Splash Hits: Cody Ross, Brett Pill, Ian Kennedy

After last night’s outing, Clayton Kershaw has now made 11 starts against the Giants in his career (12 total games). He’s also surrendered 11 earned runs to San Francisco over his career (79 innings), posting a stellar 1.25 ERA. The Giants have a collective OPS of .485 against Kershaw in those 79 innings. A few links to ease the pain…

Giants

Free Agent Stock Watch: Cody Ross: MLB Rumors – MLBTradeRumors.com
Cody Ross would have been better off hitting free agency last year, after the Giants won the World Series and Ross hit five postseason home runs on his way to winning the NLCS MVP.

A risk that paid off – McCovey Chronicles
On the Giants taking a huge risk in 2008 that’s paying off now.

Teams With 3+ SP Under Age 30 With 30+ GS & ERA+ > 99 In Same Season » Baseball-Reference Blog » Blog Archive
Since 1901, how many teams had 3+ starters, age 29 or younger, with 30+ Games Started and an ERA+ of 100+ in the same season?

Prospect of the Day: Brett Pill, INF, San Francisco Giants – Minor League Ball
Prospect of the Day: Brett Pill, INF, San Francisco Giants

MLB

Baseball Prospectus | Spinning Yarn: Removing the Mask
Quantifying the heretofore hidden contributions of catchers.

A Discussion About Evaluating Pitchers | FanGraphs Baseball
A conversation about pitchers, pitching metrics, and end-of-season awards.

Kennedy’s fastball-first approach – Baseball Analytics Blog – MLB Baseball Analytics
The 26-year-old righty has increased his fastball usage from 55 percent of his pitches in 2010 to 66 percent in 2011.

Were the Best Closers Just Failed Starters? – Beyond the Box Score
Were the best closers just failed starters? This week, Rob Neyer pointed out that Mariano Rivera never actually did fail as a starter. How about the other elite closers in history?

Game Recap: Clayton Kershaw does Clayton Kershaw things

Dodgers 2, Giants 1.

Same old story. This time, Kershaw kept the Giants to one run over 7.1 innings — his lone mistake a home run to Chris Stewart (you really can’t predict baseball). It was the first homer he’d allowed to a Giant this season (in five starts).

The Giants also got a taste of Kenley Jansenwho’s been doing pretty amazing things this season — in the top of the eighth; he struck out the two hitters he faced — Pablo Sandoval and Carlos Beltran — on seven pitches.

Javy Guerra is a right-handed pitcher. He threw the entire ninth inning for the Giants, and faced two right-handed hitters — Mark DeRosa and Brett Pill — followed by Aubrey Huff. Brandon Belt, who’s homered in three straight games, sat on the bench the whole time. I mean, I can understand not putting him in the lineup against Kershaw. That’s defensible. But to have Pill and DeRosa face a righty, over Belt, and then to have Huff pinch hit for Orlando Cabrera — over Belt……enough is enough.

Well, the season’s almost over. The Giants have eight games left. If they win every single one of those games, they’ll finish the season at 91 wins. The DBacks, currently at 89 wins, have seven games left. It’s simple math — barring some kind of miraculous come back, Arizona will win the NL West. With the wild card, it’s closer…yet pretty much the same story. The Braves are at 88 wins, with seven games left.

Game Recap: Seven Straight

Giants 6, Rockies 5.

After a seven-game winning streak (tied for the Giants’ longest this season), the Giants are now just five games back in the NL West. On September 10th, the Giants had a run differential of -23, but they’ve improved to +1 over this streak — and they’ve gained 4.5 games on Arizona. They’re finally scoring runs. This is actually the first time they’ve scored 6+ runs in three consecutive games since August of 2010. With their 82nd win today, the Giants clinched their third winning season in a row (the Rockies, meanwhile, clinched a losing season).

Player of the game honors go to Brett Pill, who knocked in three runs with a pair of triples. Not exactly as rare as the cycle, but a relatively unique occurrence nonetheless — this is the 27th time it’s happened in San Francisco Giants history, and just the fifth time since 1997.

Carlos Beltran collected three hits, including a game-tying double. I’m with @HangingSliders here — that was a remarkably beautiful swing. It’s funny…not too long ago, Beltran was becoming the symbol of a lost season. Now, with the incredible September he’s having, he’s one of the only reasons the Giants even have a glimmer of hope of making the playoffs.

Though he only allowed three hits and one run in his 4.2 innings of work, Eric Surkamp was once again unexceptional. To his credit, this was a more impressive start than last time. The strikeouts (4) and swinging strikes (5) were there this time; the control, on the other hand, was not — six walks, five of them unintentional. Despite a shiny 2.95 ERA in four starts, Surkamp has as many unintentional walks (10) as strikeouts. And he’s had the benefit of facing some pretty weak lineups. When he inevitably regresses, it won’t be pretty.

In any event, a great game: seven wins in a row, a clinched winning season, a gained game on the DBacks, and the run differential is now positive. Things are really rolling.

And now…for your stats of the night:

Sergio Romo has the best SIERA in baseball, and it’s not even close.

Eric Surkamp allowed six walks tonight, five unintentional. Sergio Romo has allowed five walks THIS SEASON, four unintentional.