The A’s and the Giants both lost by a lot of runs yesterday. One difference worth noting, however: the A’s had already won the first two games of their series against the Angels, while the Giants were attempting to claim a rare series victory against a winning club.
Even as the A’s finally appeared to be slowing down, they took two of three against the squad that had just wrested away the AL West lead. The Giants surprised the Nationals with a barrage of runs on Friday, then lost two straight games after Washington spotted them an advantage of at least two runs in each contest.
With one week to go until September, there are no more secrets. These teams are in Denny Green mode. A team’s record on Aug. 25 isn’t masking the glorious butterfly still growing inside the cocoon, it’s illuminating the gross moth that won’t stop bouncing around inside your lampshade. The A’s are a legitimate contender. The Giants subsist on terrible National League teams, of which there are many in 2014.
The Giants host another one for four games starting tonight, the Colorado Rockies. This would presumably be an opportunity to gain a game or two in the standings from the Dodgers, who are on the cusp of making the Giants a wild card contender and nothing else. Then again, the Rockies’ last trip to San Francisco caused a tailspin that lasted over a month and settled into some form of respectable mediocrity — and that’s being kind.
The baseball has been bad for a while, but it’s too easy to fixate on all these unfortunate obstacles and stories, either real or imagined.
- One day, it’s the injuries to key players like Matt Cain, Angel Pagan and Brandon Belt.
- On another, the defense falters.
- They’re tired.
- One of the starters isn’t carrying his weight, even when he only tips the scales at 170 pounds or so.
- Their offense is overly aggressive and too dependent on home runs.
- No mythical Cuban sluggers are coming to the rescue.
When the list of distractions in the form of “woe is us” complaints gets that long, the message is clear. There’s only one Giants reality: they simply aren’t all that good. Since managers and players talk about the importance of winning series so often (just about every series, really), I’m going to go out on a limb and say it means something that the Giants go 0-9-1 in their last 10 series against teams with winning records. The “tie” came when the Giants won the third game of their home-and-home with the Athletics, which technically gives them a split in the two games those teams played at AT&T Park.
But thanks to a comically weak National League middle class, the Giants have hung around and will continue to do so. Of their next 16 games, 10 are against the Rockies and D-Backs. I’ll watch those games, I’ll cover those games (well, most of them anyway), and those games will count in the standings. But if this team has any hope of a postseason run, they’ve got to show they can beat a team that’s on equal footing. Four games against the Rockies is a chance to get fat, but the three-game set against the Brewers that follows is a true physical and mental challenge. Same for the three-game series against the Tigers. The rest is just calisthenics. Wait, can one get fat doing calisthenics? Hmmm …
I realize there are profound holes in this idea that an entire season hinges on a three-game series against Milwaukee in August, or a trip to Detroit. Maybe it’s my own lack of patience, but I’m at the point where I’ve stopped listening to the excuses. Enough. Start beating good teams or fade away.
That’s probably just me. Optimistic fans might look at the standings, see a record that’s above .500 and second place in the wild card standings, and start humming Journey tunes. But I’m already tired of “maybe Panik should move up in the order” and “what are they gonna do with Lincecum?” That’s the kind of tedious stuff you worry about when reality is too painful. The time for obsessing over minor tweaks is over. Catch throws at second base and home plate. Unless there’s a long rain delay, go six or seven innings per start every time. Stop wasting baserunners at third with less than two outs. Win a series against a team that isn’t playing out the string — just one time! One lousy goddamn time!
And now that I’ve channeled the utterly insane Mike Russo, I suddenly feel a lot better. Maybe making Monday rants a regular thing wouldn’t be such an awful idea.