Monday, September 26, 2016

New York 83 73 - Outscored the football Jets.
GIANTS 82 74 - Killer loss ends the road trip.
St Louis 81 74 .5 Couldn't take advantage.

Giants lost at San Diego, 4-3.
New York blew out Philadelphia, 17-0.
St Louis lost at Chicago, 3-1.

Giants have the day off; they begin the season's final homestand tomorrow night against Colorado.
New York is on the road at Miami.
St Louis opens at home against Cincinnati.  

Yesterday's Game
A single three-run outburst, if you want to call it that, was all the Giants could muster against Clayton Richard and his teammates. Then, over the final six innings, they watched that lead slip away, much as this season has slipped away, or almost. Buster Posey's two-run single had capped the top of the third and given rookie southpaw Ty Blach a 3-1 cushion. Blach gave up a solo homer in the bottom of the frame, and was done after just three, having thrown 76 pitches and allowed 7 baserunners. It was up to the bullpen then, for a long day of work. Derek Law, in the fourth, Steve Okert, in the sixth, and Will Smith, in the seventh and eighth, did their jobs. George Kontos, in the fifth, walked the leadoff batter and allowed the tying run. Corey Gearrin, in the seventh, gave up a triple to the Padres' fine young centerfield prospect, Manuel Margot, who went 3-for-4 on the day with an RBI, and who then scored the winning run on Wil Myers' single. The Giants managed just two hits after Richard left the game. Adding injury to insult, Eduardo Nunez limped off the field after stealing second base in the third. Though this may mean more playing time for Kelby Tomlinson, it weakens the Giants' bench for as long as Nunez is out.   

St Louis obligingly keeps losing and keeping the Giants' hopes alive. However, now it's the last-place Reds followed by the disappointing Pirates, all at Busch Stadium. But then again, the Cards are 33-41 at home... The Mets are on the road the rest of the way, at Miami and then at Philadelphia... LA clinched the NL West yesterday, to no one's surprise... Cleveland and Boston are on the verge of doing the same... The Yankees lost to Toronto yesterday and are all but eliminated from the wild-card race... Lost in the ennui of the Giants' wasted day was Santiago Casilla quietly recording the last out in the bottom of the eighth. There may not be many appearances left in Giants regalia for the one-time World Champion closer.

Jose Fernandez 1992-2016
What strikes us hardest about this young man's tragic death is his very youth. We have a son the same age. Jose Fernandez was, by all accounts, on his way to a great career in major-league baseball. He had already endured enough trial and ordeal to last most men a lifetime. Escaping the island prison of Castro's Cuba with his family after three failed attempts, each resulting in imprisonment, had to have toughened the young man. Yet the memories those who knew him best have shared with the world attest to his generosity, his joie de vivre, and his teamwork. Our prayers go out to his family, friends, and teammates for their loss.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

  W L GB
New York 82 73 - Hold home-field tie-breaker.
GIANTS 82 73 - Survived a serious scare.
St Louis 81 73 .5 Scored ten after being shut out.

Giants defeated San Diego, 9-6, in ten innings.
New York lost to Philadelphia, 10-8.
St Louis bombarded Chicago, 10-4.

Giants finish up at San Diego; 1:40 PDT (4:40 EDT) and then it's back home to wind up the 2016 campaign. Rookie lefthander Ty Blach gets the start against Clayton Richard.
New York concludes the Philly series at home. 
St Louis is at Chicago tonight in ESPN's Sunday night game.

Yesterday's Game
Madison Bumgarner was rollin' along with a no-hitter through three and a 3-0 lead. The Giants added three more in the top of the fourth, "Bum" himself contributing with a double and a run scored. The storm clouds were barely visible in the bottom of the frame, when Hunter Renfroe ended the no-hitter and the shutout with a solo homer. Then it was a two-run shot in the fifth, and another one in the sixth-- and a one-run game. Meanwhile, with starter Jarred Cosart safely out of there, the Padres' bullpen was putting up a string of six scoreless innings. Bumgarner didn't come out for the seventh, and this fazed the San Diego hitters not at all: as the Giants waltzed through their multi-reliever procession, the "Pads" batched two base hits around a Derek Law wild pitch to tie the game. Ready were we to wax furious again about a team blowing a 6-0 lead, to a last-place club, with their ace pitcher on the mound, and still being deluded enough to think they belong in the postseason. But, blessedly, Hunter Strickland and Will Smith kept it scoreless through the end of regulation. And then the Giants put up their third and final three-run outburst of the evening. Kelby Tomlinson, who always seems to feature in these things, drove in the first run ahead of Denard Span's two -run homer, and it was up to our old new closer, Sergio Romo, to nail down his third save, which he did via a game-ending double-play ball. Every Giant starter except Ehire Adrianza either scored or drove in a run or both; interestingly, Bruce Bochy moved Brandon Belt to the two-spot and Angel Pagan to 7th. 

The Road Ahead
Well, it's one game, but winning today and taking three of four is critical. And rather than going with retreads Matt Cain or Jake Peavy, bless their hearts, "Boch" is looking to the future as young Ty Blach gets a real start in a real game that really means a lot... With Monday off, Johnny Cueto is expected to start Tuesday after six full days of rest...  LA can clinch their fourth straight NL West division title with a win today. Rookie manager Dave Roberts certainly has silenced the doubters, of which there were many... Texas in the AL West and Washington in the NL East have clinched their divisions, and Cleveland is on the brink of doing the same in the AL Central...  The Boston Red Sox are finishing out the season in grand style. They've now won ten straight, opened up a five-and-a-half-game lead in the AL East, and David Ortiz, in his walk-off season, is a MVP candidate... The AL wild-card is still up in the air. Though dusted in the division race, Toronto now has a clear lead over the competition. Meanwhile, Baltimore is only a half-game up on Detroit, with Seattle and Houston close behind and the Yankees on life support, four and a half back. Defending world champion Kansas City has faded into the background... The Chicago Cubs have already clinched home-field advantage throughout the National League postseason, and will certainly break the 100-win mark... It kills us to even think about this, but y'all probably realize that the @#$%^*! Dodgers, in addition to winning their @#$%&*! division title, will also likely have the chance to be @#$%&*! spoilers next weekend when they come to San Francisco to finish out the @#$%&*! season. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

New York 82 72 - Now in driver's seat.
GIANTS 81 73 - Need more than 4 hits per game.
St Louis 80 73 .5 Shut out at Wrigley Field.

Giants lost at San Diego, 7-2.
New York defeated Philadelphia, 10-5.
St Louis lost at Chicago, 5-0.

Giants at San Diego; evening start (5:40 PDT, 8:40 EDT). Madison Bumgarner tries to right the listing ship against Jarred Cosart, who is winless for two teams this year.
New York has Philadelphia at home again.
St Louis has another afternoon start at Chicago's Friendly Confines.

Yesterday's Game
Lost in all the disappointment and doubt of the Giants' slide from first to worst is the recent strong performance of their starting pitchers. Excepting two awful starts from Matt Moore, the starting rotation has kept the team in every game for a month now, with 17 quality starts in 18 games and most of the others not far off the mark. Such was the case with Alberto Suarez last night. He managed only four innings, and the three-run shot he gave up in the first cost him the loss, but it was a 3-2 game when he departed. Things got out of hand in a hurry against Matt Reynolds; brought in to face a string of left-handed batters, he let them all reach base, resulting in four runs. That was more than enough as the Giants managed only four hits off Edwin Jackson and none off the three worthies who succeeded him.

Friday, September 23, 2016

  W L GB
New York 81 72 - Needed 3-run rally in 11th.
GIANTS 81 72 - Shark overturns Padres 'hex.'
St Louis 80 72 .5 Leake faces Arrieta today.

Giants defeated San Diego, 2-1.
New York defeated Philadelphia, 9-8, in eleven innings.
St Louis was idle.

Giants at San Diego; 7:40 PDT (10:40 EDT). Alberto Suarez against Edwin Jackson.
New York hosts Philadelphia this evening.
St Louis has an afternoon start at Chicago.

Last Night's Game
Jeff Samardzija pitched and won what may be his most important start this year, and he did so in fine fashion, shutting 'em out over 7 while fanning nine. The Giants picked him up in the top of the eighth, breaking a scoreless tie thanks to Kelby Tomlinson's pinch-hit single and RBIs from Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence. Derek Law allowed a solo homer in the bottom of the frame, but steady hand Will Smith finished the inning and Sergio Romo got his second save in three days despite allowing a hit in the ninth. The six-game losing streak against San Diego is over, and the Giants could sure use a sweep of this four-game set before finishing out the season at home.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

NL West W L GB
LA 86 66 - It's over-- they'll win it.
GIANTS 80 72 6 Wild-card or bust.
Wild Card W L GB
New York 80 72 - Swept at home by last-place Atlanta.
GIANTS  80 72 - Have lost 6 straight to San Diego.
St Louis 80 72  -   Weekend wrangle at Wrigley.

Giants lost at LA, 9-3.
New York lost their third straight at home to Atlanta, 4-3.
St Louis was routed, 11-1, at Colorado. 

Giants open a four-game series at San Diego, with Jeff Samardzija opposing lefty Christian Friedrich, making his first start against the Giants. 7:10 PDT (10:10 EDT) at Petco Park.
New York hosts Philadelphia, who are not as bad as their record, and who may make things tougher for the suddenly-vulnerable Mets.
St Louis is idle. They open a three-game series at Chicago tomorrow night.
Last Night's Game 
Well, it was over quickly. Matt Moore, who came within one out of a no-hitter at Dodger Stadium a month ago, gave up five first-inning runs as the Dodgers sent ten men to the plate, and was out of there moments later when he opened the second just as badly. His Game Score of 6 rates as the worst of any Giants starter this year. The game having gotten out of hand, we saw both Matt Cain and Jake Peavy hit hard in garbage time, which made rookie Ty Blach's three spotless innings-- nine up, nine down-- about the only highlight of the evening. Scratching for positives, we note Ehire Adrianza's first homer of the year as he filled in for Brandon Crawford, and Brandon Belt's 37th double and 77th RBI.

And so, the division race is over. It really is. Nobody makes up a six-game deficit with ten to play. The Dodgers will win their fourth straight NL West title. But thankfully, both the Cardinals and the Mets have been most obliging during this September-to-forget. Last night St Louis blew their chance to sweep the Rockies, and the Mets, with a golden opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the competition, instead lost three straight at home to last-place Atlanta. So the Three Wannabes remain tied. Few Giants fans can seriously claim that our team is playing well enough these days to claim a post-season berth, but as long as those other guys keep losing and failing to take advantage, the door to the World Series remains open. For now.  The first order of business is, of course, reversing this appalling 0-for-6 streak against San Diego. Starting tonight.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

NL West W L GB
LA 85 66 - It's all about tonight.
GIANTS 80 71 5 Win the series, stay in the race.
Wild Card W L GB
New York 80 71 - Braves prove no pushovers.
GIANTS 80 71 - "Stuck in the middle with you…"
St Louis 80 71 -   Don't even think about tiebreakers.

Giants defeated LA, 2-0, as Johnny Cueto won his 17th game.
New York lost again at home to Atlanta, 5-4.
St Louis defeated Colorado, 10-5.

Giants conclude the three-game series in LA with Matt Moore going against Kenta Maeda, who is 2-0 against San Francisco this year. It's no exaggeration to say that the outcome of this game will determine whether a "NL West" entry (above) continues on this blog. 7:10 PDT (10:10 EDT) at Dodger Stadium. It's the great Vin Scully's last home call of a Giants-Dodgers game.
New York wraps up the series with Atlanta; St Louis finishes up at Colorado. 

Last Night's Game
"Another such victory, and we are undone." Whatever the Giants do the rest of the way may have to be done without the help of both Johnny Cueto and Brando Crawford-- who, it could be argued, are our most valuable pitcher and player. Hustling to third, sliding in headfirst, and being tagged out, Crawford sprained a finger. Following through on a sixth-inning pitch, with a one-run lead and a shutout going, Cueto strained his groin.  Both injuries are "day-to-day," with Cueto's the most troubling. Regardless of the MRI results, Cueto has to be careful with this one, and Lord'a'mercy, Giants fans, it just could not have come at a worse time.

With a solo homer by Eduardo Nunez the only scoring, San Francisco's beleaguered bullpen managed to work through the final three-plus. Steve Okert picked up Cueto with five big outs, then it was Will Smith, who seems to get better with each appearance, and finally good old Sergio Romo nailing down his first (!) save of the season. Brandon Belt's solo shot in the top of the 9th no doubt gave Romo some cushion and comfort as he set 'em down as in the days of old (well, 2012). LA wasted nine hits while stranding ten; the Giants had 11 hits but only the two solo runs. Both teams had a man thrown out on the bases and another picked off first.

So the Giants live to see another day in the division race, and now can win the series and cut the lead back to four as they leave town.  But at the same time, a loss tonight drops our fellows 6 back with 10 to play, and no one overcomes those odds. So, without going all Kenny Loggins on ya, we can still say, "This is it."

No other division leader has clinched a title since the Cubs put theirs away last week, but Texas could do so today if they win and the fast-rising Houston Astros lose. It wasn't that long ago that the 'Stros were lingering near the division cellar; now they've passed Seattle and are only two games behind in the wild-card race. The Rangers, meanwhile, now hold the best record in the American League... Boston has put some distance between themselves and the competition in the AL East, while Cleveland is holding steady over Detroit while Kansas City slowly fades back. It's possible all the AL divisions could be formally decided by Sunday... There are still five, possibly six, teams in the hunt for the AL wild-card... The Mets' unexpected struggles against Atlanta have pushed Washington closer to clinching the NL East, even though the Nats have lost four in a  row and are playing poorly in September.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

NL West W L GB
LA 85 65 - This race is all but over.
GIANTS 79 71 6 Must win tonight and tomorrow.
Wild Card W L GB
New York 80 70 - Didn't advance.
GIANTS 79 71 - That sinking feeling…
St Louis 79 71  -   Gettin' kinda crowded in here.

Giants lost at LA, 2-1, blowing still another ninth-inning lead.
New York lost at Atlanta, 7-3, while St Louis defeated Colorado, 5-3, moving into a tie with the Giants for the second wild-card spot.

Giants soldier on at LA, with Johnny Cueto facing Rich Hill. 7:10 PDT (10:10 EDT) at Chavez Ravine. Cueto is 2-1 with one no-decision in four starts against LA this year; he lost a 1-0 duel to Hill here last month.
New York is at Atlanta and St Louis at Colorado.

Last Night's Game
Well, the Giants proved you don't need Santiago Casilla to blow a critical ninth-inning lead. The latest travesty began when Madison Bumgarner was lifted after seven innings, despite pitching a one-hit shutout and striking out ten on only 97 pitches. His latest dustup with the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig-- a loud and extremely belligerent shouting match following a basepath staredown-- may have prompted Bruce Bochy to pull him. But "Bum" is a unrepentant hothead, as was Lefty Grove. That's his nature, and this was his game to win, and you roll with it. Will Smith and Derek Law did just fine in the eighth, but then came the ninth, and Bochy's evidently-irresistible urge to play matchup. Law allowed a single to open the frame, and the minuet began. Or more precisely, the Keystone Kops imitation. Yes, it was almost comical-- new pitcher, single; new pitcher, RBI single to tie it, new pitcher, walk-off single.  Game over. Four pitchers, four batters, four singles, two runs, no outs, and the latest example of why the San Francisco Giants simply do not have the mettle to compete in baseball's postseason this year.

There. We said it. Among other things, Bochy's matchup madness has become, in our view, a fetish. In years past, he would have left his best bet-- Law-- in the game to try and get the double play, irrespective of lefty-righty percentage plays. The revolving-door policy has bred, we believe, a team-wide lack of confidence in and among the relief pitchers. Knowing any mistake means the hook, no sense that the manager believes in your ability to get out of a jam-- this is no longer about being a team effort, or about guys picking each other up in a tight spot. This is a reactive, blind, seemingly fear-based mismanagement. Bochy, who not long ago was accused of being overly loyal to washed-up veteran pitchers, now acts as though he has no confidence in any of them. It would be better for all concerned if the Giants were to miss the playoffs completely, and retool their bullpen and their approach to its use, than for us to suffer through another of these nightmarish late-inning losses in a winner-take-all wild-card playoff.

Bright moment: Eduardo Nunez manufacturing a third-inning run against Clayton Kershaw, who was dealing, and the Dodgers' shaky defense. Two out, none on, and Nunez beats out an infield ht, steals second, goes to third when Yasmany Grandal throws the ball into center field, and comes in to score on Kershaw's wild pitch.  Kershaw, clearly getting his strength back after his DL stint, went six innings and struck out seven, giving up three hits and a walk along with that unearned run. The LA bullpen was lights-out perfect over the final three, and the contrast between the two teams was never more strikingly displayed.