This song seems to be stuck on a loop, doesn't it?
Yes, we knew the San Francisco Giants would have it tough with the sticks for the better part of the season, and we haven’t been proven wrong yet.
Now, with the Giants struggling on the road like they have in 2009 and the two parks they went to, a 3-3 trip doesn’t sound all that bad on the surface. You’d take that any day of the week when you look at the past performances that have gone on away from AT&T Park this season, especially when you consider the kind of offensive teams the Giants went up against.
But then you look at what the pitching did. They weren’t just great like they've been for the entire season—they were absolutely sensational. Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum were their usual brilliant selves, but Brad Penny and Jonathan Sanchez were equally impressive.
How impressive were they?
Let’s try allowing 1.5 runs per game on for size.
You read that correctly. That cartoonish number includes limiting the Phillies to three runs in their three-game series—but they lost two of those games. The Gigantes were absolutely dealing the past week—even more than they usually do.
With those kinds of numbers, you would expect a team to go undefeated and keep pace with the always on fire Colorado Rockies, not fall two games behind the Rox because of a .500 road trip.
A failed sacrifice bunt or two here, a triple play there, and you have a fanbase frustrated as much as they have ever been.
The obvious reason as to why the Giants aren’t coming home ahead or tied in the wild card is because of their lack of any hitting whatsoever, not just over the course of the game, but particularly with runners in scoring position.
To begin with, the Giants don’t get many runners on base—their National League-low .308 on-base percentage is well below the league average—so when you do get them on, you have to knock them in. That clearly didn’t happen.
In their 12-inning loss to the Brewers on Sunday, which was a fitting end to the roadie, the Giants registered 10 hits. That would be plenty to score at least four, maybe five runs, right? Not these Giants. They scored only one run. One stinking run.
The Giants went a mind-boggling 4-for-42 with runners in scoring position. That is obviously worse than the .246 average they have accumulated this year with RISP, but that is also another number they are below the league average in (.260). For any team, that’s a painful number to absorb, but for the Giants, it’s even harder to swallow.
They have a manager who doesn’t like to bunt, they don’t really have anybody who can bunt outside of one or two players, and they can’t situational hit worth a lick at all—sounds like a recipe for not much offense.
It’s September, and the Giants are in a playoff race where these kinds of shortcomings become increasingly more evident. The great pitching can only take this team so far in their attempt to get into the playoffs.
They clearly need a jump-start in the most desperate way.
Everybody wants to see it, but if the first five days of Buster Posey’s major league career have told us anything, it’s that he’s basically going to sit in the dugout, cheer his mates on, and take notes the entire month of September.
It surely would be nice to see a Giants catcher draw a walk or two in the span of a couple games instead of an entire month, but Bruce Bochy has basically given us the notion that there probably won’t be much Posey this season.
If the Giants won’t play Posey behind the dish, there’s no chance he’s playing in the infield—no matter what some people say.
Something we definitely know is that Freddy Sanchez will be returning to the lineup when the Giants begin their series with the Padres. He will certainly be a refreshing sight to Giants fans, who haven’t been able to see much of him since his trade from Pittsburgh.
Pablo Sandoval has recorded all of two hits in September. Scoring and driving in runs consistently is now put on people who have, for the most part, failed to meet what their career numbers dictate they can do.
The Panda is clearly not 100 percent physically, and it’s showing at the plate. He did reach base four times on Sunday to break out of a 1-for-19 slump, but he’s still not the same Sandoval we have come to see this season.
Having Sanchez come back to the lineup will send Edgar Renteria lower in the order, where he should be at this point. That means more opportunities for the Panda to drive in runs in a park where he seems to play abnormally well.
Home cooking is what this team desperately needs right now, and they have the Dodgers and Rockies coming to town. Sounds like the perfect time and place to make up some ground.
This is usually the time when teams start to make their run and put together some kind of extended winning streak. For the Giants, their pitching is screaming for a 10-game winning streak, but reality says that they’re still trying to get to a five-game streak.
By no means is the white flag being waved. There’s still plenty of baseball to be played, and a three-game series at home against the Rockies starring the Gigantes right in the face next week.
But for now, I’ll keep the Pepto close and remind myself there are only nine more games on the road this season.