Tag Archives: Pablo Sandoval

Linceblog: Matt Duffy gives Lincecum, SF Giants the early lead v. Seattle; Makes you forget that Panda guy.UPDATE: GIants Win! Next, the Warriors?

Matt Duffy wasn’t supposed to be the Pablo replacement. But his work ethic and production has kept him on the roster and forced him into the starting lineup.

And now when the Giants are swooning, Duffy is really coming into his own.

In the 2nd inning, his two-run blast to the left field bleachers gave Lincecum and the Giants a little breathing room early.

But compare these  numbers:

6 HR, .745 plus OPS; .282 BA, 28 RBI

6 HR, .718 OPS; .261 BA, 23 RBI

The first set are Duffy’s.

But here are two other key stats:

Duffy is five years younger, and 85 pounds lighter.  (Not too mention, about $17 million lighter in salary).

Pablo’s career years may be over.  That’s what you get paid for. Duffy’s could be this year, and in the future.

LINCECUM

Tim seemed to struggle with control with 4 walks, but still managed to pitch around the Mariners and let his  fielders help him get outs. He made just two bad pitches both to Mariner Brad Miller.

Miller’s solo shot in the 5th was Seattle’s lone run. Then he came back  with  two outs in the 6th with an RBI single, to cut down the lead to 3-2.

That was enough for Lincecum, who left this line:

5.2 innings; 5 hits, 2 runs, 2 earned runs, 4 BB, 3 SO,  3.31 ERA.

It’s a win and a stop if the Giants and the pen can hold it from here.

Giants started game with a 5-game losing streak, 9 straight losses at home.

But they ended strong, adding some insurance runs to up the final margin to 6-2 over Seattle.

Win for Lincecum, now 7-3 for the year.

And now Game  6. Go Warriors? Or do you want a game 7 that bad.

I said Warriors in 6. Let’s keep it at that.  It’s more 1 v. 5. LBJ vs. GSW.  Can LeBron will a win?

And if so,  then there’s a Game 7 and more travel by week’s end.

Let’s see Curry and Thompson,  get super hot and end the madness with a super splash.

They got a lake over there in Cleveland. And it’s no mistake if the Warriors win in 6.

Emil Guillermo: SF Giants may miss Panda more than they think, but maybe they can build an identity around Nori Aoki?

For non-fans of the SF Giants, “C. Heston” is Chris, not Charlton.

But the way the team is running these days, they can use a guy who can walk on water.

Still, they’d settle for someone who could hit with men on base.

In the home opener, the Giants left 12 men on base and went 0-7 with runners in scoring position.

That’s a lot of offensive tease and fail. It’s a pattern Giants observers have seen before.

The Giants lost to the Rockies just 2-0, making the home team’s opening day highlight Heston’s good pitching which kept the game close. (I mean we’re not counting Madbum on the horse as a game highlight, are we?)

On these kind of pop-less bat  days, Giants fans may have to grow to love Nori Aoki.

noriaokiondeck

That’s Aoki doing his impression of Buster Posey.

From the first at bat at the leadoff position, Aoki was  offensive spark on Monday.

The new Giants left-fielder has a 16-game hitting streak dating back to last season with World Series opponent, the Kansas City  Royals, who incidentally  have started the new season undefeated.

Aoki, a skilled contact hitter, finished the opener with two hits and is now hitting .412. .

Shouldn’t take long for fans, especially with the Giants large Asian American fan base, to warm up to Aoki.

But maybe the Giants will end up missing Kung Fu Panda, Pablo Sandoval more than they think.

Sandoval  made his mark in October and with his  big personality, it all contributed to the Giants identity as a champion.

Now that he’s gone, the team is really all about Posey and the pitchers.

And almost all of them  are “lead by example” guys.

Sandoval led by his gut, literally and figuratively. Even when he was in a down cycle production wise, he was still entertaining to watch.

Maybe Pence will come back after his injury and spark the team.

But I sure felt the loss of Sandoval in the home park when I was there on Monday.

It’s just strange not seeing any panda hats in the stands for the first time in years.

Remember those days?

pandapandas

This was from the2014 post-season.

I guess we can’t expect them  to be playing like that in April.

That’s why they play 162.

UPDATE: Again on Tuesday night, Giants abysmal with runners in scoring position.  Hudson, like Heston on opening day, pitched well enough to keep the game close. If he had any run support, it would have been good enough. But it’s  tough when you have three-run pitching and a no-run offense.

Giants score to make it 3-1 in 8th,  as Matt Duffy  gets an RBI on a sacrifice fly to right. It comes  only after a runner moved up on a foul-out.  Sound familiar? That’s the Giants post-season offense last year—the productive out strategy. But then Posey’s 8th inning blast to center turns into a long non-productive out.  And the inning and the threat ends.

Two runs in the 9th to extend, three to win? It’s not October.

UPDATE: Game ends, 4-1, Rockies. The last two out by the two early season heroes. Justin Maxwell strikes out looking. And Aoki strikes out swinging.  Five losses in a row. The champs rely on the Freak to play stopper on Wednesday.

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Midterm Elections are Democracy’s Game 7. You better #vote. I already did. Once is enough. Don’t forget. It’s the only real power you have. Don’t waste it. #Vote.

I was at the #SFGiants parade last week and saw the massive throngs of fans there. I rode on the bus with the Panda, San Francisco’s baseball idol. But what if baseball were politics? What politician would command this today?  Anybody? Or is the faith in our democracy so low, they’d be lucky to get a tenth of this kind of adulation.

Pandasays3fromthebus

 

Seeing all those people made me wonder  how many of then might actually do something in the not so distant future that’s really important– like vote in the Midterm elections.

Most people forget,  or don’t bother.  Even when they’re registered.  And the rain? Biggest vote suppressor since Jim Crow.

I started thinking this when I saw  Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at the parade. It was raining on her.

And I caught her in a moment where the exuberance of the parade had paused for a second.

And I wondered if she were thinking how when all this was over, she would have to inevitably think about Tuesday.  Or maybe she was thinking about Tuesday for a brief unguarded second.

I’ve actually talked to Nancy many times in the past. So I went up to her car by her security folks and was able to talk briefly with her.  When I asked her about the election on Tuesday she had a terse response. “We’ll see. We’re working hard on that,” she said.  And then the security guy brushed me away.

Pelosi  wasn’t sounding much like a former speaker about to regain power once the Democrats take over the House. May not be in the plans. Already, I’m hearing from insiders about the Senate. They say if the Democrats lose there, it may be a relief because then the Dems can blame the Republicans wholeheartedly.

That’s some consolation for the Dems. From half-blame to no-blame.

Like I said, wherever you are, whoever you vote for, do vote on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

Sports fans, it’s Democracy’s Game 7.

pelosirainparade

 

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World Series Updates: Madison Bumgarner is Game 7 Superman, carries San Francisco Giants to 3rd World Series championship in 5 years; Pre-game 7: Who wants to win this odd “Bi-Polar” World Series? UPDATE: Game 6 washout just a prelude to Game 7, as Royals humiliate SF Giants; UPDATE-World Series Game 5: Giants win, 5-0 as Royals are “Bumgarnered” again; quick someone name a candy bar or something after him; Pre-World Series Game 5: Remember just 10 days ago? Madison Bumgarner today on all the rest he needs; 10/25/14: World Series Game 4 comeback–SF out small balls Kansas City Royals.

UPDATE/GAME 7  8:23pm  10/29/14

Blanco made it tight on the 9th inning error, but Madison Bumgarner is World Series super. On the 68th pitch, he made history. Madison Bumgarner is the most Giant Giant.

That Gordon single/triple was worrisome, especially with the dangerous Perez up to bat. But the Royals couldn’t solve Bumgarner and kept chasing the high pitches until that final foul pop to Panda ended the game.

Fitting that the last out be fielded by Panda, as it may be Sandoval’s last game as a Giant.

What are we going to do with all the Panda hats?

But we’ll save that answer for the front office. This was a real special team. It looked lost in June. They came back to just squeak into the post-season. They had to get by several key injuries. But the core they needed to win was there.

Once again,  they are the best team in baseball.

Except for that last hit by Gordon that  Lorenzo Cain might have turned into an inside the park homer, the defense was impeccable. (The Panik glove toss  4-6-3 double play in the third was amazing).

And the offense was the made-to-order variety. They did it in the second, when Sandoval led off hit by a pitch. Pence  and Belt both singled to load the bases with one out. Morse’s sac fly drove in Sandoval.  And Crawford’s fly got home Pence.  Two outs produced two runs.  Why not? Who needs home runs?

Kansas City tied it up in their half of the second in almost an identical way.

But the Giants came back in the fourth inning. Panda led off with a single of Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie. Then Pence singled to center, followed by a Belt sacrifice fly to advance the runners. That chased Guthrie out of the game and in came Kelvin Herrera in relief. But Morse greeted the fresh Herrera with an RBI single for the third, and ultimately, the winning run.

Jeremy Affeldt, who came in relief after Giants starter Tim Hudson left after two, managed the 3rd and 4th innings. And after that it was all Bumgarner.  I had just seen him on Sunday pitch 117 pitches in a complete game shutout. I thought he might go a few innings. Maybe the 5th and 6th, and then leave it to the bullpen. But after the 6th, he was in for the 7th, the 8th, and what the heck, why not the 9th.

In all, he pitched 5 innings, gave up 2 hits, no runs, struck out 4, walked none.in a virtuoso 68 pitch performance.

And that’s how you win a third championship in five years, with a special and historic game 7.

 

UPDATE/ GAME 7, 10/29/14  9am

As the Giants try to be the “every other” year team, they are frustrating everyone  by being great “every other” day. Champs in Games 1, 4, 5.  Chumps in Games 2,3, 6.

The converse is true for the Royals. So really what we have here is one odd “Bi-Polar” World Series of Baseball, where the only thing that Bruce Bochy says that makes sense is “they’re human.”

Yes, and not machines. Not bots. Not baseball apps that perform on demand. Take your stats and shove it. You can’t press go and get a champion 3 hours later.

That’s why God gave us the 7th game. Even he was done in 7.

And this will be too.

I still think the Giants have a slight edge. Just because they’ve done elimination games and consistently responded. But the crowd is definitely a factor, and tens of thousands of blue-clad fans starved for a victory can motivate or crush you, depending on whether you wear blue.

Pshaw, you say. All that momentum stuff is bull. So let’s hope the Giants got a good night sleep. And that Tim Hudson has a good 4-5  innings in him. And then MadBum enters in the 4th.

And that the Giants stick to plan and manufacture runs. Lead off man on, move him into scoring position. Then bunt, sacrifice, get that runner home.

Rinse, repeat. Do it once for the first 5 innings.

5-0 in the 4th or 5th. Bring on Bumgarner. Let him close it. Bring on Casilla.

Leave Strickland. Let Timmy warm-up to make fans go crazy back home.

That’s your recipe. Parade on Halloween where everything’s orange.

I dreamt it. After a 10-0 loss, anything is  possible.

Maybe we’ll see the oldest man ever to start a series win it all for the road team.

huddy

 

 

 

 

UPDATE/ WORLD SERIES GAME 6, 10/28/14  9pm

They cried “MVP” after Bumgarner’s masterpiece on Sunday in San Francisco.

But MVP actually described the Giants demise in Kansas City on Tuesday.

Miscues. Ventura. Peavy, or just pitching, in general.

Miscues hurt in the field. Ventura quieted the Giants’  hitting. And the Giants’ pitching just wasn’t very effective.

This game was all, and I mean ALL KC,  10-0.

SF starter Jake Peavy was battling from the first inning. Not a good sign. With two outs,  he gave up a walk to Lorenzo Cain, and then Hosmer singled to left. Travis Ishikawa showed his inexperience in the outfield by slipping as he fielded the ball, then threw to the wrong base. Fortunately, the Royals didn’t score that time, as Peavy got Butler to ground out to short.

But it was just a hint of what was to come.

In the Royals’ 2nd,  Peavy faced six batters. Gordon singled to left. Perez then singled to right. Mike Moustakas followed with a double to score Gordon to give the Royals a 1-0 lead.

Peavy stuck out Omar Infante swinging, to build some confidence.

But here’s where the miscues came in. Once again, it was a softly hit ball in the infield by the Royals’ Alcides Escobar. First baseman Brandon Belt fielded it, but appeared to listen to Peavy who seemed to yell to throw home.

Belt did what he was supposed to do, check the runner at third. But Peavy’s communication delayed Belt’s next move, which should have been to flip the ball to Joe Panik covering 1st. But the batter Escobar was too fast. Belt tried to beat him to the bag. But by then everyone was safe, leaving the bases loaded with just 1 out.

Peavy had to get the next Royal batter, Nori Aoki. Peavy got two strikes on Aoki, but then gave up a single to left, driving in another Royal run.

Not that bad. But had Escobar and Aoki made outs, the Giants would have been out of the inning down just 2-0.

It was that miscue by Belt and Peavy.

“I thought that changed that inning,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy after the game. “(Peavy) gets an out  there, he has a better chance of getting out of the inning.”

Instead, Bochy brought Yusmeiro Petit in to do what he does. Shutdown the other team.

But it didn’t happen tonight.  Lorenzo Cain, on yet another soft hit by a Royal, singled to center. That scored two runs, and made it 4-0.

Petit was not sharp on this night and threw a WP, moving Cain to second. Eric Hosmer then  hit a grounder that hit off the hard dirt in front of the plate, it was like a “Kansas City Chop.” The ball bounced over shortstop Brandon Crawford’s head and found some shallow ground in left. It was a fluky kind of “nothing is going right, we should have stayed in bed” kind of play. Good for a double, and scored  Aoki and Cain.

Six? Yes, that made it six.

Petit never got settled and gave up another double to Butler (this one on a fly to center) scoring Hosmer.

That made it 7.  And the game really was done.

The Giants seemed to feign a comeback in the third.  The Royals’ Yordano Ventura was on his game, throwing in the high 90s the first two innings. But he was a bit wild after the big inning, walking three straight Giants. But with Posey up and one out, the hopes of a rally died with a 6-3 double play.

The Giants let Machi, Strickland, and Vogelsong eat up the innings, saving the bullpen for the big day on Wednesday.

So there will be a Game 7. And this is what they mean when they talk about Game 6 being a do or die game for the team with a 3-2 lead.

You lose on the road and rarely do you get a chance to  rebound in Game 7.

The Giants know that feeling from the World Series with the Angels in 2002.

Maybe it’s different this time.

Game six would’ve been were it not for miscues, Ventura, and Peavy.

 

UPDATE/WORLD SERIES GAME 5  10/27/14 9AM

If you ever played youth baseball, then you know the phenomenon. There’s always one kid, much bigger, better and badder than all of us. For me in San Francisco’s Dolores Park, it was when we played Jackson Playground’s team and faced a pitcher whose last name was Dickson. He threw sidearm and fast and scared the hell out of all us 12 year-olds.  He pitched. He batted. He was a man among boys. He was flat out great.

Right now, Madison Bumgarner is that kid.

He’s from another baseball world, playing with the rec league.

He’s bumgarnered the Royals but good.

 

madbumgm5ws1ing

 

From where I sat, his confidence never wavered from first pitch to last.

And there’s no league higher than Major League Baseball. On  it’s largest stage he is showing  there is no post-season pitcher who comes close to his domination. A micro-era in World Series play. Better than Babe Ruth. Remember him? They named a candy bar after him.

Someone better name something after Bumgarner

Because after Game Five of the 2014 World Series, everyone wants one.

I knew this game would be different during that 2nd inning.

Look, this is a pop-less World Series. No one hits home runs.  Both teams play in parks where offense has to be manufactured on demand.

Lead off man gets on. You move him along. One or two productive outs later, you get a dinky hit. Touchdown!  (Oops, wrong Sunday game).

You get the idea. No one goes for the fences. You hit on the ground, you bunt.

You go for the blades of grass.

So in the 2nd when Pence singled, and Belt BUNTED. I didn’t miss the signal.

beltfirstbuntever

It was a BUNT event. That’s what all that World Series bunting is for.

The Giants were going to play inning by inning. Scratch out runs. And let MadBum do the rest.

Belt’s bunt, followed by a sac fly by Ishikawa sac fly, moved two runners into scoring postion.

And then Crawford came up with a groundball out for an RBI.

This is the Giants blue print. Get your three runs on demand with OUTS.

Let your pitching and defense be flawless Let your outs win for you.

It is the pop-less offense. Giants-style.

LIFE AND DEATH

The Giants dealt with it in the beginning when the kids of Robin Williams were part of the ceremonial first pitch. Zak, threw the ball, while Williams’ half-Filipino kids, Zelda and Cody, watched.

zackthrowsgcodywatch

It was followed with previous clips of Williams on the scoreboard, when he led the stadium in cheers.

Later in the game, the fresh news of Oscar Taveras’  death was a definite reality check for everyone.

Some of the Cardinal rookie’s best days were against the Giants. His major league debut, a home run in his second at bat vs. the Giants in St. Louis.  Taveras hit another home run just recently vs. the Giants in game 2 of the NLCS.

 

UPDATE/ 10/26/14

OK, who remembers ten days ago?

There he was the human spittoon and snot dispenser, with that strange left handed delivery that has stymied batters all post-season.

In another Game 5, the NLCS, he  was mowing down Cardinals (8 IP, 5h, 3R, 5K).

But he needed a little help from Travis Ishikawa who provide the walk off.

Here’s Madbum dealing on that day.

 

madbumNLCS2014g5

 

It’s another Game 5. It’s the World Series. It’s tied at two games. It’s also the final game in 2014 at AT&T.  Will he have the stuff it takes to win today?

With a rejuvenated Giants’ offense, more Madbum Magic today, that would make quite a sendoff for the road warriors who can win it all in the heartland.

UPDATES TO COME…see the twitter feed on the right sidebar.

 

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10/25/14  9pm pdt

If Kansas City was feeling prematurely Royal, the Giants dispelled all that with a convincing 11-4 pounding to even up the World Series at two games a piece.

The Giants, who had looked anemic and craved offense, finally woke up and pounded out 16 hits. Not in a month, but the same game. The hits weren’t big blasts, just timely blows that helped them scratch and claw early and often.

This was a game about small ball dominance.

The Giants scored in the first on an infield hit from Hunter Pence, that drove in Gregor Blanco.

Ryan Vogelsong, who thank goodness was not Madison Bumgarner on short rest, was unlikely to hold that slim lead against the Royals.

And in fact, he didn’t.

In the third, KC showed their own small ball chops, sent 10 men to the plate and scored four runs after two were out.

It was the middle of the order of Gordon, Cain and Hosmer who chipped away to tie on an infield chip. But it set the table for more,, as Infante delivered a two-run single, and Sal Perez added another RBI single to make it 4-1.

Jean Machi came in to relieve Vogelsong. But the Royals were having fun now. They even smiled for the cameras when pitcher Jason Vargas forgot the count on his 3-2 at bat and headed toward first.

It was a human mistake. Forgetting the count. But while the Royals chuckled, it was somewhat embarrassing for the Giants.

Vargas returned to the plate. Machi gained his composure. And struck him out.

That may have been the beginning of the spark the Giants needed.

Matt Duffy, pinch hitting for Machi, led off the bottom of the third with a single, and scored when Buster Posey singled. Pence singled as well. But with two runners on Pablo Sandoval struck out, and the Giants were still down 4-2.

Yusmeiro Petit, who was the night’s winning pitcher, came out and retired the tough part of the Royals in the 4th and 5th, allowing one hit and striking out two.

Petit’s middle inning stoppage seemed to rally the Giants, who themselves sent seven batters in the bottom of the fifth. Panik led off with a double and scored on a Pence single off KC pitcher Jason Frasor, who had replaced Vargas.

But then Ned Yost went with lefty Danny Duffy in order to exploit Sandoval’s right-handed batting weakness.

Sandoval promptly singled to left. Belt followed with a walk. And the bases were loaded for Juan Perez who tied the game with a sacrifice fly to center field scoring Pence.

4-4. New game.

And we weren’t even to the all important 6th inning.

Petit stayed in and retired the Royals in the top half of the frame with the help of a 3-6-3 double play.

And then the Giants in their half of the inning began to tee off against young Brandon Finnegan.

The lefty was like a Royals gift. The Giants scored three times in the 6th. And again the “Pablo can’t hit lefties” theory was tested, and this time Sandoval really delivered with a two run single giving the Giants a 7-4 lead.

And it wasn’t over. In the 7th, the Giants came back with a lead off infield hit from Crawford, a walk to Morse and then the Royals finally figured they should lift Finnegan.

In came lefty Tim Collins, who gave up a single to Blanco and then on came Joe Panik with a double to the gap in left center scoring Blanco and Morse.

Pence added another double and Panik scored.

Offense. It’s infectious.

The four runs seemed to be enough of a pad to bring out Hunter Strickland for a little encouragement and redemption in the 9th. He struck out Escobar, gave up a single to Gordon. But Pence made a good catch on a Cain fly, and a Hosmer groundout to Strickland ended Game 4.

What do you know. A small ball laugher.

The Giants now start Madison Bumgarner in the last game of the season at AT&T Park for Sunday’s Game 5.

It’s not an automatic win, but Madbum’s been dominant and is in KC’s head. If the Giants do win, all they need is a split on the return to KC.

That could be tough in the Royals home park with championship starved fans egging them on.

But the Giants have shown what they can do once when their backs are to the wall.

On this night they bounced back from a 4-1 deficit to not just win the game but to once again establish dominance and steal the momentum.

That’s a big boost going into another small ball chess match with the Royals.

UPDATED: World Series an anti-climax? SF Giants must top that Game 5 NLCS finish; Ishikawa home run legendary for so many reasons; And will we ever see Tim Lincecum again? UPDATED 10.21. WS-GAME ONE, MADBUM MAKES ROYALS LOOK PLEBEIAN; UPDATED 10.22. WS-GAME TWO–What a difference a Madbum makes; and a Lincecum sighting. UPDATED-10/23/GAME THREE BUZZ–KC PITCHER AND ISHIKAWA HAVE SOMETHING IN COMMON; UPDATED-10-24-GAME THREE IS A LOSS, BUT HERE’S HOW THE GIANTS CAN STILL WIN IT ALL IN 7.

(SEE UPDATES BELOW)

I am still buzzed about that dramatic home run by Travis Ishikawa. I wrote about it on the AALDEF blog here.

I was in the stadium that night and took this picture as Ishikawa was approaching home.

IshikawagreetedbyariasHe’s slammed down his helmet in exuberance, and is confronted by one of the runners who scored ahead of him, Joaquin Arias.

But notice the player in the left corner.

It’s Tim Lincecum, heretofore, the most incredible Asian American native born major league player of part-Filipino heritage ever.

He’s never been on the margins in his career. But he is now.

Lincecum hasn’t pitched an inning in the post-season. And in those times when his number would be called, it’s been someone else. Petit, most notably. But also Strickland. And the specialists like Lopez and Affeldt.  Lincecum can’t get in the game. Manager Bruce Bochy has him slotted where he can be trusted. Top of a fresh  inning where any damage due to Lincecum’s control issues can be minimal. But the longer Lincecum goes without pitching, you wonder how ready he’ll be for any situation. You kind of hope he doesn’t get in, because it means the Giants’ starter was ineffective, and the team is losing. Meanwhile between injured Cain’s $20 million a year, and ineffective Lincecum’s $17 million, that’s nearly $40 million on the Giants’ bench.

And the team’s still winning.

From having talked to Lincecum in the past, I know his attitude is, “I’ll pitch whenever they tell me.” He’s always positive; always a team guy. He’s never had his status fall like this. But I think, he’ll use this to come back stronger than ever.

I’ve always said he had an Eckersly like career arc forming. If he uses this period to get his mechanical issues straightened out, the man who never ices his arm, could find there’s a formidable second act in his future.

Just an odd thing to catch him on the edge of the frame, watching Ishikawa–who has never been  a star, always a marginal guy. But in Game 5, he was the man of the hour. And for more than just baseball reasons. See the AALDEF blog for that story.

………………………………………………….

UPDATE GAME 3, 10/24/ 14  9PM   ROYALS PLAY GIANT BASEBALL BETTER THAN GIANTS

The Royals play the game the Giants would like to play. Get your lead off runner on, move him along. Knock him in with a hit or productive out.

When Alcides Escobar led off the first with a double off Hudson, it set the tone.  When the Royals scored the first run, it followed the blue print.

In the 6th, the pivotal inning in a bullpen series, the Royals did it again. After the pitcher Jeremy Guthrie ground out,  Escobar took over with a single. He scored on a Gordon double, and Gordon scored on a Hosmer single (on a huge 11 pitch at-bat).

Those were the three runs, manufactured to plan. And the Giants couldn’t match it.

They tried in their half of the 6th on a pinch-hit double from Michael Morse that scored Brandon Crawford. But the Giants got little from the 3-4 batters tonight. Posey,who has yet to get an extra base hit in the series, had a groundout RBI. And then with Blanco on third, Pablo hit a grounder to first to end the threat.

That was it.  The Giant’s defense kept them in the game. (Of note:  Sandoval’s barehanded grab of a Hosmer infield bloop with a subsequent throw to first, worthy of being called a web gem, but he didn’t use a  glove). And Hudson, pitching in his first World Series, performed well, at one time point retiring 12 in a row. But then came that 6th inning. And the Giants offense wasn’t able to deal with the Royals pen.

There’s talk of Madbum on short rest for Saturday. But why? Let Vogey and Petit get it done Saturday. Save Madbum for Sunday to go up 3-2. Then split in KC to win it all. That’s not the best plan,but it is a plan.

But things for the Giants in this series haven’t always gone to plan.

It’s a simple one. The pitching is good enough. So is the D. The O is a zero.

Get the  lead off man on,  move him along.  It’s been easier for the Royals so far. And that’s why they lead the series, 2-1.

UPDATE/ Pre-game buzz GAME 3  10/23/ 9pm PDT  More Lincecum; Guthrie and Ish

Giants Manager Bruce Bochy said Tim Lincecum was getting an MRI this afternoon, but added that the pitcher indicated he felt fine. Lincecum, the guy who doesn’t ice is arm, should be ready to be a bullpen weapon on Friday. Bochy said Lincecum has to feel confident about pitching, after his first appearance in 23 days on Wednesday.  “I know we do,” added Bochy. “He could play a bigger role now, if he’s healthy.”

When I saw KC starter Jeremy Guthrie, I just knew the guy was at least half-Asian. Sure enough, his mother is Japanese American, born in Hawaii. Guthrie was born in Oregon, and went to BYU and Stanford. He is a fourth generation Japanese American.

He told the Japanese ball players blog that he speaks no Japanese, and has never visited Japan. But his  favorite food is Shrimp Tempura. “I feel a strong tie with Japanese culture, but I don’t know why. I feel close to Japanese players,” he said. The blog added that  Guthrie “feels there is a sense of “Japaneseness” in him that is different from most Americans.”

The Giants game 5 NLCS hero, Travis Ishikawa, is also a fourth-generation Japanese American.

…………………………

UPDATE GAME 2  10/22/ 8:45 PM PDT

What a difference a Madbum makes

Without the 25-year old ace, the Giants looked like the Royals did on Tuesday.  Ordinary.

They sent out Jake Peavy for Game 2, and Peavy has a thing about the 6th inning in post-season.

He doesn’t get out of it. True to form, he didn’t.

The game seemed to start off like Game 1, with the Giants pouncing. Facing 99 mph fastballs from KC’s Yordano Ventura, the Giants didn’t buckle. Leadoff man Gregor Blanco hit a line drive homer to right for a 1-0 lead.

When the Giants score first this post-season, they’re 5-0.

But Peavy was rocky in the first, as the Royals tied it when Billy Butler singled in Lorenzo Cain.

They went ahead in the 2nd on doubles by Infante and Escobar.

But the Giants came back in the 4th when Brandon Belt doubled in Sandoval.

It was all tied at 2, and then came that 6th inning.

Peavy had retired 10 in a row and looked to have settled in. But after a single to Cain and a walk to Hosmer, Peavy was gone.

Jean Machi came in relief. And true to his poor form of late, Machi gave up a single to Butler, who again delivered an RBI single to put KC ahead 3-2.

Machi left to be replaced by the home-run inducing Hunter Strickland. He began with a double to Salvador Perez, which made the KC lead 5-2.

And then Strickland did what Strickland does. A home run ball to Omar Infante to left, put KC ahead 7-2.

The Giants’ bats were stymied by the KC bullpen.They hit the ball hard, but struck out 6 times and never could mount a rally.

One good news/bad news situation was the appearance in relief of Tim Lincecum, the first time in 23 days he’s seen action. Lincecum came on in the 7th, pitched 1.2 innings and struck out two batters. But he hurt something in his lower body as he delivered a pitch and was forced to leave the game. Still uncertain how serious the injury is and if it will prevent him from future action.

The series now goes back for three games in San Francisco, and if the Giants win Games 3 and 4, they could conceivably close it out in 5 with another start from their ace Bumgarner.

But the Royals showed what they had in Game 2. And they showed how the series can easily come back to Kansas City.

……………………………………………

UPDATE on GAME 1        10/21/14 9:45pm pdt

You can’t underestimate the value of game one of the World Series.

The winner of the first game has won 69 of 109 series, including 15 of the last 17.

So the Giants winning 7-1 on Tuesday night gives them a real edge.

This game was over early as the Giants shut up the crowd scoring 3-runs in the first, including a two-run shot by Hunter Pence into the right-centerfield seats.

The Giants bats were alive all night with 10 hits. Pablo Sandoval extended his post-season on-base streak to 24 games, and went ahead of Lou Gehrig into 5th longest of all time.

Lou Gehrig. That’s enough to make you forgive Panda’s physique issues.

But the streak of Bumgarner’s was more impressive. He entered with a record for road shutout innings pitched in the post season, 26.2 innings. He went 6 and 2/3rds more before giving up a home run to Royals catcher Salvador Perez in the 7th.

That’s 33 and 1/3 innings of shutout innings pitched on the road in the post-season.

And MadBum is just 25-years-old.

The only threat from the Royals came in the 3rd when Brandon Crawford’s error, followed by a Moustakas double, and a walk to Cain (in a contentious at bat) loaded the bases. But Madbum struck out two and got the Royal’s slugger Eric Hosmer  on  a grounder t0 second base.  That was it for the Royals.

Game Two on Wednesday puts more pressure on the Royals. They don’t want to go into San Francisco down 2-0.

But the Giants have the momentum now. And Jake Peavy on the hill.

The Royals may have better luck against the Game 3 pitcher, Tim Hudson, whom they beat last August.

If the Giants win Game 4, that sets up a repeat of Game 1—Bumgarner against the world for the series in Game 5.

Tuesday was more than a peek into the future.

…………………………………………….

UPDATE  10/21/14  1:00 pm pdt

Game one about to start and I’m noticing how the Nation seems to be turning Royal Blue, backing the Cinderella team from Kansas City. Why? They haven’t been there in nearly 30 years and there’s a real sense of underdog entitlement. Like that makes sense in sports? People are all meritocratic and hard ass in sports and then get soft because the team in blue hasn’t been good enough in three decades, let them have a chance?

That’s not how sports is played. Rec league soccer for kids maybe, but this is hardball.

The Giants aren’t really all that great. They are good enough to be great when they have to. That’s the 2014 team. I watched them all year, suffered through June. Got really disgusted with their play late July and early August. But what do you know. They hung in there. Didn’t beat the Dodgers, but made it to be the worst qualified team in the NL.

The Royals were the least qualified on the AL side, and have come on strong in the post-season, but I think the fairy dust runs out in this Wild Series.

If you’re going to go with underdogs, the Giants are the more deserving among dogs. The Royals have a nice team, but I saw them play  Oakland in the summer. If the Giants starting pitching is sharp, and the Giants big bats wake up, then this is over in 5.

What people seem to respond to in the Royals is sympathy and nostalgia. The Giants had that a bit in 2010 too. But they were better than the Texas Rangers.

The sympathy vote for the Royals makes them slightly more lovable to some. And that’s the problem the Giants have. They are not villainous by any means. But their lovability factor for some reason seems low.

Doesn’t anyone out there notice those darn Panda hats?

I think the hats and the Panda himself are the key to this series. Pablo Sandoval had that huge 3-home run game in 2012. I was there. I still don’t believe it. But he has it in him. And he’s been fairly quiet with the bat. High average but no pop. I think he’ll be ready to pop this week. It’s his contract year, and he’s motivated. I’m looking for him, Posey, and Pence to make the difference. I won’t say sweep, but it would be nice to get in the full three game set in SF and win it all at AT&T on Sunday the 26th.

 

 

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Linceblog: San Francisco Giants’ Lincecum shows old ace magic with 3-hit, 7-inning mastery over Toronto Blue Jays in 2-1 win; Best start this year comes amid bullpen talk, though Lincecum says that was no factor on this night

All the bullpen talk over the last few days must have done something to Tim Lincecum.

But he won’t let anyone think that.

The one-time, unquestioned Giants ace turned in a throwback performance—a solid 7-inning start, his best since Mother’s Day (May 12)–holding  the Toronto Blue Jays to just one run on three hits, walking just one batter, and striking out six.

Lincecum was in control. In 100-pitches, 61 for strikes, he showed everyone why he’s not quite ready to be relegated to the pen.

Later, Lincecum insisted that news reports where he discussed a bullpen move weren’t on his mind on this night, when he was just focused on being a good starter.

That, he was.

 

 

It wasn’t exactly an auspicious start.  Lincecum was ahead of Former Giant Melky Cabrera 1-2 but then gave up a single. The defense saved him with a 6-4-3-double play. But then the next batter, Edwin Encarnacion hit a 1-0 fastball into centerfield for his 17th home-run of the year to give Toronto a 1-0 lead.

Lincecum later said that pitch to Encarnacion was a “good pitch,” not a mistake. “You tip your cap to him,” said Lincecum. “And you move on.”  

But with 2-out and clean-up hitter Adam Lind coming up, would it be the beginning of that typical Lincecum pattern this year of the one-big inning, early?

Not on this night.

Lincecum restored confidence striking out Lind on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

And then the Giants, as they have most of this season, came back to pick-up Lincecum.  In the bottom of the second, Andres Torres hit a 1-1 pitch from Toronto’s Josh Johnson on a line over the centerfield wall. Hunter Pence, who had singled, scored ahead of him to make it 2-1.

That’s all they needed, as Lincecum was ready to throw a gem of a game.

In the second, despite a hard hit ball by Toronto’s Colby Rasmus, it was a quick three-batter inning. As was the 3rd.

The 4th.

The 5th.

And the 7th.

The noticeable exception was the 6th. He faced one more batter. The inning started creakily, with Lincecum giving up his lone walk of the game with one-out–to his opposing pitcher Josh Johnson. Pitchers are supposed to be outs, as Lincecum has acknowledged in the past.

Would it be his undoing in a close one-run game?

Cabrera, the former hero and doper,  who had been dodging boos and indifference all night from conflicted fans, then singled to right.

But then it was Lincecum against the dangerous former home-run champion, Jose Bautista.

Bautista hit a liner to Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who quickly relayed to second baseman Marco Scutaro  to get the lead runner Johnson.

Scutaro had the ball for split second, then in a scooping motion with his gloved, dropped the ball.

Did he hold it long enough? Did he even beat Johnson to the bag? Second base umpire Alfonso Marquez said he did, though Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons continued arguing as the inning ended .  Giants Manager Bruce Bochy later said he’d probably be out there arguing too. But he thought Johnson was out.

With solid defense behind Lincecum like that double play, and hard hit fly balls to left run down by Torres, Lincecum shutdown the Blue Jays methodically. He had the fast-ball command early, and got his slider and change-up over for strikes.

The bull-pen came in to hold the game with Affeldt in the 8th, and Romo in the 9th. The closer needed  20 pitches to get the Blue Jays’  heart of the order out.

But even in the final inning, the Jays were a threat, with the tying run on first, and the winning run at the plate in the person of Edwin Encarnacion.

The Blue Jay slugger’s 17th homerun in the first inning was his team’s only run. His soft liner to second base would be its last out.

So the Giants bullpen did its job.

And for a change, so did the Giants starter named Lincecum.

Linceblog: On Mother’s Day, Tim Lincecum labors like a mother early, then comes on strong with “best” game of season as SF Giants thump the Atlanta Braves

The Giants, all muscle on Mother’s Day, pounded the Atlanta Braves with three solo homers– a splash hit homer into McCovey Cove from Pablo Sandoval, and long-balls to left from Brandon Belt, and Marco Scutaro.

It was just the lift Giants starter Tim Lincecum needed to provide 7 innings of shut-out baseball, as the Giants beat the Braves 5-1, winning three games in the four-game series.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Lincecum “was on top of his game,” keeping the ball down with effective use of his secondary pitches.

“Today he had great focus,” said Bochy. “That’s when he’s at his best when he has his concentration on every pitch, and today I thought he did. He didn’t drop his guard at all when he got ahead in the count. He just pitched. Every pitched. He and Buster worked great together.”

I asked Lincecum in the locker-room about that “focus” Bochy talked about.

OK, his best game this year. But, still, as Lincecum said, he’s “not jumping up in the air right now.”

A bit more consistency is needed before we can all joyously proclaim the Lincecum of old is back.

At the start of the game, as Lincecum took the mound, he greeted an older woman, part of the Strike Out Cancer Day ceremonies, with a warm hug and signed her baseball.

Then, as Lincecum has in previous starts, he began to labor—almost like a mother.

In the first inning, he threw as many balls as strikes (nine each) and got into trouble with a runner in scoring position. He settled down to strike out Justin Upton. But then Freddie Freeman drew out a 7-pitch at- bat before flying out to right.

The questions began: Would we see the good Lincecum or bad one today? Would he have that one infamously bad inning?

In the third, the Braves threatened again. Jordan Schafer took Lincecum to a 3-1 count before singling. He stole second and went to third on a grounder. Lincecum then walked the dangerous Brian McCann on 4 straight pitches.

With runners on 1 and 3rd, Lincecum showed his wildness by throwing two more balls out of the zone to the next batter, clean-up hitter Justin Upton. Then Lincecum settled down, and with his fast-ball got Upton to fly-out to right.

From then on, Lincecum cruised  with “three-up/three-down” innings in the 4th, 5th, and 6th.  The seventh was marred by an inconsequential walk.  In all, he threw 111 pitches, 65 of them strikes. In pitching shut-out ball, he gave up just two hits, struck out seven and issued three walks.

Lincecum seemed to relax once the offense got going. Belt’s solo blast in the second was just a hint of what was to come. Then came Sandoval’s splash homer in the third. Crawford knocked in a run in the fourth. In the fifth, the Scutaro homer and a ground-rule double from Gregor Blanco added two more runs to complete the scoring.

On this Mother’s Day, there were no bad innings for the Giants at bat, or for Lincecum on the mound.

The seventh win in this 10-game homestand showed Eastern Division leading Atlanta that it’s no fluke the Giants are first place in the West.