San Francisco Giants: Team-Wide Slump Has Added Pressure For Pitchers
The San Francisco Giants‘ torrid offensive pace to begin the 2014 MLB season has slammed full speed into a concrete wall. The Giants have managed to score a whopping seven runs in their last four games, including a four-run outburst to avoid a series sweep against the division rival San Diego Padres on Sunday.
While this type of team-wide slump isn’t necessarily uncommon during this era of Giants baseball, it comes on the heels of a solid 71-run performance through the first 15 games of the season (4.7 runs per game).
The Giants’ pitching staff is the backbone of the team. Fans don’t need to panic. At least, not yet. San Francisco begins the third week of the 2014 campaign with a respectable 11-8 record, sitting just one game out of first place behind the arch-rival Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. It’s still only April, which essentially means that standings remain mostly irrelevant at this point of the season.
The Giants’ inability to avoid multiple key players in their lineup going cold simultaneously is alarming. As a team, the Giants rank 27th in batting average with a dismal .231 mark, and are also near the bottom of the league with a poor .306 OBP. Those numbers won’t be good enough to help San Francisco upend their rivals over the course of a 162-game season and ultimately earn a playoff berth.
The silver lining in the Giants’ new-found struggles at the plate is their pitching. That doesn’t come as a surprise, considering San Francisco won two recent World Series titles in three seasons specifically because of dominant performances on the mound. The Giants aren’t giving up many runs this season. They rank sixth in team ERA at 3.14 and also have a solid 1.19 WHIP. While run production has suddenly become a problem in early action, pitching has re-emerged as a strength.
The Giants’ ability to score runs is hindered by the confines of their own backyard. San Francisco’s offense was off to one of the fastest starts in baseball over the first week of the season, but immediately slowed down upon returning to AT&T Park for their first homestand of the season. They posted a 5-4 mark over that stretch of games before heading out to perhaps the most pitcher-friendly ballpark in baseball, Petco Park in San Diego, where they continued to struggle scoring runs.
Now, the Giants have the luxury of packing their bags for the high altitude of Coors Field in Colorado, which might be exactly what the doctor ordered for the team’s stumbling offense. The Giants’ hitters need to build some confidence before their offensive woes turn totally unsalvageable. League-leading run production wasn’t something the Giants thought they’d be able to sustain over the course of a season, but scoring enough to win consistently is an obvious must.