So, what are we to make of this recent skid of the San Francisco Giants, if anything? After compiling a 31-11 win/loss record over the previous seven weeks, the Giants dropped a quick nine of ten, and not necessarily to top-echelon teams, either.
They lost three of four to the Washington Nationals, four games above .500; they were swept by the Colorado Rockies, currently seven games below the .500 level; and they dropped a two-game series to the last-place Chicago White Sox. Not a confidence-builder, that’s certain.
So why the malaise?
Begin with the rigors of playing without their everyday first baseman, Brandon Belt, and the strain this has placed on the rest of the lineup. Though he graciously switched from the outfield to first base to accommodate the team, Michael Morse was still playing out of his natural position, and this may have contributed to his recent back stiffness.
The Giants need Brandon Belt back in the lineup. Credit: ©Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE
Besides Belt, there is Angel Pagan to consider and all he means to the team when he is playing at full strength, and therefore, how much his absence contributes to a diminished level of performance. Pagan’s style of play is aggressive and demanding, taking its toll on his body with every dive, twist and roll. How much of the time does Pagan play “at full strength?” Too much, think I, so it takes a toll to keep on maintaining such a high level, especially when he already is dealing with several minor issues.
Compensating for a hurt back, or knee, or any injured component of the body, places strain on other parts that often comes back to create issues in other areas, in seemingly unrelated ways. It’s the domino effect.
So all of the sudden, the Giants were playing without three of their go-to starters, at least until the status of both Pagan and Morse is established. And let us not lose track of the original injury to Marco Scutaro, with which the team has been contending all season.
But these problems have been in the making for a while now, and when the pitching stumbled, the team ended up taking the fall. Seriously though, how long was San Francisco going to be able to keep humming along at a .738 pace (31-11)? So many elements must be present and thriving for a team to sustain that rate of success.
Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that those same elements may vacate the premises at an instant’s notice. You just hope it doesn’t occur during the postseason, where there is no D-backs series to help get back on track.
Madison Bumgarner has been excellent this season. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
Though every one of the five starting pitchers has had very strong stretches where everything was clicking, especially Madison Bumgarner and Tim Hudson, each has had to also deal with the many issues that crop up and create inconsistency, which then affects confidence.
The starting pitchers feed off of one another when they are successful, and are similarly impacted when one or more struggles. After being so solid for the first third of the season, having the bullpen inexplicably blow three consecutive leads in the late innings, sent the whole works into a tailspin.
At least with the cushion the Giants had built up, a nine-and-a-half game lead over Los Angeles, they could afford to suffer a nose-dive, and still come out four games ahead. Now the Dodgers will have to gain ground-or lose it-the old-fashioned way, one game at a time.
So as Bruce Bochy well knows, and mentioned to the media a few days ago, nothing is wrong-it’s just baseball. You cant’ play in the stratosphere without the occasional gambol in the mud.
The Giants would appear capable of doing both. That’s a good thing and if you don’t believe me, just think of all the teams that are only capable of playing at the lower end of the spectrum, and not at the .738 clip that the Giants maintained for about seven weeks there.
If I had my druthers, I’d skip the skid, but I’ll take it if means I get the rest of the package. How about you?
There are moments in the past ten games that all Giants, including Matt cain, would like to forget.. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports