San Francisco Giants Playing with Resiliency and a Chip on Their Shoulders

James MorisetteCorrespondent IIIAugust 23, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 31: Bruce Bochy #15 of the San Francisco Giants shakes hands with Jeremy Affeldt #41 after the game against the New York Mets at AT&T Park on July 31, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco Giants defeated the New York Mets 4-1. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

Morale in San Francisco must be through the roof Thursday morning. Fresh off a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Buster Posey and Co. own firm grip of the steering wheel that is the National League West Division.

In the wake Melky Cabrera’s plummet from grace, Wednesday’s 8-4 victory over the Dodgers was graceful to say the least.

In an almost Baltimore Orioles-like fashion, guys like Angel Pagan (2-for-4), Marco Scutaro (2-for-5) and Joaquin Arias (3-for-5/5 RBI) stepped up like pros and carried the Giants to a much-needed win.

But unlike the Buck Showalter’s surprising and resilient ball club out east, the Orioles have nowhere the starting pitching staff San Francisco boasts.

Even with Tim Lincecum fighting like mad to pilot his arm through turbulence, the Giants' starting staff is eighth-best in baseball (3.65 ERA).

Left-hander Madison Bumgarner (14-7/2.83 ERA/0.99 WHIP) looks like a man on a mission.

Matt Cain (13-5/2.83 ERA/1.01) has been equally impressive. This is especially true in the past three games, where he is 3-0 with a sub-three ERA.

And while questions still remain with Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong has not pitched badly—minus an eight earned run hiccup against the Washington Nationals on August 13. He is 10-7 with a 2.85 ERA. His WHIP is 1.20.

Offensively, the Giants have been equally impressive—especially since the All-Star break. Led by Pablo Sandoval, the Giants' offense is batting .274 as a team in this stretch. This is sixth-best in baseball.

And while the Giants' bullpen (3.81) is 19th in the MLB, and the defense (.982 FPCT) is one percentage point better than the MLB-worst Orioles, this team has found ways to win.

Yet, like the 2010 World Series team, this team houses something that sets it apart from other teams in the NL (though the Washington Nationals are a very close second).

The Giants have that grit, that mojo, that unexplainable moxie that helps it excel.  

Most importantly, the Giants have that mental toughness, reflective of a manager who treats his players like grown men—quite the opposite of what is happening in Boston.

"We keep fighting, all the time," said Pablo Sandoval to’s Lyle Spencer.

Sandoval continued:

"We have tough guys, funny guys, everything. We have good character in this clubhouse. The most important one is the manager. He encourages you to play the game right and respect the game. It's one of those things where he wants you to be yourself; he shows you respect. And you want to show him your respect by winning games."

Of course, the Giants also have Most Valuable Player candidate Buster Posey. Since the All-Star break Posey has batted an eye-popping .408 (51-for-125). His OBP/SLG/OPS is .487/.712/1.199. He leads baseball in all four categories.  

On the season, Posey is batting .327 (130-for-398), which is fourth-best in the MLB. Posey also has 19 home runs and 79 RBI.

That being said, even at 69-55 there is no time for the Giants to let off the accelerator. For Don Mattingly’s Dodgers are one hot streak from recapturing the NL West throne.  And the Arizona Diamondbacks lurk in the rear-view mirror.

But if San Francisco’s recent performance is of any indication, this team with a chip on its shoulder is well on its way to glory in this already memorable 2012 season.


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