You know it’s going bad when a beer commercial comes on celebrating World Cup soccer and you think, “Wait, is there a match on right now? WHERE IS THE REMOTE CONTROL I MUST FIND IT NOW,” before coming to your senses and realizing it’s 9 pm PST.
Yep, it’s been that kind of June for the San Francisco Giants, who lost 6-2 to the Johnny Cueto and the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night. And this was the kind of game that made you wish you were watching soccer — or Brandon Belt and the San Jose Giants — instead.
The Giants are 10-14 in the Month of Swoon. It just feels like they’ve been a lot worse because six of those wins came before June 9.
The Giants went 7-13 in the first 20 games after Tim Lincecum’s first no-hitter, but this team is supposed to be different. Sure, the Giants’ hot start this season brought more heat last year’s opening surge, and the nerve irritation in Angel Pagan’s back doesn’t sound nearly as serious as the hamstring injury that required surgery in 2013. But it seemed at least plausible that the Giants would win a series at AT&T Park during this homestand. Now it’ll have to be the Cardinals, who’ll be looking for revenge after the Giants took three of four in St. Louis a month ago.
Oh, those were the days.
Two games after Timmy No-No 2.0 is an awfully small sample size,* but the initial returns aren’t good. Or, the Giants are still hung over from Wednesday night. I guess that’s possible, but not likely. Besides, if excess partying affected baseball teams poorly, the Giants never would’ve won the World Series in 2010. So that can’t be it.
Cueto leads all starters in ERA for a reason, but the guys in orange sure made his night look awfully easy. A no-hitter seemed almost likely for a little while there, and in the end the Giants politely nudged Cueto out of the game with one out in the ninth … to usher in a lefty who throws 102. They faced two outstanding pitchers, and tomorrow’s Alfredo Simon (10-3, 2.92 ERA) vs. Matt Cain (1-6, 4.82) matchup sure looked ugly on the TV screen after the wrap, even if you tell yourself win-loss records don’t matter and ERAs are often a product of circumstance.
After looking pretty good against guys like Clayton Kershaw, Adam Wainwright, Jake Arrieta and Julio Teheran (twice) earlier in the season, the Giants are making just about every starter they face look like an All-Star, at the same time the Dodgers (who lost on Friday night to stay two games back) decided to roar back into the picture.
It probably doesn’t help that the problem area everyone knew about going into this season — lack of depth — is even more painful than most would’ve assumed. Nothing against guys like Joe Panik and Adam Duvall, because the Giants didn’t want to have to bring them up this season. But Gregor Blanco is a fourth outfielder, Tyler Colvin is the only other guy who looks like a legitimate major league bench player, and the offense looks to be two men short.
Pagan is the explosive, finicky Italian sports car at the top of the lineup, but Belt is at least Bimmer-quality. And he went 2-for-3 with a home run on Friday night in his second rehab game. He also got hit by a pitch for the second straight day, which either speaks to the wildness seen in A-ball or a lack of elusiveness in the box that Belt needs to remedy. Yesterday he was grazed in the foot, but today he appeared to take a fastball off his right hand (a pitch broke his left thumb several weeks ago).
Belt would be a nice addition, but the Giants also looked bad in the fifth inning. Bruce Bochy didn’t want to blame Buster Posey’s decision to go for the out at third on Cueto’s bunt for that inning getting crooked quickly, but that’s the kind of ball they’re playing. Great intentions, poor results.
The results were a little better than they probably deserved in the first two months of the season. But are they this bad?
There are two curses one can choose from that could’ve led the Giants to go into this recent 4-13 tailspin. They had swept the Mets to run their winning percentage to .667. Winning two-thirds of their games sounded too good to be true, and Bochy mentioned how he couldn’t find anything to complain about. Then a kid wearing Giants gear and sporting a glove took a foul ball off the leg a night later and cried until someone gave him a baseball. Or, they’re regressing to a mean that’s as magnetic as Hector Sanchez behind the plate or Belt in the batter’s box.
The Giants went 19-8 in their first 27 games without Belt, so there’s no magic elixir here. But the Giants need a kick in the pants, and they’re more likely to get it from a major leaguer currently playing in the minors than a minor leaguer currently playing in the majors.
— Madison Bumgarner pitched pretty well, but not quite well enough.
— Long replay reviews are the worst and usually seem to end in really dumb ways.
— Michael Morse is hitting .250/.294/.363 since missing the game on June 1 after fouling a ball off his left foot.
— Recap over.