Giants: First-half awards, highs, lows, etc.

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Giants: First-half awards, highs, lows, etc.

FIRST HALF SURPRISESRyan Theriot
He looked cooked in the spring and couldnt hit a lick before landing on the DL with a bad elbow. Since returning, though, hes been a two-out hitting machine, stabilized the lineup in the No.2 spot and took the sting out of the news that Freddy Sanchez wont play this season.

Santiago Casilla
Until his last six outings, Casilla had a better save percentage, ERA and WHIP than Brian Wilson posted in the Bearded Ones best season as the Giants closer. Not bad for a guy plucked off the scrapheap a couple years ago, even if fans cant get behind the obscure Spanish-language Christian song he uses for his entrance tune.

Melky Cabrera
The Melk Man had 201 hits for the Royals last season and hit better than .300 from both sides of the plate, but the Giants merely hoped he could approach those numbers. Cabrera has exceeded them, and then some. Being named the All-Star Game MVP was icing on the cake.

FIRST HALF DISAPPOINTMENTSTim Lincecum
Hi, Timmy. Thanks for not signing that five-year, 100 million extension we offered you. Sincerely, the Giants.

Freddy Sanchez
Hes not going to play this season after back surgery. His shoulder hadnt allowed him to return to second base, anyway. A surprise? No. A disappointment? You bet. Thats 6 million the Giants cant use to boost the roster at the trade deadline.

Guillermo Mota
Done in by Dimetapp -- the kiddie version, so he claims. Hes eligible to return from his 100-game PED suspension at the end of August, and can begin working out with the team 20 days before that. Well see. In the meantime, no sniffling allowed.

THE HIGH POINT
We wont soon forget the sight of Melky Cabrera leaping against the wall, Gregor Blanco hurling his body into no-mans-land, Joaquin Arias throwing desperately across the full width of the diamond from flat feet -- and Cain, the longest tenured Giant, hooking the air triumphantly after throwing the 22nd perfect game in major league history. For evermore, June 13 will be Matt Cain day in San Francisco. He got a Samurai sword, too. Cool. Cain notched his feat against the Houston Astros. Its probably worth mentioning that his first start out of the break will come against you guessed it.

THE LOW POINT
What a cruel trick. A year to the day that Pablo Sandoval had surgery to remove a fractured right hamate bone in his right hand, the Panda was diagnosed with the same injury in his left paw. Call it the bane of the switch-hitter. The Giants already were five games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers when Sandoval was diagnosed with the fracture May 3. He started on a tear, too, hitting safely in 21 of his first 22 games and smacking a team-high five home runs. Without Sandoval, the Giants went 16 consecutive home games (more than 500 at-bats in all) bereft of a home run -- the longest in San Francisco-era history, and the longest by any major league team since the 1990 Houston Astros. Yet the Dodgers lost Matt Kemp, too, and the Giants managed a 21-14 record while Sandoval healed. At least hell never fracture another hamate again.

FIRST HALF MVP
Cabrera owns a major league-leading 119 hits, the title of top vote-getter among NL All-Star outfielders, the All-Star Game MVP award and his own freshly starched, bow-tie wearing fan club. The Melk Men are a hit at AT&T Park in their 50s-era delivery uniforms, and lately the ratio has improved with the addition of a few comely Milk Maidens. Cabrera has them in a froth over his hitting, but his excellent, smart baserunning, his left field defense and a cannon-strong left arm have inspired cheers as well.
FIRST HALF LVP
If Lincecum were merely pitching below his standards, the Giants would be threatening to run away with the NL West. Even a 9-9 record in his starts would have the Giants at 51-35 -- a record that would pace the NL and give them a 4 -game lead over the Dodgers. Instead, the Happy Lincecum Day is a faded memory. The Giants are 4-14 in his starts, hes thrown quality outings just four times in 18 assignments and hes already allowed three more earned runs than he did all last season. On the road, its been nothing but tractor marks on his slender backside. He has a 9.00 ERA away from AT&T Park. Thats contributed to a staff road ERA of 4.69 that ranks 25th among the 30 major league clubs -- even higher than the horror-show Colorado Rockies. (At home, the Giants 2.42 ERA is second best in the majors.)

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Before the right hooks and haymakers, there was the helmet toss.

A very bad helmet toss.

As he made his way to the mound after getting hit by a pitch on Monday afternoon, Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper attempted to throw his helmet at Giants reliever Hunter Strickland. He missed by a wide margin.

Observers took notice, including Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner.

"What was worse, Harper's helmet throw or 50 Cents first pitch? Heads up in the #McCoveyCove," Turner tweeted shortly after the brawl between the Giants and Nationals.

Turner is referring to a ceremonial first pitch thrown by rapper 50 Cent prior to a Mets game in 2014.

Harper mentioned the helmet when addressing the situation after the game.

"I was trying to go after him, with the helmet or with myself, just doing what I needed to do keep it going, I guess," Harper told reporters.

 

Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

SAN FRANCISCO — When the Nationals visited AT&T Park for the first time after the 2014 postseason series, Bryce Harper took to Instagram to compliment the city. “Nothing like SF! #BayArea” he wrote underneath a photo of the Bay Bridge. 

Harper, a Las Vegas kid, has always seemed to enjoy facing the Giants. He hasn’t hit well at AT&T Park, but he was a star in their 2014 matchup and he praised Brandon Crawford on Twitter during this year’s WBC. The greeting Monday was not a friendly one. 

Harper was retired three times by Matt Moore. The first pitch he saw from Hunter Strickland left a dent on his hip and set off a wild brawl. 

Strickland denied any intent. Harper seemed confused by the timing of the payback pitch. 

“It’s so in the past, it’s not even relevant anymore,” he said of their 2014 series, according to Dan Kolko of MASN. “They won the World Series that year. I don’t think he should even be thinking about what happened in the first round. He should be thinking about wearing that ring home every single night. I don’t know why he did it or what he did it for, but I guess it happens.”

The Giants were not surprised when Harper reacted the way he did. Now they’ll wait for Strickland to get hit with a suspension, and Harper is looking at a layoff, too. 

“You never want to get suspended or anything like that, but sometimes you’ve got to go and get him,” Harper said. “You can’t hesitate. You either go to first base or you go after him. And I decided to go after him.”

Strickland, about an hour after the fight, said he’s not sure what will happen in terms of discipline. 

“That’s their decision and obviously I’ll take whatever consequences come with it and we’ll go from there,” he said. 

Any action by the league is unlikely to impact this series. Even if suspensions are handed down swiftly, players can appeal. Harper and Strickland may not be alone. Several players jumped into the fray aggressively and at least one non-active Giant — Hunter Pence — was right in the middle of the scrum. At the very least, he could be facing a fine for trying to help his teammate. 

“It doesn't look good when a guy gets hit but also on their side, the guy throws his helmet,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Strickland’s got to stand his ground. There’s no choice there. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen (with suspensions).”

One player who won’t face discipline: Madison Bumgarner, who is also on the DL but wisely stayed away from this one, even if it probably killed him to do so. 

--- The biggest hit didn’t come from Strickland or Harper. It was Jeff Samardzija and Michael Morse coming together in the middle of the field. Both players said they were fine. 

"I was just trying to get in there to break everything up," Morse said. "We lost the game, that's what's most important."

Ahhh, yes, the Giants lost 3-0. Bochy seemed particularly peeved that Strickland chose the eighth inning of a 2-0 game to exact revenge, and you can bet some teammates weren't thrilled. We'll see if there's anything more to this Tuesday. There was a lot of adrenaline flowing, but some of these guys might not be feeling so spry when they wake up in the morning. Bochy said he had not heard any reports of players getting injured, but he also admitted that he didn't see most of the collisions and had no idea what happened with Morse and Samardzija, who had a world-class reaction, by the way.  

--- As with the incident with the Dodgers a couple weeks ago, Buster Posey stayed out of this one. Smartly. 

"After it happened I saw Harper point and the next thing you know he's going out after them," Posey said. "Those are some big guys tumbling on the ground. You see Michael Morse, as big as he is, and he's getting knocked around like a pinball."

Posey is not alone in staying away from these scrums where 250-pound dudes are flying at knees and ankles. Brandon Crawford can often be found on the outside, as well. It's smart, but I think something else was at play here today. Posey understands that the Giants are fighting for every scrap at this point. Every loss digs the hole that much deeper, and this happened with two outs in the eighth inning of a 2-0 game, against a team with a poor bullpen. I'd imagine there was some serious annoyance there. 

--- How angry was Strickland? It took three guys, three big guys, to drag him into the dugout: Pence, Mac Williamson, and George Kontos. 

"I was pretty fired up to be honest with you, but that’s just adrenaline," he said. 

--- Baseball fights are rather silly, but at least you get some phenomenal photos.