The Giants find themselves in a familiar position once again after tonight’s game. Dropping the opener of a playoff series at home is starting to feel inevitable. It’s way too early in this series to start panicking, but the Giants have to play better at home. After Game Two in the NLCS, the Giants will play three straight games in St. Louis. The series, if it gets that far, will return to San Francisco for Games Six and Seven. So it’s pretty easy to see that winning your games at home is imperative. And without winning at home, the Giants will be forced to, once again, win three consecutive games on the road. That’s a pretty tall order to fill twice in the same postseason.
Tonight’s post-game thoughts:
* Bumgarner’s game — 3.2 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO — continued the startling trend of the starters struggling in the playoffs.
Here’s the Giants’ production from their starters this postseason:
10/6/12 – Matt Cain – 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 S0, 5.40 ERA
10/7/12 – Madison Bumgarner – 4.1 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO, 8.31 ERA
10/9/12 – Ryan Vogelsong – 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO, 1.80 ERA
10/10/12 – Barry Zito – 2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 SO, 6.75 ERA
10/11/12 – Matt Cain – 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO, 5.06 ERA
Yeah. Not a lot to get excited about so far when it comes to the starting pitching. Ryan Vogelsong’s no decision against the Reds has clearly been the best start of the postseason. The guys on the post-game wrap tonight mentioned that maybe it’s time to re-evaluate Madison Bumgarner’s rotation spot. Even though I understand the temptation, especially after tonight’s stinker, I’m not sure it’s realistic — unless you want to trust Zito more, which no sane person should want to do. All signs are pointing towards Lincecum going back into the rotation and starting the Thursday game, which is fine with me. Lincecum’s been way too volatile this year, but he’s had a little success in the second half and it’s not like any of the other starters are really on a roll at the moment.
Back to Bumgarner for a second — his control (throwing strikes vs. balls) was fine; however, his command (putting the ball in the zone where you want to) was an issue. By my strawhattery, Bumgarner looked like a pitcher that was A) up in the zone too much and B) in the middle of the plate too much.
Here’s a simple graph of Bumgarner’s pitch location and if the pitch was a base hit:
Throwing strikes is a good thing; however, Bumgarner did not do a good job of pitching in the zone. He was either way off the plate, or up in the zone. A rebound from Bumgarner will start with better command. If he can pitch down in the zone, and on the corners, I think he’ll be OK. His velocity and break on his pitches looks nearly identical to earlier numbers in the year. He’s just not locating.
* The bullpen was fabulous. The pen combined for 5.1 innings of no-hit baseball. And, once again, Tim Lincecum looked highly proficient at pitching in relief, throwing two scoreless innings. His command wasn’t as sharp as it was in his Cincinnati appearance. He threw 12 strikes out of 24 total pitches. Jose Mijares’ inning of work was probably the best I’ve seen from him this year. He struck out two during his frame and his slider was particularly nasty.
* Carlos Beltran knocked Bumgarner out of the game for good in the 4th inning when he hit a two-run homerun. I’m not sure I get the booing from the fans. Sure, it sucks that Beltran is hitting postseason homeruns against the Giants, but it seems silly to boo a player that was never offered a contract to return to the Giants. It’s probably time to get over that deal. Well, that is, until I see Zack Wheeler pitch in the big leagues.
* Tonight’s performance from Gregor Blanco should officially seal his role as a starter in NLCS and beyond. Blanco hit a key two-run triple in the Giants’ four-run 4th inning. Blanco was also pretty active in LF, making several nice catches. There were several balls that Blanco got to that Xavier Nady wouldn’t have made it within five feet of. With their overall hitting ability being so similar, and the fact that the Giants’ pitching is kind of struggling right now, Blanco is the no-brainer in LF.
The Giants will hope that Ryan Vogelsong can net the team its first home win of the postseason in tomorrow’s Game Two.