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Showing posts from August, 2012

Taking Care of Business in Houston

It took a comeback effort in Tuesday's game, only the 2nd time all season the Giants won when trailing after the 7th inning. On Wednesday, the Giants had to hold off the Astros' attempt at a comeback and did so successfully. Matt Cain made his first start vs. Houston since his perfect game in June on Tuesday, and he again gave the Astros lineup trouble. Unfortunately Cainer didn't get the decision in his solid 7 inning, 2-run performance as he left in a tie game, but he did more than enough to give the Giants a chance to pull out the late inning victory (thanks to some fine defensive plays behind him). Barry Zito had a tougher go of it Wednesday, getting knocked out in the third and almost surrendering the Giants' 4-0 lead. The biggest part of that game though, in my mind, came before Zito even took the hill. Hunter Pence finally made an opposing pitcher pay for walking the red hot Buster Posey. With Pence struggling and Posey scorching, pitchers were starting to fee

Potential September Call-Ups

We're just a few days away from the calendar turning to September, at which time MLB rosters can expand to 40 instead of 25. Here are a look at a few guys the Giants could bring up to the big league team in the next week or so. Xavier Nady, OF : The Giants picked up the right-handed hitting outfielder with September firmly in their minds. Nady got off to a bit of a slow start in Fresno, but has come on strong of late. He blasted two home runs in Sunday's game to help the Grizzlies over the Reno Aces, and has 6 homers and 17 RBI in 21 games. I was a little surprised when the Giants went with Francisco Peguero over Nady last week when Justin Christian went down, but it won't be long before Nady's in a Giants uniform. The Giants still have a couple of days left before the waiver deadline, but if they don't get anyone, Nady could become a key cog for them down the stretch. It wouldn't surprise me if he's platooning with Blanco in left by the time LA comes to t

Giants 'Walk' Their Way to Loss

You aren't going to win many games where your pitchers can't find the strike zone. It hasn't happened to the Giants' arms often lately, but it did them in on Saturday. After a couple impressive wins to start their big four-game set with Atlanta, the Giants ran into some rare pitching difficulties with their left-handed stopper Madison Bumgarner. It was a complete 180 from the previous two games as the Giants couldn't get anything going early and the top of the order was shut down by Mike Minor. Bumgarner, who's been so good at home with an 8-1 record heading into Saturday's start, just didn't have it Saturday. He walked 4 batters and gave up 4 runs in 6 innings of work in one of his more mediocre starts in recent weeks. He didn't have that uncanny command to the corners, especially with the breaking ball, that he did in LA during his last start and the Braves hitters waited him out and worked counts in their favor. The Giants walked 7 Atlanta hitte

Francisco Peguero Up, Christian to DL

That catch Justin Christian made Wednesday night in LA was about as good as they get, but it will be costing the Giants outfielder at least the next 15 days to recover from. The Giants made a roster move prior to Thursday's game with the Braves, sending Christian to the 15-day DL with a sprained wrist and calling up Francisco Peguero from the Fresno Grizzlies to take his spot. Andrew Baggarly ranked the solid-hitting outfielder 5th among Giants prospects heading into the 2011 season after Peguero hit a combined .337 the previous three seasons with A San Jose and AA Richmond. This year though, the 24 year-old has taken a step back, and is hitting just .272 with a .691 OPS. He does have 68 RBI and has 10 triples on the season, but the one stat that is really disappointing for him is the 1 in the stolen base column. For a guy who had 40 steals in 2010, that's a major drop off right there, and as far as I know, there's nothing limiting him physically. So, on one hand there&#

Giants Stay Hot, Sweep LA

The Giants went into LA a half game back of the Dodgers in the West but they'll be heading back home with a firm 2.5 game lead after sweeping their SoCal rivals. First of all, I know there's still 6 weeks left in the season, but the Giants need to seriously be considering keeping Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro around beyond this season! The Giants 1-2 hitters again got the train rolling Wednesday night, as both singled to start the game and both ended up scoring in the first inning to again help the Giants set the tone. Angel wound up going 2-4 with a walk and three runs scored, and Scutaro had another multi-hit game and scored a pair. Each had 2 hits in every game of the series. Number 16 didn't just do it with the bat in LA either. The play he made Tuesday night to gun down A.J. Ellis at the plate was, in my mind, the play of the series for the Giants. If he doesn't come up with that throw, the Dodgers are sitting pretty with Lincecum on the ropes in a close ball gam

MadBum Outduels Kershaw

Monday nights game one at Dodger stadium between Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw promised to be a pitchers duel, and it didn't disappoint... Round one to the Giants. It was one of the best duels I've seen all season long, as both pitchers were really on their game, but Kershaw made a few mistakes early in the game and the Giants cashed in when they had the chance. Angel Pagan's double to lead off the game helped set the tone and allowed the Giants to get on the board before Bumgarner even took the hill, and he made it stand. The Giants' 23 year-old lefty wound up going 8 strong, allowing just 4 hits and no walks with 10 strikeouts. He was able to keep the Dodgers 3-4-5 hitters off the base paths and that was the key for MadBum Monday night. The fastball was working, the curve was breaking and he was getting ahead of hitters with strike one with regularity. His pitch count was a little high at 123 after the eight, and Boch didn't want to risk running him out

Melky Who? SF Offense Stepping Up

After a lackluster performance on Wednesday, just hours after hearing that one of their offensive catalysts would be suspended the rest of the way, the Giants had something to prove in San Diego and they've played like it. Matt Cain got things started with just another terrific outing, mowing down San Diego and allowing just a run on 3 hits with 6 K's over 8 innings of work. He and Buster Posey were in sync and on the same page from pitch one and Matt Cain made it look easy. Cain built off his great start last week vs. the Rockies after his perfect game celebration, and he looks like his arm has bounced back a bit. It seemed like towards the end of July and into early August, Cain was missing high with a lot of pitches and appeared to be getting a tired arm but that hasn't been the case the last few outings for him. Hopefully this is a sign of Cain returning to his first-half dominance cause now that the offense has lost a huge piece of the puzzle, their pitching will hav

Surviving Without Melky

The Giants ran into a double-dose of bad luck Wednesday as the news of Melky Cabrera's suspension came down just before the Giants lost their series with Washington. Melky Suspended for Season Melky Cabrera, who was quickly becoming huge fan favorite around the Bay Area, just gave Giants fans a sucker punch to the gut. The '12 All-Star MVP was suspended the mandatory 50-games for violating the MLB drug policy by taking a Testosterone-based supplement. Once again the Giants are left shorthanded and without one of their lineup's cornerstones. Whether it's been suspensions like with Mota and Cabrera season, or injuries like with Wilson and Pablo Sandoval, the Giants just couldn't seem to get their A-team out on the field all together this season. They had the one game with Pence, Panda, Cabrera and Posey all in the lineup together and the offense looked completely rejuvinated. Turn the page to Wednesday's game, and you saw a 180-degree turnaround. And just li

Giants Finally Figure Out Nationals

The Giants opened up this crucial 3-game set by getting embarrassed by the Nats behind the guy who's been their ace of the second half in Ryan Vogelsong. They turned to their left-handed stopper Tuesday night to get them on track and Madison Bumgarner threw a gem. MadBum Shuts Down Nats Bumgarner threw a complete game, allowing 1 run on 5 hits with 6 strikeouts in route to his team-leading 13th win on the season. In what was really a fine pitching matchup, the Giants' young arm got the better of Jordan Zimmerman, who is probably the Nationals' best arm right now, and gave the Giants a chance to take the series in the matinee Wednesday. Madison was certainly masterful in this one, but once again, the key to the game for me was the Giants jumping out to the early lead, albeit by just a run. We saw what happens when they get behind early on Monday, and then we saw the complete 180 turnaround Tuesday. The Giants definitely had their offense clicking on all cylinders in ga

Pence Lifts Giants Over Rockies

Giants fans had been waiting patiently for Hunter Pence to make his impact in the lineup and the right fielder delivered big on Sunday. Before I get to the game-winning shot though, I wanted to point out the outstanding defense he's brought to right field. AT&T Park has the most tricky right-side outfield to play in all of baseball, and Hunter's picked it up seamlessly. He saved another potential game changing hit on a diving catch in the gap Sunday, then came up with his own later in the game. Pence blasted off for the first time in a Giants uni and cashed out in his most crucial at bat since coming to San Francisco last month. In a 6-6 ballgame with 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th, Hunter connected off Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt for a decisive 3-run jack that gave the Giants the lead and the victory. I noticed Betancourt throwing a lot of fastballs to Posey, and Buster just missed one before Pence came up. Then Betancourt tried to do the same thing with Hunter

Giants Look to Build off 5-2 Trip

The Giants couldn't quite pull out the win behind Madison Bumgarner Thursday in St. Louis, but they'll still have a nice flight back home after a taking 5 of 7 on this two city road trip. In what very well could have been a glimpse into October, the Giants and St. Louis Cardinals played each other terrifically in St. Louis this week, splitting their four game series and emerging with identical 61-51 records. We talked a lot about games 1 and 2 in our last post when it looked like the Giants offense was ready to catch fire, but they didn't do a whole lot in games 3 and 4. They took game three behind another valiant effort from Ryan Vogelsong, who's in some kind of groove right now and is making a strong case for NL Cy Young, despite his lower win total. Vogey mowed down the Cards' potent without much trouble and the Giants bullpen did a nice job preserving the victory. What was key, and what had been key for them all road trip, is they again jumped out to a first i

Zito Gem, Posey Blast Carry Giants

The Giants couldn't quite keep their mini winning streak going in Monday's game as Matt Cain ran into a 6th inning jam he couldn't escape. Luckily, Barry Zito had no such issue in Tuesday nights contest. Barry Zito stepped up in a big way vs. a team I thought would give him trouble and he set the tone for a strong all-around game by the Giants. The lefty had some trouble with Allen Craig, who took him deep twice with two solo shots, but that was it for the Cardinals. Zito had complete command of just about every pitch he was throwing, and even that second home run by Allen Craig came on a low fastball that painted the outside corner, it was just an excellent job of hitting on Craig's part. St. Louis did scatter out 8 hits off Zito, but he stayed out of trouble most of the night because he wasn't giving up free passes. It was one of the better games I've seen Zito throw this year just because the lack of mistakes and the uncanny command. Buster Posey, who hasn&

Giants Get Right in Colorado

After finishing up their home stand in forgettable fashion earlier in the week, the Giants had to get their offense going in Denver. They did exactly what they needed to! Pagan back to leadoff Bruce Bochy hosted a team meeting before game one on Friday night, and whatever he said worked wonders for his squad in this 3-game set. San Francisco rode a couple of offensive fueled nights in games one and two to easy victories. The key though wasn't just that the bats woke up this series, it's that they woke up early on in ballgames and provided the Giants starters some breathing room. Coors Field is the most lively park in baseball and 5 run leads there are like 2 run leads in a typical yard. One of the reasons why the Giants offense had been sputtering is because of their lack of production at the top of the order. Bochy decided to throw Pagan back at the top of the lineup for this series and he responded terrifically. Angel went 7-14 in the series, reaching base 10 times all

Deadline Hangover Bites SF

Last year we saw the Giants swing a big time deal for Carlos Beltran at the end of July and never quite got things going with him. Hopefully, they figure things out quicker with their newest acquisition. Pence hit-less in 2 games It's only been two games since the Giants made the big splash to get Hunter Pence, but so far they haven't gotten the reaction they were hoping for out of their offense. They started this tail-spin vs. LA last weekend, and surprisingly still have a grip on first place, but they have to get right on this trip. Pence looked a little over-amped in game one after being greeted by a thunderous standing ovation Wednesday night, and didn't fair much better in game two, but he did just miss hitting two balls into the left-field seats. He drove in his first run as a Giant as well Thursday and I can tell he's starting to settle in. I think this road trip is coming at a perfect time for Pence and the Giants. Typically a road trip isn't what the