The Giants came up with a very respectable series split in St. Louis to finish their road trip 5-2. Madison Bumgarner got penned for the loss today despite a very solid outing, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk with seven strikeouts over the course of six innings. The third run came after a blown call when Jon Jay was called safe when stealing third. The replays showed that Joaquin Arias got the tag down on Jay a good four inches before he reached the base but the umpire’s view was obscured by Arias and Allen Craig followed up with a sacrifice fly to score Jay. The final score was 3-1 as the Giants failed to cash in on a several opportunities throughout the game. They didn’t look quite as fierce at the plate as they have been as of late but I find no reason to be concerned. Adam Wainwright did a good job of mixing in his off speed pitches as he went through the Giants lineup for the second and third times before going to the fastball late in the count and it didn’t appear like any of the Gyros hitters were able to get a good reading of him. Since the Dodgers have the day off, they picked up a half game on the Giants and now only reside a game out of the lead with each team slated to play 50 more games.
Jon Jay was almost a sure thing with a single for the Cardinals this series, going 10 for 15 and raising his BA from .284 to .308 in the process. However, only one of Jay’s hits was for extra bases—a double off of Bumgarner which set up the opportunity for the controversial call at third today—and the Gyros were able to limit him to two runs during the series.
Games like this always make me wish I was somehow given the power to spread a few runs around throughout a series. The Giants won with 14 to spare last night, laying the bat heavy on the Cardinals while Ryan Vogelsong gave a lights out performance. Hunter Pence produced two big RBIs in his first two at bats when the game was still in question and Marco Scutaro came up with his third career grand salami in the top of the 9th to shore up the win and help the Giants beat the spread by 16.5 runs.
Bruce Bochy’s new left handed toy, Jose Mijares, came into the game in the bottom of the 9th and although he allowed two base runners, he got out of the inning clean and finished off the shutout. The Giants picked up the Venezuelan born Mijares off of the waivers from Kansas City and put right handed reliever, Shane Loux, on the DL to free up a space on the 25 man roster. This gives the Giants bull pen three solid lefties along with Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez. Lopez is more of a leftie specialist while Affeldt and right hander Brad Penny are probably the closet things the bull pen has to a long reliever although I wouldn’t want to see either of those guy pitch more than two innings. From what I can put together about Mijares, he sort of falls between Lopez’s left hander dominance and Affeldt’s ability to take over for several innings if need be. This leads me to imagine that Mijares will be the third leftie off of the bench but it still adds depth to the bullpen and gives Bochy the ability to play his favorite, three card monte-esque game of matching up pitchers against batters in the later innings.
One thing that I noticed and was particularly impressed by during this road trip was the Giants ability to get their lead off man safely on base to start each inning. In Colorado, the lead off man reached safely 15 times out of 27 innings—.556—and in St. Louis, he reached 13 our of 36 innings—.361—for a grand total of 28 for 63—.444. The Giants also were impressive in the 1st and 9th innings of the games, scoring at least one run in the 1st inning of the first six games they played and scoring in the 9th in four games. First inning runs are important on the road because it allows the starting pitcher to take the mound with the lead which helps to settle some of the pregame jitters.
The Giants are set to face the Rockies again, this time at AT&T Park. Since the All Star break, the Gyros are 4-6 at home—they swept the Triple-A Astros before being swept by the Dodgers and dropping three of four to the Mets after a strong road trip. During the same period, the Giants are 9-4 on the road against some fairly contentious teams.
Tim Lincecum will get things started for the Giants against fellow right hander, Tyler Chatwood. The 22 year old starter had a decent outing by Rockies standards against the Giants on August 5, giving up one earned run on two hits and four walks in 3.1 innings pitched. His ERA sits at 6.61 and his WHIP is at 1.96 so the Giants would do well to continue their offensive trend of getting the lead off man on base and scoring early, especially since the Rockies have an awkward four man starting rotation and they cap their starters at or around 75 pitches. Hopefully, I’ll be able to wish you a Happy Lincecum Day tomorrow and the troubled right hander will be able to pick up his third straight win and quality start. One thing that has gotten overlooked during his rough season is that Lincecum has still been able to register strikeouts, racking up 139 Ks which puts him in the top ten in the National League. Lincecum’s post All Star break ERA is currently at 2.48 so I strongly feel like I’ll be writing a post in the coming weeks entitled “How Timmy Got His Groove Back.” With a guy like Lincecum, the mental game plays so much into how he pitches and it’s been clear that he’s over thought his delivery and pitch selection. I think it’s just a matter of getting comfortable with his velocity and his battery mate and he’ll find himself in the League’s elite pitching corps again.
A lovely thing to note is that the Dodgers lost their series against the Rockies, winning only one of three. The Dodgers were completely blanked on Tuesday night which has to be embarrassing when the Giants put up 35 runs against the same team. In the last week and a half, the Dodgers have done away with a lot of the older guys that had kept them competitive while Matt Kemp was out on two extended trips to the disabled list—Tony Gywnn Jr. and Bobby Abreu were designated for assignment and Juan Uribe was dropped down to the Minor Leagues-. The hired guns that they’ve brought in have been fairly productive but they just weren’t able to get it done against the Rockies at home for whatever reason.
This weekend the Dodgers will face off against the Marlins on the road for Hanley Rameriz’s home coming and the floundering Diamondbacks will head home to face the Nationals after today’s series finale in Pittsburgh—they currently lead 6-3 in the top of the 8th and if they hold on, they will sit four games behind the Giants.