The San Francisco Giants can’t do much of anything right as of late, dropping five straight contests to fall a season-high two games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. The orange and black have their sights set on October, but their chances of contending for their third World Series title in a span of five seasons are currently nonexistent.
General manager Brian Sabean remains reportedly active in trade talks across the league. The club’s priority is upgrading second base, where the Giants have succumbed to cellar-style production throughout the 2014 campaign. For the Giants to win the West, they need the impossible the happen across the diamond.
They need Angel Pagan to suddenly return healthy and match the type of production he was able to mount through the season’s first 63 games (.307/.356/.411). They need supposed-to-be ascending first baseman Brandon Belt to return to early season form, when he bashed nine home runs in his first 33 games of the year before spending extensive time on the disabled list with a broken thumb. The Giants also need former slugger — turned double-play maniac — Michael Morse to remember how to make solid contact. Morse has totaled a pathetic total of one home run and six RBIs since June 5 while racking up 16 double-play balls to rank third in the NL.
Barring an ill-advised blockbuster, things appear destined to get worse — not better — for the Giants. If the club’s core continues to resemble that of a decomposing corpse on a nightly basis, Sabean will have no reason to trade for another bat. In fact, it could become realistic for San Francisco to delve into preordained Pittsburgh territory: sellers-ville.
Make no mistake: The Pirates are a solid team, regardless of early season struggles. Any team that boasts Andrew McCutchen is bound to become a winner, especially against teams like the Giants with zero chance of notching wins on nights where staff ace Madison Bumgarner coughs up five runs in the game’s first two innings. Then again, ‘Cutch did absolutely nothing of note in Pittsburgh’s win, but he also didn’t need to.
Entering Monday night, Bumgarner had allowed just six first-inning runs in 22 previous starts, but he allowed four runs before registering the first three outs against the Pirates. Pittsburgh was aided by the Giants’ defunct defense, but their first-inning run total matched the number San Francisco had plated in their previous three games.
The Giants are just two games out of the West lead whereas the Pirates continue to climb the ladder and share an equal deficit in the NL Central. The big difference: Both teams are headed in opposite directions. San Francisco hit rock bottom while Pittsburgh kept chugging along. The remaining two games of this series probably won’t be much different.