Giants v. Padres, Giants v. Marlins

Greetings to all of our friends who love the two-time World Champion SF Giants! The G-Men are now 35 and 31, 1.5 games back in 2nd place

It’s a time of year during which we are still trying to figure out this team.  Yes the Giants are playing .530 ball (below the .570 they need to assure taking the division) but the entire NL West is struggling. Being a game and half back at this time of year is not a cause for serious concern or panic.  We won’t have a good handle on this division until the All-Star break at the earliest, and maybe not even then. One day it’s a struggle and the Giants are being shut out and the next day they are blowing out the best team in baseball.  All we can do is watch and hope that there are no more injuries.

The Pirates series was a microcosm of the season.  Two bad losses (one with 20 runs scored in the game by both teams) and then a 10-0 blow out before heading out to Atlanta.  If the Giants win today they will finish this particular road trip at .500 or above; that’s pretty sweet against the teams they have played (2 out of 3 from the Snakes, 1 of 3 from the Pirates and so far 1 and 0 from the Braves).

The Positives

The offense is the best that we’ve seen from the Giants since the early 2001 and 2002 teams of Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds.  They are toggling between the best and second best batting average and the most runs scored in the NL.  That hasn’t even been affected by the rash of injuries (see below), which is awesome.  The defense is tightening up (we may have the 4 best defensive fielders in baseball, between Torres, Blanco, Pence and now Perez – they cover a lot of ground) and Brandon Crawford is beginning to look like a lock as an All-Star shortstop (besides hitting at a current .294 clip with power). Buster Posey is once again looking like the league MVP, batting .313 with 8 dingers (and yesterday’s three doubles) and looking like Carleton Fisk behind the plate. Hunter Pence has played in every game, is batting .299 and has 11 home runs. These guys are for real.

On the pitching side Cain and Bumgarner have righted the ship and have had back to back shut out games (against the Pirates and the Braves) and we haven’t seen much of Romo because the G-Men have either been so far ahead, or so far behind, that he hasn’t been needed. Gaudin is pitching today against the Braves, and so far he is solid as he has been in his first two starts since taking over for Vogelsong after he went on the DL with a broken hand. There has been a lot of movement up and down from Fresno and it’s been effective; Perez for Pagan, Abreu for Scutaro and a succession of catchers. On the good news side Casilla is looking he might be back next week. He’s needed with Kontos being ineffective and being sent down to Fresno. On top of that when Kontos does come up he has to serve a 3 game suspension for plunking Andrew McCutcheon in the Pirates series.

Can something be both a positive and a negative?  Case in point is Barry Zito, with a 1.78 ERA at home and a 10.94 ERA on the road.  It’s too bad that it can’t be arranged so that Zito only pitches at AT&T.

The Negatives

The injuries that are piling up. Scutaro and Vogelsong out with hand injuries, Pagan with a hamstring that won’t heal and the Panda (overweight by 70 pounds) with a bad foot. Pablo is due back for the Padres series and Scutaro might also be back. Pagan remains a question mark.

We are all wondering if Scutaro will pull a Ronnie Lott and just cut off his little finger that has a bad tendon (it’s called mallet finger – Lott had the same thing before the 1985 playoffs and just cut off his finger so he could continue to play).

The Giants are rumored to be in the market for a starting pitcher because they need Gaudin in the bullpen, and Lincecum continues to be ineffective (and might be demoted to the bullpen himself). Leading the pack of speculation is Bud Norris from the Astros, Ricky Nolasco from the Marlins and Mark Buehrle from the Blue Jays. The G-Men don’t want a rental and each of those three guys are under control of their club for at least the next two years.

The Series to come

The Padres are in 4th place and with the injuries to the Rockies (Tulowitski being on the DL with a broken rib being the worst – he’s out for six weeks at least) they are expected to move up and challenge the Giants.  The Padres are 33 and 34, 2 and half games behind the G-Men so this series could very much result in a major NL West shift. The Friars have historically owned the Giants. This will be an important set of games.

The Marlins, on the other hand, are in last place in the NL East 18 and half games out.  If Nolasco is pitching watch to see how well he does at AT&T.  This will be a tryout. Can the G-Men take the Marlins?  Don’t be too sure.  The Giants have a bad history against last place teams (look at what happened against the Blue Jays in Toronto – they got pounded and then got pounded again at home).