You’ll have to forgive me if much of what follows is bleary and nonsensical, but I was up until 2AM watching the Giants out-Met the Mets last night.
But the week that was did have some other high- and lowlights, so let’s get right to it. No-hitters! Batting out-of-order! All-Star snubs! Oh my.
The Week That Was
Oakland Athletics 5-2 (Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds as of July 9: 81.5%)
It’s no accident that Kenny Powers’ Charros also wear green and gold.
The A’s have a payroll of $62 million and nobody with any sense even picked them to make the playoffs. America! /Stomper high-fives the Pirate Parrot, whose team has a payroll of $67 million and the best record in baseball.
The A’s won both series this week, taking two of three from the Cubs and the Royals. By all rights they should have swept Kansas City on the road, but they ended up giving away the second game on a series of errors and untimely walks n’ hits.
Last night they opened a series against the first-place Pirates (you read that right, no need to adjust your set) and Bartolo Colon, the A’s lone All-Star representative, lulled the Bucs hitters to sleep with a spell of pinpoint command. All hail the Fat Wizard!
Meanwhile Grant Balfour, possibly this year’s most egregious All-Star snub, notched his 41st-straight save (dating back to 2012), tying a team record held by Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley. Balfour didn’t even make the Final Vote, which includes five setup guys. Seriously, Jim Leyland? I mean, come on, I watch a lot of baseball and I’ve never even heard of this “Steve Delabar” guy.
San Francisco Giants – 1-5 (Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds as of 7/9: 6.7%)
This cat represents Buster Posey; the slide, the other 24 guys on the team.
The high point of the Giants’ week was a rain-out. That’s probably the only reason they avoided a four-game sweep at the hands of a resurgent Reds team; they ended up only losing three instead, including being no-hit by Homer Bailey. Then the Giants came back home and promptly dropped two of three to the hated Dodgers.
If they had hoped to get right against the Mets, well, that didn’t start out so well. They slugged it out against Matt Harvey, the Mets stud starter, but were held scoreless for 9 innings by a middling Mets ‘pen. Giants hitters went 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position and stranded 18 baserunners through 16 innings.
I’m sure it’s happened plenty, but I can’t remember the last time I witnessed a lineup-wide slump of this magnitude. NO ONE outside of Buster Posey is hitting. OK, maybe Marco Scutaro a little, when he’s not dealing with nagging injuries. But Belt, Crawford, Pence, Sandoval … none of these guys are contributing at the plate. It’s bound to regress, but it sure is painful to watch.
Lots of guys — most, maybe — are playing through pain at this point in the season, but the Giants seem to lose a different guy to injury every day. Joaquin Arias underwent an appendectomy on Sunday, further thinning an already sparse infield.
One thing last night’s loss pointed out was that San Francisco desperately needs outfield help: Torres and Blanco each played a hard-hit ball into a triple. So what does Brian Sabean do? Goes out and acquires Jeff Freaking Francoeur. Every two years, Sabean makes a terrible-looking move that ends up paying huge dividends; unfortunately for him and Frenchy, this is his off-year. I expect to file this move alongside the Orlando Cabrera acquisition and not in the Series MVP file (cf.: Scutaro, Marco and Ross, Cody).
The Leader In The Clubhouse
NEWS FLASH: IT’S NOT THE GIANTS. (Hint: It’s the A’s.)
With the Giants signing Francoeur and Los Angeles picking up Ricky Nolasco for next to nothing, one could argue that San Francisco has already lost the trade deadline. Nolasco would have slotted nicely into a rotation decimated by injury and ineffectiveness, but instead he’ll be pitching every fifth day for the Bums.
Are there more moves to make? Are the Giants buyers or sellers? They’re six games out — hardly an insurmountable lead — but at this point it genuinely feels like they may never win again.
Meanwhile, Oakland continues to play with house money. It was supposed to be the Rangers and the Angels in a dogfight for the AL West, but the Angels never got out of the gate. The Rangers are playing well, having won six of their last 10, but it’s almost like the A’s are just trolling Texas, matching them win for win (or better; Oakland has actually won seven of their last 10). The A’s rotation is like a hydra: trade away one starter, and three more spring up to take his place. It’s freakish. Do they grow these guys in a lab in Stockton or something? Remind me to check next time I go down there.
Line Score Of The Week
OAK – Grant Balfour. 41 consecutive saves. Balfour has converted all 23 save opportunities this season and his last 41 dating back to last season. Shortening the game is one of the keys to going deep into the playoffs, and having a lights-out closer does that. In years past I might have expected Beane to trade Balfour — you can get a fantastic return on a “proven closer” — but I fully expect Balfour to be closing games for Oakland in October.
Runner-up: Josh Donaldson, for his entire first half.On Saturday Donaldson hit his 15th homer and notched his 100th hit. Pick your favorite composite offensive metric — OPS, OPS+, wOBA, TAv — Donaldson is among the league leaders in all of ‘em. If I actually cared about the All-Star Game, I’d be irate that he wasn’t selected.
SF - A tale of two lines from last night’s game. Buster Posey: 5-for-8, 0BB, 1HR, 2 2B. Win Probability Added: 0.384. Posey knocked in two of the Giants three runs with his first-inning homer vs. Matt Harvey. San Francisco would get just one more run in the ensuing 17 innings on a Brandon Crawford single in the 7th.
Brandon Belt: 0-for-8, 0BB, 5K’s. Win Probability Added: -0.424. The weird thing about Belt’s line is that he hit two balls extremely hard off of Harvey, just missing a home run to dead center in his first AB. But then he proceeded to strike out five times in his next six at-bats. It was almost physically painful to watch.
AL & NL West Standings Update
SFG: 40-47. We’re number four! We’re number four! We’re better than the Padres!
OAK: 53-37. Billy Beane: It’s not that hard to be in first place. Tell him, Wash.
Ron Washington: It’s incredibly hard.
Headline Of The Week
Rock bottom for the SF Giants? Nowhere in sight after 11-inning loss, By Henry Schulman
CSN Bay Area’s resident troll, Ray Ratto, is on vacation this week, so we are sadly deprived of his takes on the no-hitter and the batting-out-of-order fiascoes. Instead we have to made do with Hank Schulman’s account of events. No “Fire Joe Morgan”-style takedown of Shulman here; I’m just going to call out some of the more germane, interesting, and/or depressing bits.
As the Giants are learning, the search for rock bottom can be elusive. Homer Bailey’s no-hitter was not their final indignity Tuesday night. As they were licking their wounds, they fell into last place in the National League West when the Dodgers won.
Bochy had nothing to say to his batters after Bailey’s no-hitter.
“We’ve talked, we’ve met. That’s done,” Bochy said. “This is the time you hope they say ‘enough is enough’ and come out of this.”
The Giants failed for the 14th consecutive game to score in the first inning despite putting two runner aboard, starting with a bloop double by Abreu for the team’s first hit in 11 innings.
For the eighth time in nine games on the trip, the Giants allowed the first run when Zito hit Bruce to start the second inning, Todd Frazier singled and Heisey hit a sacrifice fly.
The Giants’ futility reached the stage of ridiculousness in the third inning when Phillips purposely let a Hunter Pence popup fall after the infield fly rule was called, then got a double play when he threw out Buster Posey trying to advance from first base.
Quotes Of The Week
Bruce Bochy on his team batting out of order and having a run wiped away in the first inning of Saturday’s game:
“At that point, I just said, ‘What else?’ You feel horrible. … There’s not a worse feeling. At that point, you’re going, ‘Geez, what’s going on?’ We’ve had a lot of things happen, and now that.”
Grant Balfour on not being selected to the All-Star Game:
“I’m definitely disappointed, to be honest, but what am I going to do about it? There are a lot of great pitchers out there. … If it’s not good enough to be perfect, I don’t know what else…. but it’s not my choice. If it was my choice, I’d go.”
DERP Of The Week: Josh Donaldson
These All-Stars also deliver in the DERP Department (DERPartment?)
MadBum’s Freaky FFFFFFFFF Face. Reminder: If you strike out Yasiel Puig thrice, you can make whatever face you want!
From wikipedia: “In physics, a wave is a disturbance or oscillation that travels through space and matter, accompanied by a transfer of energy. Wave motion transfers energy from one point to another, often with no permanent displacement of the particles of the medium—that is, with little or no associated mass transport. Also, Bartolo Colon is fat.”
Fake Facts about the Bay Area Baseball Managers
This week’s Fake Facts™!
Bruce Bochy has stated on numerous occasions that he intends to “tank” the All-Star game. With the Giants’ playoff odds now down into single digits, and his beloved Padres even less likely to make the postseason, Bochy says he “doesn’t give a shit” about winning the All-Star Game and securing home field advantage for the NL. Why else would he not want Yasiel Puig on his team??
Bob Melvin has forbade A.J. Griffin from cutting his hair! Griffin would like nothing more than to cut his hair, but his skipper won’t let him until he records his 10th win. “It’s really hot,” Griffin told reporters, “and distracting. I can see it out of the corner of my eye when I’m pitching and sometimes it startles me. But [Melvin] thinks it’s good motivation.” Melvin used a similar tactic when he managed Ryan Roberts in Arizona, whom he forced to get a tattoo every time he made a fielding error.
Who Controls The Future
If the Giants are going to get well, this is when they need to do it. Last night’s 16-inning loss might have been a gut-punch, but they still get to face the ineffectual Mets for two more games, then travel to San Diego for four. They can’t depend on the Dbacks to continue to struggle as well, and the Dodgers have momentum and Ricky Nolasco on their side. Of course, the Giants have God and Jeff Francoeur on theirs, so I’d say they still have a shot.
For the Athletics, it’s pretty much the opposite: going into the All-Star break, they’ll continue their set against the astounding Pirates in Pittsburgh and then have the Red Sox in for three — facing the only two teams with better records than their own. A 3-3 week would be a plenty good result, I would think, but the way they’re playing now, I could see them winning both series handily.
Enjoy your All-Star break, and go local sports squadron!