Clayton Blackburn: pitching with a purpose

San Jose’s Clayton Blackburn has been on a lot of fans’ radar recently. The 20-year-old righty, known for an overpowering curveball, was recently named the California League Pitcher of the Week.

Clayton Blackburn tells you to deal with it. (Jen Mac Ramos)

Clayton Blackburn tells you to deal with it. (Jen Mac Ramos)

For Blackburn, a rough start to the second half has only lead to adjustments — ones that have helped him in his outings. His first start in the second half was at Stockton’s Banner Island Ballpark, a very hitter-friendly place, lasting only 3.2 innings and giving up eight runs, of which only six were earned. After working with San Jose’s pitching coach, Mike Couchee, Blackburn has been pitching at least six innings in his outings.

“I’d say they put a big focus on pitching [in San Jose],” Blackburn said. “They’re really focusing on us developing as guys that can pitch in tough places.” Continue reading

Tim Lincecum, the no-hit freak

No, it’s not 2008. Not 2009 for that matter, either. It’s 2013 — not exactly the best year for Timmy, let alone a good year for the Giants.

(Photo by -nanio-/Flickr)

(Photo by -nanio-/Flickr)

To explain the feeling a Giants fan might have after a game like this is tough. I know I certainly can’t explain it. Too many adjectives, too many incoherent thoughts. I can tell you it was surreal to be in the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (a Dodgers affiliate, no less) press box, watching Carlos Marmol try to close out the game for the Quakes against the Bakersfield Blaze whilst trying to watch the last three outs on my phone. (Baseball feelings, man; it’s certainly something. S’all I got to say about that experience.)

From the minute he made his debut in a Giants uniform, it seemed inevitable that Lincecum would throw a no-hitter. 2008 and 2009 went by, two Cy Youngs were won, and he flirted with no-hitters a few times to no avail. 2010, still a solid season, but no such luck; though there was more hardware in the form of a World Series ring and a trophy for the team. Continue reading

Why the Jeff Francoeur deal is pretty good in an awful way

No-hit.

Losing streak.

Batting out of lineup order.

Losing in 16 innings because of an error.

What else could possibly go wr—

Oh, hey, Jeff Francoeur, what up.

I am happy about this. Almost unironically. Can I explain it? No, not really. He’s an awful player. As it turns out, the Giants are pretty bad, too.

How does this help the Giants? Honestly, I don’t think it helps them at all. It’s not an upgrade, really. There’s really no reason to acquire a Jeff Francoeur-type, let alone the actual Jeff Francoeur.

Except for one. Continue reading

Kyle Crick returns from the disabled list

On Friday night, San Jose Giants starter Kyle Crick made his first start after nearly two months on the disabled list.

Kyle Crick pitches against the Stockton Ports. (Jen Mac Ramos)

Kyle Crick pitches against the Stockton Ports. (Jen Mac Ramos)

Though his pitch count was limited, he struck out 10 in four innings of work, walking three and only giving up three hits.

“It felt good,” Crick said of his outing. “Had a good command for the zone.”

Crick’s last start before his stint on the DL was Apr. 18 before being sidelined with an oblique injury.

After his Jun. 21 start, Crick said that his oblique was okay and that his arm was fresh.

The radar gun at Banner Island Ballpark had read his fastball velocity touching the mid-90s at times, with his curveball being at around 78 MPH.

“I felt it was on,” Crick said. “I had it down in the zone, didn’t leave too many up. As long as I can do that, I can get some people out.”

Though his first start back was a success, improvement doesn’t stop there for the top prospect. Crick said he feels that he can always get better with his pitches, namely a changeup he has been working on since last year. Continue reading

Edwin Escobar the All-Star

For San Jose Giants lefty Edwin Escobar, the chance to represent the team as they host the annual California-Carolina League All-Star Game was a good feeling for him.

“It’s a blessing for me,” Escobar said.

The Giants, coming off a series split in Visalia, where they clinched the first half division championship, are ensured a spot in the California League playoffs this September.

“I feel like we deserve that,” Escobar said. “We came here every day working hard trying to do the best we can competing for the championship.”

Escobar said that the team has been working hard in the first half and hopes that it transposes to the second half.

“It’s a good feeling,” Escobar said. “We’ve got a great team, a good family team. We compete, we’re working hard. I feel pretty good representing this team.”

With the All-Star Break in its tail end and the second half about to start, the Giants are regaining their energy by resting before the next series.

“I think we’re gonna do the best we can,” Escobar said.

San Jose Giants clinch First Half Division Championship

San Jose clinches. (Jen Mac Ramos)

San Jose clinches. (Jen Mac Ramos)

San Jose Giants at Visalia Rawhide started out with an Eric Surkamp rehab start.

I’m trying to think of more things to say about Surkamp’s start, but it was hard to really focus when you’re sitting behind home plate in the first row of the grandstand level, right where there’s a walkway and people wouldn’t sit down. I could tell that Surkamp will still need some more time rehabbing, since his 3 1/3 innings of work is the longest he’s gone since returning to pitching.

In terms of control and velocity? I can’t tell you a thing. I couldn’t see a radar anywhere in the ballpark — unless I were to look at the radar guns that were being used for charting pitches — so that, in itself, was kinda tough.

The San Jose Giants eventually got the win in 10 innings, when Visalia’s Sean Jamieson couldn’t get a grounder that took a bad hop, allowing Chris Lofton to score. All-Star Josh Osich closed the game out, ensuring the first-half division championship for the Giants.

And I do not want to hear another cowbell again.

Tales From a Giant: Ty Blach

Ty Blach, the San Francisco Giants’ fifth round pick in 2012, kicked off his first full year in pro ball with the San Jose Giants, San Francisco’s high-A affiliate. The strike-throwing lefty has been experiencing success, posting a 2.73 ERA and 2.21 FIP in nine games started.

In 52.2 innings pitched, Blach has struck out 48 and only given up five walks. Having good control and throwing strikes has been a key to his success.

“One of the things I always pride myself on is throwing a lot of strikes and getting ahead of hitters,” Blach said. “It just comes from executing strike one and executing every pitch one at a time.”

Blach tries not to get ahead of himself and believes that as long as he throws the strikes, the outs will come. Continue reading

San Jose Giants fail to imitate San Francisco Giants

On a night where the San Francisco Giants win on a walkoff fashion against the Los Angeles Dodgers about 50 miles north, the San Jose Giants couldn’t say they did the same against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the Dodgers’ High-A affiliate.

A warm night at Municipal Stadium — perfect for comical baseball. (Jen Mac Ramos)

A warm night at Municipal Stadium — perfect for comical baseball. (Jen Mac Ramos)

To say that the game began smoothly would be irony. Base hits and errors littered the field through the first three innings with the Giants on defense. Though only two of the runs were charged to San Jose starter Adalberto Mejia, they quickly trailed the Quakes and weren’t able to recover. Continue reading