Game Recap: Pablo Sandoval hits for the cycle

Giants 8, Rockies 5.

The story tonight was Pablo Sandoval, who became the first Giant to hit for the cycle since Fred Lewis. Via Baggs, it’s the tenth in San Francisco Giants history (25th in franchise history), and he’s just the second player to do it this season (joining George Kottaras of the Milwaukee Brewers). Sandoval’s been very hot lately — he was riding an eight-game hitting streak until yesterday, and he picked things right back up again tonight. Overall, he’s got 17 hits in his last 38 at-bats with nine of them going for extra bases. To re-affirm what I said the other day about his supposed weight gain: I’m not too concerned.

While we’re on the subject of unlikely occurrences, the Giants scored eight runs. Again. This is the third time in the last five games. According to STATS LLC, they had reached the eight-run mark three times in their previous 89 games.

Unsurprsingly, this new-found (and hopefully not short-lived) ability to score runs has yielded success for the Giants of late: they’ve got a five-game win streak going, and have worked their way up to six games back in the wild card race, and seven games back in the NL West. They have just 12 games left, so all they can do at this point is keep winning games and hope Atlanta or Arizona has some kind of massive collapse. In any event, it’s awesome to see this team playing well.

Lastly — while we’re on the topic of awesome things, here are my obligatory short daily musings on Brandon Belt: it’s very nice to see him knock one out — even if it took him five at-bats (including two strikeouts). This is why I want to see him in the lineup every day. The Giants really have nothing to lose putting him out there, and these are valuable at-bats. If he’s getting playing time on a daily basis, hopefully he’ll get a chance to work through his struggles…because when he does overcome them, he’s going to be doing special things with the bat. We’ve seen glimpses of that, and tonight’s home run off Matt Reynolds was just an example.

Game Recap: Carlos Beltran hits home run #300

Giants 3, Padres 1. 

Things didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts — as the Padres scored in the first on the following sequence: reached base on error, fielder’s choice, stolen base, double. Anyway, that would be the lone run the Padres scored as Tim Lincecum pitched pretty well — four hits scattered over seven innings. He entered this game as the National League leader in walks for the second half (h/t @SFBleacherGirl), but only walked two through seven innings (in eight of his other 11 second-half starts, he walked at least three).

On the offensive side of things, Carlos Beltran provided all the support Lincecum would need, as he notched career home runs #299 and #300. It doesn’t sound amazing, given that it wasn’t so long ago that Barry Bonds was reaching career HR marks in the 700s, but the club is actually quite exclusive.  To give an idea of that, it has roughly half as many members as the 2000-hit club (of which Orlando Cabrera is a member). Beltran is making quite the case for the Giants to pursue re-signing him this offseason — he’s currently slugging .884 in the month of September.

On the defensive side of things, Pablo Sandoval dazzled, making a couple nice plays at third (like this); at this point, he has to be under serious consideration for a gold glove this year. He’s currently leading National League third basemen in both DRS (+17) and UZR (+12.3).

After sitting on the bench for the duration of yesterday’s 12-inning affair, Brandon Belt actually got a start; he did not, however, get to play in the entire game — he was taken out in the seventh after hitting a double. At this point, I just don’t understand why the management refuses to make him an everyday player.

Sergio Romo came in to work the eighth (after Dan Runzler surrendered a leadoff walk), and added to his impressive 2011 campaign with a scoreless inning of work (1 K). He’s currently riding a 19+ inning scoreless streak.

All in all, a great getaway game, and the Giants have themselves a nice little four-game win streak.

Game Recap: Mark DeRosa walk-off(!)

Giants 3, Padres 2.

A little belated here, but I’ll be brief…

  • Matt Cain — wow, what a season he’s had. Easily the best of his career. Now, FIP isn’t exactly the best way to measure a guy like Cain (who notoriously defies the laws of BABIP), but check out this improvement:
    Matt Cain FIP (2005-2011)He was pulled after walking James Darnell in the seventh — and Javier Lopez/Guillermo Mota promptly allowed two runs, but I’m not sure it really matters in the grand scheme of things. I’m all in favor of Bruce Bochy easing off the starting pitchers this late in the season.
  • I was wrong about Mark DeRosa. Kind of. I didn’t think he had anything left in that wrist of his, but he’s managed to hit .379/.455/.414 in 33 PAs since returning from the DL (including last night’s walkoff single). Granted, it’s a small sample, and it’s boosted by a rather-lucky .440 batting average on balls in play, but he’s managed to contribute nonetheless; I would not be surprised at all to see him to sign a minor-league contract with the Giants this offseason.
  • A lot of talk about Pablo Sandoval‘s weight gain lately — meanwhile, he extended his hitting streak to eight games with last night’s three-hit effort (during that span, he’s OPSing 1.277). BASG has a nice post on the issue — to sum up my feelings, I’m not too concerned.
  • It’s infuriating that players like Brett Pill and Conor Gillaspie played in this game while Brandon Belt sat on the bench. The organization continues to mishandle him.

Game Recap: Eight Runs. Again.

Game Recap: Eight Runs

Giants 8, Dodgers 1

  • The last time the Giants scored eight (or more) runs in a game was August 3rd. It’s been quite a while. On that day, the Giants were in first place, one game ahead of Arizona. Since then (with San Francisco winning today, and the DBacks losing), the Giants have gone 14-21, and Arizona has gone 24-12.
  • As David Pinto over at Baseball Musings notes, Pablo Sandoval raised his slugging percentage to .510 with his three doubles today. In a season that’s been full of disappointments, the positives have mostly involved the pitching: Sergio Romo‘s had an incredible season, Ryan Vogelsong, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, etc. Pablo Sandoval’s had a very fine (dare I say under-the-radar?) bounceback season though, and I don’t think it’s been talked about enough. He’s currently leading NL third basemen in WAR.
  • Madison Bumgarner never ceases to amaze me. Go check out the BrooksBaseball charts/numbers on his start today. His velocity was consistent throughout his start, and he was getting swinging strikes with all of his pitches. Since that disaster start against Minnesota on June 21, Bumgarner has been striking out opponents at a clip of 9.85 per nine innings. It’s absolutely remarkable how advanced at this age.
  • I like it when the two Brandons (Belt/Crawford) start. This should be happening every day.

Game Recap: Dana Eveland shuts the Giants down

Dana Eveland is by all means an awful pitcher. Aside from a solid 2008 season, he’s pretty much been a AAAA guy over the course of his career. He entered tonight with more 7+ run starts (7) than scoreless starts (5). But for seven innings, he held the Giants scoreless, allowing just three hits and two walks.

At this point in the season, the Giants don’t have anything on the line; they’re not making the playoffs. Even so, it’s always tough to stomach a loss to the Dodgers, especially one in which a terrible pitcher does this to them.

A couple positives to take from this game:
1) Vogelsong went eight innings for the first time in three months, and only walked one.
2) Brandon Belt started.

Game Recap: Clayton Kershaw dominates

Dodgers 2, Giants 1

The Giants got on the board early, as Pablo Sandoval singled in a run in the first inning off of Clayton Kershaw. From that point forward, however, the Giants were scoreless, managing just two hits and zero walks. No surprise, of course, as Clayton Kershaw owns the Giants. Here’s what he’s done to the Giants over his career (not including tonight, of course):

Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit Str GSc
2011-07-20 LAD SFG W 1-0 GS-8 ,W 8.0 3 0 0 1 12 0 112 70 87
2011-05-18 LAD SFG L 5-8 GS-5 5.0 7 4 4 1 6 0 85 54 42
2011-04-11 LAD SFG W 6-1 GS-7 ,W 6.2 6 0 0 2 7 0 117 72 67
2011-03-31 LAD SFG W 2-1 GS-7 ,W 7.0 4 0 0 1 9 0 96 65 77
2010-09-14 LAD SFG W 1-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 4 0 0 0 4 0 111 72 83
2010-08-01 LAD SFG L 0-2 GS-7 ,L 7.0 6 2 2 4 6 0 117 69 59
2010-07-20 LAD SFG L 5-7 GS-6 6.0 4 4 2 2 6 0 104 64 56
2010-04-18 LAD SFG W 2-1 GS-7 7.0 4 1 1 4 9 1 114 74 70
2009-04-15 LAD SFG W 5-4 GS-7 7.0 1 1 1 1 13 1 105 63 83
2008-09-28 LAD SFG L 1-3 6-6 ,H 1.0 2 0 0 1 0 0 13 5
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/10/2011.

Tim Lincecum, meanwhile, tossed one of the better outings he’s had all season, going 8+ innings for the fourth time in 2011. In fact, the Giants were able to maintain a 1-0 lead for most of the game, but lost it in eighth inning when Matt Kemp singled, stole second, and scored on a Juan Rivera RBI single. Just another wasted gem. Kemp, by the way, is making quite the MVP case — he’s right up there in the NL fWAR leaders with a couple of other NL West rivals (Justin Upton/Troy Tulowitzki).

Anyway, Bay Area Sports Guy has some postgame notes which are worth checking out. Lastly, Adam Foster of Project Prospect had an interesting tweet tonight regarding Brett Pill:

Poor pitch recognition. RT @sfgiantsgirl: Why not?? RT @AdamWFoster: Brett Pill is not going to stick around long in the big leagues.Sat Sep 10 04:27:39 via Echofon

Game Recap: Cain pitches well, loses

Padres 3, Giants 1.

Matt Cain reached two milestones tonight (h/t @SFGiantsFans): his 200th career start, and his fifth consecutive season with 200+ IP. Unfortunately, it was a typical Matt Cain start; that is, he pitched well, but due to a lack of run support, got the loss. Cain now has a career record of 68-72, making him the only starter in history (min. 1000 IP) with a losing record, and an ERA+ greater than 125. Few pitchers, if any, have been as unlucky as Cain in this respect. Whatever. Wins are awful.

Cain’s lone run of support came in the fourth inning — a solo shot from Brett Pill. Pill’s now homered in his first two-career major-league games, winning over countless Giants fans. I’m not ready to hop on that bandwagon yet though. Fun fact: Pill ranks 15th (out of 21) among qualified Pacific Coast League first basemen in wOBA. To excerpt what I wrote yesterday:

He’s 26 years old. He repeated Triple-A this year. The average PCL hitter is hitting .286/.359/.448 (.807 OPS) this year, and Pill hit .312/.341/.530 (.871 OPS) down in Fresno. And he’s a first baseman. So — understandably I hope — I’m not particularly excited about his future.

Enough with that, for now. It’s fun to watch somebody who’s producing, and while it most certainly won’t last, there’s obviously no reason not to enjoy it. I just hope the Giants can find a place for Brandon Belt — and I hope that doesn’t begin with Friday’s game against Clayton Kershaw.

On one final note — a question, really: is there any reason that Orlando Cabrera should be starting at shortstop for the Giants, let alone be on the roster?

Game Recap: Brett Pill homers in first career at-bat, Giants win 6-4

  • In his second start, Eric Surkamp didn’t look particularly impressive. In total, he induced just four whiffs (and two strikeouts), and his command wasn’t great either (46 strikes/76 pitches, or roughly a 60.5% strike percentage). Anyway, he managed to go 5 IP with 3 ER. I’m thinking he’ll ultimately be a nice back-of-the-rotation arm.
  • Brett Pill homered in his first career PA, joining the likes of Will Clark and…Johnnie LeMaster. He’s 26 years old. He repeated Triple-A this year. The average PCL hitter is hitting .286/.359/.448 (.807 OPS) this year, and Pill hit .312/.341/.530 (.871 OPS) down in Fresno. And he’s a first baseman. So — understandably I hope — I’m not particularly excited about his future. My nightmare seems to be coming to fruition — Pill is receiving playing time at the expense of Brandon Belt. I’m all for giving Brett some at-bats, but if the Giants can’t acknowledge that he has much less of a future than Belt, well…that’s a problem.
  • Carlos Beltran is tearing it up right now. He’s been ridiculously good with the bat over just the last few games — in the month of September, he’s 11 for 16 with two walks and five extra-base hits. It’s not exactly the best timing, but it’s nice to see. I have to think there’s a good chance he returns to the Giants, and I’m completely on board with that — at the right price. A two-year deal would be quite nice.
  • The other day, I mentioned that Sergio Romo could become the only pitcher ever with a significant workload in a season to simultaneously post a K/9 better than 10 and a BB/9 of less than 1. Well, tonight he pretty much lost that by walking his fourth unintentional hitter of the season. That’s it. He’s only walked four. To be fair, his BB/9 is skewed by one unintentional walk (I believe it was Jayson Werth, though I’m too lazy to look it up). So at least his UIBB/9 is less than one. Anyway, the point is he’s had a ridiculously good season (he notched another two strikeouts tonight in an inning of work). The trick knee was afflicting him tonight — which was sufficiently frightening to watch — but he seemed okay afterward.
  • The trick knee, of course, could be a justification for the fact that Bochy took Romo out after the eighth, leaving Javier Lopez to pitch the ninth. Upon discussing this with others on Twitter though, I’m fairly convinced that he would have been taken out anyway — that’s just how he’s been used this year. That is, he’s been under-used. What followed in the ninth was a messy situation: Lopez walked the leadoff hitter on four pitches, then Santiago Casilla came in and — after a strikeout, lineout, and double (by Anthony Rizzo) — hit the next two batters he faced. So Ramon Ramirez was brought in with two outs and the bases loaded in a two-run game. To face former Giant Jesus Guzman. And he struck him out to end it.
  • The Giants’ first series win since…August 14, I believe? It’s been long enough. The Giants are out of contention — though they did happen to gain a game on the DBacks (they’re now six games out). With the Giants no longer in a tight playoff race, I only have one wish: please play Brandon Belt. Every day. There’s really no excuse not to.