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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Strong Pitching, Clutch Hitting Beats Padres

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.
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3 Comments:

  • At 5:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Gotta say, love the way the young players are playing on this team. The Giants have such a bright future. I mean, look at all their stars under 30.

    Pablo
    Posey
    Crawford
    Pill
    Burris
    Belt
    Cabrera
    Sanchez

    And of course all the starting pitchers. Do they have Cabrera past this season though? He's not a FA yet is he. He's only 27.

     
  • At 12:08 AM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    Melky will be a FA after this season. If you go back a few posts or search Melky Cabrera in our search bar, you'll see a few posts back, where I suggested the Giants sign him to a multi-year extension like they did with Pablo this year. Something like 2-3 years at $7.5M per season.

    If he hits .300 with 20/20 and 200 hits again that would be a bargain of a price as he could easily get $10M+ per season for 4 or more years at his age. That's why it may make some since to figure out if you want him long-term and I think the answer is yes, just because of the lack of depth in the outfield and his versatility and ability.

    Next years free agent class is not very impressive, nowhere near what this years was, so Melky will be a hot commodity granted he keeps this up. The thing is, he's only had one full, good season in his career, which was last year with the low-expectation Royals. The Giants likely won't do anything to fast with either Cabrera or Pagan as they want to see how they adapt over the months to playing in San Fran. But as of now, I see a lot of logic in keeping both around, at least for another couple of seasons.

    And yeah, I also share your optimism about the young hitters coming up. Not to mention some good young bats in the minors that we'll talk about soon in our Minor League Report.

     
  • At 12:13 AM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    And I say this years like it was some great group... Really, outside of the top-10 guys like Pujols, Fielder, Wilson and Darvish it's been trash. Josh Willingham has been a nice surprise (if you type his name into the bar too, you'll see we were strong advocates of signing him), but next years free agent class really sucks.

    For your own evidence, just Google "Cots MLB contracts" some time and check out the list, it's depressing. Makes you glad for what the Giants have now! Matt Cain would have probably gotten $27M per season for 6 years, no joke.

     

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