Ballparks a factor for Giants' rotation in NLDS

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Ballparks a factor for Giants' rotation in NLDS

The As situation is so day-to-day-to-hour that analyzing their chances almost seems a pointless exercise. Tell us how they get through the fourth inning today, and well have a different answer for you thats how uncertain it is.But well give it a try. They need not to get their hats blocked on this road trip, or theyre in deep and abiding puppy leavings.For the Giants, on the other hand, the choices are down to a precious couple: Washington, or Cincinnati. And frankly, they should prefer Washington.
This, despite the fact that the Nationals have beaten them five of six times (as opposed to the Reds far more pedestrian four of six). And this, despite the fact that Washington has slightly better pitching and hitting than Cincinnati.No, we suspect that the real difference between the two teams is in the geography of the ballparks. Nationals Park is a slightly better than average hitters park this year, while The Great American Ball Park is the bandboxiest bandbox in the history of modern American bandboxes.It is in keeping with the proud tradition of Cincinnati ballparks. Crosley Field was a tiny little slip of a thing, and when it was replaced by Riverfront Stadium, one of those immense circular carbuncles, it still played as a hitters park.But the new Cincy digs are exceedingly friendly to fly-ball hitters, and cruel to fly-ball pitchers.Now guess what the Giants have in abundance.Of the 49 National League starting pitchers by innings, no Giant gives up more ground ball outs than fly ball outs; the closest to neutral is Madison Bumgarner, at a pretty damned neutralesque 0.99 ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio.It drops significantly after that. Tim Lincecum ranks 23rd at 0.92, the slumping Ryan Vogelsong 34th at 0.82, Barry Zito 40th at 0.77, and Matt Cain is 47th at 0.66.In other words, if all the games of the first-round series were in Cincinnati, the Giants might well be screwed.But they arent, and Cain will almost certainly pitch in the opener at home whether it is against Washington or Cincinnati, which means he wont be affected by the cruelties of the dimensions, the hitting background, or the Ohio Rivers meteorological quirks until a fifth game. He pitches in the San Francisco International Airport, so hell be fine, at least to start.But now comes the harder part for Bruce Bochy whether to pitch Zito second so he can avoid Cincinnati entirely, and leave the heavier lifting to Lincecum and Bumgarner, who are better than average on the GBFB ratio board, or to go in order of second-half effectiveness, pitching Lincecum second and let Bumgarner go third and Zito for a potentially decisive fourth game in the miniaturized ballpark.These all end up being decisions based on logic and matchups and rational thought, which leaves out most of us, but if the ballpark preys heavily on Bruce Bochys mind, Zito should spend his time in Cincinnati as a loyal cheerleader, available only if a game goes, say, 20 innings or so.Which is why Washington may turn out to be the more clement match. The Nationals and Reds have almost equivalent numbers, and there is no way of effectively quantifying the icing of Stephen Strasburg on the rest of the rotation, let alone the team. The sample size is simply too small to draw conclusions.So maybe your rooting interest hinges on something as simply as fly balls in the Ohio sky. Maybe youll have to defer that dream series with Dusty Baker and the ghosts of Ought-Two for an extra series. Either that, or you are so confident in your teams pitching that you think location doesnt matter.Well, in that case, youre probably wrong. Location is everything, and in so many ways.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Top pick Heliot Ramos visits AT&T Park, will start Giants career this weekend

Top pick Heliot Ramos visits AT&T Park, will start Giants career this weekend

SAN FRANCISCO — As he was wrapping up the first press conference of his career, Heliot Ramos was asked when he expects to be back at AT&T Park as a player. The 17-year-old smiled and said he hopes to debut in three years. 

“I know it’s hard, but that’s my dream,” Ramos continued. “I know I’ve got to work hard for that.”

A half-dozen Giants officials stood a few feet away, smiling. Three years would be incredibly impressive. It took Christian Arroyo and Ryder Jones four years after being drafted out of high school to reach the big leagues. Buster Posey got a cup of coffee a year after he was drafted, but he was already 22 years old because he had played three years at Florida State. 

Ramos doesn’t turn 18 until September. The Giants hope he is dominating A-ball in three years, and yet, he’s the the kind of prospect that allows them to dream for so much more. 

“If he grew up in Southern California (instead of Puerto Rico) we never would have had a shot at drafting him,” one team official said Tuesday.

Ramos certainly opened eyes in his second trip to AT&T Park, but then again, he put on a display the first time, too. The Giants brought him in for a pre-draft workout and someone pointed out to Ramos that the deepest part of the park was 421 feet. The right-handed hitter, making the transition to a wood bat, wasn’t bothered by the dimensions. He took aim at Triples Alley and tried to blast one out, and he nearly did. Then he started pulling the ball, peppering the left field bleachers with homers and convincing the front office that he was the right pick at No. 19 in this month’s draft. Ramos, described as a potential five-tool center fielder, said he enjoys hitting here.

“It’s a park with a lot of history, and I like that,” he said. 

The clock on his career starts this weekend. Ramos will travel back to Arizona and play in a rookie league game Friday or Saturday. It is always a slow progression for a high school draft pick, but the Giants believe Ramos is physically mature enough to jump right in with both feet. 

Ramos, who said his favorite player is Andrew McCutchen, is listed at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds and he carries it well. One member of the front office compared his body type to Yasiel Puig as a rookie; another called him a “mini-Cespedes.” Bruce Bochy lit up when asked about the physicality of the organization’s latest top pick. 

“Any time you get a young kid like this, the ceiling is so high,” he said. “That excites you.”

Bochy spent some time with Ramos and his family after batting practice. As they posed for photos, the manager looked out at the field and then turned to a PR representative.

“Can he take BP? Put him in the last group,” Bochy said, smiling. “I’ll put him in the lineup tomorrow.”

Ramos didn’t end up taking swings, but if all goes according to his plan, it won’t be long.

Giants lineup: After nine-run outburst on Monday, Bochy makes no changes

Giants lineup: After nine-run outburst on Monday, Bochy makes no changes

Bud Black and Bruce Bochy issued their lineups for Game 2 of their series at AT&T Park:

Rockies (47-32) 
1. Charlie Blackmon (L) CF
2. DJ LeMahieu (R) 2B
3. Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
4. Mark Reynolds (R) 1B
5. Ian Desmond (R) LF
6. Alexi Amarista (L) RF
7. Trevor Story (R) SS
8. Tony Wolters (L) C
9. Jeff Hoffman (R) P

Giants (28-51)
1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Hunter Pence (R) RF
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Ryder Jones (L) 3B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Matt Cain (R) P (3-7, 5.54 ERA)