After shockingly dropping six of the final seven games on a 10-game home stand, the San Francisco Giants took poor play to an entirely new level in opposition of the mediocre Chicago White Sox (35-37), who knocked around National League Cy Young Award “candidate” Tim Hudson for seven runs in 4.2 innings on Wednesday. The Giants remain in favorable position in the NL West, but suddenly appear vulnerable in multiple facets. The White Sox throttled San Francisco during a quick two-game series as All-Star Chris Sale exposed the Giants’ weak lineup.
The Giants’ overachieving bench wasn’t a critical issue in back-to-back road defeats in Chicago, but it’s obvious that San Francisco severely lacks the depth needed to win a championship. While lead-off hitter Angel Pagan continues to nurse a stiff back and Brandon Belt awaits his broken thumb to heal, the Giants are finally enduring the hardship of missing key pieces in their lineup. The bottom of their order mirrored a spring training affair against Sale, who didn’t have his best stuff. He also didn’t need it. Sale struck out seven Giants in six-plus innings, allowing three runs on eight hits.
The No. 6 through 9 spots in the Giants’ order were consumed by four below average hitters, two of whom have no business wearing big league uniforms. After surging to 21 games over the .500 mark, it didn’t really seem to matter that second baseman Brandon Hicks couldn’t eclipse the .180 barrier. His glaring ineptitude at the plate is becoming a serious problem, considering his troubling inability to make contact. Hicks has struck out 72 times in 192 official at-bats, accounting for a whopping 44.0 percent of his outs. Hicks, a career .160 hitter, hasn’t homered since May 23, recording just two RBI during that stretch.
Giants executives refuse to call up highly-coveted infield prospect Joe Panik in the wake of Hicks’ astounding struggles in dimwitted hopes of veteran Marco Scutaro magically returning from a serious lower back problem. General manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy are two of the best in the business in their respective roles, but stubbornly refuse to give the nod to prospects, even when the decision becomes obvious.
The lethal combination of Ehire Adrianza and Juan Perez have combined to record 20 hits in 106 at-bats this season, good enough for a collective .189 average. Utility-man Joaquin Arias has been even worse on his own, registering a .183 mark in 82 at-bats. Forget about Jeff Samardzija. If the Giants are going to fend off the arch-rival Los Angeles Dodgers and win the NL West, they need to bolster their bench and increase their viability on offense, especially when key players suffer intermittent injury.
San Francisco’s sad excuse of an American League lineup isn’t the sole reason for its recent tumble. It also isn’t a long-term problem. The Giants only play eight more games on AL turf this season. They were outscored 15 to 8 in two games against the White Sox. Their pitching staff is an undeniable asset, despite recent struggles, that will help them contend down the stretch, but they need a bigger band of mashers in order to stave off extended losing streaks like they’re currently enduring.
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