The Giants went 3-3 last week, leaving them 3-3 for the season, fourth in the NL West, 2 games behind the Rockies and Padres.
- Monday: L 4-0, at Dodgers; LP: Kontos (0-1)
- Tuesday: W 3-0, at Dodgers; WP: Bumgarner (1-0)
- Wednesday: W 5-3, at Dodgers; WP: Lincecum (1-0); HR: Pence (1), Sandoval (1).
- Friday: W 1-0, Cardinals; WP: Zito (1-0)
- Saturday: L 6-3, Cardinals; LP: Vogelsong (0-1); HR: Pence (2), Sandoval (2).
- Sunday: L 14-3, Cardinals; LP: Cain (0-1).
Mixed results in week 1, due in part to inconsistent hitting. Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval got their hits, but others are trying to find their stroke. Giants were able to win three games because of solid pitching. The first four starters did not allow an earned run. That ended over the weekend, and the Giants dropped two to the Cardinals. But this week they face two teams that they had big-time success against in 2012.
ROCKIES (5-1) AT GIANTS
- Monday: Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa 0-0) at Giants (Madison Bumgarner 1-0), 7:15 p.m.
- Tuesday: Rockies (Juan Nicasio 1-0) at Giants (Tim Lincecum 1-0), 7:15 p.m.
- Wednesday: Rockies (Jeff Francis 1-0) at Giants (Barry Zito 1-0), 12:45 p.m.
The Giants went 14-4 against the Rockies in 2012. But the Rox are healthy and hitting in 2013 and have won five in a row since dropping a 5-4 decision to the Brewers in the season opener. … It’s the first time since 1995 that the Rockies have won their opening two series of a season. They beat the Brewers 2 of 3 in Milwaukee and swept the Padres at Coors Field … Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler have been hot … OF Michael Cuddyer is sidelined with a sore wrist. Eric Young Jr. will start for Cuddyer and bat leadoff on Monday. … De La Rosa gave up four earned runs on five hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings against the Brewers in his first start.
GIANTS AT CUBS (2-5)
- Thursday: Giants (Ryan Vogelsong 0-1) at Cubs (Carlos Villanueva 0-0), 11:20 a.m.
- Friday: Giants (Matt Cain 0-1) at Cubs (Jeff Samardzija 1-1), 11:20 a.m.
- Saturday: Giants (Bumgarner 1-0) at Cubs (Edwin Jackson 0-1), 10:05 a.m., FOX
- Sunday: Giants (Lincecum 1-0) at Cubs (Travis Wood 1-0), 11:20 a.m., WGN
The Giants won six of seven meetings with the Cubs in 2012. They swept the Cubs in four games in San Francisco in June and won two of three in Chicago in early September. … Like the Giants, the Cubs also have struggled with the bats. They scored 13 runs in their first six games. After one bad week, Carlos Marmol is out as the Cubs’ closer and replaced by Kyuji Fujikawa. Fujikawa was a closer in Japan for 12 season before signing with the Cubs in the offseason. … The Giants will meet former teammate Nate Schierholtz, who is playing right field for the Cubs and playing well. He’s hitting .316 with a home runs and four RBI in six games.
ROCKIES 6, GIANTS 5: BOX SCORE
GIANTS 9, ROCKIES 8: BOX SCORE
GIANTS 8, ROCKIES 3: BOX SCORE
NL West lead: 7 games
Magic number: 13
San Francisco Giants: 2012 NL Western Division champions.
Are we getting ahead of ourselves?
Maybe. But the Giants’ 8-3 win over the Rockies on Wednesday pushed their lead in the NL West to a season-high seven games. In fact, it’s the largest divisional lead since the Giants finished 15 games ahead of Arizona to end in the 2003 season.
It also means that the earliest the Giants can clinch the NL West in next Thursday, Sept. 20.
For their part the Giants are keeping their sights on the task ahead, which is winning games in Arizona this weekend.
Here are a string of quotes from the series in Colorado, where the Giants went 7-2 this season.
Tim Linecum on the Giants’ seven-game lead in the West:
“We’re in a good spot . We’re just focusing on ourselves and having a good time and winning.”
Manager Bruce Bochy on giving Pablo Sandoval a day off to clear his head. The Panda is hitting .232 since coming off the DL last month:
“Let’s get him back to being relaxed and having fun. It hasn’t been fun for him the last couple games.”
Angel Pagan, on meeting Willie Mays in the spring and tying his San Francisco Giants record (shared with Steve Finley) for triples in a season:
“Right away, he asked for the guy who came from New York. It wasn’t ‘Angel,’ it was ‘Hey, where’s the guy who came from New York?’ Right after that I introduced myself and we had a great chemistry. Now to tie his triples record is something I’ll always remember. It’s one of the best days of my career.”
Madison Bumgarner, on being the first Giants pitcher since 2007 to belt two home runs in the same season. Bumgarner had one of the bigger at-bats of the season when he smacked a three-run homer Tuesday to tie the game 4-4.
“My job is to go out there and pitch, not hit. Obviously I’m glad to do what it takes, but I wanted to pitch better.”
Brandon Belt on going 2 for 4 with a double, homer and four RBI on the same night MadBum homered. In May, Belt hit his first homer of the season on the same night Bumgarner homered.
“I just do not want to be outdone by Madison Bumgarner at the plate at all. I think he hit a three-run home run and I got four RBIs. So I beat him.”
Bochy on Aubrey Huff’s single on a ball whacked off the right-field wall. Huff has proven himself a quality pinch-hitter of late, even though he provided his teammates with some levity when he had to scramble back to the bag when he couldn’t leg out the double.
“He smoked that ball. He did a good job turning that double into a single.”
Ryan Vogelsong on his struggles over his past six starts.
“I’m costing us games right now and I’m not really happy about it. I feel today it was on the arm side. Last time, it was on the glove side. It’s like I fix one and the other goes haywire. I need to get back to the middle of the road here.”
While his ERA has gone up, his confidence has not dropped.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m a battler, guys. Look what I’ve been through. A couple bad starts in a span of six is not going to get me down. I’ve been through way too much in this game to let six not good starts keep me from where I want to get with this team.”
Hunter Pence has been looking to contribute since joining the Giants late last month.
He got one Saturday with an RBI double. He got an even bigger one Sunday.
Pence hammered a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth, sending the Giants to a 9-6 win over the Rockies.
“There’s definitely times that you’re down, but I understand that the next at-bat everything can change,” Pence said. “I try to think of it as ‘Let it go and go out there and try to do everything you can to win. Whether you’re getting hits or not, play defense, and you never know when you’re going to get another opportunity.’ ”
The opportunity Sunday came in the eighth inning.
Trailing 6-4, the Giants loaded the bases with no one out. But Marco Scutaro’s fly to left was not deep enough to advance any of the runners.
The Giants made it 6-5 on an infield single by Melky Cabrera. Then Buster Pence made Rockies’ closer Rafael Betancourt work before lofting a 3-2 pitch to left field for a sacrifice to tie the game.
But with two on and two out, the Rockies were looking to get out of the inning tied 6-6. Then Pence smacked an 0-1 pitch over the left-field fence for a 9-6 lead.
It was the first home run by a Giants player other than Buster Posey at AT&T Park since June 29.
And that called for a curtain call, even if it was a bit forced.
“Melky pushed me out there,” Pence said. “I didn’t even realize … it was pretty exciting. Those things don’t happen very often and is just kid of humbling.”
It’s hard to call a game this early in August as a must-win. But these are games the Giants need to win. When you’re playing a team like the Rockies, those are series they need to win.
It’s especially true with the NL-leading Washington Nationals coming to town on Monday.
This won’t come as a surprise to any Giants fan, but when it comes to hitting, Buster Posey is unlike any other player on the San Francisco Giants.
Unlike his teammates, Buster Posey likes hitting at AT&T Park.
On a team that has scored about 100 fewer runs in games played at home than on the road, Buster Posey is hitting .351 at home this season, as opposed to .316 on the road.
Explain that one, Buster.
“I’m comfortable here,” Posey said. “I see the ball well. It’s a big ballpark, but the gaps are big, too, so you’ve got to take advantage of that.”
Posey kept up the hitting a home Saturday, going 2 for 4 including his 19th home run of the season, a two-run shot off Drew Pomeranz in the third inning.
TRIVIA TIME: Can you name the eight Giants who have homered at AT&T Park this season?
Posey’s recent hot streak has thrust himself into the discussion for NL MVP. While Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen remains the clear favorite, Posey, along with Melky Cabrera, deserve consideration.
Posey has 19 home runs, 75 RBI and is hitting .330. He’s got a slash-line of .330/.399/.538.
Cabrera has 11 home runs, 57 RBI and is hitting. 349. His slash line goes .349/.394/.524. He has scored a NL high 80 runs.
Posey alone cannot carry the Giants. Cabrera alone can’t carry the Giants. Put together in the 3-4 slot in the lineup, and they are a deadly combination.
In the third, Cabrera got the rally started with a bunt single. Then Posey launched a shot into the left-field bleachers.
Now, there’s one more piece to the puzzle. The No. 5 hitter behind Posey.
If Posey continues to rake like he has, opposing managers are going to find themselves doing what Jim Tracy did in the fifth inning. With a runner on second, Tracy walked Posey to get to Hunter Pence.
On Saturday, Pence delivered with a double off the right-field wall.
“With the way Buster’s hitting, that’s going to happen quite a bit,” Pence said. “You’ve got to do something about it. Since I’ve been here, Buster’s been incredible. Last year, when I got traded to the Phillies, the same thing happened to Ryan Howard. They walked him, and it’s going to come down to who’s behind him. It felt really good to partake in the fun today.”
In fact, every Giant got a chance to partake.
The Giants hitters swung the bats like they did on the recent road trip, slamming out 13 hits, including four extra-base hits (Posey’s homer, Pence’s double, and triples from Angel Pagan and Joaquin Arias).
Every Giants starter — including pitcher Matt Cain — collected a hit.
It was a good sign. Posey’s homer was his team-high fifth at home. The Giants have only hit 18 home runs at AT&T this season, and no Giants other than Posey has gone deep at home since Pablo Sandoval did it on June 29, 17 home games ago.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Here are the players who have belted the Giants’ 18 home runs at home this season.
- Buster Posey 5
- Brandon Belt 3
- Pablo Sandoval 3
- Melky Cabrera 2
- Gregor Blanco 2
- Angel Pagan 1
- Madison Bumgarner 1
- Aubrey Huff 1
Yeah, MadBum and Huff. If you got those two names, MoreSplashHits bow to your Giants fanitudeness.
But it’s why the Giants have to hit well as a team at home. It’s not going to come from one guy. It’s got to be a team effort.
Here at MoreSplashHits, we like to try to find a silver lining out of even the more troubling Giants’ losses.
This one will be a challenge.
How are we supposed to overcome …
- The Giants were shut out by a team that ranks 30th in major leagues in shutouts. It was the Rockies’ third shutout of the season.
- That for the first time all season Tim Lincecum went into a start having the lower ERA of the two starting pitchers (Colorado’s Tyler Chatwood came in with 6.61 ERA). But the time the game ended, Lincecum’s ERA was higher of the two (Chatwood left with 5.06 ERA).
- The Giants’ Nos. 1-5 hitters went 0 for 18.
- For the first time since July 13, the Giants aren’t alone in first place in the NL West. They are tied with the Dodgers at 61-52.
- The loss meant the Giants have dropped eight of their last nine games at AT&T Park.
- They got shutout by a team they piled 35 runs on last weekend.
- The Giants are on a streak of 13 consecutive scoreless innings.
- The Giants haven’t had an extra base hit since Marco Scutaro’s grand slam on Wednesday.
It’s tough but here we go:
- For the fourth time in five starts, Tim Lincecum has posted a quality start. He dropped his ERA to a season-low 5.43.
Oh, man, I’ve got to do better that. The “season-low 5.43” is depressing.
- The Diamondbacks lost on Friday. They lost to the Nationals, who are riding a seven-game winning streak. The Nationals will be in San Francisco on Monday.
Yikes, that one started well enough but then …
- The Giants get Matt Cain on Saturday. The Giants celebrated Cain’s perfect game vs. the Astros on June 13. Since then, Cain has gone 2-3 with a 4.41 ERA. Since his perfecto, he’s given up earned runs totaling 3, 1, 5, 3, 1, 5, 3, 2, 5. So I guess he’s on track to give up three earned runs on Saturday? And in their last nine home games, the Giants have managed to score more than three runs just twice.
- Um, OK, how about the Giants bullpen extended its scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings with two more scoreless innings of work.
Sorry, it’s the best we can do.
Last season, in the midst of an offensive struggle, the Giants added a right fielder. This season, they did the same thing.
Last season, that newly acquired right fielder started by going 2 for 17 for the Giants. This season, the new right fielder did the same thing.
Last season, that right fielder got his first multi-hit game in his fifth game with the Giants. This season, the new right fielder did the same thing.
We hope that’s where the comparison ends.
On Sunday, Hunter Pence, acquired in a trade with the Phillies last week, went 2 for 5 with two doubles and three RBI in the Giants’ win over the Rockies.
Last season, it took Carlos Beltran 21 games before he got his first multi-extra base hit game, and 21 games before he got his first three-RBI game. It also took Beltran 11 games before the Giants won three games with him in the lineup.
Pence accomplished all those things in just his fifth game with the Giants.
It helped the Giants complete their first three-game sweep of a road series this season behind another solid outing from Tim Lincecum.
Lincecum labored through a 36-pitch first inning, but only allowed one run. He finished with a quality start, allowing just the one run on five hits and five walks (yech) in an 104-pitch outing.
The Giants scored 35 runs in the series. Angel Pagan went 0 for 4 with a walk Sunday to prevent the Giants from having every starting position player get at least one hit in each of three games.
Hopefully this series will allow the Giants hitters build enough confidence to help them when they move to St. Louis for a key four-game series. It’s a key series because these Rockies now head to Los Angeles for a series against the Dodgers.
The Giants’ three-game swept did not gain them any room between them and the Dodgers, who swept the Cubs at home. The Giants’ lead remains a half-game.
But the Giants are now 4-1 in Lincecum starts since the All-Star Break, after going 4-14 in his starts before the break. He has a 2.48 ERA since the break.
Now, it’s time to get Matt Cain some runs. The Giants lost in Cain’s last two starts, mostly a product of poor run support (nothing new for Cain). Cain will face Jake Westbrook on Monday in the opener in St. Louis.
MoreSplashHits tweeted, rather tongue-in-check, that since Hunter Pence joined the game, the San Francisco Giants have averaged better than seven runs a game.
That has a lot more to do with weak Colorado Rockies pitchers than anything Pence has done.
Pence is 2 for 17 since joining the Giants. For what it’s worth, Carlos Beltran also went 2 for 17 to start his tenure with the Giants last season.
But Pence has produce a positive contribution. With Pence hitting in the No. 5 hole, it made it easier for manager Bruce Bochy to put Angel Pagan back in the leadoff spot.
It’s clear now that the best Giants outfield is Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence. So if that’s the case, who is the best leadoff option?
Marco Scutaro, who started there on Thursday? Hardly.
It’s Pagan. And in this series in Colorado, Pagan has responded.
Pagan went 4 for 6 with two runs, three RBI, a home run and a stolen base in Saturday’s win over the Rockies. This followed Friday’s game when he went 3 for 4 with four runs and two walks.
That makes him 7 for 10 with two walks in two games in his return to the leadoff spot.
The big question now is whether this is a Colorado-aided offensive spurt and the start of something big for Pagan.
We all know how hot Pagan can get. His 21-game hitting streak earlier this year is evidence of that. But we’ve also seen the flip side to that streaky side.
But the Giants have put up 27 runs in two games with Pagan at the top of the order. We’ll gladly take that as long as we can get it.
And it might not have happened if the Giants hadn’t added Hunter Pence.
For the second game in a row, the Giants have pounded out double-digit runs and hits. But again, the Giants have received a lot of help from the Rockies.
Wilin Rosario, a catcher by trade, was inserted into the game at third base — a byproduct of having only four position players on their bench. In the eighth inning, the move may have cost the Rockies four runs.
After Brandon Belt led of the inning with a double, Pagan singled to left. Carlos Gonzalez appeared to have a shot at throwing Belt out at the plate until Rosario cut off the throw. Rosario then made it worse by trying to throw a relay home, which sailed wide and allowed Pagan to take second.
Then Pagan very unwisely attempted to steal third. He might have been thrown out except Rosario caught the ball but whiffed on the tag.
Then Ryan Theriot hit a ball down the third-base line that Rosario was unable to glove. It was a play a normal third baseman likely makes.
That led to a four-run eighth.
But if Rosario doesn’t cut off CarGo’s throw, actually tags Pagan and gloves Theriot’s grounder, that would have added up to three outs and no runs.
The Giants will go for the sweep with Tim Lincecum on the mound. Lincecum will face Travis Chatwood, who will be called up from Double-A to fill the spot of Christian Friedrich, who was placed on the DL.