Urban: Deja vu? Sweep could spur Giants moves


Urban: Deja vu? Sweep could spur Giants moves

June 18, 2011


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Mychael Urban

Admit it. Many of you wear paste-gray rubber bracelets that pay tribute to CSNBayArea.com's Senior Insider, Bay Area sports journalism's longtime and legendary Ray of sunshine, bearing the acronym "WWRW?"What Would Ratto Want?As it relates to this weekend's three-game interleague series between the host A's and, let's get real here, the co-host Giants, we already knew what Ratto wanted even before the second installment of this annual home-and-home exercise in trying to glean relevance from whence very little of it generally exists. He wanted to Pachyderms to sweep, and he explained exactly why in one of his typically sardonic, sensible, stab-in-the-stomach salvos.The main reason: big-league ball in the Bay Area is infinitely more interesting when both teams are worth watching, and we haven't been able to say that for a while now. A sweep, reasoned Ray, could serve as a springboard to something of a resurgence.RATTO: Bay Area rooting interest? A's sweep Giants
No argument there. Certainly most A's fans were pleased with the notion -- once the sting of reading that their boys were not currently relevant wore off, that is.And as of late Saturday night, following another Oakland victory in which the Giants appeared to have "Entry of the Gladiators" -- you know, the classic tune you hear as the clowns come running out at the start of every circus -- stuck in their heads for the second consecutive night, all that separated our Ray of sunshine from getting exactly what he wanted was a Trevor Cahill gem in Sunday's matinee finale.Happy Father's Day, Mr. Ratto. Bully!Don't you dare hate on Ratto for this, either, Giants fans. He actually had your best interests at heart here, too.OK, maybe not. As he might very well say himself, his interests outside himself and his family generally have the heart of a serial killer. He's kidding when he says stuff like that, right?But think about it. What happened last year after the Giants were swept out of this lovely tribute to civic harmony and cooperation of a stadium?They got desperate, they got serious, they got off their butts and they got better. A lot better. See: Nov. 1, 2010, Arlington, Tex.Prior to that sweep here last season, the Giants were content to lean on a sublime pitching staff in hopes that it would hold up under the duress of getting a handful of runs at best every game. They'd recently made it clear that there was no interest in picking up local product Pat Burrell, even thought Burrell was available, ready, willing, dirt-cheap and representative of the type of power threat the Giants lacked.The sweep, though, represented such an embarrassment offensively that the club did a quick and wise and desperate 180 on Burrell, who'd been recruited by BFF Aubrey Huff and former Philly teammate Aaron Rowand during a Giants' road trip to Arizona and was brought in not long after the undressing in Oakland.Energized by a return to the National League, Burrell turned back into Pat the Bat, started batting balls over walls, and soon he was joined by other reinforcements as part of an extreme makeover by general manager Brian Sabean.RECAP: Giants Insider gallery: Offensive woes continue
What have the Giants been doing this year thus far? Let's say it together, shall we?They've been leaning on a sublime pitching staff in hopes that it would hold up under the duress of getting a handful of runs at best every game.Is there another Pat the Bat out there right now? Not really. But there is a Bengie Molina, who represents the catching upgrade -- defensively and offensively if he can get himself in shape -- the Giants desperately need, and what on earth would be so wrong with letting bygones be whatever bygones are, signing Molina to a low-risk deal, giving him some time and Hydroxycut and seeing what's what?If what is good, don't stop there. Keep adding. Keep rolling the dice. See if the magic still has juice. Just keep doing stuff and see what sticks.It worked once. Can't hurt to see if it'll work again.And hey, if it does, everybody wins. Even our Ray of sunshine.

Bumgarner throws three innings of no-hit ball in first rehab start

Bumgarner throws three innings of no-hit ball in first rehab start


Madison Bumgarner was back on the hill Sunday night in a Giants jersey for the first time since being placed on the DL on April 21 due to a dirt bike accident

Bumgarner took the mound for the Arizona Rookie League Giants and did not allow a hit in three innings pitched. The Giants' ace also struck out two and walked one. 

In both the first and third innings, Bumgarner pitched a perfect three up and three down frame. 

Bumgarner was diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of his left throwing shoulder and sustained bruised ribs from his dirt bike accident on an off day in Colorado. Pitching in a game for the first time in over two months, Bumgarner was throwing between 88-91 miles per hour, according to Tommy Stokke of FanRagSports. 

After finishing his three innings of work, Bumgarner went down to the bullpen to increase his pitch count, reports Sande Charles of FanRagSports

Before sustaining the injury, Bumgarner was 0-3 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts this season. 

The Giants have gone 21-41 since Bumgarner's injury. They are 27-51 on the year and sit 24.5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West. 

After another Giants clunker, Bochy tells players 'enough is enough'

After another Giants clunker, Bochy tells players 'enough is enough'

SAN FRANCISCO — A few minutes after yet another missed opportunity at the plate Sunday, a voice came over a speaker in the press box at AT&T Park and announced a 524th consecutive sellout. It nicely summed up this current stretch of Giants baseball. 

The seats are emptier than they used to be at first pitch, and they were just about abandoned in the ninth inning of an 8-2 loss, but for the most part the fans are still showing up in droves. One woman brought a toaster by the dugout Sunday morning and asked players and coaches to sign it, hoping to recapture the magic from across the bridge. Another, Bryan Stow, made his first appearance of the season at AT&T Park, met with Bruce Bochy, and said he hoped to see a win. As Matt Moore started warming up, a band set up on top of the visiting dugout to play hits that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. 

For a while, AT&T Park was rocking. And then, as has happened so often this summer, the game started. 

The Giants turned in another epic clunker in a season full of them. They have lost 12 of their last 13 games and 21 of 26, but it’s worse than the raw numbers. On most nights, some in the organization have noted privately, they are simply boring. It’s one thing to lose, it’s quite another to do it in this way. 

“There’s no getting around it,” Bochy said after the sweep. “I’ve been through some tough stretches here and this is as tough as any stretch I’ve seen. For some reason the baseball gods are really testing us here and (testing) this group. It’s not that they’re not coming out ready or trying, but enough is enough.

“At some point, we’ve got to find a way to get this thing turned around.”

Even a slight pivot would be welcomed by the faithful. There were scattered boos Sunday, the latest in a growing trend. This is a fan base that has seen the highest highs, but rarely in franchise history have the lows been this low. 

The crowd no longer turns to the rally lights that were used so often in an awful April, but the noise still grows with each new rally. And then, every single time Sunday, the Giants killed off any hope. 

In the second inning, a Brandon Belt bunt single and Brandon Crawford bloop put two on, but a pair of rookies flied out. 

In the third, the bases were loaded ahead of Buster Posey. He flied out to bring one run across, and there were still runners on the corners for Belt, who leads the team in homers. On a 2-2 count, Hunter Pence inexplicably took off for second. He was caught, the inning was over, and the two-run Mets lead was intact. Bochy said he did not send Pence. 

In the sixth, there were two on with no outs for Posey. Both runners bolted to stay out of a double play. Posey popped up to first -- for a double play.

“He’s not a guy that strikes out, so I’m pretty confident sending runners with Buster,” Bochy said. “We can’t keep laying back. We’re trying to force the issue a bit and stay out of double plays.”

In the eighth, the Giants loaded the bases for Posey and Belt. Posey grounded out. Belt struck out for the third time. 

“We’re getting guys out there,” Bochy said. “We’re not doing enough damage.”

Matt Moore’s damage was self-inflicted. He twice gave up homers to the guy — Rene Rivera — hitting in front of the pitcher. Moore said he has stopped throwing his cutter the past three starts and tried to get his four-seamer going, but the Mets were teeing off. Moore gave up five runs on seven hits. He was pulled in the fifth, left to think about mechanics that still aren’t right. 

“The cutter is a little bit different of a pitch and at times it can take away from the four-seam fastball location-wise, and command of the four-seam was starting to go down the more I threw (the cutter),” Moore said. “I’m anxious to get back to it, but the foundation has got to be throwing the four-seam fastball. I need to execute where they’re carrying through the zone, not running or cutting.”

Moore said his confidence is fine and his problems are not physical. Others can no longer say that. Austin Slater, a rare bright spot in this five-win month, was pulled with a tight hip flexor. He was headed for an MRI. 

Slater is too young to be one of the players Bochy approached after the game. He said he talked to a few, though, passing along that “enough is enough” message. Moore, last in the National League in ERA (6.04), was not one who needed a reminder. 

“I’m sitting on a six right now with not a lot of wins and not enough team wins when I’m throwing,” he said. “It’s been 'enough' for me for the last couple of months.”