The Giants won another game in their last at-bat yesterday when Manny Burriss scampered home to score the winning run after Marlins closer, Kevin Gregg, uncorked a wild pitch in the dirt that got away from Paul Lo Duca John Baker — sweet, sweet, Schadenfreude. Who says you need to hit to win games? In the eyes and minds of the Giants management, this was the blueprint for this years team. Pitch well enough to stay close in games, steal some bags, play some defense, and do all the little things to win games.
It seems like “Blueprint Games” have been few and far between, mostly because it’s really hard to whittle away against a major league team for nine innings and still come away with the win. If the Giants give up more than 4-runs in a game, they’re doomed. The average National League team this year scores about 4.52 runs per game, the Giants are at 3.85 per game. Only the Nationals and Padres — 3.71 and 3.83 — are worse. The Giants pitching has given up 4.74 runs per game this year, largely due to a weak bullpen that’s ranked dead last in ERA in the National League. In fact, the Giants bullpen has a WPA of -1.48 which places them next to last for bullpen WPA in the NL, once again, only Washington has had worse production from their ‘pen with a score of -2.38.
The Giants had the idea that they could scratch and claw and fight for games by doing the right things, but they lacked the run prevention abilities (defense and bullpen support) to actually get any traction. Oh well, lessons learned, we hope so at least. I think the Giants struggles also have shown that how hard it is to win regular season baseball in a modern era where scoring runs equal one half of the important equation of winning. The Giants’ run differential — how many runs scored versus how many runs allowed — is currently at -108. It’s not the worst differential but it does tell a tale.
Anyways, I’ll take the win, even if it was out-of-the-ordinary for this team. It was good to see Manny get on via a walk, steal 2nd, move to third on a flyball, and then run wildly home for the win.
Also of interest is that Matt Palmer probably bought himself another start or two with his outing yesterday. It wasn’t spectacular — he got a little walky in the 4th, issuing 3 walks in that inning — but he gave the Giants 6-innings of 2-run ball. That’s more than you can say for Zito some days. I would say that yesterday is probably Palmer’s ceiling in terms of effectiveness, he’ll get the occasional groundball, hang the occasional breaking pitch, and hopefully stick in the game long enough to eat innings.
Baggs ponders on the possibilities of Palmer’s pitching performance, wondering if it increases the chances of a 6-man rotation for the rest of the year?
If Palmer can continue to pitch well, the Giants will be more likely to consider a six-man rotation as a way of taking it easy on their younger starters. They only have two days off in September, with few chances to give guys an extra day. So that might not be a bad idea.
I’m assuming that a 6-man rotation includes Sanchez? His MRI results were encouraging but I would much rather err on the side of caution and just shut him down for the year. He has increased his workload by enough and I’m not seeing much to be gained by starting him any more this year. Take it easy on the lefty, Giants.
Lowry Update: Lowry’s chances of pitching this year are “bleak” according to a SFGiants.com article. Lowry has still yet to throw off a mound and in a game scenario.
Lowry, the Giants’ leading winner in two of the previous three seasons, has been playing catch every other day for about a month.
“My arm is back to — I don’t want to say ‘normal,’ but with all the time [off], my arm’s had a chance to fully recover,” he said.
Lowry is hoping to play some Winterball to get his arm back in shape. Lowry’s status with the Giants is still very much up in the air. His last contract year with the club is in ’09 and unless he wanted to come back on a incentive-laded value deal, I don’t think the Giants should consider Lowry. His health concerns are a definite roadblock and they won’t know how Lowry does in game situations until Winterball. Best of luck, Noah.
Comment Starter: True or False: Lowry will start 12 games or more for the Giants in ’09.