It was looking a little scary for a while, contemplating a sweep at the hands of the Oaklanders, but the lads put together a big rally and pulled off the win. Props to Barry Zito for a fine start (Game Score 61), something that's been missing for much of the month. Hey, Timmy, how about you follow BZ around and see how he does it? After all, he was on top of the world at one point, and rock bottom not much later. Sound familiar? And he is the same guy with the same tools (only older) and now, somehow, he can be an effective pitcher, a stopper, and a big-game winner. If Barry can rediscover his mojo, so can you.
I don't mean to pick on Tim Lincecum. I will always love the guy, he will always be in the pantheon of all-time Giants greats. But he is NOT a lost cause. Zeets is living proof of that. But as much as I'd like to see The Freak be in orange and black next year and beyond, unless he delivers the goods he will hit the road in search of a "fresh start." The bullpen thing was great in the post-season, but I'm not sure it works over the long grind of June, July, August, and September. Tim needs to chew up innings and string together some starts. In fact, they all do. Matt Cain has not been up to snuff so far this season, and when you throw a hundred million bucks at a guy, you expect better. But I'm not worried about Cain, he is Mr. Consistency. He will "regress to his mean" and start pitching more like the Matt Cain we know and love. Madison Bumgarner has mostly been himself, with a few horrid outings, but I'm not worried about MadBum either. He's good. He's very good. He will deliver down the stretch. Obviously those two will have to carry the load for the other two, and hope those other two can find a groove where they can be positive contributors. As far as a fifth starter goes, I don't see the Giants doing anything rash anytime soon. They will stick with duct tape and band-aids until Ryan Vogelsong comes back. Now Vogie was absolutely terrible in his nine starts, but I think he will find his form again. Here's another guy who hit rock bottom and then became a champion. I like that sort of mental makeup in a player--it gives me confidence that they can "turn it around."
Let's look at some numbers. First, the good: the Giants are fourth in the NL in runs scored (243), and first in OPS+ (112). They are tied for first in wRC+ (104) and are fifth in wOBA (.318). They don't hit a lot of homers (42, 12th), but they do hit a lot of doubles (101, 3rd). Doubles were a big part of the offense today. They are only 8th in walks (155), but they are tied for first in sacrifices (46). The offense has been carrying the load. This is not the San Francisco Giants we are used to watching, although we should remember that this was the best-hitting road club in all of baseball in the second half of 2012. Now for the bad, and brace yourselves: the Giants have allowed the second most runs in the NL (245) and rank last in ERA+ (82). They are 10th in FIP (3.95) but only 8th in xFIP (also 3.95). If you use FIP- (FanGraphs version, roughly, of ERA+, but flipped over so below 100 is good and over is bad), the Giants are third from the bottom (107), topping only the Brewers and Padres. Here's a simpler look: San Francisco pitchers lead the NL in walks (185!!) and have allowed the fifth-most homers (53). Obviously that has to change if the Giants expect to stay in the hunt.
Today was Game 54, and that's the first third of the season. Three innings are in the books. Here's what they've done:
1st inning: 11-7
2nd inning: 10-8
3rd inning: 8-10
That's 29-25, .537, 1-1/2 games back. I did not talk about the terrible fielding we've seen so far, mostly because we saw it last season, too, then it turned around and they caught just about everything in the second half. I'd like to see more quality starts going forward. I think we all would, and we know that's the backbone of this team and their two championships.
Keep the faith, me buckos. Lots of baseball left.