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.

The Week That Was: Bill Neukom retires

They do something similar to this over at MLB Daily Dish, and since it was a busy week at the blog (and with the Giants, for that matter), I figured I’d take a brief look back at what happened this week (well, a little more than a week, to be exact):

Thanks for reading!

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.

Previewing the 2012 Free Agent Oufield Market

Aaron Rowand‘s gone for good, and the Giants will lose several outfielders — Carlos Beltran, Cody Ross, Pat Burrell — to free agency. Nate Schierholtz will be back, in with a breakout season, could potentially see regular playing time in the outfield. In addition, the Giants will presumably tender Andres Torres a contract, though it remains to be seen what role he’ll play next season.

Anyway, the Giants will be in the market for outfielders; if they envision Nate Schierholtz as the starting right fielder, and Brandon Belt as the starting left fielder, the big void is in centerfield — where the market is very thin. A brief preview of the 2012 free agent outfield market:

Re-Signs

Cody Ross: He made $6.3MM in his final year of arbitration, and has had a somewhat disappointing season — .238/.327/.399; that said, his numbers (thanks to a very-high walk rate) are bascially in line with his career norms, and he’s posted the best BB/K of his career (0.53). He averaged roughly 2.5 WAR/season from 2007-2010, and I imagine he’ll be looking for a starting role (which he deserves). The thing that makes Ross special is that he can play centerfield — and an average hitter in center is of value. Given his versatility in the outfield, and the fact that he’s solid at the plate, Ross represents one of the best available outfield options for the Giants.

Carlos Beltran: Easily the top outfield bat on the market. It’d be nice to retain Beltran, as he solidifies the middle of the Giants’ lineup. He’s the cream of the crop though, and could command a whole lot of money. If I had to guess, I bet he’ll end up elsewhere.

The Athletics

David DeJesus: initially suggested by Zack in the September roundtable, DeJesus could provide decent value at an affordable price. Here’s what Zack had to say:

I’d love to see them make a cheap offer to David DeJesus. He’s putting the worst offensive numbers of his career, but he hasn’t been nearly as bad Oakland fans tend to think. He has the ability to take a walk, and unlike other “sluggers” on the market (Jason Kubel, Josh Willingham, etc.), he still rates well defensively. I’m inclined to give DeJesus the benefit of the doubt because 1) he may still be recovering from an injury, 2) half of his games are in Oakland, and 3) his playing time has been iffy due to the managerial situation. And while he’s not exactly young, it’s not like it would be a long-term deal. One or two years would be great.

Coco Crisp: Another Oakland A’s outfielder, Crisp is an intriguing option for a number of reasons: he can still play centerfield, and despite the fact that he’ll be entering his age-32 season, he still flashes speed on the basepaths — in fact, his 40 steals in 2011 represent a career-high, and he’s stolen 72 bases in all since 2010, at an 86% success rate. Over his career, he’s pretty much been an average hitter (.276/.331/.407, 99 wRC+), but he’s been especially solid at the plate over the past two seasons (114 wRC+).

Josh Willingham: a very nice bat (career OPS+ of 121), but he’ll be 33 years old and his defensive limitations mostly restrict him to left field. Given that the Giants will probably enter 2012 with Brandon Belt as the regular left-fielder, Willingham doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.

The Other Centerfielders

Rick Ankiel: Wrong side of 30 and a below-average hitter, but he’s also posted +17 DRS (defensive runs saved) in centerfield this year.

Nate McClouth: He’ll be four years removed from his all-star season, and he really hasn’t impressed of late. Over the last two seasons (609 PA), he’s posted a .650 OPS. He can play passable defense in centerfield, but he’s not a particularly good defender.

Some other CF names: Willie Bloomquist, Corey Patterson, Scott Hairston

Some Right-Field Names: Michael Cuddyer, J.D. Drew, Lance Berkman, Jason Kubel, Ryan Ludwick, Kosuke Fukudome