We’ve got pennant race fever at Minor Lines! The DSL Giants are making a crazy, doomed race down the stretch in their division, while the San Jose Giants are (thanks to a small and somewhat weak division) right in the thick of things for a Cal League post-season appearance.
If you want a little pennant fever yourself, listen to Joe Ritzo and Justin Allegri sum up San Jose’s situation as they hit the last two weeks. It’s chalk full of complicating tie-breaker scenarios and other fun facts!
HIGHLIGHTS: Dillon Dobson had three hits with double, HR; Logan Baldwin had 4 hits; Ryan Kirby had 5 RBIs; Gregory Santos threw 6 shutout innings with 6 Ks.
|Melvin Upton Jr.||CF||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||.258|
|a- Wynton Bernard||PH||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.246|
The RiverCats offense seems to be limping into the offseason, as they are really struggling to mount much of a threat these days. Getting shutout in the high desert is something of a new low, however. Minor league journeyman Erick Jokisch shoved it pretty hard at Sacramento batters last night, allowing just two hits over 7 shutout innings while striking out 9.
Mac Williamson was the only member of the starting lineup with a hit, keeping his flow going with a single and a double. Otherwise, Wynton Bernard’s pinch hit single was the only other hit the team managed. Williamson has gone 9 for 25 over his last six games as he’s coming down the stretch with his best sustained bit of hitting this year.
Chris Shaw took a hat trick yesterday, contributing to the team’s 12 strikeouts overall.
Derek Law broke his streak of nine consecutive scoreless innings with one run in the 8th last night. Though he hasn’t given up a lot of runs with Sacramento, Law’s WHIP has hung around the 1.5 mark and he’s walked 10 batters in his 26.2 IP (24 Ks).
|a- Hunter Cole||PH||1||1||1||0||0||1||2||0||0||.239|
|b- C.J Hinojosa||PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.281|
Caleb Gindl is the Indy player du jour for the Squirrels these days. It seems like they’ve had one or another of their FA pickups get hot pretty regularly over the last month (though seldom several at one time, unfortunately). The 28 year old Gindl is on quite a tear this month hitting .345 with a .707 SLG in August. A lot of that damage has come in just the last week. Gindl homered and doubled in last night’s game. His fifth HR in the last eight days.
But beyond Gindl’s heroics and a PH HR from Hunter Cole (5) there wasn’t much to celebrate in the offense.
I’ve more or less ignored the presence this year of former Pittsburgh Pirate and NY Met Vic Black, who’s been attempting a comeback with the Giants this year as a minor league FA. Black was always a hard throwing wild child and that’s definitely been his MO this year with the Giants, first in Salem-Keizer and now in Richmond. He’s walked 26 batters in 28 innings and allowed 10 runs in 19 innings with Richmond. But he is showing life on the fastball that can raise an eyebrow on a scout now and again.
Sam Coonrod struck out 2 in his scoreless inning. Since his conversion to relief, Coonrod has made five appearances. The first one of those was pretty shaky, but in the last four he’s allowed just 1 run on 5 hits (4 innings) while striking out 5 and walking 1. Is that good enough for 40 man protection come November? Time will tell (but my guess is yes).
San Jose Bats
The Giants need to pick up as many wins as possible in this stretch of home games. But they dropped behind quickly last night as spot starter Matt Solter gave up single runs in the 2nd and 3rd.
The Giants began the stirrings of a comeback in the 4th. But even then there were signs that this was going to be a night of regrettable missed opportunities. Bryan Reynolds opened the inning with a single, and then the hot hitting Jonah Arenado roped one into the corner.
With Arenado now on 3b and one out, Dillon Dobson struck out and Matt Winn followed with a walk. Now it was Heath Quinn’s chance to deliver. Quinn had just one extra base hit the entire second half coming into the at bat, but he went up there looking for a changeup and got it on the first pitch.
So close to a 3-run HR! Still, after four out of five baserunners had reached, including two doubles, they had scored just once and still trailed, 2-1. Ronnie Jebavy’s chance to be a hero. And he was! sort of.
The inning went single-double-strikeout-walk-double-single. And then it was over. And in a pennant chase, it felt like those lost runs in the 4th would make the difference.
But Dillon Dobson, the only man to make an out at the plate in the 4th, would redeem himself his next time up in a big way. A big BIG way.
That was a big boy HR, as Kruk would say. And against a cross wind, nonetheless.
After that the pitching took it home. Matt Krook through a scoreless inning with 2 Ks and more importantly, no walks. Krook had walked 6 in his previous two relief appearances, covering 5 IP.
Heath Slatton struck out 3 in his two innings of work and Dylan Rhealt closed it down for his league leading 20th save. Rhealt was signed out of Indy ball in the middle of spring training this year, and along with fellow minor league FA Will LaMarche, has had a huge impact on the San Jose bullpen this year.
Speaking of which, the bullpen added another experienced arm yesterday:
Giants have signed pitcher Drew Muren and sent him to San Jose. Muren was released by Dbacks last week. Had 4.70 ERA in 23 IP w/AA-Jackson.— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) August 16, 2017
The Giants are now tied for 1st place with Modesto, with both Stockton and VIsalia 1 game back, in what is shaping up to be a wild final 2.5 weeks. They look to pick up a series win this afternoon at the Muni.
|Shawon Dunston Jr.||DH||3||2||2||0||1||0||1||2||0||.258|
|Jose Vizcaino Jr.||1B||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.235|
Oh my! Well that’s no good. No, that’s no good at all!
Adon Day was none too happy this time around. Perhaps Melvin was performing a feat of literary imagination by circling back around to where his season had begun, when he couldn’t find the strike zone and was knocked out of his season opener in the 2nd inning. Or perhaps he just didn’t have much last night. Regardless, the result was that 7 of the 9 batters he faced reach base and he hit the showers before his teammates had taken their first at bats. Six runs in 0.2 inning is rough on the ol’ stat sheet and Adon’s ERA jumped up more than half a run. He was down as low as 3.51 just five starts ago.
Sometimes the BABIP gods get you, but it just seems like a guy blazing upper 90s shouldn’t run into quite as much contact as Adon does. After last night’s blow up his K9 is at 7.77 and his K% is down under 20%.
The Volcanoes offense has been dormant of late, but it sure erupted last night! (I have no control over this! Sorry but these puns just write themselves!) Oozing red hot lava all over the .... ok, ok, you get the picture.
(Parenthetically, I once spent a week playing on a baseball field at the University of Hawaii that had an infield made of crushed lava. It was highly effective for draining off the daily 2 pm rains, but you risked your future life in the company of your limbs if you ever had to slide on it. I believe that was an experiment in field material technology that did not last long).
The first six batters in the lineup ALL batted in each of the first three innings (not actually great news for #6 hitter Manuel Geraldo who kept making the 3rd out). They coasted their way through the final six, but the point had been made.
By the end of the 3rd, the 1-4 hitters (Ziegler, Johnson, Baldwin, and Kirby) had a combined 9 hits, 7 runs scored, and 6 RBIs. Malique Ziegler ended up with three hits and two SB (22, third best in the NWL). Bryce Johnson had his third consecutive two-hit game. White-hot Logan Baldwin had a four hit game, his first as a pro. Baldwin started the year 0 for 5 over three games. Since then he’s had just three starts in which he didn’t record a hit, while he’s had 16 games with at least two hits, including six games which at least three hits. Baldwin’s work is starting to resemble Austin Slater’s NWL campaign.
Kirby started the blowout with a three-run HR in the bottom of the 1st — his first HR in three weeks. He ended the night with 5 RBI.
If the Volcanoes, like San Jose, want to insert themselves into a late second half playoff chase, now is definitely the time to do it. Their current homestand includes this three game series against 1st place Boise followed by four games against Hillsboro. After that they head to Eugene. To take the division they’d need to leapfrog all three of those teams. They’re just 2 games out of first so a run is certainly possible if the pitching could show any semblance of life.
|a- Hector Santiago||PH-SS||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||.000|
So I’ve spent much of the last month or so thinking this AZL Giants team was fascinating and entertaining, but last night’s game completely disabused me of this notion. Do you realize the Padres team they went up against had a C named Janigson Villalobos, a CF named Tirso Ornelas (Tirso hit two-so HRs!), a 3b named Eguy, and a Pitcher named Henry Henry! What a dull, underachieving bunch of names our Giants have. Even with Heliot leading the charge!
Heliot was, as it happened, the entire parade last night. His 6th HR of the year was the only offense the team mustered, though he also struck out twice. Aaron Bond did triple for their only other XBH, but the team couldn’t score him.
You may at this point be wondering: what’s the most HRs anybody has ever hit with the AZL Giants? I’m glad you asked because I happen to have the answer! The immortal Andy D’Alessio holds the team record with 14 HRs set back in 2007. After that it’s Jose Cuevas with 9 and Dan Trumble with 8. Immortals all. Of course, those guys were all many years older (5 and even 6) than Ramos. So the appropriate comparison might be Chuckie Jones, who hit 5 HRs as a 17 year old in the AZL while hitting .279, also with a flurry of HRs.
I now fully apologize for putting the thought of Chuckie Jones’ fate in your minds while thinking about Heliot. Here, watch him swing pretty like:
Jake Greenwalt had a Good News/Bad News kind of night. Following two consecutive starts in which he left early (first for illness and then after being hit by a comebacker), Jake stretched back out to 3.2 innings. And in doing so, he set a career high with 7 strikeouts. Good news!
Unfortunately, he also allowed five runs on six hits and gave up the first two HRs of the year to the aforementioned Tirso Ornelas. Less good. Still, Greenwalt has shown growth this year and should move up in 2018. It would be great to see the young RHP make it to full season ball at some point next year.
New acquisition Gregory Santos is making himself very very popular amongst his new teammates. When you’re a 17 year old with just 10 career starts, “career best” is a pretty hollow phrase. Nevertheless, Santos set several career bests yesterday. Six innings pitched? Career best! Six strikeouts? Career best! No walks? Just the third time he’s managed that.
Coming over from Boston, Santos had had 24 Ks and 15 walks in 30 IP. However, the lion’s share of that came in two games: a 5 bb start on June 19 and a 4 bb start in his final outing with the DSL Red Sox, on July 19. That game aside, he’s walked 1 or 0 batters now in five of his last six starts so it really doesn’t seem like there’s a persistent negative command issue at play here. Really the Giants have to be thrilled with what they’ve gotten from the teenager so far. Three starts, four runs allowed, 14 Ks in 14.2 innings? Somebody did some good scouting for the FO down there in the Dominican League! It’s looking like the Giants got themselves a very interesting return for two months of Eduardo Nunez.
It’s very likely too little too late, but this is quite the epic stretch run the Giants are on. They’re now 11-1 in the month of August and they’re pushing the Blue Jays. Unfortunately since dropping a DH to the Giants, the Jays have been perfect themselves this week, reducing the Giants elimination number to 7.
Sammy Jorge hit his 2nd HR of the year which separates him from the pack a little. The Giants have hit just 15 HRs this year and Franklin Labour and Alexander Canario have 10 of those (five each). Until yesterday nobody else on the team had more than 1. So way to join the multi-homer gang, Sammy!
Alexander Canario had two more hits to push his season average to .300. He also stole his 18th base of the year, but he also got caught stealing for the 9th time. He’s now been CS in 5 out of his last 8 attempts. It seems the legs may be starting to get a little tired for Alexander, just as the HR strength in his hands apparently have. But a 17 year old playing every day and coming down the stretch with a .300/.400/.500 line (nearly) and a 1:1 BB:K ratio? That’s a season the Giants haven’t seen in the Dominican camp in a good long time. Color Minor Lines excited!
Today’s Scheduled Starters:
Sacramento: Andrew Suarez vs. Braden Shipley
Richmond: Cory Taylor vs. Brady Dragmire
San Jose: Shaun Anderson vs. Ty Culbreth
Augusta: Dom Mazza vs. TBD
Salem-Keizer: Jason Bahr vs. Ryan Luna
AZL: Seth Corry
DSL: Marco Gonzalez; TBD
Andrew Suarez looks to keep putting the pressure on Giants’ decision makers. Tonight’s start will be interesting as it’s the first time he’s pitched in a classic PCL location since June 28 in El Paso. He’s had a uniquely advantageous pitching schedule this year, with five of his last seven starts coming at home and the other two in Tacoma and Iowa.
Shaun Anderson looks to keep impressing his new organization (keep up with Santos, Shuan!) and keep his team in first place in an afternoon game at the Muni. And Seth Corry should take the mound again in Scottsdale. Corry has wrapped two brilliant starts around a stinker in his last three outings. Let’s hope “brilliant” comes up on the wheel again today.
I leave you with this. If you’re dreading watching Giants’ games lately, you are most definitely not alone. Brian Sabean feels that way too!: