Thursday, September 17, 2015

Off Day & Bad Day

It's an off-day for the Giants, and a really bad day for the Pirates.

With only one loss in the current home stand--a nightmare game with the Reds when the bullpen couldn't hold leads and they went down in the 10th 9-8--the Giants have been doing their part to stay relevant in the division race.  But the Dodgers haven't cooperated by performing their annual tank job.  They are also winning, and with each passing day, getting closer to finishing in first.  It may be over before the two meet again.

In the Central, the Pirates hopes of overtaking the Cards are also dwindling, as the Cubs came into PNC Park and won 3, including two extra inning games.  To make matters worse for the Bucs in the postseason, today they lost a key player to injury--Jung Ho Kang--who has been their spark plug for the last month or so.  Their losses to the Cubs, likely their opponent in the Wild Card game, are troubling.  As bad as last year's Wild Card loss to the Giants was, another one and out postseason this year would be very disappointing to the team and the city.

But in San Francisco, the fans aren't hanging their heads.  There's lots to see and cheer at the Giants games.  Like legally blind Jake Peavy becoming the fifth Giants starting pitcher to homer this season, all (except MadBum) since August,  something that hasn't happened in 80 years in Giants history.  Plenty to cheer about at the ball park--some fans even cheered a heavy rain shower last night.

Spectators are getting to see some Giants of the future in their first appearances, and will see more of them if the Dodgers clinch.  That's fun-- but so is witnessing baseball history: the talk of the town is about the possible matchup of two Bay Area greats in one of the Giants-As games in Oakland to end the season: Tim Hudson, in his last major league start against the team he started with, against Barry Zito, a star pitcher for both teams.  In show biz and baseball history terms, the teams would be crazy not to match them up.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Holding Their Own

Pitcher Mike Leake began Sunday with his worst start as a Giant.  By the end of the day he had his first win as a Giant.

Start after start, he pitched well, and sometimes brilliantly, but didn't get the run support.  On Sunday he helped remedy that himself, with a three run homer.  What's with the Giants pitchers and their hitting?  Anyway, he had plenty of help against San Diego, as the Giants came back from 0-3 to win 10-3, and swept their first series of the home stand.

The current storylines include the emergence of Adrianza, still a work in progress both at shortstop and the plate, but a young player who got key hits and RBIs throughout this series.  Also the return to health and relevance of Angel Pagan, who celebrated his ability to run well and freely for the first time all year with three stolen bases, extra bases on hits and range in center field.

But when all is said and done this season, the story is going to be Buster Posey.  He may get lost in the drama, or because his excellence is consistent over many seasons and so a bit taken for granted.  But he's got the second highest batting average in the league, and is among the RBI leaders.  His presence behind the plate is invaluable to Giants pitchers.  In the past few weeks he's been authentically awesome, the batter sensible opponents fear.  And this is when both of the other Giants catchers are out for the year, and his bat is so valuable that he's not only playing every day, but catching every game.

No Crawford or Panik again, though Adrianza and Kelby Tomlinson both had key hits and good plays.  The Dodgers bullpen almost blew it again but not quite, as LA won 4-3.

Monday night starter against the Reds is Tim Hudson.  Should be a fun night at the ball park.

Meanwhile in Pittsburgh...The Cards broke their losing streak, but the Pirates were behind 6-1 to their odd nemesis, the Brewers.  Not to worry.  They worked back to a tie in the 7th, and victory in the 11th, 7-6.  They remain 2.5 back, with crucial series against the Cubs next and the Cards later, both at home, where they are just about invincible.