Friday, September 12, 2014

LA              83-63      ...                  Have the 3 pitchers they want ready to go.
GIANTS    81-65      2  GB            Now is the time!

Giants defeated Arizona, 6-2, to sweep the three-game series
LA was idle.

Giants shut out Arizona, 5-0, while LA shut out the San Diego Padres, 4-0.

Giants host LA in the beginning of a titanic three-game home series at the 'Bell; 7:05 PDT (10:05 EDT). It's Madison Bumgarner tonight, against Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-6, 3.16).  "Bum" has started three games against the Dodgers and pitched well in two, but all three starts were in April and May. For his part Ryu has also pitched well in two of his three against the Giants; most recently he beat Jake Peavy in the latter's Giants debut at the end of July in a Sunday night game at the 'Bell.

It goes without saying this is a critical series for the Giants. Sweep, they take the division lead. Take two, they cut the lead to one and gain the momentum. Anything less-- well, let's not talk about it right now. Looking ahead, Tim Hudson faces Zach Greinke Saturday evening, and the series concludes with Yusmeiro Petit opposing Clayton Kershaw on Sunday afternoon-- unless ESPN decides to show the game in prime-time.

Yesterday's Game
Jake Peavy pitched well into the sixth, and that was enough for the Giants, who held a 3-1 lead when he left and added three more in the bottom. Buster Posey, back behind the plate, went 3-for-5 with a RBI; Travis Ishikawa, starting at first base, singled, walked, and scored a run. Angel Pagan scored two, but the day really belonged to Hunter Pence. By now the video of his first-inning RBI single has gone viral. As he swung, the bat slipped out of his hands, and while free-flying it struck the ball on the nose. The bat went left, the ball went right, Arizona pitcher Delgado did a slip-and-fall fandango, and it (the ball, that is) ricocheted off the second-base bag as Pagan scored. The bizarre scene immediately recalled the selfsame Pence's shattered-bat hit in Game Seven of the 2012 NLCS. Second in runs scored, leading the league in hits and headlines, Pence is getting mentioned in the MVP talk these days, though he was quick to disparage such remarks and deflect attention over to teammate Posey when the subject came up.

Wednesday night Ryan Vogelsong carried a shutout into the seventh and left with the score 0-0; the Giants then erupted for four in the bottom of the frame to make a winner out of Jean Machi, who had relieved Vogelsong, faced one batter, thrown two pitches, and gotten the third out. C'est la vie.

Brandon Belt has been cleared to "resume baseball activities" after extensive concussion recovery and treatment; we're grateful his career was not derailed in the manner of Mike Matheny's. How much playing time he gets is hard to predict right now, especially with Andrew Susac doing so well at catcher. We might see Belt patrolling left field if Michael Morse's oblique strain continues to keep him out...  The moldy old canard that "Pitchers shouldn't be eligible for the MVP Award" has reared its ugly head again; the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton went on record with it the other day when asked about Clayton Kershaw's chances. That a position player starts 150 games and a pitcher 30 games sounds like a compelling argument-- until you consider the number of at-bats that position player has against the number of batters the pitcher faces. Let's look at 'em. Stanton has 633 plate appearances-- 539 ABs, 94 walks-- while Kershaw has faced 662 batters.  You could argue that Stanton also has 332 total chances in the field, but then Kershaw has 56 at-bats. Whether the defensive part of the game relies more on one of eight defenders, or on the one pitcher, seems fairly obvious. There's no argument here. Kershaw's impact on a season is equivalent to Stanton's.

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