Giants starting to play out the string in upcoming series against the Brewers

Photo credit: @SFGiants

By Jeremy Harness

It’s quite evident that the Giants are not going to make the playoffs – Buster Posey having season-ending surgery and the team trading Andrew McCutchen after a little more than half a season more than showed they have waved the right flag – so they might as well mess things up for teams that are still contending.

They can start with this weekend’s three-game series in Milwaukee against the Brewers, which starts Friday night at Miller Park. The Giants just got finished getting their heads handed to them by the Rockies in Colorado (what else is new?) in getting swept in a three-game series at Coors Field.

So if they are going to play spoiler–or if they think they actually have a chance in grabbing a wild-card spot in the National League–they will need to get things back on track very quickly.

The Giants’ Derek Holland (7-8, 3.56 ERA) will take the ball Friday night against the Brewers’ Chase Anderson (9-7, 3.96 ERA).

Anderson has won each of his last three decisions, and in his last outing, he went five innings and gave up only a run on four hits in a loss to Washington, although he got a no-decision. Holland, meanwhile, has won each of his last two decisions, while he has spent some time in the bullpen this season.

The left-hander went six innings in a loss to the Mets at home–he got a no-decision–and he also gave up only a run and surrendered only four hits in the process.

Chris Stratton (9-8, 4.90 ERA), who has spent some time in Triple-A Sacramento this year, will go Saturday afternoon, and he will face Milwaukee lefty–and former Nationals and A’s standout–Gio Gonzalez.

Stratton has been stellar in his past two starts, although he lost his last outing in a 4-1 loss to the Mets four days ago, when he gave up only a pair of runs on three hits over six innings. The outing before, he shut out the Diamondbacks over eight innings, giving up only five hits and striking out six in a 2-0 win.

On Sunday, Madison Bumgarner (5-5, 3.07 ERA) will take the hill for the Giants and opposite the Brewers’ Zach Davies (2-5, 4.88 ERA).

Giants Bullpen Collapses Again, Lose 3-2 Against St. Louis

By Shawn Whelchel

AP photo: A picture says a 1000 words in one game earlier this season San Francisco reliever Santiago Casilla was angry for being lifted but in this Saturday photo Santiago sympathizes with what his manager Bruce Bochy has to do and lifts Casilla from the game against the St Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO- Just as the team looked to have turned a corner on its second-half struggles, the Giants bullpen collapsed yet again to drop a tight game to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.

St. Louis strung together two runs on two hits and a walk to steal a 3-2 lead from the Giants in the top of the ninth. And for a manager renowned for his ability to work his bullpen, a questionable decision at the game’s most crucial moment proved to be the Giants’ downfall.

Yet again, Bruce Bochy put his faith in former closer Santiago Casilla to close out a tight ballgame. And yet again, he was mistaken in doing so.

Clinging to a one-run lead, Casilla entered in the bottom of the ninth win a man on first. An ill-advised walk and a seeing-eye single later and Casilla had blown his ninth save attempt of the season.

After warming up Hunter Strickland, Bochy would elect to replace Casilla with Matt Reynolds, who would lose the lead on a sacrifice fly to his first batter of the night. San Francisco would threaten with two singles in the bottom of the ninth, but couldn’t complete the comeback attempt.

The collapse erased what what a magnificent pitching performance by starter Jeff Samardzija, who allowed just one run on seven hits across 6 2/3 innings. Perhaps even more damaging is the fact that both the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers won their games, hurting the team’s chances at a playoff birth.

After the game, Bochy talked about Samardzija’s dominant outing.

“He did a great job. He gave us all we needed and it’s a great start, a quality start,” said Bochy. “Leake, we couldn’t do a whole lot off of him but we found a way to get a couple runs, and we’re a couple out away from winning the ball game. That’s been part of our issue.”

After the game, Bochy said that his decision to pull Romo- who started the ninth inning- in favor of Casilla was an attempt to play the matchups based on history.

“We said if it got to Molina there, he’s had success off of Romo, and Casilla would be a better matchup,” said Bochy. “For some reason, Molina has seen the ball pretty good off of Sergio (Romo), and you go off history. That’s why the change was made there”

 

After suffering at the hands of yet another two-out-rally by the Giants last night, the Cardinals looked to flip the script on Samardzija, jumping out to an early lead when Brandon Moss parked an opposite field shot with two down in the first inning.

As they’ve done so often lately, the Giants’ bottom half of the order-anchored by the streaking Hunter Pence- kicked off the scoring for San Francisco on Saturday night. The Giants got on the board after a deep drive by Brandon Belt to the center field warning track would plate Pence, who singled before him.

The Giants threatened to put up another crooked number, but a spectacular diving play by Cardinals’ first baseman Matt Adams would end the inning by doubling up Eduardo Nunez at first.

San Francisco would look like the team of old in the bottom of the fifth frame, as third baseman Eduardo Nunez would use his speed to steal two straight bags off the Cardinals after leading off with a single. The pair of swipes would set up a sacrifice fly from Samardzija to plate the go-ahead run.

After issuing his fourth walk of the night with two outs in the seventh, Bochy would elect to use his bullpen to close the books on Samardzija’s impressive night. Lefty Will Smith would do just that, getting pinch hitter Jhonny Peralta to fly out to deep right field to end the threat.

Samardzija would walk away with an impressive line that saw him allow just one run on seven hits through a strong 6 2/3 innings.

But the Giants’ bullpen woes would rear their ugly head to erase his strong effort. After getting the leadoff batter, Sergio Romo would promptly give up a seeing-eye single to allow the tying run on board.

In a surprising move, Bochy would elect to trust the struggling Santiago Casilla in a tight spot. Like so many other times, this would prove to be an unwise decision by the skipper known for his bullpen management.

Casilla would start his night off with an ill-advised walk to his first batter, Yadier Molina, move the tying run into scoring position. Casilla’s night would be short, but costly, as Randal Grichuk would follow Yadier with a single past the outstretched glove of a diving Crawford to tie the game at 2-2.

Reliever Matt Reynolds would then retire his next two batters, but not before a sac-fly by Kolten Wong would give the Cardinals their first lead of the game.

San Francisco would threaten with a two-out rally after Eduardo Nunez and Denard Span would lace a pair of singles, but pinch hitter Connor Gillaspie would hit a routine pop-up on his first pitch to end the game.

 

 

 

 

Giants still pushing for respectability, win second straight

By Morris Phillips

No World Series champion has finished last in its division the following season since the 1998 Marlins were stuck with the dubious distinction winning just 54 games and finishing last in the NL East.

The 2013 Giants don’t want that jacket—especially since they originally had designs on defending their title unlike those Marlins who sold off all their high-priced pieces after winning it all in 1997.

On Monday, the Giants were officially eliminated from winning the NL West but that didn’t prevent them from earning a hard fought victory over the Rockies when Brandon Belt knocked in the game-winning run in the 10th inning.

Belt knocked in the game-tying run in the eighth prior to winning it in the 10th. Since August 1, Belt’s done the opposite of dialing it in, hitting .354 with 16 runs batted in, while adhering to the hitting adjustments suggested by hitting coach Hensley Muelens.

“I don’t think I’ve looked at the standings in a while. But we still care about ourselves,” Belt said. “We have some goals in mind and want to finish the season strong.”

“That’s what you want to see from your young players: improvement and adjustments,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Belt. “And he’s done that, he’s a different hitter now than he was earlier in the season.”

The Giants evened their season record at home at 37-37 with eight games remaining. The win also gave the team consecutive one-run victories for the first time since May 5, when they completed a three-game run of one-run wins. Overall, the team has captured nine of their last 16 contests.

Tim Lincecum pitched into the eighth inning, but that was only good enough and long enough to get him off the hook for the loss. Still, the Freak pitched well, after allowing six hits and two runs in the first three innings. As the game went along, Lincecum began locating pitches and relying heavily on his changeup which was effective in retiring Rockies’ batters.

“We got a couple runs early, but he shut us down after that,” Colorado manager Walt Weiss said of Lincecum.

Lincecum win-loss record remains an unsightly 9-13 but he won three consecutive starts prior to Monday’s no-decision, his best run of success since April 2010. Is Timmy in the Giants’ plans for 2014 even with his declining velocity and spotty results? It remains to be seen, but it appears Lincecum is still stating his case, which in itself is a good sign.

In terms of statistics, Timmy’s done some good: 178 innings pitched with 175 strikeouts, which ranks him in the top 15 in the National League. But he’s also done some bad: his 70 walks are among the highest totals in the National League and he’s surrendered 19 home runs in 29 starts.

And what of the Giants trying to stay out of the cellar? Monday’s win brought the team within a ½ game of the Rockies and one game of the Padres, who are in third place in the division. Ironically, the Giants’ 36-28 record within the NL West is the best of the bunch, but the team has had 15 other opponents (excluding the Yankees, who they will see for the first time on September 20) whom they haven’t done well against (28-51).

Overall, a mixed bag for the Champs, but a bag they still seem interested in trying to organize, which is admirable.

On Tuesday, the Giants turn to Ryan Vogelsong who will be opposed by Colorado’s Jorge De La Rosa.