The San Francisco Giants‘ new found success at the plate has created an unfathomable flaw that most big league clubs don’t endure: they’re better equipped to win on the road than at home. After struggling to post a measly 3-3 record at pitcher-perfect AT&T Park over the past week, it’s become increasingly possible for San Francisco to enjoy more success on the road than at home in 2014.
The Giants no longer flaunt a dominant starting rotation like they have in seasons past. If the Giants are going to upend the hands-down favorite Los Angeles Dodgers, who have sprung to a fast start to the 2014 MLB season, they must continue their road dominance. The Giants are indeed capable of pummeling the Dodgers, a feat they must frequently accomplish throughout their season series in order to win the NL West.
While the Giants’ pitching prowess has proven to be a team strength in previous seasons, San Francisco has struggled to surmount significant positive momentum over the course of their current 10-game homestand. The blaring cries of Journey are no different than before; the Giants won’t stop believing, but the “magic inside” has dwindled to the point of normality. It would be unprecedented for the Giants to achieve their ultimate goal in 2014 and win their third World Series title in five seasons. Although it’s possible, it will be much more difficult while struggling to win series at home.
The Giants posted an inadequate 42-40 home record in 2013. Their lack of formidable success at home contributed to them registering their first losing record since 2008. San Francisco is a much more talented team this season, surely capable of competing for a division crown if able to stay healthy. But the Giants don’t merely win with strong starting pitching and shutdown bullpen efforts like they did in their two recent championship seasons. The Giants rank second in the National League in runs scored (66), averaging 5.1 runs per game.
As a team, the Giants have bashed 17 home runs to rank third in all of baseball. That figure can be mostly accredited to first baseman Brandon Belt, who has cooled off a bit since crushing five home runs in the Giants’ first eight games, but nine different Giants have already tallied at least one long ball this season. If they continue to mount that kind of production at the plate, the Giants will be tough to beat no matter where they play.
The most glaring concern the Giants currently face is inconsistency from their starting pitching staff. San Francisco should be encouraged by Matt Cain‘s most recent start, where he allowed just one run and four hits in seven innings of work, but the back end of the rotation remains a problem in early action. Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong have been iffy through two starts respectively. Their struggles should be mitigated by the friendly pitching confines of the Giants’ waterfront ballpark, but consistent run production will ultimately be needed when they take the ball on the road.