Monday, May 23, 2016

Giants Up, Dubs Down

The San Francisco Giants lost the battle of The Two Jakes as Arrieta was his usual invincible self this year and Peavy gave up another big inning against the Cubs.  But the Giants fared much better against the Cubs' second starter, and with their fifth starter, Matt Cain.  Jon Lester had an off game--giving up more runs than in any away game this year, and became the first Cubs pitcher this season to not make it through the fifth inning.

Meanwhile Matt Cain pitched an excellent game against this dangerous lineup, for his first victory this year.  His first hit this year--actually for several years--also was big, as his double drove in two runs.

Then the rotation rotated around to Madison Bumgarner, who pitched a shutout, and the Giants won their home series against the Cubs, 2-1.  Despite not scoring a lot of runs, and even with a jiggered lineup for Cain's game (hamstring strains to Pence and Pagan put Kelby Tomlinson in left field for the first time as a pro) the Giants have won 10 out of their last 11 games.  They've increased their division lead to 4.5 games over both the Dodgers and Rockies, both of them just under .500.

The Cubs still appear to be the most dangerous team in the league over a longer series.  Last year I couldn't figure out how they were winning.  This year it's easier: they have dangerous hitters for power and percentage, an excellent defense, excellent to good starting pitching, and a pretty good bullpen.  They're young and athletic.

For the Giants over the longer haul, the scoring is going to have to pick up.  In this streak they've been saved by one homer each game (except Sunday, when MadBum not only pitched a shutout, he drove in the only run.)  The Giants are learning they can rest and move around starting position players with little or no drop-off.  But their bullpen is still an adventure.  The return of Romo should help, but the jury is out on the rookies, and on Strickland as a potential closer.  Bochy said he's sticking with Peavy--he said the same about Cain, and that's paying off.

In Pittsburgh, beloved former Giants pitcher and current Pirates pitcher Ryan Vogelsong was hit by a pitch and seriously injured.  He was batting when a fastball hit him in the eye area, apparently impacting the orbital bone.

The NBA Western Conference Finals finds the Warriors down 2 games to 1.  So winning the fourth game in Oklahoma looks pretty essential.  The first game was close, the next two were blowouts, one for each team.  That's pretty normal for playoffs.  The historically likely scenario is for the remaining games to be close, and the series to go seven.  The Thunder's advantage is that they don't have to win two games in a row, though that would mean winning two on the road.  The Dubs advantage is home court for a 7th game, but they have to win one away to make that work.

P.S. Good news Monday night for the Western winner: the East Finals will go at least six, meaning that LeBron--who needs to be rested--won't get that extra rest. (Assuming that the Cavs eventually win it, that is.) And yeah, the Giants win 1-0.  No--again.  This time 1-0 behind Cueto's 2 hitter against the Padres at home.  So make it 11 out of the last 12.

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