Welcome to the 12th Czar’s blog of 2016.
Two teams – the Giants pre the All-Star break and the Giants in August and right up until the last five games, including the game today that culminated in a sweep of the Snakes.
The early season Giants. Confident hitters, good defense, strong pitching and a capable bullpen.
The current Giants. Looking like a bottom of the standings team that can’t hit with men in scoring position making key defensive errors with a bullpen that can’t hold a lead.
Which team is for real? We will find out over the next 20 games.
Before I left for Bali and Komodo I asked to return to a first place team with a bullpen that can hold a lead. Instead I return to the Dodgers in first place, Puig called back up again with the boys in blue and Casilla channeling Brian Wilson at his worst.
I am asking the dragon (see attached) for help, perhaps by eating a key Dodger player or two, with maybe Casilla as an appetizer.
The problem, in one word, is hitting. The bats are cold and (until today with some great Hunter Pence swings) it seemed that every batter was pressing. Has someone stolen the offense (maybe awful, mean, fairies from LA?).
I am constantly reminding myself that the Giants are in the top four in MLB (above the Dodgers mind you) in fielding and pitching (although it sure doesn’t seem that way when you look at the relievers giving it up on a regular basis) and what we have seen are not the real Giants. So the hope right now is to believe that what they have done over the last five days are the real Giants and the team from the eight weeks before was some sleep-walking zombie apparition.
The Playoffs are here
The G-Men are in the playoffs right now and are one of the top five teams in the NL (along with the Cubs - who are cruising into the playoffs - the Nationals, the Cardinals and LA). The Gigantes must win the series against the Cardinals to hold their current lead for the first wild card and pound the Padres and the Rockies (aren’t division games to finish off a season fun?). If they do play the rest of the month like they have done since that blown save fiasco in Denver there is a good chance that they will at least hold the wild card and get into the playoffs in October. Every inning and every game count right now.
However it will most definitely all come down to the games left against the team that shall not be named from LA – in LA first and finishing at home. We will have a much longer discussion of that key series in the last blog of the year before the final week of baseball. However keep in mind that the current three game deficient can be made up pretty quickly. The Giants destiny is in their hands.
What do we need to get there?
Matt Moore has been pitching very well, as his one hitter against the Cubs and his 11 strikeout day today shows. If Bum and Cueto can continue their pitching, Moore and Samardzija are very able 3rd and 4th starters. We have the talent. Do we have the will?
But it all comes down to the big boys with the bats. Pence, Posey, Pagan, Panik, Crawford, Belt, Span and Nunez. If they hit, we win. If they don’t we struggle.
The games below (the Cardinals and Padres) will go quickly so get back to me as soon as you can. The Czar leaves for Italy on Tuesday (duty calls, being a wine lawyer requires constant sacrifice) so the tickets for this upcoming home series need to be allocated by tomorrow afternoon.
May the force, and seven innings from the starters, be with you always.
Ciao, and GO GIANTS!