Thursday, May 16, 2013

2 Out Hits and Misses (May)

Buster Posey hits the game winning HR on May 3. Photo: Ben Margot, Associated Press

The baseball season has hit the quarter mark. The San Francisco Giants currently sit half a game up on the Arizona Diamondbacks. After 40 games their record stands at 23-17. That's a winning percentage of .575. This is a pace that wins 90 games. That's good for a ball club that has had some ups and downs.

We all know what just happened in Toronto. The Giants got creamed. Nothing worked. Thankfully it was only 2 games. They did just have a 7-3 home stand before the debacle in Canada. The last 3 games against Atlanta were especially well played by the Giants. They performed against a good opponent at a high level. Pretty much every aspect of the ball club was working.

I have to personally take a mea culpa on Marco Scutaro. I know he can be streaky and get hot, but I feared he got cold just as easily. I had him written off as a bench player. The contract he signed was just looking all sorts of scary. Then he got healthy and is on a tear. Since April 29, in a 6-4 win over the DBacks, Scuatro has hit in 14 straight games. 

During the current hit streak Marco is batting a cool ..482. That's 27 hits in 56 at bats. He's not squeaking by with a hit a game either. Scoots has 10 multi hit games during the streak. Yesterday in Toronto was the first time he didn't get a hit until his last at bat. The man is all sorts of locked in. He's hitting for power a little too with 5 doubles, 2 triples, and a home run during the streak. 

Ok, enough about how wrong I can be. On to thoughts about the rest of the ball club.


2 Out Hits

Matt Cain has shown that he can work through problems. His last two starts are what we have come to expect after watching him all these years. Against the Dodgers on May 5 at AT&T Cain went 7.1 innings and allowed 1 run. Against Atlanta he went 8 strong only allowing a 2 run home run to Brian McCann. Combined that's 58 batters faced, 11 strikeouts, 17 ground balls, 25 fly balls, and 5 walks. Minus the walks that's regular old Matt Cain.

The hitting has been better than expected this season. The calling card of the Giants was always great pitching, but the bats have carried them at times. Heading in to the showdown at Coors this weekend the Rockies and Giants are tied for the NL lead in batting average at .267. At 4.58 runs a game the Giants rank 4th in the NL. The little things are being done as well. The Giants are first in the NL with 22 sacrifice bunts and tied for 3rd in sacrifice flies with 14. They manage to score runs and still rank 9th out of 15 teams in home runs. Hitting can be contagious, and the Giants have shown that at times this season.

Buster Posey is right where Giants fans like to see him. He was locked in on the last homestand and seems to have shaken any rust. During those 10 games Buster batted .364. It all started with a walk off home run on that Friday against the Dodgers. During the home stand Posey hit 2 home runs, drove in 9 runners, and scored 8 times himself. He's really starting to drive the ball to gaps a little more. It's a good sign that Buster isn't rolling over on the ball and grounding out all the time. He has started going with the pitch and swing through the baseball.


2 Out Misses

The Giants have played some ugly defense this season. It snowballs too. One guy seems to get a brain lock and then others follow suit. Crawford has committed 3 errors in 166 chances and every one was because he was aggressive. He trusts himself, that's cool with me. The concern is Pagan and Scutaro. Marco has 6 errors in 160 chances and Pagan has 3 in 83. With the Giants pitching staff the middle of the field defense needs to shore up. These are mistakes that cost teams playoff series.

The road has not been a friend to the Giants this season. Heading into tonight's match up against Colorado the Giants are 8-10 on the road. They have been outscored 95-82. There wasn't enough offense in Milwaukee, got swept in close games by the Padres, and they got blown out of the building in Toronto. San Diego is familiar, that will happen. But what's up with performing so badly in foreign ballparks? Hopefully Coors will balance this out a little.

Angel Pagan has not been hitting like a lead off man lately. I know generally the Giants batting stats are good right now, but Pagan has been inconsistent at the top. Gregor Blanco might be the better choice to lead off. He has the same amount of walks as Angel in 52 fewer plate appearances. Blanco's got a higher batting average and on base percentage as well. I know last year sparked when Pagan took the lead off role, but it may be time to consider other options. A .315 on base percentage doesn't cut it.


Down The Line

By jumping out to a good start the Giants have positioned themselves for what should be the roughest stretch of the schedule. Between May 31 and July 4 the boys only play at home 9 times. The other 22 games are on the road. They have two long road trips coming up. First its 9 games in Arizona, Pittsburgh, and Atlanta. Later they have 3 in LA, 3 in Colorado and 4 in Cincinnatti. There's 2 games at home against Toronto sprinkled in so the Giants can try to get some revenge. Get used to the color gray everybody.

Eric Nathanson
@2outhits on Twitter

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