There was a moment on Saturday afternoon/evening, where the Giants took a 3-1 lead into the sixth inning.
Matt Cain was offering more evidence of a kind of resurgence.
The offense had come alive to score 3 (!) runs.
It wasn’t difficult to look into the future and see a sweep to end the home stand.
A sweep would have meant an 11-15 record, not a great start by any measure, but it would have been easy to write off the month as a bad first week, followed by some .500 ball, all setting up for a nice run in May.
But then, the bullpen, which had been a mild source of strength on this deeply flawed squad, began an epic weekend collapse (14 runs in 9 innings, including 4 home runs).
Suddenly, a 3-1 lead and visions of sweep,
turned into a blowout nightmare,
a 12-4 loss,
and an offensive hangover that lasted into Sunday.
Speaking of Sunday’s game. Some of the bad vibes from Saturday were erased by another impressive effort from Ty Blach. The offense was not outstanding, scrapping together 2 runs, but it felts like a solid lead, especially with Blach getting through the 7th. Law and Melancon were sell set up to close it out and for the Giants go home 10-16, and, hey at least they pulled out a series win.
Law did has part, shakily getting through the 8th.
But then Melancon blew it in the ninth.
Now, before we throw Melancon completely under the bus, do not forget that Eduardo Nunez made a costly error, allowing Hector Sanchez (yes, that Hector Sanchez) to represent the tying run. And remember that Nunez was playing short stop because the Giants golden gloved regular at that position is on the DL with a tweaked groin.
And therein lies what is, to me, the fatal flaw of this team: there is NO margin for error.
This is a team that cannot win games if it is missing certain key pieces,
chief among them: Brandon Crawford and Madison Bumgarner.
This is a team that cannot win games if it makes errors
(and not just that, the defense has to make plays).
This is a team that cannot win slugfests because it does not hit home runs.
Which means it must win low scoring, well-pitched games in which it’s defense makes zero mistakes and a few great plays.
Any mistakes this team makes will be punished,
and they cannot be overcome,
and that is the sign of a bad team.
I also mentioned last week the lack of energy. The call up of Christian Arroyo and the return of Michael Morse did bring some life back into the dugout, and it is going to be fun, especially, to watch Arroyo grow up this year.
But I am afraid that it is these glimpses of the past and the future that may be the most compelling part of what is rapidly becoming a lost season.
One final thought: the numbers don’t completely bear this out, but the pitching is not really the problem. And to be honest, it never really was. I’m becoming more and more convinced that the Giants bullpen issues last year had to do with a mental breakdown and a lack of trust more than anything else (have you seen Santiago Casilla’s numbers so far with the A’s?).
And while there have been consistency issues throughout the rotation and the ‘pen, I see more than enough promise in what the Giants put on the mound most of the time.
But this offense truly stinks. There were no good answers this offseason, but it is abundantly clear that there will need to be some significant changes coming.
Too many empty at bats, and the lack of power is appalling.
My new suggestion for the lineup:
- Nunez LF (he’s been in a terrible slump, and he’s probably a little rattled by Arroyo’s early promotion, but he is still the best option in this spot)
- Panik 2B (has looked good leading off, but Panik is way more valuable as a 2 hitter)
- Posey C (no more clean up)
- Belt 1B (the 2 hole experiment has been cute, but Belt needs to be here for balance and to put the little power this team has in the center of the lineup)
- Pence RF (hit home runs fool)
- Crawford SS (when he returns, likely later this week)
- Arroyo 3B (probably deserves to hit higher and will while Crawford is out, but this is a good spot for him. Lot’s of possibilities for RBI’s, and this will take the pressure off the kid and buffer his ups and downs as he makes the big league adjustment)
- CF (a cesspool of suckiness. The Giants will probably need to address all three OF positions heading into 2018, starting here)
Wish I could be more positive today, but I can’t! Brisbee points out that the Giants will need to go 81-55 the rest of the way just to be a 90 win team, which would mean they will need to be the best team in baseball the rest of the season. Good luck!