Game 4, AFL Opening Day on the Horizon

**Updated with Tyler Rogers on the AFL roster (Cordier is not).

In other words, you could call this a very big day for the organization. But I don’t have to tell you that.

Things were set up perfectly for the Giants to end Washington’s season yesterday. MadBum on the hill, the home crowd rocking behind him, and a 2 PM local start… on a channel that millions of people don’t get on their cable package (nice one, MLB). Goofy start times often lead to goofy events on the field. Am I surprised Game 3 was decided by a bunt and ensuing two-run error? Not really.

Maybe the Giants just need some night time October magic at the Yard to bring this series home. They turn to Ryan Vogelsong tonight. The same guy who had a 5+ ERA and no velocity this time last year now takes the bump in arguably the most important home game of the year. On paper, Vogey and Gio Gonzalez is a mismatch… but you won’t see me underestimate the veteran righty this time around. Bring it home, Ryan.

Sandoval c/o sfgiantsphotos.mlblogs.com
Sandoval c/o sfgiantsphotos.mlblogs.com

If the Nats take Game 4, things get very serious for Los Gigantes, there’s no doubt about that. Heck, this team has run hot and cold all year long. Is it possible the offense never wakes up here, and the Nats win 3 in a row to end our season on a sour note? Sure it is. The Giants have been teasing us since May. But when you stop and look at all the obstacle this team has had to hurdle to make it to this point, it’s hard not to be so proud of their efforts. No Cain, no Scutaro, no Pagan, no Morse…essentially no Lincecum… 5 rookies on the roster… Travis Ishikawa starting in left field. How in the world are they still in this thing?

Yesterday’s loss dropped the Giants postseason record to 24-10 since 2010. When October rolls around, this organization steps up in a big way. When will the rest of the world finally wake up and realize the Giants are among the elite teams in this game?

Finally, an idea for a struggling offense going up against a tough lefty tonight: Play Gary Brown. Start him in CF, and bat him leadoff. Gregor Blanco is 1-13 in this series, and he refuses to hit the ball on the ground. Brown is certainly not an all-world hitter, but his speed could change the game tonight. We all know Blanco hits so much better in the 7 hole. Right now, he’s not an effective leadoff hitter. Give Brown a chance.

*****

Some news and notes on the minor league front. Today is Opening Day for the Arizona Fall League. The Giants have 7 players on the Scottsdale roster – 4 pitchers and 3 position players. Matt Duffy and Hunter Strickland were supposed to be ticketed for Arizona, but obviously they’ve got some bigger fish to fry in the NLDS. Seriously, I can’t even begin to tell you how fulfilling the success of these young guys has been for me this year. Panik, Susac, Duffy, Duvall, Strickland… Gary Brown even made the postseason roster! Pretty cool for a group that was knocked constantly by the national publications before the season.

Anyway, Duffy and Strickland have been replaced on the Scottsdale roster by Kelby Tomlinson and Tyler Mizenko, respectively. Tomlinson stole 49 bases this year in Richmond. He plays excellent defense in the infield. Here’s another one from that 2011 Giants draft class that’s starting to look better and better. Tomlinson has some tools. Will he hit? Mizenko had a good, not great year in San Jose. He’s a low-90’s sinkerballer who has saved 52 games in his minor league career. Another 2011 pick, 28th round… exact same as… Sergio Romo.

The rest of the Giants AFL crew consists of:

Clayton Blackburn, who looks like he could be the #2 pitcher on the roster behind Pittsburgh’s young phenom Tyler Glasnow.

Steven Okert and Tyler Rogers out of the bullpen. Okert throws gas from the left side, along with a sharp slider. He was the Derek Law of the Giants farm this season. Rogers is a 2013 10th rounder from Austin Peay. He’s tall and lanky with a sweet sidearm (almost submarine) delivery. He spent most of the season in San Jose, and allowed only 18 ER in 89.2 IP all year.

Cuban signee Daniel Carbonell. Stud athlete with a chance to be the heir to Angel Pagan in CF. I’m very interested to see how he does. Will he stand out, or just be another face in the crowd?

Blake Miller. Tall infielder who hit .300 between San Jose and Richmond this year. 25th round pick, Division 2 GNAC gamer, and another gem the Giants found in the mold of Matt Duffy. Miller might be my favorite player in the organization right now… I’m rooting hard for this guy.

So there’s your squad. Certainly not the sexiest names in the system right now, but Blackburn and Carbonell really have a chance to put the Giants back on the map with a solid AFL campaign. Andrew Susac and Kyle Crick were the headliners last year. Susac led the league in hitting, Crick had a major coming-out party in a start on MLB Network. Who will lead the charge this fall?

Blake Miller
Blake Miller (Photo: Courtesy of Barry Colla)
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2 thoughts on “Game 4, AFL Opening Day on the Horizon”

  1. I’m happy Duffy is with the Giants but I’m a little disappointed he’s not playing in the AFL as the priority player. I was hoping he’d do really well and put himself in the mix to make the big team out of spring. With Arias and Adrianza still around, he could end up in Sacramento (still loving the sound of that!). As for Strickland–case closed. He’s here to stay. No need to push him in the AFL. I’ll be watching Blackburn, Okert, and Carbonell in particular. It would be something if Carbonell could turn out to be the missing piece to back up Pagan the next time he’s injured. And Blackburn’s been one of my favorites since he was an 18-year-old at Augusta.

    1. As great as it is to have them on the roster for the playoffs, it’s difficult seeing Duffy and Susac not get much playing time. I think Duffy would have done very well in the AFL too. I’m really crossing my fingers with Carbonell… and I’m also excited that Blackburn gets his turn in the AFL. There’s a very good chance we could see him in SF next year too.

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