Results tagged ‘ Buster Posey ’
CHICAGO — With a few more days like Thursday, the Giants will indeed reach the postseason.
They gained ground on all of their rivals. The San Diego Padres lost, so the Giants leapfrogged them to reclaim first place in the National League West. The Colorado Rockies also fell, leaving them 3 1/2 games behind the Giants. San Francisco can all but officially end Colorado’s hopes for a division title by winning two of three games this weekend at Coors Field, which would put the Rockies 4 1/2 games back with a week remaining in the season.
NL Wild Card leader Atlanta was idle. But the Giants and Braves now have the same record (86-67). This bolsters the Giants’ hopes of qualifying for the postseason even if they don’t win the division.
Coolstandings.com lists San Francisco’s chances of reaching the postseason at 70 percent. That’s encouraging for the Giants, but I wouldn’t start computing their Magic Number yet.
Bruce Bochy almost surely won’t win the NL Manager of the Year award. But my Baseball Writers’ Association of America brethren who possess ballots for that honor ought to pay at least cursory attention him.
A good manager must provide direction. Bochy has accomplished this twice in emphatic fashion.
After the Giants’ 11-3 loss to Arizona on Aug. 28, he and general manager Brian Sabean met with members of the starting rotation and essentially told them they had better shape up.
Tim Lincecum described the message Bochy and Sabean conveyed as “pretty much a sense of urgency. We need to come ready to play. No more worrying about where the ball’s going to go, what my mechanics are going to be. Just go out there. You’re here for a reason. Now play the game. Pretty clear-cut and simple.”
Since then, the starters have a 1.94 ERA.
And, of course, Bochy met with the hitters before Thursday’s 13-0 whipping of Chicago. “We came out with the right approach today,” Buster Posey said. “There was a little bit more fire in everybody. Hopefully that’s something we can continue for the next nine games. If we give this [pitching] staff some run support, we’re going to be pretty tough.”
“Pretty tough” describes the challenge the Giants will face this weekend as they try to lengthen their 17-game streak of allowing opponents three runs or fewer — a stretch that hasn’t been matched since the Chicago White Sox reached 20 in 1917.
The Rockies are a formidable offensive club anywhere, but especially at Coors Field. Their home/road breakdown borders on unreal.
At home, the Rockies are a wrecking crew. They’re hitting .304 at Coors with 452 runs, 102 homers and an .880 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) in 75 games.
On the road, the Rockies are merely a wreck. Their numbers dip to .230 with 64 homers, 289 runs and a .663 OBP in 77 games.
The Giants have existed since 1883. Yet none of their players had been hit by pitches twice in one inning until Thursday, when Jose Guillen was nicked by a pair of Ryan Dempster deliveries in the second inning. Juan Uribe homered following each plunking.
“Hey! Record book already,” Guillen said when told of his achievement.
Had the Cubs won this week’s series from San Francisco, it wouldn’t have been their first time to ruin the Giants’ season.
You already know this if you’re either pushing 60 years old (at least) or an avid student of baseball history.
The 1959 Giants trailed the Dodgers by one game with five to play. That was after Los Angeles swept a three-game series at Seals Stadium to wrest first place from San Francisco.
Anyway, the Giants were still in the race. But consecutive one-run losses, 5-4 and 9-8 in 10 innings, pretty much finished their pennant bid. History didn’t repeat itself this time, however.
Instead, the Giants’ 13-0 rout Thursday represented their largest margin of victory over the Cubs since Sept. 3, 1963 (Juan Marichal won his 20th game that day as Orlando Cepeda, Tom Haller and Felipe Alou homered).
– Chris Haft
Sunday, Sept. 19
SAN FRANCISCO — All that stuff about how winning in April means just as much as winning in September is true. Mathematically, at least.
In reality, context changes everything. The pursuit of a postseason berth magnifies each game for contenders during the stretch drive.
“Back in May, you don’t really know how the season’s going to unfold,” Giants outfielder Cody Ross said after Sunday’s 9-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. “Now, we have a solid team. We’ve adapted to each other. We get the job done. That’s what makes it exciting.”
For ballplayers — especially playoff-hungry ones like the Giants, who haven’t qualified for the postseason since 2003 — the stretch drive represents the culmination of their year-round labor. Well, winning the World Series might mean more. But precious few players get to experience that. Participating in a pennant race is more attainable and, in some ways, provides more of a rush, since it sustains a high and prolongs the buzz surrounding a ballclub for weeks.
“Going out there every single day — I can’t speak for everybody; for me, I can’t wait to get to the field and keep going,” Ross said. “It’s going to be an exciting game no matter who you play.”
Said Barry Zito, who finally recorded a long-deserved victory, “This is why we do what we do all offseason, training and going to Spring Training, and [working] hard. It’s all about this last month here and getting in [the postseason.”
Speaking of stretch drives, Zito and Jose Guillen were A’s teammates in the last couple of months of the 2003 season, when Oakland acquired the latter from Cincinnati to bolster the offense. Guillen batted only .265 in 45 games for the A’s after hitting a torrid .337 in 91 games with the Reds. But Zito has seen enough from Guillen, then and now, to know that the outfielder remains dangerous at the plate.
“He’s had some incredible hot streaks in his career,” Zito said after Guillen’s six-RBI day. “Being a veteran player, he knows what he needs to do to produce and stay in his comfort zone. Having him hot can be a huge addition for us.”
Guillen was one of the few productive Giants during their six-game homestand, batting .500 (7-for-14) with two home runs. His first-inning grand slam was the fifth of his career.
Brewers pitchers might see Buster Posey in their nightmares this winter. Posey hit .500 (12-for-24) with four homers, nine RBI and nine runs scored against Milwaukee this season.
– Chris Haft
Thursday, Aug. 19
PHILADELPHIA — Thursday night brought mixed blessings for Pablo Sandoval.
The struggling switch-hitter finally hit his first home run of the season as a right-handed batter in his 122nd at-bat from that side of the plate. It opened the fourth inning and concluded the Giants’ scoring in their 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
But Sandoval also popped up into a double play in the ninth inning. That’s right, “popped up.” Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco dropped Sandoval’s one-out sky ball. But Sandoval loafed up the baseline, enabling Polanco to throw him out. Nate Schierholtz, pinch-running for Jose Guillen at first, strayed a little too far from the bag and was tagged out to complete the double play.
Manager Bruce Bochy fined Sandoval an undisclosed amount for not reaching first base safely. Sandoval — who was charged with grounding into his 22nd double play of the season — acknowledged the error of his ways.
“That’s my fault,” Sandoval said. “You learn. I made a big mistake. I apologized to [Bochy]. I learned I have to run hard to first base every moment.”
Sandoval homer, his ninth overall, was a more pleasant subject for him. He acknowledged that his timing, particularly as a right-handed batter, was all fouled up. “I’ve been jumping out and my hands don’t ‘load’ at the right time,” he said, admitting that he has been off-balance at the plate.
Another Giants hitter who might have regained some equilibrium was Freddy Sanchez. The second baseman, who has shared playing time recently with Mike Fontenot, might have hit his way back into a regular role by singling solidly and scoring in his first two at-bats.
“Whatever my role is, the number one goal is winning. That’s all I want to do,” Sanchez said. “If that [means] playing against lefties right now, that’s just playing against lefties now. But when my name gets called, I’ll be ready.”
Sanchez pulled both of his hits to left field, contrasting with his usual opposite-field style. He indicated that he might have been concentrating too much on going to right field, particularly with runners (usually leadoff man Andres Torres) on base.
“I was talking to Boch about that,” Sanchez said. “Maybe not try so hard to get the guy over or hit a hole.”
Bochy approved of Sanchez’s handiwork.
“I thought he had some good at-bats tonight,” Bochy said. “I thought he had better balance and pulled some balls with authority. That’s the Freddy we know. It’d be nice to have him back to who he is.”
Jonathan Sanchez’s success at going deep into the game proved to be essential. Bochy said that right-hander Santiago Casilla left Philadelphia before the game to be with his wife, who was in labor. This left San Francisco’s bullpen a man short. An abbreviated outing by Sanchez or an extra-inning affair might have made life tough for the Giants. Bochy sounded uncertain about Casilla’s availability for Friday night’s series opener at St. Louis.
Talking to Gary Matthews, the winner of the 1973 National League Rookie of the Year Award with the Giants who threw his support behind Buster Posey (see Giants Beat), is always a pleasure. Here are some outtakes from the interview.
Matthews said that capturing the award filled him with pride, since his dressing-stall neighbor in the Giants clubhouse, the incomparable Willie McCovey, had received the honor in 1959.
“It was like carrying on tradition,” said Matthews, who relished beating out a pair of Los Angeles Dodgers rivals in the balloting, Ron Cey and Davey Lopes. They finished in a three-way tie for sixth.
The next three Giants teams Matthews played for finished below .500. “We were in a free-fall,” he said.
But, he added, surviving the competition for outfield jobs within the Giants organization made him a better player. At the time, the Giants’ farm system was still generating talented position players. And the outfield spots, thanks to Willie Mays, remained the most glamorous ones on the field.
“You took pride in trying to do the best you possibly could,” said Matthews, who proceeded to play for the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs in his 16-year career. “If I had to do it all over again, I’d do it the same way in terms of going through an organization like the San Francisco Giants, where you learned a lot of pride and the main thing — to win.”
Speaking of Posey, he’s starting another streak. He’s batting .440 (11-for-25) while hitting safely in six consecutive games.
– Chris Haft
Friday, Aug. 6
ATLANTA — In case you were wondering, Giants manager Bruce Bochy didn’t consider asking Buster Posey to bunt in Friday night’s 11th inning.
Many hitters would have been asked to attempt a sacrifice after Aubrey Huff walked to open the 11th against Braves reliever Peter Moylan. Not Posey, the rookie catcher who quickly has become one of San Francisco’s most prominent offensive assets.
“You could be conservative and go that route,” Bochy said. “But he’s hitting cleanup for a reason.”
After Posey walked, the next batter, Juan Uribe, tried to bunt Moylan’s first pitch and fouled it off. Bochy explained that Uribe was bunting on his own.
If Bochy were faced with the situation 99,000 more times, he’d eschew bunting on each occasion. Partly because the next sacrifice bunt Posey lays down will be his first as a professional.
“I don’t know how many times Buster as bunted in his career,” Bochy said. “And Uribe’s effort wasn’t pretty.”
The bullpen again played an integral part in the Giants’ triumph, allowing two hits, walking none and striking out five in four scoreless innings.
Brian Wilson preserved the decision for Javier Lopez, who pitched the 10th to earn his first victory as a Giant. Lopez has suited up for five games and has appeared in four of them. He also has yet to give up a run for San Francisco in 3 2/3 innings.
Despite not having pitched since last Friday, Sergio Romo worked the ninth after Chris Ray handled the eighth.
The Giants, who entered the game with the National League’s third-best relief ERA, reduced that figure to 3.27.
– Chris Haft
Wednesday, July 28
SAN FRANCISCO — When’s the last time the Giants have been this hot?
No need to answer that by citing a specific time frame in a specific year. It’s a rhetorical question more than anything.
Rarely in recent years, though, has it seemed like the Giants win virtually every day for even a moderately extended period. Just a few weeks ago, some insiders were doubting the club’s ability to sustain the kind of streak they’re on now — 17 victories in 21 games.
Buster Posey’s emergence, Aubrey Huff’s consistency and Andres Torres’ verve are just a few of the factors that have brought the Giants to brink of first place in the National League West and positioned them to continue their drive for a postseason berth.
Asked if he and his teammates stride into the clubhouse each day expecting to win, right-hander Sergio Romo said after Wednesday’s 10-9, 10-inning victory over Florida, “Realistically, yeah. We’ve always said from the beginning, even in Spring Training, that we have a good team, we’re going to compete and can play with the better teams in the league. That mindset is paying off. We know if we get our jobs done and back each other up, good things can happen.”
The Giants still lead the National League in runs during July after scoring sporadically during the season’s previous three months (they entered Wednesday as the league’s seventh-highest scoring team). They firmly believe that this is not an aberration.
“We’re not playing above our capabilities; we’re not playing below,” Romo said. “We’re just doing what we’re able to do. We’re finding our roles and trying to stick with that.”
As manager Bruce Bochy mentioned during his postgame media gathering that “we had the right guy up there” when Juan Uribe batted with two on and two outs in the ninth, it struck me that several Giants could fit the ”right guy” description these days. Not just Uribe, who has hit eight home runs that either put the Giants ahead or tied the score. But also Posey. Or Huff. Lately, Travis Ishikawa. Freddy Sanchez, too. And, of course, Torres.
“Everybody who’s going up there, we feel confident with them,” Bochy said.
Weeks ago, Bochy pleaded for more “timely hitting.” He’s getting it.
“When you look up at the scoreboard at the end of the game and see that the number of runs scored is close to the number of hits you got, that just means you’re stringing together hits and getting them at the right time,” said center fielder Aaron Rowand, who’s hitting .329 in his last 26 games. “You can pound out 11 hits and walk away with three or four runs. It’s not like you didn’t swing the bats well, it’s just that you didn’t get the timely hitting. It’s just about being able to string together hits with runners on base and runners in scoring position.”
Rowand noted that the Giants’ ability to cope, even thrive, against top pitchers (Roy Halladay, Adam Wainwright, Roy Oswalt, Ubaldo Jimenez and Josh Johnson, to name a few) bodes well for them if they reach the postseason.
“Our pitching staff is good,” Rowand said, necessarily stating the obvious. “So if we can scratch some runs together against a good pitcher, our chances of winning the game are pretty decent. That’s what gives this team the possibility of being dangerous in the playoffs.”
P.S. To answer that question posed at the start of this entry, two other impressive streaks do come to mind. Both helped the Giants win division titles. In 1971, they started 37-14. In 1987, they closed with a 37-17 rush. This surge is different, since it’s occurring in midseason. Let’s see how long the Giants can ride this wave.
– Chris Haft
Wednesday, July 21
LOS ANGELES — Next up for Buster Posey: The Hall of Famers.
Posey extended his hitting streak to 15 games Wednesday night with a sixth-inning single as the Giants fell 2-0 to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He tied Chili Davis (1982), Tom O’Malley (1982) and Dan Gladden (1984) for the third-longest hitting streak by a rookie since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958.
The only longer hitting streaks by Giants rookies belong to Orlando Cepeda (1958), who had a 17-gamer, and Willie McCovey (1959), who sustained a 22-game Stretch (pun fully intended).
Predictably, Posey said that he’s not trying to think too much about his streak, but admitted that the notion of catching or passing McCovey intrigued him.
“It’d be cool,” Posey said. He rapped on a wooden portion of his locker stall as he added to a reporter, “Hopefully you didn’t just jinx me, right?”
– Chris Haft
Monday, July 5
MILWAUKEE — The Giants’ 4-3 loss Sunday could be remembered for its sheer duration (15 innings spanning five hours and 24 minutes), its novelty (the back-to-back homers by Nate Schierholtz and Andres Torres, with the latter being inside-the-park — the first such tandem of homers by Giants since Mays/McCovey in 1966) or its agony (the Giants’ 10th defeat in 12 games).
Judging from the reaction back home and wherever Giants fans reside, none of this matters to the public. You — and your opinion counts, because you buy tickets and drive TV/radio ratings — are incensed over manager Bruce Bochy’s use of Eli Whiteside to pinch run for Buster Posey in the eighth inning.
Bochy explained after the game that he wanted Whiteside on the basepaths instead of Posey, who had just singled Pablo Sandoval to third. “On a ball in the gap, he [Whiteside] is going to score,” Bochy said. “He runs well. Which almost happened.” That last remark was a reference to Travis Ishikawa’s two-out single, which sent home Sandoval and moved Whiteside to third. But Edgar Renteria grounded out, the score remained tied 3-3 and you know the rest.
You’re disturbed because Whiteside went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, including a 13th-inning whiff with Aubrey Huff on third base and one out and a popup to end the 15th with Huff on second base. You’re annoyed because Whiteside was charged with a throwing error in the 14th that put Seth Smith on third base with nobody out (though Guillermo Mota, the eventual losing pitcher, admirably escaped that jam). You’re confounded because you’re wondering whether Whiteside really is that much faster than Posey.
From my vantage point, he isn’t. But I will never pretend to know half as much about baseball as Bochy or any of his coaches. At the same time, y’all are UPSET. It just adds to the rising tide of discontent surrounding the Giants that probably won’t ebb right away, unless they go on a nice little 12-game winning streak.
Today’s game is about four hours away as I write this. Can’t wait, can you? My best guess is that Whiteside won’t be running for Posey today — mainly because Huff, who did virtually everything he could to try to win Sunday’s game, will be worn out and in need of a rest. So Posey probably will play first while Whiteside catches.
After Sunday, what else can befall the Giants?
– Chris Haft
Friday, May 14
SAN FRANCISCO — This is not a recommendation; I don’t know if it’s even a suggestion. It’s just a thought.
If the Giants believe that promoting Buster Posey from Triple-A Fresno and installing him in the lineup would help their offense, here’s an option:
Put Posey at first base and move Aubrey Huff to left field. I’m sure several bloggers and maybe one of my counterparts/competitors already has raised this subject. If so, I apologize for sounding like I’m plagiarizing. But I’m not, since it doesn’t seem to have been widely circulated.
I think manager Bruce Bochy was dropping a hint recently when he praised Huff’s athleticism and said that he believed that, with a little training, Huff could play the outfield respectably. I’m not sure whether this would complicate matters, but most of Huff’s outfield experience actually is in right field — 237 games out of 245, according to baseball-reference.com. Still, Huff probably would adjust better to left field at AT&T Park, since he wouldn’t have to deal with the tricky archways and the wall in right field at home.
The Giants wouldn’t necessarily be giving up on Posey as a catcher. There’s always next year, assuming Bengie Molina doesn’t return (and given Molina’s re-signing this past offseason, I won’t assume anything). Again, this is just a possible way to get Posey’s bat in the lineup.
Your move, Giants.
– Chris Haft
Tuesday, April 20
SAN DIEGO — I’m not sure whether I committed the following thought to print. I do know that I expressed it in various conversations and voiced it on radio interviews.
Asked when I thought Buster Posey would be promoted to the Majors, I predicted it would happen at the first sign of trouble.
Well, if trouble’s not here, he’s about to pick up his credential granting him access to the Giants’ clubhouse. They’ve lost three games in a row, each by one run; they’re facing a pitcher in Wednesday’s series finale against the Padres (right-hander Jon Garland) who gives them fits; and they’re about to embark upon a homestand in which they’ll face three consecutive 2009 postseason qualifiers — St. Louis, Philadelphia and Colorado.
Right now, a one-out walk constitutes a big rally for the Giants. It’s an opportune time to bring aboard Posey, the heralded prospect who’s batting .354 with a .456 on-base percentage through 12 games with Triple-A Fresno.
But where would Posey play? Catcher Bengie Molina, who’s hitting .351, is part of the short-term solution, not the problem. First baseman Aubrey Huff is batting .288 with a .393 on-base percentage. They occupy the two positions Posey is capable of playing. Unless manager Bruce Bochy is ready to bench Molina and/or Huff at least three times a week so Posey can get appreciable playing time and at-bats. Otherwise, summoning Posey would be a waste … as well as being a potentially costly luxury (assuming Posey stayed in the Majors for good, he’d become eligible for salary arbitration after the 2012 season and would cash in big a year early as a “Super Two,” just as Tim Lincecum did this past off-season).
In a way, there’s no need for the Giants to panic. Their biggest strength, starting pitching, remains intact. But, 1-for-25 through three games with runners in scoring position? It doesn’t get much worse than that.
So let’s see what the Giants do, if anything. I found it interesting to watch general manager Brian Sabean enter San Francisco’s clubhouse. after Tuesday’s loss. He didn’t trudge; he didn’t slouch. He strolled boldly through the clubhouse doors. It’s not too hard to imagine that he made a beeline for Bochy’s office to discuss the struggling offense — with or without Posey.
– Chris Haft
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Buster Posey’s feats of Cactus League skill have become almost commonplace.
Friday, Posey’s two-out, eighth-inning double off Cleveland left-hander Tony Sipp drove in Matt Downs with Friday’s tiebreaking run as the Giants proceeded to a 7-6 victory over a Cleveland Indians split squad.
Posey again displayed the almost preternatural calm that distinguishes him from most rookies. He fell behind on the count 0-2 before a passed ball sent Matt Downs, who drew a one-out walk, to second base.
Posey then whacked a low curveball into left field and hustled into second base with a slide as Downs came home.
With his .382 batting average and ability to play first base as well as catch, Posey is increasing the Giants’ temptation to keep him on the Opening Day roster.
Manager Bruce Bochy praised Posey’s two-strike approach. “He doesn’t panic,” Bochy said. “He really kept his composure.”
Eugenio Velez received a chance to prove himself in center field. The results were favorable — mostly.
Velez went 3-for-3, drew a walk and scored twice. He also recorded three consecutive outs spanning the first and second innings, making nice running catches on drives hit by Jhonny Peralta and Austin Kearns.
But Velez seemed to drift under a couple of seventh-inning fly balls that were wind-aided and fell for extra-base hits. Maybe the breeze rendered the plays impossible. But the impression here was that a more polished outfielder would have come closer to making the catches.
It’s believed that Velez and Andres Torres are in competition for the same reserve outfield spot. They’re both fast, they both switch-hit and they both can play all three outfield spots. Torres appears to be the better defender. But Velez, who’s out-hitting Torres .367-.290, may have an edge on offense.
Travis Ishikawa, who has overcome torn ligaments in his left foot, made his first Cactus League appearance as a pinch-hitter in the fourth inning. Ishikawa was robbed of a hit by first baseman Matt LaPorta’s diving play. Bochy said that Ishikawa will substitute at first base Saturday against Cincinnati and will start Sunday against Arizona.
Brian Wilson, who has been pitching in the middle innings, received his first “save opportunity” Friday and struck out the side.
Wilson said that though it’s only the Cactus League, “you still have to treat it as a save situation. Whether it counts or not, you still have to get ready.”
– Chris Haft