Bipolar San Francisco Giants Still Pushing Towards Playoffs, Fans Reap Benefits
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For the entirety of the San Francisco Giants 2010 season, there has been an air of inconsistency that can only be described as Duane Kuiper has: torture.
The team itself had a real good April (.591) followed by a .500 May, a sub-par June (.481), a torrid July (.714), and a dismal August (.464).
After having one of the top defensive teams in the country over the first portion of the season, San Francisco has made 23 errors in their last 30 games.
They have had stellar starting pitching. In their best two months (April and July), the starters had ERAs of 2.64 and 3.29, respectively. The starters pitched 80 percent of the innings, keeping the bullpen fresh and sharp.
But in their worst two months, it was a different story. In May they maintained a respectable ERA of 3.80, but in August it ballooned to 4.55, and it showed in other places as well. In August, the runs allowed jumped 20 runs from July, and the batting average against leapt up 40 points.
The starters only pitched 67 percent of the innings, meaning a lot of long relief and bullpen games, which can be both physically and emotionally draining for the team and the fans.
But if you're going to have a bad month followed by a good month, there's no better time to have a spike in performance than September. We're seeing that from the Padres right now: if you perform well all season and drop off in the last month of the season, nobody cares about the first five.
On Wednesday Tim Lincecum followed up an abysmal August (0-5, 7.82 ERA) with a dominant start to September, hurling eight innings of one-run, five-hit ball and striking out nine batters for the first time since July 30.
Hopefully Barry Zito can emulate that against the Dodgers. Usually a strong second half pitcher, Zeets had an equally rough August (0-4, 7.76 ERA) that included three losses in one week (one in emergency relief). But his career line in September (27-14, 3.65) is encouraging, to say the least.
Many were ready to write off Pablo Sandoval as a one-season wonder. His first-half line was unimpressive (.267/.322/.382) compared to 2009's production. But then August came around, and even though the Giants didn't have a great month on the pitching side, Sandoval suddenly rediscovered his stroke.
After hitting a low point on August 1 of .263, the Panda's August average of .321 has raised his average significantly and is certainly encouraging to this Giants team. He also pounded six homers in August, matching the amount of dingers he hit in the entire season up to that point.
In the middle of August, Freddy Sanchez had significantly cooled off from his torrid return from the disabled list, hitting a low point of .255 on August 11. Since then, he's raised his average 40 points in 17 games, including back-to-back four-hit games against Cincinnati. This comes at a good time for San Francisco, as Juan Uribe's stats have dropped every month so far this year.
Baseball is a streaky game, and the Giants have been playing well lately. If not for the "Broken Bat Heard 'Round the West" on Monday, they could have swept the Rockies (how often does that happen?).
And even though there's been our fair share of fan heartbreak in 2010, there have been just as many games that the Giants have proved worthy of praise. This 2010 team can come back from the dead (10-1 against the Reds to 12-11), can make things exciting (any time Brian Wilson comes in), and can win when they need to most (Darren Ford flying home against Ubaldo Jimenez).
Now they're entering the final month of the season in the heat of a pennant race. There are still four head-to-head games with San Diego, and six games against the Dodgers.
And if we base this final month on the season as a whole, I can promise you that the rest of the way will be about as far from boring as possible.
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