The San Francisco Giants are on the verge of their longest losing streak of the 2014 MLB season after dropping three consecutive home games to the surging Washington Nationals. The major league-leading Giants haven’t lost more than three straight games all season. What the Nationals have been able to do in San Francisco is impressive. The Giants hadn’t lost back-to-back games since May 17 and had at least split every series they’ve played dating back to May 7. They also entered this series with the best home record in baseball (22-9).
At 42-24, the Giants don’t have much to be concerned about. They remain 7.5 games ahead of the arch-rival Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the NL West despite their recent struggles. The ups-and-downs of a big league season can be no different than the steady initial climb and stomach-wrenching drop of a roller coaster. The Giants remain a clear-cut contender in the National League, but they have also yet to peak.
The Giants’ early season successes are monstrously impressive because so much hasn’t gone right for the orange and black. Former staff ace Matt Cain has been wildly inconsistent while already enduring two stints on the disabled list. Cain, who signed a massive five-year extension worth $112.5 million in 2012, hasn’t lived up to expectations. He fueled the Nationals to a win on Wednesday night, walking the first three batters of the game to enable a rally for free. He’s now 1-4 with a 3.84 ERA in 10 starts.
Cain isn’t the only key member of the Giants to struggle with injury in 2014. 2012 NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro has yet to see the field due to a lower back problem, an injury that has dogged him since Spring Training. Slugging first baseman Brandon Belt remains sidelined with a broken thumb. Setup man Santiago Casilla is also on the shelf with a hamstring strain.
The Giants’ recent struggles are a mere wake-up call. They were bound to hit a rough stretch at some point. It wasn’t realistic for San Francisco to sustain its previous 108-win pace for the entirety of the season. The Giants have been outscored 17-5 through the first three games of a four-game set with Washington. Their uncanny ability to come up with clutch hits in run-scoring situations has taken a dive, disabling their ability to mount late inning rallies.
San Francisco was never going to steamroll through the 2014 season en route to the postseason. The Giants are a quality ball club, but the Nationals have proven they’re not unbeatable. Although their recent struggles against a tough opponent haven’t been pretty, the Giants possess enough depth in their starting rotation and sufficient firepower in their bullpen to stave off extended losing streaks. Unless injuries become overbearing, the Giants have no reason for concern.