San Francisco Giants: Can They Run Away and Hide in the National League West?
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The Giants made a huge statement in their series with the Dodgers, not only shutting them out in the three game series, but only allowing ONE Dodger runner to get to third base! From the first inning of the first game of the series to the final out last night, the Giants were in control.
Now granted, the Giants caught the Dodgers at a low point.
Injuries have depleted an already thin Dodger roster, who clearly had played over their heads in building up a 7.5 game lead over the Giants just a month ago. Their best player Matt Kemp is out until after the All-Star break with a hamstring pull and they lost their only other star quality position player yesterday, when Andre Ethier went out with an oblique strain and could be headed for the DL as well.
But the sweep was significant for many reasons.
First and foremost, Tim Lincecum seems to have righted the ship, pitching seven shutout innings last night and looking like the Big Time Timmy Jim of old (finally). That combined with his outing against the Oakland Athletics, and Lincecum is now pitching with the kind of confidence that could carry him the rest of the way.
This means that all five Giants starters are now pitching well. Granted, you never know what you have with Barry Zito from one game to the next, but his Monday night start against the Dodgers was outstanding.
Combine that kind of starting pitching with a strong bullpen and the Giants are poised to go into the second half in great shape. And you can count on General Manager Brian Sabean to add to the Giants strength and bring in a couple of more bullpen arms to shore up the only possible weakness: the guys at the end of the bullpen bench. Also, Dan Runzler is on a minor league rehab assignment and If he's right, he'll be back in the majors in a couple of days.
Second, the Giants hitting has been a lot more timely as of late.
Yes, they are still leaving runners in scoring position way too much, but they have been able to push enough runs across to win games. When your pitchers are shutting down the opposition, it doesn't take many runs to win.
Buster Posey seems to finally be finding his stride, hitting with more power. Ryan Theriot has been a nice surprise in the two hole, at second base. The young Brandons, Crawford and Belt, have been contributing. Pablo Sandoval seems to be swinging the bat better, with more power. Melky Cabrera keeps having an outstanding season. Angel Pagan has been all the Giants could possibly ask for and more at the plate. And Gregor Blanco gives the Giants a solid leadoff man, something they haven't had in a while.
Again, another bat off the bench could help and Sabean could very well come through there as well.
Nobody is better then Sabean at picking up guys off the scrap heap who can help his team win.
All in all this team seems strong and their health is good. They have the pitching to make a mockery of the division race in the second half. If the Dodgers continue to fade, that could leave the Arizona Diamondbacks as the only true competitor for the Giants to worry about as the season winds down.
The Giants have a big edge over Arizona in the pitching department. Offensively, the Giants may be catching up.
Unless the Dodgers turn things around fast and the Dbacks get hot, the Giants could be poised for a big lead in the division down the stretch.
They have everything in place for an outstanding second half and certainly haven't played their best baseball yet.
It's amazing how a three-game sweep over your arch rivals will make you feel a lot better about life, now isn't it?
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