Welcome to the 8th Czar’s blog of 2016.
We are entering the time of year when baseball is pure and is the only game in town. Hockey and Basketball are past (we have to move past the pain) and we are heading into July. The All-Star game is around the corner and it is time to focus on the hard work - the division races - before we reach September and focus on the fact that this is an even year.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
The Record – the Good
After beating the Pirates 7-6 in a come from behind victory tonight in Pittsburgh (that’s 24 one run games this year already, and the G-Men are 17 and 7 in them), I truly believe that anything is possible. Right now the Giants are 46 and 27, six games up on the Dodgers and kicking ass in the NL West. If they can keep up this pace the Orange and Black will have 99 wins for the year.
The Pitching Staff – The Bad
The bad as in bad-ass.
The starters are the reason we are where we are. Bumgarner (1.85 ERA, 8 W’s) and Cueto (2.06 ERA, 11 W’s) are both having Cy Young type years. Samardzija (3.59 ERA, 8 W’s) while he blew it today in the 3rd (and was saved by Derek Law) has looked like a legitimate 3rd starter on a top notch rotation. The three top starters have 27 wins between them, The back end of the rotation (Peavy, and now Suarez) are serviceable and have been keeping the Giants in games until the bullpen comes in to save them. Cain came back up and then went down again. The jury is out (he did have two good starts) but it’s looking worse and worse for the horse.
The bull-pen is where the gems are at. Even with Casilla (he of the frustration and the blown saves) the bullpen has produced very well. Kontos, Law and Gearrin have been lights out, Strickland has looked good (and bad – he has to stop with that 98 mph “straight as a string” heater) and Lopez (sorry to say because he may be the coolest looking guy in baseball) is starting to show his age.
Regardless, the Giants have the 5th best pitching staff in MLB with a 3.41 ERA. The pitchers are reason number one for the win-loss record.
The Injury list – The Ugly
The fact that the G-Men are playing at the level they are with the injury list growing like it is a testament to the GM and his staff being able to find players that fit into the Giants system stocked in the minor leagues and ready to come up.
Pence, after surgery on June 9th is probably out until the end of July with a torn tendon, Duffy went down yesterday with an Achilles tendon – those take a while to heal. Tomlinson has a left thumb strain and has been out since June 10th. Romo has been on the 60 day DL and is now starting rehab assignments. He might be back next week. Cain is out again with no return in sight that I can see.
The major loss is Pence. He started agility drills today so let’s see what happens with him.
The season is long and the Giants are not a young team as those things go so more injuries can be expected (they are being very careful with Span and Pagan I expect). That is why the recent good performances from Pena and Gillespie (replacing Duffy) as well as Parker and Williamson (replacing Pence) are so inspiring.
The rumor mill has Christian Arroyo and/or Austin Slater (a hot shot hitter from Stanford) available but the odds against them being called up are long because the Club is loath to lose a year to free agency by an early call-up unless they absolutely have to, I recall that Crawford and Belt were held in the minors several years ago under similar circumstances (the 2011 injury to Buster Posey).
Managing the injury list has been a significant accomplishment and a major reason for the great record. Stayed tuned because it’s only going to get harder from here on.
The hitting, fielding and the Coaching staff
This is where the mystery begins. The Giants are 12th in MLB in hitting (solidly middle of the pack with 4.45 runs a game), and 7th in Team defense (at ,987) but their hitting and fielding has been timely. It seems like whenever a big hit is needed (Pagan’s Grand Slam?) or a defensive play is needed (the Brandon’s, or Buster’s and Casilla’s strike-them-out, throw-them-out, to end the game tonight) the G-Men get it done. That says something about character and making sure that the right player is in the right place at the right time prepared to make the right play.
Character is the other number one reason we are 6 games up on the team from Chavez Ravine; that and Bochy and Rags. There is absolutely no better managers and coaches in baseball. Yes Joel Maddon is doing a good job with the Cubs but the Giants still took 2 out of 3 from them.
This has been interesting. Early on when they were full strength the G-Man opened up a great lead on the NL West and had a lot of tough games in a row. Now they are getting a rest between games and beating up on the Atlanta Braves, Tampa Rays and Milwaukee Brewers of this world. July, however, brings back the NL West (the Snakes, Rockies and Padres) as well as the Nationals. July will be a test.
The Upcoming Games
The Phillies and the A’s are in town for a very short 5 game series.
The Phillies are not having a good year. They are 30 and 43, and 13 games back of the Nationals in the NL East. They are hurting all around. Ryan Howard is batting .143. They are last in MLB in hitting, and in the bottom 5 in pitching and fielding. Regardless, they are a proud major league team from a proud city and they historically play well at AT&T. This is just the kind of team to be afraid of because a let-down could happen very easily.
The same thing with the A’s, who are in last place in the AL West (17 games back of Texas) and who will be coming across the bay with their rabid fans out for blood after losing three police chiefs in 9 days. The A’s series is 2 at AT&T and 2 at OCO, so you can also go across the bay and see who Bochy DH’s (probably Buster is my guess).
These are games the Giants should win. Hopefully Bochy won’t let them slack off and we can go into the series the week after against the Snakes rested and with a larger lead. The Dodgers will be playing the Pirates and the Brewers and they start July against the Rockies.
Remember that the Czar’s ticket deal includes whoever getting the tickets obtaining the BobbleHead or other goodie available that night for the Czar’s collection. There are two in the upcoming series.
May the force, and seven innings from the starters, be with you always.
Ciao, and GO GIANTS!