The suddenly spiraling San Francisco Giants wasted a strong beginning to an otherwise mediocre start from Ryan Vogelsong on Sunday en route to being swept by the offensively inept San Diego Padres. The Giants plummeted into a first place tie with the Pittsburgh Pirates for the top Wild Card spot in the process and look like a team booked for the offseason rather than the NLDS.
It’s not that the Giants are disinterested in playing October baseball; they’re just not good enough to excel in baseball’s ultra-competitive arena. The 2014 version of the orange and black is about as soft as whipped cream cheese on a toasted bagel. The fake facade of late-game rallies that prove insufficient is definitive of a team that is good enough to play 163 games, and nothing more.
For the streaky Giants, the good times are often mitigated by poor performances against teams that have absolutely nothing to play for aside from pride. The Giants are somehow still in contention for the NL West title, but only if you’re able to channel your inner Al Michaels and believe in Mike Krukow’s undying optimism.
The Giants’ most recent three-game skid was horrific, mostly because they appeared incapable of being remotely competitive against a 74-win team. San Francisco’s so-called magic number to clinch a berth in the NL’s do-or-die October showdown is at three, which means the Giants are essentially guaranteed a chance to advance to the division series, even if they fail to win another game in the regular season (all they realistically need is three more losses from the Milwaukee Brewers).
Backing into a one-game playoff isn’t exactly what the Giants had their sights on when they led all of baseball with an astounding 43-21 record entering play on June 9. It’s also not what they imagined after narrowing their NL West deficit to just two games on Wednesday. Somehow, the Padres held the Giants’ second-half league-leading offense to just four runs in three games. The Giants flat out looked every bit as incompetent as each of the 20 teams preparing for the offseason.
It’s true the Giants have been roughed up by injuries as of late, but championship-title contenders have the bench depth and fortitude to overcome a brief absence from an Angel Pagan as the playoffs steadfastly near.
The Giants do not.
They don’t have the ability to plug in a legitimate major league talent on days where they absolutely need a win merely for the sake of momentum. Instead, they have Chris Dominguez, who ironically provided the only spark on offense on Sunday, and Juan Perez, who has no business wearing a Pecos League uniform, let alone occupying a spot on a major league roster in September (even of the 40-man variety).
So, as Giants fans look forward to escaping Los Angeles with their fandom still intact come their inevitable showdown against the Pirates, the men in the clubhouse will move on and aim to play at a higher level. Bruce Bochy will continue to tinker with the lineup while Pagan and Michael Morse occupy the trainer’s room.
At this point, it’s all for show. Make no mistake about it: The Giants are done in 2014.