Tag Archives: San Francisco Giants

Original National League team that relocated from New York City for the 1958 season. They play in AT&T Park.

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2016 Nats vs. SF Giants Q&A with my friend David

Another Q&A? Is it 2011 again?

David (not pictured), who grew up on another court in our Northern Virginia suburb, has been a guest prognosticator in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and 2014.

WFY: The San Francisco Giants are in the first place in the NL West and it’s an even numbered year, so everyone must be planning where to stand on Market Street in late October….wait, WTOP (rather than talk about the team in the city they broadcast from) mentioned they came out of the All-Star break 1-8. What in the name of Jeffrey Leonard is going on in China Basin?

DFS:I have no idea. Up until the All-Star Break, this season has been a lot of fun. It is simply amazing to me how well the team has been doing. They are platooning minor leaguers at three positions–2B, 3B and RF–and their bullpen is unreliable. And yet they are in first place and, at least for a time, had the league’s best record.

WFY: What’s the mood of the fanbase overall? Are they just brushing off the bad start to the second half?

DFS:I think that we’re seeing reversion to the mean. The minor leaguer back-ups are making base running mistakes, reliable defenders are making untimely, random errors, and the team has gone into a hitting slump–particularly Belt. But I think there is a general optimism that people can’t believe that this team has played so well and they can only get better when Hunter Pence and Joe Panik return and, to a lesser extent, Matt Duffy.

WFY: How are these Giants looking compared to the three championship teams of the decade?

DFS:Each of the World Series team were carried by a dominant pitcher. In 2010 it was Lincecum. In 2012 it was Cain. In 2014 it was Bumgarner. This team has both Bumgarner and Cueto pitching very well and at an All-Star level. That gives me confidence. What I worry about is the bullpen. The ’10, ’12 and ’14 teams got tremendous performances out of their bullpen. Affeldt for instance was amazing in multiple series. Romo was fantastic in the ’12 run. The Giants have a few guys (i.e., Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez) that were on all of those team. 6+ years is a tall order for a reliever. There’s no question Casilla is breaking down. The Giants owned the peculiar statistic of having the league’s best record at the same time as leading the league in blown saves.

WFY: Daniel Murphy has carried the Nats with his bat this year, is anybody doing the same for the Giants? How does the rotation stack up compared to years past?

DFS:My answer above could be duped here. But the rotation is not that different from those championship teams. The Giants had the luxury of have a five-man rotation where the fifth man is at least at mildly above replacement level. That’s not true of a lot of teams. Bumgarner and Cueto are aces who I expect to win their starts. Samardjiza is a total wild-card. He’s had good starts and bad starts where he gets shelled. Getting better performances from him down the stretch will be key. Jake Peavy is like Tim Hudson in 2014. Everyone loves him and he’s a good guy. But he is going to tire at the end of the season and his starts tend to end in the 5th inning. Matt Cain is the most veteran member of the team. He’s the only Giant that overlapped with Barry Bonds. He has a heart of a champion and I love to watch him pitch. But sadly the bad outings keep stacking up along with the trips to the injured reserve.

WFY: Is there any other nickname people use for the Giants? I’m find it gets It gets pretty dry writing that every time. Perhaps we ought to use the Bochymen now and then.

DFS:The broadcasters will occasionally call them the G-Men. I worked with a fan who called them the Gyros (and no one else does). Nicknaming tends to be reserved for individual players to the point of being forced.

WFY: Speaking of Bochy, how long does the great big head have left?

DFS:I think he stays as long as he wants and I’m fine with that.

WFY: How is the local beer situation in AT&T Park? In DC, there has been a bit of a retreat with AmBev taking over pouring rights. Also, congratulations, it’s been AT&T Park longer than any other name and since you’ve arrived in town, I think. It’s also the longest streak for a San Francisco ballpark name since 1995. What do fans call it though?

DFS:The beer situation for craft beer people is bleak, but for the average Joe it’s good. The concession stations have all the macro brews. It isn’t like some ball parks where it is Bud and Bud Light only or Coors only. There are a few places where you can get pale ales, IPAs and the like. But I don’t want to drink that stuff at a ball game, so I don’t really pay attention.

Everyone calls it AT&T. A handful of people will occasionally say Pac Bell, but I think that like me intentionally called the Wizards the Bullets because I can.

WFY: Off the diamond, how are fans taking the Warriors losing a 3-1 to Cleveland in the NBA finals? Or is their ambivalence because they are “Golden State?” Aren’t they moving across the bay to a pier some time?

DFS:I read about the “Golden State” thing a few years ago and it was interesting. The owner of the Warriors in the 1970s was trying to extort a stadium out of San Francisco or Oakland. He threatened to leave the Bay Area. Part of that threat was that he scheduled half the upcoming season to be played in San Diego and changed the name to “Golden State”. I think the team ended up playing part of that year’s home games in San Diego. Then a stadium deal got work out and the team became a permanent fixture in Oakland, but they kept the name.

Losing to Cleveland was absolutely devastating to fans. There was a lot of jaded talk about how the league had it in for the Warriors by suspending Draymond Green. I got wrapped up in it a bit, but I’d never do the fanbase the disservice of referring to myself as a real fan. I have a ton of respect for Warrior fans. They have supported that team for years through lean times of bad players and worse management. They would sell out that arena when the team had no hope. And what is their reward? The recently successful team is going to move into a new building in San Francisco that will be super expensive and is not BART-friendly. I think it is awful. It parallels nicely with the end of RFK. Replacing a stadium filled with diverse fans that actually look like people that live in the community near the team who are deeply passionate with a bigger and charmless building occupied by rich people that come to the game late because someone else paid for the ticket.

WFY: Who takes the series and are these two teams headed to the playoffs?

DFS:The Nationals win this series. I’m optimistic that the Giants win the NL West this year. The sooner Pence and Panik get back the closer it will be.

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2014 Washington Nationals: Denouement

Last month, the Washington Nationals of 2014 completed the 4th best season in DC baseball history, but a second division title — they ran away with the National League East still yielded a first round exit. In the NLDS, they faced the San Francisco Giants, winners of the play-in game and lowest seeded team in NL, but eventual world champions. Four games later, the Nats were eliminated, despite strong pitching. Some strange mental errors and an opportunistic Giants squad overtook the Nats for two reasons:

The Nats bats with four days off did not hit. Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper, the two youngest hitters on the team, were able to handle being pitched to low and a way. The rest of the lineup was largely helpless and the manager of the Nats, Matt Williams made no adjustments to the lineup, leaving Harper at 6th throughout the whole series. Questions about that decision-making as well as hitting coach Rick Shu are there to be asked.

Williams decision making has been fairly scrutinized. I don’t mind that he pulled Jordan Zimmermann in Game 2 with two outs in the ninth after yielding a walk. Facing Buster Posey for a fourth time with a tired arm wasn’t ideal. It just didn’t work out that Drew Storen did not get it done.

Game 4 proved to be much more baffling as Williams inserted Aaron Barrett into the 7th inning of an elimination game on the road instead of Tyler Clippard or Drew Storen. Stephen Strasburg, who had a decent Game 1 start, was also available, but my view is the best relievers available were the best choice. Williams never called for them and the Nats fell.

Was Williams management of the NLDS a fireable offense? Probably not, but I’m not saying I’d be disappointed; I could get used to spelling “Weird Wuss” with curly Ws, I think. His peers voted him NL Manager of the Year, perhaps in the way that I would suggest Hunter Strickland needs a larger stage, like closer on an NL East team. The Nats were not ready for playoff baseball, likely in part due to their success in the last month of season where the dominated weak NL East teams in the New York Mets and Miami Marlins. That schedule can’t be helped – it’s just the way it worked out. However, sticking to a lineup that wasn’t producing and sticking to bullpen roles rather than game situations is hardly unique to Williams.

Or maybe it was the red jerseys.

Now, let’s review the roster:

THE LINEUP

Denard Span‘s NLDS was a microcosm of the Nats year — when he hit, they tended to win. When he didn’t, they lost. 2014 was his most productive season, setting a modern DC hits record. Unfortunately, he only hit in game 3.

Anthony Rendon put up superstar numbers, led the NL in runs and played third base well. He also hit in the NLDS, going 7 for 20.

Adam LaRoche had a typical streaky season, but still played 140 games, had a .362 OBP, hit 26 homers and drove in 92 runs. He also hit a walk-off against the Arizona Diamonbacks in extra innings. He is done in D.C. as there will be no spot for him with Ryan Zimmerman headed to 1st.

Jayson Werth had another strong season at the plate (.292/.394/.455), but was useless in the NLDS. Really useless. His defense is starting to slip, so perhaps a move to left is in order. He also drives too fast.

Bryce Harper garnered more controversy than he deserved and miss significant chunks of time, but after he returned he was pretty much the same outstanding player he’s been his whole career. He also hit three homers in the NLDS. When he’s healthy he’s awesome.

Ryan Zimmerman
couldn’t stay healthy, first injuring his thumb and then tearing his hamstring. He’s done playing third base on a regular basis due to his arthritic shoulder and will probably move to first next season. He’s still a great hitter and not playing third may keep him in the lineup, though he got injured on the basepaths. He continues to be a consummate professional.

Ian Desmond strikes out a ton and tends to make more errors than he should, especially early in the season. He’s in a contract year and with no viable second baseman on the roster, he’ll probably be resigned and continue to put up 20-20 numbers for a few more seasons, but strike out a ton.

Wilson Ramos stared the season batting cleanup, couldn’t make it out of the first game without a trip the DL. He only played 88 games and runs very slowly. Aside from the WILLLLLL-SSSSSSON chant, a forgettable year in several respects. It’s still worth mentioning that the Nats traded Matt Capps for him.

Asdrubal Cabrera was solid at second base for the most part after being acquired from Cleveland for the stretch run and even had a decent NLDS compared to other Nats hitters (ejection notwithstanding) but is probably on his way out. A decent acquisition though, if only to keep Danny Espinosa out of the lineup.

THE ROTATION

Stephen Strasburg tried to hard to make a slider work, but in an up and down season still tied for the NL lead in strikeouts, pitched 30 more innings and walked fewer. He gave up more hits, but locked in during the stretch. His postseason debut was okay, but poor defense helped lead to an early departure.

Doug Fister
got traded for Robbie Ray and hero to fans of a certain age Steve Lombardozi. Fister went 16-6 in 25 starts with only 24 walks and no stolen bases. He also won Game 3. Good trade Mike Rizzo.

Jordan Zimmermann had a very strong 2014, earning an All-Star bid, being arguably the Nats best pitcher and throwing the first no-hitter in D.C. since the Hoover administration. He had an unflappable demeanor and came within one out of a complete game shutout in Game 2, but he walked Joe Panik when umpire ___ squeezed the zone a bit and got lifted. So close…2015 will likely be his final year in D.C. as he is a free agent after the season and indications are he’s ready for a change of scenary.

Gio Gonzalez can be an outstanding pitcher when he’s trusting his curve ball. When he isn’t, he runs into trouble. Always known for a high pitch count, Gonzalez has had trouble in three starts over two postseasons and is prone to brutal fielding lapses. He’s signed the longest of anyone in the rotation.

Tanner Roark was the player the Nats got for the Cristain Guzman rental. If he never pitches another game, it was robbery. Thirty-one starts, 2.85 ERA, 15 wins. That’s after going 7-1 in 2013.

THE BULLPEN

Tyler Clippard, while pigeon-holed into the 8th inning with a lead spot, continued to be a reliable, durable reliever. He did not fare well when sent into close, but overall remained the most consistent fireman on the team AND WHY WOULDN’T YOU USE HIM IN AN ELIMINATION GAME, MATT WILLIAMS?

Drew Storen had a bounceback regular season that had him return to closing late, but that is overshadowed by his giving up the tying run in Game 1 and even giving up a run in Game 3. Seemingly, he’s next year’s closer though Clippard should get a shot.

Rafael Soriano had a strong first half as closer, but fell off the table and almost off the roster in the playoffs. He’s not coming back.

Aaron Barret – Joe West broke him. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. He shouldn’t have been brought in late in an elimination game.

Jerry Blevins was great against lefties. And only lefties. Why do I know this and #9 doesn’t?

Craig Stammen had some big long relief appearances and continiued to be solid.

Ross Detwiler did not make the playoff roster and did not have the faith of the management. It’s a far cry from 2012 when he made the best start of the playoffs that year. He’s headed out of town.

There is some discussion that next year will be a last shot with the current core as Zimmermann and Desmond are in the final years of their contracts. I expect Desmond will be signed and Zimmermann will follow the money to a city not too far from a rural area. Span’s option has got to be picked up because he provides value on the field or as a trade piece. Who plays second base is undetermined. Werth is showing his age in right and will be hard pressed to match those numbers again. Maybe switch him and Harper in the outfield. An extension for Fister wouldn’t upset me and I’m okay with dangling Gio out to other teams. THe NL East should be more challenging as the Marlins and Mets are showing signs of ascendency. The Phillies are not a factor and the Braves stayed in it longer than they really should have in 2014. More divisional competition may help the Nats out and keep them sharp too.

It’s been over two weeks since the season ended and I still miss it. We’ve got the hot stove, winter meetings and of course the court figths with the Baltimore Orioles ahead, but that’s just not the same being able to turn on Charlie & Dave and listen to a game 5 nights a week.

It’s 152 days until Opening Day.

HIGHLIGHTS

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NLDS Game 3: Nats 4 SF GIANTS 1

The 2014 Washington Nationals will play for at least one more night. They kept their season alive with a 4-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park, the first game decided by more than one run in the series.

Doug Fister saved the day, making this reaction (Red Porch Report) to his trade all the more funny. Seven innings of shutout baseball. His opposite number, Madison Bumgarner, made a strange decision on a Wilson Ramos two-strike bunt that led to two runs:

It was crazy to listen to on the radio (I was taking my oldest to a Cub Scouts meeting) and weirder to watch later. That’s two games in this series decided largely in part by poor fielding on bunts. Ramos advanced to second too.

Asdrubal Cabrera knocked Ramos in with a double too.

Bryce Harper had a big day in the field and at bat:

This was after the Natmosphere (including me) was convinced Harper was going to be benched yesterday.

Drew Storen couldn’t keep the shutout in the ninth, giving up a run, but still closed the game. Phew.

A great turnaround for the Nats after the 18-inning game that was longer than a flight from San Francisco to Dulles on Saturday night. Tonight’s game is at 9:07 p.m. on FOX Sports 1, 106.7 FM/1500 AM and of course, MLB Audio.

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Game 2: NATS 1 SF Giants 2

The Washington Nationals 18-inning loss to the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night has their season on the brink. Win the next game or go home. In the best case scenario, that happens at least three times.

The Nats were one out away from a 1-0 victory, but Jordan Zimmermann walked Joe Panik on some questionable balls. Matt Williams replaced Zimmermann with closer Drew Storen. It wasn’t a bad decision, it just did not work. Storen gave up two hits, a single to Buster Posey and a double to Pablo Sandoval, not exactly scrubs Posey was thrown out trying to score, setting up the longest game in MLB postseason history. Not wanting a tired Zimmermann to face Posey a fourth time is a reasonable position.

It became fashionable to dump on Nats fans for leaving their seats during the 6:23 long game. Some surely went home, while others went to the concourse. Apparently, in the eyes of some out-of-market baseball scribes, this was a moral failing. The temperatures dropped at least 20 degrees since the beginning of the game and the wind picked up. By 10:00 it was quite cold, even more so if you were in the exposed upper deck dealing with the heavy winds.

The game was literally longer than a flight from San Francisco to D.C.:

Maybe the older writers just miss their annual treks to rue Sainte-Catherine in Montreal. I hear it isn’t what it was though.

The Nats primary problem, having given up 5 runs (4 earned) over 27 innings pretty clear — they aren’t hitting. Bryce Harper had two hits in game 1. Anthony Redon had 5 hits in game 2. That’s about it. Nothing from the leadoff hitter Denard Span and little from either Jayson Werth or Adam LaRoche. When you don’t get baserunners, the ump show that grants the opposition more strikes on pitches out of the zone is magnified. Not hitting is the problem. That’s why the Nats are on the brink of elimination.

Game 3 is at 5:07 p.m. Doug Fister vs. Madison Bumgarner on MLB Network as well 106.7 FM/1500 AM and MLB Audio.

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