckett.

    Crawford however, looks recovered from his injury that kept him out until July, he has had a hot August.

    Meanwhile, they already have three OF in Victorino, Kemp, Ethier. So either Victorino or Ethier probably is a part of the package back. I have to think it would be Victorino, while they install Crawford at leadoff. But he would have to revert back to 2010's version to be useful as a leadoff, he hasn't done much the past two seasons. So while he might not be a total failure as a ballplayer and can be productive (just not contract size productive), if they lead off with him, that could cost their offense (though an upgrade over what Victorino had been doing for them).

    Shocker! Deal is too big to really digest until it is finalized, and rumors are that it is just a matter of time.

    1. This MLBTR link has the latest news:

    2. The deal looks like it is pretty much done, probably a lot of legal due diligence that needs to be done and couldn't be finished up tonight.

      Dodgers are loading up, but that does not mean that they will catch up with us. A-Gon has had a subpar offensive season in an offensive park built for power lefty hitters like him, and he's going to LA which is an even harder park to hit in. Still, he's an upgrade over Loney no matter how you slice it.

      Same with Crawford in LF over Victorino. Appears that LA keeps both Ethier and Victorino, so Shane's probably going to the bench, as Crawford has had a hot August, and looks ready to start returning to what he was before. He should be an upgrade there.

      However, Beckett has been horrible since June, when he dealt with some sort of injury. He has a 6.98 ERA since then, had a nice 4 PQS in his first start and was good for about a month, but in his last 4 starts, he had been subpar, though his last start was an improvement, so there is so hope for LA that he maybe has turned the corner and will pitch better. He probably replaces Blanton, but there's no guarantee that he'll be better, though obviously he has had a much better career than Blanton so far, but he's been scuffling lately. He could continue to scuffle.

      But again, it's an improvement for the Dodgers because he should be no worse than Blanton has been, who will probably end up in long-relief now.

      The Dodgers should be improved, but will it be enough to catch up with the Giants?

      I don't think so, if the Giants hitters continue to at least hit like they should and the pitchers pitch like they should.

  5. Giants take two: wins second game of series behind Vogelsong, 5-3. Ryan goes 6.1 IP, nice 4 PQS start (and luckily 3 solo HRs). He recovered from his dead arm or whatever you want to call it, in his last two starts, slinging another PQS start.

    Pagan, Scutaro, Sandoval again doing the job up top, Pagan gets 4 hits, one short of cycle, two singles. But everyone was getting on-base, Posey was on 3 times, Pence twice, Blanco and Belt had 2 hits each, and Gregor also had a walk. Crawford also had a hit but unfortunately not at the right time, he left 7 runners on base during the game. Pence had 4 LOB, though, no RBI tonight.

    Hence why only 5 runs with 14 hits and 5 walks. Luckily there were so many hitters getting on base, eventually somebody had to score. There will always be games like this, so I'm glad we were able to pull out the win.

    Bullpen helped shut down the Braves, overall, and Lopez got a 1.1 IP save.

    This win guarantees that the Giants cannot lose the series and at least gained a tie. The win also ties the Giants with the Braves in wins. Now the team has a season high 5 game win streak, and 7 of 8 since the day Melky was suspended.

    Pagan and Scutaro are going to cool off at any point. We need Sandoval and Pence to start to heat things up.

    Luckily, Blanco is starting to heat up. In 6 starts since Melky, he has had multiple hits in 3 of them and hits in 5. He is now 8 for 21 (.381) and with 3 walks, .458 OBP, and with no extrabase hits, his OPS is .839 as a starter since Melky left.

    Belt continues his nice August overall, though he has struggled a little since Melky left. But too SSS to say whether it was that pressure or just a slight slump. That happens. The good thing is that despite a bit of striking out recently, he's still making good contact over a long period of time (20 AB contact rate up to 85.2% to yesterday's game). And he was 2 for 4 today, and on-base 5 times in his last 3 starts.

    And actually, I'm wrong, I remember the stats from like a week ago for August, but as of yesterday's game (and remember, they got 14 hits and 5 walks in today's game), the TEAM (including pitchers) had a .774 OPS, best of the season for any month, by a wide margin. Posey 1.207 OPS, Arias 1.123, Pagan 1.005, Belt .918, Crawford .802, Scutaro .761. And I mentioned how Blanco is starting to heat up as a starter.

    Could you imagine if Sandoval (.660 OPS) or Pence (.550 OPS) had been hitting like normal during this month? Every game would be a laugher.

    Luckily all these guys are hitting, because Pence is starting to come up small even with runners on base, his RBI's have been slowing down as time has gone on. He needs to start hitting and soon, keep this virtuous offensive lineup circle going.

    Then again, maybe be thankful he's cold now and hopefully he'll heat up once the other hitters start to cool off.

  6. OGC - Carl Crawford is out for the year with TJ surgery. Most likely they wait and see about re-signing Victorino depending on Crawfords progress.

    I think we underestimated how good H Ramirez would be, I do not want to do the same with A Gonzo. This is a serious serious threat to the Gints chances. Sure long term it is insane, giving up some very nice pitching talent, but this group has thought nothing of throwing on 300MM to the payroll obligations. That is pretty amazing. The Gints are bringing knives to the gun fight. Just a question if they can come up with some super sharp ninja knives. They need to be creative, because they cannot outspend this Doyer ownership.

  7. Maybe I'm just being a homer, but I don't think this is such a great deal for the Dodgers. That's a lot of money for really only Gonzales (who won't make much of a difference this year, though Shankbone is right in that he shouldn't be taken lightly) and a lot of question marks. They thin their farm system ever more, and the latest spending spree seems ill-advised.

    I suppose in the long haul they will always have more money than the Giants, and so this is just the way of things. But still, $2B? Comparatively, that seems like it will be a hindrance to them.



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