Giants Bats Quiet, Dodgers Quieter in Shutout

The Giants shut out the LA Dodgers at AT&T Park tonight, 2-0 behind Tim Hudson (2-3) who gave the men in orange and black 6-1/3 innings of solid pitching, scattering five hits. Sergio Romo got credit for a hold and Pablo Casilla nabbed the save.

Buster Posey was the offensive story for the Giants, collecting the only RBI of the strange night game. The Giants left nine runners on base and hit only 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position. But tonight it was enough to win their fourth straight.

Every other team in the NL West won tonight but the G-Men picked up a full game on the Dodgers and are now 3.5 games back at 21-18.

Tomorrow’s game pits Tim Lincecum (3-2, 2.43) against the Dodgers’ Brett Anderson (2-1, 3.50). Timmy’s coming off a rough start in Cincinnati where he went just 4-2/3 while giving up five hits and three earned runs before giving way to the pen. But his two previous outings were strong. Back in front of the home crowd, I think he rebounds and pitches a solid game to lead the Giants to their fifth straight victory. Call it 5-2.

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Stop Picking on Vogie

Ryan Vogelsong, the 37-year-old 15-year veteran pitcher for the Giants, has been the subject of a lot of negative commentary so far this season. I’ve been one of his loudest critics.

Time to shut up.

RYAN VOGELSONG -- Roaring Back with a Vengeance

RYAN VOGELSONG — Roaring Back with a Vengeance

Vogie has followed a rocky start with three consecutive gems in which he’s given up just 3 runs in 19-2/3 innings for a freezing ERA of 1.37. His WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) is just under 1.00, a super performance. He’s dropped his season ERA to 5.31, which is still too high but it’s certainly headed in the right direction and fast.

Reports say that Vogelsong took a hard look at his pitching after he started the season with three consecutive games in which he gave up seven or more runs as the Giants lost all three. Then he had a scratched-out win on April 23 vs LA at AT&T Park before he really bombed on April 29 against the Dodgers in LA, losing by 7-3.

He apparently decided he was pitching too carefully, trying not to lose instead of to win. He switched his outlook and what a difference it’s made!

Tim Hudson gets the ball tonight against the Dodgers, who are in town for a freakishly scheduled three-game home stand and his teammates are on a three-game streak. He’ll be facing Carlos Frias, who’s started the season with a 3-0 mark and boasts a 2.89 ERA. Despite the fact that in the pitcher-friendly home field the Giants’ sizzling bats are likely to be considerably cooled, I think the team will rally behind a Hunter Pence-fueled crowd as the Giants win by three.

Go, Giants!

Reversing the Reversing of the Reverse Psychology

Well, it worked!

In my note this afternoon, I forecast a squeaker by the Giants and a sweep of the Dodgers — both of which I cast as unlikely — and, wouldn’t you know it, the G-men beat LA 3-2 in 10.

Of course, I can’t really take credit for that, now can I? I mean, one correct prediction in 17 games? And to think I used to do this for a living!

But all is not roses, Giants fans. I mean, come on. You bang out 10 hits and get three measly runs? They left 11 men on base and only a scratch single by Justin Maxwell enabled them to eke out the win.

Tomorrow night, it’s a game in Colorado. I’ll preview that one and make another fearless prediction in tomorrow’s post. I bet  you can hardly stand the suspense, right?

Maybe I Should Decline Comment on the Giants?

Wow. Go figure. I run out of time a couple of times to do my usual daily posts on the Giants and they win two in a row from what my good old friend Sandi Golden used to call the Ducking Fodgers. (She had T-shirts with the phrase “Duck the Fodgers” one of the early years she and her husband and my wife and I had season tickets at Pac Bell Park.)

While two wins do not a winning streak make, it’s important, too, to note that 10 losses do not a dismal season make, either. At 6-10, the Giants go into this afternoon’s series-closer with the Dodgers in the NL West basement, 4 games out of first, with the Dodgers and the Padres tied atop the division.

Statistically, they’re still fairly anemic. When this one’s over, they hit the road again for three with the Rockies and three more in LA with the Dodgers. This schedule is, has been and will continue to be brutal. And with injuries and hobbling still plaguing the team, the outlook isn’t necessarily all that sunny, either.

Ryan Vogelsong gets the ball today, which is almost never a Good Thing. He’s walked nearly as many as he’s struck out (9-10) and his ERA is a stratospheric 10.45. For reference, that’s more than a point worse than Jake Peavy, for heaven’s sake!

Sweeps are hard to come by as a rule. The Giants, even at 6-10 with an eight-game losing streak stuck in the middle, have only been swept in one of their five series. So the odds are against a win today and with Vogelsong on the mound, the odds go up even further.

At the risk of continuing my dismal streak of predicting games, I’m going to say the G-men pull out a squeaker today and win by one.

Maybe the reverse psychology of the reversal of the psychology will work?

Running Out of Things to Say About the Giants

Chris Heston became the unlikely stopper for the Giants on Saturday, leading them to a victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. But a team is only as good as the guy who pitches the day after the stopper does his job. And on Sunday, Tim Hudson was shaky, ineffective and in trouble from the opening gun. I couldn’t figure out why Bruce Bochy left him in so long.

Giants' Tim Hudson blew up early and never recovered.

Giants’ Tim Hudson blew up early and never recovered.

In the end, it was as it had been for eight of the previous nine games as the G-men started a new losing streak with a 5-1 defeat at the hands of the D-Backs. Their record is now 4-10 and at .266 they are the third worst team in baseball. Only Milwaukee (.167) and Miami (.231) have worse records.

This time, the Giants did do one thing different. Whereas in most of the recent losses, they’ve wasted opportunity after opportunity, this time they just didn’t create any chances to waste. They stranded only five base runners and only two of them in scoring position. They just didn’t hit at all as Jeremy Hellickson tossed 6-2/3 innings of decent ball, scattering eight hits and giving up just one earned run.

Hudson, meanwhile, fell behind 2-0 in the first and never really recovered, leaving after five innings of work for another non-quality start.

Today, at long last, the Giants get a day off. They are the only team in the majors to have been forced to endure 14 consecutive games to open the season, a scheduling snafu I refuse to see as an accident. As far back as I’ve been able to research it, no other team has been forced to go 14 straight right out of Spring Training without a day off. The D-backs, by comparison, are enjoying their second day off today. That grueling schedule has no doubt played a part in the Giants’ poor start and MLB should be ashamed of itself for such a stupid move. But at the end of the day, professional players need to overcome those kinds of obstacles and the Giants clearly have not.

Tomorrow, the Dodgers, leading the NL West at 9-3, come into AT&T Park to face Tim Lincecum (0-1, 2.25) in the opener. They’ll throw Brett Anderson (1-0, 3.27) at the home team. The Dodgers have played nine of their first 12 at Dodger Stadium and are on a seven-game winning streak.

The odds are stacked against the orange-and-black in this series. They have the second worst runs scored vs runs allowed margin in all of baseball, having been outscored by 25 compared to the Brewers’ 35.

I’m afraid the Dodgers will continue the Giants’ losing streak despite a good effort from Lincecum.

Los Angeles 4, San Francisco 1.