15 Hits!

Well, I didn’t get to catch the game last night (a pretty rare occasion), but I heard the Giants’ bats showed up big time for the finale of this series against Cincinnati. With Buster resting on the bench, his teammates pounded 15 hits against an overmatched Reds’ pitching staff, including 5 from Hunter Pence! With Chad Gaudin, or as I like to call him, “The Renaissance Man” on the hill, I’m sure the Giants ran away with this one early. I mean, you just don’t beat a team who cranks out 15 hits in its own park, especially when that team just happens to be the defending world champ. Hang on just a second while I confirm the victory in the box score…

….Oh.

This is getting pretty serious, isn’t it?

Reds 8 Giants 3

The Reds took three of four from the Giants at AT&T Park, and six of seven for the season series. Gaudin got the same royal treatment as the rest of his rotation mates during the series. Five walks and some poor defense didn’t help his cause, but he got hit around pretty good in only 3.2 innings of work.

If you decided you couldn’t take this anymore and took shelter in a bunker somewhere in the Sierra Nevada’s, it might be safe to come out now, as I don’t think we’ll be seeing Joey Votto or Brandon Phillips again this season. On the other hand, Nate Schierholtz hit a home run and drove in the winning run last night in extras to help the Cubs win their series against Arizona. Nate is hitting .277 with 13 HR now, so maybe you might want to wait a few more days before you come back down.

About those 15 hits last night… 14 of them were singles, including all five of Pence’s. It’s pretty hard to win games when you can’t get any extra base hits. I was going to include some stats from Baggarly’s game and series recap last night, but I think it’s best if you just read it for yourself. Here’s a primer: The Reds beat up on the Giants this year, in historic and head-shake-worthy fashion. Give it a look, here.

The Giants are 7.5 games back of the Dodgers now, a season high (or is it a season low? I’m not really sure). Things are starting to get pretty bad. I know that things are getting pretty bad because every time Votto, Bruce, Frazier, Choo, Cosart, Mesoraco – ok, you get the point – launched another extra base hit, I found myself saying to no one in particular, “That’s fine, Bruce. That’s fine. Have all the hits you want. You still can’t take our rings… Nope, you still can’t take our rings… You still can’t…. ah, forget it.”

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Writing on the Wall

The Giants split an old-fashioned double header last night with the Reds, dropping the first game in ugly fashion and gutting out a win in the night-cap. The split kept the Giants at 8 games under .500, but they lost a half-game in the standings to the division-leading Dodgers, who made a furious comeback last night in Toronto.

Game 1: Reds 9 Giants 3

Eric Surkamp made his first big league start in nearly two years after recovering from Tommy John surgery… it did not go well. Surkamp’s start was eerily similar to Mike Kickham’s against the Reds in Cincinnati earlier this month; after breezing through a 1-2-3 first inning, Surkamp could not locate his pitches, and the Reds teed off. Apparently somebody forgot to tell Votto, Cosart, Bruce and the rest of the Cincy hitters that AT&T Park is not a hitter-friendly stadium, because balls seem to leave the yard frequently whenever they’re in town. Ultimately, Surkamp was tagged for 9 hits and 7 runs in less than three innings of work. Yusmeiro Petit, who was called up with Surkamp to provide some bullpen relief, did just that, eating 5.1 IP and allowing 2 ER. I know it probably wouldn’t have been a popular decision among the fan base, but maybe Petit should’ve taken the start rather than rushing Surkamp up before he was ready. Either way, Petit’s efforts may have saved the night for Bruce Bochy, who needed all the bullpen help he could get in the second game.

Game 2: Giants 5 Reds 3

After two embarrassing losses to start the series, the Giants needed a win badly in the night game. Luckily, the offense came out hacking, posting 3 runs in the 1st and another in the 2nd. Sandoval and Pence had two hits apiece in this one, which was nice to see. The four early runs were enough to earn the win, although it didn’t come easy. Zito allowed three ER and couldn’t make it out of the 5th, but Bochy used five relievers to seal the win, including a 4-out save from Romo, who allowed a hit but recorded all four outs by way of the K. The win marked #1,500 for the skipper Bruce Bochy, who is building himself quite a lengthy list of accomplishments. Way to go, Skip!

A few thoughts here:

The Giants are 6.5 back of the Dodgers right now, with a week left until the trade deadline. That really isn’t a huge deficit, especially for how the Giants have played. But let’s be honest here, are the Giants really a good baseball team this year? To me, the eyeball test is sometimes a better indicator than any statistic on how a team is performing. They’ve been battling injuries and inconsistency most of the year. They’re still not scoring many runs. They’re not playing good defense. They don’t have three, let alone five reliable starting pitchers. They can’t beat anybody outside the NL West, and they haven’t proven they can compete on the road… they play nine games against the AL East alone in August.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers are surging. They’ve won 22 of 27 and 9 straight on the road – and they’re doing this with a cooled-off Puig and almost entirely without Matt Kemp. To me, it’s pretty clear that one team is headed in one direction, while the other is headed in the complete opposite.

You’d have to think that Brian Sabean and his team know all of this much better than any of us, and I hope they use the trade deadline to make some tough decisions. There really isn’t one player out there who can transform the Giants into a contending team, but this certainly isn’t a time to completely sell the ranch either. The Giants are a proud franchise, but 8 games below .500 is a steep hill to climb. I think it was a mistake to publicly declare Lincecum safe at the deadline, but maybe they toss Romo’s name out there in the next couple days. Why not get some value for a few of these guys while we can? Yes, you’ll probably lose some casual fans in the process, but if the sellout streak at AT&T Park ends and the team is forced to lower ticket prices, allowing the die-hards to start attending more games again, that wouldn’t hurt my feelings one bit.

The Giants have given its fan base so much to be thankful for in the past few years, so there really shouldn’t be too much complaining here. And if today marks the start of a historic resurrection and they end up playing their way back into the playoff race, I’ll gladly look like an idiot for saying all of this. But I just don’t see it happening this year. At this point, though, what takes place between now and July 31 is really anybody’s guess.