San Francisco Giants Showing Why They Aren't Ready To Be Legit Contenders

Danny PenzaSenior Writer IMay 22, 2009

The San Francisco Giants offense was never expected to carry the way. We all knew it was pitching first and foremost and the performances at the plate would be at least an improvement over last year.

We all thought that the pitching dominance could overshadow the fact that Bengie Molina, despite all his clutch hits, is the cleanup hitter, or that a guy who had never put two good years together in the minors offensively could suddenly hold his own and produce at first base.

The pitching has been, other than a few small blips on the screen, fantastic all year, but that’s not a surprise, even with Randy Johnson and Jonathan Sanchez trying to right the ship after inconsistent showings over the past month.

The Giants’ top three pitchers—Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Barry Zito—couldn’t have done any better during their latest turns in the rotation. They allowed just four runs in 21 total innings, something that is becoming somewhat normal over the last month or so.

You would think that the Giants would be undefeated in those games, right?

Not so fast, my friends. The Giants have dropped two of those three games and scored exactly five runs. Yes, five runs.

Excuse me? Baking powder?

Many said that the Giants’ series against the Mets would be a fair gauge to see where the team stood. It made sense, a team that has contended for their division’s title the past few years and have one of the best offenses in the National League combined an equally talented ace to Lincecum to lead the way.

The result was New York taking three out of four to begin their West Coast swing and the Giants looking to build something out of another Cain no-run-support special...that they actually won.

As we discovered, it was the next series that put into reality where this team currently stands.

Thanks to the second three-game sweep at the hand of the San Diego Padres on the road, the bats were even more absent than the first time around as they were as the first, the Giants are now again below .500 and now those good vibes of racking up wins two weeks are being thrown out the window.

The Giants scored a total of four runs in three games at PETCO. They made an average at best San Diego pitching staff look like that of the Atlanta Braves in the '90s.

We’ve seen the Giants struggle to score runs, so this is nothing new to regular followers of the team. They are near the bottom of every ranking that relates to power hitting.

However, how they shot themselves in the foot the past week is getting less and less tolerable, no matter who you are.

They got runners on base in the first two games of the series, but hitting with runners in scoring position was just awful, something that you cant do when you don’t have much power at all.

And that’s the main issue.

With the lack of serious thump comes the dependence on situational hitting, and that is something the Giants just haven’t done much at all not just in the Padres series, but the entire year.

Exhibit A: First two nights of the series against the Padres, the Giants were 1-for-22 with runners in scoring position. Not good.

I don’t care how good your starting pitchers are, and the Giants rotation can certainly be considered one of the best in the National League, you don’t score runs, you aren’t going to win many games.

Can you really consider yourself a threat in the division when you’re working your blowing opportunity after opportunity and only putting one or two runs up against a mediocre team at best?

The vision of catching the Dodgers while Manny Ramirez is suspended has gone from being realistic to almost forgotten at this point. Now it’s all about trying to get what’s wrong with the Giants as the main issue.

The Dodgers just keep on a truckin’ without their dreaded cleanup hitter while the Giants’ lineup is sputtering and leaving its pitchers’ gems to go unrewarded.

And we thought Matt Cain getting stiffed by the Giants offense was bad enough; now every pitcher is getting no runs to work with.

It’s not even close to being the dog days of summer, but the way the Giants have been playing of late, it certainly seems like it’s the middle of August.


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