If I had told you at the beginning of the season that on June 21st, the Giants would be six games over .500 and half a game up in the NL West, you probably would’ve taken it, especially if you would’ve considered their schedule. To this point, The Giants have played ten more games on the road then at home, including one stretch that kept them on the road for 16 of 19 games through five different cities.
If I then told you that Buster Posey would go down with a season ending injury in May and Pablo Sandoval, Freddy Sanchez, Mark Derosa, and Barry Zito were all either on the DL or just got off the DL, you probably would’ve had a hard time believing any scenario that had them atop the NL West.
Of course, all of it is true: the Giants are still clinging to a half game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks, and this is after a weekend where they were swept by their rivals across the Bay looking as bad as they’ve looked, well, since last year when they were swept by the A’s in Oakland.
The Giants were a combined 0-19 with runners in scoring position, which explains how they managed to only score five runs over the entire series. If you extend the numbers to the prior series against the Diamondbacks, they are 0-26 with runners in scoring position and on a four game losing streak.
If you look at their last 16 games, they have scored more than three runs in a game only four times and have given up more than three runs in only fivee of those games.
While most of the fan base feels fortunate that the Giants are still in first place, they also know the lack of hitting continues to waste one quality pitching performance after another, as they could legitimately have a 12 game lead.
Sunday proved to be a microcosm of the recent issues the Giants have been experiencing, as Matt Cain pitched seven strong innings giving up one run, including retiring 14 consecutive batters. Unfortunately, the Giants were only able to muster one run off Trevor Cahill, who was in one of his worst slumps of his career, going 0-4 with a 7.43 era over his last five games, until his performance against the Giants on Sunday.
The game ended with the Giants pitching staff surrendering less than three runs and the Giants lineup unable to score three runs.
Even more troubling than the lack of production with runners in scoring position or their huge inability to hit the ball out of the ballpark with any regularity is the fact that they absolutely have trouble playing fundamental baseball.
Night in and night out, they get guys at second base with nobody out, or a base runner at third base with one out, only to fail to hit the ball to the right side or to produce the fly ball deep enough so the runner can tag up, often striking out by chasing pitches out of the strike zone.
The Giants' plate discipline is atrocious, including ranking 26th in the league in walks, and 27th in on base percentage. Sunday’s game was another perfect example of this, as the A’s starter Cahill had been struggling with his command over the his past five games, evidenced by the amount of walks he was giving up and by his overall numbers. Cahill even threw back to back wild pitches in his outing against the Royals on Tuesday, allowing a run to score on the second wild pitch.
One would think that the Giants' approach would be to make Cahill work and see if they could take walks and let his wildness create situations for them. But in typical Giants fashion, they went up to the plate swinging away, helping Cahill get into a rhythm by chasing balls out of the strike zone.
It was so disconcerting that at one point, Dave Fleming, who was doing play by play on the radio, commented on the lack of discipline and how the Giants were helping Cahill by chasing balls that weren’t strikes.
If that wasn’t bad enough for Giant hitters, they have started to have mental lapses on the base paths. They have left early on a hit and run or have just been cleanly picked off by the pitcher numerous times over the past three weeks.
After a welcomed day off at home, the Giants have had time to regroup and get ready for their six game home stand against two American League Central opponents, the surging Twins and the first place Indians.
The Giants are just under .500 on the road, but they are 19-12 at home, a .613 clip. If they continue to split on the road and play at a six hundred clip at home, it could garner them about 90 wins, which could prove to be a division winning formula again. But they have to start producing more runs somehow.
Whether it is the long ball they discover again, manufacturing runs through small ball, or just driving in runs with big hits, they need more offense. The pitching staff is holding up their end of the bargain; it’s time Giant hitters start earning their paycheck.