Welcome to Czar's Blog #6 of 2018

The 45 and 42 G-Men are performing as we had hoped at the mid-year point; considering the injuries in the first half and the travel schedule from hell with the team bouncing back and forth to the east coast and playing 8 more away than home games. The advantage here is that in the second half the almost completely healthy Giants will be home (where they dominate - 24 and 14) more than away.

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Giants v. Nationals, Giants v. Rockies, Giants v. A's

The G-Men are now 24 and 20, tied for second place and struggling Actually, the G-Men are more than struggling, they are now playing at a percentage (.545) that won’t get them into the playoffs and they are looking lost in the process.  They need to win at a .567 clip to finish with 92 victories. Right now just winning a game (after a 1 and 5 road trip in which the starting pitching averaged a 9.82 ERA in losing 5 games) would be a very good thing.

The last home stand was very good. Our boys swept the Dodgers, lost 2 out of 3 to the Phillies and won 3 out of 4 from the Braves (a likely playoff team) for a 7 and 3 home stand.  In the one game that the Giants lost to the Braves (a 6 to 3 loss that wasn’t that close), however, the G-Men looked like boys playing against men, which was a harbinger of the disaster that this last road trip (the road trip from hell) turned into. One day they look pathetic, the next they look like the two time world champions that they are.

The Positives

The hitting is out of this world.  Scutaro is hitting .331 and is on a 17 game hitting streak. The Panda is right behind him at .302, with Posey (.294), Pence (.290) and Crawford (.288) all in the mix of hot bats (until today’s game when the G-Men were shut out for only the second time this year). The power is there also; Pence and Panda have 7 dingers each, Posey has 6 and Crawford has 5. Moreover the Gigantes are either 1st or 2nd in the NL batting with runners in scoring position, a sign that team hitting is clicking and Hensley Muelans is doing his job.

So, the question is: how do so many hot bats translate into a 1 and 5 road trip and falling into a tie for 2nd place with the Rockies?

The Negatives

First, the starting pitchers are REALLY getting hammered, as a combined ERA of 9.82 on the road trip from hell shows. All the starting pitchers (including Bumgarner, who has now caught the “give up a big inning” disease also) keep giving up big innings. We now measure success by lasting 6 innings to keep the bullpen relatively fresh.  This cannot last people.  The bullpen is good (and Bochy just added a 13th pitcher, not a good sign and it cost him Brent Pill off the bench, who was playing very well. There have been team meetings, soul searching and general angst.  Vogelsong is probably in the worst shape and he starts the game tomorrow night.  If he doesn’t last more than the 2 innings he made it through in his last start I think that the brain trust should think of sending him down to Fresno to get his head screwed on straight.

Second, the errors MUST stop.  The Giants have made 13 errors in the last six games, to 4 by the opposition. This from a team that prides itself on defense. The last time that there was a stretch of games that bad (in 84 I believe) the G-Men lost 92 games. Most of the errors (which shake up the pitchers, get them in the stretch early and help create the stressful big innings) are stupid errors (at least from major leaguers), like failing to hit the cut-off man (Pagan), not backing up a throw (Bumgarner), throwing off balance when you have no chance and throwing the ball away (Lincecum, Crawford and Panda).  These are brain farts. Unfortunately errors are like good hitting, they are contagious. Like Yogi Berra famously said: “we made too many wrong mistakes.”

The Series to come

The Nationals are in town for the next three days.  They are 2nd in the NL east (23 and 21) behind the Braves.  This will be a test and we will hopefully see Bryce Harper (the rookie phenom, leading the Nat’s with a .297 BA and 11 dingers) play.  Last week he ran himself full speed into a fence (he is, after all only 20 years old and that play calls something about him into question) and is day to day.  This is a tough good team that is expected to make a run at the playoffs.

We know all about the Rockies (tied with the G-men one game back of the Snakes), and they are in over the weekend with a fully healthy Tulowitski and Carlos Gonzalez. After dropping 3 out of 4 to the Rockies on this last road trip hopefully the orange and black will be determined and will come back.

Finally, next week we have the interleague series against the A’s.  Always entertaining the A’s are a really good team (I love the “green collar” theme this year) and are in 2nd place in the AL West behind Texas. This is your chance to see Donaldson (.317), Lowrie at short, Moss at 1st, Crisp in CF and the team that has always played the Giants very hard.

Ciao, and GO GIANTS!

The Czar

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