The Way-Too-Early 2023 NL West Power Rankings: The Giants need to retool

By Morris Phillips

At 27-40 with all nine remaining games to be played, the Giants’ answer to the question, “How the West was lost?” lies squarely with divisional play.

The first-place Dodgers lit up the Giants, winning 15 of 19, the first time LA has beaten the Giants as many as 15 times in a season. The second-place Padres have won 11 of 16, with a couple of the losses delivered in excruciating fashion. And Arizona leads the season series between the clubs 9-7 with three games remaining.

Only the Rockies have felt the Giants impose their will, dropping 11 of 16 to San Francisco with three games left to play. The .402 winning percentage in divisional play, if it stands, will be one of its worst since divisional play commenced in 1969.

So what does this mean for next season, one in which divisional play will be reduced by 24 games, and interleague play expanded?

Who knows? But we’ll pretend to know anyways with our Way-To-Early 2023 NL West power rankings.

1) Los Angeles Dodgers: Count on it, the Dodgers unprecedented divisional dominance will extend into a second decade as they again finish first in the NL West in 2023. Start with the imposing top of the lineup trio of Trea Turner, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman and go from there. The Dodgers undoubtedly will open the bank account for Turner, the 29-year old free agent to be, who will be their foremost, off-season priority. Max Muncy will also likely return on the team’s option to retain him. That leaves Justin Turner as the guy who status is up in the air.

Add in the youthful crew of Gavin Lux, Trayce Thompson, James Outman along with pitchers Walker Buehler, Julio Urias and Dustin May and just know the Dodgers have an embarrassment of riches.

2) San Diego Padres: San Diego’s biggest nightmare–the PED suspension of Fernando Tatis Jr.–will negatively impact next season as well, with the ban stretching across the first 30 games of 2023.

Along with that, the Padres have played losing baseball since June 23 (34-39) dating well before the trade deadline acquisition of Juan Soto and Tatis’ suspension. The Dodgers have had their way with their Southern California rivals, beating them 12 times, nine of those by five runs or more.

The Padres look set for the 2022 playoffs barring a collapse, but they could face the Braves in the opening round without the benefit of a home game to energize their fans, who have filled Petco Park this season in record numbers.

So what’s next?

The Padres don’t seem likely to unleash another round of spending heading into next season, but they will face tough decisions in regards to how to improve a rotation that has seen Mike Clevinger and Blake Snell regress. Also their bullpen with Josh Hader’s arrival hasn’t been as good as they were in 2021. Still, the Padres should be a second place, playoff contender in 2023.

3) San Francisco Giants: The Giants will undoubtedly make the most personnel decisions among NL West teams in the off-season. Will they also make the biggest decisions?

The Giants are one of the teams that will be involved in the Aaron Judge sweepstakes, a big money game if there ever was one. Can they win it? The odds have to be as little as 20 percent that they can, but if so, they’ll lean heavily on Judge’s ties to Northern California and his opportunity to play in low scoring, competitive games where home runs are essential.

Regardless of Judge’s decision the Giants must first decide on Carlos Rodon’s future and the wisdom of handing the strikeout king a four-year extension that would bring the total of his deal near $100 million. If so, the Giants would be set in their rotation with a 1-2 punch of Rodon and Logan Webb.

Beyond that the team has intriguing decisions regarding Evan Longoria, Brandon Belt (UFA), Mike Yastrzemski and Lamonte Wade Jr. But the biggest choices will be to improve the bullpen that fell dramatically from the top of the 2021 NL rankings.

Whatever transpires, the goal is getting the Giants back into the postseason mix.

4) Arizona Diamondbacks: The D’Backs keep spending money, the D’Backs keep adding pieces, and they have stability in manager Torey Luvullo.

When will it add up?

Arizona’s last playoff appearance was in 2017. The last time they won a playoff game was in 2011. Since winning the World Series in 2001, they’ve won two playoff games while cycling through five, different managers. What they have done in the last 20 years is make a number of splashy free agent signings (Shelby Miller, Madison Bumgarner, Justin Upton) and not seen much in terms of results.

Ok, what’s next?

Stay the course. Christian Walker’s elevated his game, becoming one of the NL’s premiere sluggers in 2022 with 36 homers thus far, Daulton Varsho’s come up with 50 extra-base hits this season, and Ketel Marte (56 extra-base hits) was good, and could easily regain the form of his previous, two seasons. Stone Garrett, a promising prospect that got stuck in the minors, could be ready to become an every day outfielder. They have a core offensively.

Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen–a pair of starting pitchers that the Giants know all too well–are frontline starters and the centerpieces of a plus, starting rotation. Both Kelly and Gallen are signed through the next, couple of seasons.

The Diamondbacks have to get younger, and better in their bullpen and make a tough decision regarding the future of 32-year old Nick Ahmed.

Do they go out and spend a pricey addition again? Maybe not, and if not, that’s the good news.

5) Colorado Rockies: Will the Rox say adieu to manager Bud Black? Will they realize the production they sought by signing free agent slugger Kris Bryant? Can heralded starter German Marquez regain his form, and get his ERA under five?

That’s a lot of questions, and there are more in Denver. Until some or all are answered, the Rockies will carry up the rear in a very, demanding division.

Dodgers score twice in 10th and hold on to win4-3

The San Francisco Giants JD Davis connects for RBI double against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Oracle Park in San Francisco on Sun Sep 18, 2022 (AP News photo)

Los Angeles (101-44). 4. 6. 1

San Francisco (69-77). 3. 6. 0. 10 innings

Sunday, September 18, 2022

By Lewis Rubman

SAN FRANCISCO–Nothing in the record of Andrew Heaney, who started for Los Angeles in this afternoon’s heart breaking 4-3 Giants loss to the Dodgers in the NL West champions’ warm up for the postseason suggests that he is a Giant killer.

The southpaw, whose overall record for the year was 3-2, 2.84. was 1-3, 6.92 lifetime against San Francisco. He’s faced them twice this year, pitching decently here on August 1 but lasting only four innings, in which he yielded a run on four hits. In his other, most recent start, the Giants got to him for six runs, all earned, on six hits in six innings, handing him his second loss of the season

This afternoon, however, the nine year veteran southpaw turned in an outstanding performance, although as he had in August, Heaney went a mere four innings into the game. He shut the Giants out on two hits and a walk, striking out eight. He threw 65 pitches, of which 44 were strikes. He left with a. 1-0 lead without having lasted long enough to get a decision but did bring his ERA down to 2.66.

On the bump for the slumping hosts was 6-6, 3.48 Alex Cobb. When the Dodgers had gotten through dealing with their hosts, those numbers were unchanged. Cobb, as the Giants game notes never fail to tell us, has expected earned run and fielding independent pitching averages well below his real ones; 3.09 vs. 3.48 and 2.83 vs. 2.88, respectively.

I recognize the importance of statistical analysis, but I put at least as much emphasis on the noun as on the adjective. A statistician is, as the old quip has it, someone who drowns crossing a river that has an average depth of three feet.

Cobb’s performance today was what you’d expect from his real, not expected ERA. The 6’1″,207 lb. righty went 5-1/3 innings, in which he allowed two runs, both earned, which left his ERA where it was when he began, 3.48. He yielded four hits and three walks, throwing 95 pitches, 60 for strikes. He wasn’t involved in the decision, the loss being charged to John Brebbia in relief. He’s now 6-2, 2.90.

From the start, the strong winds off the bay were a frequent problem for whichever team was in the field; Mookie Betts’ game opening windblown fly was Los Angeles’ only hit until the top of the fourth.

Heliot Ramos’s racing catch of Trea Turner’s wind aided fly to deep right in the third and a brief spell of sunshine drew more applause than anything else until Justin Turner’s line drive just over the glove of a leaping Evan Longoria with Freddie Freeman on first and nobody out landed in in left field for an RBI double that put LA ahead 1-0.

A portion of the crowd, which was fairly evenly divided between Dodger and Giant fans, roared its approval. One out later, Ramos made another spectacular catch, this time of Tayce Thompson’s drive to deep right center caused an uproar from the other portion. Then, with Chris Taylor at bat, the clouds burst, the field was inundated, and the game was suspended at 5:15.

Play resumed some 20 minutes later, with Cobb striking Taylor out looking.

Thairo Estrada, leading off for the Giants immediately after the strikeout, stroked the orange and gold’s first safety of the day, a single to right center. David Villar took a called third strike. Then Wilmer Flores smacked an automatic double that would have scored Estrada had it not hopped over the left center field fence at the Konica Minolta advertisement.

A walk to JD Davis loaded the bases with one down.. But Heaney stopped the Giants’ in their tracks, fanning Longoria and Bart on fastballs in the mid 90s.

Fellow portsider Caleb Ferguson relieved Heaney to start the home fifth and yielded a full count leadoff double by Lewis Brinson that flew over the glove of the leaping Max Muncy at third into left field.

Brinson moved up to third with a head first slide on Luis González’s fly out to center and held his base when Heliot Ramos grounded out to third. Estrada then sent a grounder to short on which Trea Turner made a nice play, but his throw to first was high and drew Freeman off the bag, allowing Brinson to score the unearned run that tied the game.

Los Angeles came roaring back in the top of the sixth with a leadoff double to right center by that selfsame Turner. Brinson, whose slide into third had resembled a stumble, seemed to slip in his attempt to get to ball.

Freeman then drove that Turner home with a single to right that put LA back head, 2-1 and brought the other Turner, Justin, to the plate. He hit a hard liner to left that González caught for the first one. But that was enough to end Cobb’s outing. Lefty Scott Alexander took his place on the mound and shut the Dodgers down without further damage in spite of a single by Muncy.

Ferguson gave way to righty Phil Bickford, who disposed of the Giants in the bottom without allowing a base runner.

Alexander pitched to one batter in the seventh, retiring Cody Bellinger on a line drive to Davis at first. Submariner Tyler Rogers put his particular spin on things, retiring Austin Barnes and Mookie Betts out on nine pitches and retiring the side in order in the eighth.

Evan Phillips pitched the home seventh for the visitors. He allowed a single to LaMonte Wade, Jr., hitting for Bart, but struck out his other three adversaries, including Yastrzemski, who hit for Brinson.

Alex Vesia’s first acts on assuming mound duties for Los Angeles in the bottom of the eighth was to walk number nine hitter Ramos and number one hitter Estrada. Pederson made an ill-advised attempt to bunt with two strikes and struck out.

Flores sent Bellinger to the Konica-Minolta sign, where he made a leaping catch of the Giants’ second sacker’s drive for the second out, Ramos taking third on the play. Then Davis tied the game with an automatic double over the right center field fence that brought in Ramos.

After an intentional pass to Longoria that loaded the bases, the rally ended with Wade going down swinging.

Camilo Doval tried to preserve the tie in the top of the ninth. He started off inauspiciously with a four pitch walk to Muncy but recovered to whiff Thompson and Taylor and get Bellinger to fly out to Ramos in right.

Now Craig Kimbrel had to keep the Giants off the board to keep the Dodgers in the game. Yaz popped out to third. Austin Wynns, now the catcher, grounded out to short. Ramos was fooled on an 0-2 knuckle curve and went down swinging for the third out. Kimbrel was the eventual winning pitcher and now. is 5-6, 3.96.

John Brebbia, who started yesterday’s bullpen game, came in to pitch the 10th inning in tonight’s extra inning thriller. Austin Barnes sacrificed zombie runner Bellinger to third, and Betts drove him in by lacing in a double to left.

Trea Turner smacked deep right, on which Ramos made a beautiful catch and a strong throw, but Betts reached third safely. Brebbia granted an intentional walk to Freeman, stole second, and an unintentional. one to Justin Turner to clog the basepaths.

Thomas Szapucki to the rescue! Vain hope! Szapucki walked Muncy, with his BA of .201, to force in the second Dodger tally of the frame and reload the bases. Szkapucki whiffed Thompson to allow San Francisco a reasonable chance of turning things around against Andre Jackson, who had pitched two big league innings so far this season.

Ramos was, of course, the placed baserunner. Jackson walked Estrada. Pederson almost gave the Giants the win with a drive to the portals in right that moved Ramos to third. Flores dropped a single to right that brought in Ramos.

Estrada stopped at second, in scoring position with one down. After an eight pitch at bat, Davis went down swinging for the second out. It now was a battle between Jackson and Longoria. The count went to 3-2 before the Giants’ third baseman walked to load the bases.

Now it was Justin Bruihl the lefty who got the final out in last night’s Dodger win, pitching for them against LaWade, Jr. He drove a 2-2 pitch into McCovey Cove … just a few feet to the right of the foul pole. Then, on a full count, Wade grounded out, first Freeman to Bruihl, who gained his first major league save.

The players of the game today were the grounds crew, who kept the field in playing condition in spite of the repeated soakings it endured.

The Giants move on to Denver tomorrow, where Jakob Junis (4-6, 4.15) will face the Blake Street Bombers, who will counter with Chad Kuhl (6-9, 5.33). Game time is 5:40 pm, Pacific time.

Dodgers open flood gates score four in third for whopping 7-2 win over Giants at Oracle Park

San Francisco Giants pitcher Sean Hjelle (64) is relieved by San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler (19) in the third inning at Oracle Park in San Francisco, on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2022. (photo by Bay Area News Group)

Los Angeles (100-44). 7. 13 . 1

San Francisco (69-76). 2. 5. 1

Saturday, September 17, 2022

By Lewis Rubman

SAN FRANCISCO–The Los Angeles Dodgers came to work this evening looking for their 100th victory of the season. They got it.

The San Francisco Giants came to pay tribute to Hunter Pence, remember the glory days of the 2010s, and just maybe take a small step towards a .500 season. The Dodgers sent left hander Julio Urías (16-7, 2.30) to the mound.

The Giants played a bullpen game, starting with John Brebbia (6-1, 2.83), followed by Sean Hjelle, Alex Young, Jarlín García, Yunior Marte, and Cole Waite. The result was a dismal 7-2 loss for the Giants in a contest that was decided by the end of the third frame.

Urías threw six effective innings for the Dodgers before giving way to Tommy Kalhe. The southpaw from Culiacán held San Francisco to two runs, only one of which was earned, on five hits, one of which was a home run, and a base on balls, notching eight strikeouts in the process.

He threw 98 pitches, 65 of which qualified as strikes. He earned his 17th win against seven defeats and shrank his ERA to 2.27.

Before the ceremony honoring the adding of Pence’s plaque to the Giants Wall of Fame, the team recalled right handed pitcher Sean Hjelle and the promising outfielder Heliot Ramos from Sacramento and optioned outfielder Willie Calhoun and righty reliever Luis Ortiz to the River Cats.

Hjelle pitched the second frame of tonight’s contest after Brebbia pute down the visitors on one hit in the first. Ramos played in right field and batted in the ninth position and went hitless in four at bats.

When the Giants jumped out to a one run lead in the bottom of that inning you would have thought that they were the division winners going for the third digit in the win column and the Dodgers, the ex champs struggling for a shred of respectability.

San Francisco combined an infield hit, an error by shortstop Trea Turner, a stolen base by Thairo Estrada, and a botched double play attempt to achieve the tally and make Urías throw 22 pitches in the process.

The Dodgers corrected that misconception in their next turn at bat. Estrada had to race to the warning track to snag Max Muncy´s leadoff liner to left. Justin Turner smacked a single to right, and Trayce Thompson’s 11th home run of the year cleared the Bank of America advertisement in left center, a 421 foot blast of a 95mph sinker.

The Dodgers continued their relentless attack in the third. Treat Turner hit a solid single to right and, before Hjelle’s first delivery to Fredie Freeman, went to second on the rookie’s errant pickoff throw. With Freeman still at the plate, Turner took third on a passed ball.

He scored on Freeman’s single off the right field wall. More Dodgers crossed the plate on Will Smith’s grounder to third that laid down and died before Longoria could make a play on it, Muncy’s single to right, and Justin Turner’s single to center.

Add to that a walk to Trayce Thompson, and you get the end of Hjelle’s wobbly performance. Young entered the game with Los Angeles ahead 5-1 with the bases loaded, no one out, and Joey Gallo at the plate. He hit a grounder to Crawford, playing in the shift, that should have resulted in a double play.

But Crawford bobbled the ball, and all the Giants got was a force out at second. Since scorers aren’t allowed to anticipate a double play in that situation, Crawford wasn’t charged with an error.

Turner scored the visitor’s fourth run of the inning and sixth of the game. Hjelle had thrown 50 pitches in his 1+ innings long appearance, in which he surrendered six runs, all earned, on eight hits, and a walk. He got the loss, giving him a record of 0-2, 9.75.

After LA had batted around, the Giants hit the rusty Urías hard in the bottom of the third. David Villar showed warning track power in his fly to. left, and Wilmer Flores sent his 19th round tripper of 2022 over the Game Up sign in left center, 384 feet into the bleachers to give San Francisco its second run.

The Dodgers answered that in the fourth with an RBI single by Justin Turner that drove in Trea Turner. I guess Turner round’s fair play.

It was Jarlín García’s turn to try his turn on the mound in the fifth. His performance was the first successful one of the game for San Francisco. He held Los Angeles in check, allowing only a hit and a walk in his three inning stint on the mound.

Urías’s replacement, Kahle, fanned his first two batters in the seventh but then hit Estrada with a pitch and walked Villar. This brought Chris Martin, who closed the inning by getting Flores to pop out to Freeman, who made a nifty back to the plate grab of the ball.

Yunior Marte took over for García in the visitors half of the eighth and got them out in order. Martin stuck around to do the same to the Giants in the bottom of the inning.

Cole Waites held LA scoreless in the ninth with a little help from a pitcher’s best friend.

Justin Brihl closed out the game for Los Angeleswith a perfect ninth inning.

The Giants and Dodgers are scheduled to battle the elements and each other at 4:08 tomorrow afternoon in a nationally televised match up between LA’s leftly Andrew Heaney (3-2, 2.84) and SF’s righty Alex Cobb (6-6, 3.48)

Dodgers May and relievers shutout Giants 5-0 at Oracle

Los Angeles Dodgers starter Dustin May delivers a pitch to the San Francisco Giants line up in the bottom of the first inning at Oracle Park in San Francisco on Fri Sep 16, 2022 (AP News photo)

Los Angeles (99-44). 5. 9. 0

San Francisco (69-75). 0. 2. 1

Friday, September 16, 2022

By Lewis Rubman

SAN FRANCISCO–The Los Angeles Dodgers rode into town as the 2022 National League Western Division champions, winningest team in major league baseball at 98-44. You’d think they wouldn’t sweat the details, like a three game series against the 69-74 Giants.

You’d be partially right, but remember that the 2021 Giants, with 107 wins, NL West champions and the winningest team in all of MLB, were stopped in their tracks by the wild card Dodgers. The fugitives from Brooklyn still need to secure the home team advantage in the subsequent rounds of baseball’s bizantine postseason playoff tournament. They arrived in San Francisco with a magic number of 10 to achieve that goal in the NL playoffs.

When the dust had settled. the Dodgers had validated their championship qualities, using four pitchers to shut the Giants out on two hits, solidly defeating the home team 5-0. For their starter in tonight’s opening game of the series, the Dodgers chose right hander Dustin May, who has pitched in five postseason games, two as a starter, for a total of 14 innings two of his relief appearances were in the 2020 World Series.

His postseason record of 1-0, 3.86 isn’t particularly impressive, but his having one at all offsets his poor 2022 numbers of 1-2, 4.29. In any case, those figures are deceptive. The 24 year old May didn’t throw a pitch in the big leagues this year until August 20; he’d been on the IL for about a year and had just recovered from Tommy John surgery.

Even if his teammates were catching their breath while trying to stay sharp and position themselves for the playoff push, he’s effectively just gotten past spring training. Mid September is late March or early April for May.

He exceeded everyone’s expectations. throwing five innings of near perfect baseball. He faced the minimum number of batters possible over that span and allowed only one base runner, Brandon Crawford, who walked in the second frame and quickly was eliminated in an around the horn double play. May threw 69 pitches, 40 for strikes and struck out four. The well deserved win evened Mays’ won-lost record at 2-2 and reduced his earned run average to 3.46.

The Giants, trying to finish the year above .500 and maybe act as spoilers in the Dodgers’ hopes to advance deep into the postseason, sent Logan Webb, who might be their best young pitcher, to the mound, toting a 13-8, 2.88 record for the season and numbers of 3-1, 2.64 record in his eight starts against the Dodgers, with him.

Those last figures include his playoff performances. When he left after four innings of hard labor, the Giants were behind, 4-0. Webb had thrown 90 pitches, 33 of them balls. The Dodgers had gotten seven hits off him, and all four of their tallies were earned. He issued two free passes and unleashed one wild pitch. He was charged with the loss after a lackluster performance that left him with 13-9 while his ERA rose to 3.02.

The Dodgers jumped in front early on a leadoff double by Max Muncy in the top of the second. He went to third on Justin Turner’s productive ground out to second and scored on a fielder’s choice when All or Nothing At All Joey Gallo hit a grounder to Wilmer Flores at first and Joey Bart couldn’t handle the throw home.

One more costly hidden error by the Giants’ defence. The scorer’s decision was correct, but Flores’s footwork here and on an earlier play in the first frame was awkward when cleaner execution might have resulted in an out.

Los Angeles overcame the Curse of the Leadoff Double again in the fourth when Justin Turner whacked his 34th two bagger of the year into left field. Turner moved up a base on Gallo’s grounder to first and trotted home on Taylor’s RBI single to center.

Taylor, in turn, moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch to Bellinger, whose single to center brought Taylor home with LA’s third tally. Bellinger stole second with Trea Turner at bat. That plate appearance culminated in an RBI single to center that increased the Dodger’s margin to 4-0.

It also gave Turner the chase to steal his 25th base of the season, and he took advantage of the opportunity. That was LA’s fourth stolen base in four innings of play. When Will Smith grounded into a 5-4 force out of Freeman, it spelled the end of Logan’s mound tenure.

Portslideer Thomas Szapucki replaced him in the top of the fifth and held the visitors to Justin Turner’s 35th double of the season. Szapucki stuck around to pitch a perfect sixth and retire the first batter he faced in the top of the seventh before passing the torch to Luis Ortiz.

Alex Vesia relieved May after the Dodgers’ starter had hurled five innings of no-hit ball. The left handed reliever allowed the Giants their first safety, a weak etwo out grounder to second that allowed Joey Bart to reach first.

Ortiz retired the Dodgers to a conga beat (1,2,3, kick) in the top of both the seventh and eighth frames.

Caleb Ferguson faced the Giants in their half of the seventh. He gave up San Francisco’s first hit worthy of the name, a two out line drive single to center by David Villar. Crawford made things interesting by sending Bellinger to the wall to corral the fly he almost hit into the Giants’ bullpen. Phil Bickford set the Giants down in order in the bottom of the eighth.

Cole Waites tried to keep the hosts within striking distance of their guests in the top of the ninth. He almost pulled it off, in spite of a leadoff walk to Bellinger, who also stole second. Waites retired Betts and Trea Turner while Bellinger stayed put at second.

But Freeman singled him home. LA slugging first baseman was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double, González to Flores (now playing second), but Los Angeles and Bickford went into the bottom of the ninth leading 5-0.

The Giants went gently into the good night, going down in order.

Tomorrow’s game is scheduled to start at 6:05. Before the game, Hunter Pence’s plaque will become the 55th Giant on the team’s Wall of Fame. After that, it’ll be southpaw Julio Urías (16-7, 2.30) will try to give LA its 100th win of the season. His opposite number has not yet been announced.

San Francisco Giants podcast with Daniel Dullum: Giants prepare to face LA Friday night; Rodon most likely to go free agency after season over

San Francisco Giants Mike Yastrzemski lunges for a fly ball hit by the Atlanta Braves Vaughn Grissom in the top of fifth for an out at Oracle Park in San Francisco on Thu Sep 15, 2022. The Giants prepare to open a three game series in Los Angeles Friday night (AP News photo)

On the SF Giants podcast:

#1 San Francisco Giants ace Carlos Rodon is most likely to leave as a free agent after having an impressive season for the Giants.

#2 Rodon has 200 strikeouts second in Major League Baseball behind the New York Yankees Gerrit Cole who leads with 228 strikeouts.

#3 Left handed pitcher Alex Wood has is completely out for impingement a decision on whether he’ll pitch again Thursday will be decided this weekend.

#4 Wood did say if the Giants were in the hunt for post season he would be back out on the mound.

#5 Giants had Thursday off and open a three game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Friday night with the Giants out of contention and the Dodgers in the drivers seat can the Giants try and add more wins against Los Angeles.

Join Daniel for the Giants podcasts Thursday nights at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Giants to host Dodgers for weekend series at Oracle Park: Belt joins Kruk and Kuip for TV broadcast analysis during knee rehab

San Francisco Giants Brandon Belt who rehabbing from knee surgery has joined Giants broadcasters Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper in the TV broadcast booth for color and analysis while on the IL during the current homestand (San Francisco Chronicle file photo)

By Daniel Dullum

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Following a win on Wednesday over the Atlanta Braves, the San Francisco Giants have Thursday off before embarking on a weekend series against the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers at Oracle Park, renewing a rivalry that goes back to 1883.

In Friday night’s contest, Justin May (1-2, 4.29) starts for Los Angeles, facing the Giants’ Logan Webb (13-8, 2.88). The Giants’ probable starters for Saturday and Sunday, respectively, are Alex Young (0-1, 2.87) and Alex Cobb (6-6, 3.48). The Dodgers will counter with Julio Urias (16-7, 2.30) and Andrew Heaney (3-2, 2.84).

The Dodgers hold a 20-game lead over second-place San Diego, and lead the Giants by 29 ½ games in the NL West. Los Angeles will likely clinch the home field advantage for the National League postseason.

RODON ROLLS ON

Carlos Rodon struck out eight in five strong innings in Wednesday’s win over Atlanta before leaving the game with a blister. Rodon is in the hunt for the NL Cy Young Award, sporting numbers that include 13 wins, a 2.84 ERA, 220 strikeouts, a WHIP of 1.04 and an opponents’ batting average of .204.

BELT GIVES KUIP & KRUK A SHOUTOUT

No one is sure what the future holds for Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, who is out for the season after season-ending knee surgery. The 34-year-old Belt becomes a free agent at the end of the current season, and took some time to visit the NBC Sports Bay Area booth to chat with Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow.

“I told y’all before we got on the air that you are the best in the business, and I really mean that,” Belt said on the broadcast. “So if I don’t get a chance to play in front of y’all again, it’s been an honor.

“I’ve really enjoyed it,” Belt continued. “Y’all have the best calls in the game. I’ve heard everybody; y’all are awesome and y’all do it the best. So I know you all know this, but I wanted to get that out there.”

Kuiper responded, “I think Mike and I always appreciate it a little more when it comes from a guy who played. So we appreciate it.”

Krukow then returned the compliment to Belt, pointing out, “We have something to tell you too – thank you for helping put two (championship) rings on our fingers!”

Belt: “It was my pleasure. I’d like to get another one!”

Belt has said he would like to return to the Giants, but the combination of coming off a sub-par 2022 season and undergoing knee surgery at age 35 may be factors in the Giants’ decision-making for 2023. If the Giants decide not to bring Belt back, there’s a good chance the veteran first baseman could land with another club.

Belt recently told NBC Sports Bay Area that it’s too soon to make a decision on playing next season, explaining, “It’s just going to depend. I’m going to play next year if I can get my knee healthy and strong again. … If I can get it strong like I did (after surgery in 2015) then I’ll play, but if not, then I’m not going to go out there and be substandard all the time. We’ll just have to see.”

San Francisco Giants podcast with Michael Duca: Did Littell blow up fire up Giants?; SF takes series with 4-1 win over Braves

San Francisco Giants starter Carlos Rodon delivers against the Atlanta Braves at Oracle Park in the top of the first inning on Wed Sep 14, 2022 (AP News photo)

On the Giants podcast with Michael:

#1 San Francisco Giants (69-74) reliever Zack Littell who was demoted to triple A Sacramento on Monday night after he exchanged words with manager Gabe Kapler during a pitching change seemed to have fired up the team with the Giants winning on Monday and Wednesday to take the series from the Atlanta Braves (88-55).

#2 The win on Wednesday had Giants starter Carlos Rodon dominate over the Braves line up with five innings of work giving up two hits and striking out eight in one of the toughest line ups that Rodon has to face.

#3 Rodon got a blister after leaving the game. Rodon said in the post game scrum that he’s been dealing with the blister all year long.

#4 Rodon has been pitching well all year long also on Wednesday he allowed only one unearned run, two hit and walk and second in baseball with strikeouts 220 to the New York Yankees Gerrit Cole who had 228.

#5 The Giants have Thursday off and host the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday at Oracle Park for a 7:15 pm PDT. The Dodgers will go with starter Dustin May (1-2, 4.29) he’ll be opposed by the Giants Logan Webb (13-8, 2.88).

Join Michael for the Giants podcasts Thursdays at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

San Francisco Giants podcast with Michael Duca: Giants in Milwaukee just for today’s doubleheader

San Francisco Giants David Villar has been having success at the plate hit a two run homer in the top of the fifth inning and gets the high five from teammates against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on Wed Sep 7, 2022 (AP News photo)

On the SF Giants podcast with Michael:

#1 Michael, the San Francisco Giants just couldn’t hold the 2-0 lead and the Los Angeles Dodgers Max Muncy who bunted to the opposite side of the field of the Giants shift got on board and set up the home run hit by Justin Turner to take a 3-2 lead.

#2 Trea Turner doubled home Barnes to make it 4-3, then Muncy blew it open after a Freddie Freeman walk after eight innings the Dodgers had a four run 7-3 lead.

#3 The Giants got two runs in the top of the fifth inning and another run in the top of the seventh but just couldn’t manufacture more runs to get back in the ball game.

#4 The Giants play a doubleheader today in Milwaukee will Gabe Kapler use the call ups and rookies to see what he has on had in preparation for next season.

#5 In today’s front game the Giants will start Scott Alexander (0.00, 1.69) and for the Brewers Corbin Burnes (9-6, 3.02) a 1:10pm PDT first pitch. In the nightcap Giants manager Gabe Kapler has not announced a starter and for the Brewers Freddy Peralta (4-3, 3.56)

Join Michael for the Giants podcasts Thursdays at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Our Turn: Dodgers late rally the difference in 7-3 win over the Giants

By Morris Phillips

David Villar’s pair of home runs kept his late-season audition humming along, but the Dodgers had responses to Villar and the Giants in their 7-3 win on Wednesday afternoon.

The Giants 2-0 lead was eclipsed by Justin Turner’s three-run homer in the fifth off Alex Cobb. Then in the eighth, Trea Turner doubled, scoring Austin Barnes to give the Dodgers a 4-3 lead. Two batters later, Max Muncy’s three-run shot put the game away, and officially eliminated the Giants in the NL West race.

“I wanted to get the ball in the air on that one,” Muncy said. “We have the fastest guy in baseball (Trea Turner) on third base.”

The Giants suffered consecutive losses to the Dodgers after their five home run performance on Monday. That leaves them 28 1/2 games out of first place with 27 games remaining.

So what’s next? A trip to Milwaukee for a doubleheader with the Brewers on Thursday, followed by a weekend in Chicago with the Cubs.

While the Giants would love to catch fire and challenge the Brewers and Padres, who are holding the last, two playoff spots, just surviving the condensed schedule this week would be admirable. A revolving door roster, giving several guys opportunities to shine, will help ease the grind.

Currently at the top of that list are Villar and Lewis Brinson, after the pair both homered three times in the series.

“We’ve talked the last couple of days about how instrumental David can be to the future of this franchise,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “I see him as a guy who’s setting the stage for what might happen next season.”

Even more impressive than Villar’s 30 combined home runs at Triple-A Sacramento and San Francisco with the Giants is his enthusiasm. Clearly, he senses the opportunity to grab a regular role at first or third base with Wilmer Flores, Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria unlikely to return next season. Homering off Clayton Kershaw in the fifth inning to give the Giants a lead just intensified his aspirations.

“He’s a historic pitcher,” Villar said. “But my job is to do exactly what I did. I got a mistake slider that was over the heart of the plate, and I know that I’m capable of driving the ball to the right side of the field.”

Villar doubled down in his next at-bat in the seventh, with a home run to the same area in the bleachers that tied the game, 3-3. The second shot victimized reliever Jeff Bruihl and his cut fastball.

Outside of Villar, the Giants’ offense did little with their other six base hits contributing to seven men left on base. Flores, Longoria and Austin Wynns each suffered 0 for 4 afternoons.

NOTES: Luis Torres is traveling with the club and expected to pitch on Thursday. Jakob Junis, who was the scheduled starter, Sean Hjelle and Scott Alexander are also likely to pitch with their roles to be determined. Bryce Johnson, the outfielder, was optioned to Sacramento.

That’s Amaury News and Commentary: Jaime Jarrin in the home stretch of his career

Author and Oakland A’s play by play announcer Amaury Pi Gonzalez (left) and Los Angeles Dodgers play by play announcer Jaime Jarrin (right) at the 1977 World Series between the New York Yankees and Dodgers at Dodgers Stadium (photo provided by Amaury Pi Gonzalez)

Jaime Jarrín in the Home Stretch of his Career

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

Amaury Pi-González

Jaime Jarrin has been the Spanish Voice for the Los Angeles Dodgers for over six decades. He told me about this current 2022 season: “mi carrera como cronista radial terminará definitivamente cuando realize mi última transmición, ojalá sea en la Serie Mundial y terminar mi ciclo como empezé con los Dodgers ganando la Serie Mundial en 1959 contra los White Sox” Trans: “my career as a radio sportscaster will definitely come to an end when I broadcast the World Series and end my cycle which started when I began with the Dodgers winning the 1959 World Series over the White Sox”.

Did you ever envision such a lengthy and successful career when you first began? “nunca ni en sueño crei que recibiría tantas bendiciones en mi carrera, vine a este país a ampliar mis horizontes esperando únicamente ubicarme y seguir trabajando como todos los inmigrantes que llegan a este incomparable y generoso país”. Trans- “never even in a dream I believe I would received so many blessings in my career, I came to this country to broaden my horizons, only with the hope of settling down like all the immigrants that come to this incomparable and generous country”.

Jaime’s career began prior to his arrival to the United States. “mi carrera en radio comenzó en 1951 cuando a los 16 años de edad obtuve mi primer trabajo frente a un micrófono como periodista radial en la emisora HCJB La Voz de los Andes en mi nativa Quito, Ecuador. Trans- “my radio career began in 1951 at 16 years of age when I got my first job in front of a microphone as a radio journalist on HCJB La Voz de los Andes in my native, Quito, Ecuador”

When I asked him what he would miss after his retirement this year, “creo que extrañaré el juego del que vivo enamorado pero sobre todo extrañaré a los periodistas y colegas cuya amistad me han brindado haciendo más ligero el trabajo y sobre todo los viajes, ya estoy extrañando de sobremanera a mi hermano y consejero Vin Scully. El periodismo local y nacional tanto en inglés como en Español ha sido muy generoso especialmente en este año de despedida y mi gratitud eterna” Trans- I think I will miss the game that I am in-love with, but most of all I will miss the journalist and colleagues, most of all my brother and adviser Vin Scully. The local and national media in English as well as in Spanish, they have been very generous, especially during this year of my farewell; my eternal gratitude”.

What does Jaime Jarrín plans to do after his retirement? “seguiré afiliado a los Dodgers como un embajador por lo menos por dos años, pero mi carrera radial termina en este 2022”. Trans- “for at least the next two years I will continue my affiliation with the Dodgers as an ambassador, but my broadcast career ends this 2022”.

I have known Jaime Jarrín since the mid-1970’s. I have always had the utmost respect and admiration for Jaime. It is truly a pleasure to have known him for a lifetime, especially that World Series in 1977 (that is 45 years, for those scoring at home).

As recent as the late 1990’s I shared the booth broadcasting with Jaime for the Spanish radio networks in the US and Latinamerica. A consummate professional and truly a gentleman. I wish him the very best.

I have told Jaime many times, he was the luckiest man that I have known in broadcasting, why? He was fortunate enough to have spent his whole career with the LA Dodgers, a team that has always appreciated the value and importance of the Hispanic market.

Not now, when in LA Spanish is spoken as frequently as English and the Latinos are the largest minority in the country, with ‘at least’ 65 million people, but from the very beginning in the 1950’s, when it was not “politically correct” to speak Spanish.

The Dodgers are very close to clinching their divisional title. As of today they have a 94-42 record, best in the major leagues. Starting this Friday when the Dodgers open a weekend series in San Diego against the Padres, Jaime Jarrín will be calling all the games (like he always does) home and away on radio KTNQ 1020AM Los Angeles. MLB Baseball Hall of Fame announcer, Jaime Jarrín is now in the home stretch of his career.

Felicidades Jaime.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the vice president of the Major League Baseball Hispanic Heritage Hall of Fame Museum and does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.co