Thursday, March 19, 2009

Giants (6) vs White Sox (4)

In a disturbing trend and for the 3rd game in a row now, the Giants regulars could do nothing against a front line MLB pitcher. Today it was John Danks that held the Giants scoreless for 5 innings on 4 singles and a walk, while striking out 5. The last 3 games it has been 15 innings of shutout ball pitched against the Giants in the first 5 innings of the games. I hope this trend does not continue during the regular season.

In a positive trend, for the 3rd game in a row, the Giants replacements came back to win the game against the opponent's bullpen. Today it was Nate Schierholtz, Eugenio Velez, Scott McClain, Kevin Frandsen and Jesus Guzman that got the RBI's from the 6th inning on to win the game. Today's RBI gave Guzman the team lead with his 12th of the spring.

Matt Cain started the game and pitched a team high 5.2 innings. Matt was not real real sharp today as he gave up 4 earned runs on 5 hits and 3 walks. Cain continues to walk too many batters and the 2 solo HRs were just poorly located pitches. You can make all the excuses for Matt that you want about lack of run support, but if he can't start controlling his pitches, he will never be the star we all hope he will be. In his defense, both of the 1st inning runs probably shouldn't have happened. On a looping line drive to LF, Nate Schierholtz got a late jump on the ball and then compounded the problem by diving for the ball. The ball got by him for a double. With a better jump, the ball probably would have been caught and it certainly shouldn't have been more than a single. In the same inning, Randy Winn went back to the wall in RF, then turned around and looked up at the top of the wall like he thought the ball was a sure HR. Problem is the ball hit at the base of the wall for another tainted double. I am not sure how the ball kept from hitting Randy in the head as his back was turned and there were only a couple of feet between him and the wall. That ball definitely should have been caught. Of course........Cain shouldn't have thrown such a hittable pitch either.

Tomorrow will be the same 2 teams out in Glendale. Hopefully the regulars will be able to put up some runs for starting pitcher, Barry Zito. He usually needs all of the runs he can get. Of course, if the Giants hold true to form, not many regulars will make the bus ride to Glendale. Seems like any bus ride of over 1/2 hr. means a lot of youngsters will play.

After Alex Hinshaw retired the only batter he faced to end the 6th inning, Bobby Howry threw the 7th. Bobby had another good outing allowing no runs on 1 hit and a strikeout. Howry has given up runs in only 1 outing this spring.

Merkin Valdez leaves the field after pitching a very short 8th inning. Merkin only needed 11 pitches (8 strikes) to finish a perfect inning with 1 strikeout. I think Merkin is back.........let's hope he can stay healthy.

Jeremy Affeldt pitched a scoreless 9th inning to get the save. It was a less than stellar performance however. Affeldt gave up 2 hits (including a double) and a walk and was saved by a nice diving stop at 1B by Jesus Guzman for the 3rd out of the inning. Whatever his mechanical problems are, Jeremy needs to correct them very soon.

In the 2B derby; Kevin Frandsen started the game at 2B and played the entire game. He went 1 for 3 with an RBI. The RBI came on a hit batsman with the bases loaded to tie the game at 4.

Emmanuel Burriss came in to pinch run for Edgar Renteria and play SS. He went 0 for 1 with a run scored. Not to be outdone by Frandsen, Burriss also was hit by a pitch.

The 2 working together turned a 6-4-3 double play.

Nate Schierholtz started in LF and went 1 for 3 with a double and a RBI. In this photo, the umpiring crew called this a check swing....I don't think so. It didn't matter as Nate struck out anyway (his only K of the game).

The offensive player of the game award goes to Andres Torres (again). Andres went 1 for 2 with 2 walks, a stolen base and 2 runs scored. Andres' average now stands at .459 and his 13 runs scored are the best on the team.

I used this photo because you can see that JT Snow was back at the park. That is him sitting on the first folding chair next to Carney Lansford.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Giants (8) at Cubs (6)

Once again, not much coverage for you today. My daughter-in-law had to go back home this evening, so we had to leave early to get her to the airport. We left at the 7th inning stretch, with the Giants trailing 3-5. I was surprised to see the final score when I returned to my condo. Pretty nice to have a game won on a grand slam by a 19 year old middle infielder, Nick Noonan. But when are our starting 8 going to win a game? Seems like it is always the kids who have no chance to make the team. For those of you who don't follow the prospects, Noonan was the Giants sandwich round pick (between the 1st and 2nd rounds) in 2007, straight out of high school. He hit .316 in the Arizona rookie league in 2007 and .279 (with 68 RBI) in Augusta (single A) last year.

Lincecum started the game and was in trouble from the 1st pitch, a LONG HR to Alfonso Soriano. He gave up an additional 2 runs in that inning. Although he only gave up 1 additional tainted run over the next 2.2 innings and struck out 6, he really was not in rhythm the entire game. Timmy went deep in the count regularly, walked 4 and was charged with a wild pitch. Some days you just don't have it. As far as the tainted run I the 4th inning, Lincecum induced an easy groundball to Edgar Renteria's left. Renteria got there and just didn't reach down far enough as the ball ticked off his glove and trickled into LF. The hometown scorekeeper ruled it a hit........even the Cubs fan sitting next to me had already scored it as an error. No question it should have been scored an error, which would have made the 4th run unearned.

Most of you probably know that Pablo Sandoval was hit in the mouth with a bouncing ball. It looked worse than it was. Pablo backed up on the ball (usually a mistake) and the ball took a bad hop and hit him square in the face. He immediately went down and did not move until the trainers got there. At first, I thought he was knocked out. I also thought he was hit in the nose and that his nose was bleeding pretty badly, I later read it was his mouth and that he chipped a tooth and had his lips tore up a bit. Pablo wears braces and that further compounded the problem. Pablo has a bad habit of backing up on hard hit bouncing balls. Usually, his quick hands allow him to make the play. This time they didn't.

Offensively, the Giants regulars couldn't do anything against Cubs starter. Ryan Dempster. As has been the case for years now, with lots of different Giants against lots of different pitchers.........the Giants just couldn't time his slower pitches. They were out in front all day and that produced a series of popups and weak groundballs. You would think after 3 or 4 innings they would realize they have to wait a little longer to start their swing. But the Giants were out in front and reaching until Dempster left the game after 5. It wasn't until after Dempster left the game that the Giants were able to score their first runs in the 6th.

Unfortunately, I missed the best part of the least for a Giants fan who loves to watch the kids play. Maybe the Giants regulars can do something against the White Sox and John Danks tomorrow. With Sandoval out for a couple of days, it will be interesting to see who starts at 3B. Will they reward Ryan Rohlinger for his late innings heroics or will they give Jesus Guzman a start as a reward for his hot hitting (.421) or will they trot retread Juan Uribe out? I'm hopping for Rohlinger or Guzman......I'm betting on Uribe.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Giants (7) vs Brewers (5)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I was more interested in celebrating than documenting today's game......which is too bad because it was a good game. From what I remember (through my beer induced haze) the Giants did not score at all and looked totally dead against Jeff Suppan. Hopefully, they can correct that by opening day. A late inning inside the park HR by Mr. March, Ryan Rohlinger, helped to tie the game. I didn't know Rohlinger could run that fast. Then a 9th inning walk-off HR by Jesus Guzman ended it.

Pat Misch started and had his best spring outing. Too bad it came AFTER he was sent back to the Minor League camp. Madison Bumgarner had his second outing and continued to blow people away. Alex Hinshaw had one of his few scoreless innings. Even Billy Sadler managed to throw a perfect inning. Tim Alderson did not fare so well, raising his spring ERA to 22.50. And Francis Beltran gave up his first 3 runs of the spring.

That's about all for today. Tim Lincecum is slated to be back on the mound today against the Cubs, after a bout with bronchitis.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Giants (5) vs Angels (8)

As just about everyone knows by now, Tim Lincecum was scratched from the game due to bronchitis. That made this a bullpen game with Jeremy Affeldt getting the start. In addition to that, the Giants gave almost every starter the day off, with the exception of Bengie Molina and either Kevin Frandsen or Manny Burriss (depending on who wins that battle), who started at 2B and SS respectively. By about the 5th inning the Giants had an entire infield that had no chance of making the team. So bottom line is, they didn't try real hard to win this game........and the result was their 4th loss in a row.

Considering the circumstances, the only thing that concerned me about this game was that 5 of the Angels 8 runs were scored off of the Giants' lefthanded and righthanded setup men. Bobby Howry gave up his first 2 runs of the spring, so there is no real concern there. Affeldt however, continues to struggle, as he gave up another 3 runs in 2 innings of work, on 3 hits (2 doubles) and a walk. Affeldt is obviously having mechanical problems. Between innings he and Dave Righetti had a long discussion that was punctuated with arm movements and such, indicating they were talking about mechanics. I'm not a pitching coach, but it looks like Jeremy is dragging his arm. On a high percentage of his pitches, his arm was still behind him after his landing foot hit the ground........not usually a good thing for a pitcher. No matter what the exact problem......he needs to fix it before the start of the season.

In the battle for second base, Frandsen went 1 for 3 with an RBI as he chopped the ball over a drawn-in Angels infield for an RBI. He was also caught stealing, when Jesus Guzman swung though a hit and run pitch. Burriss was 0 for 1 with a sacrifice bunt. Both played flawless defense, but didn't have any particularly tough chances.

Apparently, the Giants plan to make tomorrow's game against the Brewers another bullpen game with Billy Sadler as the starter. Considering Billy's 18.00 ERA, that should mean another "interesting" game.

After slumping early in the spring, Bengie Molina had another 2 hits today to raise his average to .303. He also provided most of the runs for the Giants as he had 3 RBI on the day.

Merkin Valdez was absolutely victimized by his teammates. He threw 1.1 innings and gave up a single and a walk......but managed to be charged with 2 earned runs. How is that possible you might ask. Well, I'll tell you. After a 1-2-3 seventh inning, Merkin got the first out in 8th inning. He walked the next batter. The next batter hit a groundball just to the right of firstbaseman Scott McClain. McClain misplayed the ball, but managed to have it tick off his glove as it headed into RF, resulting in a 1 out situation with runners at the corners. I would have scored it as an error, but the Scottsdale Stadium scorekeeper disagreed.

So now Rule 5 draftee, Luis Perdomo comes in to a 1st & 3rd situation with 1 out and proceeds to kill his chances of making the team. Luis was only able to get 1 out while allowing both of Merkin's runners to score, plus 1 runner of his own. Perdomo allowed a double and 3 walks in the short time he was in the game. Perdomo's ERA was saved from further damage when he was relieved by Waldis Joaquin who left all 3 of Perdomo's runners stranded. Waldis also pitched the 9th inning. Waldis continues to impress, as he struck out 3 of the 4 batters he faced and lowered his spring ERA to 1.29. I am liking this guy.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Giants (3) vs Royals (11)

After fighting back a couple of days ago to even their spring record at 8-8, the Giants had their 3rd game in a row when they just got trashed. The offense continues to get the absolute minimum runs out of their hits. Today it was 12 hits, including 3 doubles and a triple, which produced only 3 runs. Considering Barry Zito gave up that many runs in the first inning, you know it had to be a long day.

Speaking of Barry Zito, after a couple of good outings and a couple of mediocre outings, Zito was in mid-season form today. He was horrible. He did go 5 full innings, throwing 85 pitches, but too often those pitches had "hit me" written all over them........and they were coming in sooooo slow, that the batters had no problem reading them. He was tatooed for 10 hits, including 2 HR's and 2 doubles, and gave away another 3 walks. That was good for 6 earned runs and it probably should have been more. As I said before, there is no speed posting at the stadium, but the game was being repeated on the MLB channel and I saw a little bit of it while getting ready to go out for dinner. The gun on the replay showed Zito at a blistering 84 MPH. High School speed......High School results.

Alex Hinshaw continues to pitch his way off of the opening day roster as he gave up 1 run, a leadoff HR in the 9th, on 2 hits with 1 strikeout. 1 inning, 1 run........that's the way it has been for Hinshaw as his ERA now stands at an even 9.00.

Non-roster invitees, Andres Torres and Jesus Guzman both had doubles in their only AB's in the 8th when the Giants scored 2 of their 3 runs. Both of these guys are trying hard to make the team as Guzman is now batting .414 with a team high 10 extra base hits. Torres is batting a team high .452.

Scott Barnes made his debut in today's game. I am sure it was not what he had pictured in his mind. He only lasted 2/3 of an inning, allowing 4 runs on 3 hits and a walk. He did strike out a batter. When Barnes left the game, only 1 run had crossed the plate, but he left the bases loaded for Jesse English. Jesse allowed all 3 runners to score on a walk and a hit before finally getting the last out of the inning.

Barnes went through 3 levels in the Minor League system in his first year as a pro last year, ending at Class A Augusta. In total, he gave up only 24 hits in 43.2 innings of work and wrung up 63 K's while only walking 12. Scott is only 21, so there is plenty of time for him to show better than he did today.

Randy Winn got 2 hits today for, I believe, the first time this spring. Randy really has not been consistently hitting the ball with any authority. Today he had 1 bloop single and 1 hard hit line drive double in 3 AB's. The double was Randy's 1st extra base hit. He also struck out once. Of his 5 hits this spring there has been 1 infield hit and at least 2 bloopers that I can remember. Winn "raised" his spring average to .147.

Pablo Sandoval was one of 3 Giants to get 2 hits.......of course Pablo seems to get 2 hits every day. He raised his average to .429 with 2 singles in 3 AB's. Pablo also made one nice reaction play on a hard hit ball hit right at him.

Emmanuel Burris was the other Giant to get multiple basehits. He played the entire game at 2B and had 2 singles in 4 AB's, raising his BA to .385.

Kevin Frandsen played SS for the second time this spring as he relieved Edgar Renteria. He was 1 for 2 with a run scored thanks to a SAC fly by Buster Posey. Kevin raised his average to .289 on the spring.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Giants (4) vs Padres (8)

Today was a day of firsts for the young Giants. We got a look at 3 pitchers for the first time, Buster Posey went deep for the first time and Nate Schierholtz made his first appearance in a game since the first couple of games.

In looking at the box score, you would think Matt Cain had a terrible outing, allowing 5 earned runs on 7 hits and 2 walks in 4.1 innings. BUT Matt also had 7 strikeouts and a couple of his hits were the product of poor outfield defense and at least 3 runs would not have scored if the Giants had an outfielder in LF instead of Minor League infielder Matt Downs. Cain wasn't totally blameless however as he threw a few balls right over the middle of the plate and 2 walks in 4 innings is never acceptable.

Offensively, the Giants had plenty of hits to win this game. 11 hits including 3 doubles and 2 HRs will usually win a game for you. A pair of double plays (Renteria and Rohlinger) and 8 men left on base pretty much did them in offensively.

The first young pitcher we saw today was Steve Edelfsen. Edelfsen relieved Cain with 1 on and 1 out in the 5th inning. He allowed Cain's runner to score on 1 hit, a double.

Edelfsen pitched in single A San Jose last year and had a 8-5 record with a 3.36 ERA. He also had a stint in the Hawaii Winter League where he didn't fare so well, compiling a 10.66 ERA in 12.2 innings of work.

Next to the mound was 2007 first round draftee, Madison Bumgarner. It's hard to evaluate a pitcher based on 1 inning, but this kid throws hard. Physically, he does not look like someone who won't be 20 until August 1st. Look at the lower body on this kid. Those big thighs give him good drive off the mound. Today he threw 1 inning of no hit, 1 walk 1 strikeout ball. His control was OK as he threw 13 of 22 pitches for strikes. Both of his outs that weren't via strikeout were on groundballs.

Madison had the best ERA in the minors last year while pitching in Augusta (single A). He had a minuscule ERA of 1.46 while going 15-3. Not bad for a 18/19 year old in his first year as a pro.

Tim Alderson followed Bumgarner to the mound. Although he is 9 months older than Bumgarner (still a pup) he doesn't seem to be as well developed, physically, and did not seem to throw the ball quite as hard. He had a not so good outing, allowing 3 runs on 4 hits (including a HR) while striking out 2. One of his hits, though, was another outfield misplay. Alderson is from Scottsdale, so he was pitching in front of his friends and family, some of which were sitting a couple of rows in front of us. That had to add to the nervousness factor a little bit.

Tim pitched in single A San Jose last year where he went 13-4 with a 2.79 ERA. He had a very good 124 to 34 strikeout to walk ratio.

Travis Ishikawa had his 1st HR since the first game of the spring. He went 2 for 3 and is now batting .324 for the spring. It appears to me that Travis is pretty close to wrapping up the starting firstbaseman's job. I really haven't seen much to show me that anyone else is even in the running. Rich Aurilia has been the DH more than he has been at 1B and 36 year old Scott McClain is the only other person that is getting regular playing time there.

Matt Downs looks like a hitter, but it might be time to end the outfield experiment. While playing the entire game in LF, he had 1 scored error and 3 additional misplayed balls that cost the Giants 3 or 4 runs in total. He doesn't judge the ball very well off the bat and tends to freeze until it is too late to go get the ball.

Offensively, he was 0 for 2 for one of the few times this spring, but he still walked twice, scored a run and got 1 RBI. He is batting .320 for the spring. Love the bat.....hate the least in the outfield.

Buster Posey came into the game to catch when Bumgarner came to the mound. I think the Giants are trying to get a relationship started here as soon as possible. Posey went 1 for 2 with a 2 run HR, his first of the spring, to raise his average to .385.

Nate Schierholtz' injuries finally let him get into a game. He started in RF in the leadoff spot in the order. As soon as he got 2 ABs he came out of the game. They are obviously being very careful with him. He got an opposite field single in 2 ABs. Nate really needs to start playing. Looks like he finally has an opportunity this year and his body won't let him take advantage of it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Giants (4) vs Japan (6) 3-11-09

Interesting game against Team Japan yesterday. The first thing you notice is the press coverage. There must have been 200 members of the press on the field before the game. I remember when Keiichi Yabu first reported to the Giants camp last year. He had an "entourage" of about 15 members of the Japanese Press following him everywhere.....and that was for a 39 year old who really wasn't very good when he was younger. Also the fans are very into this WBC stuff. About half of the people of Japanese decent in the crowd had a Japanese Flag drawn on their face and there were numerous signs written in Japanese throughout the crowd. My seats are right on the aisle behind the visitor's dugout. My view of the game was disturbed almost continuously by Japanese fans running down the aisle to the dugout and snapping photos of the players.....especially since Yu Darvish spent most of the game on the dugout railing right in front of me.

Tim Lincecum started the game and while he kept his spring ERA at 0.00, he was not as sharp as he has been in his other 3 spring starts. Timmy's problem was control related. He did strike out 5 batters, but he also walked 3 in 2.1 innings. He only allowed one single, but left 2 men on base when he left the game with 1 out in the 3rd. Tim threw 49 pitches in 2.1 innings as compared to 28 pitches in 3 full innings in his last start. In addition to the 3 walks he went deep in a lot of counts. Jesse English relieved Lincecum and helped Tim out by stranding both runners.

The Giants took a 4-0 lead after 3 innings and hit the ball pretty well off of the first 2 Japanese pitchers. The problem was that the Giants went hitless after the 4th inning. Their only offense from the 5th on was 2 walks and 1 hit batsman by submariner Shunsuke Watanabe. Giants' starters: Randy Winn (o for 2), Bengie Molina (0 for 3), Aaron Rowand (0 for 3 not to mention a GIDP), Rich Aurilia (0 for 2) and Eugenio Velez (0 for 4) all went hitless.

Although they did hit 3 doubles, it is obvious the Japanese Team lives on the principle of "small ball". Lots of dinks and bloopers fell for basehits, they stole 3 bases and 2 of their 6 runs scored by way of the sacrifice fly. The Japanese players are also more into the game than their American counterparts. The entire team was up on the dugout railing for the entire game and any player who scored went the entire length of the dugout receiving congratulations from his teammates. It actually reminded me a little of a high school game because of the level of enthusiasm from the players.

As I said......a very fun game to watch. It's always interesting to see the differences amongst cultures.......even when they are playing the same game.

Note: The Giants have an off day today and are playing the Rockies in Tucson tomorrow. Since I go to so many games these days, I have avoided the 2 hr one-way drive to Tucson for the past couple of years. So the next game I will be going to will be against the Padres on Saturday. It's supposed to be 75 degrees here the next couple of days. It will be hard to find something to do in weather like that.......but I will force myself.

Jesse English came on to relieve Tim Lincecum with 2 on and 1 out in the 3rd inning. Jesse stranded both runners with a fly out and a strikeout. English was put in this same situation (only with 2 outs) on Wednesday against the Rangers. In that situation he left both of Joe Martinez' runners stranded. The first batter faced in both games was a left hander. Is Jesse a get 1 or 2 outs to get out of the inning lefty specialist in the making?

I have been one of the few Jack Taschner supporters for the last couple of years, but he is losing me. He just doesn't seem to be able to regularly get people out. Today it was 2 hits and and an error that allowed 2 runs, 1 earned. The good news is that he didn't walk anyone.......a problem that has always dogged him. Today's stats won't count against Spring Training numbers, but it wouldn't matter much since his spring ERA in 8.31 with 6 hits and SEVEN walks in 4.1 inning pitched.

Justin Miller was the losing pitcher today. Although his spring training ERA is 0.00, he didn't pitch nearly that well today. He allowed 5 runs on 4 hits (2 doubles) and a walk. He also struck out 1. Miller was charged with 2 wild pitches, but in my opinion one of them should have been a passed ball on Eli Whiteside. Justin was really the only pitcher that the Japanese team hit hard.

Alex Hinshaw did not help Miller out at all. He came into the game with 1 out and 2 men on. Alex proceeded to give up 2 hits and allowed both of Miller's runs to score. He also tallied 1 strikeout. This was a pretty average spring outing for Hinshaw, who has given up 8 hits in 4 innings now. I expected him to be almost a given in the 2009 bullpen, but he has me a little worried.

Brian Wilson pitched the 7th inning in typical Brian Wilson fashion. No runs scored, but he made it interesting with a basehit and 2 walks. Wilson helped himself out by turning a 1-6-3 double play. I really like Brian Wilson, but he NEEDS to cut down on those base on balls.

Manny Burriss helped out his cause in the battle for 2B. He had 2 basehits, including a double, in 3 AB's and stole a base. He was also hit by a pitch.

Travis Ishikawa had a good, but slightly painful day. He was 1 for 1 with a walk and 1 RBI on a sacrifice fly. He was also hit by a pitch. I guess pitcher Tetsuya Utsumi didn't like someone named Ishikawa playing against the Japanese team.

Edgar Renteria had his best day as a Giant. He singled and scored in the first inning and hit a solo HR in the 3rd. Edgar also struck out once.

Pablo Sandoval had a good day at the plate. He had 2 singles in 3 AB's while scoring a run and batting 1 run in. Pablo also, believe it or not, drew another walk. This one doesn't count in the spring stats, but it doesn't change the fact that he now has 3 in 28 AB's and that's only 1 less than he had in 145 ABs with the Giants last year.

Pablo also committed his second error of the spring (again it doesn't count). On both errors, it looked like the ball "surprised" Pablo and he let a ball go by that was very close and required little or no movement on his part. I have seen him display quick, soft hands........but I am not too sure about concentration level.

Yu Darvish is the new poster boy for Japanese baseball. It seemed to me like he got more attention than even Ichiro. At 22 he already has 4 seasons and 652+ innings under his belt in the Japanese League. Oh......and that career 2.33 ERA (1.82 & 1.88 the last 2 years) doesn't hurt either. I missed quite bit of the game trying to peak around and through people trying to get his attention and/or photo.

Ichiro Suzuki was at his customary position in the lineup, leading off for Japan. He was 1 for 3 with a walk on the day. The walk came off of Tim Lincecum, who broke Ichiro's bat on a groundout in the first inning.

I included this photo because this guy, Shunsuke Watanabe, has the strangest delivery I have ever seen. He balks on every pitch from the stretch, but the unpires aren't calling it. He comes set, then lifts up his front foot and sets it right back down BEFORE he starts his delivery. It's almost like Robb Nen's toe tap....except he does it not during his delivery, but right before he starts his delivery. And his motion from the windup absolutely defies description. I wouldn't even attempt to describe it. I wish I had a mini-cam to film and post it. Strangest thing I have ever seen. It has to be on the internet someplace. If anyone can find it, let me know the location and I will attempt to post it here.