As we continue our countdown from the worst to the best seasons of San Francisco Giants baseball, we don’t have to look very far for the third-worst; 2017, last season.
The San Francisco Giants had a hard time getting over the tragic end to the 2016 season, in which they had an abysmal 30-42 second half and then blew a 5-2 lead in the ninth inning of game 4 of the NLDS against the Cubs. The team just wasn’t the same, and nobody new this more than Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Brian Sabean, who admitted later in the season that he sensed that something was wrong from the onset.
Of course something was wrong. This was a team that had won three championships in five season, gone to the playoffs in four of their previous seven and had seven winning seasons in their previous eight.
Despite the heartbreak of 2016 and the concerns early on in the organization, the Giants had high expectations at the start of 2017. Why not? They had signed all-star closer Mark Melancon to a four-year, $95 million deal to head a bullpen that struggled horribly in 2016. The team seemed pretty solid. They had a solid rotation headed by Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, they had a strong lineup and they had a new closer.
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However, 2017 started right where 2016 ended. The Giants opened in Arizona for the fourth time in six years, on April 2. The Giants had their 12th-straight different opening day left-fielder in Jarrett Parker, Madison Bumgarner hit two home runs, Bum then struck out 11 over seven innings on the mound, and the Giants took a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth.
Mark Melancon came on to the his Giants debut, but after he set down the first two men he faced, the Diamondbacks got four-straight hits to score a pair of runs and win the game. The Giants won the second game, but that would be the only time the entire season that the Giants would even be at .500.
On April 20 in Denver, Madison Bumgarner did not get involved in any of the city’s 4/20 celebrations. Instead, he sprained his pitching shoulder in a dirt bike accident. The Giants were already struggling to score runs early in the season, as third-baseman Eduardo Nunez got off to a terrible start.
Now, they were going to be without their ace for two-to-three months. The Rockies swept the hapless Giants that weekend. Afterwards, the Giants called up their top prospect Christian Arroyo, which they hoped would be a boost. However, after the team blew a lead in the ninth and lost 5-2 to the Padres in 12 innings on April, they ended the first month of the season at 9-17.
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Things continued to get worse, and just 9 days later on May 9, they were 11-23. The Giants then showed signs of life.
Buster Posey won a 17-inning thriller with a walk-off home run against the Reds on May 12, and that would be the first of five-straight wins for the Giants. After they beat the Cubs on May 22, they were 20-26, but it turned out they weren’t turning things around after all. The Giants dropped their final three games to the Cubs, and things got much worse from there.
The season pretty much ended on Memorial Day, when Hunter Strickland hit Bryce Harper in retaliation for the two home runs Harper hit off Strickland in the 2014 NLDS, and Harper charged the mound causing a brawl.
It was clear right there and then that the Giants just weren’t the same they had been during their championship runs. After losing to the Mets on June 25, the Giants were 27-51, which was their worst record through 78 games in their time in San Francisco.
I can’t even bear to talk about the rest of the 2017 season. All I know is that I’m a diehard fan, so I watched each and every single inning of each and every single game until the bitter end. When all was said and done, the Giants ended up going 64-98, which was their second-worst record in San Francisco. During that time, their 530-game sellout streak ended, and they brught back Pablo Sandoval, who ended the season with a walk-off home run against the Padres on Oct. 1.
Longtime fan favorite Matt Cain decided to call it a career after being hampered by injuries during each of his final five seasons. He threw five shutout innings in the final start of his career on Sept. 30 against the Padres, and then he gave a very emotional farewell to the fans of San Francisco.
2017 completely came out of nowhere for what had been the team of the decade to that point. A 64-98 record will make a season completely forgettable, but a 64-98 record after all the organization had accomplished in the eight years before really hurt. Hopefully, the 2017 season will down as the biggest fluke ever.
Here’s to a much better 2018!