- Tim Lincecum lost his 14th game of the season, making this one of the best losing seasons ever by a pitcher.
- This is the 70th time the Giants have scored two runs or fewer in a game this season. That’s tied for the most in franchise history, and it’s looking like they’re going to surpass that record (set in 1985).
- Andres Torres hit his first home run in months: the last time he hit a home run was June 24th. Since then, he’d gone 61 consecutive games (192 PA) without a home run, and just ten extra-base hits in total. His ISO has dropped 100 points this season, and he’s ultimately been one of the major disappointments of this season. Nice to see him finally hit one out.
- One more series left before this season comes to an end: three games, at home, against the Colorado Rockies. We’ll get to see Ryan Vogelsong, Madison Bumgarner, and Matt Cain each go out one more time. Bumgarner and Cain, while not particularly strong NL Cy Young candidates, should rightfully appear on their fair share of ballots. They currently rank fourth and fifth respectively in NL fWAR. Vogelsong, Bumgarner and Cain have been three of the best parts about this season, and here’s hoping they end on strong notes.
The Giants’ chances of making the playoffs are officially zero, as they lost in ugly fashion tonight. It’s funny — they entered tonight with a positive run differential, albeit a small one: +2. Back to the negatives.
I’ve expressed doubts/concerns about Eric Surkamp in the past…
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.
Eric Surkamp pitched 5.2 scoreless innings, but wasn’t very impressive at all. Zero strikeouts. He only induced one swinging strike the entire night. He’s just missing bats at all. In 16.2 innings, he now has a grand total of 6 strikeouts, and five walks. Keith Law had a couple interesting tweets on Surkamp tonight: he says he thinks Surkamp could maybe be a serviceable #5 starter in the NL, but not a #4. As he points out, Surkamp “has faced 66 non-pitcher Astros and Padres and fanned 5.” So in spite of a shiny ERA, Surkamp hasn’t really dazzled.
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.
Surkamp’s performance in the majors has been quite underwhelming thus far, and today the inevitable regression came; it was quite ugly: 0.2 IP, six runs, four walks, zero strikeouts.
One thing is becoming increasingly clear — if it wasn’t already. The Giants absolutely have to tender Jonathan Sanchez a contract. As of now, I have much more confidence in Sanchez as a fifth starter (entering 2012) than Surkamp or Barry Zito (Zito pitched an inning of relief today, allowing two runs with three walks and zero strikeouts).
Well, there goes the NL West. Orlando Cabrera accounted for the Giants’ lone run with a solo shot in the fifth inning, and the Giants failed to add to that. Matt Cain took a one-run lead into the seventh, but a Chris Young RBI double, and a Paul Goldschmidt two-run triple in the eighth inning, gave Arizona all the runs they’d need.
Congratulations to the DBacks. They’ve earned it. Justin Upton has had a hell of a season, and up until recently, was the favorite for the NL MVP. The pitching duo of Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson have combined for nearly 10 wins above replacement, even more if you account for their bats (it’s looking like Hudson will win a Silver Slugger). DBacks position players, meanwhile, have combined for 30+ wins in value, which is roughly twice that of the Giants (15.3).
This entire season has come as somewhat of a shock (and, of course, a massive disappointment). I figured Buster Posey would lead this team to another division title; I knew Aubrey Huff would drop off, but nobody could have seen this coming: his .675 OPS is the worst ever by a San Francisco Giants first-baseman, and it’s nearly 100 points worse than the previous worst…Tyler Kepner just named him the NL’s least-valuable player; I thought that, by now, Brandon Belt would be a mainstay in the lineup, and a strong candidate for the NL Rookie of the Year; and I expected the Giants to get something — anything above replacement level — out of the shortstop position.
This year, it’s been a different case. Both have had fantastic resurgences, highlighted by tonight’s performances: the two combined for seven hits, five of them going for extra bases.
Last night, I wrote that I’m pretty adamant about Matt Kemp for NL MVP. Tonight came confirmation: three doubles and a home run from the guy who’s leading the National League in fWAR. He becomes the tenth player of all time to collect 4+ extra-base hits in a game against the Giants.
And then there’s Pablo Sandoval. What a season he’s had. Excellent defense at third base, paired with excellent hitting. Tonight, he collected three hits, accounting for half of the Giants’ total in this game (one of ’em was a solo shot). He’s been the best player on the team by far, and should win the 3B gold glove and silver slugger. He’s the youngest Giants hitter to rack up 5+ rWAR in a single season since Will Clark, more than 20 years ago. I still hear talk about how he needs to lose some more weight, swing at fewer pitches out of the strike zone, blah blah blah. Whatever. His approach works. He’s played all-star caliber baseball all season long, and he’s actually maintained an above-average BB/K (0.52). It’s time people appreciated his resurgence, for he’s had quite the magnificent season.
- Last time the Giants faced Dana Eveland, he shut them down. Which isn’t very characteristic of Eveland, who’s been a very poor pitcher over his career. He entered tonight with three starts as an LA Dodger and had done pretty well in those three starts: a 2.25 ERA/3.27 FIP. Alas, he finally pitched like the real Dana Eveland tonight: five runs surrendered over four innings, with 1/3 K/BB. Remember when it was a notable/unique occurrence for the Giants to score eight runs in a game? Well, I guess that’s not the case anymore. This is the sixth time in the last ten games that San Francisco has scored 8+ runs in a game; keep in mind that they did that three times in their previous 89 games.
- Sergio Romo has just continued to do remarkable things. Tonight: two batters faced, six pitches, two strikeouts. He’s currently riding a 21.1-inning scoreless streak, and he’s on the verge of becoming the second pitcher ever to post a K/BB of 13+.
- I’m not completely sold on Clayton Kershaw for NL Cy Young. I am, however, pretty adamant about Matt Kemp for NL MVP. He’s currently the National League leader in fWAR, and it’s not particularly close. He’s notched 30+ homers and 40+ steals this season (including a three-run shot tonight), and he’s second in the NL in wRC+. He gets the edge over Ryan Braun because he’s held his own in centerfield — whereas Braun’s a below-average defender in left field (which is a significantly easier position to play).
- I was wrong about Mark DeRosa.
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 Jansen — who’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.
This was a tweet from Andrew Baggarly about a month and a half ago…
…it’s quite relevant now. The Giants are hitting, and they have been unbeatable.
Six home runs today — the first time the Giants have had that many since August 7, 2006. Matt Cain went deep, becoming the first Giants pitcher to homer in more than three years (Cain had the last one, too). The Giants had four in one inning for the first time in more than 50 years. Here’s a fun fact: of the 18 home runs that Esmil Rogers has allowed in his career, ten of them have now been Giants.
Pablo Sandoval had a couple homers and a triple — which, while not quite as special as the cycle, is still somewhat rare: he became just the 12th player to do that in franchise history (Willie Mays did it three times). Oh yeah, and Brandon Belt has now homered in three straight games (no other Giant has done that this season).
This team is red-hot right now, having won eight games in a row. During that span, they’ve outscored opponents by a margin of 57-23. They’re scoring runs, and they’re pitching well. And the best part is: they’re doing it while getting Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt in the lineup on a routine basis.
Their chances of making the playoffs are still rather slim — CoolStandings currently has their playoff odds at 5.1%. That said, four games out of the wild card with nine games left is not entirely insurmountable. And though the Giants’ are five games out of first in the NL West, they have the luxury of facing Arizona for three more games. A sweep would do absolute wonders for them.
Anyway, after back-to-back series sweeps, the Giants have tomorrow off. On Tuesday, they’ll begin a three-game set in LA, and game one won’t be too easy: they’ll face off against Clayton Kershaw, who’s consistently dominated them over his career, and has emerged as a serious Cy Young candidate this season.
A few final notes:
- Joe West is a horrible umpire.
- Pablo Sandoval should win a Gold Glove this year.
- Thanks to a fantastic September, Carlos Beltran has now performed better at the plate in San Francisco than he did while he was in New York.
- Giants pitchers can hit — and their contributions at the plate have played a modest role in the Giants’ eight-game winning streak. Over those eight games, they’ve combined to hit .318 with five singles, a double, and a homer (22 at-bats in total). They’ve been the hottest-hitting pitchers in baseball over the past week, and — not accounting for Matt Cain’s day at the plate, they’ve been worth roughly one win with their bats in 2011.
- The Baseball-Reference Blog has a few interesting notes on today’s game: among them is this interesting stat — Five games of 8+ runs in the streak; they had 1 such game in their previous 61.