San Francisco Giants Keep Rolling, Take Two from Cubs

May 22, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez (9) reacts after being called out for batter
May 22, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez (9) reacts after being called out for batter /

Entering into this weekend’s series with the Chicago Cubs, the San Francisco Giants had the weakest record of any MLB division leader. Coming out of the series, they still have the weakest record among division leaders (by winning percentage, anyway), but they now have a commanding lead in the National League West after taking two out of three from the best team in the Majors.

There is plenty of baseball to be played, so let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. However, to take two out of three games from the hottest team of the season’s first quarter carries shows the Giants should be in any discussion about the National League’s serious contenders. They proved this by taking on the top team in the league and stymieing their bats

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The Giants continue to exhibit some causes for concern, though. I started to warm on Jake Peavy a little, after one not-horrific start and one very good start. But then on Friday he failed to get out of the second inning after giving up five runs. He just can’t be relied upon to help the team win games.

And then there is the offense, which continues to struggle.

The Giants won two close games. That’s important, because the playoffs often hinge on how well teams do in the tight ones. But they also scored just seven runs in the three-game series. After getting smacked around 8-1 on Friday (the Peavy start), they won 5-3 on Saturday and then 1-0 on Sunday, behind a masterful Madison Bumgarner. That Sunday run was driven in by Bumgarner, while Matt Cain drove in two on Saturday. Of course, the runs counts just the same, but it is worrisome that the guys paid to hit only produced four runs in three games.

To ensure more strong showings against top-tier teams, the Giants offense needs to start producing. After ranking among the NL’s top three or four run-scoring teams for most of the season, the Giants have now slipped to sixth. They rank 11th in May.

This all starts with Buster Posey, who is batting just .268 with 5 home runs and 17 RBI. At the moment, that projects to .268/17/60 for the season. No doubt, he is one hot streak away from changing all that, but up to this point San Francisco’s best hitter has been mediocre.

Next: Matt Cain Wins: The Beautiful Balance of Baseball

Ultimately, what is really promising for San Francisco is that the offense has plenty of room for improvement and Peavy’s spot in the rotation can be remedied. All the while, the Giants are leading their division after taking out of three from the might Cubs and have won nine of their last 10 games overall.

There is plenty of reason for the orange-and-black to be excited right now.