Dodgers 4, Giants 2. The do-or-die road trip starts, not with a bang, but with a whimper.
San Diego lost so the Giants are still just three back, but we're left singing that familiar refrain of "what might have been." The Padres have lost eight straight, basically begging the Giants to take command of the division, and the Giants have simply refused to accept the gift.
Tonight's display of impotence was just the latest example of a team built, not to win, but to simply "contend." Watching tonight's telecast (in my area MLB Extra Innings was blacked out so I was limited to the Dodgers' feed) Vin Scully made a telling observation. The Giants offense isn't bad, they rank right in the middle of the pack in virtually every category. That's the problem. As Scully noted, that means they don't do anything exceptionally well.
San Francisco is now five games under .500 against the diivison it's trying to win. Built to compete? Uh, not really.
I've noted before that the Giants aren't constructed to beat good teams, so I take this as independent verification. When their pitching is on, the Giants will eek out enough offense to beat average to good teams. But against the top tier, they find themsleves hopelessly outgunned.
As the Dodgers and Padres continue to prove, that opponent doesn't have to be elite. If they can match the Giants' pitching, the G-men are toast. In a watered down National League, the Giants are about as viable over the long haul as mood rocks, new Coke and earth shoes.
Tonight was a perfect example of a team that didn't have the "it" factor. Zito hangs a breaker to the number-eight hitter with two down and the pitcher on deck. The result: a two-run jack. The next time around he walks that same hitter to get to the pitcher, only to surrender a soft liner to right that would have been gloved by a less lead-footed player.
After being lifted, there was a great shot of Zito in the dugout. His look said it all: a real right fielder would have caught the damn ball. Jose Gullien. What a @#% mistake.
Unfortunately, that can be said for much of the team. It's not that they cause the team to lose, it's that they don't contribute anything to victory.
The line-up, which had only two players not plucked from the heap by Brian Sabean, managed two hits. None came after the fourth inning, The last 10 Giants went in order. And the one rally was aided by an error and a bouncer off the glove of an infielder playing out of position.