Giants

Giants' starting staff pitching at historic level

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Giants' starting staff pitching at historic level

DETROIT -- There is no compelling reason to break this World Series down to tiny components. You have the answer before you already. The 2012 San Francisco Giants are the 1966 Baltimore Orioles.

And nobody connected with the team wants to talk about it. Well get to their reluctance in a moment.

If you need historical edification, those Orioles swept the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-2, 6-0, 1-0 and 1-0.

Yeah, you read that right. 5-2, 6-0, 1-0 and 1-0. It was one of the greatest orgies of pitching brilliance in the post-dead ball era, and if youre too young to remember it, blame your parents.

And these Giants have a piano-wire around this World Series after Saturdays 2-0 win over the Detroit Tigers. They have won their games 8-3, 2-0 and 2-0, and have Matt Cain, putatively their best pitcher, starting in Game 4 Sunday night.

BAGGS' INSTANT REPLAY: Giants one win away from World Series title

In other words, the Giants are on the cusp of being the best starting staff to breeze through a series in nearly half a century. Plus Tim Lincecum. And if this reeks of counting ones hens before they have achieved full velocity escape, well, its all we have to go on.

And its there is to go on, because the Giants know that 3-0 needs to be made into 1-2. This is part of the series where the best players lie to themselves about how well off they are, and where history is ignored as it suits them.

1966? No, pitching coach Dave Righetti lied with a wide smile. I remember 1965, because it was the only time I ever got to stay home from school to watch Sandy Koufax. But 1966? Dont do that to me.

I remember 1966. I was 10, general manager Brian Sabean said. I remember Pat Dobson, who was one of my very best friends.

Well, okay, except that Dobson wasnt part of that Baltimore team.

But baseball people remember that staff, especially its historic World Series in which three starting pitchers and one reliever swept the Dodgers, the last three games with complete game shutouts. And these were their pitching lines:

Player IP H R ER BB K
Dave McNally 2.1 2 2 2 5 1
(Moe Drabowsky) 6.2 1 0 0 2 11

Jim Palmer 9 4 0 0 3 6
Wally Bunker 9 6 0 0 1 6
Dave McNally 9 4 0 0 2 4

STARTERS TOTAL 29.1 16 2 2 11 17
TEAM TOTAL 36 17 2 2 13 28

The starters had an ERA of 0.89. When you include Drabowskys relief work in Game 1, it lowers to 0.50.

Now compare it to the first three games of this series, against a Detroit team that hasnt really manufactured any runs in the postseason to make for their power struggles.

Player IP H R ER BB K
Barry Zito 5.2 6 1 1 1 3
Madison Bumgarner 7 2 0 0 2 8
Ryan Vogelsong 5.2 5 0 0 4 3

STARTERS TOTAL 18.1 13 1 1 7 14

Now add the bullpen totals from those three games 8.2IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 5K and you get a starters ERA of 0.49, and an overall ERA of 1.00.

Then, just for fun, add the last three starts of the NLCS:

20.1IP, 15H, R, ER, 3 BB, 19 K, 0.44 ERA

And you get this total:

38.2IP, 28H, 2R, 2ER, 10BB, 33 K, 0.47 ERA

A ball era has to be very dead indeed to produce numbers like that, even with a relatively small sample size like six games.

So yes, we are talking history, writ large. The Orioles pitched in a heavily pitcher-dominated era, where the mounds were 15 inches high as opposed to the current 10, and their two games in Dodger Stadium were on a mound that was probably closer to 20.

But these Giants? The mound is more normalized, but the results are suffocating.

Maybe were entering another heavy pitcher-dominated era, Sabean said. I dont know. I know pitching like this is like hitting. One feeds into the next one, and pretty soon it starts to seem like one long game.

But we have tomorrow, and it can all change like that. We dont make any pronouncements about anything, because this thing isnt done.

But it is close, and it is breathtaking. Tim Lincecums postseason relief work is an ongoing absurdity, and we didnt even take that romantic vision of a Cy Young winner revivified into account. We have Comrade Hayes for that.

The Giants are the front edge of a World Series sweep, one that will avenge Detroits last sweep over the 1984 San Diego team that included Bruce Bochy and Tim Flannery.

And no, they didnt want to talk about that yet, either. Not because of a jinx, but because of the effrontery of totaling the contents of the coop prematurely.

But they are also on the front edge of one of the great collective pitching performances ever. It will make the 2010 Series look like a titanic struggle if it ends the way it has begun.

For the moment, though, the Giants themselves are emphasizing the if.

After Stratton leads way in Giants' shutout, what does his future hold?

After Stratton leads way in Giants' shutout, what does his future hold?

SAN FRANCISCO — After the final out Monday night, a round table was carried into the corner of the home clubhouse at AT&T Park and surrounded by chairs. Eleven players were sitting, eating, drinking and laughing as Chris Stratton prepared to address the media. 

It was a rare sight for the Giants these days, a very rare sight. But then, so was Monday’s result. Stratton led the way in a 2-0 win over the Brewers that was the first home shutout of the season and motivated the joyous post-game scene. 

The shutout was just the second of the season for the staff. Ty Blach went the distance in the other one and Stratton, a fellow rookie, did the heavy lifting Monday, throwing six strong innings before giving way to the bullpen. Matt Cain pitched the seventh, Mark Melancon pitched the eighth while going back-to-back for the first time in three months, and Sam Dyson closed it out quickly. 

There’s a chance that Stratton joins that group in a few days. Johnny Cueto is scheduled to make a rehab start on Tuesday night in Sacramento and that could put him on track to return to the rotation a turn later. That would line up with Stratton’s next start, but Bruce Bochy wasn’t ready to kick the young righty out of the rotation, not after back-to-back scoreless starts against two of the better lineups in the league. A few days after striking out 10 Washington Nationals, Stratton cut through the Brewers. He has 12 2/3 scoreless innings over his past two appearances. 

“For how we’re using him, he’s really handled it well,” Bochy said. “We skipped him, moved him back three or four days, but he doesn’t let it faze him. This is an important time for these young players coming up, whether it’s (Ryder) Jones or (Jarrett) Parker or Stratton. They’re trying to show they belong in the Major Leagues.

“You’re hoping these guys show they’re ready to play here and we don’t have to do something else because we can do it internally.”

Bochy said he could use a six-man rotation when Cueto returns, or a starter could be skipped. That will all sort itself, but the manager made one thing clear. 

“We’d like to pitch him as much as we can,” Bochy said of Stratton.

That’s the same thing Bochy used to say of another right-hander, one he compared Stratton to before Monday’s game. Bochy was asked about Yusmeiro Petit, and he smiled and fondly stated, “He was so good. So good.” The Giants see some Petit in Stratton. He is unaffected by long layoffs and he’s capable of starting, relieving, or even pumping his fastball up a couple ticks for short outings. 

Petit was a mainstay in San Francisco for years, a key cog in a championship team. Bochy has been looking for that piece since Petit departed in free agency, and Stratton seems like he might be suited for the role. He will want more, of course, because all pitchers do. The Giants will give him five more weeks here to try and earn that. 

For the moment, Stratton’s focus is elsewhere. He turns 27 on Monday and the celebration started early. As Stratton answered questions, veterans at the table heckled him about striking out just one Brewer. 

“I left all the strikeouts in Washington, I guess,” Stratton said. 

Nick Hundley walked up with a TV remote and held it up between the cameras. 

“What was your thought on the punchout?” he asked. 

“I’m glad he swung,” Stratton said, smiling. “It was a ball.”

“Did you think about getting any more?” Hundley asked. 

With that, he smiled and ducked back behind the cameras to return to the celebration in the corner. A few minutes later, Stratton joined him.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' first home shutout of 2017

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' first home shutout of 2017

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — Ty Blach has been a bright spot in this losing season, giving the Giants a young, cost-controlled lefty who can potentially fill a huge role next season. Chris Stratton is trying to do the same thing from the right side. 

The 26-year-old continued his August surge, throwing six dominant innings against the Brewers in a 2-0 win that was the staff's first shutout at AT&T Park this season. 

It was the kind of night that's been so familiar over the years. The Giants had six home shutouts last season. Here are five things to know from this year's first ... 

—- The Brewers are first in the league in homers and the Nationals are third, so Stratton had his work cut out for him the last two times out. His results: 12 2/3 innings, 9 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts. That’s quite the statement. Stratton’s scoreless streak is the longest by a Giants rookie starter since Chris Heston threw 16 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings in July of 2015. 

—- Matt Cain was used as a short reliever to protect a two-run lead in the seventh. He had a 1-2-3 inning that ended with a strikeout. 

—- Mark Melancon pitched back-to-back games for the first time since May 19-20. He struck out Neil Walker and Ryan Braun in a perfect inning. 

—- Jarrett Parker reached base his first three times up. He’s hitting .385 at home this season but he’s just 4-for-35 (.114) on the road. Weird splits for a Giant slugger. 

—- Brandon Crawford is finally finding some traction. His double in the fourth was the big hit in a two-run frame that gave Stratton a lead to work with. Crawford is 7-for-17 on the home stand with three extra-base hits and four RBI.