Aug 31, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants outfield comes in to celebrate with rest of team after the final out of the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at AT&T Park. Giants won 15 to 5. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
The Giants close out the month of August with a 16-12 display, which while it seems like the month was overall successful, it was ridden with so many ups and downs that it would make you rethink spending your hard-earned money to go to Six Flags.
When it seemed like the Giants were starting to get back on track, someone or something threw a wrench in the works. It happened after the Mets series and after the Cubs series. Of course, if the Giants wanted to get things righted, they were going to need to take care of the sub-.500 teams, which they had virtually no problem with.
When they picked on someone their own size though, things got off-track fairly quickly, and it looked like the team had just fallen apart. But when it seemed like all hope was lost for October baseball, something amazing happened in the last week of August.
The Giants started clicking again. The key hits to put the Giants ahead were there, the defense made consistent appearances, and the pitching looked stellar. Not only did they click against a sub-.500 team, but they were able to click against a contender.
With 26 games to go, the Giants need to continue this push if they plan on taking the division, which in all reality should be the ultimate goal. Making it into the dance would be good, but if they can avoid a one-game playoff to decide their fate, that would be ideal. It’s really a no-brainer at this point.
Here are the things they need to bring over from their hot August finish…
Keep The Bench Production Up
The one glaring thing to start out the season was the lack of a good bench and good depth, and for a while they seemed to get away with it, and then during the middle of the summer it really came back to bite them. If I told you the bench would have a good showing in August, you would probably look at me like I had three heads.
That is just what happened though. Joaquin Arias went 8-for-19 with 5 doubles in August, putting him at 7 for the season, and increasing his batting average 31 points to .220. Travis Ishikawa had 11 hits in 32 at-bats in August, including a 3-hit 3-RBI outing against the Cubs and a 2-run home run against the Nationals.
Gregor Blanco has also picked up on the power, hitting a home run in back-to-back games during the previous home stand, and going on a 5-game hitting streak. Andrew Susac has gone 10-for-29 in his last 10 games, and was a key contributor in the Giants 15-5 rout of the Brewers.
Hit the Long Ball and Hit it Often
After what seemed like the Giants were going to hit 200 home runs for the season back in May, a home run seemed like a rarity in the months of June in July. In August though, the home runs came in bunches.
I mentioned Blanco’s back-to-back home runs, which gave him 3 home runs for the month of August. Pablo Sandoval also had 3 home runs in August, including a big 2-run splash hit yesterday.
Buster Posey, who has been on fire as of late, is the August home run leader with 6. Hunter Pence finished just one home run shy of that mark. Overall the Giants hit 23 home runs, bringing them up to 116 on the season.
Stay Hot Panik
It is safe to say Joe Panik caught fire in the month of August, after starting out the first two months of his MLB-debut with a line of .204/.271/.236. Since then, he has gone 36-for-95 (.379) with a home run and 10 RBIs.
While he will probably not be in Rookie of the Year talks, the Yonkers native has certainly made his presence known. On Friday, he had a 4 hit night against the Brewers, bringing his total to 10 multi-hit games in the month of August.
He has now become the Giants everyday second baseman, after a near season-long experiment. He has also shown that he belongs in the second spot of the lineup, which now gives the Giants a little more flexibility with the middle of the lineup.
Pitching, Pitching and Pitching
After the Nationals’ series, the Giants had some big questions about pitching. More importantly, what were they going to do with Tim Lincecum? They answered that question fairly quickly, skipping his start and having Yusmeiro Petit come in to replace him. The decision has so far paid dividends for the Giants, as Petit had a strong start Thursday against the Rockies.
Another issue was the consistency of the bullpen, especially considering that they had blown some pretty important games for the Giants in the month of August. Jeremy Affeldt had been one of those pitchers who was unable to keep the Giants in the game, giving up a game-tying home run against the Phillies and being unable to shut down the Nationals last Sunday.
During the 6-game winning streak though, the bullpen has shown flashes of their shutdown prowess in a big way. If the Giants want October baseball, they are going to need the bullpen to continue their shutdown ways, help preserve good starts and keep the Giants in the game.