I’m blaming it on the rain. There was just too much. The game that was rain delayed back in April–rescheduled for Saturday was even delayed. It was a wet weekend in Colorado. Tim Hudson has never won a game in Denver. The Giants 8-game winning streak was snapped in the Mile-High City. Do you see where I’m going with this? I said I was blaming it on the rain, but really I think we should blame it on Coors Field.
The Giants won the first 2 games–and the Rockies staged late inning rallies both times. Fortunately it was too little, too late for the Rockies. But they came close.
Friday night’s game was all about the Giants–at first anyway. Brandon Belt added to his HR total with a 2-run blast n the 6th, and Matt Duffy scored a 2-run HR in the 9th. Vogey pitched 6 shutout innings and turned the game over to the bullpen in the 7th. All totaled the bullpen gave up 8 runs–4 in the bottom of the 9th before Casilla came in and got the save. The final score was:
GIANTS 11, Rockies 8
The first game on Saturday was delayed for–yeah, you guessed it–Rain. The best part about the whole game was that some of my favorite Gamer Babes made the game one of their stops on their Girl’s Weekend in Denver.
The Rockies drew 1st blood, but the Giants scored in the 4th, 5th and 6th–10 runs in all. They did it the old-fashion way–lots and lots of small ball. Base hits with a few extra base hits mixed in. Crawford led his teammates in RBIs with 3–bringing his season total to 31–the highest RBI scoring shortstop in the MLB, by far. Heston didn’t have a great outing. He gave up 6 earned runs–3 HR–in 5.2 innings pitched. The final score was:
GIANTS 10, Rockies 8
Saturday night didn’t go so well. Without going into game detail, I’m just going to say this: too much waiting around, too much rain, too many delays, too much water. Maybe even too much baseball. All I know is that by the time Saturday night’s game rolled around, there had to be some fatigue. I was tired–I’m pretty sure the guys were too. The final score was:
GIANTS 3, Rockies 5
Sunday’s game–more bad news–another rain delay. The good news? Kandy, another one of my favorite Gamer Babes–and a seriously loyal Giants fan–went to the game. She sent pictures. While she was getting ready, her husband went outside and ran into MadBum and Vogey. her response? Oh, well, “you snooze, you lose”. Such a gamer!
Tim Hudson was on the mound–and we all know that Coors Field is his kryptonite. How else can you explain it? In the past 16 years he’s been a strong, solid starting pitcher, but he’s never won in Coors Field. I can’t blame Huddy–he did the best he could–it’s Coors Field. And that’s all I have to say about that. The final score was:
GIANTS 2, Rockies 11
It’s time to get out of Colorado.Time to dry off, put on warm, dry socks. And head to Milwaukee where they make real beer.
One final note: Casey McGehee, the Comeback Player of the Year for 2014, was DFA’d prior to the start of Sunday’s game, Henry Schulman reported in a post on SF Gate. (For the full story: http://www.sfgate.com/giants/article/Giants-Splash-McGehee-designated-for-assignment-6284238.php#comments) according to Schulman, McGehee made no excuses, in fact, he said he expected himself to perform. I agree. Actually that’s not quite true–I hoped.
As a Giants fan, when our team adds a player to the roster, I root for that player. He may not be a fan-favorite, he may not be the best in the bigs, but he’s a Giant. I stick with the Giants through thick and thin. And I’m embarrassed and dismayed by the Giants fans who called McGehee terrible names and actually booed him when he was on the field. As a Giant, he deserved better. I know he was no Pablo Sandoval–hell, nobody is Pablo Sandoval, and that includes Pablo himself. McGehee went out in that field every day and gave it his best. It wasn’t working for him, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. I wish Casey McGehee the best. Maybe we’ll see him back here someday.
I also wish Matt Duffy the best. He worked hard for his spot, and he deserves to be there. I hope he continues to do as well or even better than he’s doing right now. I think he’s the best man for the job–I don’t see any reason for the front office to continue looking for a 3rd baseman. They found him–he was here the whole time.
The Giants rally cry this year is Let’s Get Odd–#letsgetODD, right? Well, this past weekend the Giants got odd alright–real odd. I’m not talking about odd, as in the opposite of even–like our rally cry, or about the odds used in relation to probabilities or ratios–you know, like the odds they use in betting or games of chance. I’m not even talking about the lone sock that is left over when you take your clothes out of the dryer–and you know a complete pair went in–but we’re getting closer because I’m talking about ODD–the strange and unusual, the weird and wacky. That kind of odd.
It all started Thursday night. Thursday night’s game was a lot like March–you know the old saying–“in like a lion, out like a lamb”? The Giants came on like gangbusters Thursday night–Gregor led off the 1st inning with a base hit and scored from 3rd on Buster’s line drive to CF. In the 3rd, with Buster at the plate and Blanco on 3rd–again–the Reds pitcher, Johnny Cueto, came set twice–a balk, and the base runners were awarded a base. Blanco scored on Cueto’s balk, and I awarded Cueto an RBI on my score card–a run balked in. The Reds scored a run in the 4th and 2 in the 5th, taking the lead. The Giants tried to spark a rally in the 8th–Joe Panik launched a rocket to LF for a triple and came home on Angel Pagan’s RBI single–tying the score, but the Reds hit a solo shot in the 8th to re-gain the lead and win the game.
Timmy had a rough time. His pitching wasn’t really that bad, but he stumbled off the mound after throwing a couple of times and spent a lot of time digging the mud out of his cleats. With a fork. He just didn’t look comfortable out there. Buster did ok with the wild pitches–but he had some trouble with crazy bat action. During his plate appearance in the 6th, his bat splintered when he hit the ball and a big chunk dinged both the Reds catcher and the umpire and they had to call in the trainers. Personally, I think they should have given Buster a stand-up double. The final score was:
Giants 3, Reds 4
Speaking of odd–or odds–what do you suppose are the odds that the 2nd game in Houston and the first game in Cincinnati would finish in the exact same way? Back-to-back 4-3 losses for the Giants with a solo shot in the 8th to give the opposing team the W? I don’t know what the odds are, but I’ll tell you this–I think it’s a little unusual. My husband said–“that’s just baseball”.
Friday night’s game was a bloodbath–a Reds bloodbath. After letting 2 different opposing teams walk away with a 1 run ball game 2 nights in a row, the Giants weren’t having it again. Time to nip these losses in the bud–before they turned into a streak. They ended up cutting down the whole tree. Brandon Belt got hot–and he hit his first HR of the season, Justin Maxwell continued to heat up while Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford added more ‘R’s to their RBI collections. Odd? Well, not really–unless you want to talk about the scoring. The score went like this: 3 runs in the 1st inning, 3 runs in the 3rd inning, 3 runs in the 5th–you do see the odd numbers, right? The Giants scored 1 more run–another odd number–but this time it was in the 8th inning. It also gave them their first double digit score of the season.
Casey McGehee has been much maligned since signing on with the team. He is the Giant that some Giants fans love to hate this year. You’ve seen it happen before–they come in cycles–remember when Barry Zito’s arm went south? Fans called him all kinds of names and talked about how awful he was– on Twitter and FaceBook, the usual social media outlets. It got so bad–Zito quit using social media. The same thing is happening to Casey McGehee–his BA has taken a nosedive and right now he is the tote board leader in the DP Derby–but they love him in Cincinnati. Yeah! He’s finally getting a little recognition. I mean, the Reds set up those smoke stacks to honor one of their players–a pitcher when he strikes out a hitter, or when one of their hitters hit a HR. But Friday night those smoke stacks–well, just the one actually–lit up for Casey McGehee like it was the 4th of July. And he didn’t even hit a HR–but he did get an RBI for his base hit–way to go, Casey. Odd, sure–but odd is kind of our thing right now.
Speaking of odd–back to Brandon Belt’s 1st HR of the season. No, the fact that he hit a HR isn’t odd. The fact that it’s his 1st HR of the season isn’t that wacky–he’s been in a bit of a funk a couple of times and it’s still pretty early. The odd part came off the crack of the bat–and only for those of us watching the CSN Bay Area broadcast. Kuiper starts his home run call at the crack of the bat–you know the one I’m talking about–“He hits it high. He hits it deep. IT. IS. OUTTAHERE!” This time Kuip said: “high drive…foul. Down the right field line and out of play…GONE! It went over the foul pole and it’s a 3 run home run for Brandon Belt.” Strangest damn HR call I’ve ever heard. Oh! And Bumgarner pitched. He was great. Nothing weird about that. The final score was:
GIANTS 10, Reds 2
Saturday’s game was more of the same–another blood red Reds blood bath. Say that 5 times fast. For the 2nd game in a row, Brandon Belt kicked off his at bats with a HR. I like it–it sounds like a good way to start a game. Anybody want to hazard a guess which steak Brandon Crawford likes best? I’d say–based on Saturday’s game–rib eyes, of course. He served up a career-high 6 RBIs–no doubt his grand slam in the 5th helped. Oh, and what was even more exciting–well, for you and me anyway, the Brandons might argue–Hunter Pence is back! It was great to see him in the line-up again–and he got right back into the swing of things–he drew a walk and got himself a couple of hits, a single and a double–and scored each time. Vogelsong pitched a gem–and it wasn’t a strange or weird game–unless you want to count back-to-back double digit scoring games won by the Giants. Personally, I’d like that to be the rule rather than the exception. The final score was:
Giants 11, Reds 2
Sunday’s game was like the 2010 season–pure torture. Honestly? I couldn’t wait for it to end. But nothing really odd happened, and to tell you the truth, I’m over the “odd” theme already. So let’s just get to the game. To start off, the game was delayed for rain early–in the top of the 2nd. Chris Heston was on the mound for the Giants and he’s had some really good outings. He’s had a couple of hiccups, but mostly he’s been just terrific. He got roughed up a little during this outing–who knows? It may be the length of the delay–24 minutes–shook him a little. He gave up 5 earned runs on 7 hits and 2 walks. Bochy had to get into his bullpen way earlier than he likes–Petit ate up 3 innings in relief and gave up a couple more runs. Then Bochy started doing his match-up stuff–trading pitchers in and out based on who was up next.
The guys did a helluva job on offense–scoring 9 runs on 16 hits and 4 walks. Nori Aoki led in RBIs for the night with 3, Brandon Crawford added another RBI to has ever-growing total, and Hunter Pence scored his first HR of the season. Ok, one more odd, then I’ll stop–the game winning run? You betcha–it was another solo shot in the 8th–only this time off a Giants bat–Brandon Belt’s bat. Whaddya say we make that a tradition? An odd one, sure, but like I keep saying–#letsgetODD !!! The final score was:
Giants 9, Reds 8
There seems to be a lot of guessing, speculating, suggesting and even insisting that the powers that be replace McGehee with Matt Duffy as our every day 3rd baseman. I’m not going to pretend to know the answers, I’m not going to presume to give my opinion–for what it’s worth–about how the PTB, that stands for “powers that be” should handle the hot issue at the hot corner. I’m a Giants fan. Casey is a Giant. Matt Duffy is a Giant–I’m rooting for both of them. To do well. Always.
Oh, and I checked–my opinion on the open market? It goes for about the same $$$ amount as a stick of gum. Used.
I warned them, didn’t i? Tuesday when I posted the SF Giants line-up on FB, I kicked it off with “Houston, you have a problem.” I know it’s not original, but I couldn’t help myself. Houston was riding high on their starting pitcher’s 11-game winning streak that dated back to July 2014. They’re sitting pretty on top in the AL West, but like I said in my FB post–Giants ain’t afraid of no ‘Stros.
Chris Heston, nickname–Hesto Presto, our rookie pitcher, was magical. He pitched his heart out Tuesday–and it showed. He gave up just 2 hits–ok, so 1 was a solo HR, it’s still only 1 hit–but the best part? He pitched a complete game–the first CG in his major league career. He is the first Giants’ rookie to record a CG since 1985. He struck out 10–4 of them looking. The last rookie to record double-digit strike outs in a single game was Tim Lincecum in 2007 when he fanned 12 batters. Heston retired the last 22 bats he faced in order. Helluva game. Hats off to Heston–Giants ball caps preferred.
The only thing that would make Heston’s CG even better? What else?–run support. So the Giants did what they needed to do–they brought it. Lots of it. In fact, for the 1st time this season the Giants offense scored more than 6 runs in a game. You know what they say? Timing is everything. And Tuesday, it was everything GIANT. Matt Duffy added to his appeal with a career-high 5 RBI game–3 of those runs scored off his bases-clearing double in the 2nd. Then in the 5th, on a 2-2 count, with 2 outs and the bases loaded, Justin Maxwell was just 1 strike away from making the 3rd out. But he didn’t. Instead, he sparked a 5-run inning with a base hit that was aided by an error from the Astros’ 2nd baseman. Panik and Pagan scored, then Posey scored when Crawford hit a GRD–ground rule double–and Duffy racked up 2 more RBIs when his line drive to CF drove Maxwell and Crawford home. The final score was:
GIANTS 8, Astros 1
It wasn’t really magic, though. Just good GIANTS baseball.
Magic found it’s way into Wednesday’s game too–the GIANTS had the lead and it disappeared.
In the 1st inning, Duffy drew a walk, stole 2nd and scored on Buster’s RBI base hit to center field. The score remained unchanged until the 4th, when the Astros tied it up with their own RBI single to CF. The GIANTS answered back right away in the 5th when Angel Pagan smoked a big triple to right CF–his career 50th triple. Buster went long with a 2-run HR to retake the lead for the GIANTS. But not for long. The Astros hit 3 solo shots in as many innings and
ABRACADABRA, the Astros took the lead and refused to give it back. Truth be told the GIANTS let them keep it–by missing scoring opportunities. Lots of them. The GIANTS defense took our collective breath away a couple of times: in the 5th, McGehee fielded a grounder, tagged 3rd for the force and threw to Belt to get the runner at 1st. In the 7th, 3 GIANTS collided in what could have been a disaster–attempting to catch a pop-up in foul territory. Belt avoided the dogpile, but Kontos and Susac didn’t–they both ended up on the ground. Susac–gotta love this kid–made a basket catch, held on to the ball like a dog with a bone and got the out. The final score was:
GIANTS 3, Astros 4
Come to think of it, that game wasn’t really magic either. Just not-so-good GIANTS baseball.
It was great to see our superhero, Michael Morse. Some of the time, the rest of the time? Not so much. He hasn’t been swinging the bat all that well lately–at least he wasn’t until he got to San Francisco–suddenly he’s Babe frickin’ Ruth.
Thursday night’s game followed an abbreviated ring ceremony where Bruce Bochy and Larry Baer presented Michael Morse with his well-deserved WS Bling. Remember when I suggested a nightly “ring ceremony” of sorts to inspire the guys? I meant for it to inspire our current guys. Much as I love Michael Morse–and I think he’s great–he’s no longer one of our guys. He’s an ex. And we all know the key to a good relationship with an ex–be civil, be friendly–but for god’s sake, don’t give him anything. I’ll go so far as to say we can root for him–but only when he’s playing against another team, like the Dodgers. Not us, though–I’m not rooting for him against the GIANTS. Hell, he probably doesn’t even root for himself against the GIANTS–he loves San Francisco that much. Apparently the mini ring ceremony idea backfired–it did more to inspire the Marlins. In the 7th inning, Buster scored when Maxwell hit a SAC fly and Brandon Belt scored on Matt Duffy’s double. Otherwise it was all about the fish. The final score was:
GIANTS 2, Marlins 7
Orange Friday–ahhhh, that’s more like it! My BFF Vickie and her husband took Vickie’s brother and sister-in-law to the game–and although she doesn’t go to The Yard often, Karen sported her colors–a true Gamer Babe.
Timmy pitched a solid 6–he gave up just 3 hits and 3 walks, but NO runs–plus he struck out 8. Petit pitched brilliantly in the last 3 innings–giving up NO hits, NO runs, 1 walk and he struck out 2. The only thing that could make those lines better is run support. And they got it. McGehee came up in the 2nd with the bases loaded…have I mentioned my idea about having small, inspirational ceremonies before each game lately? Well, they did it again on Friday night–this time McGehee received his 2014 Comeback Player of the Year Award. I bet that felt good, and maybe even a little inspirational? and for the right team this time? but I digress…McGehee, on the 5th offering from the Marlins pitcher, got all over that pitch like a condemned man eating his last supper. Grand Slam McGehee. I hope he hits a bunch. The GIANTS added 2 more runs–1 in the 5th, another in the 7th–and the plays were almost identical. In each inning Buster led off by drawing a walk and Brandon Belt hit a single after. Both times. Then–again, both times–Justin Maxwell hit RBI singles to score Buster. The only difference? In the 5th, Maxwell’s single was a ground ball to RF, and in the 7th Maxwell hit a line-drive to LF. The final score was:
GIANTS 6, Marlins 0
Saturday evening promised to be a good game–it was a Madison Bumgarner start. I know our Ace can’t win every game, but he wins more than most so I like our odds when he’s on the mound. But Saturday’s game was the exception to the rule and the Marlins knocked him around with a 3-run fourth inning. The big shame was this–he pitched 5 innings, gave up 5 hits and 2 walks resulting in 3 runs scored–but he struck out 10 batters. TEN! That’s a lot of strike outs for 1 game–especially one we lose. Machi pitched two-thirds of an inning and gave up 3 more Marlin runs. The G-Men scored twice–Justin Maxwell scored in the 5th on Crawford’s RBI single and Matt Duffy scored in the 9th on Joe Panik’s 2-out RBI double. It was just a matter of too little, too late. The final score was:
GIANTS 2, Marlins 6
Sunday was Mother’s Day and Vogey was on the mound. He gave us a VogelStrong start with solid pitching. He went 7 innings–gave up 4 hits, 1 run, and struck out 5. He kept the GIANTS in the game. The pitcher for the Marlins? Mat Latos. You remember Mat Latos, don’t you? In 2010 when the GIANTS went to the postseason–after the Padres choked–Mat Latos, who pitched for the Padres in 2010, started autographing baseballs “I hate SF.” The GIANTS gave him a reason to cry in the 2012 NLDS, when he was pitching for Cincinnati–an elimination game–and with the bases loaded, Buster sent a big fly into the upper deck, sending Mat Latos to the dugout–grab some pine, meat–and sending the GIANTS to the NLCS. Sunday I was hoping the GIANTS were gonna give Mat “I hate SF” Latos another reason to cry.
The Marlins scored their 1st run in the 4th, and the GIANTS tied it up in the 6th when Nori Aoki came home on Brandon Belt’s RBI single. Romo tossed a WP in the 8th–allowing the Marlin at 3rd to score even though Romo covered the plate and was about a toe-length away from getting the guy out. The GIANTS entered the bottom of the 9th with a 1-run deficit. As Kruk and Kuip would say–“1 to tie, 2 to go home”. With 1 out, Andrew Susac got a base hit and Joaquin Arias was brought in to pinch run…
I should tell you right now–our guys honored mothers and stood up for breast cancer awareness by sporting pink. They are auctioning the pink gear to raise much needed $$$ for breast cancer research. Gregor Blanco dedicated the day to his mom–who passed away due to breast cancer in 2006. Some of the guys were using pink bats–but not Matt Duffy. Duffy’s bat was decorated with a pink DuffMan logo sticker–he planned to give it to his mom after the game.
…Gregor Blanco came to the plate and true to his word, honored his mother with a double–advancing Arias to 3rd. Buster Posey was brought in to pinch hit for McGehee and the Marlins intentionally walked him to load the bases. Nori Aoki came to the plate, with the bases still loaded and 2 outs–and the Marlins pitcher walked him. Unintentionally. Oops–game tied. Matt Duffy stepped up to the plate with his pink DuffMan sticker decorated bat, and hit a ground ball single to LF, for an RBI and the walk off win–his first. The final score was:
GIANTS 3, Marlins 2
See what happens when you’re good to your mother? Good things happen. And I suppose it’s ok to share–splitting the series 50-50–on a day that honors mothers, who were the first to teach us to share. But can we go back to being more like the seagulls in Finding Nemo? Mine. Mine. Mine. Mine. I like it better when the GIANTS aren’t so nice. Can anybody spare a Kleenex® for Latos? No? He’ll just have to use his sleeve.
Last week I was “Singin’ the Blues”–paraphrasing Carole King–“sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.” Yesterday I was thinking a little more George Harrisonish–but sounding kinda like a platitude with “All Things Must Pass”. I decided to get off the Billboard Top 40 and get literary because L. Frank Baum stated it perfectly in The Marvelous Land of Oz when he said “Everything has to come to an end, sometime.” That’s not a platitude, that’s a fact. Yesterday’s loss to the Padres brought a sad end to some things that we GIANTS fans were really enjoying–big time. Things like a consecutive win streak–5 in a row, a consecutive wins at home streak–we were up to 8, a shut-out streak–not quite there yet, but we could see it from where we were with back-2-back shutouts. The GIANTS were streaking with their uni’s on.
And here’s the goofy part–we won the series against the Friars. The GIANTS took on the NL West’s 2nd place team and mopped the floor with them. We even swapped places with them for a minute–and shoved the Padres right down to 3rd. We didn’t sweep, but we still won 2 out of 3–God knows I’ve said this before–and, like Meatloaf, I’m a firm believer in 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. It’s something to celebrate.
Monday night’s game wasn’t a given, but Bumgarner was on the mound–that’s as close to a given as you’re gonna get. We should never ASSume, though–you know what happens when you ASSume–the baseball gods kick your ass, hmm? You thought I was going to say something else, didn’t you?
Speaking of an ass-kicking, that’s exactly what Bumgarner delivered Monday night. He had his good stuff with him, he took a no-hitter into the 7th and ended the night with a W and a shut-out. The GIANTS got on the board in the 3rd when Aoki scored on Pagan’s RBI single and Panik scored when Maxwell drew a walk with the bases loaded–Maxwell’s 1st RWI–no, it’s not really a thing, but I like it–as a GIANT. The final score was:
GIANTS 2, Padres 0
Tuesday’s game was was not a given either. We had Vogey on the mound and I had high hopes. His last game was a big disappointment–like I said in my post about it–I was not disappointed in his performance, I was seriously disappointed in some of the fans reactions. Vogey took the mound, and not only did he look great out there, he made me look smart. I can always use help with that. Vogelsong took a shutout into the 7th–and when he left the field to a standing O and thunderous applause–he must have been wearing cowboy boots too, because he delivered an even bigger ass kicking than Bumgarner. One thing to note–Vogey shaved his beard–maybe it was unlucky? Aoki was brilliant on defense, the guys were manufacturing runs like an aircraft factory during a war, Panik went yard and the GIANTS chalked up another shutout victory. The final score was:
GIANTS 6, Padres 0
Wednesday? The wheels came flying off the bus. The Padres rang up Chris Heston like they were clerks at Walmart. He struggled the 1st two innings and managed a clean getaway both times. Unfortunately, the 3rd inning turned into a Padres hit parade–they scored 5 runs on 6 hits and a walk. All 9 Padres starters reached base at some point during the game. After the disastrous 3rd, Heston picked himself up and dusted himself off–he gave up 2 more hits and a walk, but NO more runs–and he stayed in the game through the 5th. I know he’ll get back on track his next outing. He’s a GIANT–and a really good one at that. He might want to take a page out of Vogey’s book and shave the beard before his next start. Just sayin’. The bullpen took over in the 6th–Lopez gave up a run in the 7th, and Machi gave up 3 more in the 8th. The GIANTS scored 1 run in the 3rd to avoid the shutout–Matt Duffy scored on Aoki’s base hit–and I couldn’t wait to see this game end. The final score was:
GIANTS 1, Padres 9
Sweep! Sweep! Told you we were gonna need a bigger broom! The other LA team came into town on Friday and just like the wallflower when the prom king asks for a dance–they were completely swept off their feet. It may go down in the books as one of the most unusual series ever played–but it was pretty much torture as usual for us GIANTS fans.
It started on Orange Friday with Chris Heston on the bump for the GIANTS–his quality pitching since the beginning of the season, coupled with the health of some of our veterans, may land him a regular spot in the rotation yet. The most unusual thing that happened during Friday night’s game was when the home plate umpire got dropped by a pitch that landed solidly on his knee. Ouch! That’s gonna leave a mark. Panik’s walk-off hit to win the game wasn’t so strange–it’s his 2nd walk-off win already this season–it was great, but dare I say it? I kind of expect great from Panik–not because I think he has to be great, it’s just that he usually is. Nicely done Joe. The final score was:
GIANTS 3, Angels 2
Saturday’s game proved to be a little more interesting–and a bit of a nail-biter at the end. Hudson pitched a solid 8 innings and took the GIANTS into the 9th with a comfortable 3-run lead–thanks in no small part to RBIs from Aoki and McGehee, along with Crawford and Posey HRs. Huddy faced one hitter in the 9th, and left the field to resounding applause from grateful fans. And that’s when things went south–literally–the Angels’ bats woke up and started making noise like those stupid GD thundersticks their fans made us hate in 2002, and they narrowed the lead to 1 run. With 2 outs, the tying run at 3rd, and the go-ahead run on 1st, the batter hit a ground ball to 2nd, and it ran smack dab into the runner going from 1st to 2nd. Game over.
Here’s how the play was recorded by the official scorekeeper: out by 2nd baseman Joe Panik, unassisted. I told you that the kid was great–he didn’t even have to touch the ball. The final score was:
GIANTS 5, Angels 4
Sunday’s game started with a 1, 2, 3 first inning for Lincecum–in fact, he recorded the 1st out on his 1st pitch–and I crossed my fingers–they’re not going down this easy, are they? The GIANTS came to the plate in the bottom of the 1st, and just like the Angels’ lead-off man, Aoki took a whack at the 1st pitch–but with a much better result–Kuiper did his famous HR call and Panik came to the plate. Panik took 2 pitches and, I kid you not, followed Aoki’s lead and sent the 3rd pitch over the wall. Pagan was up next, and when he hit the ball, I thought Kuip was going to lose his mind–he started his HR call, shouting: “he hits it high, he hits it deep…” only it didn’t make it over the wall–it did land Pagan squarely on 3rd for a triple. God, that was an exciting inning–back to back HRs and a triple–that’s not just huge (pronounced YOUGE)–it’s GIANT. Panik scored again in the 3rd–on a force out RBI off Belt. Buster and Belt both scored in the 5th on Crawford’s 2 strike, 2 out, 2 RBI, 2 bagger (that’s just baseball speak for a double–but I was working the 2’s). Timmy pitched 8 solid, giving up 3 hits, 1 walk and striking out 4. Nice shut-out. The final score was:
I know when some of you read the title to this post, one of two things happened: your blood started to boil OR you thought I was crazy. Actually, both things probably happened. But hear me out–I’m no Randy Newman fan, and when they play “I Love LA” after a win at Chavez Ravine–I want to scream. So I’m going with the sage advice “the best defense is a good offense”–and I do mean ō-fence. I’ve replaced the lyrics of that awful song with some of my own. Think we can get Ashkon to record it? You know the tune, just change the lyrics. Here’s how it goes:
“You can keep your rally monkeys and your stupid thundersticks, let Tommy LaSorda stay down south and eat Dodger Dogs all day, send us your Dodgers, send us your Halos, we’ll SWEEP all your teams in the City by the Bay–you know why? We love to beat LA! We love it! We sweep LA! We SWEEP it!”
Admit it–you like the song now, right?
Hey, at least our song is a classic, and who doesn’t love Tony Bennett?
To paraphrase Carole King: “sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes the [Dodger] blues get ahold of you….” And those damn boys in Dodger blue got ahold of our G-Men in 2 of the 3 games we played at Chavez Ravine this week. Going with my usual good news/bad news theme: the good news? Out of the 6 games the GIANTS have played vs. the Dodgers this season, the GIANTS have won 4. The bad news? Same song, B side–you know, the less popular side?–the GIANTS lost 2. I know, I get it–we can’t win ’em all, but if we have to lose some, I’d rather suffer defeat at the hands or bats of any other opponent in the MLB. That’s why they call it a rivalry.
Monday’s game was a bit of a shocker. The GIANTS had Sunday off, and we had high hopes for victory after a day of rest–just like the last time we met up with ‘dem Bums’, not only that, we had Big Time Timmy Jim on the mound and his outings have been pretty solid of late. Things didn’t go according to plan. The Dodgers got on board with a 4-run 3rd inning–basically sealing the deal–and although the GIANTS staged a 3-run rally in the 5th, it wasn’t enough. The Dodgers have a new, not-so-secret weapon–their rookie Joc Pederson. We might still be in extra innings if it weren’t for him. The final score was:
GIANTS 3, LA 8
Tuesday night’s game was pleasant, but no surprise. It was the return of the Battle of the MVPs. This time the decision was clear–our ace trumped their ace. It was close–real close–but Madison emerged the victor of this battle, where the previous match ended in a draw. Bumgarners’s night looked like this: 8.0 innings pitched, 5 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk and 9 strike outs; and Kershaw’s went this way: 7 innings pitched, 7 hits, 2 earned runs, No walks and 8 strike outs. On the decision–Bumgarner was given the W, Kershaw the L.
Bumgarner didn’t win the game all by himself–it takes a team–and a pitcher can’t win without a good battery mate. This time Buster went above and beyond–besides catching a great game, he drove in both scoring runs–the first on an RBI single in the 1st inning, and the second when he launched a solo HR in the fourth. Joaquin Arias distinguished himself by going 3 for 3 against the Dodger’s ace–the 1st GIANT ever to make that claim. PDG (pretty damn good) for a utility guy! The final score was:
GIANTS 2, LA 1
Wednesday night’s game was a disappointment. My disappointment has nothing to do with Vogey’s performance, and everything to do with how some of our fellow GIANTS fans reacted. Vogey’s pitching–while not like his 2011 version–is not the worst in the MLB. How’s that for a ringing endorsement? I was hoping he would get off to a better start–but if you look closely at what he’s done, you’ll see that if the numbers do all the talking, it looks much worse than it actually is. First of all, in his last 2 starts–he’s had 3–he’s given up a total of 8 hits, 6 of which were HRs. That drove his ERA up faster than a bank robber in a getaway car. Baseball really is a game of inches. Second–before the season started, Vogelsong landed a job n the bullpen, not the starting rotation. I caution those of you who think pitching is pitching–no matter where you end up on the staff. Pitching is mental and Vogey got himself mentally prepared to pitch out of the bullpen. Suddenly he’s in the starting rotation, for now, so he’s working on getting his mind there. Third, and this how you spell irony–let’s take a look at the big-name, big-money pitcher the front office tried to get before re-signing Vogey–you know, the one Bobby Evans says didn’t “give us a rose” when he passed up a GIANTS offer of $150 mil for 6 years?–Prior to today’s game, which was in progress when I wrote this, Jon Lester had pitched 21.2 innings for the Cubs, given up 29 hits and 15 ERs. Vogey has gone 19.1 innings, given up up 28 hits and 20 ERs. I don’t want to get into bunch of stats and “what ifs”–I just wanted to remind GIANTS fans that Vogelsong is a GIANT, so back off. Those of you who are calling for his head like Herod looking for The Baptist–you should be ashamed. Think you’re mad at Vogelsong? Think again–he’s got that one covered all by himself. Just do what every good GIANTS fan should do. BELIEVE and remain #Vogelstrong. The final score was:
GIANTS 3, LA 7
Tonight we take on the other LA team. What’s it gonna be? You with me?
Hey! Speaking of Bumgarner–would you like to know how he spent the evening yesterday? How about as Mayor of “The Biggest Little GIANTS Town”–The Waterloo Restaurant in Waterloo, CA. When he walked in I’ll bet he was thinking “Finally! Other people from my planet!” That’s right–The Waterloo–famous for Bette’s ribs and pesto–is a regular cowboy cookout. Boots and jeans recommended. And an appetite, don’t forget to put on your feed bag.
It’s the splits. Literally. Kinda hard to split a 3-game series, but when the final game in the series gets called for rain–3 hours before the scheduled 1st pitch, well–you do the math. GIANTS went flying high into Denver on Friday, after using the big bats and their brooms to sweep the Dodgers at home. The GIANTS didn’t exactly crash and burn, but they weren’t so Rocky Mountain High after Friday night’s game.
Two weeks ago, the GIANTS played the Rockies in a 3-game series–which included the GIANTS’ home opener–and, as luck would have it, the Rockies were on a roll. They kicked off the 2015 Regular Season with a winning streak that placed them squarely at the top of the NL West while the G-Men slid to the bottom on a 7-game losing streak that they ended last week when the Dodgers came to town.
Needless to say, the GIANTS were looking for a little retribution when they rolled into Denver Friday night. They didn’t get it, but they came close. Too bad this isn’t government work or horseshoes.
On Friday night the GIANTS and the Rockies traded the lead back and forth–with the GIANTS pulling ahead 3 times until a 3-run 6th that left the Rockies permanently on top. Chris Heston had a tough night in a tough park–the Rockies racked up 15 hits; and the GIANTS bats–with 12 hits, faced a tough Rockies defense–they kept the GIANTS from getting something going by turning double play after double play–4 total. The good news? Chris Heston hit his 1st big league knock, and Justin Maxwell added to his sizzle with a 2-run dinger at the top of the 2nd. The bad news? Our Skipper got tossed.
The final score was: GIANTS 4, Rockies 6
Saturday’s game was a different story. Buster’s bat woke up in the 1st, scoring Angel Pagan with an RBI double. Andrew Susac helped his cause–a regular spot on the big league roster–by sending a line-drive over the left field wall, his 1st major league HR for the season. An umpire attempted to deprive the GIANTS of a run–Wait! What?–allow me to explain: with Buster on 1st, Maxwell fired a rocket to RF that bounced off the top of the out-of-town scoreboard and dropped back onto the field. The ump signaled that the ball was in play and Maxwell–who was taking his HR trot around the bags–was tagged out just before he reached home. After the replay review, the call on the field was overturned, and Maxwell scored a 2-run HR. The Rockies tied it up in the bottom of the 9th, and the game went into extra innings. The GIANTS scored in the 11th–Nori Aoki drew a walk to lead-off the inning, Matt Duffy moved him over with a SAC bunt, Angel Pagan sent Aoki to 3rd with a sharply hit line-drive single and Aoki scored on a safety squeeze off Joe Panik’s bat.
The final score was: GIANTS 5, Rockies 4
Here’s an interesting note–right after Saturday night’s victory, they had a little ring ceremony in the visitor’s clubhouse to present AL Champs rings to Maxwell and Aoki. When I proposed a nightly ring ceremony, I said before the game–but whatever works–and I bet you thought it was a dumb idea.
Sunday’s game was postponed until May 23, 2015 when the GIANTS and the Rockies will play a split double-header to make-up Sunday’s game. The 1st game is scheduled for 1:10 PM and the 2nd game is sEt to start at 6;10 PM.
There’s an old saying–no it’s not a platitude, it’s just a saying–it goes like this: some days you’re the tiger and some days you’re the lunch. The GIANTS spent the first 2 weeks of the 2015 Regular Season being served up as the local MLB Blue Plate Special. But these last few games? They proved they’re not on anybody’s menu. They’re not tigers either. They are GIANTS–they sweep Tigers. And Dodgers–they sweep Dodgers too. They did this week anyway.
It sure is good to see our boys in orange and black start acting like their World Series Championship selves. Matt Duffy continues to prove himself as one of our best prospects, and Justin Maxwell is as advertised–a great addition to our team.
Let’s face it–these last few weeks have been trying for loyal GIANTS fans–we will not tolerate cheap, vicious, or unrelenting criticism of our guys–nor should we. Faithful GIANTS fans have been through rough patches before. But we remain resolute, faithful, and unwavering. We believe—because the GIANTS have always–sooner or later–given us good reason to believe. Sure we’ve had bad patches–we’ve suffered through June Swoons and July Droops–but we remain ever hopeful, ever positive. It’s why we get caught up in the platitudes I talked about the other day. But I’ve vowed to drop those–like a bad drug habit, they’re just a crutch. Platitudes? We don’t need no stinking platitudes.
The GIANTS came into this 3-game series against the Dodgers on an 8-game skid and the Dodgers rode in on a 7-game high. You know the old saying “the higher they are, the harder they fall”? This one’s gonna leave a mark. Lincecum pitched a helluva game that included 5 strike-outs, the offense manufactured 6 runs from 13 hits and 2 walks, but the GIANTS’ defense won the game–the infield turned double plays like they were Vanna White standing in front of a Wheel of Fortune puzzle. One DP stood way out among the crowd. See all of them for yourself, and see why Kuip called the last one “one of the finest double plays you’re ever gonna see”:
In the top of the 8th, Maxwell caught a fly ball in deep right foul territory after a long run that was so impressive, even Puig–who hit the ball–applauded. When he went into the slide to catch the ball, he jammed his knee so hard into the cement wall, they called for an injury delay. Maxwell’s turn to bat at the bottom of the inning left me to wonder if he would be able to run the bases should he get a hit. I needn’t have worried–oh, he got a hit alright–he hit a homerun.
“OK, we won a game yesterday. If we win today it’s called “two in a row”. And if we win again tomorrow, it’s called a “winning streak”…It has happened before!” Lou Brown, Indians Manager, Major League II.
Wednesday’s game was billed as the Battle of the MVPs. The NL MVP vs the WS MVP. It was as much an anticipated game as Game 1 of the Fall Classic. And everyone had an opinion. Naturally, they concluded this game would go to Kershaw because in their opinion, during the regular season, he’s the best in the biz. Those who bet on Kershaw came away disappointed. Problem is the ones who bet on Bumgarner were disappointed too. The pitching matchup ended up a draw. If you want to split hairs–and I don’t, because it causes split ends and a bad case of the frizz–Kershaw gets a slight edge because he gave up fewer hits: Kershaw gave up 3, while Bumgarner gave up 6; and more strike outs: Kershaw whiffed 9 batters, Bumgarner 6. They each gave up 2 earned runs. My hair is frizzing up already. Doesn’t matter though–that’s personal stats and Madison is all about the team.
The game wasn’t without controversy–the GIANTS played in the lead through 6, the Dodgers tied it up in the 7th–and in the bottom of the 9th, the GIANTS loaded the bases. Gregor Blanco reached 3rd, despite Mattingly’s efforts to have him called out for interference after Blanco ran into Roberto Kelly, our 3rd base coach. The safe call held, and Maxwell hit a sac fly to bring Blanco home for the walk-off win.
The final score: GIANTS 3, LA 2
The GIANTS spent two-thirds of the 3rd and final game of the series playing from behind. Vogelsong pitched a solid 6–giving up 2 runs–both 2-out solo HRs. The Dodgers kept a 2-0 lead until the 6th when Brandon Belt hit an RBI single scoring Panik, narrowing the game to a 1 run lead. Casey McGehee, on a 3-1 count, hit a single in the 9th and Duffy was brought in to pinch run. Crawford came up and hit one of his famous triples, plating Duffy, tying the game and sending us into extra innings. Angel Pagan was the 1st hitter in the GIANTS half of the 10th, he got a base hit and with Brandon Belt at the plate, Pagan stole 2nd. Belt drew an intentional walk, Maxwell followed with a base hit–scoring Pagan for back-to-back walk-off wins, and the sweep.
The final score: GIANTS 3, LA 2
If the GIANTS keep it up, we’re gonna need a bigger broom.
I have empathy for the GIANTS because I too, have been struggling for a couple of weeks. No–I’m not suggesting that my struggles are as important as the GIANTS. I don’t have teammates who are relying on me to do my part, nor does my inability to get the job done effect the appreciation, loyalty or enthusiasm of millions, thousands, or even hundreds of fans. Not even close. When I can’t write my blog it effects me, and maybe a handful of others who are kind enough to read what I write. But I understand. When you have a job to do–whether for pay or not, whether for employment or enjoyment–it’s very frustrating when you can’t get it done.
For a few weeks now I’ve struggled. I’ve stared at my screen and keyboard and tried to write. I’ve tried to be informative, interesting and funny. And I’ve come up with some pretty good ideas, but when it comes to stringing the words together, I fall flat on my face–I sound wooden, dull, and, sadly, about as funny as an outbreak of venereal disease in a convent. After watching the ring ceremony and the way the guys played in Saturday night’s game, I figured it out–the GIANTS were inspired. I’ve been trying to come up with ways to say “don’t worry, it’s still early, everything’s gonna be alright”–by using platitudes like “plenty of baseball left” or “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” or “it’s only the first couple of weeks”–they’re not doing me, or anyone else for that matter, one damn bit of good.
Exactly what is a platitude anyway? Dictionary.com defines a platitude as: “a flat, dull, or trite remark, especially one uttered as if it were fresh or profound.” Strictly going by definition alone, a platitude doesn’t sound good at all, nor does it sound especially helpful.
Then it hit me. I realized I was getting inspired–so why not write about it?–by thinking about the ways the GIANTS could be inspired. New ways. Ways that, given a chance, might even work. Saturday night’s game is the perfect example. The G-Men took the field and played like the champions we all know and love. So the question we have to ask ourselves is this: how was Saturday’s game different from the 8 games that came before it? Just before the game Larry Baer handed out the World Series Bling–and that made all the difference. They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but to the GIANTS on Saturday night they were a secret weapon. They put those rings on and–like a superhero donning his cape, mask, or leotard and tights–they were transformed. They turned into the World Series Champion GIANTS and they were unstoppable, they were unbeatable–NO–they were inspired.
Hunter Pence has played a huge role in inspiring the GIANTS since he came to town. Remember the 2012 postseason when every game was an elimination game and Hunter Pence launched what I like to call the “One More Day Campaign”? He inspired his teammates, and together they turned the GIANTS from “The Eliminatable” into “The Eliminators”. In 2014 he led the GIANTS in the “YES! YES! YES!” Campaign that switched the GIANTS track from 2nd place in the NL West to the Little GIANTS Engine that could–and did win it all.
Inspiration–that’s what the GIANTS need. First, they need to get back to basics. Re-discover the joy. They need to find a neighborhood ballpark and play with the kids–hook up with a bunch of Little Leaguers who are playing simply for the love of the game. Remind themselves of the wonder and amazement they felt the first time they caught a high fly ball or smacked a line drive–finally connecting the bat with the ball and running helter-skelter to 1st base like their hair was on fire. They need to recall the excitement they felt when they rounded third and ran home with such reckless abandon they almost forget to touch the base.
They should think back to the days when they played baseball in it’s purest form–when most of them wore old sneakers, uniforms that didn’t match–or if they had jerseys that matched, the front said “The Pistons” and the back said “Smitty’s Auto Service”. They need to find a ballpark that has a concession stand so they can buy a hot dog, peanuts, and Cracker Jack. And a green sno-cone for Hunter.
My friend Debby–with 4 kids and a husband that coached while she kept score–lived at our local Little League ballpark. She always made the kids eat green sno-cones after their hot dog, claiming it took the place of the green vegetable serving at dinner. Even dinner at the ballpark is all about the fun. That’s what our guys need–they need to be inspired and they need to have some fun.
To get inspired, they could try something that’s already been done and that we know for sure works–have a ring ceremony. Ok, settle down–I’m not talking about a big To Do on the field before a game. I’m not even
talking about using their actual rings–I’m talking about a private, clubhouse style gathering, and if they want they can use a token–a replica ring, a bobblehead, a batting glove, anything GIANTS–before each game, and just before they take the field, gather together, each player takes a turn–1 player per game–to talk about a GIANTS inspiration. I’ll give you an example: last year, during Game 5 of the World Series, Juan Perez found out one of his best friends–Oscar Taveras, a top prospect for the St. Louis Cardinals–died that day in a car accident. Juan was inconsolable, but when he entered the game, he vowed to get a hit and dedicate it to Oscar. And that’s just what he did. He scorched a 2 run double off the center field wall, helping the GIANTS win the game, putting the GIANTS ahead of Kansas City in the series, 3 games to 2. That’s what I call inspiration.
Will it work? I have no idea. But I do know this–it can’t hurt. And I know for sure that platitudes don’t work. So the GIANTS have been on a losing skid–so what? “This, too, shall pass.” Do you see how unhelpful that is?
#letsgoGIANTS !!! #letsgetODD !!!
“Hey, rookie! You were good.”
Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams