Saturday, February 28, 2009

Giants (4) at Mariners (6)

The Giants lost again today running their record to 1-3. This was a back-and-forth game with the lead changing hands 3 times. Barry Zito pitched about as well as I have seen him pitch during Spring Training. The only qualifier is that I thought he got a couple of pretty generous calls from the home plate umpire. The only real disappointment of the day was Alex Hinshaw. This is another pitcher I had hoped would be a big help this year. He couldn't get out of his inning and was hit hard pretty much anytime he came in over the plate. Ronnie Ray and Joey Martinez also gave up runs, but they are not expected to contribute this year, so I am not so bothered by their performance.

The offense was pretty good, but you should probably score more than 4 runs when you get 10 hits with a HR and 4 doubles. Fred Lewis got his first HR of the spring. If you look at the photo below, you can see the HR ball leaving his bat. Kevin Frandsen manufactured a run when he got yet another basehit, induced the pitcher to balk him to 2B, took 3B on a flyball out and scored on a 2 out basehit by Pablo Sandoval. Kevin is now hitting .800 for the spring.

Also below I included a photo of Tyler Walker. Is it just me or did Tyler finally lose some weight? Watch him have a great year this year for Seattle.

Not a bad game to watch...but at 1-3, the Giants are starting down the same road they traveled last spring when it became hard to even watch the games. Hopefully they can do better tomorrow at home against the Brewers.

Today's Rotation

Dodger Game 2-26-09

Since I wasn't able to comment on the horrific 16-7 loss to the Dodger due to technical difficulties........just a couple of belated thoughts.

I know a lot of folks were down on Pat Misch because of his poor performance on the day (4 hits, 2 walks and 5 ER in only 2/3 inning), but to me.......this was another case of "What was management thinking?". Timmy Lincecum throws only 18 pitches on Wednesday. In this game a big horse like Matt Cain throws only 1 2/3 innings. OK......they are being overprotective of the arms because it is still early.....I get that. Yet Pat Misch, who just threw 2 full innings in the intra-squad game on thrown out there to stink this game up. When they brought Misch out of the pen to finish off Cain's inning, my thinking was.......OK.....since the pitch count limited Cain to less than 2 innings, they are bringing Misch out for 1 batter just to finish the inning off and not mess up the day's planned rotation. Misch accomplished this task and I thought he was out of the game. But Giants management saw fit to bring him out to begin the 3rd inning........and he got killed.

Remember, Misch threw 2 full innings of 1 hit shutout ball in the practice game on Tuesday. Now they bring him back to pitch parts of 2 innings on Thursday? Since when does a pitcher throw in 4 innings, in a 48 hour period this early in the spring. It's spring, I don't mind losing games (although losing this badly to the Dodgers does cause some minor amount of pain)........but come on.....What were they thinking?

I was more disappointed in Jeremy Affeldt's performance (5 hits, 4 ER in 1 inning). I really haven't seen much from Affeldt so far. At least he didn't have the control problems he had last time I saw him pitch live BP. It's early, so I'm not too worried......but I have been a little disappointed in what I have seen so far from Jeremy.

The other bad pitching performance was by Sergio Romo who gave up 6 runs (although 3 were unearned thanks to a Ryan Rohlinger error at 3B). Despite the error, Romo was just too darn hittable......and that was not against the Dodger's regulars. I am hoping that Romo is a big part of this years bullpen. reason to panic....but still a little worrisome.

The good news is that the hitting was good enough to win most games. But some pretty poor pitching performances, from guys who the Giants are counting on this year, was less than encouraging.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Giants vs Royals

Randy Johnson made his first spring start for the Giants today. He pitched pretty well but had some problems with his control that led to the only run he allowed. Most of the Giants pitchers looked good with the exception of Ramon Ortiz, who showed us how he managed to have an ERA of almost 6 in the Japanese League last year.

The Giants played only 3 starters. Bengie Molina started at catcher and Edgar Renteria started at SS. Both were gone from the game after 2 innings. Since Emmanuel Burriss and Kevin Frandsen played half of the game each at 2B, I considered that to be the third regular.

The hitting was pretty much non-existent as the Giants managed only 5 hits. No player had more than 1 hit, and only Molina (double) and Frandsen (HR) managed extra base hits.

In other news.....Scottsdale Stadium was as empty as I can remember since the stadium was rebuilt in 1992. The attendance was only 5,300+ and everything other than Upper and Lower Box seats were pretty much empty. It will be interesting to see what the coming weeks bring when it comes to Cactus League attendance. Looks to me like the economy is definitely hitting the Valley of the Sun.

Randy Johnson got his first start as a Giant. After a 1-2-3 first inning, Johnson gave up a run in the 2nd because of wildness. A single, a hit batsman and a wild pitch led to the Royals' first run. In all honesty....Bengie Molina did not do a great job of blocking the wild pitch. This continues to be a weak area in Molina's game.

In the background is Rich Aurilia. Rich went 0 for 1 with a walk. Doesn't he look 10 years younger when he shaves off that mustache and gotee?

Jonathan Sanchez followed Johnson and should have had a scoreless 3 innings. He gave up 3 hits, including a triple. One of the hits was tainted, when Eugenio Velez lost a high flyball in the sun and let it fall untouched for a single. The sun is horrible in LF in early Spring Training, so I don't fault Velez for losing the ball. BUT.....the ball was in the air for a long time and I am pretty sure CF Andres Torres could have come over and made the play. Unfortunately, Velez made no indication he was having trouble with the ball until the last second. All of us, including Torres, thought sure Velez had it all the way. Sanchez also had 4 strikeouts. and no walks......really a good performance. I for one am sorry he will be leaving soon for the WBC.

Ramon Ortiz followed Sanchez and had the only truly bad performance of any Giant pitcher. He threw 1 inning while allowing 3 runs on a walk and 2 hits including a HR. Even his outs were hard hit. I am done with this experiment.....send him to the Minor League Camp as soon as it opens. Or better yet....send him back to the Japanese Leagues.

Next out of the pen was Jack Taschner. Jack is also frequently afflicted by the wildness bug and today was no different. Jack pitched a hitless inning, but gave up a run on 2 walks and a wild pitch. He also tallied a strikeout. I hate free passes. Taschner could be a good lefty reliever....but those walks are just killers.

Brian Wilson was the 4th Giants pitcher of the day. He pitched 1 scoreless inning while giving up 1 harmless hit. He had no strikeouts or walks. I am always encouraged every time Brian gives up no free passes. Wildness has always been his problem. If he threw his new changeup....I missed it.

Billy Sadler was the last pitcher of the day. Billy is another pitcher who's troubles always start with walks and wildness. He threw a scoreless inning, while allowing 1 single and a hit batsman.

Kevin Frandsen provided the only excitement of the game for the Giants with his 8th inning HR. Although it is not listed in the box score......Kevin also had a walk in his first plate appearance. I am a big Kevin Frandsen fan....hopefully this is his time.

Manny Burriss started the game at SS and got 1 of the Giants 5 hits. Unfortunately, it took him about 2 pitches to get thrown out at 2B while trying to steal. He also made a really nice catch of a shallow popup behind 1B.

In the background is John Bowker, who started in RF. John didn't have the best of days. He was 0 for 3 with 2 strikeouts and 3 men left on base. He just doesn't look anywhere as comfortable at the plate as he did when he first came up to the big leagues last year.

Bengie Molina was one of the few regulars that got a start in this game. He went 1 for 2 with a double.

Andres Torres was another one of the few Giants that got a hit in this game. He went 1 for 3. Only he and Josh Phelps (DH) played the entire game. Which brings up a point. Apparently the Giants are going to again use the DH during Spring Training, even in their own park. I just don't understand why a National League club would do that.

Jackson Williams was the 3rd catcher to be used in the game (following Molina and Eli Whiteside). He got a single in his only AB.

Technical Difficulties

My cable went out just as I was transferring my photos from my camera to my computer. SO I had no internet from about 5 PM last night to just now. The cable guy just left and I am back up now. Luckily he got it done in time for me to leave for today's game. For a while, I was afraid I might have to miss the game waiting for him to show. At any rate......I should have a posting on today's game later on this evening.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Giants at Indians

Today was the very first game ever at Goodyear Ballpark and marked the return of the Cleveland Indians to Arizona. When I first started coming to Spring Training, the Indians played down at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson (as shown in the movie Major League). The Giants gave the Indians a rude welcome back to the Cactus League by beating them 10-7. They were ahead 10-3 at one point, but Alex Hinshaw and Kelvin Pichardo decided to make it a ballgame by giving up 1 run (Hinshaw) in the 7th and 3 runs in the 8th (Pichardo).

The park itself was beautiful and I had great seats, but they have BY FAR the biggest screen (backstop) I have ever seen in my life. The screen extends from the far end of one dugout to the far end of the other dugout. Plus, I had 2 big cables between my line of sight and the pitchers mound. My camera kept focusing on the screen and cables, so more than half of my photos were out of focus and I had to delete them. Therefore, there really is no rhyme or reason to the photos I posted today. For those planning to visit the park, the food was pretty run of the mill and the parking lots are not completed yet. With only 5,000 people in the park today, some people had to park several hundred yards away in dusty dirt lots.

As far as the hitting goes, it was superb, with 11 hits and 5 extra base hits. The hits were spread throughout the lineup, top to bottom, starters and replacements.

The pitching was good overall, except one pitch by Yabu and a very maddening performance by Kelvin Pichardo. Pichardo started the 8th inning. He got 2 quick outs and had a 1-2 count on the 3rd batter he faced. On a 1-2 count, Michael Aubry put the ball over the fence for a solo HR. From that point on, Pichardo gave up single, double, double and could not get out of the inning. He was relieved by Francis Beltran, who added to the suspense by walking the first batter he faced on 5 pitches. Beltran got the next batter out, and limited the damage. Beltran and Jesse English closed out the game for a 10-7 final.

Sorry for the short post....but it is already 7:10 PM here and I have to get the Barbecue going. If I think of something else important, I might edit this post later to add it.

Tim Lincecum started the game and pitched well. I was a little worried that he might be hurt when they took him out after just 1 inning, but I read that his pitch count was 25 and he had 18 in the first so they decided to take him out. Tim gave up a harmless single and struck out 1. I hadn't started counting pitches in the 1st inning so I don't know what Timmy's ball to strike figures were. I thought he was pretty much around the plate. As a matter of fact I was surprised when I read he threw 18 pitches. It didn't seem like that many. It looked like he threw almost exclusively fastballs and they were moving pretty good.

Keiichi Yabu was the 2nd Giant pitcher of the day. He pitched a good first inning, but gave up a 3 run HR in the 2nd to Mark DeRosa. Yabu threw 31 pitches (21 for strikes), but too many of the strikes were hittable in the 2nd inning. I was a little surprised that the starter would only go 18 pitches and the 1st reliever would go 31...but I guess they aren't as interested in protecting Yabu's arm as they are Lincecum's. Yabu walked 1 and did not strike anyone out.

Luis Perdomo was the 4th pitcher of the game. He threw a nice 6th inning, giving up 1 walk and striking out 1. He threw 13 pitches, 8 for strikes.

The offensive star today was Travis Ishikawa. Travis went 3 for 3 with 4 RBI and 2 long HRs. The 1st HR was against a lefthanded pitcher and the 2nd was against a righty. The reason I included the 2nd photo here is to give you an idea of how long his HRs actually were. You would think he would have more trouble againsty the lefty, but Ishikawa's first HR completely cleared the party patio that you see above the RF wall. I am talking over the patio out into the parking lot.....AND it was not a dead pull. Both HRs went over the wall just between the 2 signs you see on the wall. The 2nd HR (off the righty) "only" landed about half way up the party patio. The wind was blowing out to RF and the ball was really carrying, but these HRs would have been out no matter what the conditions. Quite impressive. I think Travis wants a job.

Nate Schierholtz also made a statement by going 1 for 3 with a 2 run HR. His HR was not quite as long as either of Ishikawa's. It was out by plenty, but it was pulled down the line more than Ishikawa's were.

Aaron Rowand was 1 for 3 with a single, a strikeout and left a couple of runners on base. As you can see, he is still using that goofy stance. Bochy batted him 6th in today's lineup. Probably right about where he should be.

The folks at Goodyear Ballpark treated this just like a regular season opening day. Not only were the lineups introduced on the field, but we had a 4 jet fly-over from Luke Airforce Base. These photos give you a little bit of an idea about the vision obstruction I was dealing with. I have never been to a park where the screen extended all the way to the far end of both dugouts.

What Are They Watching?

Just a short note before taking off for today's game. I really don't know what the professional sports writers are watching. BOTH Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle and Andy Baggarly of the Mercury News reported that Travis Ishikawa made the nice diving stop of Conor Gillaspie's smash down the 1B line. Not only did Ishikawa not play the field at all (he was a DH) he WAS ON THE SAME TEAM, 2 spots lower in the lineup, as Gillaspie and was in the dugout during Gillaspie's AB. It was Scott McClain that made the play. Only Chris Haft of got it right.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Intra-Squad Game

First off....I'm sure everyone remembers the guy to the left. I don't know if he was here earlier and I just missed him, but this was the first time I have seen Robb Nen this spring.

Today was the first (and only) intra-squad game of the spring. It was nice to see a little baseball played without batting cages and protective screens strewn throughout the infield. Today's game was a crisp 4 1/2 inning affair with the home team winning 1-0 on the strength of a Andres Torres solo HR.

The home team batting order was: Andres Torres CF, Emmanuel Burriss 2B, Conor Gillaspie 3B, Josh Phelps 1B, Travis Ishikawa DH, Jesus Guzman LF, Matt Downs RF, Jackson Williams C, and Brian Bocock SS. The pitchers were: Randy Johnson, Joey Martinez and Pat Misch.

The visiting team batting order was: Dave Roberts LF, Kevin Frandsen 2B, John Bowker RF, Scott McClain 1B, Eugenio Velez CF, Buster Posey C, Ryan Rohlinger 3B, Jake Wald SS and Steve Holm DH. The pitchers were: Barry Zito, Henry Sosa and Waldis Joaquin.

It was a well played game featuring good pitching, mostly good defense and not a whole lot of hitting. The one defensive exception was Manny Burriss who picked up right were he left off in the Arizona Fall League with 2 errors in 5 chances. The first was a hard hit ball to his right by Kevin Frandsen. Burriss made a nice play to backhand the ball, then with all the time in the world, pulled Phelps off the bag with a bad throw. The second error was an easy ground ball that just went right between his legs. I said during the Fall League that he was making the tough plays and missing the easy ones. That's pretty much the way it was today.

The good defensive plays included Scott McClain making a diving stop on a smash down the 1B line and stealing a double from Conor Gillaspie in the 1st inning. Conor Gillaspie returned the favor in the 3rd when he ranged far to his left, made a diving stop and robbed Scott McClain of a basehit. Brian Bocock made a nice backhand play deep in the hole and showed off his rocket of an arm by throwing an absolute pea to 1B.

Offensively, the only run was a solo HR, off of Henry Sosa, by Minor League free agent outfielder Andres Torres. Other than the HR, the home team got 2 singles by Travis Ishikawa and 1 each from Burriss and Jackson Williams. After Burriss' single, he was erased on a caught stealing by Buster Posey. Make no mistake......Buster has an arm and he gets rid of the ball quickly. I thought Burris got a really good jump off of Barry Zito, but he was out by 3-4 feet.

The visiting team managed only 2 hits and a couple of walks. The first hit was a 2 out double by Buster Posey. Buster hit a very long drive that one-hopped the wall in the LCF alley. Pretty much exactly the same thing he has been doing since he first stepped in to the batting cage last week. The other hit was a single up the middle by Eugenio Velez. Velez was erased when he ran right into the tag on a DP. Pretty bonehead baserunning, even for Spring Training.

As far as the pitching goes; for the home team, Randy Johnson pitched 2 innings, He threw 22 pitches (11 for strikes), walked 1 and gave up Posey's long double. Of his 6 outs, 5 were from groundballs. A little wild, but not bad for the big lefty. Joseph Martinez pitched an inning, allowing Burriss' first error, a walk and a wild pitch. He threw 22 pitches (only 10 for strikes) and struck out 1. Martinez had control problems from the start, but still managed a no hit, no run inning. Pat Misch threw 2 innings allowing 1 single and striking out 2. He needed 22 pitches to complete his 2 innings (14 strikes). It would have been less, if not for Burriss' 2nd error to lead off the final inning.

For the visitors; Barry Zito pitched 2 innings. He threw 23 pitches (15 for strikes), struck out 1 and allowed 2 singles. Pretty economical performance for Zito. I am used to seeing him throw more than 23 pitches in a single inning. Zito was followed by Henry Sosa. Sosa gave up Torres' solo HR and another single. He had no walks and no strikeouts. He threw 11 pitches (8 strikes) and was helped out by a 4-6-3 DP that emptied the bases right before the HR. The final pitcher was Waldis Joaquin. He allowed a harmless 2 out single and needed only 6 pitches (5 for strikes) to get out of the inning.

All in all this was a well pitched game, with not a lot of hitting......pretty much what you expect from this team. Of course, there were a lot of folks playing that have zero chance of making the big club this year. Buster Posey continues to impress and Travis Ishikawa continues to hit the ball well, as he did last year.

Tomorrow is the first "real" game of the spring, against the Cleveland Indians in their brand new ballpark in Goodyear. The game is at 1:05 PM on the far west side of expect a late posting tomorrow.

On the left is John Bowker after reaching 1B with a walk. Bowker grounded out to 1B in his only other plate appearance. Brian Bocock played good defense, but hit into a double play in his only AB.

On the left is Jesus Guzman. Guzman was 0 for 2 with a routine fly ball and a fielders choice groundball to SS. Conor Gillaspie played some good defense and was robbed of a double on a smash down the 1B line. His other AB was a LONG flyball caught at the wall in RF.

On the left Joseph Martinez threw a no hit, no run inning but threw less than 50% strikes. Waldis Joaquin also threw a scoreless inning but was much more economical throwing 5 out of 6 pitches for strikes.

On the left, Henry Sosa became the losing pitcher when he gave up a solo HR to Andres Torres. Pat Misch pitched 2 innings of no run, 1 hit ball.

On the left, Ryan Rohlinger walked and hit into a 4-3 DP in two plate appearances. Scott McClain was 0 for 2, but had a basehit stolen by Conor Gillaspie.