How bad was it for the San Francisco Giants to get swept at home by the San Diego Padres? Pretty bad, and pretty much in every way imaginable for a team that held the best record in Major League Baseball a couple months ago and is the worst team of the season’s second half.
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It was so bad that the fact the Giants could continue to play so miserably against lesser competition and still hold a wild card spot is nothing short of a miracle. Really, the way the Giants have played since the all-star break—and particularly this week against the Padres, is there any reason to expect that they will actually reach the postseason? And even if they do make it, how could they possibly win the National League Wild Card game? That would require scoring runs. If you can’t do that against the Padres, how are you going to do it against the Cardinals (whom the Giants host for the next four days) or Mets?
Let’s dig into the Padres series to examine some of the ways in which it was painfully bad, shall we?
Bad Way #1: This is the second time since the all-star break that the Padres have swept the Giants. You might remember the other series: it was the first game action after the break, when the Giants went to San Diego. We didn’t know it at the time, but that series would prove to be a (negatively) momentous three days:
Santiago Casilla blew a save in the second game that, when looking back on it, was probably the point of no return for his downward spiral as the closer. Buster Posey hit a home run that same day. He hasn’t hit one since. And, of course, it was the first indication that something about the team had drastically changed during the four days between the season’s two halves.
Bad Way #2: The Padres entered the series with an 8-20 record in road games during the second half. So the Giants, with playoff aspirations still realistic, should have been able to take at least two of the games. And coming off a sweep of the Diamondbacks in Arizona, at the tail-end of an exhausting 10-game road trip, the Giants should have been well primed to carry some momentum into their homestand. Instead, they got shut out in the first game, their closer situation got unimaginably worse in the second game, and they scored just one run in the finale.
Bad Way #2a: The Padres’ starting pitchers in the series: Paul Clemens, Clayton Richard and Luis Perdomo. They’re Major League pitchers, so I won’t go out of my way to denigrate them. But they aren’t exactly Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks. (Those are the Cubs’ three Cy Young-worthy starting pitchers, in case you don’t follow much baseball outside of San Francisco.)
Bad Way #3: After enduring Casilla’s debacle in the closer role, the Giants and their fans at least found some solace in the decision to remove Casilla from the role and give another bullpen arm a shot. The switch didn’t go so well. The Padres scored as many runs during the Hunter Strickland closing fiasco (i.e. the ninth inning of Saturday’s game) as the Giants scored in the entire series. And now the situation is even more hopeless than before Casilla was removed. One last hope: Derek Law is back from the disabled list. Let’s see if Manager Bruce Bochy gives him a shot.
Bad Way #4: The Giants now sit five games behind the Dodgers in the National League West. They still hold the top wild card seed, but, as mentioned above, the Cardinals are in town. The Cardinals are a hungry team half a game out of a wild card spot, and they feature one of the best offensive in the NL, ranking first in home runs, second in OPS and third in runs. That’s a few steps up from the Padres.
On a positive note, Angel Pagan hit a home run in the series, giving him 11 for the season. Who would have thunk at the beginning of the season that Pagan would stay relatively healthy and possibly end up hitting more dingers than Posey this season?