Giants mired in month-long slump that has no end in sight
July 12, 2013
Most San Francisco Giants fans know it, and have embraced it — the torture that is Giants baseball.
Well, I’ve had enough of it.
“Giants baseball — Torture” was a fun slogan when the end results were thrilling wins and a pair of World Series titles, but this latest brand of torture coming from the Bay Area feels like I’m getting water boarded by baseball.
On Wednesday, the New York Mets, for the first time since 1994, completed a sweep of the Giants in San Francisco. To make things worse, San Francisco got handled by Zack Wheeler, a former Giants prospect who was traded to the Mets for Carlos Beltran in the 2011 season.
There’s nothing like eating a plate of crow from a prospect you dealt for a “superstar” player who didn’t pan out in your organization.
As the beleaguered boys in black and orange muck their way through the summer months (11-24 in June and July), it has been increasingly harder to watch and/or read about them on a daily basis.
The torture that was once exciting and filled the spirit with a never-say-die attitude has now turned sour, and fans could stand for a break from it.
The Giants are currently mired in a four-game losing streak, have only one win in their last 10 games and are 10 games under .500 for the first time since 2008, which was Bruce Bochy’s second year at the helm.
The reigning champs sit in dead last in the N.L. West, seven games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks. A drastic change from the team that held first place in the division for 30 days early in the season, but it hasn’t held that top spot since May 26. This is a team that was 37-34 as of June 19 but has since gone 3-16.
Even more disheartening is the only hope in sight is recently acquired Jeff Francoeur, who was released by the Royals last week.
In 59 games with Kansas City this season, Francoeur batted .208 with two home runs and 13 RBIs and has struck out 1/4 of the time (49 Ks in 189 at bats).
So Giants fans, please don’t expect a Marco Scutaro-type change in the team when, and if, Francoeur gets called up from the Giants’ farm system.
Now that I have sufficiently described the ineptitude that make up the current Giants, let’s look at why.
First off, to be a champion or at least a contender, a team must protect their home diamond. The Giants had done just that in the first part of the season (20-10 at home through June 1), but their grip on their home turf is wavering (5-10 at home since June 1). A once-healthy confidence at home is now wilting, and in a game that is played inside a baller’s head as much as it is on the field, a lack of confidence at home is the kiss of death.
The Giants are a lowly 15-30 on the road.
Second, and this is something every Giants fan has noticed, the pitching is simply not what it once was despite the contracts being inflated far more than they once were.
Cain, who proved himself brilliantly last season after getting a big deal, hasn’t been half the bulldog he once was. While making $20 million this season, Cain is 5-6 in 19 starts with a 5.06 ERA and 16 homers allowed. Tim Lincecum, the other $20 million man, is an unimpressive 4-9 with a 4.61 ERA and a bloated 1.41 WHIP.
Ryan Vogelsong has been injured, Barry Zito is always a roll of the dice, but he seems to have found his old form. The form he had when he first jumped from the A’s to the Giants and got slammed on a regular basis. Zito, now 4-6 also has a four-plus ERA and a 1.63 WHIP.
With Cain’s loss Wednesday, no Giants starter, besides Bumgarner, has won a game since June 13.
As it stands right now, the Giants can’t count on a starter, besides Bumgarner, their middle relief or their closer.
Jeremy Affeldt has been atrocious lately, a nice showing in return for a big contract in the offseason, Santiago Casilla is still on the DL, and Sergio Romo has 20 saves but three blown saves and four losses to go with an ERA of 2.94, sixth highest among closers in the N.L., not exactly the ERA you want from your stopper.
That said, there isn’t much to look forward to. What about Mike Kickham? So far the kid is 0-3 with a 12.15 ERA. Chad Gaudin has been good, but he has found himself in hot water, so we’ll just wait and see how that plays out.
But let’s give the pitching staff a break. It has carried this squad for the past three years. So where have the bats been?
The offense has been an issue the past few seasons and continues to be. As of Wednesday, they have a minus-51 run differential this season, which is third worst in the N.L., better than only the Brewers and the Marlins. The Giants have the third worst record in the N.L. to boot.
The Giants have two players batting better than .300, not counting Kickham and Tony Abreu (22 games). Buster Posey has been his stellar self with a team high in average (.317), RBIs (50), doubles (25), and homers (13). Scutaro, the fantastic table setter is batting .316 with 36 runs scored and 19 knocked in. Besides that, the Giants bat in the mid .200s and are 19th in the league in batting average with runners in scoring position (.249), including a 1-for-15 performance with RISP Tuesday.
This season, the Giants are 29th in the majors in home runs (59), 22nd in runs scored (352), 23rd in RBIs (331), 23rd in slugging percentage (.384), 23rd in stolen bases (39), and 22nd in extra-base hits.
While these rankings are similar to what they were in their title seasons, without the pitching protecting the offense, it will make for the first sub-.500 season since 2008.
The worse part of this season’s version of Giants torture is it doesn’t end with ecstasy — but rather the dirty feeling that we have been used.
In the previous two seasons the Giants were 63-42 in one-run games, making the torture worth it. This season, they are 14-13 in one-run games, not bad but not what San Francisco fans are used to.
According to ESPN.com, the Giants have only a 4.9 percent chance of making the playoffs. That being said, the Giants have several regulars due back from injury soon, and I believe they can still make the postseason, and once they’re in, as we have all seen over the past three years, anything can happen.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.