Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lincecum Leads the Giants to a 3-0 Win Against the Dodgers, Clinching the Sweep

With a tie for first place on the line, Tim Lincecum was magnificent. Coming off of an encouraging outing on Friday in Oakland, Lincecum was at his best on a Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco against the rival Dodgers.

Lincecum went seven innings for the first time since since May 30th against the Arizona Diamondbacks, allowing just four hits and no runs. He also fanned a season high eight strikeouts while walking just two Dodgers' batters.

After today's start, the Freak brought his ERA down to 5.60, and he also won his first game since April 28th against the Padres.

Not to mention that the Dodgers didn't score a single run during this three game set. The Giants haven't shut out an opponent in a three consecutive games since 1954, and only three times (not including today) in the San Francisco Giants era.

Melky Cabrera put the Giants on the board for the second consecutive day, lining an RBI double to left that snuck out of the diving Bobby Abreu's glove. Lincecum, who singled with one out, scored on Melky's hit.

Buster Posey followed Cabrera's hit with a one out walk, juicing the bases for Angel Pagan. Pagan also drew a walk, allowing Ryan Theriot to trot home, giving the Giants a 2-0 lead. With a chance for more, Chad Billingsly struck out Pablo Sandoval on a high fastball to end the threat.

The Giants wouldn't need anymore offense behind Lincecum, but Angel Pagan ripped a one out single to right field, scoring Ryan Theriot again, adding another run to the Giants' lead.

In the top of the third frame, Chad Billingsly tried to steal home on a passed ball to the backstop, but Hector Sanchez quickly caught the hard bounce of the backstop and tossed a perfect throw to Tim Lincecum who got clobbered by Billinsgly, but Timmy was able to apply the tag and get the out (With his glove off).

With runners on first and second and one out, Bruce Bochy came jogging out to the mound for a little pep talk with Lincecum. As soon as the huddle broke, Bochy heard a roar of cheers from the crowd as they were thankful that Bochy kept Lincecm in the game.

The Freak retired the his final two batters in the seventh, leaving the job to Sergio Romo who was excellent, retiring four straight batters to clinch the sweep of the Dodgers.

The National league West is all tied up now. The Dodgers will fly back home to start a three game series against the Mets, while the Giants will host the Reds for a four game series starting tomorrow night.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Vogelsong Leads Shutout of Dodgers in 2-0 Win

Ryan Vogelsong continued his dominance of the Dodgers on Tuesday night. He went his usual seven innings, allowing no earned runs on three strikeouts. His ERA now sits at a pretty 2.23, sixth best in the National league.

Melky Cabrera jumpstarted the Giants offense in the fourth, hitting a homerun that just barely got over the left field wall, giving the Giants a 1-0 advantage over Clayton Kershaw who went 4-1 against the G-Men last season.

Cabrera's homerun was quickly followed by a Buster Posey liner to right fielder, but Angel Pagan was unable to move him over, grounding into a soft fielder's choice. However, Pagan was able to steal himself into scoring position, setting the table for Pablo Sandoval. After driving in three runs last night, the Panda kept it going by knocking in Pagan who ran through a mini Tim Flannery stop sign, but he was still scored with ease.

Despite loading the bases with a Brandon Belt scorching line drive off high off the bricks in right field, and an inteional walk to the eighth place hitter Joaquin Arias, Kershaw was able to strikeout Vogelsong  and Blanco to end the threat.

Vogelsong (7-3) was never in much trouble. He walked the leadoff batter Dee Gordon to kick off the game, but he took a page out of Zito's book by inducing a double play to Elian Herrera. That double play was key as the Dodger's slugger, Andre Ethier followed with a double down the right field line. However, Vogelsong was able to get Juan Rivera to ground out slowly to short.

After cruising through the middle innings, Vogelsong found himself in a mini jam in the top of the seventh frame.

 Jerry Hairston Jr. hit a solid single up the middle with one out. Then speedster Tony Gwynn hit a slow roller up the middle that shortstop,  Joaquin Arias fielded the ball, but he was unable to flip it to Ryan Theriot to get the lead runner. The slumping James Loney pinch hit for Kershaw, but all he could do was fly out to medium center field, ending the threat.

The Giants went down quietly to end the game, but they wouldn't need anymore runs as Jeremy Affeldt retired the side in the eighth, and Casilla was able to close the door in the ninth, despite having a atrocious weekend in Oakland.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Trade Talk: Why the Giants Need to Trade for Jed Lowrie to Replace Crawford

When most baseball fans think about Jed Lowrie, they picture an injury prone shortstop. One who could develop into of the best shortstops in the league if he ever decides to put all his talent together. Well, in 2012, Lowrie has put everything together and he’s arguably been the best offensive shortstop in the majors this season.
However, the Houston Astros are going absolutely nowhere and it seems likely that Lowrie will be shipped out of the lone star state before the July 31st trade deadline.
This is where the Giants would be wise to attempt to pry Lowrie away from the Astros.
Lowrie would be a perfect fit for the Giants because Brandon Crawford is just not ready to be an everyday big league shortstop, both offensively and even defensively. With the bat, Crawford essentially looks clueless. He’s shown a few signs of brilliance, but he does nothing with consistency. Defensively, he is apparently the next Omar Vizque, however I never saw Omar Vizquel throwing baseballs into dugouts or bobbling routine grounders. I’ve seen Brandon Crawford do those things more than enough.
At 28 years-old, Jed Lowrie is virtually entering the prime of his rather young career and the Giants need to trade for him, fast.
Well, Jed Lowrie’s power surge might not last much longer, but that’s not the reason why the Giants need to trade for him.
Lowrie’s (.351) OBP is much more impressive than his 13 home runs.  Firstly, because that (.351) mark ranks 12th in the National League, and secondly, it proves that he can contribute to his team without hitting for power.
At the moment, the first six hitters in the Giants’ lineup all boast OBP’s of .300+. Add, Lowrie to the lineup and you have a bunch of base runners, which, last time I check, is great. Now they just need the big hit.
I can guarantee you one thing; Lowrie won’t be hitting baseballs out of AT&T Park anytime soon. But, another hitter who can consistently get on base wouldn’t do any harm to the Giants’ lineup. In fact, a player who can sustain a relatively high OBP is what Brian Sabean should be in the market for, especially a shortstop who fills that definition.
How many times has Brandon Crawford struck out with runners on base? Well, to be exact, Crawford is hitting below .100 to go along with ten strikeouts with runners in scoring position and two outs. Lowrie isn’t doing all that much better in those situations this year, but he puts the ball in play more than Crawford.
Part of being “clutch” is having plate discipline. Last year, Crawford seemed to have patience at the dish, but this year I can’t say the same thing. He’s swinging at pitches outside of the zone 38.6 percent of the time which is why he’s striking out 21.6 percent of the time. Meanwhile, Lowrie swings at bad pitches just 19 percent of the time.
Now, with a runner on third and less than two outs, who would you want at the plate, Lowrie or Crawford?
I’ll let you answer that question, but my point is that Lowrie is a player Brain Sabean should really think hard about come the July 31st deadline. Lowrie leads all shortstop with a 2.6 WAR, and if he can remain off the D.L, he could contend for a spot on the all-star team for the next several years. He just needs to play for a winning team, and the Giants can give him that opportunity.

Could the Giants Trade for Astros' Wandy Rodriguez?

The Giants, looking to trade for starting pitching at the deadline, really? Apparently so, as the Giants had scouts at Wandy Rodriguez's start against the Royals Tuesday night according to an article written by Joe Morosi. Other teams with scouts in attendance included the Yankees and the Blue Jays.

What does this mean?

Tim Lincecum has struggled all year, but we can't expect him to keep struggling because he's simply been getting unlucky. Whether it's the defense behind him kicking the ball around or questionable call, or even bloop hits, luck hasn't been on his side thus far in 2012.  According to a stat called FIP (fielding indepence percentage), Lincecum would have a sub-four ERA. Obviously not your typical Lincecum, but I think any Giants fan would take that over  his current 6.19 ERA. However, I don't think the Giants are as worried about Lincecum as they are with the current state of Barry Zito.

Zito seems to lure Giants fans on his bandwagon every year because he starts out so well. And trust me, fans don't stay on that bandwagon for very long. But, up until his last couple starts he had arubably been the Giant most consistent pitcher, however, after Tuesday's outing against the Angels where he gave up eight runs in barely three innings pitched,  he seems like a liablity every time he takes the mound now.

Is Wandy Rodriguez a pitcher the Giants should think about acquiring?

The Astros seem torn on trading him before the deadline, and he has had a good year. However, the left-hander is making $10 million in 2012 and $13 million in 2013 with a $13 option for the 2014 season. General manager, Brian Sabean probably doesn't want to take on another big contract especially after the infamous Barry Zito signing. Not to mention the Wandy Rodriguez and Barry Zito both rely on their big curveballs to get outs. Yes, Rodriguez has a better fastball, but according to Fangraphs, his average fastball speed is at 89.2 MPH this season.

This is just some speculation at the moment, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Brian Sabean in the market for a starting pitcher, especially with Lincecum and Zito struggling.
Stay tuned Giants nation.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sandoval Back, Melky Still Out Against Rangers: Keys, Notes, Lineups

The Giants got shutout by Matt Harrison last night, but with Pablo Sandoval returning, expect them to score some runs against a struggling Scott Feldman

Breaking News: Brett Pill Out, Pablo Sandoval In

Brett Pill was opitoned after Friday night’s 5-0 loss to the Rangers. And guess whose coming back? Pablo Sandoval, that’s right the Panda is making an early return to the Giants after hitting two homeruns in Fresno on Friday night.
Pill’s one and only job was to hit southpaws, and he didn’t do this as he hit just .211 against lefties. Unlike Emmanuel Burriss, who was a candidate to be sent down prior to Sandoval’s return, Pill doesn’t have an value on the base paths which in the end is why Bochy decided to keep Burriss around.
The Good:
Well, the Giants’ best power threat will be making his long awaited return to an improving Giants lineup, so that’s not to shabby. Buster Posey was the only real power bat in the Giants’ lineup after Sandoval injured his hamate bone back in May, and Posey isn’t even that much of a power hitter compared to other players with the same repuatation.
The Bad:
The question is why is Sandoval returning so early? The plan was for him to be called up prior to Tuesday’s series opener against the Houston Astros so he wouldn’t have to hit right handed. I think they probably called him up because the Rangers announced that Alexi Ogando would start on Sunday in place of the injured Derek Holland, but is Melky Cabrera’s hamstring injury more serious than original day to day status? That question will likely come up tomorrow when Bruce Bochy meets with the media, but I wouldn’t look into it too much just yet.
What’s on Tap:
The Giants will look to score some runs after getting shutout for the first time this season on Friday night, and they will face Scott Feldman who is coming off of a atrocious performance against the A’s. The always steady Ryan Vogelsong will take the ball for the Giants, he has won his past four decisions.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Giants VS Diamondbacks Recap, Grades

Tim Lincecum didn’t start the 2012 season the way he had been planning ever since he clanked Justin Upton’s head in his last start of the 2011 season. The Giants ace was roughed up for a quick three runs on two homeruns in the first inning. Those homeruns came from Paul Goldschmidt who absolutely kills Lincecum.  The powerful right hander hit third career homerun off him in just 12 at bats. Chris Young hit a two run homer prior to Goldschmidt’s towering shot.