Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Patient Pessoptomism

Nothing is more frustrating than getting swept by a team under 500, for it only reflects a weakness on Giants’ behalf, not strength on behalf of their opponents. In the upcoming series—and more so the upcoming weeks—Bruce Bochy will have to get creative. Although the Giants were in the same boat last season, getting swept by the A’s right around this time, there isn’t, as Mercury News reporter Andrew Baggarly put it, “[a] Posey panacea waiting in the minor leagues.” But we’ve no need to fret—even if the Giants don’t turn it around. A younger team, with infinite potential, is a-brewin’.

As fans, expecting the Giants to reach the post-season, let alone the World Series, is naive. By doing so, we will only grow more critical, frustrated, and even angry toward a very different--yet extremely special--team than last year. Torres and Huff, two huge influences in the Giants ball club, rode their career years (which were surely powered by the Giants' momentum) to the top. Posey offered gravity to the other decent hitters in the lineup. And the whole pitching staff-- especially Lincecum, Cain and Wilson--fell into a groove that inspired and eventually spear-headed what many deemed the "Year of the Pitcher." The Giants were 2010's perfect storm.

Rather than expect the Giants to reach the post-season, we should recognize, excite ourselves over this new team's organic quality--the potential that Crawford, Belt, and Burriss offer to the future Giants ball club. Huff, Burrell, and Torres will soon take their final bows, leaving it up to the kids to backup what we hope to be a pitching staff less concerned with maintaining their Champion mystique.

Thinking so far into the future may be absurd at this point, but we, as fans, often revert into seasonal myopia to satisfy the sensation of winning "twice in a row" (or some garbage), all the while glossing over the beauty of a sensational team currently in development. Bottom line: we should forget this defending champions crap and just watch some Giants baseball. If they go far (which they just might), spectacular! If they don't: look forward to a very bright future.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lincecum Sustains Rut, A's Beat Giants 5-3

So many Giants fans long for the Tim Lincecum who threw a complete game shutout against the A's less than a month ago. While Friday night's game wasn't the massacre he threw against the Reds, Lincecum walked five and gave up two earned runs, helping the A's take a 5-2 victory over the Giants.

Lincecum's shaky outing began in the 1st inning, as he allowed the A's Coco Krisp to score off of a single by Connor Jackson (who had apparently done is homework on Linceucm, going 3-4 on the night). In the 3rd, the he gave up run after walking Hideki Matsui and allowing him to score off of a double by Willingham. Throughout the game, however, shining through the sallow haze of walks and base-hits, Timmy looked like his old self, striking out 7 in the few crisp, ace-like innings he had.

But what can we glean from Tim Lincecum's recent mortality? That magnificent shutout against the A's was right before the harrowing Marlins series, during which Posey made his exit. Since then, Tim has pitched without his usual swagger, his ethereal grace. Is Timmy missing his other half? Is Frodo missing Sam? Is Batman missing Robin? Is Captain missing Tennille? Consider it: Is Posey's absence affecting Lincecum's pitching?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Medicine Goes Down: Upton Hits Walk-Off Homer, Arizona Wins 3-2

In the bottom of the 10th, with 1 out, the red hot Justin Upton yanked a walk-off homer off of Giants reliever Santiago Casilla, sealing a final score of 3-2 and giving the Giants a bitter taste of their own medicine. Giants fans have grown so accustomed to watching their team pull off voice-stealing walk-off victories that experiencing the other side, a walk-off loss, is like some sort of bizarro rehab--an intervention to the comeback addiction. But the slap felt good, reminded us that the gods don't always toast in our favor.

Ryan Voglesong had a strong appearance, as usual, as he gave up only a two-run knock to Chris Young in the 4th. Even though the Giants offense remained cold, Cody Ross managed to score on a throwing error by the Snake's catcher, Miguel Montero. That was all for both teams until Pat Burrell brought Pablo Sandoval home on a sacrifice fly in the top of the 9th. Soon thereafter, in the bottom of the tenth, Justin Upton took Casilla yard, dancing into the D-Back's scrum at home plate to end the game.

Nothing was especially horrible or amazing about the Giants' performance on Thursday night. They gave Arizona a run for their money by catching up late in the game but couldn't muster the consistency to go ahead. The hole in the lineup--Crawford and Whiteside--is the obvious issue. Crawford is an exceptional shortstop, and Whiteside gets the job done behind the plate, but both couldn't hit a joint if Timmy passed it to them. If the Giants are serious about playing in the post-season, a new catcher must be acquired--one who is a tad more consistent at the plate. Even though General Manager Brian Sabean said shortly after the Posey incident that he doesn't "think somebody's going to trade a catcher that's going to be better than Eli Whiteside," as time begins to dwindle in the regular season, he's likely to make a move. As for shortstop, Mike Fontenot should be rehabilitated by the All Star break. His offensive skills didn't prove outstanding at the beginning of the season, but he's had a decent bat throughout his career, and as beggars, we'll take it.

Lincecum starts against the Oakland A's on Friday and will try to shake his slump. A little run support from the Giants' offense could prove very useful to the staggering ace, as he matches up against A's rookie starter Graham Godfrey.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hell Freezes, The Easter Bunny Sneezes, Bumgarner Gets Support! Giants 5, Snakes 2

    Madison Bumgarner threw six fantastic innings on Wednesday night against the D-Backs, giving up only two homers and finally receiving enough run support to add the 5-2 win to his deceiving record.

    Young MadBum pitched in an unusual situation, for he sat on a cushion-- however thin--throughout his appearance. Though he gave up two homers, the young lefty pitched out of what began as yet another of his once-a-game shadow innings and kept the Snakes in the two run cage he (regretfully) built for them. 

    Bumgarner wasn’t the only one holding the D-Backs, though. The Giants’ new second-baseman, Bill Hall, proved himself by driving in Huff with a single in the 6th and hitting a double in the 9th to eventually score on Eli Whiteside’s triple. The real difference-maker in the game, however, was Aaron Rowand’s quick play from the left field corner off of Chris Young’s would-be double, initiating a brilliant relay home and allowing Whiteside to put the tag on Stephen Drew.

 Not only was Rowand a stud in left, but he also hit two singles, proving to all the pre-season haters that he isn't just dead weight or an uneaten contract. That Aaron Rowand is a Gold Glove fielder, a clutch hitter, and pure, 24 karat badass shouldn't be forgotten--even when his chips are down.

The Giants will try for the sweep tomorrow, and who knows, maybe Pat Burrell’s uplifting yet eerie triple will endow him with enough confidence to earn back his title.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Collmenter Defanged, Giants Win 6-5

That the Giants offense is virtually nonexistent seems to have become common knowledge throughout the National League, but--of course--the dormant lineup awoke Tuesday night to carve up the untouchable Josh Collmenter and take a 6-5 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Giants struck early in the 1st as Sandoval drove in Torres with a base hit. In the 4th, Ross doubled and was brought in on a sacrifice bunt by Cain. Ross struck again in the 5th with a two-run double and ended up scoring during a run-down on Crawford, putting the Giants ahead 5-0. The D-backs picked up a run in the 5th after Collementer was pulled, and in the 6th Arizona's catcher, Montero, hit a three run homer against Cain, putting the score at 5-4. The Giants received support in the 7th with an RBI triple by Schierholtz, and in the bottom of the 7th, the D-backs scored again to sculpt a final score of 6-5.

Is there any telling what makes or breaks the Giants offense, what in fact allows most of the Giants' lineup to reach base against one of the slickest pitchers in the National League? Producing six runs (a very high score for the Giants) could be attributed to Pablo Sandoval's return--his smile and/or offensive gravity. But, more likely, we are witnessing a group of ball players--no superstars by any stretch of the imagination--wean themselves off of their wounded provider, Buster Posey, and for the first time, provide for themselves. With or without Buster, with or without Freddy, with or without even the Z-Man, the Giants have gotten used to the top, and you'd have to pull a Cousins on all of them to take it away.