Game Recap: Ryan Vogelsong blames himself

Giants lose to the Diamondbacks 4-1

An eighth-inning collapse.

Two years and one day ago, the Giants were facing the Phillies on the road. It was Tim Lincecum v. Pedro Martinez, and the first batter of the game for the Giants, Eugenio Velez, hit a leadoff home run to get the run-scoring started. Except, the Giants didn’t score any more runs the rest of that game. Lincecum pitched well — seven innings, two runs, eleven strikeouts, just one walk — but it wasn’t good enough because the Giants just couldn’t score.

Today, something similar happened (though it was a home game). Cody Ross, the first batter of the game for the Giants, hit a solo shot to give the Giants a 1-0 lead. But they didn’t score again, the rest of the game. They had a couple opportunities, but squandered them: Pablo Sandoval flied out with Carlos Beltran on third base to end the sixth inning; and though Andres Torres was on second with nobody out in the seventh, the Giants couldn’t get him in.

And so another excellent outing was wasted — and it really was quite the outing from Ryan Vogelsong. Through the first seven innings, he allowed just three hits, and not once did the Diamondbacks reach second base. Then it all kind of fell apart in the eighth inning. Vogelsong missed a spot, and gave up a solo shot to Ryan Roberts. And the Giants ended up giving up four runs in total in the eighth, and that was that. A 4-1 loss, and moreover, a series loss that puts the Giants seven games back in the NL West.

A couple nights ago, there was a glimmer of hope for this team. They were five games back, but if they could just manage to win their next two, they would have pulled off a sweep against the DBacks, and would be looking at a three-game deficit (with 22 games left). That’s all gone now though.

The worst part — though I’m not surprised: Vogelsong blamed himself for not finishing the job.

 

Game Recap: Giants 6, Diamondbacks 2

Cody Ross was hitting .163/.261/.275 over the last 30 days, and Carlos Beltran had a .260/.288/.377 line as a Giant. It’s especially frustrating watching them struggle, because they’re both clearly better than this. Similarly, given the thin outfield situation the Giants have entering the 2012 offseason, I’d say there’s a strong chance that we see the Giants re-sign one of them.

Tonight, they got things going:

  • Beltran had a hell of a game: four hits, including a triple and a two-run shot.
  • And Cody Ross, batting out of the leadoff spot, collected a couple of hits himself (also including a two-run shot), in addition to a walk. Oh yeah, and he did this.

Also nice to see Burrell back in the starting lineup for the first time since early July(?): three plate appearances, 22 pitches, two walks. It’s games like this that make me think this offense is actually capable of average production.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge another remarkable performance from Matt Cain: five hits in total over eight innings (and he faced the minimum in innings 6-8).

It’s a new month, which I guess means it’s a new beginning of sorts. Also, Aaron Rowand‘s gone! For good… I’d rather not get my hopes up, but maybe the Giants can really pull this together. Let’s worry about that later…

One thing’s quite obvious: these next two games are of paramount importance. If the Giants happen to win them, the DBacks will exit this series with a three-game lead; and that doesn’t sound so hard to overcome.

Game Recap: Giants 4, Cubs 0

The Giants capped off a great day (good-bye, Rowand and Tejada) — and ended an otherwise miserable month — by beating the Cubs 4-0, thanks to some marvelous pitching by Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner flashed his signature command for eight scoreless innings today (two hits allowed), and set a season-high for swinging-strikes (he got 15 whiffs in all, while his previous high was 14). He, along with Sergio Romo, combined to two-hit the Cubs — which isn’t actually such a rare feat for the Giants.

To illustrate Bumgarner’s awesome K/BB numbers…this is the 14th time this season in which he’s had a single-game K/BB above 5.00 (in other words, games in which he’s had at least five times as many strikeouts as walks). He becomes just the sixth Giants starter to accomplish this feat 14+ times in a season.

Romo, too, has put together some amazing K/BB numbers (he had one strikeout, zero walks in an inning of work in this game). I’ve mentioned this a couple times on Twitter, but he’s on pace to set a record: he currently has a K/9 greater than 10, and a BB/9 less than 1, which is incredible. Here are pitchers to accomplish that feat in a single season, sorted by innings pitched. Romo could become the only pitcher ever with a significant workload (no other pitcher worked more than 15 innings) to do this.

Anyway, the offense was once again driven by Jeff Keppinger, who hit a solo shot and put together his second consecutive three-hit game (by the way, twice before in 2011 has a Giant put together back-to-back three-hit games; it was Pablo Sandoval both times).

Looking ahead, the Giants’ rest-of-season schedule is all NL West teams, beginning with a three-game series against the Diamondbacks on Friday. The DBacks won tonight, meaning they’ve won nine in a row, and still have a comfortable six-game lead on the Giants.

Game Recap: Cubs 5, Giants 2

This is how I feel:

Carlos Beltran

Via Bay Area Sports Guy

I never predicted it would go down like this; back on August 16, I wrote:

I’m not generally one to be optimistic, but the Giants have Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain going in the final two games of this series, then they get to face the Houston Astros. In fact, their next 12 games after this series are against teams with losing records (seven vs. HOU, two vs. SD, and three vs. CHC). I’ll wait to panic.

And, of course, the Giants have failed to take advantage of that easy schedule. They lost the season series to the Astros, and have already lost this Cubs series.

But enough about that. I already threw in the towel yesterday.

A few things are worth noting:

Alfonso Soriano hit an absolute bomb, one of the longest you’ll ever see hit to left field at AT&T Park.

Jeff Keppinger has won over the hearts of many Giants fans (I think?), and had another solid performance tonight: three hits, and he drove in both of the Giants’ runs tonight. His batting average is as empty as it gets (lower walk rate than Aaron Rowand!), and his defense is weak — even at second base, but he’s certainly a useful player (and arb-eligible in 2012). He remains a nice acquisition.

– Carlos Beltran, on the other hand, “has turned from disappointment to fully fledged boo magnet.” Beltran was acquired for one specific reason: to take the Giants back to the World Series — and suffice to say, he hasn’t nearly lived up to expectations. That said, I feel inclined to defend him. Well, kind of. He’s been a disappointment — and in underperforming, has contributed to the team’s struggles; but the problem extends far beyond Beltran. I was not too enthusiastic about the trade originally, but I just don’t feel the same animosity toward Beltran as I did Garko, Guillen, et al:

So there it is. Don’t like the deal, but I’ll give Sabean the benefit of the doubt. And I can’t wait to see Beltran  in a Giants uniform. I’m just hoping he’ll stay healthy, and continue to rake.

I will say, this little chart from Baseball Prospectus scares me to death:

 

I guess the point is: it’s looking like Beltran has become the symbol of a lost season. Which is unfair, and sad.

Game Recap: Astros 4, Giants 3

One of the worst losses of the season.

  • Matt Cain added another gem to his fantastic 2011 season, going 8 innings with 6 K, 1 BB, and two runs allowed.
  • The Giants’ offense, meanwhile, did what it’s been doing on a daily basis: struggle. Through six innings, the Giants collected one hit in total. They finally got on the board with an RBI single and a sac fly in the seventh inning, and the game eventually went into extra innings; in the tenth, after the Astros took a one-run lead, Mark DeRosa hit an RBI double down the right field line….until he was thrown out at second (missed call). Ramon Ramirez eventually gave up the winning run in the 11th, and after an Aubrey Huff HBP to lead off the bottom of the inning, the Giants were set down in order.
  • Against what is arguably the worst pitching in baseball, the Giants scored a total of eight runs in four games. They got 24 hits in 127 at-bats in total, just three of those hits going for extra bases (no home runs, no triples).
  • As others were noting, Bochy’s bullpen management was pretty illogical.

The bullpen could conceivably be blamed for allowing two runs; people could complain about specific decisions by Bochy in this game; they could complain about Matt Cain for that Carlos Corporan HBP, I guess; or they could complain about the umpire for missing the call on the DeRosa game-tying double (DeRosa would have likely been the winning run). None of this, of course, would really make sense though, because what’s largely to blame here is the offense. And there’s no getting around it. Sure, they suck at hitting. But they should be expected to do better than this, because they are better than this. Their performance over the last month is not an accurate reflection of their true run-scoring abilities.

The Giants are now four games back.

Anyway, let’s move beyond all of this negativity, and instead focus on Matthew Thomas Cain. Recently, I pointed out that Matt Cain is continuing to improve — this season has been his best thus far, and he’s actually been the best starter on the Giants. Now seems like as good a time as any to remind that he’s just 26 years old.

Here are Giants pitchers, ranked by the rWAR they accumulated through their age-26 seasons:

Rk Player WAR From To Age G GS IP ERA+
1 Christy Mathewson 43.4 1901 1907 20-26 290 267 2275.0 136
2 Matt Cain 24.4 2005 2011 20-26 198 197 1275.2 126
3 Juan Marichal 21.6 1960 1964 22-26 151 147 1119.1 122
4 Tim Lincecum 18.8 2007 2010 23-26 123 122 811.0 142
5 Johnny Antonelli 18.1 1954 1956 24-26 118 107 752.1 141
6 Rube Marquard 16.4 1908 1913 21-26 173 134 1109.0 119
7 Hal Schumacher 15.6 1931 1937 20-26 217 176 1370.0 118
8 Jeff Tesreau 14.8 1912 1914 24-26 119 107 847.1 138
9 John Montefusco 13.7 1974 1976 24-26 79 75 536.1 124
10 Jim Barr 12.5 1971 1974 23-26 146 78 685.1 118
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/28/2011.

Not bad, eh?

Game Recap: Giants 2, Astros 1

  • Eric Surkamp‘s debut, for the most part, went pretty well. He didn’t even touch 90 MPH, mostly sitting in the mid-to-high 80s, but his curveball was pretty good (per Brooks Baseball, he got five whiffs with it). Overall, his command was shakier than I’d have expected (moreso in the earlier innings), and he had to work himself out of a few jams, but he ended up allowing only one run over six innings (4 K, 3 BB, 6 H). It’ll be interesting to see what the team does with Surkamp over the next several weeks.
  • The Giants’ offense has almost reached a new low this series: through three games against Houston Astros pitching – which is notably some of the worst pitching you’ll find in the majors — they’ve totaled 15 hits and five runs. It’s pathetic, and it’s unacceptable. Cody Ross and Brandon Belt each struck out three times in this one.
  • Unexpected contributions from Mark DeRosa in the tenth inning, and it’s always nice to win on a walkoff.
  • Guillermo Mota.
  • To clear the 40-man spot for Surkamp, the Giants designated Clayton Tanner for assignment.

Game Recap: Giants 2, Padres 1

After a shaky first inning (three consecutive walks to load the bases), Tim Lincecum settled down to pitch a fantastic game — eight innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts (all swinging). (Though the umpire’s strike zone was a bit of an issue.)

In his first start since being placed on the disabled list, Carlos Beltran provided some much-needed run support for the Giants, collecting a couple of hits (including a fourth-inning solo shot off of Tim Stauffer).

Brandon Belt, who also had a multi-hit game, did the rest of the work for the Giants’ offense — his leadoff triple in the fifth inning led to the Giants’ second (and final) run of the night (as Tim Lincecum knocked him in on a single).

There were some peculiar lineup decisions — namely Orlando Cabrera in the leadoff spot (which is an especially horrid option against right-handed starters), and Brandon Belt in the 7-hole (for Chris Stewart and Tim Lincecum to knock him in when he gets on base — though to Lincecum’s credit, that’s exactly what he did). Amy G tweets that Cabrera will hold on to the leadoff spot for the next few days…

Anyway, Lincecum threw 124 pitches, a nice relief for a depleted Giants bullpen. Santiago Casilla pitched the ninth with a one-run lead — and looked pretty good, striking out the final two hitters of the game.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this tweet from ESPN Stats & Info:

The only pitcher since 1900 with more Ks than Tim Lincecum’s 1,096 in his first 5 MLB seasons is Tom Seaver with 1,155. #Freak

Game Recap: Padres 7, Giants 5

Win Probability Graph | Padres v. Giants | 8/23/11

 

I don’t have much to say. Just a very frustrating game, as illustrated by the win probability graph:

  • The Giants drew three consecutive walks to load the bases in the fourth inning, and Aaron Rowand promptly took two strikes then grounded out.
  • Mat Latos took a no-hitter into the fifth inning.
  • The Giants committed three errors.
  • Ramon Ramirez blew the lead in the ninth.

Hector Sanchez got his first major-league hit, though, which was nice to see. Anyway, the Giants are now two games back in the NL West. Things look bleak, but — for what it’s worth – Baseball Prospectus still has their odds of making the playoffs above 75% (well… we’ll see where they’re at after tonight).

On another note, I’ve been nominated for an SF Weekly Web Award apparently. It’s cool just to be nominated, but if you feel inclined, go ahead and vote for me here under “5. Best San Francisco Giants Blog.” Much appreciated.

Game Recap: Giants 6, Astros 4

In his first career major-league start, Dan Runzler did disappoint, lasting just 1.2 innings as he dealt with the same issues he’s had all year: walks. Runzler, who’s posted a 5.5 BB/9 in the majors this year (and a 5.6 BB/9 in Triple-A), walked two consecutive batters after giving up a leadoff single to Jimmy Paredes, which effectively loaded the bases for Carlos Corporan. Runzler was able to induce a double play, bringing Henry Sosa (the pitcher) to the plate. After walking Sosa, Runzler gave up an RBI single to Jose Altuve, thus ending his outing.

So it was a bullpen day for the Giants — Guillermo Mota worked a few innings without allowing a run (and was pulled in the fifth after allowing back-to-back singles); Steve Edlefsen then made his major-league debut, tossing 1.1 innings without allowing a baserunner — mostly relying on a two-seamer (per Brooks Baseball), he induced a couple groundouts as well as two strikeouts. And Casilla/Affeldt/Ramirez combined for five scoreless innings.

The offense was driven by Brandon Belt, who put up his first career four-hit game: a few singles, and a three-run homer that got the Giants on the board in the second inning. The Giants were not without their struggles, however: as noted on the broadcast several times, they got the leadoff hitter on base in each inning from the fourth to the tenth, but repeatedly failed to capitalize. Then in the eleventh, Pablo Sandoval gave the Giants the lead on a two-run homer off Mark Melancon.

The fifth spot in the rotation remains an issue for the Giants — hopefully Jonathan Sanchez can reassert himself in that role when he returns. In their last seven fifth-starter starts, the Giants haven’t gotten much of anything from Zito, Sanchez, and Runzler, who have combined to average 10.6 runs per nine innings and slightly more than four innings-pitched per start (with a 23/18 K/BB).

Anyway, the Giants managed to salvage the final game of an otherwise awful series (and road-trip, for that matter), and they get an off-day tomorrow. The DBacks lost again today, meaning the Giants are now just 1.5 games back in the NL West. On their homestand, they’ll have nine consecutive games against losing teams to close out August, then they face off against Arizona at home. The rest of the season for the Giants looks fairly easy, as the best remaining team on their schedule (besides, of course, the Diamondbacks) is Colorado (59-68) , or perhaps the last-place Padres — who, to their credit, have a positive run differential.

In spite of the fact that the Giants are without their two best bullpen arms, they’ve yet to find stability in the fifth-starter spot, and Carlos Beltran is “very iffy to be activated on Tuesday, when he’s eligible to return,” things are looking relatively good.