41: [2005, 75-87, 3rd NL West]
The Giants were coming off eight-straight winning seasons in which they finished in first or second place and five-straight 90-win seasons. However, they were also coming off three-straight gut-wrenching finishes.
The Giants were determined to finally get to the promised land in 2005, so they made several acquisitions to a team that featured Jason Schmidt and now seven-time National League Most Valuable Player, Barry Bonds. They added all-star closer Armando Benitez, and they added nine-time Gold Glove Award winner, Omar Vizquel. They also added the skipper’s son, Moises Alou, who was coming off a 39-home run season, and who would provide Bonds’ best protection in the lineup since Jeff Kent.
However, things quickly turned for the worst when Bonds had surgery on his right knee in January, putting him in doubt to be on the team to start the season. Bonds reported to Spring Training in the middle of February and was able to take batting practice. Then he suddenly had another operation on the same knee in March, most likely keeping him out until the All-Star Break.
The season quickly looked bleak, and then in just the second game of the season, Moises Alou strained his calf. Now the Giants’ two most powerful hitters were on the disabled list. It got worse. Armando Benitez tore his hamstring on the final play of a game on April 26, and to make matters worse, Bonds had a third operation on his right knee, which drained an infection. Moises Alou returned, and he and Pedro Feliz both hit two home runs in a game against the Dodgers on May 25. However, a loss to the Bums the next night started an eight-game losing streak.
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The Giants fell quite a bit under .500. However, the National League West was incredibly weak, and the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks, who exchanged time in first place, both struggled to stay above .500. That kept the Giants in contention, so despite their poor record, despite the very old roster and despite the fact that it now looked like Bonds was going to miss the entire season, the Giants still went for it at the Trade Deadline. They traded backup catcher Yorvit Torreabla and young starting pitcher Jesse Foppert to the Seattle Mariners for outfielder Randy Winn.
The moves should’ve sparked the Giants, but they remained lethargic, and fans became extremely impatient. After a 1-0 loss to the Mets at SBC Park—in case anybody forgot, that was the name of the ballpark for two years—on Aug. 26, the Giants were 55-72, but incredibly, they were just eight games back of the Padres. Closer Armando Benitez had just returned, and it appeared that Barry Bonds was getting himself ready to possibly return in September.
The Giants won their final two games against the Mets, and then they called up their promising young starting pitcher, Matt Cain, on Aug. 29. Cain made an immediate impact, as he threw a complete game in his third big league start. Bonds finally returned on Sept. 12, and as a result, the Giants got hot, and they were just three games back with six to go, despite already having lost 82 games to clinch a losing season. The Giants were eventually eliminated, and they went 75-87.
However, despite how bad the season was, it technically was a contending season, and there were a lot of good memories down the stretch as the Giants got back into the thick of the race.