The last time the San Francisco Giants racked up some frequent flyer miles it resulted in one of the worst and most frustrating road trips in recent history.
After the dismal six-game showing, I didn't have any kind words to say, and rightfully so. Any observer of this team would have written, maybe not with the same kind of tone as yours truly, but it certainly was not a time to be optimistic.
It brought about general manager Brian Sabean declaring that he was actively pursuing a bat to plug into the struggling lineup. As a result of Sabean's comments, rumors of the Giants trading Matt Cain, something that shouldn't even be considered the way he has pitched this season (6-1, 2.31 ERA. 1.31 WHIP), popped up like kernels in a microwave.
As the season has evolved this season, we have seen the Giants play fantastic at home, sporting a 18-9 record and a reason to give fans hope that maybe, just maybe, this team can contend with the hated Dodgers in the National League West.
On the flip side, playing away from the friendly confines of AT&T Park has brought the offensive deficiencies out to the maximum.
In 22 road games this year, the Giants have won only seven, dropping the other 15 and have scored just over three runs on average. Especially in those games in San Diego and Seattle, the Giants' inability to score runs away from home was on full display.
If they have any visions of chasing down the Dodgers, who are showing no signs of slowing down, and competing in the West, then this trip to the East Coast and Arizona will have to finish with at least a .500 record.
The Giants won't get the chance to play Los Angeles again until mid-August, so losing ground now may mean by the time those games come around, getting back in the race might be out of the question.
It's sound so cliché, yes, but if you want to be a legitimate contender, you have to beat the teams you are supposed to and the Giants haven't done so.
Yet it's the perfect time to redeem themselves. The Giants are heading out on the road, and even though the wins may not come easy, the three teams they are set to face are ones that the Giants should beat.
The trip will of course start with Tim Lincecum, baring any kind of serious thumping against the Nationals, recording his 500th strikeout and Randy Johnson getting his first crack at 300 wins, the storylines will be there.
But if the Giants don't put up runs and leave their pitchers out to dry like they did the last time they were on the road, then Johnson's 300th will have to wait.
When the Nationals played in San Francisco in the middle of May, they scored 22 runs during the three-game series. Ryan Zimmerman has come back to earth after seeing his hitting streak get snapped, but the lineup is still potent.
Thinking just because a team currently holds a 13-36 record is a cake walk would not exactly be the right mindset and to think that it's just the offense that will have to show on the road trip is nowhere near the truth.
The Giants did the job against Washington in San Francisco and beat a team they were supposed to beat.
Trips to Miami to face the Marlins and the heart of the Arizona desert to face the Diamondbacks follow the visit to the nation's capital and with both teams playing .500 ball over their last ten games, these series are again ones that the Giants need to win to show they can win on the road.
There seems to be a common theme here, huh?
The one thing that the Giants do have as opposed to last time is that the bats, despite seeing cleanup hitter Bengie Molina struggle to get any kind of consistency going, have started to awake from their slumber.
Pablo Sandoval has been welcomed back with open arms after he missed most of the week and now with him at first base because of it and team him with a scorching Aaron Rowand, the Giants are hitting the ball a little harder than two weeks ago.
While Molina has seen his average fall almost 50 points the past two weeks, Rowand's batting average has gone up exactly 50 points over the same period of time while hitting at the top of the order.
And unlike the last road trip, the Giants are getting on base and they are actually scoring. The average of runners left on base is only three-tenths between the Giants going 1-5 on their last road trip and 5-1 this past homestand, but the Giants are scoring runs, so that's what matters the most.
If you aren't going to hit for much power, you have to hit in the clutch and the Giants are finally doing a little bit of that and their results the past week reflects it.
Funny how that works, doesn't it?
It's certainly a long trek to the finish line, but sometimes, even in the early goings of the marathon, these kinds of trips build momentum for the future. The way the Giants have played on the road this year, momentum and good thinking is just what the doctor ordered.
The Giants want people to think they are contenders. Well boys, now is the time.
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