After tough loss Friday night in which the Giants youngster Eric Hacker pitched well but not quite as good as Padres youngster Corey Luebke, the Giants tightened up and beat the Padres Saturday and Sunday to take the weekend series from San Diego.
|Timmy Beats SD|
It really was all about starting pitching and timely hitting for the Giants, as they didn't go crazy on offense, but did just enough in each of their wins to support excellent starting performances by Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner. Lincecum's gem was especially re-assuring, as it was by far the right-handers most dominant outing of the young season (8 IP, O ER, 4 Hits, 5 K's) to improve to 2-2 and drop his ERA down to 5.74, which is good considering he went into that start with a 8-something ERA. He's know won his last 2 starts and is starting to look much better. He's still not hitting his location as often as he's used to, as I think he was a bit out of whack with his mechanics but is now getting a more steady rhythm and release point out there on the mound. Madison Bumgarner didn't quite match Timmy's start Sunday, but came about as close to it as possible, going 7 2/3 strong, allowing 1 run on 6 hits with 6 K's. The lefty improved to 4-1 on the young season, leading the Giants staff in wins and dropped his ERA to a staff-low 2.54. In the month of April, there wasn't a better starter for the Giants than Bumgarner, as he'll likely get some consideration for NL pitcher of the month after wrapping it up with a bow Sunday afternoon. It hasn't just been the starters either, Santiago Casilla has done everything in his power to eliminate any discussion of the Giants needing a new arm for that 9th inning. Casilla had his 4th save in 4 chances Sunday, after shutting down the Padres for his 2nd save Saturday night, saving Lincecum's win. It's not just the fact he's closing the games out successfully, but it's the manner in which he's doing it, dominating with high-90's fastball and a huge uncle charlie. He's got two dominant strikeout pitches with that heater and 12-6 hook, which is why I think Boch felt so confident in declaring him closer after Wilson went down. I still think they may need to deal for another bullpen arm at some point during the season, as their pen has been a little suspect and may be looking for an upgrade over the Steve Edelfsen/Dan Otero combo.
The Giants offense, which started out the year with like 7 or 8 straight games scoring over 5 runs, have slown down a bit as a unit, but as I mentioned earlier, they did enough this weekend to win the series, and seem to be figuring out which players to play and when to play them. I've talked a lot lately about Angel Pagan's huge improvement over the last 10 days, and he continued his ascendancy this weekend going 4-13 with another home run, an RBI and 2 runs scored and improving his hit-streak to 14 games. His average, which was in the .100's last time the Giants were at home, is now up to a much more respectable .250, and he continues to hit with surprising power. 10 of his 22 hits this season have been for extra-bases, including 3 triples. Along with Pagan, both Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval continue to rake as well. Posey and Pablo each hit their 4th home runs of the season in this series, and Posey managed to keep his average over .350 for the whole month of April. What a great comeback story he's
|Buster Posey April's MVP?|
been, and he's easily on track to win comeback player of the year, and maybe more than that. I really like how Boch is starting to use him more over at first base, which should keep his bat in the lineup more often and give him a lighter load on his legs, not needing to catch every game he plays. The player that's made that possible has been young Hector Sanchez. The 22 year-old missed some opportunities in Sunday's game, though the Giants were able to overcome them, but he went into play Sunday with a .313 average, 1 HR and 7 RBI in just 32 at-bats. The more PT he gets, the more he continues to produce, and if he can keep hitting .280+ with pop and clutch hits, I don't see any reason not to play Posey over at first vs. every left-handed pitcher with Brett Pill moving out to left. I hate to say it cause I really like him, but it's almost like the DL'ing of Aubrey Huff has cleared up a clogged situation at first base/left field. Now, Boch has worked a pretty good routine of playing Belt and Schierholtz vs. righties, and then giving way to Sanchez and Pill vs. lefties, and it's served them well so far in Huff's absence.
With Sunday's win, the Giants moved to season high 2-games over .500 at 12-10 as they finish April, and get a day off to enjoy at home before playing host to the new Miami Marlins for the first time ever. The Marlins, a team a lot of people, including yours truly, had high expectations for coming into the season have had a rough April and will be as pleased as any team to see that calendar turn to May. Hopefully the Giants can keep them in April mode for a few more games though, as that team just cannot win right now. They're showing you exactly what it's like to play with a closer who's not getting anyone out. Heath Bell's been one of the best relievers in the game in recent years but has been horrible in 2012. So, with the losing of Brian Wilson early, still playing without Freddy Sanchez, and the Giants starting pitching (sans Bumgarner and even Zito) having a roller-coaster month, entering May at 12-10 isn't the worst situation in the world.