Ok, we’re officially two months down, with a road off-day to spare. This seems like a great opportunity to get caught up to speed on all things Giants baseball. As the weeks pass, it’s becoming more and more clear to me just how…I don’t want to say skeptical, as that’s not the correct word here… let’s say nervous… how nervous I was entering the season. I had so much confidence in that 2013 team. We all did. But something about last year’s face-plant left me feeling very uneasy this spring, and I wasn’t just going to throw the struggles of that team out the window when the 2014 Giants got off to a strong start in April.
I think it’s safe to say this was going to be a key season for the franchise. One of the last two years was an aberration, and this was going to be the team that helped us figure out just who the real Giants were. Well, it’s starting to look like 2013 (the flop year) is the outlier. Sure, this club wouldn’t be 37-20 – best in baseball – right now without the additions of Mike Morse and Tim Hudson, two of the smoothest acquisitions of the winter. But we truly believed they weren’t as bad as they played last season. We just needed them to prove it.
Before this weekend, we knew the 2014 Giants were a solid club. They were toying around with the best record in baseball, winning home and road contests alike, and generally playing good ball. But you could just hear the skeptics… the old, “yeah, but” argument. “Yeah, they’re all right, but let’s see how they do against a real club like St. Louis. Four games out there will put them right in their place.” As happy as I was with this team, even I was wondering how we’d match up with the Cards.
Then, a funny thing happened. The Giants went into St. Louis, the wealthy, successful relatives of the National League, and stuck it to the hometown Red Birds. Trailing in the late innings on Thursday night, without Buster Posey? No problem. Adam Wainwright, pitcher of all pitchers on Friday? Still no Buster? Hmm… not a problem. And just when you thought the Cardinals would salvage a split on Sunday, Hudson shut them out with another 7 strong. How’s an 8-0 whipping on getaway day?
Whether the critics will admit it or not (and not that I honestly care), the Giants just raised the bar in St. Louis. In one of the most important road series of the first half, Bochy’s crew knocked around one of the most respected teams in the league. Now, as we head into June, we’re looking at 17 home games, with only 6 more on the road following this week’s series in Cincinnati. For a team that has struggled in June in recent years, the schedule really plays well for the Giants to keep their impressive record intact heading into the All-Star break.
No, the Giants haven’t been perfect… and they haven’t exactly been healthy either. They’ve seen Brandon Belt and Santiago Casilla go down, and Matt Cain is back on the DL. Will we even see Marco Scutaro this year? The health of this team is definitely something to keep an eye on going forward. But for now, you have to be impressed with the way guys have stepped up. Despite the injuries, the Giants really haven’t missed a beat over the past month.
Baseball is a funny game, and you truly can’t predict what this team will look like in two months. Will they be able to get big hits with 2 outs forever, with a bullpen full of guys with sub-2.00 ERA’s? Not likely. But this is a confident team nonetheless. It’s a team that has speed atop the order, power in the middle, and a couple middle infielders who have the ability to lift the ball out of the yard in the 7 and 8-spots. It’s a team with a young ace atop its rotation, one Madison Bumgarner, who is really starting to hit his stride after starting a bit slow. At 38 years old, Hudson has a 1.75 ERA. Who would have predicted that?
It’s June 2 folks, and the Giants are absolutely rolling. I’ve kept my mouth shut for long enough, but it finally feels like the right time to get out there and yell a little. This is the club we looked for in 2013. This is the club that looks primed to make an October run. This club is a damn confident one, and after two months of baseball, it’s made me a serious believer.
(Ross D. Franklin/AP)