Giants

The D-word tempts gods to laugh

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The D-word tempts gods to laugh

I hear the D-word being bandied about again, so it is incumbent upon me to remind you of what happened the last time we heard it.Scott Cousins happened. Jonathan Sanchez happened. Cody Ross and Aaron Rowand and Andres Torres and Aubrey Huff happened. Showtime happened. And then nothing else happened.In other words, the D-word Dynasty is the best way to get the gods who handle baseball to laugh.Oh, the talk is louder this time, because Giants are the proud owners of two World Series in three years, and everyone connected with the operation today is being called a genius at worst, a galactic overlord at best.And as delightful as the sensation felt for Giant fans, it now seems closer to being prophetic. And trust us, it isnt.Not that the Giants cant be a dynasty, mind you. Anything is possible. But dynasties are rare, so the odds run against them. Plus, the last time they defended their title, they lost their way, their best players, their bat rack and their sense of joie de sport.In short, championships are fragile. Anything can turn them, especially the notion that one guarantees more.So heres your assignment until the parade forms: Look at 2011 in all its mutant horror (yes, 86 wins is horror now aint that a steel-capped boot in the temple?), and realize that the parade commemorates not only the deeds of October but the struggles of May and July as well.Note that youre a catchers injury away from not defending your title, and a center fielders contractual desires away from losing your exterior defense, and a third basemans attention span from losing the heart of your teams order.Look, lets just generalize. Things happen after a championship, and not all of them are good. Some players fall in love with the good life. Some players fall in love with the free market. Some players fall, period.RELATED: 2012 Giants World Series page
All three of those things happened in the winter of 2010 and the spring of 2011. The Giants of 2012 had none of those issues. Their biggest injury was to Brian Wilsons arm, and they managed to more than merely cope. Their second biggest injury was to Melky Cabreras brain, and they survived that.And that was it. Buster Posey played in 148 games, or 30 more than anyone including him figured. Their starting rotation made 160 of their scheduled 162 assignments, and the others were an emergency start in April for Eric Hacker a few days after a doubleheader and a post-clinching one-off for Yusmeiro Petit. Pablo Sandoval broke a hand and pulled a hamstring. Ryan Vogelsong strained his back in March. Jeremy Affeldt and Ryan Theriot did 15s. But this was largely a very healthy team.And the budget rose to 130 million cover the important contractual matters (Lincecum, Matt Cain), thus keeping what had been built intact.But there is no guarantee that the Giants will remain healthy in 2012. And the savings from expiring contracts and whatever Cabrera isnt going to get if he returns will be eaten by Buster Posey, Marco Scutaro and Angel Pagan, assuming the latter two want to return. And in honesty, good fortune is not forever, and no team that wins a World Series for the foreseeable future wont have at least some of that. In a million simulations of the Giants postseason, Johnny Cueto doesnt get hurt in most of them, and Lance Lynn doesnt hit second base on the fly in most of them, and Justin Verlander doesnt lose his game in most of them. The Giants did very well to capitalize on all these events, but sometimes luck swings back the other way, with a bullet.The point here is, what has been built can be taken out with a stroke of the pen, a snap of a femur, a distracted mind, or just plain old baseball. You can talk the D-word all you want, but in this new world when MLB plays out a lot like NHL, the variables often have more power than the plan.So say it all you want if you must. Maybe silly and grandiose things will be said tomorrow on a dais in front of city hall, and shouted from convertibles. But some of it will be whistling in graveyard, or just be wishful thinking and fate-tempting. The Giants are good . . . very very good indeed. But the last time they were this good, their turn ended abruptly.What can be said is this: They are built to survive as much as building can cover. But building and maintenance are two very different things.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

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.