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David

New season brings new hope posted by David

Two thousand eleven was a difficult year for Major League Baseball.  There was no strike, no brawl in which a player grabbed an elderly coach and threw him to the ground, and no collision between players that proved to be career-ending for anyone.  (Buster Posey should be fine this season.)  On the field, things were good.  In the stands and outside the park, however, tragedy struck the baseball world.

Christina Taylor Green, the nine-year-old granddaughter of former Phillies GM Dallas Green and daughter of Dodgers scout John Green, was shot and killed in Tucson at the Gabrielle Giffords Congress on Your Corner event in January.

Bryan Stow, a San Francisco Giants fan, was beaten nearly to death outside Dodger Stadium on Opening Day.

Shannon Stone, a firefighter, fell 20 feet in front of his six-year-old son at Rangers Ballpark in July and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

Greg Halman, a 24-year-old Mariners outfielder, was stabbed to death in his native Holland in November, allegedly by his own brother.

Despite the tragedies that occurred in 2011 – both during the season and before it began, inside and outside the stadium, accident or intentional – it was heartening to hear about Barry Bonds’s offer to pay for Stow’s children to go to college.  I have personally never been a Bonds fan – and I’m still not – but I give credit where credit is due.  Detractors may say that it was just a publicity stunt to improve his image, and I can’t say for sure that it wasn’t, but does it really matter?  A wealthy athlete did something he didn’t have to do in order to help someone in need.

Continue reading "New season brings new hope"


David

Longer series are good for ball posted by David

Postseason sweeps are great if your team comes out victorious, but for the fan who just wants to see a good series because his team is already done for the year, sweeps make October less exciting.  The Phillies and Yankees outplayed their first-round opponents so it was no surprise that the Reds and Twins failed to win a single game, but the other two division series were more fun to watch.  Additionally, the League Championship Series in both the AL and NL will last a minimum of six games, which is how it should be.  A postseason series that features one team in complete control over the other is like a boxing match in which one fighter KO’s the other in the first round, but then fights him again the next night and does it all over again.  A series that goes the distance (or a game shy of it), on the other hand, is good for ball.

How ‘bout that?

How about Cody Ross?  The Giants outfielder hit two home runs against Roy Halladay in Game 1 of the NLCS and added one off Roy Oswalt in Game 2 to provide San Francisco with its only run of the game.  This feat of power against two of the league’s best pitchers comes after Ross hit only three long balls in 33 games after coming over in a trade from the Marlins.  Though closer Brian Wilson has struck out six in 3.1 scoreless innings of work, Ross’s .375/.474/1.063 line as an everyday player makes him the favorite for the series MVP should his team eliminate the two-time defending NL Champs and play in the Fall Classic for the first time since 2002.

Continue reading "Longer series are good for ball"


David

Pair of Triple Crown candidates duel it out posted by David

Albert Pujols and Joey Votto are having monster seasons.  Not only are the sluggers leading their teams in the playoff hunt – the Cardinals are 1.5 games back in the Wild Card race while the Reds lead the NL Central – but Pujols (.321, 34 HR, 93 RBI) and Votto (.326, 31 HR, 90 RBI) are the top two National Leaguers in each of the Triple Crown categories.  Both have strong cases for the MVP award, but if either one wins the first Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, it would be awfully hard for the voters not to choose him as the league’s Most Valuable Player.

How ‘bout that?

How about Billy Wagner?  The 39-year-old anchor of the Atlanta bullpen has saved 30 games, holds a 1.68 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP, and did not give up a run in the entire month of June (11.1 innings, six hits, five walks, 17 strikeouts).  Wagner plans to retire at season’s end, and with the Braves currently leading the NL East, he’s looking for his first crack at the World Series and the opportunity to go out on top.

How about Carlos Gonzalez?  The Venezuelan outfielder is enjoying a fine year in his first full season as a big leaguer, hitting .320 with 26 homers, 84 RBI’s, and 20 stolen bases.  His batting average, .569 slugging percentage, and .922 OPS put him behind only Pujols and Votto in the National League.  Rockies fans can look forward to many years of watching Gonzalez display his talents at Coors Field.  At 24, he has a very promising career ahead of him.

How about the Twins?  Despite almost getting no-hit and losing three of four to the Rangers earlier this week, the Twinkies are 27-13 since the All-Star break, and hold a three-and-a-half game lead over the White Sox in the AL Central.  After losing cleanup man Justin Morneau to injury the week before the All-Star break, several Minnesota players have stepped up to the plate.  Since the break, birthday boy Jim Thome (now 40) is slugging .651, Delmon Young and Jason Kubel have driven in 33 and 32 runs, respectively, in 39 games, and Joe Mauer has raked to a line of .399/.476/.594 with 32 RBI’s in 36 games.

Continue reading "Pair of Triple Crown candidates duel it out"


David

Buyer or Seller? posted by David

With the Dog Days of August about to begin, now is the time for teams to decide whether they are buyers or sellers – that is, whether they should mortgage their future and go for it this year or trade away their veterans for up-and-coming prospects.  “Going for it” says to a team’s fans that the organization thinks it has a legitimate chance to win it all, but a more conservative approach can send just as strong a message.  While a middle-of-the-pack team may have to acknowledge that this isn’t the year, going out and building for the future – as long as it is not the distant future – can usually be taken to mean that the front office is willing to sacrifice an outside shot at the playoffs in order to increase its chances of winning in the long term.  Buyer or seller, every GM will be busy until tomorrow’s trade deadline.

How ‘bout that?

How about Buster Posey?  The 22-year-old rookie has been on fire since taking over as the Giants’ starting catcher when Bengie Molina was traded to the Rangers.  Though his 21-game hitting streak came to an end on Thursday, Posey has helped San Francisco go 17-8 in the month of July, in the process taking the lead in the Wild Card race.  It won’t be easy to edge Jason Heyward and Stephen Strasburg, but Posey has a legitimate chance to claim the National League Rookie of the Year award.

How about José Bautista?  Bautista leads the power-happy Blue Jays with 75 RBI and a .585 slugging percentage (teammate Vernon Wells, who is second, has driven in 55 and slugged .515), but more impressively, leads the majors in homers.  The journeyman played for Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh before finding a home in Toronto, and while he has always shown some pop, the Dominican native’s previous career highs were 16 homers (2006), 63 RBI (2007), and a .420 slugging percentage (2006).

Continue reading "Buyer or Seller?"


Michael McGauley

"Where Have You Been Pablo Sandoval?" posted by Michael McGauley


Could "The Panda" be snapping out of his slump? Pablo Sandoval was hitting bullets all over the place Friday night as the Giants finally offered some run support behind Matt Cain in a 5-0 win. Sandoval went 2-for-3 with a home run, a single, and a sac fly, driving in three of the team's five runs which was MORE than enough for Cain. The Giants' right-hander tossed a complete game, one-hit shutout with nine strike outs and zero walks in 122 pitches. Cain pitched well enough to win his last start against the A's, going 8-innings, and getting knicked for an unearned run in a 1-0 loss. The Giants scratched out seven hits off Arizona pitching, but were the beneficiary of six walks, five of which were courtesy of starter Edwin Jackson, who only allowed four hits through seven innings. Sandoval's eighth-inning blast over the center field wall came off struggling reliever Chad Qualls, who may be in jeopardy of losing his closers' job with the D-Backs. By the way, Freddy Sanchez banged out two more hits and drove in a run, boosting his average to .290 while playing brilliantly at second base. Sandoval's average was bumped up to .283, and inched closer to the .300 plateau that we've come to expect (.330 in 2009). NOW FOR THE NEWS... Buster Posey's time is now! The Giants have called up their prized prospect to play some first base and maybe catch once a week, as he continues to get his feet wet at the major league level (after last year's brief September debut). Posey has been tearing up Triple-A with a .349 average, .442 on-base percentage, and 32 RBI's. ApContinue reading ""Where Have You Been Pablo Sandoval?""


Michael McGauley

"The Giants' Bats Show Some Signs of Life Against the Nats" posted by Michael McGauley


Hey, nothing like snapping out of a five-game slide with some timely hitting! The Giants beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 Tuesday night in the first game of a fresh nine-game home stand after limping through a miserable 1-and-6 road-trip.  The Giants took a few innings, by finally settled in against old friend Livan Hernandez with two outs in the fith. Five consecutive hits plated all four runs, highlighted by a two-run double off the bat of Freddy Sanchez. Pablo Sandoval folliwed with a double off the left field wall to score Sanchez. The rally against Livan was rare thus far in 2010, as the veteran Nationals right-hander came into the game with an ERA below two (it ballooned to 2.08 after last night).  Four runs was enough for Todd Wellemeyer: a guy who was really pitching with his back against the wall, and one foot out the door if he didn't come through. Not only did Wellemeyer toss a solid six-innings (two runs and four hits and two strikeouts), but he actually ignited "the rally" at the plate with a two-out bloop single. Wellemeyer actually has one more victory (three) than both Matt Cain and Jonothan Sanchez (two each). The line-up: I like the changes, and I'm very impressed that Aubrey Huff didn't blink. He just went out there and manned left field like he'd been out there all season. Unfortunately, Mark DeRosa is probably not going to contribute much this year if anything at all, and moving Huff to left allows Juan Uribe to play everyday at third base, and takes some pressure off Pablo by moving him over to first base. This one-Continue reading ""The Giants' Bats Show Some Signs ..."


Michael McGauley

"Time for the Giants to Focus on the Rockies and Not Wednesday's Disaster" posted by Michael McGauley

Okay Giants' fans, it's time to get over Wednesday's loss, and get ready for the Rockies Friday night. Hey, I can be just as greedy as anyone, especially when it comes to a potential three-game sweep of the defending N.L. Champion Phillies. Everything was looking good: Lincecum on the mound, a three-run lead in the top of the 9th, and Brian Wilson getting loose in the pen should Timmy run out of gas. Then, with one out, a four-pitch walk to Shane Victorino, Bochy yanks Lincecum after 106 pitches, and Wilson cannot close the door. Jayson Werth's bases-clearing bloop double down the right field line tied the game at 4-4. In my opinion, total fluke! Wilson had not allowed a single run all season, and actually retired the first batter he faced. There were two outs before Utley singled and Howard walked to load the bases. Listen, if Wilson had finished off the game as he usually does, we wouldn't be having this endless discussion about Bochy's ill-fated pitching change. If he had left Timmy finish the game and he blew it, the same people would be criticizing Bochy FOR NOT making a move. It's really an impossible position for the skipper. I don't mind seeing Lincecum throw 120 pitches, but you have to figure it will make a difference later in the season once he exceeds the 200-inning plateau. If Bochy can save him, and limit the pitch count here and there, it could keep him fresher into September, and that's really the big picture. Don't pound your horses into the ground in April. Yes, it would have been nice to see the complete game, but IT IS Wilson's job to slam the door, and Wednesday just wasn't his day.

Continue reading ""Time for the Giants to Focus on ..."


David

Jason Heyward: Instant Hit posted by David

When the Atlanta Braves announced during the last week of spring training that Jason Heyward had made the big league roster, it made headlines in part because both Stephen Strasburg and Aroldis Chapman were being assigned to the minors.  However, after winning the starting right fielder’s job in Atlanta, the 20-year-old phenom wasted no time before impressing the baseball world by launching a three-run home run in his very first major league at-bat.  Batting seventh in the lineup behind Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, and others has limited the pressure on the 14th overall pick in the 2007 draft, but before long, you can expect to see Heyward taking his hacks in the cleanup spot.

How ‘bout that?

How about Albert Pujols?  Picking up where he left off at the end of the 2009 season, Pujols collected four hits – including two home runs – on Opening Day.  The Cardinals slugger has been nothing but superhuman in the batter’s box; unless he suffers an injury, he will likely win his third straight (and fourth overall) Most Valuable Player Award.

How about Vernon Wells?  Looking to bounce back from a disappointing season (.260/.311/.400), Wells has already hit four home runs and boasts a .600 batting average.  The centerfielder became the first Blue Jay in history to homer in the team’s first three games of the year and played a major role in Toronto winning its first series of 2010 over Texas.

How about the Giants?  Led by shortstop Edgar Renteria’s .727 batting average (eight hits in 11 at-bats), San Francisco has continued to play well, sweeping a three-game series in Houston following a 23-12 record in spring training.  Not only are the Giants the only team yet to lose a regular season game, they have not even trailed at any point.  Though it is far too early to call a winner, the Giants will hope their fast start is a sign of things to come as they eye their first division title since 2003.

Continue reading "Jason Heyward: Instant Hit"


Michael McGauley

"The Braves will Pose a Tougher Test for the Giants this weekend" posted by Michael McGauley


AT LAST, regular season baseball to discuss! I wasn't too shocked by the final roster moves, and like the veteran additions to the bull pen with Mota, and to the starting staff with Wellemeyer. More on that in a minute. Not to bring up a sore point right out of the box, but I saw that Brad Penny pitched very well (seven strong innings and a no decision) in his St.Louis debut Thursday -- a 2-1 loss to the Reds. Hey, nice start for the Giants in Houston, and a rock-solid start for Lincecum, Zito, and (almost) Cain. The "Cainer" got burned by a couple of bad breaks Wednesday, and pitched better than the final stat line may indicate (notice zero walks in the stat line). Timmy and Barry though were quite good. I expected as much from the two-time defending Cy Young winner (seven shutout innings), but Zito has been consistently bad in the early stages of the season, only to finish with a flurish. He leaves us wanting more through a long off-season only to disappoint all over again in April. Well, at least for one start, we as fans definitely got some pleasure with five k's and just three hits allowed in six shutout innings. The Astros are wounded without Lance Berkman in the middle of that line-up, and the Giants needed to and did take advantage. However, they also beat a pair of top-notch starters in Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez with just enough offense.  The Giants were putting rallies together in the first couple of games that make a baseball geek like me excited. Sustained rallies, advancing the runner, taking some walksContinue reading ""The Braves will Pose a Tougher Test ..."


Patrick Erhard

Spring Training 2010 posted by Patrick Erhard

As we head into spring training 2010 all of Giants' nation has the same thing on their mind, offense. After some last minute acquisitions, the Giants look to be headed in the right direction. First, grabbing Mark DeRosa and Aubrey Huff this off-season will hopefully produce that offensive spark that the Giants have been longing for since the Bonds days. I was not initially thrilled with deciding to get DeRosa or Huff initially. DeRosa is a pretty decent hitter who can keep his average at around .270, while Huff is a streaky power man. When there are such prospects as Jermaine Dye, Adam Laroche, or Dan Uggla in the market why settle for average players? I honestly thought that with these two, the Giants were doomed to another just short of the playoffs season. Then the clouds parted ways, and (through some seemingly divine intervention) the Giant's organization made a big move and resigned the two big bats we all thought they were losing, Juan Uribe and Bengie Molina. I love Buster Posey, don't get me wrong, but Bengie can produce and it wouldn't hurt to see Posey take one more year of minors work. Uribe and Sandoval carried that team last year and now they have got DeRosa and Huff to hit around Pablo. Who could argue with a Derosa, Sandoval, Huff, Uribe, Molina 2 3 4 5 6? Plus, throw a healthy Sanchez in there and that is, without a doubt a playoff calibur team.

  A good amount of fans and sportscasters alike are now looking to the fight for the outfield and 2nd base. I personally am not looking to heavily on this. What I'm looking for in this years team is production from Aaron Rowand and Edgar Renteria. These two have not lived up to their name so far, and with competition heating up in the Giants organization, it's do or die for both of these men. If the new acquisitions, plus the more experienced younger players, can get these two producing like they used to, the Giants should have no problem winning the World Series, let alone getting to the playoffs. 

Continue reading "Spring Training 2010"

San Francisco Giants News

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Pirates score in first and win again (The SportsXchange)

By now, the Pittsburgh Pirates are well aware that when they score in the first inning, they're almost unbeatable. They don't necessarily understand why it happens, but according to Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, they don't have to. "That's why people keep (stats like that)," Hurdle said after his club's 17th win in a row under those circumstances Tuesday night, a 3-1 triumph over the San Francisco Giants. Third baseman Josh Harrison led off the game with a home run, and left-hander Francisco Liriano won his second consecutive start with seven four-hit innings, lifting the Pirates to their eighth win in 11 games since the All-Star break. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

The Grand Slam: Vance Worley shuts out the Giants in exactly 100 pitches (Big League Stew)

A day after Greg Maddux was enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame , Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Vance Worley nearly achieved a "Maddux" — the Internet-recognized feat of throwing a complete game with fewer than 100 pitches. But this wasn't any complete game. It was a 5-0 shutout against the San Francisco Giants , in which Worley gave up four hits and struck out three. He completely dominated the Giants, handing them their second shut-out loss in three games.  Yes, we said Vance Worley did this. The same Vance Worley who was a big-league castoff after a 7.21 ERA in 2013. He ended up one pitch away from the Maddux, however. Worley finished with 100 pitches exactly, one too many for Maddux status. Blame a ninth-inning triple by Hunter Pence. It wasn't a Maddux, but a great performance still, the best of Worley's career, and he certainly won't worry too much about that one pitch. This is the high point in his return to the big leagues. After that ugly 2013 with the Minnesota Twins, Worley was traded to Pittsburgh this spring for cash or a player to be named later. He was sent to the minors first, but Worley worked his way back into the Pirates rotation and is 4-1 with a 2.54 ERA in eight games since joining the big-league team in mid June. Greg Maddux, since you're probably wondering, threw a Maddux 13 times . JAYS, DICKEY DOMINATE RED SOX The recipe for the Toronto Blue Jays' rout of the Boston Red Sox on Monday night: two homers from Melky Cabrera, 14 total hits and 10 strikeouts from starting pitcher R.A. Dickey. It wasn't even close. The Jays won 14-1 , crushing the Red Sox like a windshield of an ill-placed car behind the Green Monster. Dickey had his good knuckleball going, even though he didn't exactly need it because of all those runs: ''I kind ofwish they could divide them up over, like, three starts,'' he said. ''(I) almost kind of wish we'd have only scored two runs because I felt like I had that kind of knuckleball tonight and saved this outing for when I gave up five, but I'll take it.'' This was Toronto's third straight win. They're 2 1/2 games behind the Orioles for first place in the AL East. Your browser does not support iframes. MARLINS COMEBACK, STUN NATS The Washington Nationals took a 6-0 lead into the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins, a lead that's generally pretty safe no matter who's across the field. But the still-hanging-around Marlins scored seven runs in the final three innings to stun the first-place Nats, concluding the 7-6 comeback win on a walk-off single by Jeff Baker with two outs in the ninth. The Marlins scored four runs in that ninth inning, and skipper Mike Redmond did not shy away from declaring this the biggest win of the Marlins' season : ''At this stage, that's got to be the biggest game of the year - right? - with where we are in the standings, and where we've got to go,'' manager Mike Redmond said. ''These guys understand that.'' The Marlins are a surprising 52-53. Playoffs don't seem particularly likely, but they're 4 1/2 games out of the second Wild Card spot and six out in the NL East. Like a six-run comeback, it's not impossible. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Two whiffs help Dodgers complete sweep of Giants (The SportsXchange)

After overpowering the San Francisco Giants with Yasiel Puig's triples one night and Clayton Kershaw's pitching the next, the Los Angeles Dodgers found a much more unconventional way of beating their rivals Sunday night. In fact, the Dodgers got positive results from two strikeouts in a three-run fifth inning, taking the lead for good en route to a 4-3 victory over the Giants and a three-game sweep in the matchup of the National League West's top two teams. "It doesn't matter how you do it," Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. "The fact that we got the sweep in San Francisco, that's great. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


MLB roundup: Giants pick up Peavy in trade (TheSportsXchange)

The San Francisco Giants acquired right-handed starting pitcher Jake Peavy on Saturday, sending pitching prospects Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree to the Boston Red Sox. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Kershaw fires two-hitter in Dodgers' 5-0 win (The SportsXchange)

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly reshaped his starting rotation at the All-Star break to ensure that his two aces, right-hander Zack Greinke and lefty Clayton Kershaw, would face the National League West-leading San Francisco Giants one week into the second half of the season. Greinke and Kershaw did their jobs on successive nights, and now the Giants are no longer the West leaders. Following up on a brilliant performance by Greinke on Friday, Kershaw delivered the Dodgers back into first place in the NL West, pitching a complete-game, two-hitter Saturday night in a 5-0 victory over the Giants. "We've come in here and pitched very well," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of the 8-1 and 5-0 wins. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

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