Giants Drop Final Two in Tampa

The Giants lost by a run for the second day in a row in Tampa Bay this afternoon. The Rays took two of three from the Orange and Black, who probably feel like they should’ve had a road sweep against one of the top teams in baseball. If this were any year but 2013, the Giants probably would have swept the Rays. Guillermo Moscoso made his first start since coming over in a trade with the Cubs, and was decent for four innings. His control wasn’t great, he didn’t have amazing stuff, and he served up a monster home run to Wil Myers. But he gave the Giants a chance to win. Ultimately, he didn’t make it out of the 5th, but I’d say he was effective enough. This might have been his only start anyway, as Ryan Vogelsong cruised through another rehab outing in AA Richmond. I haven’t heard anything official yet, but I’d guess we’ll see Vogey back in SF some time next week.

Moscoso wasn’t the reason the Giants lost today. Nor has starting pitching been the reason the Giants have lost six of their last nine. Take a look at what the starting hurlers have done during that span, starting with the Cubs’ series: 

7/26 vs Chc: Cain 7 ip, 1 er, 7 k (ND)

7/27 vs Chc: Bumgarner 8 ip, 0 er, 7 k (ND)

7/28 vs Chc: Lincecum 7 ip, 2 er, 10 k (L)

7/30 at Phi: Zito 3.1 ip, 4 er, 2 k (L)

7/31 at Phi: Gaudin 7 ip, 1 er, 5 k (W)

8/1 at Phi: Cain 8 ip, 1 er, 7 k (W)

8/2 at TB: Bumgarner 7 ip, 1 er, 11 k (W)

8/3 at TB: Lincecum 7 ip, 1 er, 5 k (ND)

8/4 at TB: Moscoso 4.2 ip, 3 er, 3 k (ND)

Total: 9 gs, 59 ip, 14 er (2.13 era) 57 k (3-2)

That’s pretty impressive stuff. Take Zito and Moscoso’s starts out, and you get seven starts that rival even the greatest stretches from 2010 to 2012. The difference; the Giants are 3-6 during is stretch. So, no, starting pitching is not the problem right now. Actually, if Vogelsong can post even average numbers the rest of the way in the #5 spot, the Giants will have a very strong rotation. Essentially, guys like Vogey, Gaudin and Timmy are auditioning for spots on the team next season, so I’d expect them all to be competitive this month and next.

Honestly, the dominance of the Giants rotation right now makes those lousy two months of play sting even worse. Had the team been able to win a few more games against the Marlins, the Mets, the Cubs, or anyone else for that matter, we may be looking at a very exciting last couple months of the year. Instead, it’s 12 games below .500 and an offense that inspires little confidence these days. In a 162-game season, all you have to do is avoid the awful month, because you never know what might happen down the stretch. The Giants couldn’t do that this season.

I read a tweet from Baggs this afternoon that Giants’ leadoff hitters own a .150 average since the All-Star break. Can we please see someone besides Blanco or Torres out there? What’s Francisco Peguero doing these days? How about Juan Perez? If you don’t like those options, maybe you move Scutaro up. Wanna get crazy? How about Javier Herrera in AA? Either way, this offense needs someone to be a rally-starter at the top, and neither Blanco nor Torres is doing that anymore. I think we all understand why the Giants gave Angel Pagan $40 million this offseason. You have to have a good leadoff hitter, and Pagan is ours.

The Giants head back home for four with Milwaukee, which may be a great opportunity to get some momentum going into a tough stretch of games. With the offense still sputtering (aside from an upstart Brandon Crawford), here’s what I would like to see: address the leadoff position – try someone different! Also, no more platoons please. Play the hot hitter. Belt nearly hits for the cycle against Chris Archer, then sits the next day against David Price. Francoeur gets three knocks off of Cy Price, then he sits today. I don’t care if lefties aren’t supposed to hit lefties and righties aren’t supposed to hit righties. If a guy is swinging the bat well, let him hit against whoever is pitching.

Ok, that’s enough ranting for one day. The Giants are at least playing better ball lately, and hopefully they can defend AT&T with a little more authority this time around.

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The Epitome of Giants Baseball, 2013

Matt Cain was dominant through 7 innings last night against the Cubs, but the Giants couldn’t find any run support for him. Jeff Francoeur fixed that with a 2-run bloop single in the bottom of the 7th, and Cain was in line for the victory. Leading 2-1 in the 9th, Sergio Romo allowed a hit and a walk to start the inning. Romo would come back with a strikeout and a groundball to third, but the Giants could only get an out at second. That set up a showdown between Romo and Anothony Rizzo, the Cubs’ powerful first baseman. 

With a 3-2 count and two outs, the Orange Friday faithful rose to their feet in support of their closer. Romo threw a slider that came back over the plate, and Rizzo hit a sharp grounder toward first. The ball that would have ended the game went right through Brandon Belt’s legs and into right field. Both runners came around to score. The Giants failed to respond in the 9th, and lost a heartbreaker, 3-2, falling 10 games below .500 and 8 back of the division-leading Dodgers, who beat the Reds 2-1 in Los Angeles 

Last night’s loss pretty much sums up the Giants second title-defense season: not enough offense, shaky late-game pitching, and defensive blunders.

Belt will undoubtedly be thrown under the bus by fans and media after his costly 9th inning error, as well as his mistake on the bases, getting caught between 3rd and home on Francoeur’s go-ahead single in the 8th. Belt has certainly had a hand in the Giants’ success of the last few years, but he’s also contributed to their woes in 2013. I’m not hear to defend him to the death – honestly, I don’t think he’s done enough to be the hands-down choice for first base on this team – but to call for his trade and put him down after last night’s loss is simply making him the scapegoat.

I only point this Belt stuff out because of the fury of rage that was thrown his way last night on the internet (and I’m sure the airwaves as well). If you don’t think the guy is a good enough player to be our starting first baseman, that’s one thing. But don’t say he needs to be sent down the road because his error helped the Giants fall from 9 games under .500 to 10 games under .500. That’s a joke, in my opinion. It wasn’t like Rizzo hit him a lazy chopper. Romo hung that slider, and Rizzo squared it up. The ball rolled to the wall in right field, in case you missed it. Do I think Belt needs to prove himself at the plate a little more before this season is over? Yes, I do. But would I be ok with the Giants making a knee-jerk reaction and trading him because of one bad game? Nope, I sure wouldn’t.

Ok, that’s my rant on Belt. In other news, the Giants brought in Guillermo Moscoso, who was pitching for the Cubs in AAA. It’ll be interesting to see who the Cubs get as the player to be named later in this deal, if that’s the route they decide to take. My theory on this: Moscoso is going to be in the rotation before long, and Cain and/or Bumgarner will be getting some rest. This season is about over, folks.  

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