Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco Giants’

I’m not sure how you feel about it, but I think that the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants just opened a big 3-game series yesterday in Los Angeles. The Dodgers came into Tuesday nights game with a 1 game lead in the NL West. It appeared that the Giants had the advantage in the starting pitching match up last night as San Francisco had their ace Madison Bumgarner on the mound. The Dodgers countered with NL Rookie of the Year candidate Kenta Maeda. Looking at the starting pitching match up you might think that it would be a low scoring pitchers duel to start the series. That’s not what these two teams gave everyone last night. Bumgarner gave up a run in each of the first 3 innings and only lasted 5 innings. In total Bumgarner gave up 5 runs; all earned on 9 hits. He struck out 7 while walking 1 and giving up 1 home run. Bumgarner took the loss. Maeda picked up the win, but only lasted 5 innings himself. Maeda gave up 3 runs; all earned on 6 hits while walking 4 and striking out 4. San Francisco’s bullpen had it’s issues over the final four innings as they gave up 4 runs. Corey Gearin pitched just 1/3rd of an inning, but gave up 3 hits and 2 runs; both earned while striking out 1 batter. Will Smith came in and settled things down for the Giants pitching 1 1/3rd scoreless innings striking out 2 batters. George Kontos came in to pitch a 1/3rd of an inning and while he didn’t give up a hit he did walk a batter and allowed a run to score. Javier Lopez came in to pitch the final inning and gave up 2 hits with one of them being a solo home run. Lopez did strikeout 2 and walked 1 in that inning while giving up the 1 earned run. Jesse Chavez was the first call out of the Dodgers bullpen and he had some issues. Chavez lasted just 1/3rd of an inning giving up 2 hits and 1 run. Adam Liberatore (2/3rd) and Joe Blanton (1 2/3rd)didn’t give up any hits and Blanton struck out 2 over their 2 1/3rd innings of relief to get the ball to Kenley Jansen. Jansen did pick up a four out save his 36th of the season, but not without a little trouble. He gave up 1 run on a solo home run before closing the game out. Jansen also recorded a strikeout over his 1 1/3rd innings of work.

The Dodgers took the early lead putting up a run an inning in the first three innings off Bumgarner. The Giants did get 2 back in the top of the 3rd and where able to tie it up with a run in the top of the 5th. The tie didn’t last long as the Dodgers added 2 runs in the bottom of the 5th inning. San Francisco got 1 run back in the top of the 6th, but Los Angeles turned right around and added 2 more runs in the bottom of the 6th. The Dodgers topped off their scoring by adding 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th and while the Giants did add a run in the top of the 9th all it did was change the number of runs the Dodgers would win by. In this case it was a 9-5 victory for Los Angeles. The win improves the Dodgers record to 70-55 and gives them a 2 game division lead over the Giants who fall to 68-57 with the loss.

Corey Seager and Justin Turner both went 3 for 4 for the Dodgers. Seager scored 3 runs while Turner drove in a run. Adrian Gonzalez went 2 for 4 while driving in 3 runs while Andrew Toles pinch hit and then stayed in the game going 2 for 2 with a home run 3 RBI’s and 2 runs scored. Enrique Hernandez also went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a stolen base.

Denard Span and Angel Pagan each had 2 hits for the Giants. Span was 2 for 4 with a home run an RBI and 2 runs scored while Pagan was 2 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored. Brandon Belt and Buster Posey both went 1 for 4 and each drove in a run. Joe Panik and Eduardo Nunez where both 1 for 3 and Nunez added a stolen base. Ehire Adrianza picked up a pinch hit and an RBI as well.

Johnny Cueto takes the mound for the Giants tonight. Cueto is 14-4 with an ERA of 2.90 on the season. He is also 2-0 with an ERA of 3.63 against the Dodgers this season. The Dodgers are going wit Rich Hill who was 9-3 with a 2.25 ERA for the Oakland A’s before being traded to the Dodgers. Hill spent the past month on the disabled list with blisters on his middle pitching finger; so this will be his 1st start for the Dodgers. Hill hasn’t faced the Giants since August 22nd of 2007 when he was a member of the Chicago Cubs. Hill didn’t factor in the decision, but he did pitch 7 innings giving up 2 runs on 6 hist while striking out 10. There’s really not much you could learn from that outing, but I knew that Schaumburg Stu would enjoy seeing that.

There are still 37 games left in the season for the Giants; so you can’t really say that these games are must wins, but I’m sure they would like to win 2 of 3 games in this series. Again they seem to have the advantage on the mound, but can they turn that into a win tonight?

While I am still in baseball mode I am slowly trying to start getting things ready for my upcoming fantasy football drafts. I’m noticing more and more that in one order or another Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants and Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons are ranked 1, 2 and 3. I’m trying to figure out if I end up with a top 3 pick in my drafts if I would be comfortable taking one of these wide receivers with that pick. Would it be a safer pick to take what would be your top running back on the board or grab one of these receivers. Workhorse running backs are few and far between in today’s NFL and while there is a gap between these three receiver and the next one you could get would it make more sense to grab that running back. As it gets closer and closer these are the things that will have to be figured out. Of course I know exactly what will happen. I’ll decide what more I want to make and then I won;t end up with a pick anywhere near the top 3, but that’s just how things go for me.

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Back at the baseball trade deadline the Chicago White Sox some how managed to ignore the advice of the baseball pundits and experts that said they just had to trade Chris Sale. Sale is 27 years old and is signed through 2017 with team options for 2018 and 2019.  Now if the White Sox could have recieved five or six major league ready or close to ready young players then maybe they would’ve dealt Sale. I fully supported the White Sox hanging on to Sale and there’s no way I’m moving a pitcher of this quality. What I am wondering though; is Chris Sale out of gas? Sale was 14-3 going into the All-Star break. He’s made 5 starts since the All-Star break and he is 0-3 and the White Sox have won just 1 of his 5 starts. Sale has pitched 35 2/3rd innings since the All-Star break. He’s giving up 12 earned run for a post All-Star break ERA of 3.03. Sale game log  Of course maybe Sale’s not the problem and it’s the White Sox offense that’s just not doing the job. If you consider this a struggle for Sale; do you think the White Sox will trade him in the off season? Looking at the stats it seems as though it’s a White Sox offensive thing more than it is a Sale pitching thing. It would be difficult to see the White Sox deal a perennial Cy Young award contender, but I guess stranger things have happen. Ask our friend Schaumburg Stu about the Chicago Cubs trading Lou Brock to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Are we watching the San Francisco Giants fade out of the playoffs? The Giants lost their 3rd straight last night; 4-3 to the Pittsburgh Pirates. That loss with the Los Angeles Dodgers 15-5 win over the Philadelphia Phillies gives the Dodgers the lead in the NL West by a 1/2 game. The Giants are 9-20 since July 15th and haven’t been able to win more than 2 games in a row during that stretch. Even with the struggles the Giants have had and even with the Dodgers moving into 1st place San Francisco is still the top wild card team. The Giants hold a 3 game lead on the St. Louis Cardinals who hold the second wild card spot. The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Miami Marlins are 4 games behind San Francisco. With the troubles the Giants have had is it possible we see them slide all the way out of the wild card game. I’m sure you’ve heard the it’s an even year theory and maybe that’s what you’re holding onto if you’re rooting for San Francisco, but you have to wonder why this team has been tanking and not in the NBA way. You would’ve thought the return of Hunter Pence would be enough to get the Giants back on track. Pence was looking like an MVP candidate before he got injured. Pence has played in 16 games since returning from injury. He’s hitting just .203 with 1 home run and 4 RBI’s. As Pence gets more and more at bats and should return to form; will that be enough to get the San Francisco ship righted?

Everyone including myself thought the pick up of Eduardo Nunez was a great get for the Giants. In 17 games for San Francisco Nunez is hitting .214 with 1 home run and 3 RBI’s; on the plus side he does have 2 triples. Is it possible that coming from the last place Minnesota Twins and joining a 1st place team has mounted pressure on Nunez and he’s struggling to deal with it. Nunez isn’t the only Giants trade acquisition that hasn’t really worked out. Matt Moore is 0-2 in 3 starts with an ERA of 4.50 over 18 innings. Left handed set up guy Will Smith was brought in to help settled down a bullpen that’s been missing the retired Jeremy Affeldt. Smith has appeared in 7 games covering 3 2/3rd innings. Smith is 0-1 with an ERA of 12.27 and has blown a save chance. These looked like three very good moves by the Giants and as of right now they just haven;t worked out. Now there’s no reason at all that Nunez, Smith and Moore can’t return to the form they had when they where traded for. If they could rectify their issues since coming to San Francisco there’s no reason the Giants can’t get into the playoffs as either a wild card team or even the NL West winner. Of course once your in the playoffs anything can happen.

Now the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series had last weekend off, but the X-Finity Series ran the Mid-Ohio Challenge at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday. Now we Don’t talk about the X-Finity Series at all, but I wanted to bring this race up because if you didn’t see it they kept the race going even after it started to rain. The race started out under sunny conditions, but that only lasted two laps as the rain started and the drivers ended up coming to pit road to put there rain radial tires. Now the rain made for a different style of racing that we’re not use to seeing in the Sprint Cup Series. It made for an entertaining race as the cars where sliding into and around every corner and sometimes even in the straight-aways. When it was all said and done Justin Marks got his 1st career X-Finity victory. Sam Hornish Jr. finished 2nd about 4 seconds behind Marks. Ryan Blaney was 3rd, Ty Dillon was 4th and Justin Allgaier round out the Top 5 in 5th place.

The Sprint Cup drivers return to the track for the Bass Pro Shop NRA Night Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway. The Bristol Motor Speedway is a concrete shirt track as it’s just a little over a half mile. It’s 0.53 miles around to be exact. Carl Edwards won the April race at Bristol. Will Edwards get another Bristol win? Will we see someone who already has a win get to victory lane? Or will we manage to get a driver looking for his first win this season and a way into The Chase. Including Saturday nights race there are only 4 races left before The Chase starts. So drivers looking for a win to get into The Chase are quickly running out of time.

The Big Jack

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The San Francisco Giants won for the first time in seven games, Saturday against the New York Yankees, taking the second game of the three-game series, 2-1, in twelve innings. Johnny Cueto hurled six innings of one-run ball (the run was unearned) and the bullpen matched him, while rookie Mac Williamson drove in both San Francisco runs.
After dropping the opener Friday night, when Williamson committed an eighth-inning error, leading to the Yankees’ third run, the Giants managed to regroup and finally snap out of their post-All-Star funk. Their six-game losing streak is the longest of the season, and if it weren’t for the Los Angeles Dodgers also encountering some technical difficulties, it could be worse. 
The Giants maintain their four-game lead as the Dodgers defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 7-2, Saturday.
The Giants (58-39) and Chicago Cubs (58-38) remain on a collision-course for a confrontation in October. Though they have almost identical records, the journey to get to this point in the season, has been quite different for these two competitive clubs.
The Cubs blasted off to an incredible 25-6 record during the first six weeks of the season, while the Giants were merely mortal at 16-15. However, as the hare was to discover, speed is not necessarily the optimum approach. Best keep in mind that the race will be won not so much by the swift as by the durable.

Whereas the Giants have proven less than durable with a multitude of injuries, their relief corps has been stellar. Now with Hunter Pence, Ehire Adrianza and Joe Panik rehabbing and Matt Duffy only one or two more days away from beginning his own rehab stint, the team is gearing up for a second-half crusade.

The Cubs saw Dexter Fowler return to the lineup in style, hammering a home run in his first at-bat, and he has helped balance some of the low spots created by extended slumps from a couple of key players, Ben Zobrist and Justin Heyward.
The team is also activating Joe Nathan, 41, returning from Tommy John surgery, and this can’t help but strengthen the club. 

If we go back thirty games, we find the Cubs at 46-20 and the Giants at 40-26. Since then Chicago is 14-18 (43.75%) while San Francisco is 18-13 (56.25%). A big reason for that difference has to do with Chicago’s starting pitching during this period.

Over the last thirty games, Jake Arrieta is 1-2 with a 6.17 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP; Jason Hammel is 2-2 with a 5.88 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP; John Lackey is 0-4 with a 6.38 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP; and Jon Lester is 1-1 with a 6.86 ERA and a WHIP of 1.42. 

Of course, there is Kyle Hendricks and his 4-0 record with a minuscule ERA of 0.57 and 1.09 WHIP.

San Francisco’s pitching stats are not stellar over the same period but they reflect a consistency that has not varied dramatically, as is the case with the Cubs’ rotation. Of course it goes without saying that all players are going to have ups and downs over a full season, but the simultaneous struggles of four-fifths of the Chicago rotation, bears mentioning.

Most likely we are looking at a blip on the radar of a long, grueling season. With a six-and-one-half game lead over the Cards, the Cubs do have a small cushion upon which to rest, before they have to start getting nervous. 

The Giants have a four-game lead over the Dodgers, who just learned that their ace pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, has suffered a set-back in his bid to rehab from lower back issues.

The bottom line is that injuries and slumps are all a part of the game, and a team’s ability to handle this type of adversity will often determine its degree of success. 

Both of these clubs have experienced giddying heights to their respective seasons, to accompany the low points. Both teams are looking at the approaching trade deadline with great interest.

Chicago is said to be looking at Josh Reddick of the Oakland A’s, while also contemplating a Kyle Schwarber-for-Andrew Miller trade. The Giants are rumored to be interested in Boone Logan and even Carlos Beltran, while also checking out the aforementioned Andrew Miller, along with his teammate, Aroldis Chapman.

History has proven how impactful a key acquisition can be, and you should expect that this year will be no different. With almost identical records, both the Cubs and Giants have a little over a third of the season to refine their lineups and prepare for postseason-play.

See you in the NLCS.

Mark ONeill

If it seems as though you have been seeing more of the Sacramento RiverCats and less of the San Francisco Giants these days, then you may just realize how serious the injury bug has impacted the Orange and Black. If not for the fact that the backup corps has been stellar, fans would be watching the Los Angeles Dodgers storming up from behind.

As it is the Giants remain six-and-a-half games ahead of LA after their 4-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, Saturday afternoon at AT&T Park. The good news is that Sergio Romo shut down the D-backs in the eighth inning for the second straight game, thus reestablishing his position as the set-up guy for Santiago Casilla.

Here are the most recent developments:

Gregor Blanco: After missing three games with a strained left knee, Blanco was able to pinch-hit in Tuesday’s game against the Rockies. He punctuated his recovery Friday night, by hitting his first home run of the season, also his first as a pinch-hitter. He is listed as day-to-day.

Angel Pagan: Pagan was kept out of last Sunday’s lineup for general soreness. He had played in nine straight games. He returned to the lineup for Monday’s day-game against the Colorado Rockies, and was the difference with his two-run home run.

Denard Span: Span had an old neck injury resurface, aggravated while evading a pitch during the Oakland series. It was looking as though a return to the disabled list was in order, before he made rapid improvement this week. 

Span’s MRI results were negative and after being out of the lineup for a week, he returned Friday, going 0-5, but making a superlative back-handed catch in right-center field. The catch off the bat of Ricky Weeks occurred in the ninth inning with a runner on board, and after crashing into the wall, Span almost doubled the runner off first base.

Hunter Pence: Pence took batting practice last Saturday, the first step toward rehabbing his surgically repaired torn hamstring in his right leg. He reported no discomfort when working the weight machine, but that he can not yet drive off the leg when he swings a bat. Pence is slated to return in late July or early August and would appear to be on that time-line.

Joe Panik: As of June 29th, Panik was placed on the 7-day DL for concussion symptoms suffered in mid-June when he was struck by a pitch. After passing the concussion tests the first three times, Panik showed symptoms the fourth time they ran the battery of tests. He is expected back after the All-Star break.

Matt Duffy: Duffy was reported by Andrew Baggarly to be out of his walking boot and now taking ground balls, and seemingly on track to return to the lineup after the All-Star break.

Kelby Tomlinson: Tomlinson has been rehabbing in Sacramento with the RiverCats; he will return to the Giants after the All-Star game.

Matt Cain: Cain is on track to return after the All-Star break. He made a rehab start a week ago Saturday in an Arizona (Rookie) League game. He went three-and-one-third innings, giving up two runs on three hits, one of them a home run, and struck struck out six.

Sergio Romo: Romo hurled his second consecutive scoreless eighth inning, Saturday afternoon against the D-backs, indicating that his return from the 60-day disabled list is obviously a great success.

Ehire Adrianza: Out since April 15th, Adrianza’s recovery from a broken left foot has gone slower than intended. It was originally thought that he would miss six-to-eight weeks.

The replacements:

Ramiro Pena: 16 G, 44 AB, 5 R, 16 H, 7 RBI, .364/.378/.477/.855. Pena missed four games with a sprained ankle but is back, fully recovered.

Conor Gillaspie: Gillaspie had nine hits in 18 at-bats, at one point earlier this week, with six runs scored. In his last thirty games, his line looks like this: 21 G, 51 AB, 9 R, 17 H, 9 RBI, .333/.370/.490/.861 (quite similar to that of Pena).

Grant Green: Stats since being called up: 8 G, 30 AB, 9 H, 5 RBIs, .300/.344/.433/.777. Grant hit the decisive two-run home run in Saturday’s win over the D-backs.

Ruben Tejada: Stats in his last seven games as a Giant: 6 G, 17 AB, 2 R, 4 H, 1 RBI, .235/.278/.412/.690. Tejada doubled home Gregor Blanco in Saturday’s game, in the sixth inning, for a much-needed insurance run.

Jarrett Parker: Last 30 games: 52 AB, 9 R, 15 H, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, .288/.422/.423/.845

Mac Williamson: Since he has been recalled: 17 G, 46 AB, 10 H, 2 HR, 6 RBI, .217/.333/.370/.703

Albert Suarez: 3-1, 6 Games started, 49 IP, 3.67 ERA, 13 BB, 34 SO, 1.10 WHIP

Derek Law: 3-1, 2.90 ERA, 32 G, 1.10 WHIP

Unlike last season, when the Giants staggered and eventually dropped out of the race after losing Pence, this season there has been no let-down.

The club’s record was 33-21(61.1%) on May 31st. Since Pence went down, the team has gone 23-12 (65.7%), so you can see that not only is there no let-down, the team has picked the pace up.

Part of the explanation is the improved starting pitching, though Jeff Samardzija has continued his inconsistent streak, but the main reason is that the replacements have been stellar.

One of the hardest roles to perform in baseball, is to step in cold to replace a regular in the lineup, especially if you are coming up from the minor leagues. Not only are you on a new team, you are playing at a considerably higher level.

From Pena’s .364 batting average to the home run power supplied by Parker and Williamson, to the 3-1 record of Suarez and his 1.10 WHIP, those entrusted with the task of not allowing the team to sag, have collectively done their jobs to infuse fresh enthusiasm into the clubhouse. 

The result is that San Francisco remains six-and-a-half games up on Los Angeles, the Dodgers contending with the injury bug themselves with the shelving of Clayton Kershaw. His lower back flared up recently and he was placed on the 15-day DL on June 29th.

One of the earmarks of championship teams is that they have depth. It’s an intangible that often separates the top dogs from the dead dawgs. The day he replaced Matt Duffy in the lineup, Conor Gillaspie went 4-5, after riding out an 0-for27 stretch.

He has been hot ever since.

Derek Law and Albert Suarez have been huge, and though he was sent down when Sergio Romo was activated, Suarez is back, having established himself as legitimate.

As long as the guys who are busing back and forth from Sacramento to San Francisco, can continue to help rack up the wins, there is no need to panic. Just don’t let that bus get “…stuck in Lodi, again.”

Mark O’Neill

It seems as though just a short time ago everyone was sold on the Chicago Cubs where easily the best team in baseball. The Cubs have hot there first real rough patch of the season and that seems to have allowed other teams to come back into the conversation. The Cubs still have the best record in the National League at 50-26, but the San Francisco Giants aren’t too far behind at 49-30. It is an even number year, so that makes San Francisco the World Series favorite, doesn’t it?

The Washington Nationals have the third best record in the NL at 46-32. While one of these teams should be the odds on favorite to make it to the World Series out of the NL they all seem to have a common weakness, the bullpen.

The Cubs bullpen issues showed up last night, but they where able to over come them and win the game in extra innings. Hector Rondon entered the game with a 2-0 lead, but allowed the Cincinnati Reds tie it up blowing his 3rd save chance in his last 4 opportunities. While Rondon has had his issues as of late he does still have an 1.65 ERA for the season. While Rondon has stayed healthy and is the only Cubs reliever to record a save, the Giants have had 5 different pitchers pick up at least 1 save.

Santiago Casilla is San Francisco’s closer, but he’s blown 4 saves this season and has missed some time with injuries. Casilla’s ERA is 3.23 and you have to wonder at age 35 if his time is running out as the Giants closer. The Nationals are in full on juggle the end of the game mode as their closer Jonathan Papelbon is current on the disabled list. Papelbon was 16 out of 18 in save chances before getting injured. While Papelbon has been out Shawn Kelly has 3 saves in 4 chances while Yusmeiro Petit and Felipe Rivero have both picked up 1 save in 2 chances while Papelbon has been out. Papelbon started a rehab assignment on Monday and should be back with the Nationals this weekend as long as things go as planned.

With these teams bullpen’s rough shape, are they looking to make a trade?  Any time you talk bullpen everyone goes to the New York Yankees and expect them to deal Andrew Miller and or Aroldis Chapman. Of course with the Yankees in contention for a wild card spot why would they break up their bullpen. So if any of these three teams are looking to make a trade is there a team out there selling?

Now I have started to hear and read that the Oakland A’s may be ready to start making deals. If you’re looking for bullpen help would Ryan Madson be someone your team should take a look at. Madson has converted 15 of 18 save chances and has an ERA of 3.00 and is 3-2 this season. If you’re not interested in Madson should your team or a team take a chance on Sean Doolittle. Doolittle has pretty much miss the last two seasons with injuries, but this season he has converted 4 of 5 save chances and has a 2-2 record with an ERA of 2.93. Both Madson and Doolittle can close or set up; so there’s some versatility for your bullpen. You could give the rebuilding Atlanta Braves a call, but I don’t think they’re going to trade 25-year-old Arodys Vizcaino as he appears to be the closer of the future. The Braves do have Jason Grilli in their bullpen, but do you want your team going that route?  The Minnesota Twins lost their closer Glenn Perkins for the season with an injury; so there probably out for bullpen help.  Jeanmar Gomez has been a surprise at the back-end of games for the Philadelphia Phillies converting 21 of 23 games with an ERA of 3.00 and has a 2-2 record. It’s the first time Gomez has closed on a regular basis; so it would be tough to see a contender going out to get him. Will one of these teams make an early move or will they stand pat and wait to see if the Yankees or another team with some possible bullpen help fall out of contention?

In the American League, the Texas Rangers have really put everyone on notice with the best record in baseball at 51-27. The Baltimore Orioles are 46-30 and where looking like the next best team in the AL until the Cleveland Indians went on an 11 game winning streak to equal the Orioles at 46-30. I wasn’t sold on the Indians at the start of the season.  I wasn’t sure they would hit enough to support the pitching staff they have.  Cleveland has the 14th best team betting average at .260.  They are tied for 12th in home runs with 96 and tied for 2nd in stolen bases with 62.  Don’t forget that the Indians have done this with their best player Michael Brantley playing just 11 games.  

Now the Orioles seem to be doing it with smoke and mirrors on the mound.  Chris Tillman has been very good for them, 10-1 with an  3.52 ERA in 16 starts. Other than Tillman the rotation is a mess.  Ubaldo Jimenez has an 6.63 ERA with a 5-7 record in 15 starts. Kevin Gausman has a solid 3.93 ERA and just had his first solid outing of the season, but has a 1-5 record in 13 starts.  Tyler Wilson has made 12 starts and is 4-5 with a 4.50 ERA.  Yovanni Gallardo has been injured and has made just 6 starts after being signed as a free agent in the off-season.  It’s amazing that Baltimore’s record is what it is when you look at their starting rotation.  

The Rangers are starting to look like the best all around team, but the question with them, can they stay healthy. The everyday line up has stayed healthy and with the addition of Jurickson Profar, they look good.  Starting pitching is where the injury bug has caught the Rangers.  Nine different pitchers have made starts this season. Currently, starters Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Yu Darvish are on the disabled list.  Lewis isn’t scheduled to start throwing for four weeks, while Darvish is scheduled to throw a simulated game today and Holland is supposed to start playing catch today.  

So it seems as every top team has questions.  Can the Indians hit enough to win?  Do the Orioles have enough starting pitching to win?  Can the Rangers stay healthy enough to win? 

The Big Jack Follow me on Twitter!

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Heart don’t stop. No Giant leading the vote at his respective position in 2016? Is nothing sacred? With San Francisco in first place, seven games in front of Los Angeles in the NL West, shouldn’t there be at least one? Buster Posey, maybe?

The more important question is, does any serious Giants fan care?

Recent history clearly demonstrates that the Orange and Black have been disrespected since the beginning of their successful binge in the National League, back in 2010. Every single series has listed the Giants as underdogs, including all three of the World Series confrontations.
In the current MLB Power Polls, San Francisco still takes a back seat to Chicago, a team most recently swept in a three-game series by the St. Louis Cardinals. I find this interesting because the 31-9 (77.5%) record posted by the Giants over the past 40 games compares rather favorably to that of the Cubs during the same stretch: 23-17 (57.5%).

And the Cubs are still ranked first?

So now Chicago fans have stuffed the ballot boxes to get their darlings onto the All-Star squad, and Giants fans are supposed to be miffed? 

Speaking for myself, I prefer the bling that is attached to the playoffs, rather than that which is attached to individual accolades. Do I think Buster Posey is the best catcher in the league?

I know he is.

Do I care that he may have to take a back seat to Yadier Molina? 
Not one iota.
Do I care that the Cubs have Anthony Rizzo (1B), Ben Zobrist (2B), Addison Russell (SS), Kris Bryant (3B), and Dexter Fowler (CF) starting the mid-season Classic, ahead of Brandon Belt (1B), Joe Panik (2B), Brandon Crawford (SS), Matt Duffy (3B) and Denard Span (CF)?

Not one iota.
I could look up the names of the Giants All-Stars from 2010, 2012 and 2014, but I could not name one for certain off the top of my head. It all kind of blends together. On the other hand, I haven no problem remembering who won the World Series each of those three years: the Orange and Black.
You get my drift?
It’s the big picture I am focused on, not the immediate one. In July I am thinking only of barbecues, beer and fireworks. I like to watch the All-Star game as much as the next guy, but not to see Giants players. No way. I want to see which league gets home-field advantage during the playoffs, because I prefer October’s Big Stage to July’s.
So let the Cubs bask in the glow of their July fireworks, with all the glitz and glitter of the All-Star game in San Diego, and let their fans enjoy the thrill of their players’ success. Giants players can use the All-Star break to rest up for the second half of the season, one which extends into October, when the smell of wood-smoke lingers in the air. 
I prefer those October nights when I have to bundle up if I want to see major league baseball. I enjoy the fall colors radiating in the late afternoon sun, shadows making their presence known. You know, Orange and Black.
And I love the smell of that wood smoke from the Giants’ victory bonfires.
 

Mark O’Neill

Take Your Pick

Posted: June 19, 2016 by Sports Time Radio in baseball, post season, sports
Tags: , , ,

The San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs are each on a course which will most likely see them oppose one another in the playoffs this coming October. If we are to believe MLB’s power polls, then the Cubs will be winning their first World Series in more than one hundred years.
That is a pretty big “if.”

For the most part power polls reflect the current standings and little more. Yes, the Cubs (45-20) have the better record than the Giants (42-26), but how about if we go back a month or so, and see how each team has done during that span?

In the last 33 games, the Cubs are 20-13 while the Giants have posted a 25-8 record. You can take those power polls and plaster them all over the Cubs’ locker room for all the difference they make in the individual locker rooms.
There are seven reasons why I do not see the Cubs beating the Giants in a head-to-head confrontation in October, despite the overwhelming feeling in baseball that, well, you know, it’s the Cubs’ turn. Giants fans would respond, “It’s an even year.”
Take your pick.

Let’s begin with defense because-on the big stage-defense is what separates the very good from the excellent. The Cubs are nineteenth, overall, in Major League Baseball; that is very good. In 65 games the Cubs have had 2,484 total chances and 1,761 put-outs. They have accrued 683 assists and committed 40 errors, for a fielding percentage of .984
The Giants are second in all of MLB; that is excellent. In three more games (68) than the Cubs, they have had 2,599 total chances with 1,848 put-outs. San Francisco has racked up 722 assists and been charged with 29 errors, for a fielding percentage of .989.

The Giants have proven under the brightest lights, that they can produce the big play. I have seen Joe Panik try that back-handed flip of the ball to second base, while falling away with his back to the play, twice since Game Seven of the 2014 World Series. Once it worked to perfection-once the ball went askew. It’s all about timing.
The second reason the Giants have the advantage is speed. The Giants have out-stolen the Cubs, 41 bases to 28, despite being caught only twice more than Chicago, 18 to 16. Additionally, though both clubs have identical team batting averages (.285), the Giants have 22 triples to the Cubs’ nine.
Speed is deadly because it throws off the timing of the defense. Aside from the in-the-park home run, the triple is the most exciting offensive play in baseball. It electrifies the offense and causes conniption fits on the part of the defense.

Yes, the Cubs have clubbed 78 home runs to the Giants’ 56, but we have already seen San Francisco win a world series with the fewest number of home runs in all of MLB. The year was 2012 when the Giants finished dead last and it wasn’t even close. The Los Angeles Dodgers were second-to-last with 116. 

San Francisco went on to defeat the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. How many homers did Detroit hammer out in 2012? 163, which is sixty more than the Giants. A lot of good it did them in the World Series.
Thirdly, the Giants have a pitching staff that has more savvy when it comes to preventing stolen bases. San Francisco has allowed 24 stolen bases to Chicago’s 51. That would be the influence of one Buster Posey, Esq. I might imagine. 

Together, Posey (14) and Trevor Brown (4) have caught eighteen base-stealers. The Cubs’ Miguel Montego (9) and David Ross (2) have nabbed eleven. I am more interested in the number of stolen bases allowed (51) by the Cubs, compared to the 24 allowed by the Giants. That’s huge.

Fourth, whereas the Giants and Cubs may be on a par as far as front office leadership is concerned, with Theo Epstein and Brian Sabean working behind GM’s Jed Hoyer and Bobby Evans, San Francisco has the best manager in baseball.

I have heard of the wonderful rapport Joe Madden has with his players, and how comfy all the rookies are. How nice for them. How many rings has the man earned? Zero. 

How many rings has Bruce Bochy won? With essentially the same crew as he has this year? Three. 

‘Nuf said.
Fifth, the Giants have experience as a team. They have earned at least 31 world series rings amongst them, with Javier Lopez leading the parade with four. I don’t know how many rings the Cubs have earned, but it does not approach 31.

Sixth, the Giants have that chemistry thing going for them. It doesn’t matter what is happening inside the Cubs’ locker room, or how loosey-goosey Joe Madden has his rookies, the Giants have taken the concept and brought it to a new level. After all, San francisco still has Hunter Pence, even if he is on the disabled list, the best motivator in the game.

Finally, the Giants, as I pointed out above, are the underdogs to the Cubs. It just so happens that San Francisco embraces this concept. They work it to their advantage, as they have done EVERY step of their way to their three recent titles. Madison Bumgarner has helped make this happen, as has Buster Posey.
I am not going to put it all on these two foundation pieces, but if the cap fits, flaunt it, Baby. Not to dis on Jake Arieta and his ongoing streak of quality starts, but Jake’s playoff repertoire is nothing like his regular-season record. 
So I’m fine with MLB and the latest power polls. In fact it works to the Giants’ advantage. Just don’t try to convince me that they mean anything.

Mark O’Neill

I don’t sleep a whole bunch. I don’t know if it’s my work schedule that I’ve been on for 20 plus years or if I’m just wired like that, but if I get 3 or 4 hours of sleep in a row I’m lucky. When that 5 hour night of sleep comes through it’s amazing. When I wake up in the middle of the night I fire up the computer and catch up ion what’s going on in the sporting world. Sometimes it’s as easy as checking a box score or going through my fantasy line up to see how my night went. Other nights it’s looking up an injury to see ow long a player might be out or looking for blog material. The times I hate it the most is when I turn on the computer and I see a headline like I saw early this morning; Muhammad Ali passes away at 74.

No questions asked Muhammad Ali was “The Greatest”. He referred to himself as that all the time in his interviews and the bottom line is he’s the best boxer of all time. There will always be people out there with arguments for other boxers, but as great as those guys where they don’t compare to Ali. Not only was Ali great in the ring, but the promos he did for his fights where incredible and some of the things he’d do with Howard Cosell where legendary.  Ali was also a social activist. Don’t forget that in 1967 Ali was stripped of the heavyweight title for refusing to serve in the U.S. Army and was looking at a possible prison sentence. Due to that legal trouble it was 3 1/2 years before Ali would fight again. Ali had some of the most talked about fights in the heavyweight division and boxing as a whole. He had the Rumble in the Jungle against George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire as well as the Thrilla in Manila against Joe Frazier. Ali won both of these high profile fights by the way. It seemed as though the bigger the stage the better Ali performed. Ali was a 3-time heavyweight champion and don’t forget that he also won an Olympic gold medal as a light heavyweight when he beat Zbigniew Pietrzlowski of Poland in September of 1960.  Ali had many nicknames for himself or the things he’d do in the ring and if he didn’t live up to them he got closer than anybody else could. Sadly I wasn’t even 10 years old when Ali had some of the biggest fights of his career, but looking back at what he did in the ring and what he stood for outside of the ring he was far and away “The Greatest” and he lost his final fight early this morning at 74 years old.

The San Francisco Giants are 35-22 and have a 5 1/2 game lead in the National League West. On Wednesday Hunter Pence was running down the 1st base line when he suddenly stopped and grabbed the back of his right leg. Pence came out of the game immediately and was diagnosed with a torn hamstring that will require surgery. Pence is scheduled to be out about 8 weeks. Pence was hitting .298 with 7 home runs and had driven in a team leading 36 runs. While it appears that Pence will return in August the question is; do the Giants need to look into the trade market for an outfielder? San Francisco has veteran Gregor Blanco on the roster and 25 year old Mac Williamson was called up from Triple-A Sacramento to fill Pence’s roster spot. Don’t forget that outfielder Angel Pagan has also had some injuries this season. Pagan has what I believe is his second strained left hamstring of the season and the Giants are hoping he can recover without having to go on the disabled list. Pagan was unable to stay off the disabled list as the Giants put him on it May 24th and called up Jarrett Parker to take his roster spot. Also 2nd baseman Joe Panik was dealing with a sore groin earlier in the week, but has returned to the starting line up. San Francisco is currently carrying 4 outfielders on their roster. They have Williamson, Parker, Blanco and Denard Span. They do have some flexibility as Brandon Belt has spent time in the outfield. If Belt is needed in the outfield that would allow San Francisco to give Buster Posey a break from behind the plate as he would most likely fill in for Belt at 1st base. So looking at what the Giants have here we go back to the question of; do they need to deal for an outfielder? Of course with the season only being about 1/3rd of the way over which teams are ready to start making deals and would San Francisco look for a high profile outfielder or just a guy who could be used in a rotation when Pence returns. There are always the rebuilding teams like the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves. I’m not sure if the Braves have an outfielder that would fit the Giants needs and would they want to pay the price for a high salaried player like Jay Bruce or even Ryan Braun. Could the New York Yankees Carlos Beltran be an answer. While Beltran is making $15 million this season it is the last year of his deal. Of course Beltran does have a history of injuries himself and you have to wonder if he could play everyday. I think if the Giants decide to make a trade it will be for a player along the lines of Oswaldo Arcia of the Minnesota Twins. Arcia has struggled to start the season; hitting just .217, but did hit .276 in limited time last season. He hits left handed and is just 25 years old. Now I’m not saying that Arcia will be the player that San Francisco acquires, but I think if they do deal for an outfielder it will be a player like Arcia.

What do you think? Do the Giants need to go out and get the top outfielder on the market or can they get by these 8 weeks with just the players they’ve called up from the minors?

You can listen to The Podcast by clicking the link and you can follow me on Twitter @Burketime

The San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs have split the first two games of their May series, with the rubber match set for Sunday at AT&T Park. Madison Bumgarner will oppose Kyle Hendricks for the series win and bragging rights for the next three months, until the two teams meet again the first three days of September.

The series thus far represents the best argument that the National League can present for avoiding the designated hitter. Not only did Jake Arrieta single in the first run of the Cubs’ 8-1 win on Friday night, Matt Cain doubled in the first two runs on Saturday night, en route to a 5-3 Giants win.
Cain’s hit was the first for him in 46 plate appearances, but Giants pitchers overall have thirteen runs batted in, leading the Cubs in this department by four runs. In comparison the last-place Atlanta Braves have had two RBIs contributed by pitchers.

That helps explain why both the Cubs and Giants occupy first place in their respective divisions, and is not so much a diss on Atlanta. The reality is that pitchers are not traditionally expected to do anything beyond pitch; some managers will not even allow their pitchers to either swing a bat, or run out a ground ball.

In assessing the upcoming series Friday afternoon, prior to the start of the first game, I pointed out to Big Jack on SportsTimeRadio that the pitching matchups that were in place would never be duplicated during a playoff run. Jake Peavy versus Jake Arrieta? I don’t think so.
Matt Cain versus Jon Lester? This is not much better but the Giants were able to rise to the occasion and get to Lester early. These lopsided pairings do provide some entertaining outcomes, but there is simply too much on the table during the playoffs to allow them.

To a certain extent, Kyle Hendricks opposing Madison Bumgarner is a similar David/Goliath confrontation, with MadBum having won his last four starts, while Hendricks is 1-3 in his last six. To his credit Hendricks has a 2.74 ERA during the stretch and has allowed only two home runs all season.
Because I have been promoting the notion that the Cubs and Giants are destined to meet in October, I am more apt to think in terms of the big picture. Realistically, Arrieta is on another plane, with his string of 22 consecutive [regular season] starts, allowing three runs or less.

The run is impressive from so many different perspectives, it boggles the mind. That being said, it must also be pointed out that the playoffs cannot be compared to the regular season, because Jake the Great will not face Jake the Terrible, as he did Friday night.

No, Jake the Great will oppose MadBum, if there is any possible way that Bruce Bochy can make it happen. Johnny Cueto will face Jon Lester and oh yeah, there’s that Jeff Samardzija guy probably going up against Jason Hammel. That way, with the pitching more equitable, other components of the game will have to determine the outcome.

Both Chicago and San Francisco have impressive defensive numbers, with the Giants having committed a total of 19 errors for the season, while the Cubs have racked up 23. Neither team has been assessed an error during the current series.

Everything being magnified during October, it could be a Brandon Crawford/Addison Russell gem, or a player-yet-to-be-determined’s error that hands the victory to Arrieta or Bumgarner.

There is no way to quantify experience, except to count the number of championship rings that the individual players wear. Those who have spent more time under the magnifying glass that is October, will be better prepared to handle the pressure.
I am not one to make bold predictions; I told Dan that I did not see a sweep in store for the current series but that on paper the Cubs were clear favorites. They have an astonishing road record of 15-6.

I said that if the Giants could bag one of the first two games, by any means possible, they would stand a good chance of being able to take the series. I would not have thought that Lester would prove to be the weak link, but it is immaterial. It only takes one.  Jake Peavy is the Giants’ weak link.

Sunday night, once more on national television, we will get to see the finale. I might be inclined to give the nod to San Francisco but recent history suggests I not.

Kyle Hendricks is said to have gathered up a whole slew of stones to go with his sling, so maybe I’ll just hold off on the prediction and say,
…nothing.

@bellspringsmark

If you are a San Francisco Giants fan, you will remember the off-season comments being tossed around concerning the acquisition of Jeff Samardzija, also known as The Shark.

“His 4.96 ERA last season [2015] was the worst of his career.”
“Look at that 6.86 K/9 ratio; what’s up with that besides walks?”

“He reached career highs in hits allowed (228), earned runs (118) and home runs (29), while posting an 11-13 record in 32 starts.”

“He plunked a dozen batters in 2015…” 

Samardzija himself said, “I was tipping my pitches.”

During one fatal stretch leading up to his two final starts of the 2015 season, he went 1-8 with a 9.24 ERA, giving up a career-high ten earned runs to Oakland on September 15th, in a 17-6 loss.

To many fans it seemed as though the Giants were somewhat bottom-fishing, especially after losing the prize, Zack Greinke, who signed with Arizona. Granted, Johnny Cueto is a star[fish], which is why The Shark’s signing paled in comparison.
On this date in 2015, Samardzija was 2-2, with a 4.88 ERA, almost exactly what it would turn out to be for the season (4.96). Today, he is 5-2 and his ERA is a svelte 2.88, while his WHIP is a minuscule 1.12.
Whereas we are only approaching the one-quarter mark, Samardzija seems to get better each time he takes the mound. Friday night’s eight-inning effort saw him yield six singles, a Jake Lamb double, and the first career triple by starting pitcher Shelby Miller.
In all Friday, at Chase Field in Arizona, he surrendered one earned run, walked none and struck out three. Earlier in the season he pitched eight full innings of two-run ball in Colorado. Those who said he “would have to post decent numbers, pitching in AT&T Park,” are correct to a certain extent. 
They just ought not to have shortchanged him. 

So why the difference and more importantly, how were the Giants able to figure out-over the winter-that they could expect this kind of production from The Shark in 2016?
According to Nick Doran, who wrote a piece over the offseason for the Dynasty Guru, it includes several small negatives, which combined to create the bigger discrepancies. Doran listed the move from the National League to the American League as one reason, because Samardzija had to face a designated hitter each game, instead of the pitcher a couple of times per game.
Next Doran mentioned the shift from Wrigley Field to U.S. Cellular, which he called “a tougher place for pitchers.” He then went on to talk about the White Sox having the 28th Defensive Efficiency Ratio, which when compared to the defense of San Francisco, cannot be glossed over.

Doran elected to disregard the speculation about pitch-tipping, because he felt that it was impossible for all of the other clubs to be aware of it, without the Sox also having that information. It’s just too hard to keep something like that under a team’s radar because bad news travels faster than an Aroldis Chapman fastball.

What he thought more likely to have contributed to 2015’s shaky season, was the fact that Samardzija doubled the use of his cutter, while simultaneously reducing the number of times he used his sinker. The results played havoc with his career stats and the Giants were astute enough to be able to make that observation and draw their own conclusions.

With one of the best pitching coaches in baseball, in Dave Righetti, the Giants felt certain that they could get Samardzija back on the winning track. One-fourth of the season does not a full year make, but at least the issues that plagued The Shark last season, have not reared their ugly heads so far and bitten him in the backside.

In fact the combined stellar starts of all three of the rotation’s top pitchers, including Madison Bumgarner (4-2, 2.72 ERA) and Johnny Cueto (5-1, 2.97 ERA) have given manager Bruce Bochy a little more rope, when it comes to not hanging himself on the decision to stick with Jake Peavy and Matt Cain.

Both pitchers are gaining confidence and throwing better than they have at any time so far this season. Peavy’s effort Saturday night in Arizona, was his best start of the season, and that followed Cain’s last start against the Toronto Blue Jays, also his best effort, even if it was in a losing effort.
Better to encounter technical difficulties early in the season, while there is still plenty of time to correct them, than to find out too late that the ship has sprung a leak.

By then it may turn out necessary to spend so much time bailing out water, that it results in abandoning ship, which means missing the playoffs.

The Giants cannot afford to do that because they have an engagement with the Chicago Cubs, one which will determine the National League Pennant winner.

As it is, Peavy and Cain will get the opportunity to face the Cubs in the upcoming series beginning this coming Friday, at AT&T Park. I like the fact that San Francisco will first confront the Cubs with the fourth and fifth members of their rotation, because if they can succeed with the lower end, imagine how well they could be expected to do with the upper end.

And if the Giants cannot compete, then they can consider going back to the drawing board.
Until then, keep that drawing board locked up and throw away the key, because the key is pitching and both Cain and Peavy have been infused with a coating of graphite.
Hopefully, they’ll use it to unlock the mysteries of how to stop the Cubs’ offense.
@bellspringsmark