San Francisco Giants: Four Reasons Not to Panic
Baseball is one really weird game.
One second you're feeling like an unstoppable freight train. Everything clicks: Pitching, hitting, defense.
It just works.
One can only really describe this as "a series of unfortunate events."
After a nightmarish 1-5 tour of southern California, the Giants head home and look to forget this ever happened. Considering they were among baseball's hottest teams before the trip, forgetting will be no easy task.
It's only natural for any fan to feel a sense of urgency and panic after such a road trip. But should we really be all that surprised? After all, this is the team that had a 36-45 road record last year, among baseball's worst road records.
Should Giants fans panic?
No. It's nowhere near time to panic.
Despite the troubling reemergence of the 2009 "can't score runs" offense, Giants fans should resist any sense of panic for a few reasons.
1. Simply the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time
The Giants have never fared well at PETCO Park in its existence, much like at PNC Park (Pirates) or Turner Field (Braves). If the powerful Giants teams of the early 2000s had trouble at PETCO, it's somewhat unfair to believe the much less powerful 2010 squad will fare any better.
What fans may be having a harder time believing is that the Giants were swept by the Padres yet again. We're talking about the Padres who constantly find themselves in last place by season's end.
Unfortunately for the Giants, the Padres were fresh off a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks entering the series. The Giants once again caught the Padres climbing to the height of another win streak, which now stands at six.
Wrong place. Wrong time.
2. The Gods Must Be Crazy
Todd Wellemeyer imploded against the Dodgers on Friday. Manny Ramirez destroyed the Giants' ego on Sunday with his go-ahead home run in the eighth inning. David Eckstein surprised the baseball world by hitting a walk-off home run on Monday. The Padres beat the Giants with only one hit on Tuesday.
Yes, it's pretty obvious the Giants did something to upset the baseball gods. Very little went the Giants' way this road trip, with the exception of Tim Lincecum's Saturday gem.
It looked and felt like one of "those" trips where nothing goes their way. Any ball smashed seems to find its way into a fielder's glove. Umpires make bad calls. The injury bug strikes (in this case, Aaron Rowand and Mark DeRosa). Pitching gems, such as Jonathan Sanchez's on Tuesday, go to waste.
The only way to break out of this, unfortunately, is to wait it out and hope it ends soon.
3. "It's Good to Touch the Green, Green Grass of Home"
I'm sure the Giants wouldn't mind hearing these very words, words that have passed through several great musical artists.
The Giants continued playing well at home this year, posting a 4-2 record during their first home stand, taking two of three from both the Braves and Pirates. The Giants have given no indication their hot play at home will change, as they almost always play well at China Basin.
A much smaller, but nonetheless important factor, I believe, is the size of the audience watching Padres games. Yes, it may seem like I'm reaching on this one, but it's true. The Giants play better with crowds of 40,000-plus in attendance, a common occurrence at AT&T Park.
I'm pretty sure adrenaline comes from large crowds, not embarrassing empty seats at PETCO Park.
4. Pitching, Pitching, and More Pitching
It's been the Giants' motto for the past two years. The entire nation identifies the Giants based upon their incredible pitching. So far, Giants' hurlers are still as good as advertised, if not even better.
Entering this home stand, the Giants boast three pitchers with ERAs in the 1.00s. Tim Lincecum, well, is just being Tim Lincecum. Barry Zito looks like a brand-new pitcher based on his three starts. After a shaky performance during the Giants' home opener, Jonathan Sanchez has rebounded very nicely, striking out 11 and 10 in his past two starts.
Much concern has been raised over Todd Wellemeyer, however. His three starts have been below average, to say the very least, and he can't get much worse if he tried. The only direction he can go is up, which, when I last checked, is a good thing.
Like last year, the Giants will continue to boast playoff hopes as long as this pitching remains healthy and dominant.
It's easy to think the Giants are in major trouble right now. After all, it's only natural to feel that way after a quick start followed by a disheartening stretch.
But if fans really look into it, it's not really the end of the world.
Red flags should be posted in August, not April. Soon this road trip will be a nightmare of the past.
Time to panic? Definitely not.
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