That road trip sucked. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. The San Francisco Giants went 1-7 and generally looked flat, and out of sync. They come home only three games ahead of the Dodgers for the NL West lead.
That number can be made up during one series of baseball. The cushion that once was, is gone.
So is it time to panic? I guess that depends on how you look at it. There’s a precedent for this kind of thing. On June 8th of 2014, the Giants were a season high 22 games over .500 and had a 10 game lead in the NL West. When it was over they finished 6 games behind the Dodgers and had to play the Wild Card game. Then the Giants won the title.
Sure. That’s a different team. I agree. This 2016 squad is probably the most talented bunch Bruce Bochy has managed in a Giants uniform and a free fall like 2014 shouldn’t be in the cards. I mean, it can’t be? Can it?
On June 24 this season, the Giants held their largest lead over LA at 8 games. On July 10th, they reached a season high 24 games over .500 with a record of 57-33. That was the record the Giants held going in to the all star break. It was a 6.5 game lead over the Dodgers.
It’s not really fair to compare this year’s team against 2014, but we can’t help it because it literally just happened. It’s easy to draw comparisons.
That doesn’t mean the same thing has to happen, and I’m betting it won’t. Hunter Pence, Joe Panik, and Matt Duffy should all be returning to the lineup over the next month. The whole of the offense won’t have to rest on the shoulders of Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, and Brandon Crawford.
The lineup isn’t as deep as it once was. But, fingers crossed, it should be there again. On this 1-7 road trip the Giants held the opponent to 5 runs or less in 6 of the 8 games. The problem is they scored 23 runs total in the 8 games, less than 3 a game. Take out the 7 runs in the Wednesday loss to Boston ad it’s barely over 2 runs per game.
The Giants aren’t hitting. That makes the errors and subpar pitching performances stand out. Jeff Samardzija got rocked in the 6th inning at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, but in a live yard all the Giants could manage was 2 runs on a defensive swing base-hit. It’s hard to win when the middle of the order combines for 4 total runs in 8 games.
A lot of the chatter after the final game in New York from the Giants clubhouse was about getting back in a routine. This weird road trip with multiple days off was not normal. Playing the next 7 games at home will surely be a welcome thing for a club that really hasn’t been home since July 10th.
The Cincinnati Reds are coming to town for 3 games and overall they have not played well this season. At 38-60 they are tied for the 3rd worst record in baseball with the Tampa Bay rays. The Reds just wrapped a 9-game homestand to start the second half. They wen 6-3 against Milwaukee, Atlanta, and Arizona. Back in May the Giants took 2 of 3 from the Reds in Ohio and averaged just over 5 runs a game.
There’s that 5-run mark again. It jumps out because the Giants are 36-9 when they score 5 or more runs in a game. The offense is what really makes this team hum and it just wasn’t there for this trip.
Like I asked earlier, is it time to panic? I don’t think it is. Clayton Kershaw may miss the season and require surgery. The Dodgers are winning games now, but their own injuries will catch them. Much like what has happened to the Giants recently.
There’s also the idea that Bobby Evans is looking for bullpen help. Aroldis Chapman is out as closer option. He got traded to the Cubs, and I’ll be honest, I’m glad we don’t have to tiptoe around his recent domestic violence incident. I would have a hard time rooting for him.
Other than a reliever, the Giants could shore up any part of the team. With the emergence of Mac Williamson lately, the Giants probably feel better about the OF depth. The rotation may need some help, and the next week will clear that up. Jake Peavy and Matt Cain each start twice this week and we’ll all know if there’s a need.
Don’t panic. The Giants are still one of the best team in baseball and have reinforcements coming. After this week at home they take their last trip to the east to start August. The farthest they fly after they return home then is Chicago. The Giants thrive in their comfort zone and we shouldn’t expect any less down the stretch. It’s just another extension of Bochy’s “keep the line moving” mentality.
Or, I could be totally wrong and this season is about to fall off a cliff.