Sunday, October 31, 2010

Giants drop game 3 in Texas


Cody Ross hits postseason homer number 6
Nobody expected a sweep.

At least that's what I keep telling myself.

Thoughts of a sweep were dancing through Giants fans minds after they manhandled the Rangers in the first two world series games in San Francisco.  But these Texas Rangers are actually a pretty good team.

I know a lot of people were upset about the strike zone last night and they have a legitimate gripe.  Colby Lewis' strike zone was almost as big as the one Livan Hernandez was getting with the Marlins.  Jonathan Sanchez could have taken advantage of that strike zone too but he was so wild his pitches weren't even close.  He did battle last night and held the damage to 4 runs against a very potent Rangers offense.

There are some good reasons to worry that Sanchez has hit a wall.  After his dominant performance against the Braves, he has turned in 3 stinkers in a row.  The two games against the Phillies were surprising because he has dominated the Phils in his career.  The game last night was surprising because he gave up 2 homeruns to left handed batters.  Something he had only done 5 times in the regular season.  Sure, Josh Hamilton hit one of those but the real killer to Mitch Moreland was the real killer and wound up being the difference in the game.

Sanchez's wildness might be a hint that he has reached his limit in terms of innings pitched.  He is at 213.1 IP this season.  His previous high was 163.1 IP last season.  So he is 50 over his previous high.  His extreme wildness would be an indicator that he is tired.  But the Giants have no other choice than to hope he has one more good start in him in game 7.  The only other option would be to start rookie Madison Bumgarner on 3 days rest but he is in a similar situation as far as an increase in innings even though he hasn't shown the same signs of fatigue.  But since I predicted the Giants to win in 6 games we shouldn't have to worry about what kind of Sanchez we will be getting in game 7.

The offense was mediocre again last night.  Besides the usual Cody Ross homerun and a homerun by Andres Torres, the Giants were only able to muster 3 hits off of Rangers starter Colby Lewis.  Thus they continued their season long tradition of making mediocre starters look like Cy Young award candidates.

Tonight Madison Bumgarner, one of the heroes of game 6 against the Phillies, will be going against Tommy  Hunter who is sporting a 6.14 ERA in the postseason.  The matchup favors the Giants and that's good given the importance of game 4 in the World Series.  This is a pivotal game given the history behind who wins game 4 and it's relation to the eventual series winner.

Some other random thoughts.

Pat Burrell is enough of a professional to work his way out of his slump at the plate.  As with Sanchez, there just aren't many alternatives at this point.  But he is still a force in the lineup and his presence is a factor in how the Rangers approach Buster Posey.  I love Nate Schierholtz but there is no way he is as valuable to the team as a hitter as Pat Burrell and he definitely does not have the lineup presence.

Keep Pablo as the DH.  Sure he didn't look that great last night but he hasn't played in over a week.  Now that he has had 4 ABs to get his stroke and to work out the nerves of playing in the World Series, he should be much better.  He is the Giants best option at DH anyway.

Despite all the gloom and doom of last night's loss, there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the series.  The Giants don't have to win any games in Arlington.  They can go home and still maintain home field advantage.  That's the worst case scenario.  Also, they still have Lincecum and Cain looming in games 5 and 6 so things don't look so bad after all!

It just wouldn't be fitting to not have some torture in the World Series after having it in just about every other aspect of 2010!

Go Giants!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pablo to DH game 3

Bruce Bochy has announced that Pablo Sandoval will be the DH for game 3 of the series.

The Giants will be facing righty Colby Lewis and wanted to get another lefty in the lineup.

I'm glad he resisted the temptation to put Pat Burrell in as DH just because he did it with Tampa.  Burrell was so good as a DH in Tampa, they released him with close to $9 million owed to him.

As for Huff batting DH and bringing in Ishikawa to play first, I believe Bochy doesn't want to lose one of his best pinch hitters (even thought there will be less pinch hitting opportunities with no pitchers in the lineup).

No, Pablo Sandoval is the clear cut choice to be the DH, especially when he is batting left-handed.  In the Rangers small ballpark he will have a chance to use some of his power and maybe he can contribute.

3:30 game time!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cain and the Giants beat down the Rangers


ESPN took a poll before the World Series started and 49 out of 50 states picked the Rangers to beat the Giants  in the World series.

I wonder what kind of results you would get if you took that poll again today?

The Giants dominated the Rangers in every facet of the game last night.  They shut them out (for only the sixth time this season) and they brought the big bats with them that they used last night.

The story of the game is Matt Cain.  After toiling in relative obscurity for the first 5 years of his career, he started to get a little recognition last season with his selection to the All-Star game last season.  He didn't get to pitch thanks to a line drive thanks to a line drive off his forearm but it was the first recognition of what a good pitcher he is.

Last night he put himself amongst the immortals.

With his 7.1 innings of shutout baseball, Cain becomes the fourth pitcher to throw 20+ consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.  That list of  4 now has two Giants on it and Christy Matthewson is at the top of that list with 27 consecutive innings pitched.  Cain probably won't get a chance to catch the All-Time Giants great since his turn doesn't look like it's going to come back around again.  no matter what, Cain has shown the world the great pitcher that Giants fans have known they have had for a few years now.  The guys over at RaisingMattCain must be going crazy tonight!

The guy that got all the scoring started was Edgar Renteria.  His solo homerun in the 5th got the scoring going for the game.  He was the latest of a long line of heroes who have stepped up for the Giants this postseason.  But Renteria stepping up is possibly one of the most inspiring. Edgar is a guy who had a pretty solid career, from his game winning hit for the Florida Marlins in game 7 of the 1997 World Series to all of his postseason experience with the Cardinals and Red Sox he has produced.  Then he came to the Giants and has done nothing but struggle.  Both with his health and with his bat.  A lot of Giants fans have considered his signing a bust, and up until this world series it has been.  But this World Series is making Brian Sabean look like a genius for signing him.

Renteria has said he is contemplating retirement after the season.  If he does retire, then there is no better way to go out than the way he has been this World Series.

Enjoy the off day today. The series picks up again tomorrow in Texas.  Jonathan Sanchez Vs. Colby Lewis.  So far this series has been relatively torture-free but this is the 2010 Giants so don't be surprised if a little of that creeps in.  The Giants really only have to win one game in Texas.  At this point, it doesn't look like the Giants will be coming home except to enjoy the parade down market street.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Giants shock even themselves while stunning the Rangers!


Ever since the San Francisco Giants clinched on Saturday night, I had a nagging feeling that there would be a game like this in the World Series.  Never in a million years did I expect that it would come with Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum on the mound.

The Giants pounded out 14 hits last night, 8 of them off of Lee, and 11 runs, 6 off of Lee, to defeat the Rangers 11-7.

This pitching matchup didn't have quite the anticipation that the Lincecum - Halladay matchup had, but it was pretty well hyped.  Lee was an astounding 7-0 in postseason play and he had just come off of a masterful performance against the Yankees.  The Giants, on the other hand, had  struggled to put runs on the board all season long and were not an offense that anyone expected to defeat the mighty Lee.  As a matter of fact, the Giants were such underdogs that an ESPN poll had 49 out of 50 states picking the Rangers to win this world series.

But this is a Giants team that has handled Ubaldo Jimenez, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, Adam Wainright, and manhandled most of them.

Now they can add Cliff Lee to this list.

On a night when Tim Lincecum didn't have his best stuff (good thing they got the early series lead because I doubt that at this point Timmy could be effective on short rest) the Giants offense picked him up.  Lincecum did battle however because the game could have been easily 6-0 after the second inning rather than 2-0.

But the offense is really the story here.  Led by Freddy Sanchez whose 3 doubles set a world series record with three straight doubles in their world series debut.  Juan Uribe chipped in with a 3 run homer in the 5th that basically put an end to the contest.  Cody Ross chipped in with his usual RBI and Aurey Huff chipped in 3 hits of his own.

I do have to give a special shout out to Edgar Renteria.  He is rapidly making up for all of those days on the DL.  His performance last night in the field and even at the plate made me wonder if this was the same guy who the Giants have been trotting out at shortstop every so often, when he was healthy, for the last 2 seasons.  He is earning those 12 million dollars now.  That play he made on Ian Kinsler was a play that I wouldn't have believed he could make if I hadn't seen it myself.

Overall it was a great win.  I really wish that the Giants wouldn't have let the Rangers have those 3 runs in the ninth but they did.  The Giants even make blowouts torture don't they.  This Giants team has shown time and time again that they do what it takes to win games and they did it again last night.  No we are fooling ourselves to think that the Giants are going to put up double digits every night, but the Giants offense has been struggling for a while now and it was time for them to get hot.  Boy did they ever pick the right time to get hot!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It all starts tonight!

What a great season it's been!

Tonight our beloved San Francisco giants take on a team in the Texas Rangers that is just as World Series starved as they are.  It's been 55 years for the Giants since they last won a world series.  The Rangers?  Well they have never won a world series.

As I stated in an earlier post, the 2010 Giants team has been my favorite team out of the three World Series bound Giants teams that I have had the opportunity to see in my lifetime.  Maybe it's because I started this blog this season but I think it has a lot to do with the personalities on this team as well.

The way we follow our team has changed.  I live in Southern California.  Right in the middle of Dodgers and Padres territory (funny how all of those Dodgertown signs seem to have disappeared after the season.).  I only get the Giants on TV if they are playing the Padres or Dodgers.  I also get them on the rare day that they get a national game.  Yet I feel like I know more about this year's team than I have in years past when I could watch practically every single game on TV.  The combination of, Twitter, MLB Network, and the many blogs dedicated to the Giants all have made me more in tune with what is going on in the world of the Giants.

Go back to 1989 which was the first season that I followed the Giants and I got maybe one game a week on TV, listened to the radio for the other games, and had the game recap and box score to get the inside scoop on the Giants.  That was about it.   Well I did get to stay up and watch them on the news once in a while (I was only 13 after all!).

So again, this is the day that we have been waiting for.  The Giants will take on the Texas Rangers tonight at 4:30 our time.  It has been a great ride and there were many times this season that I thought this day was going to be coming another season.  But it's here and we have areal shot at winning this whole thing despite what all the pundits are telling us.  So get ready and find, comfortable seat, grab your favorite beer, and enjoy some Giants World Series baseball!

Giants in 6!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Giants win the Pennant! Uribe's bomb puts the Giants in the Series!


Maybe bomb isn't exactly the way to describe it.  But it will show up as a bomb in the box score.  As a matter of fact, it will probably go down as one of the biggest bombs in San Francisco Giants history!

I've had a night to sleep on it and I still can't quite wrap my mind around it.

The San Francisco Giants are going to the World Series!

The game itself was typical Giants baseball.  It was tied 2-2 until the 8th inning until Juan Uribe stepped up to the plate with 2 outs and nobody on.  Uribe hit a line drive over the fence in right field and the Giants had a 3-2 advantage.  Tim Lincecum came on in the bottom of the 8th and looked like he probably shouldn't have been out there.  He got a strikeout to start the inning but he gave up singles to Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez and then he was pulled in favor of the bearded one, Brian Wilson for a five out save.  Some of that Giants magic showed up when he got Carlos Ruiz to line into a double play.  The ninth was vintage Wilson torture but he made an absolute perfect 3-2 pitch to Ryan Howard to end the series looking.

The game had it's strange moment in the third inning.  After Jonathan Sanchez hit Chase Utley in a situations where he absolutely could not afford to hit him.  Utley flipped the ball back to Sanchez, they had some words, and the benches cleared.  I don't know exactly what the reason for the benches clearing was but it happned.  It ended Jonny no-no's night and it turned out to be the best thing that probably could have happened to the Giants. As Affeldt, Bumgarner, and Lopez came in and shut the Phillies down.

The Giants will go to the world series for the third time that I've been around to see and this team might be my favorite team out of all of them.  The 1989 team will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the first season that I followed baseball intently, the 2002 team had a few unlikeable guys, this team kind of reminds you of Robin Hood's band of merry men!

But this band of merry men is going to the world series, not sleeping in the forest!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sloppy game 5 sends giants back to Philadelphia


On a wet and sloppy night, the San Francisco Giants played a wet and sloppy game.  The game came down to two crucial plays, Roy Halladay's bunt that wasn't foul and Aubrey Huff's 2 run error.  The Giants' inability to take advantage of scoring opportunities was another part of problem last night.

It's amazing to me how the Giants, for probably the 50th time this season, can knock a pitcher around (they had at least 10 baserunners against Halladay) yet can fail to score more than 2 runs.  You can't credit Halladay, he was not very good last night. It's also not as if we haven't seen this kind of offensive performance before from the Giants.

Timmy was pretty good last night.  He allowed 3 runs, two of which were earned, on 4 hits and a walk.Huff's error led to all three Phillie runs and, other than a solo homer in the top of the ninth from Jayson Werth, would account for all of the Phillie's offense.
Cody Ross did contribute his nightly RBI.

The Giants have shown a knack for bouncing back from games like this all season.  the series goes back to Philadelphia with the Giants leading 3 games to 2.  I predicted that the Giants would win in 6 and with Jonathan Sanchez on the hill that looks like a pretty good bet right now.

This off day comes at a good time.  I really need it!  I don't think I can take another game like the ones we have been seeing lately so I think I'm gonna go totally baseball free today.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

UUUUUU-Ribe gets the Giants within one win of the world series!


Finally someone on offense besides Cody Ross stepped up!  He was involved too with a big double in the sixth getting both himself and Pat Burrell in scoring position for Pablo Sandoval's two run double.

That double was the biggest hit of the game and he had to hit it twice for it to count!

In another scenario that will add to the case for instant replay in baseball, Sandoval hit a ball that appeared to graze the line in right field that would have scored Burrell and Ross.  Instead, the umpiring crew (one of which was standing directly over where the ball hit the line) ruled it a foul ball.  Pablo battled and drove the ball to left field for the 2 run double that put the Giants up 5-4 after previously being down 4-3.

The Phillies tied the game in the 8th and, in a show of desperation, Charlie Manuel brought in Roy Oswalt to pitch the 9th inning on two days rest.  Freddy Sanchez lined out to Jayson Werth.  next, Aubrey Huff singled on a groundball to right.  Buster Posey hit a single into the rightfield corner to get runners at first and third with one out in the ninth and set the stage for Juan Uribe.

Uribe, nephew of former Giants shortstop and fan favorite Jose Uribe, was on the bench for this game while still being bothered by an injured right wrist that kept him out of game 2 as well.  He battled Oswalt, at one point it appeared that he was hit by a pitch but replays showed it was more likely he was pulling a Derek Jeter,  he had 2 strikes on him and he finally hit a deep fly ball to left that brought Huff home with the game winning run and put the Giants one win away from the world series.

The Giants go for the series clincher tomorrow behind Lincecum.  It's not going to be an easy task with Roy Halladay going for the Phils.  But it's going to be exciting!

Go Giants!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Big Game Cain Dominates Phils, Giants take 2 games to 1 series lead!


Big Game Cain.

I think it's safe to say that he has earned that nickname.  Cain absolutely dominated the Phillies holding them to 2 hits in seven shutout innings.  Other than 3 walks and 2 hit batters, the Phillies really didn't put up too much of a Phight.  Cain threw down a challenge to the rest of the Giants staff today.  He showed them this Phillie team could be dominated and as they have been telling us all season, the good pitching is contagious.

The scoring was opened by, who else, Cody Ross.  I want to take this moment to thank the Florida Marlins for giving the Giants this guy to the Giants for nothing.  They are also paying his salary so they can technically say they have a player in the post season.

Bruce Bochy must save his good decisions for the post season because everything this guy has done has worked out.  Flip-flop Matt Cain with Jonathan Sanchez?  Cool, Sanchez pitched decent and we already know about Cain.  Pull a struggling Torres and Fontenot and replace them with Renteria and Rowand?  They only scored two of the Giants 3 runs.  Bat Aubrey Huff 5th?  He only drives in Pat Burrell with 2 outs  in the fourth.  Put Nate Schierholtz in RF late in the game?  He only holds Jimmy Rollins to a single off the RF wall in the 9th with a tremendous defensive play and throw.

Bochy has been raked over the coals by all of us (myself included) for a lot of his decisions during his Giants career.  He could probably turn water into wine in this postseason right now.  MLB network has been gushing over him all day today and rightfully so.

So Boch, I am glad you are at the helm this postseason!

Only 2 more wins to the World Series!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Giants return to San Francisco with a split


Cody Ross with his third homer in 2 nights
Cody Ross was the giants offense last night.  He continued his amazing playoff stretch with a homerun off Roy Oswalt to break up Roy's no-hitter in the 5th inning and tie the game which the Phillies led 1-0 at that point.

Unfortunately that would be all the offense they would muster.

Every single offensive player on the Giants should watch the Phillies half of the 5th inning so they can figure out how to manufacture some runs.  Shane Victorino led off with a double.  Chase Utley flew out to deep right which allowed Victorino to advance to third.  Next. Placido Polanco flew out to center to allow Victorino to score on the sac fly.  I almost cried at the simplistic beauty of the perfectly executed fundamental baseball.  Please Giants, take note of how you score off a good pitcher.

The Giants are still in the driver's seat however.  They come back to SF and there is a very real chance that the series does not return to Philly.   It's unlikely that the Giants win 3 in a row in SF but I bet they win 2 out of 3 for sure.  Game 3 is Hamels V. Cain and the Giants absolutely rake against Hamels especially this season where they are hitting .348 against him.  The Phillies don't even know who they will throw in game 4 while the Giants will be running out the phenom Madison Bumgarner.  Then Philly will throw Halladay in game 5 against Lincecum and the Giants have already beat him twice this season!

So fear not Giants fans.  Sure it's a loss, but a split in Philadelphia is still huge!

P.S. is asking all Giants fans to show their playoff beards.  I live in Palm Desert, Ca and with average temperatures of 110 degrees in the summer, I usually keep my hair pretty short.  I was growing out my beard and my hair at the same time mostly because I was too lazy to cut my hair.  Well last night I was tired of being too hot so I cut the hair and trimmed the beard and thought it looks like the style my new favorite Giant Cody Ross wears!  So I finally got around to sending my picture into Fire-Sabean and told him I'm calling it the "Cody Ross".  The result was this post and Cody Ross hit another homer last night!  I swear if Ross keeps up hitting like this he might start a national trend!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cody Ross powers Giants to a 1-0 series lead

GIANTS 4 - PHILLIES3                                                               

Well the big pitcher's duel that was promised didn't exactly materialize.  Both starters pitched OK but neither of them even came close to matching the epic performances they put up in the NLDS.  In the end, Tim Lincecum was just a little bit better than Roy Halladay and that's all the Giants really care about.

The Giants were involved in their fifth consecutive 1 run game in the postseason.  Their record in those games is 4-1.  During the regular season they were only 28-24 in one run games so they have been finding ways to get the wins that they weren't finding during the regular season.  of course the fact that they aren't playing the Padres who probably beat them by one run 27 times probably has something to do with it.

Cody Ross was the player of the game and rightfully so.  I think any time you hit 2 homeruns in one game off of Roy Halladay you ought to be named the player of the game.   Ross is quite possibly the player of the postseason for the Giants since he has 3 of their 4 homeruns and was the difference maker in game 4 of the NLDS and was the same difference maker tonight.  Not bad for a guy who the Giants allegedly claimed off of waivers just to keep him away from the Padres.

It could also be argued that Bruce Bochy was the difference maker.  His decision to pinch run for Pat Burrell with Nate Schierholtz in the 6th inning.  If Burrell is still running in that situation there is no way he scores on Juan Uribe's single.  I seriously doubt that Burrell even gets sent from third.  But he did put Nate in and Nate did score what was ultimately the deciding run of the game.  Bochy has been crucified on this blog and in many other places so it's only fair to point out when he makes a good decision.

The Phillies are already in a tough situation in game 2.  Never mind the fact that 15 out of the last 18 NLCS game one winners have gone on to the World Series.  But, the Giants already know that they can beat Roy Oswalt.  Plus the Phillies know that they can't hit Jonathan Sanchez.  That puts the Phillies in panic mode.  If they get put in a position where they need to start Halladay in game 4 do they?  He has faced the Giants twice and they have been able to get at least 8 hits off them in each of those contests.  Of course they will start Halladay in a do or die game.  After all, who would you rather have representing you in a do or die game?  Roy Halladay or the Family Guy look-alike Joe Blanton?

I feel the need to comment on the Philadelphia fans.  I always knew they were pretty bad fans, but tonight they really showed that they are low class.   From signs that said "fix your teeth" and "Hippy trash" to whistling at Lincecum as if he was a girl the Phillies fans did everything they could to show they are idiots.  Really, how does a dude whistling at a dude make anybody but the guy doing the whistling look bad? 

It doesn't really matter I guess because for all their crap, they still went home losers after watching their ace go down in defeat. 

Best tweet of the Night: Bay Area Sports Guy:

"Cody Ross stayed at a Halladay Inn last night. And he trashed the room like a goddamned rock star. #sfgiants"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Giants rotation gives them the edge in NLCS

The San Francisco Giants Vs. the Philadelphia Phillies is being hailed as one of the greatest playoff pitching matchups in postseason history.   There is no disputing that these are some great pitchers but how did they fare against their opponents this season?

Well, let's take a look:

Game 1
Tim Lincecum Vs.
Roy Halladay

Lincecum faced the Phillies once this season.  He dominated them.   He struck out 11 and allowed three hits.  the Phillies managed 2 runs off of him.  He didn't get the win however because the bullpen fell apart and the Giants wound up losing 7-6.  His ERA stands at 2.16 against the Phillies.

Halladay also faced the Giants only once this season.  He gave up 10 hits and 5 runs in 5 innings pitched.  he lost to Jonathan Sanchez 5-1.  Halladay is sporting a nice 6.43 ERA against the Giants this season.

Game 2
Jonathan Sanchez Vs.
Roy Oswalt

Jonathan Sanchez is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 13 IP against the Phillies this season.  He has held them to an incredible .114 batting average as well.

Roy Oswalt is 1-3 with a 3.33 ERA against the Giants with 22 Strikeouts in 27 IP.  You kind of have to throw out the won - loss record since he was an Astro for his 3 losses to the Giants and his one win came with the Phillies.  Although he gave up 3 runs to the Giants and only won because Barry Zito gave up 4.  If Roy gives up three runs in this game, It's an almost certain bet he will be hung with an "L".

Game 3
Matt Cain Vs.
Cole Hamels

Matt Cain gave up 5 runs to the Phillies in 6 IP.  Only 2 of those runs were earned so it is tough to get a clear picture of how well he pitched against them.  He struck out 4 batters in 6 IP and gave up 7 hits so it would be safe to say that he struggled against them.  One of those 7 hits was a HR.

Cole Hamels appears to be the real weak link against the Giants for the Phillies.  He has pitched twice against them and is 0-1 with a 7.46 ERA.  He gave up 16 hits to them in 11 IP but he also managed to strike out 15 Giants in those same 11 IP.  the Giants are batting a modest .346 against him this season.

Game 4 is tough to preview.  If a team is down 3-0 or if a team is even down 2-1 we may see one or both of the pitchers from game 1 again.  If the Phillies do go with a different starter for game 4 we don't even know who that would be.  Joe Blanton is a possibility.  he beat the Giants earlier this season but it was only because they couldn't figure out how to score any runs off him after getting 8 hits in 6.1 IP.  Though his 4.82 season ERA  has got to be a concern for Phi.  ( his record was still 9-6 despite that ERA.  Could you imagine what his record would have been if he were on the Giants?  3-12 ? barry Zito's ERA was only 4.15 and he's not even on the postseason roster!  He was 9-14, BTW)

Kyle Kendrick is another option.  His 4.73 ERA was not good even though he wound up with a winning record as well (11-10).  he did not face the Giants this season so maybe the Phillies would throw a little bit of the unknown at them?

Madison Bumgarner would appear to be the wildcard in this series.  his 1.13 ERA in Sept as the Giants were in a bitter pennant race shows that this kid has the guts.  He did only go 3-2 but that's because the Giants didn't score a single run for him in either of the losses.  He has figured out how to win as a Giant since he only allowed 1 total run in the 3 wins he had in Sept.!  His 6 IP 2 ER performance against ATL showed that he can pitch in the postseason just as well as he can in the regular season.  He is definitely the wildcard but I believe that he is the guy who gives the Giants the edge.

The Giants have a big 4 while the Phillies have a big 3.  This is no small advantage in a 7 game series.  One game can be the difference between winning and losing the series.  Sure Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels have the name recognition but the Giants pitchers are simply better.  They are going to have to be since the likelihood of the offense waking up is remote at best.

Oh and who would you rather have pitching the 9th?  Brian Wilson or Brad Lidge?

Giants in 6

Monday, October 11, 2010

Giants advance to the NLCS


The San Francisco Giants will face the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS starting Saturday.

Until then we will have a week to bask in the glory of the hard fought four game NLDS win over the Atlanta Braves.  Hopefully the Giants will be able to find a little bit of offense along the way as well!

But for now we can celebrate.  This was a Giants team that was written off and left for dead during the season.  Both by the fans and by the media.  Hell, at some point during their 7 game losing streak I even purchased a Fire Sabean T-shirt!

That was before an epic run by the starting pitching and just barely enough offense to make that epic run stand up.

In the NLDS, they won the first game 1-0, gave game two to the Braves, tried to give back games 3 and 4, but the offense just eeked out enough runs to defeat the Braves and send the citizens of Atlanta back home with their foam tomahawks between their legs.

Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner.  These are your NLDS MVPs.  Sure the media is going to say that, if there was an NLDS MVP award (and why isn't there?), it should go to someone like Cody Ross or Buster Posey.  But in reality, the Giants MVP(s) is that 4 man rotation.  It has been all year long and it will be what the Giants need to ride if they are to slay the beast from the NL East.

It's going to be a tough series, but then again aren't they all?  The Giants will face the only other rotation in the playoffs that can hang with theirs but with a better offense.  They will be the underdogs.  I would call them the Giant killers but that somehow doesn't sound right.

Anyway, enough with the rambling and random thoughts.  Congratulations G-men!  But don't get too comfortable, there is still more work to do!

NLDS Trivia:
Did you know that the two Giants who hit homeruns in the NLDS were Pat Burrell and Cody Ross?  Yes they were the two guys that the Giants claimed off waivers for nobody in return and, if you are to believe some reports, to keep them away from the Padres!

Don't stop believing!

Found this on the Dodgerhater's site. And about 20 other blogs but I found it on Dodgerhater first so he gets the shout out! It's worth 3 minutes of your time trust me:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Giants snatch victory from the jaws of defeat


Freddy Sanchez scoring the winning run in the 9th
As Giants fans sat completely shocked after Sergio Romo gave up the go-ahead homer in the bottom of the 8th inning something happened to the Giants offense.

They figured out how to string some hits together.

The ninth inning was a thing that will go down in Giants' lore as a game to remember.  The Giants' backs were to the wall.  They were about to go down 2 games to 1 to the Atlanta Braves with one more game left to play in Atlanta.  Not a good recipe for winning s best of 5 series.

The ninth inning started with Cody Ross popping out.  Travis Ishikawa worked a 6 pitch walk. Then Andres Torres struck out and Freddy Sanchez was down to his last strike and the Braves were just waiting to celebrate.  Then it happened.  Sanchez hit a seeing-eye single up the middle which got Ishikawa into scoring position.  Next came Aubrey Huff, who had two hits in the series so far, he stroked a single to right field which scored Ishikawa.  Huff was followed by Buster Posey who poked a grounder to Braves second baseman Brooks Conrad.  Conrad strengthened his case for the Giants' MVP of the series by totally whiffing on the grounder and letting it go into rightfield which allowed Freddy Sanchez to score the third and final run of the game.

It was quite a turn around and it showed the never-say-die attitude that these same Giants had shown so many times during the season.  All day long it appeared that the only run the Giants, or the Braves for that matter, would score would be the unearned run the Giants scored in the second inning when Brooks Conrad (more evidence he should be the Giants' MVP) dropped a medium deep popup to rightfield which allowed Fontenot to score from third after his leadoff triple.  The Giants apparently need their backs against the wall to put runs on the board when Pat Burrell isn't driving everybody in with homeruns I guess.

I would not be doing the game justice however if I failed to mention the pitching duel that led to all the theatrics in the 8th and 9th innings.  Jonathan Sanchez did his best to outdo Tim Lincecum's game 1 performance and darn near did it to.  He held the Braves hitless into the sixth inning and his 11 strikeouts broke the Giants postseason single game strikeout record that was held by Carl Hubbell in 1933!

I will admit that I thought that the Giants made a mistake by not trading Sanchez for Adam Dunn at the trade deadline.  Although I believe the Nationals wanted a little more than just Sanchez for Dunn.  But now I am glad they didn't trade him away.  This guy has been showing a lot of signs of maturity this season and he has been the Giants most consistent starter since the beginning of September with a 1.08 ERA in his last 8 starts.  Hell, he even was the team ERA leader this season with his 3.07 ERA! (technically Madison Bumgarner's 3.00 ERA was lower but he didn't throw enough innings in the bigs to qualify as the leader.)

Bobby Cox: I knew I should have retired last season
This puts the Giants in the best possible scenario.  Tomorrow's game is kind of a luxury.  The Braves backs are now to the wall and the Giants don't have to throw Lincecum on short rest.  The Braves will face the rookie Madison Bumgarner who pitches well on the road and the Giants don't have to get the win.  Obviously you want to close it out if at all possible but it sure feels good knowing that the Giants will return to San Francisco with Mr. 14k's waiting to see how many more strikeouts he can add to his total.  Derek Lowe will be going on 3 days rest because, well, the Braves don't really have anybody else who they trust to start tomorrow.

Go Giants!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Giants throw game 2 away

Burrell's 3-run homer had us excited early
When Matt Cain walked off the mound in the 7th inning it looked like the Giants would be cruising to a 2-0 series lead.  Pat Burrell got the Giants going with a first inning 3 run homerun and Matt Cain helped himself out with an RBI single in the second.  Cain had pitched well, only allowing one unearned run on 7 hits.  Javier Lopez got out of the 7th without giving up any runs.

Then came the 8th inning.

The normally steady duo of Brian Wilson and Sergio Romo came on and coughed up the lead.  A bad throw by Pablo Sandoval allowed one of the Braves 8th inning runs to be unearned making 2 of the Braves runs on the night unearned.

Romo and Wilson had to get over their postseason jitters I guess.  Romo didn't retire a single batter while allowing 2 baserunners.  The Sandoval on a slow roller to third with runners on first and third in the eighth inning wouldn't have prevented the runner on third from scoring but the runner who scored the tying run on Alex Gonzalez's 2 run double wouldn't have been on base to score the tying run.

In the bottom of the 10th the Giants were in position to win the game with the bases loaded, one out, and future rookie of the year Buster Posey at the plate.  All the Giants needed at this point was anything other than a double play.  A double play is exactly what the Giants got.  One of the storylines of the 2010 season returned to bite the Giants in the ass at the worst possible time.  The momentum suddenly was in the Braves dugout.

In the 11th Ramon Ramirez served up a fat pitch on a plate for Rick Ankiel who hit what has to be the longest homerun of his career to put the Braves up to stay.  It looked like Travis Ishikawa caught ahold of one in the bottom of the 11th but it was off the end of the bat was just a fly ball out.

The Braves and Giants will head to Atlanta for game 3.  The Giants need to just win one game in the Atl.  Johnny No-no will be taking the mound for the Giants while the Braves will counter with Tim Hudson.  It's gonna be another tough battle for the Giants and probably another torturous game.  But us Giants fans are used to those so it will be no problem.

We can all worry about any heart conditions after the Giants win the world series!

Lincecum steamrolls Braves


That was the first 1-0 Giants game this season that didn't feel like torture!

It just seemed like no matter what, the Braves weren't going to be scoring any runs off of Tim Lincecum.  He was that dominant.  Matt Diaz summed Timmy's performance up best when he compared it to the game earlier this season in which the Braves were no-hit by Ubaldo Jimenez: “We had two hard-hit doubles. Other than that, we might have hit more hard-hit balls in the no-hitter, and got no hits. We only really had two balls hit hard at all tonight.”

It was that good of a performance.

It was also a performance for the record books.  Both the Giants' record books and MLB's record books. Lincecum set a franchise postseason record of 14 strikeouts in a single playoff game.  He also tied the record for most strikeouts in a postseason debut.  Last night he joined the likes of Bob Gibson, Roger Clemens, Sandy Koufax, and Mike Scott who all struck out at least 14 in a single postseason game.  (Livan Hernandez did too but that game will forever live in infamy as the game with the largest strike zone of all time!)

The game wasn't without controversy however.  Buster Posey's steal of second base in the fourth inning and led to the only Giants run of the game was the source of said controversy.   Pat Burrell struck out while Buster was on the move in what only could have been a broken hit and run.  The throw to second looked like it might or might not have got Posey and he was ruled safe.  TV replays showed Posey was clearly out by a good 6 inches or so but there was no disagreement on the field.  A few batters later Cody Ross grounded a ball that magically eluded Omar Infante's glove and scored Posey in what was the only run of the game.

Now let's take a break and talk about instant replay here.  There are a lot of blogs pointing to this play as a reason as to why baseball needs instant replay.  I do agree that baseball needs instant replay, bit this is a bad example.  instant replay would have had zero effect on this play.  Nobody on the field even questioned the call.  Not the second baseman, not Bobby Cox, Buster Posey didn't even look surprised to be called safe.  Cox said of the play: “Some of the guys came down after that inning and said he was out by 6 or 8 inches. From the dugout you can’t see anything, and I didn’t see a reaction from our infielders.”  So even if baseball had instant replay it would never have been used in that situation.

But the real story of the game is Tim Lincecum.  He has been called the franchise and last night he proved it.  Rarely does a young pitcher come out and pitch like a veteran in his first postseason game.  Usually the nerves get to him and it takes an inning or two to settle down.  Last night it took Lincecum exactly one batter to calm down.  Calm down he did!

I think this is going to be a special playoff run.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Giants - Braves 2010 NLDS preview

If the old saying "Good pitching beats good hitting" holds true then the San Francisco Giants should win the world series.

But they play the games for a reason.

The Giants bring their historically good staff into the first round of the playoffs to face the Atlanta Braves staff which isn't too bad itself.  In fact, the Giants led all of baseball with a 3.36 ERA and the Braves were the third best with a 3.56 ERA.  The most impressive stat coming in to the series though is the fact that the Giants entire pitching staff, not just the starters, has allowed 2 runs or less in 15 of their last 19 games.

The hitting is surprisingly close.  Giants hitters own a .257 season average while the Braves hold a .258 season average.  Also, in perhaps the shocker of the playoffs, the Giants have outhomered the Braves 162-139.  However the Braves hold the edge in runs scored 738-697 seeing as how the Giants are the lowest scoring playoff team from the National league.

In order for the Giants to win this series their pitching needs to keep up it's amazing pace.  If they can continue their run of 2 runs or less then they have this series in the bag.  (Atlanta owns a 5-39 record when scoring 2 runs or less)  The offenses are so closely matched with the Braves having scored 4.6 runs per game this season to the Giants 4.3 runs per game.  This series may come down to which team hits the clutch homerun.

Over the past 2 days there has been a lot of speculation over who will and who won't make the postseason roster.  Most of that speculation has focused of 3 guys:  Barry Zito, Aaron Rowand, and Edgar Renteria.  I really expect all 3 guys to make the roster.  Rowand rakes against Derek Lowe (11-23 .481) and Tim Hudson (8-21 .381) in fact, he has the best numbers against those 2 guys on the team.  So expect to see a lot of Rowand in this series.  Renteria makes the team because realistically he is the only guy other than Juan Uribe who can play shortstop.

That leaves Barry Zito.

Zito has been both brilliant and horrible this season.  He choked his chances of starting in this first series away on Saturday against San Diego.  But I can't even imagine a scenario in which a guy who threw 199 .1 innings for your team doesn't make the postseason roster.  He is one of the few guys on the team with postseason experience, in fact he is the ONLY starter with postseason experince.

But having said all of that, I still believe there is a chance that Zito is left off the postseason roster.

 t's going to be series with a lot of 2-1 and 1-0 games.   Both of these teams have trouble scoring runs (the Braves lost two games out of their last 3 to the Phillies who had absolutely nothing to play for).  But the Giants are just a little bit better at keeping the other team from scoring.

Giants in 4.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Giants get the last laugh. Padres go home losers!


Jonathan Sanchez hates the Padres so much he smoked a triple and scored the Giants first run of the game.  He pitched 5 shutout innings and got the win on the last day of the season to propel the Giants into the playoffs as the NL West champions and send the Padres home.  

Their miracle season got them the same playoff result as finishing in last place all those years!

It couldn't be sweeter for the Giants to clinch against the Padres since the Giants single-handedly kept the Padres in the playoff hunt until the last day.  If the Giants had even gone .500 against the Padres this season then they would have won the division by 5 games.

Anyway, it's a great feeling.  Even the last two games the Giants lost have been exciting.  This team has kept it close all season long.  They didn't disappoint.  Now it's playoff time.

So Giants fans get out your champagne, your beer, or whatever your poison is.  Kick back and celebrate the Giants first postseason since 2003!

Playoffs baby!

Something to ponder for the next few days:

Giants record Vs. the NL playoff teams:
Phi: 3-3
Cin: 4-3
Atl: 3-4

Friday, October 1, 2010

Giants rally comes up short


You knew it was gonna happen.  The Giants were gonna have to stretch the season out just a liiiiiitle bit longer.

Matt Cain just didn't have it tonight and the Padres capitalized.  He gave up all 6 runs in 4 innings.  In a way I'm glad Cain got this hiccup out of the way.  Better have it come during the regular season than in the playoffs.

The Giants, to their credit, made it a game.  The big hit of the night came from the least likely source of all.  Aaron Rowand.  I'm glad he got a moment to shine.  Despite what we all think about his play, the guy is a gamer and he goes about playing the game the right way.  The bullpen came through and pitched 5 innings of shutout baseball and the Giants got the tying run up to the plate in Aubrey Huff who somehow managed to fly out into a double play.

Anyway the champagne will just have to chill on ice for one more day.  It wouldn't be a fitting end to the 2010 Giants season if they just won it in the first game.

Go Giants!