Record through April 23: 14-4, First place, Northern Division (4.0 games ahead of Modesto and Visalia)
San Jose came into this week with not only the top record in the California League, but one of the best in all of pro ball (they had the sixth best through Tuesday's games), and the week also came with an award honoring one of the men responsible for it.
Dave McKae was named the California League Pitcher of the week after have a 0.71 ERA through two games, striking out 13 and walking two over 12 2/3 innings.
While the award singled out McKae, it was just an indication of why the Giants have been so good in the California League this season: strong pitching. San Jose's 2.91 ERA through Tuesday easily led the league, ahead of Rancho Cucamonga's 3.22 mark. The team leads the California League in strikeouts (183, ahead of Inland Empire's 171), and has the least earned runs allowed (55), home runs allowed (five, tied with Modesto), and hits allowed (122).
But perhaps most impressive is the team leads the league in innings pitched, thanks to a smattering of early season extra-inning affairs. The 170 innings pitched is five full innings more than the next closest team, despite everyone having played 18 games this season.
The team has done it through depth. None of the team's starters ranks in the Top 5 in the league in ERA; McKae is sixth with a 1.59 ERA. But two more Giants pitchers are in the Top 10, with Joe Martinez (10th, 2.28) and Paul Oseguera (10th, 2.66), who are both right in the race. The highest ERA in the rotation is the outstanding Cuban defector Yosandy Ibanez with a 4.02 mark.
It's a good thing the team is pitching well, because the hitting has not been overwhelming. San Jose's offense ranks seventh in the 10-team league across the board in the averages, including batting (.255), on-base percentage (.331) and slugging (.368). Those numbers are good bets to improve as the weather warms up and some of the winds that knock down balls hit to right field slow down.
In the meantime, the Giants pitchers will be hard-pressed to keep their performance up. Starting Wednesday night, the team faces the top-hitting team in the league, the Lancaster Jethawks, for three games in Lancaster. Lancaster has 25 home runs to lead the league (seven more than Lake Elsinore, the second-leading team), and also leads the league in walks (97). San Jose pitchers have allowed the third-least walks in the league (59).Roster Moves: Ben Copeland placed on DL; Joey Dyche called up from Augusta.
Copeland missed his first game of the year tonight, and was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique muscle. Joey Dyche has been called up from Augusta to replace him.
Copeland was batting .286 and was leading the team in RBI with 17 and was tied for the team lead with two home runs. Dyche is returning to San Jose after playing there in 2006 before suffering a season-ending injury in June. Dyche was batting .280 in Augusta, with two doubles and two triples.Player of the Week: Antoan Richardson
While McKae picked up the league award this week, Richardson has found a real offensive surge this week.
Richardson is batting .375 in the past week through Tuesday, after batting .207 to start the season. The surge inserted him into the leadoff spot in Tuesday's game, moving former leadoff hitter Emmanuel Burriss, who is batting a disappointing .167, to the second spot in the order. Richardson has paired the hot hitting with his ability to draw walks, and is third in the league with a .466 on-base percentage, while being tied for the most walks with 17.By The Numbers: 152/97 vs. 183/59
Those numbers, respectively, are the K/BB ratios for Lancaster's offense and San Jose's pitching staff. Lancaster's offense is a high-powered slugging offense and has drawn the most walks in the league, but the 152 strikeouts are the third most of a lineup in the league. San Jose has allowed the third least walks in the league, and struck out the most batters. The three game series they play in Lancaster will be a very interesting match-up.