June 29, 2012 Update: Madison Bumgarner threw in his two cents last night with a 5-0 shutout of the first-place Cincinnati Reds carrying a no-no into the 6th inning. An incredible run of 4 shutouts in a row — all over first place teams. I’ve never seen anything like this before and probably neither have you.
Now its Matt Cain’s turn on the bump tonight. He only threw a perfect game 10 days ago. Baseball is weird though. If Cain gives up 2-3 runs early, it wouldn’t surprise nor would it be cause for alarm. Thats the way baseball works over a long season. Ups and downs, ins and outs, highs, and lows, good stuff, bad stuff, it comes and it goes, good days and bad.
June 27, 20012
The last time the Giants won two Lincecum starts in a row was back in April. The first in New York against the Mets, he threw seven innings of a 6-1 victory. The second, five days later at home against the Padres, a 2-1 effort. And following that (Tim is back! proclamations notwithstanding) a whole string of losses and embarrassing outings until June 22.
Yesterday, the Dodgers were swept out of town without scoring a run in 3 days. Lincecum pitched seven innings, striking out 8 walking 2. Five days earlier, June 22, he started the game by allowing the first 6 Oakland A’s to reach base and the first 3 to score. From that point forward, he allowed 2 walks and was otherwise perfect.
Back Or No?
Is he back? Nobody knows. Could be. In spite of his difficulties, he sill leads the club in K/9 and has a better strike-out to walk ratio than Ryan Vogelsong, himself a rock-steady all-star. It could be he will be really bad next time. Could be he will be in-between, not great, not bad, just kinda quality startish. Nobody knows. You take the good with the bad and prepare for the next game. Everybody looks confident when in the middle of a shutdown streak.
Basking or brooding is for the off-season, the immediacy of tomorrow precludes otherwise. If he keeps it going, and the Giants continue to put the kind of pitching pressure on they’ve exhibited over the past several days, nothing but good can happen.
Best Part – And A Little Speculation
Three consecutive shutouts from the No 4, No. 5 and Black-Hole in the rotation against the team with the best record in the National League coming in. The possibilities are mind-boggling, even if they are unrealistic. Zito is still too flaky to be considered consistent. An 83 mph fastball and a 1.26 K/BB ratio is a recipe for disaster at worst, and inconsistency at best, not long term success. His presence, in spite of occasional success, is still like a stale fart in a pair of bicycle knickers; annoying, silly and somewhat nauseating.
Having said that, A rotation that includes 4 guys who can routinely throw shutouts and hold opponents to under 3 runs and strike out more than twice as many as they walk, makes a series against the Giants not fun. Polish those starts off with Romo’s unhittable slider and Casilla’s 95 mph fastball that comes out of nowhere and it can make an opposing team talk to itself.
Atlanta Brave opponents faced this dilemma for years when they featured Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and through the years, Steve Avery/Denny Neagle/Kevin Millwood and more.
The Braves won 14 consecutive AL East titles from 1991 to 2005. Could the Giants go on a run like this? Afterall, the Braves were notoriously weak hitting, even though they played most of those years at Fulton County Stadium, the "launching pad". It could happen. Hell, its baseball, anything can, will and usually does happen.
Coming into the series against the Dodgers, the Giants had won only one series against a team with a winning record and lost five series to the rest, feasting on teams like the A’s, Padres, Dbacks, Rockies, Cubs, Astros etc.
Starting with the Dodgers this week, the Giants were and are scheduled to play 13 games against the 3 division leaders and the 2nd place Pittsburgh Pirates. I speculated that the Giants would have to win 7 of those games to establish themselves as non-posers. July and August is when the posers begin to drop out. The posers being those teams who are winning with smoke and mirrors, no key injuries, and fortuitous scheduling.
They are off to the best start of this thirteen-game run possible, having swept the Dodgers. The Reds have handled the Giants the last season and half, going 7-2 since 2011. Four games between tonight and Sunday will be loaded with a lot of anticipation and not some small amount of rivalry as Dusty Baker, holder of the best managerial record in San Francisco history brings in the Reds for four consecutive games.