After surging to a 42-21 record on the heels of outstanding pitching efforts and clutch two-out offense, the San Francisco Giants appeared indestructible. It didn’t seem like the 2014 version of the Giants was vulnerable to the point of collapse, especially on level with the “rock bottom” phenomenon they endured last season. Think again.
The Giants aren’t anywhere close to as good as their early success might have indicated. Their 9.5-game lead in the NL West has dissolved to just three games in a span of 17 days. Their bench, which at one point appeared to be a surprising strength, has come crashing back to earth in the wake of several problematic injuries. The Giants’ pitching staff has also taken a dive. Nothing has gone right for San Francisco since June 8.
The biggest factor wreaking havoc on the Giants’ offense is the absence of leadoff hitter Angel Pagan, who could be place on the 15-day disabled list later on today. Pagan took batting practice with the team before Tuesday’s horrific 7-2 home loss against the pitiful San Diego Padres (34-44) but chucked his bat in frustration after a brief session. His back had flared up again. San Francisco is just 2-6 since June 14 when Pagan was sidelined with a stiff back.
The All-Star break can’t come soon enough for the Giants, who desperately need extended time off while several key players nurse nagging injuries. The Los Angeles Dodgers aren’t exactly surging toward the top of the division; rather, the Giants are plummeting toward them at a rate that defies physics. Los Angeles is just seven games over the .500 mark, yet they’ve recently picked up nearly a week on the Giants.
Manager Bruce Bochy dubbed the Giants’ recent struggles a “bump in the road”, telling reporters it’s part of baseball. It’s true that every team endures a rough patch at some juncture over the long haul of a 162-game season, but the Giants are now 3-11 in their last 14 games, averaging 3.43 runs per game during that span. Bochy’s idea of a “bump” might be the size of Mt. Everest.
Aside from Buster Posey, the Giants’ lineup has been anemic to a degree that makes fans cringe like they’re eating glass. Posey has posted a solid .325 batting average over the last 14 days, recording 13 hits, including five for extra bases, while driving in eight runs over 40 at bats. That hasn’t been anywhere close to enough to carry a lineup that has managed to score a pathetic total of two runs in two games at home against the Padres.
The Giants are in trouble of coughing up a 10-game lead in the loss column over a three-week time period. As they count down the days until the break, the Dodgers continue to play mediocre baseball. At the Giants’ current rate, mediocre will be plenty good enough to overtake the division lead.