Interleague play in August… crazy, huh? The Giants welcome 63-51 Baltimore to AT&T Park for a weekend series, with Ryan Vogelsong returning to the mound for game one tonight. In a normal year, it would make sense to suggest that a strong performance from Vogey might inspire the troops. But this isn’t a normal year, and the Giants have had excellent starting pitching lately (with no help from the offense). It hasn’t really mattered lately whether the team has played at home or on the road, they’ve been pretty lousy at the plate and in the field everywhere. Brandon Belt hit clean-up yesterday in the finale of a four-game series with Milwaukee, and hit a 3-run home run. Belt and Brandon Crawford knocked in all four runs, and the Giants managed a split with the last-place Brewers. When a 4-run performance feels like a breakout, you know the cabinet is getting pretty bare.
Belt and Crawford have hit well of late, but they’re about the only players driving in runs. Pablo Sandoval, on the other hand, has now dipped his average below .260 again. The Panda has been dreadful at the plate for quite a while now. He’s been benched before, but I just don’t think you can sit a guy like him down, as we all know one swing of the bat might start a hot streak. Plus, the only realistic options for 3rd base right now are Joaquin Arias and Nick Noonan. If Pablo doesn’t break out next year – the final year on his contract – I’m guessing Brian Sabean will be looking for someone new to man the hot corner going forward. Adam Duvall, it’s time to step up.
Yes, there is so much going wrong with the Giants right now. But if one thing has gone incredibly right in the second half, it’s been the starting pitching. Yesterday, Tim Lincecum continued that trend with an 8-inning, 1-hit masterpiece against the Brewers. Add 8 K’s and 1 BB, and Timmy was flat out filthy. I’ll say this; Lincecum has been very good lately outside of his one disaster of a start in Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago. Depending on how you look at it, the Freak’s performance could be a great sign or a terrible one for the Giants. If he’s willing to re-sign next year, he may be returning as an above average #3. However, don’t doubt that many other GM’s are watching his every start right now, and you’d have to believe there are some teams who’d be willing to give him a good chunk of change in the offseason. Yes, the Giants will likely shoot him a qualifying offer, meaning teams will lose their first round pick (if the pick is below the top 10) in order to sign him, but I doubt that would keep teams like the Angels, Orioles or Rangers from making him a nice offer.
So the Orioles are coming to town. I’ll be tuned in tonight to see the return of Vogey, as well as Baltimore’s big bats. It would be a welcome surprise if the Giants bring their bats to the party this time.