San Francisco Giants Must Right the Ship, Storm Brewing on the Horizon
If a rough patch in a Major League Baseball season can be analogized to a gathering tempest, then the San Francisco Giants are heading into a doozy.
The club is sailing into a bank of cumulonimbus that isn't just dark; it's that inky, purplish shade of black. The kind that means your best option is to find Toto, stick your head between your knees, and kiss your tokus goodbye.
As unhappy a metaphor as it might be, the Gents could very easily be the ill-fated Andrea Gail, futilely climbing that CGI wall of water. The weekend series at AT&T Park against the National League West-leading San Diego Padres would then be the first waves crashing over the forward deck.
Granted, that would cast Bruce Bochy as the team's George Clooney—a parallel that only works if compare literal and figurative head sizes, respectively.
The point is, the going is about to get tough for the lads. Extremely tough.
And the last three days have been no picnic.
Team Already Taking on Water As It Leaves San Francisco
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
It's almost impossible to overstate just how big Sunday's finale with the Friars was.
By now, most of the baseball world knows that San Diego has absolutely owned San Francisco so far in 2010. The clubs have now met 11 times and the villains have emerged with victory in hand a whopping nine times. The number was "only" eight heading into the Sabbath's contest and the good guys had their knight in shining armor heading to the mound.
Unfortunately, Tim Lincecum's shine has been quite vulnerable ever since April and it didn't hold up to Sunday's assault.
Instead of taking two of three from the first place Fathers, shaving a game off the NL West lead, and announcing his return with authority, "The Freak" was blooped to death and under the showers before the end of the fourth inning. In his wake, he left a ugly 8-2 defeat that saw the squad play perhaps its worst game of the year.
Bad defense (two errors), bad offense (Buster Posey had three of San Francisco's four hits), poor base-running (new acquisition Jose Guillen was gunned down at third for the first out in the fourth inning with a four-run deficit), and bad pitching—you name it and the Giants were guilty.
So, rather than charging into the dog days of August and the teeth of a savage road trip, the Gents land in Philadelphia with a face plant and Lincecum tripped them.
Baseball Gods Doing No Favors
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Check the schedule and the way los Gigantes finish out August.
They're on the road for three in Philadelphia against the Phillies, then travel to St. Louis for three against the Cardinals, they come home for a trio of games against the Cincinnati Reds and then the Colorado Rockies come into the City to close the month after a three-game respite against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
This on the heels of a triplet against the Padres, who boast the best record in the Senior Circuit.
For those scoring at home, the Phils are hot on the Atlanta Braves' heels for first place in the NL East, the Redbirds and Redlegs spent the last week scrambling over each other (literally) for the catbird's seat in the NL Central, and the Rox are always a chore.
That's 15 from an 18-game barrage against teams floating a minimum of five games over .500. The four squads in the mix for pennants and/or the Wild Card flash a combined record of 267-200 (excluding the outcome of SD's game on Monday).
Lady Luck Kicking the Giants While They're Down
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
As if the mere opponents weren't tough enough, take a gander at the pitchers the Orange and Black must face on its rumble through the gauntlet.
Luckily, the club misses Roy Halladay as he gathers steam for a final Cy Young push.
After that silver lining, though, it's all cloud.
Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels will twirl two of the three in the City of Brotherly Love, then the resurgent Jake Westbrook and perennial Cy Young candidate Chris Carpenter greet the Giants under the Gateway Arch and the Reds are slated to toss the surgically repaired (and chemically fortified) Edinson Volquez plus the suddenly filthy Homer Bailey.
It's a little early to say for sure, but—at this rate—nobody would be the last bit surprised to see Ubaldo Jimenez on the bump by the Bay when Colorado comes to town.
Did I mention that all-world second baseman, Chase Utley, will polish off a rehab assignment and rejoin the Phightin' Phils on Tuesday, the opener of the Gents' series? The dynamo hasn't played since destroying his thumb on June 28th and was supposed to be out for eight weeks, but he'll beat that time table comfortably.
Just in time for San Francisco.
The Good News? At Least They're Not ALL Against San Diego
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
As bad as all that sounds, there's at least one sincere ray of hope masquerading as sunshine.
While the fellas have been powerless to resist the Padres in 2010, they've actually stood up well against the other juggernauts from the Senior Circuit. They're 3-4 against the Braves (who got four games in Hotlanta where a good club is about three shades better), 2-1 against Philly despite playing the three-gamer in April before the offensive transformation (admittedly at home), 2-1 against the Cards despite the same caveat (including location), and 2-2 against the Reds despite a four-gamer in the 'Nati.
Finally, the Rox are a different nine away from Coors Field—they are 18 games in the black while sleeping in Denver, but 13 games in the red when living out of a suitcase.
Translation: all is not lost. Not yet.
Nevertheless, the San Francisco Giants would be well-advised to play some of their best baseball over these next few weeks if they want to crest that wave and see blue skies again.
Because we all know what the alternative is.