The Giants went 1-5 last week, leaving them 13-12 for the season, 3rd in the NL West , 2 games behind the Rockies and Diamondbacks.
- Monday: Giants 5, Diamondbacks 4. WP: Romo (1-1); HR: Posey (2).
- Tuesday: Diamondbacks 6, Giants 4 (11). LP: Casilla (2-2); HR: Belt (1).
- Wednesday: Diamondbacks 3, Giants 2. LP: Gaudin (0-1); Crawford (4).
- Friday: Padres 2, Giants 1. LP: Lincecum (2-1).
- Saturday: Padres 8, Giants 7 (12). LP: Romo (1-2). HR: Crawford (5).
- Sunday: Padres 6, Giants 4. LP: Vogelsong (1-2). HR: Posey (3).
Normally, coming into the week on a five-game losing streak, we’d be glad to have Matt Cain on the mound. He’s the stopper. But the Giants haven’t won a game in which Cain has started since Game 4 of the World Series. That makes five straight losses in Cain starts for the Giants, even though Cain is only 0-2 himself. And what has been biting Cain? The long ball. So having him start at Arizona’s Chase Field won’t make any fans feel any better. The Giants placed reliever Jose Mijares on the bereavement list after the death of his grandmother. Sandy Rosario was called up from Fresno, but may not be with the big club long as Jeremy Affledt is due off the DL some time this week.
GIANTS AT DIAMONDBACKS (15-10)
- Monday: Giants (Cain 0-2) at Diamondbacks (Kennedy 1-2), 6:40 p.m.
- Tuesday: Giants (Bumgarner 3-0) at Diamondbacks (Cahill 1-3), 6:40 p.m.
- Wednesday: Giants (Lincecum 2-1) at Diamondbacks (McCarthy 0-3), 6:40 p.m
The Giants lost two of three to Arizona last week, and the key to the losses for the Giants was failing to produce offense early in the game. The first two games included comebacks from deficits of 4-2 and 4-0 after the seventh inning. … The Giants went 4-5 at Chase Field last season, but won 4 of their last 5 games there after dropping the first four. … Each team will send only one pitcher in this series who pitched in last week’s series in San Francisco. Both fared well and pitched in the same game. Arizona’s Ian Kennedy went 6 innings, giving up 1 run on 4 hits with 4 strikeouts. Bumgarner went 7.1 innings, giving up one run on five hits with 7 strikeouts. … By missing Patrick Corbin and Wade Miley, the Giants miss Arizona’s two best pitchers by ERA. They meet Brandon McCarthy, who has struggled to a 7.48 ERA. Trevor Cahill is 1-3, but sports a nice 3.00 ERA. … It might not make you feel better about Cain pitching, but he’s 8-4 with a 4.13 ERA at Chase Field. … Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt is a Giant killer (7 HR, 23 RBI, .310 in 30 games). He’s particularly good against Giants pitchers who names rhyme with Wincecum (5 HR, 10 RBI, .588).
DODGERS (12-12) at GIANTS
- Friday: Dodgers (Kershaw 3-2) at Giants (Zito 3-1), 7:10 p.m.
- Saturday: Dodgers (Lilly 0-0) at Giants (Vogelsong 1-3), 6:05 p.m. MLB Network
- Sunday: Dodgers (Ryu 2-1) at Giants (Cain 0-2), 5 p.m. ESPN
The Giants took 2 of 3 in Los Angeles to open the season. … The Dodgers are expected to get SS Hanley Ramirez back in the lineup this week after suffering a hand injury during the World Baseball Classic. … The projected starters for the Dodgers is based on the notion that they’ll use their off day Thursday to skip their No. 5 starter. If they don’t, rookie Matt Magill will get the Friday start. But with Chris Capuano due back from the DL early next week, they’ll likely just skip the No. 5 spot. … If that’s true, the Giants will face Clayton Kershaw on Friday. Kershaw has enjoyed more success against the Giants than any other team. He’s 9-4 with a 1.28 ERA in 17 starts against the Giants. … It’s a good thing that Barry Zito is slated to face Kershaw on Friday. Zito has not allowed a run at home in three starts this season. He’s averaged 7 innings in all three home starts, yet has only throw 6.1 combined innings in his two road starts. … The Dodgers broke camp with 8 starting pitchers. But they have since traded Aaron Harang and lost Zach Greinke, Chad Billingsley and Chris Capuano to the DL.
For all the moves the Dodgers made, all the big-money contracts they have under their payroll, the only player the Dodgers needed Monday was they haven’t paid … YET.
Clayton Kershaw was on his game Monday, and that left the Giants with only one hope: try to keep the game scoreless until Kershaw exited.
But it didn’t look good when Kershaw needed only 85 pitches to get through eight innings. It looked even worse when Kershaw came out to hit for himself to lead off the eighth, meaning the Dodgers’ ace would be hanging around for another inning or two.
It was over when Kershaw launched George Kontos‘ first pitch of the eighth inning over the center-field fence for his first career home run.
Everything that happened after Kershaw’s blast was completely inconsequential. Sabermetricians will tell you otherwise, but some stats are completely meaningless.
The only stats you need to be worried about are Kershaw’s: 9 IP, 4 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 7 Ks on 94 pitches. The Giants only got one runner to second, and none to third.
So the Giants, a team that was not shut out until June last season, suffered a shutout in their first game of 2013.
Here are some other notes:
- Matt Cain looked good in his first start. He was every bit as good as Kershaw, except for a first inning in which he labored to escape after putting two runners on with no outs. He exited after 93 pitches and six shutout innings, four hits allowed, one walk and eight strikeouts.
- Marco Scutaro went 0-for-4, snapping a 20-game hitting streak he ended the 2012 season with.
- Pablo Sandoval went 2 for 4 and was one of four Giants starters who didn’t strike out against Kerhaw (Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence and Andres Torres the others).
- Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford were each 0 for 3 with two strikeouts. Neither lefty had a chance against Kershaw.
- The two loudest balls hits off Kershaw came off the bat of Pence, who flied out to deep center and deep left for outs.
There’s no point trying to make conclusions from this game. It belonged to Kershaw.
Losing on Opening Day for a third consecutive season stinks, but let’s move on to game 2 of 162.
Remember, the Giants opened the 2012 season 0-3 and 1-4, and still won the World Series. The Dodgers started 3-0 and 9-1 in 2012 and missed the postseason.
In other words, it’s a long season.
Opening day is finally here. And the Giants begin Week 1 of the 2013 against two familiar rivals — the hated Dodgers and the Cardinals, who the Giants beat for the NL pennant in 2012. It marks the fourth consecutive opening day the Giants have played on the road: 2010 at Houston (win), 2011 at LA (loss) and 2012 at Arizona (loss). Week 1 will feature five games on national TV.
GIANTS AT DODGERS
- Monday: Giants (Matt Cain) at Los Angeles Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw), 1:10 p.m., ESPN
- Tuesday: Giants (Madison Bumgarner) at Dodgers (Hyun-Jin Ryu), 7:10 p.m., MLB
- Wednesday: Giants (Tim Lincecum) at Dodgers (Josh Beckett, 7:10 p.m., ESPN2
The Giants won the season series 10-8 from the Dodgers in 2012, winning 5 of 9 at home and 5 of 9 at the Ravine. … The Dodgers won the last series of 2012, the final three games of the regular season when the Giants’ lone win eliminated the Dodgers from postseason contention. … Prior to the series, the Giants won 5 of 6 vs. LA. … This is the 10th time the Giants and Dodgers have opened the season against each other since both teams moved West in 1958. The Giants have gone 6-4; the Dodgers have won the last two (2011, 2008, both in LA). … The Dodgers’ South Korean signing Hyun-Jin Ryu will make his big-league debut on Tuesday. … Giants 2B Marco Scutaro will open the 2013 with a 20-game hitting streak to end 2012 still intact. … Scutaro will be the sixth different opening day second baseman for the Giants in the past six seasons: Ray Durham, Emmanuel Burriss, Juan Uribe, Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Theriot. … Pablo Sandoval will make his fifth consecutive opening day start at third base, the longest such streak at one position for the Giants since Ray Durham started six straight at 2B from 2003-2008.
CARDINALS at GIANTS
- Friday: St. Louis Cardinals (Jake Westbrook) at Giants (Barry Zito), 1:35 p.m., MLB
- Saturday: Cardinals (Shelby Miller) at Giants (Ryan Vogelsong), 1:05 p.m., FOX
- Sunday: Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) at Giants (Cain), 1:05 p.m.
The Giants and Cardinals went 3-3 vs. each other last season, splitting two games in SF and four in StL. … The Giants beat the Cardinals in seven games in the National League Championship Series last fall. … The three pitchers the Giants will send out in this series and the same three pitchers San Francisco started in Games 5, 6 and 7 (all wins) of the NLCS — Zito, Vogelsong and Cain. … The Cardinals were the opponent when the Giants made their home opener in 2011 after their 2010 World Series win. … The Giants won the last 11 regular season starts made by Zito, last 14 starts overall (including postseason). When did the streak begin? Aug. 7 at St. Louis, a 4-2 Giants win.
Another tie for the Giants. But that’s not what fans cared about from Tuesday’s game with the Dodgers.
All they wanted to know about was one guy: Tim Lincecum.
Lincecum, in his spring debut, gave up three runs on four hits in 1 1/3 innings.
Maybe not the results that some fans were hoping for. But it’s important to note that Lincecum rarely shines in the spring. He uses that time to get his complicated mechanics in order.
In six springs with the Giants, Lincecum has had ERAs of 6.43, 4.50, 4.03, 6.94, 4.37 and 5.70.
So while the three runs allowed may not excite you, the key stat is bases on balls: 0. However, it should be noted that Lincecum went to full counts on four of the eight batters he faced.
Lincecum got Skip Schumaker to ground to second, but an error by Kensuke Tanaka allowed Schumaker to reach. Hanley Ramirez then popped to second. Adrian Gonzalez singled to right with Schumaker taking third. The inning ended with strike-him-out/throw-him-out double play with Andre Ethier at the plate and Gonzalez thrown out at second.
In the second Juan Uribe flied to center. Mark Ellis and A.J. Ellis hit back-to-back singles before Jeremy Moore doubled them both home for a 2-0 lead. That ended Lincecum’s day. Steve Edlefsen relieved and had a rougher time that Lincecum, allowing Moore to score for Lincecum’s third charged run, then allowing two more runs to scoring, giving up two hits and three walks.
“It’s a good sign when you feel the ball’s coming out of your hand better than the year before,” Lincecum told CSNBayArea.com.
Well, we’ve heard that before. Lincecum threw 22 of 38 pitches for strikes. His off-speed pitches had good movement, but most didn’t stay in the strike zone.
“There wasn’t that question if my body would be ready or if my mechanics would be working,” Lincecum said. “All that other stuff was a non-issue. The timing of my arm felt really good. I missed a few pitches high, but I meant to.
“I didn’t feel I was getting out of whack.”
Lincecum spent the winter working on core and leg strength, and he said he felt the benefits of that work on Tuesday.
“Last spring it was trying to make something out of nothing,” Lincecum said. “I didn’t have the strength or the mechanics to sustain anything. Now the question isn’t whether I’m going to throw strikes. It’s where I’m going to throw strikes.”
- Brandon Belt‘s two-run double in the fourth helped the Giants rally from 5-0 to 5-4 in the sixth.
- Reliever Ramon Ramirez, hoping to earn a job in the bullpen, was less than impressive in the sixth, giving up three runs on two hits and a walk.
- Brett Pill, trying to earn a bench job, went 2 for 5 with a pair of home runs, including the game-tying blast in the top of the ninth to complete a four-run inning. He also struck out twice. Not too surprising. Pill hits fastballs, and pitchers throw a lot of fastballs in the spring. During the season, they’ll throw to the scouting report. And when facing Pill, that means a lot of off-speed stuff.
- Roger Kieschnick, another outfielder trying to make the team, went 2 for 3 with a double, run and strikeout.
- Infielder Brock Bond hit a two-run homer in the ninth. The Giants, after going homerless in their first three games, belted three against L.A.
Magic number: 17
Entering Sunday night’s game, the Giants were still nursing the soreness of missing an opportunity to really stick it to the Dodgers, wasting a solid outing from Matt Cain on Saturday.
Then they had Barry Zito going up against Clayton Kershaw. So the odds of the Dodgers leaving town with a 3.5-game deficit were looking good.
Then the Dodgers announced that Kershaw was nursing a sore hip, and they decided to stick with Joe Blanton in his regular turn in the rotation, giving Kershaw two more days to make his regular turn Tuesday in Arizona.
That was the first bit of good news.
With Blanton on the mound, the Giants struck early with Hunter Pence delivering a two-out, two-run double in the first. Angel Pagan’s triple led to a third run, and Buster Posey’s 20th home run of the season made it 4-0.
Then Zito did what he’s done a number of times this season — he shut down a contending team.
Zito shut out the Dodgers before leaving with two on and one out in the seventh.
Santiago Casilla pitched out of that jam. Jose Mijares, Guillermo Mota, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo finished out the shutout.
It was the fourth time this season the Giants have shut out the Dodgers. To make that sweeter, the win was the rubber match for games at AT&T Park for the rivals. The Giants won 5 of 9.
The Giants have 22 games left. The Dodgers have 21. We were incorrect in any earlier post in saying the Dodgers now head to Washington and Cincinnati. That trip will come in another week. Now the Dodgers head to Arizona for two-game before a brief four-game homestand against the Cardinals.
Now if the Giants finish the season 11-11, the Dodgers’ hope of winning NL West ends with their sixth loss. Done at 15-6.
Those are long odds for a team that is 6-9 since their blockbuster trade that was supposed to put them over the top. Long odds for a team that still has 13 games left against playoff contenders. Long odd for a team whose ace has a sore hip, whose No. 2 pitcher is done for the year, whose closer’s status is uncertain, whose best player has a sore shoulder.
It might be to stop looking back at the Dodgers and start looking up at the Reds and National. See if they can’t catch those guys and secure some home cooking in October.
First things first. Let’s beat the Rockies on Monday, extend Colorado’s five-game skid and officially eliminate the Rockies from the NL West race. And it would be nice to get Ryan Vogelsong right.
NL West lead: 5.5
Magic number: 19
How many times have we talked about this: The Giants’ struggles with a runner on third and less than two outs.
Last year, it was a bigger issue when the Giants had one of the most anemic offensive seasons in history. How many times last year did we see a Giant strikeout when the situation calls for contact, contact of any kind.
This year, it’s been a different story. The Giants are hitting .375 with a runner on third and less than two outs. That number not only represents the number of clutch hits the Giants have delivered this season, but it’s also impacted by the Giants’ league-high 53 sacrifice flies. If you added those 53 outs to the Giants’ 267 at-bats with a runner on third with less than two outs (sacrifice flies are not counted as at-bats), their average drops to .313.
But there is an oddity in the numbers. The Giants have hit .287 with runners on second and third (regardless of outs). But that number drops to .210 with the bases loaded.
So when the Giants put runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the seventh on Friday, it was an easy decision to walk Angel Pagan to load the bases, setting up a force at every base.
But it also brought up Marco Scutaro. Scutaro may be the one Giant that fans loved to see up in that situation.
To put it simply, Scutaro has been clutch. Scutaro has hit .273 with runners in scoring position. But if you put a runner on third, his numbers take off.
He’s hit .357 with the bases loaded, and he’s hit a whopping .444 with a runner on third with less than two outs.
And here’s another stat: In 37 plate appearances with a runner on third and less than two outs this season, Scutaro has struck out ZERO TIMES.
That’s because Scutaro makes contact on 94 percent of strikes thrown to him.
The Dodgers can hoot and holler about all the bats they’ve added this season — Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, Adrian Gonzalez — but no midseason acquisition has been bigger than the Giants’ addition of Scutaro.
Get this: In 95 games with the Colorado Rockies — playing the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — Scutaro hit 4 HRs, 30 RBI and batted .271. In 39 games with the Giants — playing the least hitter-friendly park in baseball — Scutaro has 2 HRs, 26 RBI and a .331 average.
So then it was no surprise when Scutaro smacked a tiebreaking two-run single to right with the bases loaded in the seventh, sending the Giants to a 5-2 win over the Dodgers.
CSNBayArea’s Andrew Baggarly suggested, given that the Giants will have a vacancy at second base in 2013, that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Scutaro sign a two-year deal with the Giants in the offseason.
Even if he will by 37 in 2013, that doesn’t sound too bad to us.
Orange Friday. Freaky Freaky. Beat LA.
Those are the thoughts that will be on most Giants fans’ minds as the Giants open against the new (but necessarily improved) Dodgers Friday at AT&T Park.
And as always, it’s a big series. Both teams enter the series coming off back-to-back losses. In fact, the last three times the Giants have lost, the Dodgers have failed to gain ground, keeping the Giants’ lead in the NL West locked in at 4.5 games for the past week.
Clearly, there will be movement in the standings this weekend.
If the Dodgers sweep (and the last three series between the rivals have been sweeps), the Giants’ lead will be down to 1.5 games with a magic number to clinch the NL West holding at 21.
If the Dodgers win 2 of 3, the Giants’ lead will be 3.5 games with a magic number of 19.
If the Giants win 2 of 3, the Giants’ lead will be 5.5 games with a magic number of 17.
And if the Giants sweep (now there’s a pleasant thought), their lead would be 7.5 games with a magic number of 15.
So the Giants’ primary objection this weekend should be clear — don’t get swept.
That’s because the numbers tell us that time and the schedule are on the Giants’ side.
Friday’s game marks the first of a nine-game road trip for the Dodgers against all three NL division leaders: the Giants, Nationals and Reds. After the Dodgers get home from that trip, they get a four-game series at home against the wild card-contending Cardinals.
Meanwhile, the Giants will play 10 games against the Rockies, Diamondbacks and Rockies (seven games against the last-place Rockies).
Here’s another way to look at it:
The Giants have 25 games left — all but six against teams currently with a losing record (the three this weekend with LA and the last three in LA). If the Giants go 13-12, they will clinch the NL West if the Dodgers go 16-8 or worse. That’s a .667 winning percentage in 24 games in which 16 are against teams with winning records.
Here’s a look at the three games this week:
Friday, 7:15 p.m. MLB Network
Josh Beckett vs. Tim Lincecum
It’s a matchup of two one-time aces who have struggled this season. Lincecum is 8-14 with 5.21 ERA. But since the All-Star break, he’s been better — 5-4 with 3.26 ERA. Beckett is 6-12 with 5.03 ERA. As much as Giants fans were hoping Beckett’s move to the NL wouldn’t help his situation, early indications are that they have. He is 1-1 with 2.93 ERA in 12.1 innings with the Dodgers.
Saturday, 1:10 p.m. FOX
Chris Capuano vs. Matt Cain
If there’s a game in this three-game set that Giants fans are most confident of, it’s this one with Cain on the mound. Cain is 13-5 with 2.98 ERA. Cain has hit some bumps in the second half of the season, including his five-run-in-five-IP outing against the Cubs last Sunday. But before that, he had gone at least 7 innings and allowed no more than two runs in each of his previous four starts. And he has thrown quality starts in each of his past four home starts. Capuano (11-10, 3.63 ERA) had all-star caliber numbers in the first half of the season, but then they started to taper off. Capuano has gone 2-6 with a 4.78 ERA since the break
Sunday, 5:05 p.m., ESPN
Clayton Kershaw vs. Barry Zito
The Dodgers, realizing how important this series is, will skip Joe Blanton’s turn in the rotation to utilitze Thursday’s day off to throw Kershaw on his normal rest. The Giants will throw Barry Zito. In his tenure with the Giants, manager Bruce Bochy has NEVER liked to monkey with his rotation, and we can’t remember a time when he did skip someone who wasn’t hurt. Of course, the alternative would be to move Zito back one day, and move up Ryan Vogelsong, pitching him on normal rest. But Vogelsong hasn’t been exactly sharp recently. Still, most Giants fans would be more comfortable with Vogelsong on the mound than Zito. But Zito has surprised us before. His last five quality starts have come against playoff contenders. In his seven other starts, five came against non-contenders (if you want to count the Diamondbacks as non-contenders, and we do).