Giants v Pirates and Phillies

I delayed this blog because I have been trying to figure out this team.  I was right about Hector Sanchez making the team as the catcher and Whiteside returning to Fresno to teach the youngsters. I was also right that the Giants hitting would improve substantially and that the Snakes were the team to beat in the NL West.  See the last blog (attached for the personnel breakdown, which I think is pretty accurate). What I didn’t figure on was the Giants strength (the pitching) being pounded on like a donkey piñata at a five-year-old’s birthday party. I don’t recall when I’ve ever seen the G-Men score not less than four runs for six straight games and then go and lose four of those games.  The sweep by the Snakes was bad enough but they totally lit up LIncecum, Bumgarner and Cain. Three one-run losses in a row. We are used to one-run losses, just not after scoring 4 or more runs.

Then on to Colorado and Zito – of all people – throws a complete game shutout.  That was surrealistic (literally, remember the acid era, I almost expected to hear Grace Slick singing in the background instead of Tony Bennett).

That was followed yesterday by Lincecum having the shortest outing of his Cy Young career (2 and 1/3rd innings) during which he gave up six runs.  Then the G-Men got 7 back in the world’s worst 4th inning and then gave it up big time in the bottom of the inning, including 3 errors in one inning to lose 17-8. Every pitcher got shelled and the staff ERA must now be hovering somewhere around 15 runs apiece. Today Bumgarner righted the ship and pitched 7 and 1/3rd innings in a 4-2 game that Wilson actually TRIED to give away in the 9th (loading the bases and walking in a run?).

I listened to Larry Baer after the game and he gently pointed out that the season is now 3.7% percent over so there is plenty of time.  Now that is a glass half full statement if I ever heard one.

The positives: the G-Men are hitting the ball and are something like 2nd in the NL in hitting with men in scoring position and RBI’s.  Melky Cabrera is everything they said, and more (it’s starting to look like that trade for Jonathan Sanchez may have been one of Sabean’s best moves in a decade).  The Panda is awesome.  Posey (even with the shingles) is a truly great player. Schierholtz owns the Rockies (three home runs in 2 games?). Crawford is looking like the second coming of Omar Vizquel (or maybe Cal Ripken Jr.), is hitting and is making spectacular plays.

The questions: Belt is playing good defense but is once again lost at the plate. Pagan has got to be on the world’s shortest leash (batting below the Mendoza line, even with 2 hits today) and Gregor Blanco is waiting in the wings. What happened to Burris? I guess the real question is: when does Freddy Sanchez come back? Is it time for Huff to sit and let Belt and Pill play?  I say, to channel Timmy -  “F*** yeah.”

The negatives: The entire pitching staff, except for Zito and (today anyway) Bumgarner.  Even the relievers (mostly Wilson and Affleldt) looked lost and pathetic. I hope that getting home will make a difference but this is not the Giants pitching staff that I (or any other Giants fan) know.  This homestand will be a major test, starting tomorrow with Matt Cain and Saturday with Zito (was the shutout a fluke?).  Lincecum versus Hallliday on Monday night is the ultimate test.  Timmy looks lost on the mound and we know that he isn’t. Anyone who saw his face in the Rockies dugout knows how pissed he was. I don’t know what Rags is doing but I hope that it works.

The Division: I don’t believe that the Dodgers are leading the division with a 6-1 record and that the Snakes are right behind them at 5 and 2.  The G-Men are in third place at 2 and 4 (tied with CO) and the only reason they aren’t tied for last is because the Padres have played (and lost) one more game. After the first series I asked myself if the Giants were that bad or if the Snakes were that good.  My conclusion (until the Rockies series) was that the Snakes were that good.  It’s going to be a dogfight all year.  The Dodgers look good right now but so far they have gone 3 and 1 against the Padres and swept the Pirates, who come into AT&T this weekend. I still say that this season is going to come down to the G-Men and the Snakes and the May 28, 29th and 30th series against AZ at home is going to tell us a lot (the G-Men have now lost 8 in a row to the Snakes – I really dislike Kirk Gibson, he is arrogant, insufferable and an ex-Dodger, need I say more?).

The two series: The Bucs are coming into AT&T after being swept by the Dodgers but with the same 2 and 4 record as the G-Men.  They are not in a good mood.  They have a good team, led by centerfielder Andrew McCutcheon who is batting over .400, and they took 2 out of 3 from the Phillies in their opening series at home. The Phillies are 3 and 3 currently and Joe Blanton just beat the Miami Marlins. The Phillies are, well, the Phillies.  Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino (the flying Hawaiian) are hitting well and the pitching staff (Cliff Lee and Roy Halliday especially) are expected to take them to the playoffs.  This home series is not going to be easy, especially if the pitching doesn’t come back.

Ciao, and GO GIANTS!

The Czar