Tagged: Matt Cain

Injuries and Call Ups

Geez, what a crazy ride it’s been since Madison got injured last Thursday!  I can’t believe how many roster moves have been made.  Some are really sad, but some are super great.  Here’s the list:

  • Chris Marrero was DFA’d. I think we all knew this one was coming as he hadn’t shown the same offense that he did in Spring Training, hitting only .132 in 38 at bats.
  • To replace Marrero (and set off a firecracker under this team), the Giants succumbed to all the pressure and brought up Christian Arroyo from Triple A. This is the move I am most excited about, and I’m sure everyone else is as well.  Management kept saying they wanted to wait for him to have a full year at Triple A, but I guess that just goes to show you how desperate they were to change things up with our dismal start.  He’s playing at third so he can feel comfortable in the bigs, and Eduardo Nunez has been moved out to left field.  Christian’s played in two games so far, and though his bat hasn’t been super hot yet (give the kid some time), he has gotten his first hit (and against Clayton Kershaw no less – nice story he’ll have to tell for the rest of his life), and he did hit a ball in his first game to move Brandon Crawford to third, allowing him to eventually score.  Plus he’s shown some defensive prowess, even throwing out Yasmani Grandal at first after his hit ricocheted off of Matt Cain, sending him to the ground for a front row seat on the play.  I love that the kid went over and picked Cain up!  He’s also got the gift of gab – what Duane Kuiper calls the “6th tool”.  In his post-game interview with Amy G. he told the story of getting called up and just wouldn’t stop!  Amy didn’t have to say anything!  I am so looking forward to what this kid can do for us.
  • Aaron Hill was put on the DL with a right forearm strain. Again, probably won’t see much affect from this because his numbers weren’t that great so far.
  • Denard Span made an amazing catch in the outfield this week, but ended up crashing into a wall and suffering a shoulder sprain. At first he wasn’t put on the DL, but now his shoulder’s been acting up so he was today.  Man, that catch was beautiful!
  • To fill in at center field, Drew Stubbs was called up. He’s played in the last two games and hasn’t logged a hit yet, but he’s done a great job in center field.  We’ll have to see if his bat warms up.
  • Then today, since Span was put on the DL, my boy Michael Morse was called up. YAY!!!!  It happened!!  He made it!!  What a true fantasy this is for this guy.  To think it all started with a conversation with Bobby Evans at Hunter Pence’s wedding.  I bet Hunter is thrilled to have his buddy back.  Can’t wait to see them together in the dugout tonight (though he is not in the lineup).  Hope Michael can bring some pop back to this team.  According to Andrew Baggarly, Morse will help off the bench and start occasionally at first base.  Welcome back, Michael!!  Can’t wait to hear Take On Me again!
  • Chris Stratton was called up to fill the spot left by Madison’s departure. He pitched three innings in relief of Matt Moore in the game where Matt got lit up by the Rockies, and he did an amazing job.  He didn’t allow a hit, allowed only one walk, and tallied 3 strikeouts.  I am really excited about this kid.  He also shows great poise and confidence on the mound.  Looking forward to seeing more of him (and not really sure why he hasn’t come into a game since – maybe since he pitched 3 innings and that’s a lot for a reliever?).
  • Brandon Crawford is on bereavement leave for the next three days so that he can attend services for his sister in law. Apparently the minimum you can take off for such things is three days.  He only needed two, but as it turns out he suffered a groin injury in yesterday’s game and may even end up on the DL when he gets back.  I sure hope not.  I’m so tired of documenting injuries on this team so far!  There are enough guys out!
  • Kelby Tomlinson was called up today to provide some infield help while Brandon’s out. So glad he’s back.  I love that guy and I’m hoping to see a lot of him this season.
  • Finally Matt Cain injured his hamstring in his stellar performance on Monday night. It was so sad that he had to leave after 6 innings while he had been doing so well.  The guy’s numbers for this season are just crazy and so unexpected.  He’s the ace so far this season, with a 2.42 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in the 4 games he’s pitched.  Who would have thunk?  Thankfully, the x-ray results on the hamstring injury came back negative so he avoided a major injury, but we’ll have to see if he is able to make his next scheduled start.  If not, maybe they can put Stratton in – I love that guy!

 

I know you’ve all been waiting with baited breath, but your wait is now over.  I have the first spit count of the season for you!  Here you go:

April 22nd

Giants:

  • Gillaspie 6
  • Bochy 4 (all seeds)
  • Nunez 3 (2 of these were seeds)
  • Moore 2
  • Stratton 2
  • Span 1
  • Belt 1
  • Posey 1
  • Reyes 1
  • Meulens 1 (seeds)
  • Panik 1
  • Marrero 1

Rockies:

  • Arenado 4
  • Reynolds 4
  • Story 4
  • LeMahieu 3
  • Senzatela 2
  • Cardullo 2
  • Blackmon 1

Misc.:

  • Umpire (Rob Drake) 14 !!!!!
  • Fan 1
  • Fan 1

Game Spit Master General = Drake at 14

Giants Game Spit Master General = Gillaspie at 6

That’s a total of 60 spits during a 3 hour game for an average of 1 spit every 3 minutes.

At first I thought this was the first time an umpire won out as the Game Spit Master General.  Then I seemed to recall the name of said umpire – Rob Drake.  I looked it up, and indeed he was the Game Spit Master General for the game on August 24th, 2012!  And during that game, he logged a whopping 40 spits!  So at least he’s calmed it down a bit!  I kept noticing him lifting his mask and finally realized he was doing it to expel saliva.  Sheesh!  Why does an umpire need to spit??  These were the first fan spits logged in a while – two different guys.  Really??  Matt Moore wins the award for most disgusting spit – one of his ended up mostly on his face, and he wiped it away with his glove!  Blech!  Also noticed during this game that Moore is also a snot rocket launcher – he launched 3 today.  Kudos to Neil Ramirez today – he may have given up 6 runs in one inning during this game (including walking one in), but he didn’t get caught spitting once!  Hoping he keeps up the non-spitting this season (and keeps guys off the bases while doing it).

Going to leave today with a question:  Why does Nick Hundley only wear one shoulder protector behind the plate?  It’s over his right shoulder.  Check it out next time he’s in the lineup.  Anybody have a clue?  Please leave a comment if you know why.  Going to the game on Saturday with my entire family – all 11 of us!  So excited to get to my first game.  The giveaway that day is the two flaps down hat, so I’m hoping to get a picture of all of us together wearing it!  Also hoping that we can take these next two games against the Dodgers.  My boys always seem to rise to the occasion against their arch rivals.  They won Monday, and even though they lost yesterday, they did battle and keep it close (and it was Kershaw after all).  Plus Ty Blach did an amazing job – what a relief that we can count on this kid to get us out of a jam.  Will be cheering them on tonight from my living room.  Come on boys!  You can do it!  Bring us some energy in the clubhouse, Michael!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  BEAT LA!!

PLAY BALL!!

Tomorrow’s the day we’ve all been waiting for!  The baseball drought is over!  It’s time to play ball again!  The National Anthem, hot dogs, the crack of the bat, the cheers, the crazy outfits, the kiss cam, Kruk and Kuip, Tony singing, and my boys in their real Giants uniforms are all back!  The Giants start off their season in Arizona playing the D-Backs – Bumgarner vs. Greinke.  I am thrilled that I can watch my boys regularly again.  Tomorrow’s game will be extra special with all the opening day ceremonies – love ALL of it!!  Planning on spending the entire afternoon in front of the tube on the couch enjoying my boys and the official start of the 2017 season.  That reminds me – I have to get my Beat the Streak picks in!  Wonder which one of my boys matches up well against Greinke.  Hmmmmm… it says Buster, Eduardo Nunez, and Nick Hundley all have batting averages above .300 against him.  Gotta love that!!  Maybe I’ll start my first streak of the season off by picking Buster!  Are you all going to be watching along with me?

I wanted to see what the final 25-man roster is, but it hasn’t been updated on the sfgiants.com site yet.  I found an article that says they are still making some last-minute tweaks.  It did answer a question about who will be the 5th starter, though.  Matt Cain has earned that job over rookie Ty Blach, though Blach will be on the 25-man roster as a long relief option.  He may also see some time as a lefty specialist since the team lost Will Smith to a season ending elbow injury.  Kelby Tomlinson, Albert Suarez, and Josh Osich were optioned to Triple A.  The five backup position players will be Nick Hundley (catcher), Conor Gillaspie (infield), Gorkys Hernandez (outfield), Aaron Hill (infield), and the surprise of the Spring, Chris Marrero.  Marrero can play in the outfield or also at first base.  Marrero wowed his way onto the team with his power bat – he finished tied for second in homeruns this spring in all of baseball.  His defense is a little lacking, but I am so excited to see some pop in the lineup.  He will form a platoon in left field with Jarrett Parker who also showed promise in the spring.  Marrerro’s kind of similar to Michael Morse – not the greatest defender, but a powerful bat.  And though my boy Michael Morse will not be on the 25-man roster due to an injury he sustained during spring training, there is talk that he will be rehabbing in an attempt at possibly joining the team later in the season.  He also had a great spring and impressed the big wigs enough that they are still considering him.  So very happy for him!  Do your work and get back with us soon, Michael!  Hunter misses you!  Once Morse or Mac Williamson are healthy again, they would probably replace Marrero in the outfield (unless Marrero gets super hot – you never know!).

Had a fantastic time at Spring Training in Arizona last month.  I went with my brothers Nick and Paul and my sister Kathleen.  We always have a great time on our trips because we’re all pretty mellow and just go with the flow.  We watched 3 games in 4 days – all away games.  I actually plan our trips that way because away games are so much cheaper.  It’s always fun to watch the new kids and see the old familiar faces.  And being in a ballpark again is always fabulous!  We went to Surprise for the first time this year, and the ball park was really nice – a bit further out than most but not too bad.  I have to say that I’ve really liked all the Spring Training ballparks we’ve ever been to.  Besides Scottsdale Stadium, my favorite is Salt River Fields at Talking Stick (plus I love that name!).  We watched the Giants play the D-Backs there this year (a preview of tomorrow’s game).  Gregor Blanco started for the D-Backs – it was so nice to see him out there, even if it wasn’t for the Giants.  He did really well in that game, and he does have a minor league deal with them, but he won’t be starting in the bigs due to a strained oblique.  Hope he heals quickly so he can join the team – love that guy and wish him all the best.  Besides games this year, we also adventured to a couple of new spots in Arizona – South Mountain Park and Papago Park.  We drove to the top of South Mountain Park and enjoyed the spectacular view of the Phoenix area and beautiful dessert.  At Papago Park, we climbed up a mountain with a hole in it (the climb was really mild – I’m not a climber – but the view was great).  I recommend both places if you are ever there.  We were lucky to stumble upon them.

One fun thing to do is to sample the food in these parks.  It’s almost like being in the team’s real park foodwise because many of the parks carry the signature food from their team’s home park.  We got to sample two ballpark delicacies on this trip.  At Salt River Fields, we tried the signature hot dog of the Diamondbacks.  It’s called a Mega Dog – a huge hot dog covered in pulled pork and jalapeno mac and cheese – fantastic!  Then at Goodyear Ballpark, I got to try the signature food of the Cincinnati Reds – a Skyline Chili Coney Dog.  It was a hot dog smothered in Skyline Chili (famous in Cincinnati – we had it there on our trip in 2012) with onions and cheese.  It was really small, but really tasty.

The highlight of my trip this year was the single autograph I got.  At the first game we went to I just missed getting Hunter Pence’s autograph.  I noticed him signing and moved over to where he was, but by the time I got there he had to leave.  He was being so patient and friendly and signing for so many people.  I figured I had missed my chance for that trip.  Then two days later, I was lucky enough to actually be standing close to the area where he came over to sign autographs.  As he was signing, I asked him, “Are you happy to be playing with your buddy Michael (Morse) again?”  He gave me this big smile and said, “Very happy!  Great things happen when we get together!”  And luckily he eventually made his way over to me and signed my journal!  YAY!!  It was so adorable because I noticed it was taking him a while to sign.  Then he said, “I’m trying to draw you a smiley face!”  And thank goodness he told me that because I wouldn’t have known what it was otherwise!  LOL!  He’s such a cutie pie!

Congrats to Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey, and Mark Melancon (even though he didn’t play much) on their World Baseball Classic championship!  Sounds like all three had a blast playing in that series.  I know that there were a lot of comparisons to the All-Star game, but it was even nicer for them because they actually got to build a relationship with their teammates over several games, not just one.  It’s kind of more like the Olympics in that sense.  It was very nice for Brandon to be in the national spotlight, even being mentioned by the announcers as a possible WBC MVP candidate.  I had a lot of fun watching the games and enjoying the different ways different countries play and enjoy the game of baseball.  Those Japanese fans really get into it, even coming up with different songs for each of the different players!  And the Latin celebrations are fantastic!  Bottom line, though – really glad no one got hurt!!

Melancon reminds me that I have two new questions from Angel to answer.  The first is about the pronunciation of Mark Melancon’s name.  Angel wonders why you pronounce the c like an s.  I assumed it’s because it’s French.  I looked it up, and it is a French name.  The c is actually ç (cedilla), and it is pronounced like s.  Melancon is the Americanized version since we don’t have that letter in our alphabet.  Another interesting thing I discovered about the name Melancon – it means “an ill man”.  Why in the world did that first Melancon choose that as their last name???  Angel was also curious about how they select the managers for the WBC teams.  Well, I couldn’t find an outright answer to this question, but I did find out that no manager currently working in the Major Leagues can head a WBC team, although coaches are potential candidates if they are given permission from their individual clubs.  That’s why Hensley Meulens was able to manage the Netherlands team.  And Jim Leyland could manage the US team because he’s retired.  If anyone else has any insight into this question, please help Angel out.  Thanks!

Saw my first intentional walk of the season on Friday (well, preseason anyway).  Brandon Crawford was intentionally walked.  Bob Melvin, manager of the A’s, simply held up four fingers to the umpire and that was that.  One second Brandon was warming up swinging the bat and the next he was on first.  I don’t like it!!  Angel and I were texting about how much we hated it.  Oh well – I guess that’s what we’ll be seeing this season.  Even Kruk and Kuip mentioned how weird it was.  BOOO!!

There will be some new pre and post-game analysts at Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area (soon to be NBC Sports Bay Area – why do they have to change things???) this season, and I’m really excited about the additions.  Besides Javier Lopez, Matt Williams and Cody Ross will be joining the team.  I was surprised about Matt Williams because I thought he was still a manager somewhere, but I guess not.  So glad he’ll be talking about my boys.  And who doesn’t love Cody Ross??  Look forward to seeing that great smile again!

Will end today on a silly note.  I heard a crazy story about the Giants on KNBR the other day, on the Tolbert and Lund show.  Those two guys make me laugh out loud all the time!  Anyway, they were talking about how the Giants have full-time sports scientists on their medical staff.  They can use all sorts of cutting edge gadgets to make sure that the players are working at their optimum capacity.  Well, one of the areas they are interested in is proper hydration.  I can see how this would be a good thing, and I would imagine that good hydration could give the players and the team a competitive edge.  It’s just the way they are going about it is pretty hysterical.  They measure the player’s hydration by measuring their urine specific gravity.  Of course, this is accomplished by taking a urine sample, and it’s taken before batting practice.  The testing is 100% voluntary, but in order to get guys to buy into this, they’ve turned good hydration into a competition – the best hydrated player after every series wins a coveted prize.  That prize is a golden urinal trophy!  Check it out!!  And I love the Twitter quote: “Think of it as the M-V-Pee trophy!”  HAHAHAHAHA!!!!  What would you do with that thing if you won it??

Hope that the boys can carry the momentum of an A’s sweep with them to Arizona.  So looking forward to all the pomp and circumstance of an Opening Day game.  I should go out and buy some hot dogs just to feel like I’m there!  Come on, Boys!  Show us what you’ve got!  We’ll be cheering for you!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  PLAY BALL!!

Coming and Going

Wow.  I had planned on blogging this morning.  Then I decided against it, realizing that the trade deadline was this afternoon.  The Giants might make another move today, and I wanted to be able to post about it if they did.  And oh boy, did they make a move.  Two even.  And one was extra unexpected.

Let’s start with the first.  I need to thank my brother Paul for alerting me to this one via text.  The Giants got left-handed reliever Will Smith from the Brewers in exchange for pitching prospect Phil Bickford and Andrew Susac.  I had mentioned in previous blogs that Will Smith was on Bobby Evans’ radar, so that’s not really a surprise.  The Giants feel they needed another lefty in the bullpen to enable Bochy to work his bullpen magic.  I understand that and agree with that.  But is it worth losing Phil Bickford, probably their best pitching prospect, at a time when they will soon need to bolster their rotation?  And Susac?  I know he’s been hurt, but the guy is a solid catcher.  Sounds like they were pretty desperate to get someone to me.  And they new it was going to cost them.  As far as Smith, there are several positives.  He’s not a temporary acquisition – he’ll be under Giants control through 2019.  And he’s a good pitcher.  Well, if you ignore his July, he’s a good pitcher.  So I’m hoping he can overcome whatever changed during last month and get back on track, because there is a lot of potential there.  So I’m trying to be positive about this one.  But we sure had to give up a lot of potential to get this guy.  Welcome Will Smith (the Fresh Prince of SF), and goodbye Phil and Andrew.  And special thanks to Andrew for filling in as backup catcher and helping us win that ring in 2014.

I can’t leave this topic without bringing up something I found while doing research on Will Smith.  Besides the fact that I need to remember to put something besides just “Will Smith” into Google when I do a search for him, I came across an interesting fact about him.  He had an unusual, Affeldt-like injury at the beginning of the season during Spring Training.  Is it just a left-handed reliever thing to be accident prone?  The incident occurred while Smith was trying to take off one of his cleats.  He was standing on one leg to take off his other shoe when he lost his balance and twisted his knee.  “My knee just went up and popped,” claimed Smith.  Wow.  This caused him to start the season on the DL, and he didn’t pitch in his first game with the Brewers until June 2nd.  Wow.  Just hope this kind of freak accident doesn’t follow this guy around like Mr. Affeldt.  Please, please, please stay away from knives and small children!

Now we’ll move on to that second trade.  I really thought the Giants were done after the first one, so I was very surprised to hear about another one.  Credit goes to my brother Nick this time for informing me of the details.  The Giants acquired left-handed starting pitcher Matt Moore from the Tampa Bay Rays.  Sounds great.  I wasn’t expecting a trade to bolster the rotation, but a lefty is definitely nice, especially when you consider the heavy lefty lineup of the Dodgers.  With the inconsistency of Peavy and Cain, it’s also nice to have some insurance.  His ERA is a little high (4.08), but it’s been consistently moving downward since mid June.  Combine that with having Dave Righetti as a pitching coach and I see a lot of promise there.  But what did they give up for Moore?  Two prospects (shortstop Lucius Fox and pitcher Michael Santos).  Oh, and MATT DUFFY!  WHAT?  How desperate were they to bolster the rotation?  Thinking about it, though, that trade for Eduardo Nunez makes a lot more sense now if they knew this was coming.  I’m still in shock that Matt Duffy is no longer a Giant.  I know it’s just a business and stuff like this happens all the time, but I loved Matt Duffy as a player and a Giant.  Going to be so weird seeing him in a Rays uniform.  So weird.  The guy threw his batting glove to me at Spring Training (I didn’t catch it, but I almost did!)!  And I love his dad, too!  I’m really gonna miss that guy!  Come to think of it, it’s kind of ironic that he gets traded this year.  He was on the flip side of this kind of thing when he came up to the bigs last season and Casey McGehee was released.  You really never know in this sport.  Giant today.  Ray tomorrow.  We welcome one Matt and say goodbye to another.  Welcome to the team, Mr. Moore.  And all the best to you, Duffman.  You’ll always be a Giant to me.

With the addition of Eduardo Nunez to the team and the returns of Joe Panik and Hunter Pence, there were corresponding moves to make room for them on the roster.  When Joe Panik was activated, Grant Green was designated for assignment.  Hoping he won’t be picked up so he can remain a Giant as he did a fine job as a replacement.  When Eduardo Nunez came to the team, Jarrett Parker was sent to Triple A.  This was expected, as Mac Williamson made his case to stay in the outfield (and in the batting lineup) a little more strongly than Parker.  At least he’s still in Sacramento and could easily come up again if needed.  Then when Hunter came back to the team, Ramiro Pena was designated for assignment.  I’m most upset about this one.  Pena was key to keeping this team going while guys were injured.  He came through with some clutch hits while maintaining an incredible batting average during the games he played as a Giant.  Keeping my fingers crossed that no one picks him up off waivers so that we can keep him.

Another guy who snuck into the roster when Josh Osich went on the DL is left-handed reliever Matt Reynolds (so many Matts to keep track of!).  Reynolds is not a newbie to the bigs, having played several years for both the Rockies and the Diamondbacks.  He’s pitched in two games thus far while not allowing any runs.  I like that.  Welcome to the Giants, Matt!

It’s been a crazy rollercoaster ride for the Giants since the All Star break, but it appears things may have finally settled down with these last two wins against the Nationals.  Those wins are extra significant as the Nationals top the National League East Division.  My boys went from the low of winning only 2 out of 13 games, capped by that horrible triple play on Friday night (was anyone else just sitting in shock, dumbfounded, staring at the TV with their jaw dropped like I was?), to the high of winning two in a row against the Nats.  And to counter that unbelievable triple play, on Sunday Bum (a pitcher) pinch hit for Cain (a pitcher), got a double, and was pinch run for by Samardzija (a pitcher) who ended up scoring the game winning run.  You can’t make this stuff up!  I’m not totally sure, but I can’t believe that’s ever been done in the history of baseball!  Kudos to Bruce Bochy for being a maniac and bringing the entertainment!  And kudos to Matt Cain on getting his 100th win during that game yesterday.  So proud of you!  Nice accomplishment, Matt!  So many Matts!

I forgot to mention that Ginny and I discovered two new taste treats at AT&T Park when we attended the game last Tuesday (that they won!).  We both had loaded tater tots (loaded = sour cream, cheese, scallions, and bacon bits) and grilled brussel sprouts.  Both were fabulous!  We found them on the View Level near section 321 where we were sitting, and I’m not sure they are available anywhere else in the park.  They are definitely worth a trip up those stairs!  And Ginny realized that since they won that game, we need to do that every time we go to the park as a good luck charm.  I’m game!

I’ll end on a funny note.  Came across this on Facebook today.  I absolutely love it when players do stuff like this.  Makes the game that much more fun.  Silliness is a good thing!  Poor Bochy gnome!  At least he was returned to his owner (breathing might be a bit difficult, though).

The Giants start a series against the Phillies tomorrow at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, one of the ballparks I just visited.  Nice park – dull fans.  Hope the quiet isn’t too distracting.  And hope all these changes to the roster aren’t too distracting, either.  Hoping they can carry the momentum of those two wins to the other side of the continent.  Unlike the Nats, the Phillies are in 4th place in their division, so I’m looking for lots of Ws.  You can come together as a new, improved unit and do this, Guys!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  TAME THE PHILLIES!

Cruising Into the Second Half

I always hope for a perfect game from the start when I’m watching a baseball game.  Whether it’s from my living room or from the stands, I always have that hope in the back of my mind.  If a game is perfect after even three innings, I’ll text my siblings that we have a perfect game going.  I know this is silliness, but I think perfect games, even no-hitters, are pretty magical.  Just think of all the perfection that has to come into play, both from the pitcher and from the defense behind him, for this rare event to occur.  And one of my biggest baseball dreams is to be in attendance for either a perfect game or a no hitter.  My brother and two of my nieces have had the fortune of experiencing that thrill, being at AT&T Park for Tim Lincecum’s last no hitter.  Well, I may have gotten as close as I’ll ever get this last Sunday as I got to watch Madison throw a near perfect game in person.  I went with my hubby, and we had great field level seats between home plate and first.  Had a perfect view of my boy, and paid homage to him wearing my Bumgarner jersey.  By the 5th inning, you could just feel the tension and excitement building.  Then when Gregor dropped that fly ball (the sun was wicked that day – don’t feel bad, Gregor) and was charged with an error, the perfectness went away.  You can’t have a perfect game with an error, even if it’s not your fault.  Still, the no hitter was on the table.  With every inning he got out of cleanly, the excitement rose in the park.  There were deafening screams and cheers with every out.  He got a standing ovation with every walk back to the dugout.  Then, with one out in the eighth, Jake Lamb hit one to right field and made it to first.  Dreams shattered.  Still, Bum was met with overwhelming and well deserved applause.  After that, he was able to complete the game, allowing only one walk and no other hits.  This was the 4th one-hit game Madison had logged, an accomplishment in itself.  Still waiting for that perfect game or no hitter, but this game was indeed magical nonetheless.  And I’m sure Madison will get that no hitter, if not perfection, someday.

Regarding the seats we had (Section 110), I have to put a warning out there.  This season, the Giants extended the netting at the backstop in order to protect people from flying bats or balls.  The problem is that there is a pole to support the netting, and it can block your view depending on where you’re sitting.  Unfortunately Dan’s view of the batter was blocked by said pole.  Not sure I will sit in those seats again.  Better off being a little closer to first base in sections 109 or 108.  Angel and I sat in 108 last Tuesday, and those seats were perfect – well, except for the fact that there was a pigeon hanging out in the rafters above us.  Luckily he missed us!  Guess being covered doesn’t always provide protection from aerial attack!

Did anyone else watch the homerun derby?  I know a lot of people just ignore it, but there’s just something about seeing a guy hit a homerun.  I always love it.  And this year, Giancarlo Stanton was unbelievable!  He made up for us not being able to watch Madison blast some out of the park.  Stanton hit a total of 61 homeruns during the competition, smashing the previous record set by Bobby Abreu in 2005 of 41.  Five of his homers went 490 feet or more, the longest reaching 497 feet.  Incredible!  And so much fun to watch.  Definitely could have done without Chris Berman’s “BACK, BACK, BACK” calls, though.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this hysterical remix of his calls.  Sounds like he’s channeling a chicken!

My brothers told me that the Giants have some sort of jinx going on with the All-Star game.  They rarely do well.  Unfortunately, my boy Johnny Cueto fell victim to this during this outing.  How did our hero have two guys get knocks off him during that game?  And both were teammates of his last season, Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals.  Think they have some inside info on how to hit off of him?  Or was it just the excitement and distraction of everything around the All Star game that got to Johnny?  The Giants are having him skip his next scheduled start on Saturday, giving him an extra day to recoup from that insanity.  But I’m sure he’ll be back to his regular self in his next start.  Bum didn’t pitch because he had just pitched that gem on Sunday, but he did get to enjoy all the festivities nonetheless, including being booed by all the San Diego fans (at least they booed the Dodgers players, too).  Buster was the starting catcher and got to work with Johnny at the beginning of the game (making Johnny’s rough outing even more strange – he was pitching to his home boy!).  It was nice to see Buster out there representing us, but the only offense he could muster was a walk.  At least it was better than Brandon Belt, who actually made an appearance in the eighth inning but flew out to left field.  Not a reflection on Brandon, though, because the pitcher he matched up against, Yankees reliever Andrew Miller (who happens to be on the Giants reliever radar), was totally dealing.  Even the broadcasters were commenting that they were surprised he could even connect with one of those pitches.  Not a very good showing for my boys.  Then they had to keep bringing up the fact that the only grand slam ever allowed in an All Star game came off of Giants pitcher Atlee Hammaker.  Sheesh!  Poor Giants!

Speaking of Brandon Belt, that kid was so thrilled to be going to his first All Star game.  The Giants front office put out an aggressive ad campaign to get Belt in during the final-vote runoff.  That campaign included this video, one of my all-time favorite Giants productions.  Be sure to check out the website, too – it’s real and hysterical!  Anyway, to thank the front office for all their hard work, Brandon and his wife, Haley, bought pizza for the entire front office, 34 in all.  He was constantly thanking them whenever he was being interviewed about the All Star game, and kept saying he wouldn’t be there without them.  He also wouldn’t be there without his wife.  If you haven’t already, you have got to read his latest blog installment.  It brought me to tears.  In fact, I just reread it, and I’m crying again! Lends some insight into the support team behind every player.  Here’s the link.  Very glad he’s appreciative of her.

Sounds like we’ll be getting some key players back in the lineup and on the mound soon.  Hunter Pence could start a rehab assignment as soon as Saturday, and Joe Panik may start as early as Sunday.  The expected dates for return to the bigs for the two are July 25th for Hunter and July 22nd for Joe.  YAY!  Matt Duffy, on the other hand, is not expected to return soon.  He’s still recovering from an injured Achilles, and the Giants are giving him more time to get back.  Matt Cain is also due to return soon.  He allowed 2 runs over 5 2/3 innings in a rehab start in Sacramento.  He’s scheduled to have one more rehab start and then possibly return to the team July 19th.  It’s really amazing that with all these significant losses to the roster, the boys have been able to continue to compete at a high level, garnering the highest win total in all of baseball at this point in the season (57 and 33).  Love my boys!

I have another installment of “Angel’s Question” for you.  Angel was wondering if, when a manger pulls out a pitcher and he walks to the mound to take the ball, is he required to do that, or is it done out of respect for the pitcher?  I looked it up, and the manager is not required to take the ball away from the pitcher.  I guess that’s just baseball tradition.  When a new pitcher comes in, it is not typically announced to the home plate umpire (unless there is a double switch).  In this case, MLB rule 3.08 applies.  It states, “If no announcement of a substitution is made, the substitute shall be considered to have entered the game when, if a pitcher, he takes a position on the pitcher’s plate.”  No mention of the manager initiating the switch.  I think it’s nice that the manager comes out, though, and it definitely shows respect.  Thanks for another great question, Angel!

Not sure if I’ve mentioned it on here yet, but come Monday I’m embarking on a Giant adventure.  My two brothers, my sister and I are going to be following the Giants to New York and Boston, plus we’ll be attending a game in Philadelphia just to cross it off my list of parks.  I am SOOOOOOOOO excited!  So if I don’t update this for a while, you’ll know what I’m up to.  Look for my sister and I on the broadcast of the July 22nd game vs. the Yankees.  We’ll be sitting in the Finnerty’s section with all the other crazies.  Can’t wait!

Madison takes the mound again tonight in San Diego to begin the second half of the season.  At least he and the other Giants All Stars didn’t have to travel far!  I’m sure he’s going to be fabulous tonight, and considering he’s going against the Padres, who knows what magic might happen!  Keep this amazing streak of happiness going for us, Boys!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

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!

Spring Cleaning in Arizona

I like sweeps!  This one was extra sweet for a lot of reasons.  First off, and probably most importantly, Matt Cain and Jake Peavy continued to perform well after the dreadful start to their seasons.  Both gave the team the opportunity to win once again.  I like this trend, and am seriously hoping it can continue.  If they can keep this up, we are in great shape.  Also during this series, some of the guys started to get hot.  Denard Span went 2 for 5 on Thursday, 2 for 4 on Friday and 4 for 4 on Saturday.  Buster also got his average up during this series.  And I’m so relieved that Angel Pagan and Joe Panik are back and getting right back at it.  Plus how about that Trevor Brown hitting a homerun for us while filling in for Buster!  Love it!  Finally, we won a game against Zack Greinke for the first time ever.  Beautiful!  A 5-game winning streak is hopefully a sign that things are turning around for my boys.

Today’s game was the only one I actually got to watch completely.  Not a whole lot of action, but there were lots of interesting things that happened.  I think I feel a list coming on…

  • You know how guys get high fives in the dugout after they hit a homerun? Well after Trevor Brown hit his today, he proceeded to start the high fiving, but in the process left one guy hanging – Buster!  It was so funny!  Of all people to do that to, his fellow catcher!
  • Johnny Cueto likes to blow bubbles in the dugout. Big bubbles.  Humongous bubbles.  Today they showed him blowing one that was almost as big as his head.  They also showed the wad of gum which must have contained 10 pieces.  Here’s some video of him from today’s game.  And I love how the cameramen keep switching back to him in the process.  Those kind of things make watching baseball that much more fun.  Plus it makes me love Johnny Cueto that much more.
  • One bummer was how the game ended. That double play was amazing, but I hate it when the last call of the game has to be decided in New York.  It was obvious that Belt had the out at first, but I’m still wondering about the play at second.  It sure looked like Crawford pulled his foot off before making the tag.  Guess the guys in New York couldn’t see enough to overturn it.  Glad that D-Back got called out by the umpire initially, otherwise that game could still be going on.  Even Crawford seemed a little wishy washy when talking about it in his post-game interview.
  • Then after that double play, the umpire totally blew it when relaying what they said in New York to the crowd. He made the signal for out at first and safe at second.  It was supposed to be out at both first and second.  How do you possibly get that wrong?  The same call at both bases!  Sheesh!  He had to go through the motions about three times before he got it right.  The umpire that did the blowing of the call is Jerry Layne.  Who’s in for buying that man some glasses?  Or a hearing aid?  The best part of that call was how Jim Kozimor of CSN was doing the blown call dance in the post-game.  I’m thinking it will be the next dance craze.

There was also an opportunity for increasing our baseball knowledge in this game.  I’ve always wondered what exactly the rules are for a foul tip.  Is it like a foul so if it’s caught it’s an out?  Or is a foul tip somehow different than a regular foul?  There was an incident in the game today that involved a foul tip.  A D-back hit a foul tip that hit Trevor Brown in the chest, but Brown caught it on the rebound before it touched the ground.  Brown thought that this was an out (the batter already had 2 strikes on him).  So what is the official ruling on this?  Well, I did some research, and it turns out that a foul tip is very different from a regular foul.  MLB defines a foul tip as “a batted ball that goes sharp and direct from the bat to the catcher’s hands and is legally caught.  It is not a foul tip unless caught and any foul tip that is caught is a strike, and the ball is in play.  It is not a catch if it is a rebound, unless the ball has first touched the catcher’s glove or hand.”  In this case, since the ball rebounded off of Trevor’s chest without touching his hands first, it was not a catch, so it was just a foul ball, not a strike.  And since you can’t strike out on a foul ball, the guy was not out.  The key is that it has to hit the catcher’s hands first.  Also, the path of the ball has to be “sharp and direct” to be designated a foul tip, so any significant deviation from a straight path of the ball would not be considered a foul tip.  I guess “sharp and direct” is judged at the discretion of the umpire.  So I learned something today because I did not think a foul tip counted as a strike unless the ball was in the strike zone.  I also didn’t know that if a foul tip is caught, the ball is still in play.  For example, you can steal on a foul tip that is caught.  I hope you were able to learn something from all this as well.

I’m curious – what did you all think about the Casilla incident the other day?  Here’s what happened:  On Friday night, Bochy brought in Casilla with one out in the ninth.  The score at that point was 4-2 Giants.  The first two batters he faced singled, placing guys at first and third.  He then struck a guy out, but walked Paul “Goldy” Goldschmidt (aka “The Timmy Killer”) to load the bases.  Next up would be Jake Lamb.  Lamb had hit a game tying, ninth inning homer off of Casilla last month in San Francisco.  What would you do in this situation?  Well, Bochy decided not to take the risk and called on Javier Lopez to make the last out against Lamb (which he did), a lefty-vs.-lefty matchup.  But Casilla was not pleased with being taken out of the game at this point, and this is how he reacted.  A couple of things come into play here.  First, it’s not totally Casilla’s fault that the bases were loaded.  It was probably a good decision not to give Goldschmidt any good pitches due to his history with the Giants.  A homerun at that point would have lost the game.  Second, the closer is the closer.  He’s supposed to be the guy who ends the game for you.  You’re supposed to count on his adrenaline to end it.  If you don’t have faith in the closer, they won’t come through for you in the future.  However, I also see Bochy’s point in putting in Javi with the history that Casilla had with Lamb.  Overall, though, I’m very disappointed in the way Casilla reacted to Bochy.  He’s just not that kind of guy and he let his emotions get to him.  He was extremely disrespectful to his manager – so out of character.  In the end, Casilla did approach Bochy on his own the next day and apologized.  Plus Bochy put him in as closer in the next two games, so it appears there are no ill effects due to his behavior.  But I still have a yucky feeling about the whole thing.  Would love to hear your thoughts on this.  And Santiago, you’re still my boy.

Here’s a look at one of the dark sides of baseball that I really hate.  A fight broke out at the Rangers vs. Blue Jays game today.  It all started when Jose Bautista made a hard slide into Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor.  Odor thought the slide was illegal, words were exchanged, and Odor hauled off and punched Bautista in the face.  Here is the video of this horrible incident.  Bautista and Odor were ejected as well as Toronto’s Josh Donaldson and Rangers bench coach Steve Buechele.  But then once the game restarted, Blue Jays reliever Jesse Chavez hit Prince Fielder with the next pitch.  Chavez was also ejected because umpires had warned both sides earlier after Bautista was hit by a pitch.  I hate it when guys lose their temper and do stuff like this.  Even though there was some history with Bautista, nothing can justify this type of response (he flipped his bat in dramatic fashion after a 3-run homer in Game 5 of the AL Division Series against the Rangers last season).  This is one of the most vicious attacks during a game that I’ve ever seen.  Come on, guys!  Put a cap on that testosterone!  It will be interesting to see what types of punishments the league levies on these guys after all this.

Now back to my boys – they take on the Padres in San Diego in a 3-game series starting Tuesday, then they come home for a 3-game series against the Cubs.  I’m feeling pretty good about the Padres series, but the Cubs are another story.  Their win record stands at 27-9.  I have faith in my boys, though, and I’m hoping they can come out and rise to the occasion.  Have a happy flight to San Diego, enjoy your day off, then win some games for us!  Plus you can savor being in first place alone in the NL West because the Dodgers lost to the Cardinals today!  GO GIANTS!!  KEEP THE WINNING STREAK GOING!

I Was Right…

…but for the wrong reason.  The boys lost the series with the Blue Jays.  They lost the Peavy and Cain starts.  But they didn’t lose because of anything that Peavy and Cain did.  Peavy only lasted 5 innings, but when he left he had only allowed 3 runs so they had a chance to win with any type of run support.  He only got 1.  Cain surprised everyone, pitching through 8 innings, allowing only 2 runs and striking out 7.  The last time he pitched 8 innings was in 2013.  He got exactly no runs in support.  This morning on KNBR, I heard a very interesting stat involving Matt Cain.  I knew that historically he has gotten very little run support, but they mentioned that this was the 49th time he had gotten zero runs of support in a game.  That’s just sad!  So basically I need to eat my words and apologize to both Jake Peavy and Matt Cain for not trusting in their ability to come back from their previous dismal starts.  Great effort, Guys.  Just wish the bats would wake up.  Angel Pagan is scheduled to make his return this weekend, so maybe that will spark something.  He sure was hot when he left (batting .315).  And the power of Jarrett Parker in the lineup might help, too.  We’ll see.  I know they’ll come around eventually (hopefully sooner than later).  And please stop going into extra innings!!

Besides the decent starts from Peavy and Cain, the pitching woes seem to be working themselves out.  George Kontos, who’s been out with a flexor strain in his right elbow, is scheduled to return from the DL next week.  Sergio Romo continues to make progress.  Albert Suarez has made a name for himself in relief since he came up to the bigs and has been mentioned as a potential substitute for a starter if the need arises.  He’s pitched 4 innings to date and not allowed a single run.  Plus Chris Heston seems to have finally gotten back on track in Triple-A Sacramento, allowing only 1 earned run in 6 2/3 innings in his last start.  Hopefully we won’t need either one to start, but it’s nice to have good options.

As an aside, I’d like to congratulate the Golden State Warriors on making it to the Western Conference Finals.  Their games are so much fun to watch.  So glad the injury to Steph didn’t hold them back.  Go all the way, Guys!

My boys start a series in Arizona tomorrow.  My cup’s half full again, and I’m hoping we can generate some runs and make some noise.  Something has got to happen soon.  It will!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  SMASH THE D-BAGS!