SF Giants Torture Report: Who wants to win the NL West?

San Francisco Giants vs Chicago Cubs

The San Francisco Giants currently sport a 24-26 record, good enough for third place in the tightly packed NL West. At the moment, Colorado holds first place by a half game over Arizona. The Giants are 2 games back, and LA is just another game and a half behind the Giants. That’s four teams, all within 3.5 games of each other.

The Giants have been stuck in 3rd place since beating LA on Friday, April 27. That victory moved the Giants to 12-13 and 6 games back of the DBacks. Apparently, no team wants to run away with this division. All 4 contenders in the west have struggled in May.

Arizona is 5-16 this month and they have been outscored 88-48 over those 21 games. Colorado is doing it’s best to take advantage by going 11-9 so far in May, but 6 of those wins were part of a streak to start the month and the Rockies have gone 5-9 since May 9th.

Even the Dodgers have been allowed to climb back in this race. After falling to a season worst, 10-games under .500 and 8.5 games out of first place just over a week ago, LA swept the Nats in DC last weekend and have won 6 of their last 7 games to bring them up to 3.5 games out of first. The Dodgers gained 5 games in 8 days.

May is a tough month on the Giants schedule. They have 18 road games and 9 home games. At AT&T Park this month, the Giants went 5-4. On the road, their record is 4-8, with 6 more road games left in the month.

The Giants have lost 8 of their last 9 games on the road and just got steamrolled in Houston by the defending champs, losing 2 games by the combined score of 15-3.

Well, there was one highlight. On Tuesday night while the Giants were getting pummeled by the Astros and their starter Gerrit Cole was dealing, Brandon Crawford connected for a 2-run homer off Cole to left field. It landed, where else, the Crawford boxes.

In case you haven’t heard, Cole is married to Brandon’s sister, Amy. Back during Crawford’s days at UCLA, he hosted a recruit who was visiting and debating attending UCLA to play baseball. You guessed it, the recruit was Gerrit Cole, and he met Amy through Brandon, and the rest is history.

Brandon’s dad had the best reaction to his homer.

Also enjoyed this exchange between Gerrit and Brandon, brought to us by Amy Cole.

So that was fun, the rest of the Houston series was not. The Giants continued to strike out a ton, whiffing 23 times in two games in Houston. Both times exceeding double digits in strikeouts. In 7 of their last 9 road games, the Giants have struck out over 10 times. All of those games were started by a right-hander, and overall the Giants are 12-18 in games against a right-handed pitcher.

I know Cole and Justin Verlander are having stellar seasons, but you can’t just excuse the last 2 games. It’s part of a trend, not an aberration. It’s really what is at the root of their problems with runners on base. Shockingly, they don’t lead the league in strikeouts. The only team in the NL to strike out more than the Giants in the month of May? The Diamondbacks.

Wrigley Woes

I wish this where I type about how the Giants can turn it around this weekend in Wrigley. They can, but recent history is not good. Over the last 3 regular seasons, the Giants have lost 10 of 12 games at Wrigley Field. They were swept in 4 games in 2015, and lost 3 out of 4 each of the last 2 seasons.

I guess the silver lining here is, this weekend is only a 3-game series in Chicago, and the last time the Giants played 3 here in 2014, they won two games.

None of this includes the 2016 NLDS when, you know what’s coming, the Giants lost both games they played at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs are good again this season. Their record is 25-21, but it’s only good enough for 4th place in their division. They are also locked in a 4-team race like the Giants over in the NL Central. There, they have the same mess as the west, four teams within 3.5 games.

If you didn’t know, I was raised in the Chicago area and am married to a Cubs fan. I grew up going to Wrigley and whenever the Giants head there for a series I get a little too excited. For years it was my World Series, the only way to see the Giants. So the backdrop of the ivy with the road grays is my image of the Giants from when I was growing up.

This match-up is so special to me that I wrote about it back in 2013 on my personal blog. It’s actually the reason I’m with TortureCast today. Willie Dills came across my post about growing up in Chicago as a Giants fan and invited me on the podcast. I hit it off with the guys, and a year or so later joined the podcast for good.

So if you’ve ever wondered why one of our podcast hosts lives on a farm in southern Georgia and not in the Bay Area, there’s your answer. I’ve never lived farther west than Chicago and have been in the South for 8 years now. I’ve never lived in California and only visited San Francisco once, back in 2013, to scatter my father Barry’s ashes in McCovey Cove. I will return again someday.

Back to the Cubs, they are vulnerable at the moment. They just lost 2 games to the Indians in very simlar fashion to the Giants losses in Houston. Their offense has been struggling to drive runners in. The Cubs have left an average of 11 men on base in each of their last 6 games.

Mac Williamson is back in the lineup for the Giants. Last time he joined the club at the start of a series was in Anaheim at the end of April, it jolted the offense to start scoring more runs and the Giants started winning games. Maybe he can have the same impact this weekend at hitter friendly Wrigley Field.

I mean, that’s the hope. If Giants pitchers continue to give up 7 or 8 runs a game, it’s not going to mater how much better the offense is with Mac. It’s hard to continually win 9-8 ballgames, and the Giants 24-26 record is indicative of that.

Torture Level

ZERO. It’s a big fat zero right now. The Giants got blown out in Houston after 2 quality wins at home against the Rockies. None of the games recently have been tight, see-saw battles. Only one of the 4 games against the Rockies was decided by 2 runs or less. It’s hard to have torture when the games aren’t even close. Win or lose.

Next week, I should have players of the week again and I’lltake a look at the rotation problems on the cusp of Bumgarner’s return.

Monday is Memorial Day, but we should have a new show for you to discuss the weekend in Chicago.

Remember to subscribe to our podcast on iTunesStitcherSpotifyPodBeanPodOMatic, and some other places I’m sure I am missing. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check out the YouTube channel which now has all new episodes as well as plenty of player interviews and much more.

Or you can just tell Alexa, “play the Torturecast podcast” and let her do the rest.

-Eric Nathanson

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