Thursday, May 26, 2016

Giants Way Up, Dubs Way Down

Jake Peavy didn't get the win on Wednesday afternoon but he earned it.  He gave up one run in 6 2/3 and left leading 2-1.  The Giants added another before Osich gave up an unlikely homer for the tie.  So it took a solid smash to center by Brandon Crawford to finally win it in the 10th, another walk-off, 4-3, finishing a sweep of the Padres.  The Giants are now 9-0 against them this year.

Once again the Giants did this short-handed, but with a great defensive contribution from Kelby Tomlinson playing his second game in left, who threw out a runner at home (he also drove in the first run), and a nice throw from Jarrett Parker, starting in right (Parker is going to see a lot of big league breaking pitches until he shows he can hit them.)  The lineup may be even funkier at the beginning of the upcoming ten game road trip, as Brandon Belt has a mild ankle sprain and might be out for a game or two.

And a game earlier it was yet another 1-0 pitcher's gem--this time by Jeff Samardzija against James Shields--until the Giants erupted late and won 8-2, with a very efficient offensive attack.  Again it was Crawford leading the way.

So the Giants left for Colorado having quietly tied the Cubs for the most wins in the league at 30.  They've won an amazing 13 out of 14 games, and are sitting in first place by five games.

Not such great news for the Golden State Warriors, who lost the fourth game of the Western Conference Finals, once again by a lot, in Oklahoma.  It was the first time this year they lost two games in a row. They're down 3 games to one, and can't lose another.

It's not even improbable for the Dubs to win the next three, but this latest loss can't be entirely blamed on Steph Curry's slump.  Their real problem is that the Thunder now know how to beat them, and so far the Warriors haven't had an answer.  It's too reminiscent of last year's championship finals, when the Dubs figured out how to beat Cleveland in the third game, and never lost again.

 As I mentioned before, the Thunder suddenly became a killer team in the San Antonio series, better than all season. The Warriors are now going to have to prove they are the better team. So whether this is a coaching problem, personnel match-up problem, physical or psychic energy, or all of these, there's no more time for the Warriors to get it right.  Tonight's the night.

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.