Playing for Their Lives

The Giants scratched out another win against the Dbacks tonight, and scratched may be an understatement. Matt Cain improved his record to 6-6 with the win, and was more resilient than sharp in his five innings of work. He allowed 8 base runners, but only surrendered 2 ER. It seemed to me that Cainer got a little upset about the strike zone early on, and never quite bounced back, issuing 4 BB. Maybe he was just off, maybe it got in his head. Either way, he ultimately gave the Giants a chance to win. His ERA now sits at 5.00 for the season.

Cain departed with a 2-1 lead, which Buster Posey padded with a monster home run to center in the bottom of the 5th, the Giants’ 30th long-ball of the year at AT&T Park (they hit 31 at home all of last year, and went on to accomplish a few nice things if you recall).

So Cain took care of the first 15 outs for the Giants. The final 12 broke down like this: Kontos 1; Affeldt 1 (left the game with a groin injury); Mijares 1; Casilla 3; Rosario 1; Lopez 2; Romo 3. Think that bullpen needs a little help? Romo allowed a run in the 9th before striking out Cody Ross for the final out.  A wild night, for sure, but another win over the division leader.

The Giants are now 4.5 back and in great position for a sweep with Bumgarner taking the ball tomorrow. The Snakes’ lead in the West is down to only a half-game…over the Dodgers. Baseball is a funny game.


2nd Half Baseball: Gaudin Rolls, Giants 5.5 Back

The Giants opened the second half like a team bound to forget about the last three months – which is exactly what they need to do. It sure felt like a classic Orange Friday last night, a 2-0 victory over the Snakes. And the Giants used a classic formula for the win: Offense scores early, starting pitcher goes 7 strong, bullpen locks the door, and it’s good night. That’s how playoff teams play, and it’s going to take many more games like that down the stretch if the Giants want to be a playoff team. But for now, the deficit is 5.5 with a chance to gain more ground tonight and tomorrow.

Some thoughts from the win: In case you forgot what kind of pitcher Chad Gaudin was before the Giants gave him a shot this spring, allow me to remind you. Since making his ML debut in 2003, he’d been with 8 different teams, hadn’t made a start since 2009, and hadn’t had a full-season ERA under 4 since 2006 with Oakland. Now, he’s the Giants’ #2 starter, and he just keeps getting stronger. Last night’s line: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K. That’s domination for any pitcher. For a pitcher with Gaudin’s history, that’s an epiphany.

Ryan Vogelsong is getting ready to start pitching in live games again, and could be back by early August. Tell me Gaudin isn’t the perfect source of motivation for Vogey to regain his 2011-2012 form…

It was nice to see the bats jump on Ian Kennedy early, but they really could’ve gone large in the 1st inning. Instead, Crawford flies out on one pitch, leaving the bases loaded. 17 runners left on base for the night. That has to get better.

That 8th inning… whoa. Four pitchers, Lopez (does his job), Rosario (does not), Mijares (does not), and finally Casilla, who promptly walked Aaron Hill in his first action since returning from knee surgery, loading the bases for the pitcher, which he easily…. Wait, no, he loaded the bases for Paul freaking Goldschmidt! A note for future reference: That can’t happen.  Goldy grounded out sharply, and the Giants were lucky to get out of the inning with the lead, let alone a shutout. If we’re going to climb out of this hole, that group has to pitch better.  But hey, a win’s a win, right?!

Matt Cain can make the Giants a very confident team tonight with a strong performance. 5.5 back.


Trending in the Right Direction

After Thursday night’s win in San Diego, I made the comment that it had to feel good for the team’s soul. If that’s the case, then last night’s 10-1 Padre beat-down might’ve just helped the Giants remember what it felt like to be a baseball power again. For the first time since June 18-19, the Giants have won consecutive games. Baggs called it a winning streak in his postgame wrap, but I still follow the words of the skipper Lou Brown in Major League; three wins make a winning streak. Still, the last couple nights have to be a real confidence booster for a team that’s really been lacking its swagger lately.

A couple things from last night’s game:

  1. Buster Posey is crazy. The guy grounds into a double play with runners on first and second to kill a rally in one AB, then drives in five runs for the game. He had both a 5-hit and 5-RBI game during the workweek alone.
  2. Jose Mirajes changed the game with 8 pitches. If you didn’t see it, Gaudin walked the bases loaded to start the 6th. Mijares entered the game with no outs and a 5-1 lead that was anything but safe. He proceeded to go pop-out/strikeout/strikeout, and the Fathers never threatened again.
  3. Kensuke Tanaka is a saavy son of a gun. The guy just plays the game the right way. He pulled a fast one on the basepaths in the 7th that changed the game. Caught in a rundown between 2nd and 3rd, he wisely turned back into the San Diego defender, who was called for interference. Tanaka was awarded 3rd, and the Giants opened the floodgates soon after.
  4. 10 runs on 17 hits? Dang Giants, save some for the next three weeks.