Of course it does!
While I know probably 98% of my readers here don’t need this pep talk, I think sometimes we all need a little reminder that a baseball season is a marathon. Let’s be honest; dropping 7 of 8 is frustrating. Blowing late inning leads at home, playing sloppy defense and getting thumped on the road, seeing your offense go quiet… all of these things make you want to turn off the TV and throw down the remote. We’re Giants fans – we have very high expectations. And sometimes, over the course of a marathon, you just need to get pissed off every once in a while.
So get mad, folks. Get irritated. I know the past week has irritated me. There’s nothing wrong with that. But when you cool off, remember to take a step back and glance at the standings. The Giants played some of the best baseball in the history of the franchise up until this skid. They were bound to come back to Earth! One other thing I like to remind myself of a lot, especially in a season that began as well as this one has for the Giants, is that you never want to play your best ball in June. The goal this time of year is to keep yourself in the picture. You do that, get a reinforcement or two at the trade deadline, (hopefully) call up a couple minor league guys who can help down the stretch, and you take your A-game into September. That is generally a formula for getting to October. To this point, I’d say the Giants have done very, very well.
What I’m trying to say, in a nutshell, is no, I’m not concerned about the standings right now. When this team is playing with confidence, it’s already shown it can be one of the best, if not the best, team in baseball. So I’m not overly concerned with this losing skid. I am however, concerned about a couple of individual players going forward. If the Giants are going to contend down the stretch and into October, they’re going to need Matt Cain to step up. I don’t know about you, but I think maybe I’ve taken Cainer for granted over the past 8 or so years. Maybe I never realized just how steady he was… because the way he’s been pitching lately sure alarms me. Adding Hudson to the fold has certainly shifted some of the focus, but the reality of the situation is that isn’t the Matt Cain we have grown accustomed to out there these days. I really don’t know what it is… mechanical, mental, physical? Cain looked rough last night, and that is a trend that really needs to even out during the second half.
The other guy that concerns me is Angel Pagan. You had to know that one was coming. A lot of players have gotten credit for getting the 2014 team to where it is now, but Pagan is a name you sometimes don’t hear mentioned with the Posey’s, Pence’s and Morse’s of the world. He goes about his business, works hard, and has been a major catalyst for one of the better offenses in baseball. But he’s injury-prone, and we all know that. No, he probably couldn’t sustain the pace he was on in April and May all year, but I have to believe the Giants struggles in June go hand-in-hand with Pagan’s own struggles, which seem like they’ve been aided in large part to a back issue. The Giants do have better outfield depth this year than they did last season, so I do think they would be all right if Pagan had to sit out a week or two. Any longer, and we’ve already seen just how different this team is when Angel isn’t setting the table. Get healthy, man.
Yes, there are some concerns to keep an eye on going forward. The good thing is, though, that these are June concerns, for a 1st place team. A team that features two of the best pitchers in the NL atop its rotation, a deep and experienced lineup, and a bullpen that had been nails all year until its recent slump. Not to mention, the Giants are still in 1st despite losing Brandon Belt over a month ago. This team is in a very good spot. And personally, I’d prefer them to get their losing stretch out of the way now.
Losing stinks folks, there’s no doubt about it. But this skid won’t last forever, and more good baseball is on the horizon. A win against Chris Sale tonight would sure go a long way in getting this team back on the right track.