Looking on the Bright Side

It’s June 8th.  We are in first place in the NL West, 3 games ahead of the Dodgers.  We are in third place in the NL.  We’re in 4th place overall in Major League Baseball.  Even though we’ve lost the last few games, this is an amazing place to be right now over a third of the way into the season.

Injuries have finally started to have a major impact on the team, the most damaging being Hunter Pence’s hamstring tear.  He’ll be out for at least 2 months.  We’ve seen before how devastating this can be to our boys.  When I heard about the injury on the radio I freaked out.  I was disappointed that he would be gone but also cringed at the idea of his hamstring actually tearing.  Can you even imagine what that would feel like?  The things that these guys deal with!  He’s scheduled to have surgery to reattach the muscles on Thursday.  Hope all goes well.  Pretty ominous when you take into account that they mentioned on KNBR that the same type of injury ended a guy’s career.  Hope Hunter fares much better – hoping his enthusiasm and positive attitude will help pull him through this.  His role, along with Angel Pagan’s (who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with, of all things, a hamstring injury), have been filled by Gregor Blanco, Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson.  Gregor is always someone to count on in these situations, and I’m hoping that the kids will take advantage of this opportunity and shine.  Parker has made some excellent defensive plays and hit homeruns in his last two appearances.  One of the homeruns illicited this response from the pitcher, Carlos Martinez of the Cardinals.  HA HA!  Mac has mostly come in off the bench to date so it’s tough to judge his performance so far.  Angel is expected to begin his rehab assignment next Monday, so at least that’s a happy thing.  Sure do miss seeing his face out there in left field.

Matt Cain also pulled a hamstring (imagine that!) and has been placed on the 15-day disabled list.  But this story has a silver lining in Albert Suarez, his replacement.  In the three games Suarez has pitched in Cain’s place he’s got a 3.09 ERA, allowing less than one hit per inning pitched and just 9 runs.  He was also able to make it to the 7th inning in his last outing, taking some stress off the struggling bullpen.  I’m so glad they were able to identify this guy just in case we continue to need him to fill in during the season.  Matt should be back in the rotation shortly, thankfully.  Insurance is always nice, though.

Sergio Romo, who is also out on the 15-day DL with a flexor strain in his right elbow (amazingly not a pulled hamstring), could be activated as soon as this week.  Thank goodness!  The Giants bullpen has had some woes of late, and I hope this will help bring the spark back.  It may also alleviate some of the pressure from Santiago Casilla who seems to be the target for a lot of criticism lately.  I know he’s blown some saves, but he’s really our best bet right now.  A little better run support would sure go a long way to help that.  Just saying.  However, if a trade is made in July, according to Bobby Evans, something may be done to help out our bullpen.  Help in the outfield has also come up as a target.  We’ll have to see.  Always love anticipating those moves.

On a super happy note, my boy Johnny Cueto was named National League Player of the Week at the end of May for his complete game shutout of the Padres and his gem at Coors Field (the hitter’s paradise) where he allowed only one earned run in 6 innings.  I continue to enjoy watching this guy in action, and I’m so happy he is getting kudos for his work.  Congrats, Johnny!  Kudos also to Giants Hitting Coach Hensley Meulens on being elected into the International League Hall of Fame.  Meulens spent parts of five seasons with the Columbus Clippers and was the league MVP in 1990.  He also led the league in homers, RBI and runs in 1992.  Congrats, Hensley (and thanks for the heads up, Alex Pavlovic!).

Two new rule changes are pending for next season.  One raises the bottom of the strike zone from below the knee to above the knee.  The goal for this one is to generate more offense and decrease strikeout rates.  Apparently the overall percentage of strikeouts has increased steadily every year since 2008.  I agree with this one because some pitches that are called strikes now are impossibly low to hit, but I’m also concerned that this will increase the length of games.  I also wonder if umpires can seriously adjust their personal strike zone in this way, since individual strike zones vary greatly.  The second rule involves the intentional walk.  If the rule is accepted, pitchers will no longer have to pitch the 4 balls to give a guy an intentional walk, he’ll just be given it.  This is supposed to make games shorter.  Really?  First off, how often are intentional walks given – maybe at most once a game?  And this would save like 15 seconds?  I don’t get it.  I also enjoy watching intentional walks to see if the pitcher or catcher will blow it.  And this actually happens occasionally.  Neither rule has been decided upon yet, but they may be put in place next season.  What are your feelings on this?

Just in case you were wondering like me what Tim Lincecum’s making this season, he signed a one year contract with the Angels for $2.5 million, about 14% of what he made last season.  He really missed out by not signing a 5-year deal with the Giants when he had the chance.  Oh well, at least he’s still in the big leagues.  Guess you just never know how things will turn out.  He may be starting for the Angels as soon as this weekend since he’s been pitching well in Triple-A for the Salt Lake Bees (love that mascot!).  Also came across an interesting bit of trivia in doing my research on this.  Timmy’s middle name is LeRoy.  Yeah.

There’s been a lot of talk about Madison Bumgarner being entered into the Home Run Derby this season, especially after he hit one into the third deck of Busch Stadium on Sunday.  Check this out.  He usually puts on a great show during batting practice.  We all know the guy has power.  And the guy can hit homeruns (he’s hit as many homeruns in his last 190 plate appearances as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper).  And he’s strong as an ox.  Personally, I don’t see what the harm would be.  It’s not like he’d be pitching and staining the muscles he’d be using for that.  And it’s during the All-Star break anyway, so it’d just be like he was taking batting practice during that time.  I say let the guy have at it!  Could you imagine what the TV ratings would be if they allowed it?  I’m pretty sure the Giants would never allow it, though.  What do you think?

Finally, before I give you the latest spit count, here’s a funny for you.  While doing said spit count during a recent Cardinals game, one of the ESPN broadcasters, Aaron Boone, did his impersonation of our Bruce Bochy.  I’d seen him impersonate guys hitting and pitching before, but never a manager.  It was priceless and spot on!  He had his walk perfected!  Unfortunately, I can’t find video of it on the interwebs, but I’ll keep searching.  If anyone finds a link, please let me know.

OK, so here’s the latest edition of “Who’s Spit is it Anyway?”:

June 5th

Giants:

  • Belt 5
  • Parker 2
  • Peavy 2*
  • Samardzija 1 (seeds)
  • Span 1
  • Bumgarner 1*
  • Pence 1 (seeds – whew!)
  • Pagan 1
  • Posey 1
  • Osich 1

Cardinals:

  • Matheny 3
  • Grichuk 2
  • Gyorko 2
  • Molina 1 (seeds)
  • Martinez 1*
  • Carpenter 1
  • Hazelbaker 1

Misc.:

  • Umpire 1

Game Spit Master General = Belt at 5

That’s a total of 28 spits during a 3 hour and 5 minute game for an average of one spit every 6.6 minutes.

I asterisked a few of the names because their spits deserved extra explanations.  When Peavy spits, he creates what I term the “midget loogie”.  He gets this tiny white mass of phlegm on his tongue and then expels it.  Blech!  Why in heaven’s name is it white?  Not sure I want to know, but I’ve seen other guys with white loogies as well.  A mystery.  Madison was caught spitting during the video of his amazing homer-filled batting practice.  I think that may be the first spit ever logged during a highlight film.  Carlos Martinez created one of the most disgusting spits I’ve ever logged.  I call it the “brown fountain”, clear evidence that he must be chewing tobacco.  So absolutely disgusting.

The second game against the Reds is tonight.  Hoping with Madison at the helm we can pull off a win and tie the series.  I was so pleased to see that they acknowledged David “Big Papi” Ortiz last night since this is the last series he will be playing at AT&T Park.  If you missed it, here’s the video.  Truly a class act by my favorite team for one of the best in the game.  I will definitely be watching the Giants game tonight, but I’ll have to keep tabs on the Warriors as they go for their third win in a row against the Cavs.  I’m sure they’ll do great.  Keep up the great work, Giants!  I know you can do it!  Get some momentum for your series against the Dodgers this weekend!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  STAY ON TOP!

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