Monday, May 23, 2011


Revenge of the 10-Year-Old, A's-Hating Paulie

The Giants swept their Bay Area counterparts in three games this weekend, with all games pitchers duels, and two walk off victories. This means that the A's have lost nine in a row in San Francisco, which some could interpret as symbolic of how the Giants are dominating the Bay Area in all aspects these days. If you will allow me a brief moment of missing tact...

Hahahaha, A's! Sweep! Defending World Champs! Sweep! No ballpark! Crowds of 5,000 nightly! We own San Jose! Kevin Kouzmanoff! HAHAHAHAHA...

Ahem. Sorry about that. I'm sure that little bout of schadenfreude will come back to bite me in the ass next month when the Giants roll into the Oakland Coliseum and stumble around for three games, as they have a tendency to do. You see, when I was a young baseball fan growing up in plastic cleats and stirrups, I just hated the A's. Nowadays, I don't care about them that much, and I even root for them often, but when the Giants play them and beat them, some of the old A's-hater in me rears his ugly head.

The Giants were lucky enough this weekend to run into a team with an offense crummier than theirs. The Giants haven't been doing much hitting, but the A's make their lineup look like the 1982 Brewers. Oakland's starting first baseman is slugging .285. .285! Daric Barton is bound to hit for a little more power as the year goes on, but that kind of anemia is typical of basically the entire A's lineup. Their three big offensive additions, Josh Willingham, Hideki Matsui, and David Dejesus, have all been busts so far. It's little wonder that Tim Lincecum cut a swath through their lineup while barely breaking a sweat.

As for the Giants, they've been winning despite their offensive ineptitude, but I doubt they can stay on top of the NL West if they can't get the bats going. They have a shiny 27 wins now, but their Pythagorean record is a less impressive 23-23. That isn't surprising given that every single win has seemingly come in the ninth inning on a bloop single or a Colby Rasmus Little League mishap.

The disparity in actual record to Pythag record is due mainly to the fact that the Giants have won a ton of one-run games this season. Yes, I realize that some of that is due to the good pitching and the solid bullpen work so far, but most of it is due to plain old dumb luck. Take the Oakland series. If a few breaks went the A's way instead of the Giants, then the good guys could easily have lost two of three. Like if perhaps Grant Balfour had decided to not throw a challenge fastball right in Nate Schierholtz's wheelhouse.

All of the walk off wins are fun (the Giants have won a ridiculous seven games in walk off fashion), but a team can't sustain success like this, I'm sorry. At some point you have to score some damn runs and win games like normal people. When is Panda coming back? Argh!

--How unlikely was Schierholtz's game-tying homer yesterday? For starters, it was only the thirteenth of his career. Secondly, it was off of a guy who barely gives up any home runs at all (26 in 295 career innings for Balfour). Lastly and most amazingly, it was the first time Schierholtz had actually hit one out of Mays Field since his first career home run. That's right, coming into the game, all but two of Schierholtz's career homers came on the road, and one of those hit in San Francisco was an inside-the-parker. Schierholtz hadn't hit one over the Mays Field wall since doing it in 2008, making yesterday's dramatic home run even more unlikely and awesome.

--Ryan Vogelsong started on Friday and pitched well. Again. We're roughly a month into his improbable comeback and I can't believe I'm stringing those words together. Bad memories of Ryan Sadowski fly like evil spirits at a seance, but Vogelsong has yet to falter. Where once he was simply a punchline to dangle in front of weeping Pirates fans, now Vogelsong has charged in to the rotation like a bull and is challenging Bruce Bochy to make some very tough decisions once Barry Zito is healthy.

So is The Vog for real? No clue. Not a whit. Chris Quick at Bay City Ball gives it a go at explaining Vogelsong's sudden success, but it appears even Pitchf/x may be baffled. Perhaps this is just one for the X-Files crowd, a  mystery for those who like to obsess over Cold War conspiracies involving the Russians and a spaceship full of deformed children. Some things just can't be comprehended by man. Next thing you know, we'll see a 32-year-old career minor leaguer suddenly blossom into an All-Star-caliber center fielder and become a key cog on a Giants World Champsionship team. Hey, wait a minute...

--Not to pile on the A's here, but closer Brian Fuentes, who was tagged with the loss in Friday night's thriller, now has an insane seven losses. He's a reliever. And it's May. That ain't good. Oh, and now he's bitching, too. This could get very interesting.

--Darren Ford needs to hit enough to have a career, only so we fans can be endlessly entertained by the tracks of fire that follow him when he motors around the basepaths. That is all.

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