Archive for July, 2009
Lincecum missed a no-hitter by the hair on his heady-head-head. If he gets Gwynn on that 3-2 pitch –slider?– (Chron says it was a change-up) stays in that groove, he's only 8 outs away. He certainly wanted it, was thinking about
it, and was going for it. Oh well. 10-2 at the break, almost certainly gonna be the All Star Game starter…. Can't ask for much more, can we?
Pablo Sandoval made a strong case for being elected to his first All Star Game, belting a grand slam in the fifth inning to lead the Giants past the Marlins. Matt Cain (already All Star Game bound) earned his 10th win, and Brian Wilson, laughably being touted as an All Star candidate himself by Kruk and Kuip last night, barely held on for the save.
I may have been wrong about this team's ability to contend, (currently holding fast to the Wild Card lead, with the second best record in the NL), but I wasn't wrong about the offense. The Giants are 45-37, meaning they are almost exactly halfway through the season. They have scored 342 runs, and allowed 303, so they are on pace to almost exactly match last years 680 runs scored, which means, for all the posturing about how Renteria was gonna make some kind of big difference, as of right now, even with the tremendous season Sandoval is having, we're still gonna score less than 700 runs. (Unless you wanna believe the surge in offense over the last five weeks is a real indicator of a team on the rise. I need a little more convincing, myself).
But the Giants big improvement has obviously been because of the pitching staff. A year ago today, the Giants were 39-50, having score 367 runs and allowed 408. Saving 100 runs in 80 games is unbelievable, really, and is the sole reason the team is contending. Matt Cain has dropped his
ERA over a run per game, in fact, he's allowed 31 runs in 17 starts, as opposed to 91 in 34. That's a big drop. Lincecum has also allowed fewer runs per game, although he was so dominant last year, the improvement is a bit more incremental.
Across the board, however, the pitching staff has shown tremendous improvement. Last season, our starters posted a 4.34 ERA, this year they're at 3.62, best in the league. Our relievers have been even better, posting a stellar 3.33 ERA this year. Last season, they were cover-your-eyes awful, posting a second to last ERA of 4.45. Wow. Having one of your young pitchers post a run per game improvement is terrific. Having your entire group of relievers do so is unbelievable. Kudos to Sabean and Righetti for both the planning and the coaching involved in such a breakthrough.
The combination means the improvement is real. As of today, the team has seen a 80 runs differential improvement over last season. The maturation and season long effectiveness of Matt Cain has been terrific, but he's not been the only one. The improvement has been across the board, and allowing 100 fewer runs in a half season is simply outstanding.
UPDATE: I never said the Giants scored 367 runs in 81 games. I compared the teams by date, as in, “a year ago today.” Thanks for reacting instead of paying attention to my point.