Arrieta vs Lincecum

Posted: April 24, 2016 by Sports Time Radio in baseball, post season, sports, Sports Time Radio, Uncategorized
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Hey there, Chicago

While your own Cubs continue to demonstrate why they are the number-one ranked team in Major League Baseball, the San Francisco Giants have struggled mightily, losing five straight before finally managing to break out against Barry Bonds and the Miami Marlins, 8-1 Friday night, on Orange Friday, at AT&T Park.

For those of us keeping the spotlight focused on on Jeff Samardzija, who made his first start Friday night in his own home park, it was a gratifying performance. He went seven-and-two-thirds innings against the fish, limiting them to a single run, and lowering his ERA to 3.00 and his WHIP to 1.26.
After three road games to begin his stint with San Francisco, Samardzija took advantage of the friendly confines of AT&T, not to mention the clutch defense backing him up. The Shark’s strong early season prowess is taking the pressure off of Madison Bumgarner, especially in light of the team’s sluggish start to the year.
Speaking of strong starts, big ups to Jake Arieta for hurling his second no-hitter over his last eleven starts, proving once again that he is the reigning king of all National League starting pitchers. It was not that long ago (June 26, 2014) that Tim Lincecum tossed his second no-hitter, both against the San Diego Padres, and there is no getting around the surge of electricity one of these gems sends through the organization.
Astonishingly, this was Arieta’s 24th straight regular season quality start, going back to last June 21st. Having surrendered a total of only seventeen runs over those 178 innings, has helped him forge a 20-1 mark during this stretch.
The presence of such a master within the clubhouse, is a key component to any serious playoff contender. The staff must have a guy whose stuff is good enough on any given day, to completely stifle an opponent and pick up a sagging rotation.
Jake Arieta is that guy for the Cubs, just as Madison Bumgarner is that go-to guy for the Giants. Prior to Arieta’s meteoric rise to the top, Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers, called the shots from the top. On paper every team has a top dog.
How much the team relies on that staff leader, becomes amplified when the stress of playoff ball creates a pressure cooker so volatile that the ace cannot hold up under all that hype. Should he stagger in that capacity, so would his team.
You can probably guess where I am going to with this line of reasoning. If you glance quickly at Bumgarner’s stats right now, (1-2, 3.91 ERA, 1.39 WHIP), you would see numbers that belie his elevated status on the team.
In fact you would see that MadBum’s career statistics do not come close to say, Kershaw’s numbers during the regular season, but then again, Kershaw’s regular season numbers shine compared to his postseason efforts.
Jake Arieta also experienced technical difficulties in this area last October.
For him to have had back-to-back starts in the playoffs, in which he gave up four runs, shows that even the best of them are challenged under the microscope of the playoffs. Nothing dictates he will ever have a similar problem again, but the uncertainty must linger in the back of the collective Cubs consciousness.
The Giants have no such impediments in their thinking process. They know what to expect from Bumgarner when October arrives, so they do not worry when things do not go as well during the grind of the regular season.
When it comes right down to it, San Francisco has suffered from inconsistency during the regular season in all three of their recent world series runs. They had four extended losing stretches in 2010, five in 2012 and seven in 2014.
Seven times during this most recent title run, the Giants lost four or more consecutive games, or experienced periods in which they won only once during prolonged stretches, baffling their fans and resurrecting the term “torture” for Giants followers.
But not surprisingly, these nosedives seem to better prepare the Giants for adversity, which makes sense when you think about it. If a team never struggles, it does not learn how to address hard times when they arrive.
Timing is everything.
For now the Cubs are on top of their division, and the Giants are near the bottom. Until that changes, my words are only so much hot air being blown about, like the mighty wind whipped up, when LA’s Yasiel Puig takes one of his mighty cuts, and whiffs.
That’s it for my at-bat today. See you next week.
@bellspringsmark

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