No, not the Huey Lewis & The News variety*, but rather the awesome Gigantes throwdown that happened today at the Home Opener. Did you see what Cainer did today? Didja? It was one hit away from a Perfect Game. At the home opener. Wow. What that means is this: Matt Cain pitched a game just one toss shy of <perfect> meaning that, as a pitcher, your goal is to prevent any batter from reaching base. Strikeout, Groundout, Flyout, it's all good. And the truth is, as a pitcher, it's all about deceiving your opponent into thinking you're gonna throw the pitch you're not about to throw. And Cainer DEALT. What we mean is, he was basically unhittable. Which is exactly what you want from your $127mil pitcher, at his best. And he was at his best, just a hair's breadth short of legendary awesomeness, if not for the fact that the opposing pitcher (the other pitcher?! Really?!) got a lousy hit. One bad pitch. Fair enough. But the point here is that we all make mistakes. Sure, we dropped a tre to the D-Bags, but we all stumble out of the gate from time to time. What matters is how you pick yourself back up and move on. Cainer. MadBum. The Z-Man, for shucks sake. Timmy. A good friend of mine said that this lousy start is the universe giving us a karmic comeuppance for all those years of excellent pitching and terrible offense. And we responded with the gem of a verbal retort that Los Gigantes right now are like a guy with a head injury (and a nasty case of amnesia) that can't quite remember who he is, but he's slowly coming out of his foggy haze, and gradually remembering that he's a pitcher that OWNS and that his team behind him puts up just enough runs to summon a victory. Cus that's who we are. Torture. And let's not even start about the Rockies with their seventeen runs on twenty-two hits. Brutal. But at the end of the day, it was just a blip on the radar. Long story short, it's a long season and memories are unrelenting. And we feel like this is gonna be a good one. Really looking forward to this season. And, of course, looking forward to the rest of this weekend, for that matter. Goin on out to Willie Mays Field Tomorrow, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. And it will be awesome. Sweet Lord, we do love us some baseball. :-)
*great album, by the way. I mean, who doesn't want a new drug that makes you feel like you're in love? Perhaps there will be more to come in a future post about the sweet songs of Mr. Lewis. Perhaps. In the meantime, Arsenal has been kickin ass and takin names, and more on that in future posts as well. As one season winds down, the other ramps up....
OH, YEAH!! It's finally here, and Boy Howdy, are we excited. Today's Game at 4:00 is in Arizona against the Diamondbacks (commonly, and around these parts, derogatorily referred to as "The Snakes") with Tim Lincecum facing Ian Kennedy. Two world class pitchers going head-to-head: that's Baseball
, Baby! Last year, Kennedy owned the Giants
with a 3-0 record in five starts. The Snakes swept us in the final series of the season in September, thereby clinching a playoff berth and knocking Los Gigantes
out of the the race to the post-season. Booooooo! Timmy and Ian know each other very, very well. Not only are they both the respective no. 1 starters for their teams, but they were the no. 1 aces on their collegiate pitching staffs (Timmy for UW in Seattle and Ian for USC) and faced each other virtually every time their schools met in the Pac-10. So there's history, and we've got a strong motivation for revenge today, and it's starting to become a serious rivalry in the NL West between these two powerful teams. The Snakes have excellent pitching, as Kennedy sits atop a rotation that includes co-ace Daniel Hudson, and they recently added former Bay Area pitching star Trevor Cahill in a trade with the A's in the offseason. They've also fortified their Bullpen, so they look to be an even stronger team than last year. But not stronger than The Giants! No sir. Our rotation looks even better, with Timmy, Madison Bumgarner, and Matt Cain, each able to match the Snakes pitch for pitch, then Ryan Vogelsong (who had a breakout year in 2011, posting a 2.71 ERA and making the All-Star team) and (-cough-) Barry Zito as the anchor man. We've improved our hitting by adding Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera in the outfield, Posey's healthy again, plus Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt are in the Opening Day Line-up today (two young players who have the potential to impact the team and the league in a tremendously positive way.) So we here at The Pitch & The Diamond are literally trembling with excitement at the thought of watching the game... WE. CAN'T. WAIT. Is it 4:00 yet? Is it?! And so it is written. The Giants Starting Line-up today will be thus:Lincecum on the mound, Posey behind the dish, Belt at 1st, Theriot at 2nd, Crawford at SS, Pablo at 3rd, Huff in LF, Pagan in CF, and Cabrera in RF. So we weren't too far off in our predictions a week ago, and since Burriss cooled off this last week and Theriot has hit relatively well against Kennedy in the past, the 2B choice makes sense (.333, 3 for 9 vs. Kennedy lifetime.) Belt at 1B is most excellent and encouraging; Schierholtz made the roster, but a lackluster Spring Training doomed him to the bench, so Huff goes into the outfield and Pagan & Cabrera shift over. But the most exciting development is that Hector Sanchez, who began last year in Single A Ball in San Jose and shot up through the ranks to play in the Bigs, is now our de facto back up catcher. Fantastic. Whiteside was sent down to the minors, and Stewart was traded to the Yankees. Che sera sera. We did not see that coming: Totally unexpected, but oh-so-welcome, and yes, it was definitely the right choice. The truth is, the Giants desperately needed to switch things up from last year, when we over-relied on disappointing veterans and never really got things going at the plate. It looks like there's been a seismic shift in the attitude and approach of our manager, Bruce Bochy, in that he's trusting in the potential of our supremely talented youngsters, and it bodes well for the future. Because, at some point, when things aren't quite working out, you've gotta switch it up and try something new. Play-off Baseball, here we come!!!
Finally, This is from Andrew Baggarly, who used to be the S.J. Mercury News Giants beat writer, and now broadcasts and writes for CSN-Bay Area. He had a blog last year that was excellent, called Extra Baggs, and now blogs for CSN-BA... click here to read his stuff. It's very informative, lots of insider and breaking news, and he's a clever, insightful, and humorous writer as well. Check out these "Snapshot Profiles" of the team that he wrote a couple of days ago to get a overview of who's who.
TIM LINCECUM – Strikeouts were down and walks were up last season; now he’s pitching to contact and scrapping his slider.
MADISON BUMGARNER – Ended up with 13-13 record after 0-6 start; determined to get out of the gate faster this time.
MATT CAIN – Earned his $112.5 million extension through consistency. He’s one of four pitchers with at least 20 quality starts in each of last four seasons.
RYAN VOGELSONG – Last year’s rotation ERA leader will begin on the DL, but stuff appears to be there and strained back has improved.
BARRY ZITO – There are 46 million reasons he’s still around, and they all have George Washington’s face on them.
BRIAN WILSON – Throwing 95 mph in the spring, but his strained elbow will be watched carefully all season.
SANTIAGO CASILLA – Wicked stuff, hard fastball and bat-splintering curve make him an asset in late innings. He gets a little squirrelly in the ninth, though.
JEREMY AFFELDT – He has a scud curveball, keeps the ball in the park and is effective against right-handers, too.
JAVIER LOPEZ – Giants spent big bucks so this sidewinder could neutralize lefties for two more seasons.
SERGIO ROMO – Wildly effective strike thrower as long as his elbow isn’t barking. That’s when his famously Frisbee-esque slider tends to flatten out.
GUILLERMO MOTA – He has a rubber arm and knows how to use it – especially on the days that Zito pitches.
CLAY HENSLEY – A favorite of Bruce Bochy, he has the ability to work multiple innings and take the ball whenever needed.
DAN OTERO – Graduated from Duke University in three years. This 27-year-old rookie has smarts on the mound, too.
BUSTER POSEY – Looked great at the plate and behind it this spring. Catcher’s mask? Check. Chest protector? Check. Shinguards? Check. Halo? Check.
HECTOR SANCHEZ – He’s a switch hitter with power from both sides, so he’ll be handy to have on the bench and will boost lineup on days Posey plays first base.
BRANDON BELT – A patient and dangerous hitter, he’s not a finished product. But Bruce Bochy must give him the chance to make adjustments against big league pitching.
RYAN THERIOT – No longer a defensive dynamo, but he knows how to work a tough at-bat late in games.
BRANDON CRAWFORD – The Giants’ first homegrown opening-day shortstop since Royce Clayton in 1996 (non-Bocock category).
PABLO SANDOVAL – He was seventh in NL MVP balloting in 2009. With corrected vision in left eye and a full season, he might finish higher this year.
EMMANUEL BURRISS – Hasn’t hit nearly enough to warrant being an everyday player; most likely to contribute in super-utility role.
AUBREY HUFF – It’ll be a water buffalo, not a giraffe, in left field. He won’t hang onto everyday playing time if he hits .240 again, though.
MELKY CABRERA – Balanced switch-hitter might not achieve 200 hits again, but he’ll be motivated entering his walk year.
ANGEL PAGAN – Slow starter lived up to his reputation with a brutal spring. Like Cabrera, he’s motivated as he gets set for free agency.
NATE SCHIERHOLTZ – Lost the right field job with an uninspiring spring. Must reestablish himself.
BRETT PILL – Great “happy to be here” attitude and a powerful right-handed swing make him a good fit on this club.
GREGOR BLANCO – Non-roster invitee was the surprise of the spring. He’s an on-base wizard who could be the everyday leadoff hitter before long.