Thursday, May 21, 2015

The shutout sweep of the Dodgers

I'm floored -- three straight games in the San Francisco against the dodgers -- three straight shutouts. 

Here's a bottom line for you -- Clayton Kershaw is no longer an MVP-type player. We'll let the True Blue blog describe it --


Cruel sadist Madison Bumgarner kept the Dodgers' bats on ice, and at the plate the Giants ace homered against Clayton Kershaw in a 4-0 San Francisco win and a scoreless sweep at AT&T Park.

The Dodgers were shutout in all three losses to the Giants, the second scoreless sweep in San Francisco in four years, the first since June 25-27, 2012. Three straight shutouts ties the Dodgers record, dating back to 1914, which has been done four other times: 1937, 1962, 1966 and 2007.

The club's offensive futility, which has reached 31 consecutive innings without a run, even made Vin Scully think twice after keeping tabs on the scoreless streak with each passing frame.

"The Dodgers," Scully began, sending the game to commercial in the middle of the third inning, before pausing, "I'm not going to bother doing it anymore. It will only wear you out."

The Dodgers have scored two runs in their last five games, tied for the lowest-scoring five-game stretch in franchise history. The club also scored two runs in five games in 1984, 1992, and twice in 2012, though those two streaks three years ago saw four games overlap.
On Thursday afternoon, the Dodgers' story was the same old song and dance, with the Dodgers giving themselves a few chances. They actually had nine runners reach base against Bumgarner, and ran up his pitch count enough to get pulled with one out in the seventh inning. But the club couldn't cash anyone in.

The Dodgers were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position on Thursday, and were 0-for-17 with runers in scoring position in the series. They are 1-for-32 with RISP at AT&T Park this season, which has coincided with six Dodgers losses in six games.
San Francisco scored the run they needed in the third inning, when 2014 National League Silver Slugger award winner Bumgarner took Kershaw deep to left. Opposing pitchers had hit .093/.141/.105 in 410 career plate appearances against Kershaw entering Thursday, with four doubles as the only extra-base hits.

Kershaw for his part was fine, even including the home run allowed to Bumgarner. Kershaw struck out seven and pitched 7⅓ innings, matching his longest start of the season. He left allowing two runs, but also left runners on first and second base with one out.
Naturally, both scored, giving the Giants a 4-0 lead that might as well have been 20-0.
Kershaw this season has left a total of eight runners on base when departing his starts, and five have scored, with only the bacon-saving Pedro Baez strikeout of Troy Tulowitzki with the bases loaded on May 10 in Colorado not smudging Kershaw's ledger.
In 2014, Kershaw only bequeathed three runners all season, and one scored. He also left a start mid-inning only twice all season, including never in his final 23 regular season starts. This year, Kershaw has left mid-inning in five of his nine starts, including each of the last four starts.

"A glorious night"

Chris Haft of said that about the 4-0 buttkick of the dodgers tonight...

 When Bruce Bochy said that Tim Lincecum had "a lot of confidence and swagger right now," that wasn't a clip from the archives. The Giants' manager made that remark Wednesday, on a glorious night for the Giants.
They watched Lincecum awaken echoes of the past, albeit without his once-dazzling fastball, as he allowed three hits in seven innings to hasten the Giants' second straight shutout of the Dodgers, this time by a 4-0 score.

Lincecum's results recalled his prodigious accomplishments of yesteryear. He won his fourth consecutive game at home, a streak he last sustained from July 4-Aug. 1, 2009. That happened to be the second year of Lincecum's two-year reign as National League Cy Young Award winner. Lincecum also lengthened his streak of consecutive scoreless innings at AT&T Park to 22, helping him reduce his overall ERA to 2.08. That's his lowest figure after eight starts since 2010 (1.76).
But, as most observers realize by now, Lincecum relies more on location and guile and less on sheer, overpowering stuff. Having weathered the trials of the previous three seasons, when he compiled a 32-38 record and a 4.76 ERA, Lincecum has remained calm throughout his renaissance. He's happy, but he's also resisting the temptation to get carried away.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"Giants 2, Dodgers Nothing"

That's how Dave Flemming said it tonight. The ptichers shut the dodgers down. They are still the highest scoring team in MLB but have scored two runs in the last 3 games - portending a total collapse, we hope.

we can hope that the dodgers continue to play like idiots, per this snippet from the story --

The Dodgers are only 9-for-23 in attempted steals after Scott Van Slyke was caught jumping the gun on what was apparently a two-out hit-and-run on an 0-2 pitch to Andre Ethier, ending the eighth inning. Van Slyke broke when Giants reliever Sergio Romo made a pick-off throw, and first baseman Belt nailed Van Slyke at second.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Casey at the bat for the Giants

A fine bit of reporting and writing in "Joy in Mudville" by Frank Johnson of the Hardball Times, focusing on Casey Stengel the player -- who hit his heights in the 1923 World Series between the Giants and the Yankees. Here's part -- 

Since Stengel made so much World Series history as a manager at Yankee Stadium, it is fitting that he was there at the beginning as a player. In fact, he was the first man to hit a World Series homer there (Joe Bush went into the books the first pitcher to give up a postseason home run there). Stengel’s Game One four-bagger was also the first postseason inside-the-park home run at the Stadium. Since it broke a 4-4- tie in the top of the ninth inning (and the Yankees did not score in the bottom of the inning), it was a true game-winner.
The sight of the aging, gimpy Stengel chugging around the bases after his long drive to left-center inspired memorable descriptions from a number of sportswriters. According to legend, his shoe came off as he was rounding the bases. This has never been verified, but it certainly sounds Stengelesque.
Figuring Casey was winded, John McGraw took him out of the game and replaced him with Bill Cunningham in the bottom of the ninth. Given Stengel’s age and injuries, it is surprising that he was the Giants’ center fielder, especially in such cavernous ballparks as Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds. But his original position, right field, was owned by Ross Youngs, whose credentials were good enough to garner him a plaque in Cooperstown despite a premature death, and left field was manned by the capable Irish Meusel. So Casey was the center fielder by default, no matter his physical faults.
Since left-hander Herb Pennock started for the Yankees in Game Two (a Yankees victory), Stengel did not play. But in Game Three, he lined a conventional home run to right field – the first “outta here” World Series home run (served up by Sam Jones) at Yankee Stadium. This seventh-inning circuit clout was less dramatic than his Game One homer, but since the solo shot accounted for the only run of the game, the Giants likely thought it was a thing of beauty.
Giants fans would find little to cheer about the rest of the way, however. In fact, Stengel just might have jinxed his teammates. He blew a kiss and thumbed his nose at the Yankees while he was in his home run trot – a luxury he did not enjoy while circling the bases on his first home run.

Assessing a Barry Bonds grievance

Barry Bonds haters have unloaded on him for having the temerity to consider filing a collusion grievance.

I am constantly amazed -- though I should not be -- about how eager many people are to defend the rights of billionaires to trample over everyone else.

Fangraphs Nathaniel Grow has an unemotional assessment of how a Barry Bonds collusion grievance would play out. It sounds as if a lot of this will depend on what kind of evidence the MLBPA has come across in the last 7 years...

So if Bonds does choose to file a grievance, he will have to prove that two or more MLB teams reached an agreement not to sign him for the 2008 season. In contrast, MLB will argue that there was no agreement among its teams to drive Bonds out of baseball, but instead that each of its 30 teams individually decided not to offer him a contract, with each club acting independently of one another.
Notably, the MLBPA has never publicly revealed what sort of evidence it uncovered back in 2008 relating to MLB’s alleged collusion. It is possible, for instance, that the union found some sort of memorandum circulated among MLB teams explicitly stating – or, at least, implicitly suggesting – that teams should not sign Bonds to a new contract. Alternatively, the union may instead be planning to rely on more circumstantial evidence of collusion, emphasizing the mysterious circumstances surrounding Bonds’ inability to procure an offer for 2008. Indeed, one would usually expect that the reigning National League on-base percentage leader would receive at least one contract offer for the following season, especially after he publicly stated that he was willing to sign a contract for the league minimum salary.
This is the sort of evidence that helped the MLBPA win its initial collusion grievance case against MLB back in the 1980s, for example. The MLBPA alleged that MLB teams had agreed not to compete for the services of each others’ free agents following the 1985 season. The union’s allegations were not only based on the fact that only a single free agent – Carlton Fisk – had received an offer from a new team that off-season, but also on a memorandum circulated among MLB teams urging clubs to “exercise more self-discipline in making their operating decisions and to resist the temptation to give in to the unreasonable demands of experienced marginal players.” This evidence ultimately convinced an arbitrator to rule that the MLB franchises had improperly colluded in violation of the CBA. (The MLBPA would subsequently win two more grievances for similar collusion by MLB teams following the 1986 and 1987 seasons as well.)

Here's one response to someone who argued that teams didn't want to sign Barry because he was a "clubhouse cancer" --

What does that even mean? “Clubhouse cancer” seems to be something sportswriters say about players they don’t like. He didn’t get along with Jeff Kent, apparently. Who did?
The only things I know about Barry Bonds are what I’ve read by sportswriters. Filtering for that, I really don’t know much about him at all.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Belt belting

Three HRs in three days. Not bad.

Unfortunately, it was Chris Heston's worst outing of the year. Here's the top of the story ....

  Using home runs from Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence and three RBIs from Nori Aoki, the Giants outlasted the Reds for a wild 9-8 win on Sunday to claim three of four games in the series. San Francisco scored 30 runs over the three straight wins.
There were a combined 28 hits in the game, with every Giants starting position player notching at least one hit and every Reds starter in the field but Zack Cozart getting a hit.
The Giants took early leads of 4-0 through two innings and 6-1 after the third. In the second against Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani, San Francisco sent nine to the plate with five hits and four runs -- including Aoki's two-run single. Pence hit a two-run homer in the top of the third inning, his first of the season following Saturday's return from the disabled list. DeSclafani finished with a season-high six earned runs and six hits allowed over a season-low three innings.
Cincinnati scored a run in the second inning and provided its own nine-batter rally in the bottom of the third against Chris Heston, scoring four runs on four hits. Heston was pulled six batters into the inning without retiring a batter and had his shortest outing of 2015.

Pence returns, Giants score 11

It's the first time they've scored 11 since Game 4 of the World Series.

Hunter Pence is back and bringing the offense with him. 

Here's part of Andrew Baggarly's coverage  for the Mercury News --

The Giants inched a game over .500, their 15-8 record is the best among N.L. teams since April 21 and they clinched no worse than an even record on a trip to Houston and Cincinnati in which they've set a season high for runs three times in a five-game span.
The difference this time: Pence was right in the middle of it. According to announcer Jon Miller, Pence texted Giants manager Bruce Bochy earlier in the week from Las Vegas, where he was getting at-bats on a minor league rehab assignment, with words to the effect of, "I am a ridiculous weapon right now. IT'S TIME."
When he arrived in the clubhouse Saturday morning, Pence calmly told the gathered reporters: "I feel extremely strong and extremely fast and the wrist feels healthy. So yeah. I feel my potential is very strong to come help us."

Saturday, May 16, 2015

10 runs for the Orange and Black

Despite the presence of Casey McGehee in the lineup, the Giants scored 10 runs for the first time since Game 4 of the World Series

Fittingly, it happened last night with Brandon Belt getting his first HR of 2015.  

Here's part of the story --

"I'm proud of the guys," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, whose team came into Friday having scored the second-fewest runs in the National League. "They showed they can break out of it, put some big runs on the board and have some big innings."
Bumgarner finished with two earned runs on eight hits over his seven innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out four.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Barry Bonds update - kids and collustion

Barry Bonds has filed a collusion grievance against MLB for the failure of the 30 teams to sign him in the wake of a promise that he'd be willing to play for the union minimum of $390,000. I'm not a lawyer but this seems pretty clear cut. Players who have done far worse things than Bonds -- allegedly lying about PEDs -- with far less talent have been signed againand again.

It's set off the usual round of "Barry = Satan" declarations by the Bonds haters, who will always hate him no matter what.

Has it occurred to anyone that he is standing up for employee rights not getting trampled by billionaires? I guess not.

I'm pleased to report that Barry's making an effort to be a respectable citizen. Per the SF Chronicle, he's opening a three-day baseball instruction camp next month for kids 10 to 14.

Well, that's my 2 cents

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Heston "superb" as McGehee sits

That's right -- a complete game 2-hitter for Chris Heston as Matt Duffy drove in 5 runs as the starting third baseman.

McGehee got benched again. Send to Sacramento, please. Maybe he can find his stroke in the PCL.

Duffy now has 15 RBIs. He's tied with Maxwell for second-highest on the team. Crawford has 17.

 Here's the recap --

HOUSTON -- Matt Duffy drove in a career-high five runs with a three-run double in the second inning and a two-run single in the fifth to lead the Giants to an 8-1 rout of the Astros in an Interleague matchup Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.
Astros starter Collin McHugh (4-1) saw his 11-game winning streak come to an end when he lasted just 4 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs (three earned) and seven hits. The Giants scored five times in the fifth to take a seven-run lead, including a two-out infield single by Justin Maxwell on a play that may have ended the inning scoreless had shortstop Marwin Gonzalez not made an errant throw to second.
Giants starter Chris Heston (3-3), facing the Astros for the first time in his career, handcuffed the struggling Houston offense in his first career complete game, allowing two hits and one run on a second-inning homer by catcher Jason Castro. Heston notched a career-best 10 strikeouts and retired the final 22 batters he faced.