Stats & Info: San Francisco Giants

AP Photo/Chris SzagolaMadison Bumgarner two-hit the Mets on Sunday for his second career shutout.
Entering Sunday’s game, Bartolo Colon was looking to make history for the New York Mets as they hosted the San Francisco Giants, going for his 200th career major league win. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he would’ve been just the third pitcher to get his 200th win in a Mets uniform, joining Orel Hershiser and Pedro Martinez.

But it was Madison Bumgarner who stole the show, throwing a two-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts on just 94 pitches. It was Bumgarner’s second career shutout. He also one-hit the Reds back in June 2012.

Bumgarner’s shutout was very efficient. More than half of his pitches (55 percent) were fastballs, the highest percentage he’s had in an outing since the 2011 season. Mets hitters were 1-10 with four strikeouts and no hard-hit balls against his fastball.

He also threw nearly 80 percent (79.8) of his pitches for strikes. That’s the second-highest percentage he’s had in a game in his career. The highest came in a 2011 start in which he pitched just one-third of an inning.

Back on Friday, Ryan Vogelsong threw a two-hitter against the Mets in a win. According to Elias, this was just the third time a team has ever had two complete-game two-hitters or better in the same series against the Mets. The others were by the 1965 Dodgers (Sandy Koufax and Claude Osteen) and the 1963 Dodgers (Koufax and Don Drysdale).

The Giants' offense also came alive in the game, putting up nine runs with four homers. The long ball has been lacking for San Francisco recently. Over their previous 10 games entering Sunday, the Giants mustered just two home runs, going 3-7 over that 10-game stretch while averaging 2.3 runs per game.

Hunter Pence had a pair of home runs for the Giants out of the leadoff spot. He’s the first Giant with a multi-home run game since Brandon Crawford did so back on May 4. He’s also just the second Giants leadoff hitter with a multi-HR game in the past five seasons, joining Nate Schierholtz.

Buster Posey added four hits and three RBIs for the Giants. Over his previous 10 games, he was just 8-for-34 with one RBI.

Top stats to know: Dodgers at Giants

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27

AP Photo/Jae C. HongDon Mattingly has his team playing .610 ball since June 9, tied for the best mark in the NL.
Tonight on ESPN’s "Sunday Night Baseball" (8 ET, ESPN/WatchESPN), first place in the National League West is on the line as the San Francisco Giants host the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Dodgers go into the game with a half-game advantage in the division. Through June 8, Los Angeles trailed San Francisco by 9½ games. Since then, the Dodgers have gone 25-16, while the Giants are 15-26.

Still, it’s easy to wonder if the Dodgers have underachieved, given their MLB-leading payroll. Similar questions could be asked of the Giants, who rank sixth in payroll. Part of the reason is that several of their star players haven’t played up to their star billing this season.

Adrian Gonzalez
Gonzalez started the season on a tear. At the end of April, he was hitting .317 with eight home runs and an OPS of 1.021. But since May, he is batting .245, with just seven home runs in 282 at-bats. His OPS over the last three months is down to .685.

Matt Kemp
In 2011 and 2012, Kemp was one of the top outfielders in baseball, finishing second in MVP voting in 2011 and making the NL All-Star team both seasons. Since then, however, Kemp has struggled.

Over the last two seasons, Kemp’s wins above replacement is a minus-0.6, meaning he’s worth less than a minor league call-up in the same position.

This season, his WAR is minus-1.1, which ties him for the third-worst among NL position players, behind only Domonic Brown and Jedd Gyorko.

Andre Ethier
Ethier’s decline has been going longer than Kemp’s. Ethier batted .292 in 2011, but his batting average has declined each year since, down to .248 this season. His home run total has also declined, from 20 in 2012 to 12 in 2013 to just four so far this season.

Hanley Ramirez
Although Ramirez is producing much more than the previous trio, he is still well off his mark from 2013, when he had a 1.040 OPS. This season, it’s .840. Last year, Ramirez had 20 home runs in 336 plate appearances. At this year’s All-Star break, he had 11 homers in the same number of plate appearances.

Buster Posey
One of the Giants’ stars, Posey has failed to live up to his 2012 NL MVP season, when he batted .336 with a .957 OPS. Over the last two seasons, Posey is batting .288 with a .801 OPS.

The key to Posey’s success might be a positional change. In his MLB career, Posey has a .361 BA and .996 OPS when playing first base. Those numbers drop to a .292 BA and .822 OPS when he’s in the lineup as a catcher.

Pablo Sandoval
After a rough start, Sandoval has turned his season around.

Through May 10, Sandoval was hitting .173 and striking out in more than 20 percent of his at-bats. Since then, his batting average is .332, and his strikeout rate is down to 11 percent.

His free-swinging style has worked for him. This season, no batter has swung at more pitches outside the strike zone than Sandoval’s 43 percent; he ranked second in that statistic last season. But he is hitting .255 on pitches out of the zone, the third-best mark in the NL and well above the MLB average of .163.

Top stats to know: Giants at Phillies

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Madison Bumgarner will take his sparkling road record to the hill tonight against the Phillies.
Tonight, Wednesday Night Baseball features the San Francisco Giants hitting the road to take on the Philadelphia Phillies (7 PM, ESPN and WatchESPN).

The Giants enter tonight’s game with a one-game lead in the NL West over the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the lead stood at nine-and-a-half after games on June 8. Since then, the Giants have been nine games under .500, while the Dodgers have put up a 23-15 mark.

Part of the Giants recent struggles have come at the plate, as they’ve been shut out in six of their last 25 games, and held to two runs or fewer in 13 of those contests.

It’s part of an offensive decline that’s been in effect for the Giants since winning the 2012 World Series. Their batting average and on-base percentage have each dropped in each season since, leaving them ranked 22nd in batting average and 25th in on-base percentage this season entering Wednesday’s games.

Luckily for the Giants, they’ll send Madison Bumgarner to the mound tonight to face the lefty-heavy Phillies lineup. This season, no left-handed starter has a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Bumgarner, who has 40 strikeouts against just three walks. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Ben Revere and Domonic Brown are among the Phillies regulars who are left-handed.

Bumgarner has also been much better at home than on the road, going 7-2 with a 1.94 ERA on the road, compared to just a 4-5 mark with an ERA of 5.22 in his home park.

He’ll also be facing a Phillies lineup that is having one of the worst seasons in recent franchise history. A team that once leaned on its offense is now batting .238 with a .300 on-base percentage, which would be the worst marks for a Phillies team since the early 1970s. And this season, only the San Diego Padres have a lower slugging percentage.

Who has struggled for the Phillies? Nearly all of their sluggers have tailed off:

• Ryan Howard: .377 slugging percentage would be the lowest mark of his career (previous lowest is .423).
• Domonic Brown: .606 OPS is sixth-worst in the majors among qualified players. -1.6 Wins Above Replacement is second-worst in majors among qualifiers.
• Chase Utley: 47.25 at-bats per home run is more than double his career average of 23.5.

The Phillies find themselves in last place, four games back of the Miami Marlins for fourth in the NL East. The Phillies haven’t finished last place in their division since 2000. That 13-year streak since finishing in last place in the division is the eighth-longest in all of the majors.

Bumgarner shows power ... with his bat

July, 13, 2014
Jul 13
Madison Bumgarner is making opposing pitchers pay for pitching him inside.
Perhaps San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner would make for a suitable last-second entrant into Monday’s Home Run Derby.

Bumgarner became the second pitcher in major league history to hit two grand slams in a season, clubbing his second in the Giants’ win over the Diamondbacks on Sunday.

The only other pitcher with two in a season is Tony Cloninger, who did so against the Giants, hitting both in one game on July 3, 1966.

The Elias Sports Bureau also noted that Bumgarner and Buster Posey are the first pitcher-catcher each to hit a grand slam in the same game. It marked the third time that the Giants hit two grand slams in a game since moving to San Francisco. The last instance was in 1998 (the hitters were Bill Mueller and Jeff Kent).

How he has hit: Madison Bumgarner
Bumgarner entered the season with two career home runs. He now has three in 40 at-bats this season. He has already matched his single-season high for hits in a season with 11.

Bumgarner now has more grand slams in his career than Prince Fielder, who has 288 career home runs, but only one grand slam. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that's the most home runs of anyone with fewer than two grand slams.

Bumgarner (the hitter) has owned the inside part of the plate this season. He has seven hits, including Sunday's grand slam, and has made only six outs on pitches that were on the inner third of the plate, or off the inside corner.

From 2009 to 2013, he totaled seven hits and 70 outs against those pitches.

Bumgarner’s 12 RBIs this season are the most for a Giants pitcher since Hall-of-Famer Juan Marichal had 15 in 1966.

How he's pitched
Bumgarner is in a little bit of a slump on the mound. He allowed four runs in 6⅓ innings on Sunday. Sunday's win did snap his three-game losing streak, but he's now 1-3 with a 7.03 ERA in his past four starts.

Perhaps over the All-Star break, he'll be able to regain the success he had with his slider. Opponents hit .224 against it prior to this four-game struggle. They have 21 hits and are batting .488 against it in these past four games, including five hits on Sunday.

Vogelsong bouncing back in 2014

June, 5, 2014
Jun 5
Ryan Vogelsong struck out a career-high nine batters in the Giants' 3-2 win over the Reds Wednesday.

Vogelsong now has a 2.05 ERA over his last eight starts, and the Giants improved to 9-3 this season in his starts (they were 9-10 last season).

How has Vogelsong righted the ship in 2014?

Improved off-speed pitches
Vogelsong had been getting into trouble earlier this season –- and all of last season –- with his off-speed pitches. He primarily throws a changeup and curveball to offset his fastball and cutter, but those pitches had been failing him.

Opponents have hit only .182 against his curveball in his last eight starts and .240 against his changeup. In his first four starts this season and in 2013, opponents combined to hit .348 against his curve and .366 against his change.

The improved curve has been the biggest factor, however. Vogelsong is generating a swing-and-miss 32 percent of the time with his curve in his last eight starts, a 39 percent increase from his 23 starts prior.

Improvement in tough spots
Vogelsong’s ability to get out of jams has been a key factor for the turnaround as well.

Vogelsong has limited opponents to a .186 batting average with runners in scoring position his last eight starts with no home runs. That’s a big improvement from his .361 batting average and five home runs allowed the previous 23 starts.

By generating more misses (26 percent to 15 percent) while throwing the same number of strikes in these situations, he's allowed fewer balls in play and fewer hits.

Again, one of the biggest factors behind this improvement is the pitch selection. Vogelsong has limited his changeup usage to just 7 percent the past eight games (down from 20 percent), with his curveball making up the difference. Opponents have hit .167 with a 38 percent swing-and-miss rate against his curve with runners in scoring his past eight starts.

Giants winning with pitching/power combo

May, 4, 2014
May 4
What’s to like about the San Francisco Giants, who are now 20-11 this season after sweeping the Atlanta Braves over the weekend?

The Giants are winning on the strength of one thing that’s to be expected of them-- pitching- and another that’s a bit unexpected-- power. And it’s happening even without contributions from some players you would expect to be major factors.

When their game ended on Sunday, the Giants ranked second in the majors in ERA at 2.99, behind only the team they just swept (the Braves are at 2.72).

That the Giants have this record is impressive considering that Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong are a combined 6-8, with the latter three all having ERAs above 4.00.

Bumgarner had been due for a good day and had one on Sunday, allowing one run in six innings, with a season high 19 swings-and-misses against a strikeout-prone Braves lineup.

Tim Hudson has made up for the shortcomings of his teammates as a near-perfect fit, with a 2.17 ERA, 31 strikeouts and only two walks in 45 2/3 innings.

The Giants' bullpen, which gave them three scoreless innings on Sunday, a day in which they didn’t use Sergio Romo, has been fantastic. Their 1.86 ERA ranks second-best in the majors and an 0.94 WHIP rates first.

The Giants rank second in the majors with 41 home runs this season. They’ve now hit 28 in 16 games on the road after getting an unexpected two from shortstop Brandon Crawford in Sunday’s win.

Brandon Belt and Michael Morse have been the ones to spur this surge, combining for 16 home runs, 13 of which have come away from AT&T Park. Morse hit one in each of the first two games in this series before going 0 for 3 with three strikeouts in the series finale.

The Giants have needed those home runs to make up for a .227 road batting average, which ranks 23rd in the majors. They’ve also lacked in situational hitting. They’re hitting .238 with runners in scoring position this season after going 0 for 13 against the Braves in the series.

They’ve done this without much power input from Pablo Sandoval, whose rough start this season has produced only two home runs and a .170 batting average.

Counting on this to continue may be a little dicey. The Giants have ranked 16th and 14th in the National League in home runs in each of the last two seasons.

One player who can help pick things up on the offensive front is catcher Buster Posey, whose bat is starting to come around after a slow start. Posey is 11 for 26 in his last seven games after hitting .224 through April 26.

Posey had struggled early covering the outer half of the plate. He has more hits against those pitches in his last seven games (eight) than he did in his first 22 games this season (seven).

Looking ahead
The Giants have seven more games left on this road trip, with the next three coming in Pittsburgh. They may have to look to a different means of getting things done on the offensive front.

PNC Park hasn’t rated particularly homer-friendly this season. It ranks 25th in the majors by’s Park Factor ranking.

Top stats to know: Giants at Dodgers

April, 6, 2014
Apr 6
The San Francisco Giants will visit the Los Angeles Dodgers on ESPN2's "Sunday Night Baseball" at 8 ET.

Here are some storylines to watch for tonight.

Matt Cain
Cain will be on the bump for the Giants tonight making his second start of the season. After allowing an impossible-to-sustain nine home runs in 2011, Cain has seen more of his fly balls go for home runs over the last two seasons – 21 in 2012 and 23 last season.

Cain was a much better pitcher in the second half than he was in the first half last season.

Buster Posey
At age 27, Posey already has one NL MVP to his name. Over the last two seasons he has produced 12.8 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), fourth-most by a catcher in his age 25-26 seasons in MLB history.

Since the start of the 2012 season, no player has been better at hitting balls up in the zone than Posey. His .359 batting average on such pitches rank first (he ranks second in OPS at 1.132).

Zack Greinke
Greinke will take the mound for the second time this season. Greinke is winless in two career starts against the Giants.

Just how precise is Greinke with his pitches? We have the ability to show pitchers with the most pitches “on the corners”. In 2010, Greinke ranked ninth in baseball with most pitches on the corners, and ranked tied for 11th in 2012.

When he returned from injury in May of last season, Greinke was once again one of the most prolific at dotting the corners.

San Francisco is in position to sweep the series. But the Elias Sports Bureau tells us that Greinke was 6-0 in games that immediately followed a Dodgers loss last season and LA has won nine of his 10 such starts since coming to the Dodgers. Greinke is 1-0 in that situation this season.

Kenley Jansen
Jansen has been among the most dominant relievers of all-time from a strikeout perspective, as he has three of the 35 highest single-season K/9 totals in MLB history (min. 50 IP).

But what’s helped him take the next step has been the steady reduction in his walk rate. After walking nearly 14% of batters faced in 2010, he walked just over six percent last season.

Stat of the Game
Andre Ethier is hitting .441 in his career against Matt Cain, the highest career batting average against Cain among all players with at least 30 plate appearances.

Bonifacio, Belt, Pagan sizzling to start 2014

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
Who have been baseball's best hitters the first few days of the season? A couple of players staked their claims in wins on Thursday.

Bonifacio again off to a good start
You would be hard-pressed to find someone who had a better opening week than the newest Cubs infielder, Emilio Bonifacio.

Bonifacio is 11-for-16 with four stolen bases through the first three games of the season. In March and April the previous two seasons, he hit a combined .216; in the opening month of 2011, he hit .318. He started the 2009 season 14-for-24 (.583) in his first five games, but finished the season hitting .252.

The heat map below shows how Bonifacio has been effective from both sides of the plate with what is a very small sample. He didn't crack a .250 batting average from either side last season.

Pagan, Belt take Giants step forward
Angel Pagan has been with the Giants since the start of the 2012 season, and the team has been far better when he plays.

In games that Pagan has appeared in, the Giants are 129-99 (.566). In the games Pagan has not played, they are 44-56 (.440).

Coincidence? Perhaps. And we’re not going to make the case that he belongs on the list of the most indispensable players in baseball (we’ll leave that to Dan Szymborski, who is writing on that topic in the near future).

But at the very least, Pagan is off to a good start in 2014.

Pagan was a notch behind Brandon Belt with regards to his value in the Giants’ winning three of four from the Arizona Diamondbacks in Arizona. But Pagan had multiple hits and at least one RBI in all three wins.

On Thursday, he hit the go-ahead home run in the eighth inning against Diamondbacks reliever Will Harris. The homer was noteworthy because it came on the first pitch of the at-bat. Pagan hadn’t hit a first-pitch homer in his time with the Giants before Thursday.

One of the things that Pagan brings to a lineup is a low rate of missed swings. In the past, Pagan’s ability to put his bat on the ball has been overshadowed by a teammate who rates a bit better at that than he does -- Marco Scutaro.

Pagan has missed on only three of his 29 swings so far this season. The average major league hitter misses about twice as often as Pagan does.

Pagan’s six RBIs pace the Giants so far, one more than teammate Brandon Belt, who hit his third home run of the season on Thursday.

Belt thrived away from AT&T Park last season, particularly in the second half, when he hit .356 with four home runs in 28 road games. He’s already just one homer shy of that total.

Belt’s overall 2013 slash line of .289 AVG/.360 OBP/.481 SLG nearly mirrors Paul Goldschmidt’s 2012 (.286/.359/.490). Goldschmidt (who has a 25-game hitting streak) was an MVP candidate in 2013. Belt has been one for the opening week of 2014.

Top stats to know: Dodgers at Giants

September, 25, 2013
The final night of "Wednesday Night Baseball" this season features the Los Angeles Dodgers against the San Francisco Giants (10 p.m. ET, ESPN). Here are five stats our broadcast crew will be talking about today.

1. The Dodgers have clinched the NL West and are still in the hunt for the best record in the National League. With five games yet to play, the Braves have the best record in the NL and the Cardinals the second-best. The Dodgers are two games behind the Braves and 1.5 games behind the Cardinals (one in the loss column).

2. The Dodgers are the third team in MLB history to be in last place on July 1 or later and win the division, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. After falling a season-high 12 games below .500 at 30-42 through their first 72 games, the Dodgers have gone 61-24, playing at a 116-win pace (over 162 games) in their last 85 games. The 116 is notable because 116 is the MLB record for wins in a season, shared by the 1906 Cubs (in the 154-game schedule) and the 2001 Mariners (in the 162-game schedule).

3. The Dodgers have decisions to make regarding their postseason rotation. Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke are the obvious one-two punch, but Don Mattingly & Co. must pick between Ricky Nolasco and Hyun-Jin Ryu as a Game 3 starter. Nolasco has struggled in his last two starts, allowing 13 runs (11 ER) in 6 1/3 IP.

4. Tonight could be the final chapter of Barry Zito's career with the Giants. He has an $18 million club option for next season with a $7 million buyout. The Giants will likely buy him out, closing the book on his seven-year, $126 million contract, which at the time was the largest ever for a pitcher. It’s safe to say the contract did not pan out for San Francisco; over the life of the deal, he’s been worth a total of 3.0 WAR (wins above replacement), or less than 0.5 WAR per season.

Panda and Big Papi join elite company

September, 5, 2013

AP Photo, Getty ImagesDavid Ortiz (left) and Pablo Sandoval (right) both reached milestones on Wednesday.
Wednesday saw milestones occur in both the National and American Leagues, as Pablo Sandoval and David Ortiz each had special performances.

Encore performance for the Panda
Sandoval is the reigning World Series MVP after winning it with the San Francisco Giants last season, largely due to his three home runs in Game 1 of that series. By hitting three home runs on Wednesday, the Kung-Fu Panda joined an exclusive list.

Sandoval is just the sixth player in MLB history to have a three-homer performance in both the regular and postseason in his career. Of the other five players, two are active (Albert Pujols, Adrian Beltre) and three are in the Hall of Fame (Babe Ruth, George Brett, Reggie Jackson).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Sandoval also is the first reigning World Series MVP to hit three homers in a game (World Series MVP has been awarded since 1955).

Comparing the two performances, the World Series performance remains the better one – both in significance of the game and in distance. Sandoval’s average home run distance was 370 feet Wednesday, much shorter than the 412-foot average distance he posted in last year’s Fall Classic.

Ortiz reaches 2,000 with an exclamation point
David Ortiz became the 18th active player to reach 2,000 career hits, belting home runs before and after his 2,000th hit. Ortiz now has 39 career multi-homer games with the Red Sox, the most in franchise history.

Ortiz now has nine 25-homer seasons for the Red Sox, second-most in franchise history, trailing only the 14 by Ted Williams. No AL player has more 25-homer seasons than Big Papi (nine) dating back to 2003. Alex Rodriguez and Paul Konerko each have eight such seasons, but are not in range to tie Ortiz’s mark this season.

As has become routine for Ortiz in recent years, he’s further included himself in the company of Red Sox lore. Ortiz had 10 total bases on Wednesday. The Elias Sports Bureau confirmed that this is his 11th game with at least 10 total bases, breaking a tie with Manny Ramirez and Ted Williams for most in franchise history.

5 stats to know: Red Sox vs Giants

August, 19, 2013

Michael Ivins/Getty ImagesJon Lester has looked good recently but has struggled through 2013.

After playing the New York Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball, the Boston Red Sox won't have any time to rest as they travel west to face the San Francisco Giants (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, ESPN2).

Here's a look at some of the stats our broadcast crew of Dave O'Brien, Rick Sutcliffe, Doug Glanville and Tim Kurkjian will be talking about tonight.

1—- The starting pitching matchup of Jon Lester and Tim Lincecum is the same as the last time these teams met on June 27, 2010. In that game, Jon Lester threw a complete game five-hitter and Tim Lincecum only lasted three innings as the Red Sox won 5-1. Boston has won five of the last six meetings between the teams.

A lot has happened since then. The Giants have won two World Series but are currently 55-68 (.447 winning percentage). If that mark holds for the rest of the season, the Giants would have the second-worst winning percentage of any defending World Series champ, better than only the 1998 Marlins (.333).

2-- Lester had a 3.43 career ERA through September 6, 2011, but has a 4.79 ERA since, with a significant spike in his homer rate from 0.8 to 1.1 per 9 innings.

Lester has been better recently, with a 3.19 ERA in his last five starts, though his slashline numbers are almost identical to what they were earlier this season.

The three noteworthy differences: Lester has reduced the number of cutters he throws per 100 pitches by half (from 22 to 11), his strikeout-to-walk rate has more than doubled to nearly 5-to-1, and he’s repeatedly escaped trouble with runners in scoring position.

The chart on the right shows the differences.

3—- Tim Lincecum has made five starts since pitching his no-hitter on July 13. Two rate awful from a statistical perspective, with Bill James Game Scores of 12 and 35. The other three have been very good (with an average Game Score of 74).

The common thread between the three good ones was his offspeed stuff, which netted him 37 outs and yielded only five baserunners. In the two rough starts, Lincecum’s offspeed stuff got battered for 10 hits (including two homers) and netted only 11 outs.

4-— The Red Sox hitters will make Lincecum work. They’ve seen almost 900 more pitches than any other team and rank second in the majors in pitches per plate appearance (4.02, trailing the Twins 4.04). Six Red Sox regulars are in the Top 50 in the American League in pitches per plate appearance.

5—- The Red Sox will be calling up top prospect, 20-year-old shortstop Xander Bogaerts today. The Red Sox have not played a younger player at shortstop since 19-year-old Luis Alvarardo in 1968.

As long as Bogaerts gets his first hit within the next dozen days, he’ll be the youngest Red Sox player to get a hit since 20-year-old Dwight Evans in 1972.

Bogaerts does enter in a mini-slump. He’s 0-for-10 with five strikeouts in his last three games at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Lincecum's no-no not one to miss

July, 14, 2013
Tim Lincecum
The common thought was that Tim Lincecum's time to throw a no-hitter was behind him.

His combined ERA over the past two seasons was 4.97. He was allowing exactly a hit per inning this season, a career-high pace. He hadn't even pitched to a batter in the eighth inning this season. But he turned the tables on conventional thought Saturday night with some vintage electric stuff.

Lincecum worked hard for his slice of history. His career high for pitches before Saturday was 138 back in 2011. He needed 148 in this one, which was one pitch shy of Edwin Jackson's 2010 no-no for the most in the last quarter century.

Twenty-nine of those pitches induced swings-and-misses. That's an astounding number considering it was Lincecum's career high and the second-most by ANY pitcher in the past five seasons. In fact, none of the other 32 no-hitters since the turn of the century saw more whiffs.

The most potent pitch of the bunch was Lincecum's changeup. The seven strikeouts that came via that pitch were the most for him in more than two years.

His overall strikeout total of 13 fell short of his career high (15), but consider that only six different pitchers have EVER had more strikeouts in a no-hitter than Lincecum.

In a long line of special no-hitters, this one ranks up there as one of the more dominating ones.

• An amazing bit of history here: Remember that Lincecum was the losing pitcher in Homer Bailey's no-hitter earlier this season. The only other time a losing pitcher in a no-hitter went on to throw the NEXT no-no in MLB history was Mal Eason in 1906! He lost to Johnny Lush on May 1 and then reversed the tables on the Cardinals on July 20 that season.

• Lincecum, who entered with a pedestrian 4.68 ERA, becomes the fifth pitcher to have multiple Cy Young awards at the time of his first career no-hitter. The others are Johan Santana, Bret Saberhagen, Tom Seaver and Bob Gibson.

• Buster Posey becomes the 48th catcher to catch multiple no-hitters.

This was San Francisco's third no-hitter since 2009, two of which have come against the Padres (Jonathan Sanchez being the other). That has to be a little extra salt in the wounds of San Diego, which remains the only MLB team without any no-hitters to call its own.

This was the fourth time the Padres faithful had to witness their team get no-hit in their home stadium, the first at Petco Park (Bud Smith, A.J. Burnett and Dock Ellis).

Why Puig is deserving of All-Star bid

July, 10, 2013
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesYasiel Puig is hitting over .400 in his first 34 career games.
The National League’s Final Vote has been widely discussed this week, as Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig is in the mix despite not debuting in the majors until June 3. Puig has some tough competition against Freddie Freeman, Ian Desmond, Hunter Pence and Adrian Gonzalez.


Despite his lack of experience this season, does Puig deserve to win the Final Vote?

Some may disagree with the idea of Puig in the All-Star Game, but the numbers would suggest he deserves it. Although Puig has played in only 34 games - all four other candidates have played in at least 77 games - he leads them all in Wins Above Replacement. Limited experience does not in and of itself mean a player isn't deserving - Puig has contributed as much or more in his admittedly brief tenure than the other candidates have with significantly more playing time.

Puig has 55 hits in his first 34 career games, the third-most in the Live Ball Era (since 1920). Only Joe DiMaggio (59 in 1936) and Roy Weatherly (59 in 1936) had more hits in their first 34 career games.

Puig is the first player to hit .400 or better through his first 130 career at-bats since Tony Oliva (.423 spanning games from 1962-64), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Dodgers have never had a single player with a .400 or higher batting average at the All-Star break (minimum 100 AB). The highest was .377 by Mike Piazza in 1995.


Freeman has three walk-off hits this season, tied with Alex Gordon for the most in either league.


Ten of Desmond’s 15 home runs this season have been to give his team the lead. Desmond’s 10 go-ahead homers are tied with Carlos Gonzalez for third-most in the National League, trailing only Paul Goldschmidt (13) and Pedro Alvarez (11).


This season, Pence leads the majors in stolen bases (13) without being caught and is one of four players with at least 13 home runs, 13 stolen bases and 22 doubles, joining Mike Trout, Carlos Gonzalez and Jason Kipnis.


Gonzalez is “Mr. Consistency.” Including this season, Gonzalez is one of six players with a batting average of at least .295 and OPS of at least .800 in each of the last four seasons, along with Joey Votto, Carlos Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun and Adrian Beltre.

Bailey's fastball makes Giants look small

July, 2, 2013

Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesHomer Bailey had the look in his eye of a pitcher determined to throw a no-hitter.

Homer Bailey threw the season’s first no-hitter Tuesday against the San Francisco Giants, joining rare company in the process.

He’s responsible for Major League Baseball’s past two no-hitters. There have been only seven instances in MLB history in which consecutive no-hitters were thrown by the same pitcher. Nolan Ryan was the last to do that, in 1974-75.

The history
Bailey tossed the 273rd regular-season no-hitter in MLB history, becoming the 28th pitcher to throw multiple no-hitters in the process. He joined Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander and Mark Buehrle as the only active pitchers with at least two.

It was the 16th no-hitter in Reds franchise history, fourth-most behind the Dodgers (20), Red Sox (18) and White Sox (18).

The last pitcher to no-hit the Giants was Kevin Millwood as a member of the Phillies on April 27, 2003. It was the ninth time a pitcher has thrown a no-hitter against a defending champion (first since Johan Santana in 2012 against the St. Louis Cardinals).

Keys to the no-hitter
Bailey threw fastballs 77 percent of the time, the most in a start in his past three seasons. He averaged 94.5 mph on his fastball, his second-fastest fastball velocity in any start since 2010. And his velocity increased as the game progressed (93.1 mph in the first three innings, 94.4 mph in the fourth through sixth innings and 95.6 mph in the seventh through ninth innings).

He threw 18 of 22 breaking balls for strikes. His 81.8 percent strike rate with his breaking ball was his highest in a start since Sept. 3, 2011, at the Cardinals (83.3 percent). He netted eight outs with his breaking pitches.

Bailey walked one batter in each of his no-hitters. He is only the sixth pitcher since 1900 with multiple no-hitters in which he walked one or fewer batters, joining Roy Halladay, Mark Buehrle, Sandy Koufax, Virgil Trucks and Cy Young.

Did you know?
Bailey had only 42 career wins entering Tuesday. The Elias Sports Bureau noted that is the fourth-fewest career wins entering a pitcher's second no-hitter among those who debuted since 1900. Johnny Vander Meer had only nine career wins when he pitched his second no-hitter in 1938.

After Tuesday's no-hitter, Bailey has a 4.36 career ERA.

The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that's currently the worst career ERA for any pitcher in MLB history with multiple career no-hitters.

Previously, the worst was Hideo Nomo's 4.24 career ERA.

Giants-Reds look to move past June

July, 1, 2013

Frank Victores/US PRESSWIRESan Fran and Cincy meet for the first time since the Giants came back from a 2-0 deficit in the 2012 NLDS.
The San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds meet on "Monday Night Baseball" (7 ET on ESPN/WatchESPN) for the first time since last season’s divisional playoffs, when the Giants eliminated the Reds. The Reds won the first two games of that series in San Francisco, but the Giants won three straight in Cincinnati to advance to the National League Championship Series.

Both of these teams are looking to put June behind them.

The Giants went 10-17 in the month, marking their first losing month since going 11-18 in August 2011. The Reds, meanwhile, went 12-15 in June and have won just 13 of their past 30 games. This was the Reds' first losing month since September 2011, when they went 12-14.

After years of dominating with starting pitching, the Giants have struggled in that department this season.

Giants starters led the majors last season in opponent batting average with runners in scoring position (.222). This season, Giants starters have allowed a .298 batting average, last in the NL and 28th in all of baseball.

In addition, after ranking in the top five in ERA in each of the previous four seasons, San Francisco has a 4.47 ERA so far this year. That includes a 5.30 ERA on the road, which ranks 28th in all of baseball (the Giants' 3.64 ERA at home is 12th in MLB).

For the Reds, the No. 2 spot in the batting order has been a weak link between Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto.

Zack Cozart has the most plate appearances for the Reds in the second spot, which has recorded a .647 OPS, 13th in the National League. In comparison, the first and third spots have recorded an .894 and .951 OPS, respectively. That leads the National League in both batting positions.

Quick hitters
• Buster Posey is hitting .403 in his past 18 games, with four home runs in his past five. He’s the first Giants catcher with 12 home runs before the All-Star break since Bob Brenly in 1985.

• The Giants' 16 wins since May 14 are tied with the Milwaukee Brewers for the fewest in the majors.

• Pablo Sandoval is just 3-for-23 since returning from the DL. He hasn’t homered since May 21.

• The Reds are a season-high 5.5 games back of the Pittsburgh Pirates for first place in the NL Central. Their largest deficit in the standings last year was 5.0 games on April 18.

• Bronson Arroyo has been incredibly efficient with his pitches this season. He’s averaged just 13.9 pitches per inning, the fourth-lowest rate in the majors.

• Since 2010, Joey Votto has just two infield popups. In comparison, Albert Pujols has 87.