World Series Recap: Pablo! Pablo! Barry! Barry!

Pablo Sandoval’s all like “SORRY ‘BOUT IT.” (Jen Mac Ramos)

And so the narrative went: Barry Zito going up against Justin Verlander? None chance. No way would the Giants win here.

But Pablo Sandoval happened. Along with the rest of the Giants offense. They chased Verlander out of the game after four innings and 98 pitches.

Zito, though? He went five and two-thirds, giving up only a run. One walk, three strikeouts.

And that was the new narrative they were building for themselves. Continue reading

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Giants Show That They Are Not The MLB Mystery Team

As reported by Andrew Baggarly, the Giants are out of the running to sign Carlos Beltran. Cody Ross, as well. Though it seemed like a long shot for either to come back, Zack Wheeler is likely still a chilled guy.

Now the organization will have to decide between keeping Jeff Keppinger or Mike Fontenot. On one hand, Keppinger is still Keppinger and Fontenot is on a mission to return the ring to Mordor with his pal Samwise Gamgee.

John Shea reports that the payroll is at $130 million. As Baggarly tweeted, the payroll is already maxed out.

How the rest of the offseason will play out for the Giants will be interesting. However, the #FreeBrandonBelt hashtag will likely have to make a comeback.

A Look Back: Kevin Mitchell, 1989 MVP

1989 stands out for Giants fans for obvious reasons (the earthquake-affected World Series sweep by the A’s, in particular – ouch). But for me, the highlight of 1989 was Kevin Mitchell’s amazing MVP performance. And also his infamous barehanded catch of Ozzie Smith’s fly ball.

Before there was Barry Bonds in left field, there was Kevin Mitchell. And Kevin Mitchell could hit. Finishing the season with 47 HRs (at least one against every national league team), a .291 batting average (slugging .635) and an eye-popping 1.023 OPS, Mitchell received 20 of 24 1st place MVP votes in 1989 (Will Clark took three 1st place votes; how selfish).

Compare that to the various players who manned left field for the Giants in 2011. Aaron Rowand was laughable, with his .170 BA and OPS of .457 (seriously, what was that?) while playing LF. Brandon Belt, Cody Ross and Pat Burrell covered an OPS range of .706 to .791 in LF, with nearly identical batting averages hovering around .240 – not quite as horrible as Rowand (I mean SERIOUSLY – why did that guy ever play last year?), but not exactly electric. And nowhere near Mitchell’s BA/OPS of .291/1.023.

And then, of course, there is that barehanded catch on April 26, 1989. Watch this video starting at about the 0:26 mark. If you saw it then, you can’t help but remember it. Go ahead, watch it again. It’s fun.

Add it all together, and it was a hell of a season from a hell of a player. On a team with a bunch of great players that year, Mitchell remains my favorite Giant from 1989. Who was yours?

Post-game Recap: Giants out-Padre the Padres

The Giants’ Eric Surkamp made his third big-league start for the Giants, coming in to face the Padres with a record of 1-1, 3.27 ERA, and 1.36 WHIP. Surkamp pitched just 5 2/3 innings, allowing 7 hits and 3 runs (only 2 earned), with no strikeouts (!), which was just enough for him to get the win as the Giants take the first game of the series 8-3.

Key to the Giants’ win was Carlos Beltran’s first inning two-run HR to right field over the arcade seats. That gave the Giants a lead they never relinquished.

The Giants scored another 2 runs in the 3rd, on a Cody Ross solo HR and an Aubrey Huff single that scored Jeff Keppinger (who are these guys and where were they a month ago?).

The Padres had the makings of a comeback in the 6th inning, when they managed to get eleventy hits with 2 outs, scoring two and threatening to score more off of Steve Edlefsen, who gave up 2 hits and a walk without recording an out. Dan Runzler came in to get the elusive third out, saving the Giants’ (and Edlefsen’s) bacon.

The Giants blew the game open in the 7th inning. Beginning modestly with Andres Torres sliding under Nick Hundley’s tag to score on Ross’ single and ending with Pablo Sandoval’s 3-run HR to left field, the Giants took a definitive 8-3 lead and held on to it for the final score.

The Padres made a little noise in the 8th, but an incredible Burriss-Crawford*-Huff double play ended the inning without allowing a Padre run.

*I don’t care if Brandon Crawford never gets another hit for the rest of the season – his defense alone is worth him being in the line-up every day.

Sergio Romo closed out the game spectacularly, pitching 1 2/3 innings without allowing a hit and extending his current NL-leading scoreless streak to 17.1 innings.

And also: by winning tonight, the Giants guarantee winning the season series against the Padres (currently up 10-6 with two more to play). So there’s that.

And also also: it continues to suck to be Brandon Belt. Belt was taken out as part of a double switch in the 7th inning. I suppose the Giants could still be conserving Belt’s energy for winter Dominican ball.

Tomorrow: Cory Luebke (5-9, 3.28) faces Matt Cain (11-10, 2. 84).

The Force Was Weak With The Giants

Carlos Beltran walks back to his spot in right field, in a fashion most Giants fans would walk today. (Photo by Mac)

This was not a game the Giants would like to remember.

Rather, this is one that they hope had never happened, especially against the Diamondbacks.

Ryan Vogelsong pitched a gem, going 7 and 1/3 innings while giving up 5 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, and struck out 6.

It was everything one could ask for from a guy who people didn’t expect to be this good.

Except, there was the problem of the offense. The sole run came on a Cody Ross home run in the first inning. The rest of the offense only mustered up 2 hits and 1 walk. And despite a 16 pitch at-bat by Brandon Belt (SIXTEEN!!!), the talented rookie went hitless.

If the 1-0 lead had held up, the Force would have been strong with the struggling Giants.

There was a try, and boy, did they try. However, it wasn’t enough. Not, they did.

Continue reading

And The Wheels Jump Off: Giants Comeback Amidst Injury Plague, But Fall

Jonathan Sanchez was another target of the injury bug going around. He left in the third inning and was reported to have a left ankle sprain. The bullpen took over from there and pitched beautifully.

The offense, on the other hand. Let’s consider the fact that they were no-hit for 6+ innings. Any other day, that could be frustrating. But with Aubrey Huff, Miguel Tejada, and Orlando Cabrera all in the lineup, there was little hope at all that there would be runs scored. However, Cody Ross went and proved that wrong and hit a solo home run in the top of the 7th inning.

Of course, that wound up being the run that tied the game and the only run the Giants would score.

There was also the defense. You would think that the Giants would pretend to be Oprah and just keep handing the game to the Braves because of endless errors, but no, that wasn’t the case. Huff made an amazing running catch in left field, Brandon Belt threw Freddie Freeman out trying to extend a base hit, and a nice double play turned by Cabrera.

The game ended in 11, with Brooks Conrad scoring the winning run. You know that guy. The Brooks Conrad. Yep, that one.

Baseball. You gotta love it. And then things like these happen and you wanna take a bat to a Gatorade cooler. Then there’s a new game the next day.

Giants Score Runs, Actually Win. Also: Tim Lincecum.

Tim Lincecum.

Again, Tim Lincecum.

The team’s beloved ace pitched like, well, his title and went 7.0 innings. Lincecum gave up 2 hits, walked 3, and struck out 10. 0 runs were given up. The Freak is good, perhaps even great.

Then, it was up to the offense to try and score runs. And with the way the offense has been as of late, that was a tough thing to have hope in.

And would you look at that? They actually did! Jeff Keppinger hit a solo home run in the first inning. In the top of the fifth inning, Nate Schierholtz led off with a double, advancing to 3B on an error by Logan Morrison. Schierholtz wound up scoring on a wild pitch one out later, with Aaron Rowand at bat.

The third run scored in the top of the sixth, with two out. Cody Ross had led off the inning with a single, then advanced to 2B on a wild pitch. It looked as though Ross was going to be another RISP stranded. But fear not, as … Aubrey Huff hit a double to drive in the run and ensuring that the newly called up (again) Brandon Belt will sit on the bench for yet another day.

In closing, Tim Lincecum.

Giants Take Sole Possession Of First Place As Runs Magically Appear

With the chance of the Giants’ losing streak reaching six games, Ryan Vogelsong and the team set out to stop this chance. Again.

It looked promising this time, however, with the offense scoring four runs in the bottom of the third. Four runs on four straight singles, an error, and a force out. Off of Jason Marquis, who has been known to own the Giants from time to time. Or all the time. So this scoring runs off of Marquis is a new and nice thing.

Then, in the fifth inning, there were four more runs scored. Marquis departed before the final two runs were scored, but both were charged to him. But nothing like the attack of a Pablo Sandoval single, Carlos Beltran single, Orlando Cabrera (what?) double, Aubrey Huff (double WHAT?) single, and Cody Ross double doing the trick. And there it was — an 8-0 lead in the fifth and what a sight it was.

Vogelsong struggled with his command early and continued to have those problems. He walked three and hit two batters in 6+ innings, however, he managed to get through those jams. He struck out seven and only gave up one run. His final line would be 6+ IP/5 H/1 ER/3 BB/7 SO. He lowered his ERA to a nice and shiny 2.19.

And that would be the end of that despicable losing streak, with the Giants somehow managing to be at the top of the NL West once again.

Vogelsong, Defense Best The Dodgers In A True Laugher

Ryan Vogelsong began the game with two perfect innings, before two batters reached in the third via a walk and an error. That error proved to be costly as Miguel Tejada was taken out of the game because a lower abdominal strain. Brandon Crawford took Tejada’s place in the lineup and no later than one inning after entering the game, he turned a double play that prevented the Dodgers from scoring a run.

The offense was quiet for the first three innings, showing no life and stranding runners in scoring position. However, Pablo Sandoval broke the nil-nil tie in the fourth with a beautiful home run to right center field. Following that sample flash of what could be an offense, a two-out single by Cody Ross was left stranded on base.

Though not as sharp as most would hope, Vogelsong battled through the baserunners and pitching from the stretch to get the outs. The Houdini act Vogelsong pulled can also be attributed to the infield defense, turning key double plays to get out of jams.

Continue reading

Post-game Recap: Hey, Look, The Giants Win!

The Reds got out to a 2-0 lead in the 4th inning, quickly making Giants fans feel like it was going to be one of those games. You know, the ones where you feel like instead of just being down by 2 runs, you’re really down by 70 or some high number up there.

Jonathan Sanchez was wild as always, not helping the case. He walked 5 and struck out 5 in 6 innings pitched. However, as it would turn out, those 2 runs would be the only runs he gives up for the night.

The Giants found their offense briefly, being able to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the 4th inning thanks to a Nate Schierholtz single and an Aubrey Huff (GASP!) double.

They tied the game up in the bottom of the 6th with a classic ground attack:

  1. A walk from Schierholtz.
  2. A line drive single from Huff advanced Schierholtz to 3B.
  3. A grounder to short resulting in a force out. Schierholtz scored on the play, Huff was out at 2B, and Cody Ross — the man who hit the grounder to short — was safe at 1B.

In the bottom of the 7th, the Giants looked as if they actually have a competent offense. Chris Stewart led off the inning with a walk. Pat Burrell (yes, he’s still found to exist) struck out, but Andres Torres followed that at-bat up with a double. Then, in a move that cannot really be explained, Miguel Tejada was walked intentionally to load the bases.

After a pitching change, Schierholtz hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Stewart from 3B. Huff followed that up with a base hit that scored Torres.

Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo, and Brian Wilson came in to pitch 2 scoreless innings to preserve the win for the Giants.