Not all may be right in the world of the San Francisco Giants, but here are the facts: The Giants are in first, and the Dodgers are not. Recently (last ten games), everybody except the Dodgers have been playing at least .500 ball. The Diamondbacks are finally stringing some wins together, the Padres just took the same amount of games the Giants did against the Dodgers from the NL East second-place Miami Marlins, and the Rockies are busy either scoring very few runs or are abusing opposing pitchers left and right. The NL West is playing at a competitive level right now, so I guess right now is a good time for the Giants to leave NL West competition to face somebody else (even if they are 17-12 against the NLW). The standings:
Rockies (23-17, 2.0 GB)
Dodgers (20-19, 4.5 GB)
Padres (18-21, 6.5 GB)
Diamondbacks (15-25, 10 GB)
The Giants will be playing thirteen of their next sixteen games at home, and will kick it off with the Braves for a weekday three-gamer and a four-game series with the Marlins. The combined record of those two teams? 41-33! The Marlins feel no pity as they face the Giants and the Dodgers, who combine for a 44-33 record. Speaking of the Marlins, if their pitching rotation continues as scheduled, the Giants, though they play four games against the Marlins, will miss Jose Fernandez. The Marlins, in turn, will miss Madison Bumgarner. A quick peek at the two teams the Giants will square off with this coming week.
Atlanta Braves (21-15, 1st in the NL East)
Wednesday, 12:45 PM: Julio Teheran and Madison Bumgarner
Remember when the Giants swept the Braves in their own Atlanta home, holding them to three runs the whole series and very few appearances from that awful chop chant? That was pretty great. The Braves just did some sweeping of their own, though maybe not as impressive, doing it against the now 12-24 Chicago Cubs, they look to ride that winning streak into AT&T Park and return the favor. Their pitching staff’s 2.91 FIP and 24.6% K% lead the majors and they have plenty of other pitching stats that are Top 5, which is always helpful in making an effort to lead the division. For the season, their bats have been rather lackluster, but over the past week, they’ve seen Freddie Freeman and Chris Johnson‘s offense come back to life a little bit. Keeping Freeman, Justin Upton, and Jason Heyward quiet in this series will be a good starting point to winning another series against Atlanta.
Miami Marlins (20-18, 2nd in the NL East)
Saturday, 6:05 PM: Tom Koehler and Tim Lincecum
Sunday, 1:05 PM: Jacob Turner and Ryan Vogelsong
The Marlins had a four game winning streak off of their series with the Mets, then lost three of four to the Padres. Some speculated this would be a team to watch for a playoff run, and their record through May 11th has some people wondering still if that is a possibility. The Marlins have decent pitching, and their bullpen actually is a little impressive — hopefully the Giants aren’t going to face them in a losing situation. Their hitting and team defense appears to be good, with their hitting of course led by the legendary Giancarlo Stanton. They have plenty others that have tallied triple digit plate appearances have are above average in wRC+, so that this team is putting up Top 10 wRC+ and wOBA is not a shocker. This is not the Marlins team of old, they could be developing into a team the Giants will be glad not to see in the final month of the season. Odd stat: the Marlins are 3-13 on the road. This actually is not as bad as the Arizona Diamondbacks, who have a home record of 3-15.
The Giants have won four in a row, a lot of it thanks to the power of solo home runs, and the Braves have Barved all over the place, losing five straight. MLB Network has the game airing at 10:30 a.m. PST, so if you have that channel and you’re outside of both of those locales, you won’t have to resort to MLB.tv today if you don’t want to. The Giants are throwing out the regulars today being Madison Bumgarner:
Today’s #sfgiants lineup: Pagan CF Pence RF Posey C Morse LF Belt 1B Sandoval 3B Hicks 2B Crawford SS Bumgarner LHP
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) May 4, 2014
When I questioned if Brandon Belt was being platooned, social media was there for me to point out that manager Bruce Bochy said that he was not platooning Belt, that he would be in the lineup Sunday against Braves LHP Alex Wood. Sure enough, there Belt is, batting fifth behind Michael Morse. Morse is seriously a strong dude, still can’t believe that Friday night fly ball for a home run to right field.
The Atlanta lineup, that hopes to salvage a game from the NL West leaders:
Simmons is out of today’s lineup because of an undisclosed personal issue. He is here and available to play if needed. — Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) May 4, 2014
Peculiar situation with Andrelton Simmons, but, I hope his issue gets resolved.
Moving on to Madison Bumgarner’s game logs, the last two games, his ground ball rate sure has gone up:
Half of his starts he has been able to go six innings, and in three of the four games he has walked two or more hitters, he has not gone at least six, so perhaps that is something to look out for today as Madison pitches closer to his North Carolina home. You’ll notice last game Bumgarner had only four swing-and-miss pitches (StS), much lower than this previous four starts. Bumgarner has seen three long balls get hit against him in his last two starts, two of them at Coors Field.
As for Alex Wood’s game logs, he tends to complete at least seven innings quite often, and has always gone at least five in 2014:
Like Bumgarner, Wood had only three swing-and-miss pitches in his last start as the Braves when they got swept against the Marlins before starting their losing against the Giants. Hopefully, the Giants will be able to put together the same game plan the Marlins did against Wood and execute it to at least seven-earned-run levels. Not going to expect it, though. This could end up being another very low-scoring game like the previous two.
Friend of the blog Anna gave me a stat showing the Giants don’t win series in Atlanta that often:
— Anna (@SFBleacherGirl) May 4, 2014
An idea for how well the Giants are doing, W-L-wise:
Guess who’s only a game back of the Giants:
The Rockies have a better record than the Braves. — Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) May 4, 2014
At 19-13, the Rockies have played two more games than the Giants, but they have also lost two more games than the Giants. Charlie Culberson helped the Rockies walk it off against the Mets last night. Former Giant, good for him, but only hit home runs in losing efforts, won’t ya, Culberson?
Who says nothing happens at the GM and owners meetings? The East Coast — because let’s face it, the West Coast is sleeping in on their day off — woke up to news that the Atlanta Braves will be leaving Turner Field after the 2016 season. The Braves have dedicated a new website to their new ballpark, where they own the land and can control the immediate environment surrounding their new park. No sketches of the facility or what will be place in its surrounding areas have been made available as of yet. We do know that it will be a 41,000-42,000 seat facility, 10,000 less than Turner Field.
Where is Cobb County?
This map drawn up by Mike Petriello on Google Maps should give us a good idea:
So instead of being where it seems like all the freeways meet, they’ll be heading northwest, outside of what I’ve heard called “The Circle.” Outside of The Circle, I’ve heard it’s mostly an area that is kind of stuck in the past, but that’s a lot of heresy, so my two Atlanta sources could be wrong.
Why the move?
Braves officials and some fans on social media have said that the immediate areas surrounding Turner Field are kind of a mess and that’s one reason for the Braves getting the heck out of there. There’s also this map that shows where people that bought a ticket to an Atlanta Braves game lived in 2012:
Not exactly in the center of the heart of those Braves-ticket-buyers, but it is certainly within that area.
The Braves have also given time to talk about the costs of maintaining Turner Field, a stadium they do not own, to the tune of $150-$200MM, saying those improvements would not necessarily improve the fan experience. With their own stadium, and more importantly, control over their surrounding area, their improvements that they will need to make should be more meaningful to the fan experience than it would be at their current address.
Will the Braves be paying for all of it?
It appears not, with this quote from an Atlanta Journal Constitution writer:
“The Braves said the stadium is projected to cost $672 million, including parking, land and infrastructure, and will be built in partnership with Cobb County.”
While the portion of the Braves payment is said to be “substantial,” that doesn’t really answer any questions for us. Sorry for your loss in taxpayer dollars, Cobb County.
Update from a tweet:
— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) November 11, 2013
More than two-thirds of your new home paid for? I remember when that worked out for Miami.
This is the area the Braves have laid out for their new stadium:
That’s about all we have for the moment. My only opinions on this move are that: 1) The Braves getting taxpayers to help fund their stadium is dumb for the taxpayers and 2) It looks like traffic’s going to be just awful going in and out of that stadium.
Some people will have rankings once the field narrows down to ten. I am hardly ever in the mood to blog during the weekdays for various reasons, and so since I feel like writing right now, now is as good of a time as any to give you my list of how I’ll root for the Winning Eleven. My list might differ from yours, and it may not even make sense to you, but that’s OK.
“It’d be good for them” Division
1. Pittsburgh Pirates — No playoffs and no winning season since 1992? How do you not root for that if you’re not a fan from a team within the NL Central?
2. Oakland Athletics — I have developed a soft spot for the team across the Bay, even though I don’t live there to listen to A’s fans. A’s fans coming back around to troll Giants fans would be the worst part of the Athletics winning. Possibility of speeding up ruling on a new stadium a naive thought in my head.
3. Tampa Bay Rays — A combination of youth, a former Long Beach State Dirtbag in Evan Longoria, and a manager I enjoy listening to make this a team I support at nearly all times.
4. Cleveland Indians — They normally lose a lot, and maybe the public can say to MLB, “Hey, that logo is kinda racist.” That they’ve turned things around to go from dark horse candidate to first Wild Card spot is a great story to me.
“I ain’t even mad” Division
5. Detroit Tigers — I’ve interacted with some twitter folk that are Tigers fans and they’re good people. I would be happy for them. Justin Verlander seems like a nice guy and Jim Leyland is a lovable grandpa.
6. Texas Rangers — This is a pity spot. I’ll leave it at that.
7. Boston Red Sox — I’ve put them here because I’ve forgotten what Red Sox fans are like when the Red Sox win. My memory is pretty poor.
8. Cincinnati Reds — The idea of Mat Latos winning after his history with the Padres and his outside-of-game antics against the Giants just leave a bad taste in my mouth. Billy Hamilton running wild on the world will be fun to watch.
9. St. Louis Cardinals — An incredibly talented team, I am tired of them winning and tired of their fans claiming to be the “Best Fans in Baseball.” Nobody likes people like that, especially when that’s pretty difficult to accurately measure.
10. Atlanta Braves — The Chop, the newfound policy of policing the game with their made-up rules on admiring home runs make plenty of players on this team and their fans that support all that easy to despise.
“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy that’s also an obnoxious, disrespectful Giants fan” Division
11. Los Angeles Dodgers — There are some players on the LA team I like, but it’s still the Dodgers. That they have oodles of money is one thing, I mean you have to spend your money wisely, can’t just spend it on anybody. Still. Boo Dodgers.
That #10 and #11 on my list square off early guarantee one gets knocked out, but one could still do some big things. Hopefully that’s not something I have to worry about, and the bottom four teams find themselves knocked out of the Postseason before the trophy is hoisted.
During the second game of the Mets-Braves doubleheader, the Braves fans were at it again, doing The Chop. It is controversial, and Braves fans hate talking about it with people that think it’s racist. Moving on from that discussion, there is a kid who does it in a fantastic manner.
Look for the kid in the white shirt next to the pitch coach Warthen.
Straight arm, just going up an down, like he’s fanning the baseball players. But then… things get really heated:
A STANDING STRAIGHT ARMED CHOP! And it even looks like he’s hitting the baseball player on the head, but it’s still great.
He may be doing The Chop wrong, but this kid did everything right. He would fix his arm motion later on (not GIF’d), spoiled by the influence of society.
The series between two teams with twenty-one wins continues today at 1PM PST as Paul Maholm and Madison Bumgarner hope to break the series tie with their team taking the win this afternoon. Outside of Maholm’s start against Detroit, he has been pretty good this year, while Bumgarner would like to forget his last start against Philadelphia. Consider this game logs from the year:
Not bad, right? Both of these guys making very decent All Star Game campaigns for themselves thus far.
The lineups for today’s game for the two squads look like this:
Today’s lineup at SF (4:05, FSS/MLBN/680AM/BRN): Simmons 6 Uggla 4 JUpton 9 Freeman 3 Gattis 7 CJohnson 5 BUpton 8 Laird 2 Maholm 1
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) May 11, 2013
and for the Champs:
Today’s (5/11) #SFGiants lineup – Pagan CF, Scutaro 2B, Sandoval 3B, Posey 1B, Pence RF, Peguero LF, Quiroz C, Crawford SS and Bumgarner LHP
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) May 11, 2013
Beat writer Andrew Baggarly saying that Maholm’s been pretty tough on the LHH this year so that’s why you see Brandon Belt getting a day off today.
And you thought Yu Darvish threw a lot of pitches. Maholm does have the kitchen sink to throw at you, and will do it, while relying on his two-seamer, four-seamer, slider, curve, and changeup the most. You can imagine, if he has most of those pitches working, it’s going to be pretty tough to prepare for an at bat against him.
We’re used to seeing this out of Bumgarner, the fastball-slider combo, with a touch of the curve, and the changeup also being brought out to RHH. It’s brought him much success before, and look for him to continue doing that today.
Enjoy your Saturday, everybody.
Justin Upton‘s swing is a thing of beauty, and the good people of MLB have noticed and compiled a video of his twelve homers from the month of April. The video is here for your viewing pleasure:
The dates of all those games you may not know, although you’ve probably heard his RBI count is pretty low:
|19||19||Apr 23 (1)||@||COL||W,4-3||1||1||.296||.378||.775|
|20||20||Apr 23 (2)||@||COL||W,10-2||1||2||.307||.391||.813|
All those homers within the first twenty-three games of the season. Better than a one homer every other game average! For that stretch, that’s amazingness. I present to you the swings of each of his twelve homers, in order:
It’s like the fourth and fifth homer go to the same place just based on what you see in the GIFs. Love that bat drop.
Thanks for playing, pitchers. This was a fun post to do.