The Giants are in Atlanta. Well, some of them.
Game One followed a familiar pattern: hurler gives the team a quality start while the offense soils the sheets. This was billed as a potential playoff preview. My reaction after one game: "Oh God, I hope not."
I'm considering donning one of those old POW-MIA braclets in honor of the San Francisco offense.
The Giants scored early but left way too many opportunities unexploited, the opposition lofted a couple of long balls, and the result was another one-run loss -- this one 3-2 at the hands of the Braves. San Francisco got to Atlanta starter Jair Jurrjens for seven hits in six frames and five of those hits were doubles, but the Giants got the least out of it thanks to an woeful 1-for-10 success rate with runners in scoring position.
The G-men outhit Atlanta 8-6 (and they added three walks), but the Braves were more timely and had two balls leave the yard. Consistency and power, two things the Giants haven't shown enough of. Jeez, you'd think 11 baserunners would be worth more than two lousy runs.
Hey Sabean! Still think we don't need another bat?
The frustration was further complicated by yet another WTF? moment from Sandoval, who failed to break for third on Lincecum's sacrifice attempt and was deader than Lindsay Lohan's career. He's clearly not in baseball shape despite all of the hoopla about "Camp Panda" in the offseason. I realize the Giants can't force a stint at Jenny Craig if Sandoval chooses to eat himself out of the league, but the team has to at least make him accountable. His struggles at the plate are undoubtedly attributable to his girth. He should be fined, benched or both for letting himself go. The guy makes Terry Forster look like an Adonis.
What am I saying? I really expected accountability to be encouraged by an organization that employed, and actually gave a raise, to Bengie Molina? Pablo, you're a professional athlete. You're supposed to aspire to be Brooks Robinson, not Joey Chestnut. Save the quest for the trophy at Nathan's for your post-baseball days, okay?
It's the little things that make the difference, and the Giants are now just 17-17 when the contest is decided by one run. Over two thirds of the season just a dozen lousy runs -- just 12 -- a freaking egg carton of runs -- is the difference between a fight for the wildcard and a runaway lead in the division.
Not to harp on the subject, but how many years of prime pitching is Sabean going to waste hoping for a miracle season out of some second-level bargain basement pick-up to put the Giants over the top? The 2002 season was an aberration when a bunch of mediocre players (that's you Shawn Dunston, David Bell, Reggie Sanders, et al) got hot at the same time. The likelyhood of that happening again is about the same as me getting to spending a night of passion with Angelina Jolie, but Sabean appears convinced that this is the way to build a team.
Gotta figure Cody Ransom is home waiting for the phone to ring. I'm stunned Jose Guillen and Jack Taschner aren't already in uniform -- Dontrelle Willis needs some company.
The only good news to come on the personnel side was the DFA of Denny "Chuck and Duck" Bautista. Of course that little nugget was tempered by the return of Todd Wellemeyer, who doesn't walk as many hitters only because you don't take pitches that scream "hit me." At least Wellemeyer throws strikes, although a significant portion of them log more flight time than the Delta shuttle from LaGuardia. Hopefully the plan is to use him in long relief on days when the starter just ain't got it -- meaning he'll pitch every fifth day when Sanchez implodes. Of course, the Giants can get further use out of him by litting him pitch batting practice -- much as he did for the opposition for the first two months of the season.
However, that switch means the Giants are still carrying 13 pitchers (well, some are just throwers). Affeldt is throwing and Runzler is heading out for rehab -- both shold be ready to return by mid-August. Then what? The Giants keep shuffling the deck but drawing the same cards. They need offense. Time to go to a different deck - preferably one that doesn't contain the Jose Guillen card.
(Best comment I read all day came from a fan repsonding to reports the Giants might sign Guillen, who just got dumped by Kansas City. "We already have to water buffaloes in the outfield. We don't need a jackass.")
Zito on the hill in Game Two. He's pitched well of late and had little to show for it. Let's hope his luck turns around. I'm afrraid that all of the luck is being sucked up by Renteria, Casilla and Wellemeyer -- its the only way to explain how they still have jobs.