Guess what? The San Francisco Giants are tied for first place again. The Dodgers just lost 4 straight to the Marlins (thanks secret agent Bonds), and both teams now have identical 12-11 records. After being swept by Arizona to open a 10-game homestand, the Giants responded by going 5-1 the rest of the way to bring their record back above .500.
Let’s dive right in to this week’s Friday Five.
1) The Giants start a 3-game series in New York against the reigning NL champion Mets this weekend. The Mets are 13-7, have won 6 straight games, and 9 of their last 10. The last 3 teams they played were the Phillies, Braves, and Reds, so the Mets did their job beating up on the bottom of the NL. Somehow, Neil Walker leads the Mets with 9 home runs but Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto are the hitters to be most worried about this weekend.
All 3 games in New York are earlier starts for the Bay Area. Friday’s game starts at 4:10, Saturday at 1:05, and Sunday is brunch and baseball at 10:10 am. That’s the game to watch this weekend, Sunday morning. It’s Madison Bumgarner against hard throwing Noah Syndergaard. Both pitchers have struck out 38 batters this season, tied for 3rd in the NL. Syndergaard has a 1.69 ERA and hitters have a .222 average against him.
The whole series is a matchup of hard throwing strikeout pitchers against patient hitters. The Giants have struck out 141 times, fewest in the NL. The Mets pitchers have struck out 194 batters this seaon, 2nd in the NL. The Giants have also walked 89 times, 3rd most in baseball. So if the Mets pitchers can’t find the zone, Giants hitters will be more than happy to wait. The hope is the Giants take 2 of 3 from New York, it depends on Jake Peavy or Matt Cain coming through in one of the first 2 games.
2) That was a roller coaster of a homestand, wasn’t it? After the D-Backs series the Giants could have kept reeling, but they bounced back to take 2 from Miami and then sweep the Padres. During the 6-game rebound the Giants batted .353 as a team. They had 71 hits in 6 games, scored 38 runs, hit 12 doubles, 7(!) triples, and 3 home runs. The Giants only struck out 32 times and walked 37.
That’s 12 hits a game from an offense we knew would have some kick to it. After the slump against Arizona, the bats came to life. Before last Friday’s game against Miami, Bruce Bochy slid Matt Duffy up to the 3 spot in the lineup and it seemed to get it going. Duffy has 8 hits in his last 24 at bats and has scored 4 runs.
The batting stars of the the sweep over San Diego were Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence. Both of them have found a stroke again as evidenced by Pence’s 2 homers. and Belt beating up on the Padres all by himself on Wednesday when he went 3-for-4 and drove in 5 runs.
I didn’t forget about Johnny Cueto. The guy was brilliant the other night, shutting out the Padres 1-0. He’s a stopper in this rotation. Even if Bumgarner doesn’t have it, Cueto is right there behind him. He’s my new favorite guy. Quick tip of the cap to Span for driving in the one run Cueto needed Tuesday night.
3) Quick update on the rest of the NL West as they play each other while the Giants are in New York. LA has lost 4 straight, and as I wote earlier are 12-11, tied with the Giants for the division lead. The Padres (7-15) now go to LA for 3 games as both teams try to recover from getting swept.
The D-Backs are 12-12, just a half game behind the Giants and Dodgers. They just split 4 games St. Louis and now the Rockies (9-12) go to the desert for a 3-game set.
4)Tweet of the week, look, it’s Willie Dills!
— TortureCast (@TortureCast) April 26, 2016
5) Some Giants stuff you may have missed from the past week plus another link or two:
No, I didn’t forget about Chris Heston’s no-hitter at Citi Field last season. Here’s a link to some video. Hope he makes it back from the minors this season.
In his first full season in the Giants organization, starting pitcher Phil Bickford is turning heads in Augusta. (h/t Giant Potential)
This past Monday night, Santiago Casilla recorded his 100th career save. It was only his 6th save of four outs or more, and he earned it.
Johnny Cueto’s 1-0 shutout of the Padres on Tuesday night was his 100th win. He struck out 11 and it was his 7th career shutout.
If you haven’t checked out the #MoreThanMean video and follow up, I suggest you do. It’s tough to watch, but is a reminder that sometimes women are treated horribly, just for doing their jobs. We have many friends of the program, both female and male, and every perspective deserves respect, regardless of gender.
The Giants head to Cincinnati after the weekend for 3 games against the Reds. Johnny Cueto returns to the place of many accomplishments, and the Giants offense gets bad pitching and a tiny park. That should be fun, and we’ll cover it Monday in our next podcast episode.