Author Archives: TortureCast

About TortureCast

The podcast by and for fans of the San Francisco Giants, hosted weekly by our team of Willie Dills, Chad King, Ben Lee and Eric Nathanson.

Episode #120: May the Morse be With You

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Michael Morse with an improbable game-tying homerun in the 8th inning against LA, reminiscent of the one he hit in Game 5 of the NLCS. Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle

You can download the episode here, or stream it below!

Willie returns to the podcast to chat with Eric and Chad about the Giants’ historic poor start. We still believe it’s too early in the season to panic, but there are legitimate concerns, but there are also bright spots like Matt Cain, Christian Arroyo, Michael Morse, Buster Posey and Joe Panik.

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What’s good with the Giants?

We here at TortureCast often talk about breaking down the Giants season into smaller segments. At the start of play today, the San Francisco Nine have played 16 games, 1/10th of their season total. So I decided now is a good time to check in and see how things are going.

The Giants are 6-10 after splitting two games during their Kansas City memories tour. All alone in last place, one measly half game behind the San Diego Padres. This weekend, the Giants will try to get out of the cellar in the house of horrors known as Coors Field with three games against the Rockies.

Every couple of weeks or so I’ll be back to check in after each tenth of the season. I figure that’s long enough to space them out so I can make sure I’ll stay on it. If I could write every day, believe me, I would. So, riffing off my old “3 up, 3 down” format, here’s some observations about the 2017 San Francisco Giants. Continue reading

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Episode #119: Jarrett Parker’s Collarbone is the Giants

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Jarrett Parker broke his collarbone catching a fly ball against the fence on Saturday. Let’s hope the Giants have already hit their fence and come back over the next few weeks to turn this season around. (photo: Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

You can download the episode here, or stream it below!

We thought they’d turn it around this week.

They didn’t.

After a 2-4 week, the Giants sit in last place at 5-9, but we look at two seasons since 2000 when the Giants were worse (4-10) and both seasons they finished above .500. In 2000 they won 97 games and the west after starting 4-10.

Ok, so we’re looking for silver linings here.

Eric and Chad discuss MadBum’s winless start to the season, Cueto’s 3-0 start, the bad luck, who’s hot and who’s not, if Cain should be skipped, Marrero’s first MLB HR, Strickland and Gearrin haven’t allowed a run, and well, anything else positive we can point towards.

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Episode #118: It Could Be Worse

bustergettinghit

We all held our collective breath when Buster got hit by a 94 MPH fastball in today’s home opener. (photo: Eric Risberg, AP)

You can download the episode here, or stream it below!

3-5 is better than 1-5, 6, or 7, right?

That’s the barrel the Giants were looking down two days ago when they were 1-5 before winning the last two to make the internet of Giants fans a little less dreary.

Eric and Chad open up our first regular season podcast of 2017 by discussing what went wrong (LF, bullpen), and what went right (Bum, Cueto, Moore, Panik, Crawford) over the first week of the season. Basically, the Giants have the worst left field offensive numbers by far, and their bullpen and pitching stats with a lead are cringe-worthy. Also, we hope Buster will be ok after getting drilled in the noggin.’ And that little league bases-clearing double by Moore is a sight to behold.

Maybe next week will be better?

@chadk21

@torturecast

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Episode #117: 2017 Season Preview

bumgarnerhomeruns

Bumgarner became the first pitcher in MLB history to hit two homeruns on opening day. (Photo: USA Today)

You can download the episode here, or stream it below!

Besides the post-World Series victory podcasts, season previews are our favorite to record every year. Spring has sprung. Hope is effervescent. The Giants bullpen is…different.

Chad, Ben and Eric talk about that catastrophic meltdown by Melancon in the 9th in their opening day loss to the Diamondbacks, but also reason why there is hope.

Many of you responded to our query about how many games the Giants will win this year. Let’s just say that many are out of the stratosphere, but would more than be appreciated. We also offer up our own predictions and break down what are crucial spots that may pivot the season in one direction or the other.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @torturecast or like us on Facebook!

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Episode #116: Spring has Sprung

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Where hath thou hair gone?

You can download the episode here, or stream it below!

Ben, Eric and Chad get together to talk about the first couple of weeks of spring training, including the record number of players in camp, the competition for scarce infield and outfield positions, the fifth starter, the new closer, and of course, Hunter Pence’s freshly shorn face.

 

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Audio Interviews from Media Day (Posey, Crawford, Samardzija, Melancon, Moore, Bochy)

Check out our audio interviews with seven Giants from this weekend (ok, Bochy is just video). The consistent theme is that there is hope emanating from the back of the pen, namely the new closer, Mark Melancon. He was so chill, I thought perhaps he was on performance depressants.

You can catch almost all of these interviews in their video format (plus or minus a few minutes) here.

 

Buster Posey

Brandon Crawford

Jeff Samardzija

Hunter Pence

Mark Melancon

Matt Moore

Bruce Bochy

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Exclusive Player Interviews…and some not so exclusive interviews…

 

Yesterday was a very productive day at AT&T Park, as I grabbed quick group interviews with Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Hunter Pence, Matt Moore, Bruce Bochy, Jeff Samardzija and the new closer, Mark Melancon. All but Samardzija (audio only) are in the YouTube playlist above.

Now that FanFest is over, and spring training is about to start, just sit back, relax, and see what your some of your favorite Giants have to say about the upcoming season.

Chad

 

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Episode #115: Football is Over!

gorkys

Gorkys is our savior

Download the episode or stream it below!

https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/torturecast/episodes/2017-02-06T23_08_10-08_00

The TortureCast has awakened from its long winter slumber to bring you thoughts on the Super Bowl and the Giants’ offseason. We say goodbye to Romo (Dodgers), Lopez (FA), Peavy (FA), Pagan (FA), Blanco (D’backs), Casilla (A’s), and welcome Melancon, Morse, Rollins, Hundley, and a lot of familiar faces. The starting rotation is almost set, but there are questions in the outfield, except for Gorkys!

 

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End of an Era

moore

Should Moore have started the 9th inning in game 4?

It’s been just a little over 48 hours since the Giants’ season came to an end in one of the most gut-punching, low-blow, torturous ways possible. Pouring salt on the fresh and open wound was the fact that the Dodgers somehow, although in the exact same position as the Giants, being down 2-1 at home, won games 4 and 5 by one stinking run, and are now facing the Cubs in the NLCS.

The even-year magic is officially dead.

DEAD

As a lifelong 42-year old fan of the Giants, this one hurt. It hurt a lot. Ok, not quite as much as 2002, but I’d rank this at #2 on my personal pain index of postseason failures. Sure, they lost in 2000 to the Mets (I was there, by the way), after J.T. Snow hit a game-tying HR off of Armando Benitez in the 9th, but lost it and the series in the 10th. (Why did we ever sign Benitez, anyway). Then there was J.T. Snow getting thrown out at the plate in Florida to end the 2003 NLDS. The 1989 World Series sweep by the A’s, the 1987 collapse against the Cardinals in the NLCS (CANDY MALDONADO!). The 103 wins in 1993.

I’ve been a conscious, breathing, sentient being for all of these failures. However, the magical even years of 2010, 2012 and 2014 essentially erased all of that pain and sorrow, and then some. How many fans have this much surplus in championship gold in baseball? Certainly the turn-of-the century Yankees, and maybe the Red Sox are somewhat close with three in 10 years. Three in five is amazing. Four in seven would have even been more amazing. But, it wasn’t meant to be.

The 9th inning collapse on Tuesday hurt so much, that I literally didn’t sleep. And I tried. I went to bed immediately. Was under the covers by 9:45 pm. I was still awake at 7 am, never having left the bed. Is that okay? Does that mean I have a problem? I broke out in cold sweats imagining how Bochy could’ve altered the outcome, or how perhaps, I could conjure a time machine and literally alter time by planting suggestions in Bochy’s ear or taking a bat to Zobrist’s ankles. I imagined an alternate universe where the Giants won games 4 and 5 (yes, they would have won game 5) and beat the Dodgers in the NLCS and somehow beat the Indians for retribution for the Warriors and their 4th ring.

I love this team too much.

Here’s a question that will never be answered, really: Why not let Moore start the 9th?

Now, many are on board with this idea, and many are not and are fine with the conventional wisdom plan of baseball.

Personally, I was begging for Moore to start the 9th. Implored the baseball gods. But, when I saw that Derek Law was on the bump, I was partly horrified, but also vexed. Bochy said he was going to close with Romo/Smith. Ok, Romo pitched two innings the night prior, but so did Law, so that can’t be the reason why Romo didn’t start the 9th.

Before I get too deep in the “conga line of doom” that Bochy rolled out, let me get back to the Moore hypothesis:

  1. Moore was CRUISING! He allowed 2 hits through 8 IP, and had struck out 10, while only walking 2. More importantly, he retired the last 8 batters in order! The Giants were out-hitting the Cubs 11-2 after 8 innings!
  2. The bullpen sucks. Ok, we all know that, and yes, at some point, Bochy would have to have relied on his bullpen in the NLCS and/or World Series. But did he HAVE to in this elimination game? NO!
  3. If pitch count was a concern, Moore threw 133 pitches in a no-hitter attempt in LA. Of course this game is more important than a no-hitter, it’s an elimination game! Moore could have faced at least one batter, as he was at 120 pitches. He gets on, they go to the pen. He gets him out, he faces another guy. Butterfly effect and shit.
  4. Moore had not pitched in 9 days since the regular-season closing win against the Dodgers, where Moore had a masterful 8 IP. Of course Romo closed it out, but it was a 6 run lead.
  5. Moore would probably not have pitched until game 4 of the NLCS on 10/18, meaning he would have had 7 days of rest. Basically, the few extra pitches wouldn’t have mattered much.
  6. Moore’s OPS against after pitching 101 or more pitches is better than when he pitches less. Basically, in 18 of his 34 starts in 2016 when he went over 101 pitches, he was money.
  7. DID I MENTION THE BULLPEN SUCKS AND ALSO BLEW THE SAVE THE NIGHT BEFORE?!

Look, it was an elimination game. The type of game where Bochy has brought in Bumgarner to pitch 5 innings (yes, that was game 7 of the World Series). But, you can’t get there if you don’t trust your bullpen, which presents the paradox for Bochy. If he continues to push starters to the brink (Bochy led the league in pitches thrown by starters), it may have a counter-effect on the confidence of the pen. Reality is, the pen failed over and over and over in the second half, and it almost cost them the postseason, and surely cost them the division (and of course, the NLDS), so I don’t think there would have been any psychological effect. I mean, the Giants lost the west by 4 games, but lost 9 games after leading going into the 9th and blew 30 saves overall, far more than the Dodgers.

So, I was surprised to see Law in. Then Kris Bryant hits, what normally would have been an easy ground out to Crawford, but it went in between the shift that the Giants were employing. Then, the quick hook to Lopez. He’s been a saint, a savior, a deft specialist to get that key left hander out. Alas, his age showed as he walked Rizzo, something YOU CAN NEVER DO! Bochy immediately goes to Romo, and he turns Zobrist to the left side, and he hit the only really solid contact of the inning, a double down the right field line that made the score 5-3 and put the tying run at second. This is when my sphincter was in full clinch mode.

Bochy, again!, went to another reliever, Will Smith. Maddon countered with Contreras, who hit a 25 hopper up the middle to score both runs and tie the game. Smith stayed in the game and Heyward had a horrible bunt right back to Smith, who promptly fired to Crawford for the out, but Crawford sailed his throw to Belt for an error, which allowed Heyward to take second, a crucial play. Crawford also had an error earlier in the game which cost the Giants a run, something not to be forgotten.

At this point, the new Giant-killer Baez was coming up, so Bochy went to his fifth and final reliever of the inning, Hunter Strickland. Once again, a not-so-hard-hit-grounder found its way up the middle, delivering Heyward to the plate in what would eventually be the deciding run as Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth.

We saw it happen so many times this year, including two losses when having three run leads in the ninth. With all the magic that Bochy pulls, he appeared to be the frantic kindergartener in the 9th, playing matchups, something that he stopped doing in mid-September, which seemed to stabilize the bullpen.

No one could be trusted. No one could find a rhythm, no one knew their role.

The ninth inning is special territory, reserved for those who have the mental fortitude or possession of a crazy gene to inherit and thrive under that pressure.

Giants’ brass made it clear that they will pursue a closer this offseason in today’s end of year press conference. How can they not?

There’s a reason we call this site and podcast “TortureCast.”

Go Cubs?

Chad

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