Friday, June 19, 2015

Come 11

The San Francisco Giants behind starter Ryan Vogelsong won their league-leading 11th shutout of the season in Seattle Thursday, while Gerritt Cole won his majors-leading 11th victory as the Pittsburgh Pirates swept the Chicago White Sox.  It was the Pirates' eighth straight victory.

But the disquieting aspect of the Giants season is they get shut out almost as often as they shut out others.  That was the case on Wednesday night when they wasted a stellar Bumgarden start with a 1-0 loss, though against the best pitcher in the American League.

The Giants bats woke up against a rookie pitcher on Thursday, with Matt Duffy's triple the most dramatic of their hits.  If you don't count Brandon Belt's monumental not-home run that the wind blew back from deep center field.  Duffy and Panik remain the guys you'd go to see play regardless.

So the Giants split their 4 games with Seattle, and remain 2.5 behind the Dodgers.  They now head to LA.

A feature of the two games in Seattle was the conspicuous presence of thousands of Giants fans in the stands.  They chanted, they cheered, they were the crowd sound on the radio.  Amazing.

Injured Giants are starting to return.  Blanco comes back Friday, Peavy is in the wings with Cain so far looking like he'll come soon after.  I don't have the patience to go through all the teams in those evaluations of which team needs what, but the Giants are going to have to make some decisions regarding pitchers, and I've got no answers.  The outfield gets healed when Hunter Pence does.  They could use a utility infielder with some hitting.  So far they've shown admirable patience with McGehee but he's not producing. The other night when he came up with men on base again, I wonder if he had the same thought as I did--with two outs at least he can't hit into a double play. Maybe that relaxed him, because he hit a double.

 A number of the Giants are streaky, including Posey, Belt and Pagan.  Others are still question marks, like Justin Maxwell.  McG just doesn't seem to be working out.  Unless they don't have a prospect ready, he's an obvious roster move.  But that's easy for me to say.  I don't even know the guy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Happy Warriors

Game 6 of the NBA finals went pretty much as I expected, at least in general.  There were the coaching chess games, as Cleveland went big again and tried to deny Steph Curry his outside shot, but Curry is also a court general and when the time came he hit the dagger 3s.  Golden State seized the initiative early, weathered some LeBron runs and hit the fourth quarter shots that put it away.  Golden State Warriors are NBA champs, not even thinkable for a long time but this was their year.

Andre Igudala who started the last three games won the MVP, but though he played big and was a catalyst, his insertion was only part of the Warriors figuring out how to beat Cleveland.  Once they figured it out in game 4 and executed in 5 and 6, they could win just about every game against the injury-depleted Cavs, and I'll bet James knew it.

The Warriors like the Giants are a likable team with personable and generous players, and so are a great fit for the Bay Area.  They've got a future as contenders for a nice long stretch.  Nothing will make me like Cleveland, but they are likely to be back in the hunt next year.

Meanwhile the Giants had a day game and won it, breaking their losing and home losing streaks.  Matt Duffy homered with authority, and a couple of Giants who needed hits and RBIs got them (McGehee and Pagan), though the woeful Mariners outfield helped more than a little.  Now the series moves to Seattle.  The Giants really should win both of the remaining games--their slump made Arizona and Seattle much better than they are.  Then they get the Dodgers in LA, though neither team is throwing their best pitchers at each other, and then to another woeful team in San Diego.

The Pirates followed their 1-0 extra innings gem with an 11-0 rout and a 3-0 shutout (that's 3 shutouts in a row if you're counting) against the White Sox.

Monday, June 15, 2015


The exciting game on Sunday was the Golden State Warriors beating Cleveland in game 5 of the NBA finals.  As I predicted they lost game 3 and won game 4 big, and by winning game 5 they're in the driver's seat.  Steph Curry had a monster game to match James and exceed him in timing his dazzling highlight shots.  The Warriors are not intimidated anymore if they ever were.  They can deal with Cleveland's bullies and Curry isn't cowed by James.

The Warriors surprised the Cavs in game 4 by going with a smaller lineup.  They did it again in game 5 and the Cavs tried to offset it by going small themselves.  But it didn't work.  They've lost big and small.  Still, I believe Bogut will have some important moments (and minutes) for GS before it's over.

While complimenting Curry, James said he wasn't worried because he himself is the greatest player in the world.  That of course is what's wrong.  He's as close to a one man show as anyone has ever been in the finals, and it's not enough.  Curry has a strong team and a strong coach who--even though this is his first year coaching--has won championships as a player.  I wouldn't be surprised if game 6 is a virtual rerun of 5, with the Cavs staying close or even slightly ahead for much of the game but unable to sustain in the fourth quarter.  The only fly in the ointment possibly is Steph Curry suffering from dehydration effects in the short turnaround for Tuesday.  If both he and James are worn out it could be an ugly game.  Still, chances are it's Golden State in six.  Right now they are the better team.

By contrast, the San Francisco Giants are doing their Mr. Hyde at home act.  That road trip and redeye flight home after a night game with the Mets (which they lost) must have really done them in, as they can't hit or score, and Sunday they couldn't field either.  They were swept in another home series, and have lost 8 in a row at home.

But on happier matters, you'd think that two players with absurdly perfect baseball names--like power hitter Brandon Belt and second baseman Joe Panik--would be enough for any one team.  (Matt Duffy isn't a bad baseball name either.)  But now the Giants brought up a relief pitcher named Mike Broadway.  Another hard thrower in the bullpen, at least for awhile.

Stories Sunday said the Giants are scouting a Reds starting pitcher.  This while Cain and Peavy are warming up in the minors.  Seems a bit odd.  Vogelsong seems most likely to lose his spot in the rotation if one of them comes back, but if both do, is there room for anyone else?

Hitting into two rally-killing double plays on Sunday may have finally doomed Casey McGehee.  He was given a chance to get his hitting back in the minors, did well there, but hasn't done much but make big outs since he's been back.

Sunday also showed Bochy that Justin Maxwell can't play center field.  He not only muffed a routine fly for a run, the substitute radio announcing team suggested the double over his head that scored two runs earlier may have been catchable.  Unfortunately two outfielders, Pence and Blanco are DL.  The team brought up outfielder Jarrett Parker who got his first major league hit Sunday.  Which was about the only thing the crowd had to cheer about.  At least until later, the Golden State game.

Meanwhile the Pittsburgh Pirates are flying high, having swept a 3 game series with the Phillies by winning 1-0 in the 11th.  The powerful Pirates won the series with pitching and defense, and a few timely hits.  A. J. Burnett pitched nine scoreless on Sunday, and earlier in the series Garrett Cole became the Major League's first ten game winner.

Of course everybody beats up on the Phillies these days, and the Pirates are still 6 games back of St. Louis.  Even after underperforming against Milwaukee they've moving basically in the right direction.  All the pieces are there, but they'll need to put them together with some consistency in the meat of the season.

Despite their recent woeful play, the Giants are only 3.5 back of Los Angeles. They're so streaky that it's hard to figure out whether they are overperforming when they win or underperforming when they lose.  Basically they seem a really talented team.  They look to remain competitive.