The Giants’ playoff fortunes have sure changed quickly. Just last Saturday San Francisco beat the Padres in 11 innings, a thrilling victory to cut its deficit in the National League West to 2 1/2 games. Three games and three losses later, the latest an 8-2 loss on Wednesday night against Philadelphia, the Giants are now six games back in the NL West and two games behind the Phillies in the Wild Card.
Late August isn’t the best time for a team to go into a collective funk, especially if you’re fighting for a playoff spot. And the Giants knew this current 12-game stretch they’re in would go a long way towards keeping them in the playoff picture or on the outside looking in. And with the way this road trip has started, two losses to Philadelphia, the Giants are in the process of playing themselves out of a meaningful September.
Usually the gripes can be aimed at the Giants’ offense, but in this case, the team’s pitching has fallen flat. With Matt Cain’s loss tonight, Giants’ pitchers are now winless in their last 14 games. The team’s offense hasn’t been great, but they provided Barry Zito with a 2-0 lead on Tuesday and Cain a 1-0 edge on Wednesday.
Isn’t not that the Giants aren’t a good team; they’re just a cut below the playoff contenders in the National League—the Braves, Cardinals, Padres and Phillies. The Giants cleaned-up in July, feasting on a weak schedule, but now that the slate has toughened, they haven’t responded and seem incapable of doing so.
With another game tomorrow in Philadelphia, three this weekend in St. Louis and a three-game set to open next week against Cincinnati, time remains for the Giants to prove they belong with the league’s elite. But, there’s not much time left—the sand remaining in the Giants’ hourglass is about to run out.
At this point, the Giants should forget about winning the NL West. They’re six games out, haven’t shown the capability to beat San Diego and more importantly, the Padres don’t show any signs of slowing down or falling into a long losing streak.
But, they’re only two games out of the Wild Card, can cut Philadelphia’s lead to a single game with a win tomorrow and then go for a series victory in St. Louis this weekend. And once the Giants return home, their schedule turns in their favor, September heavy with NL West foes such as Arizona, Colorado and Los Angeles.
For a team built on their starting pitching, the Giants’ foundation has shown serious cracks over the last few weeks and unless one of their pitchers plugs the hole, their season is on the cusp of crumbling to pieces.
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A note on the Tim Lincecum front, Roy Oswalt chimed in with an interesting opinion, stating it’s all about your fitness level, especially with pitchers who are slight of build. Lincecum and Oswalt share similar physical builds, but the Philadelphia starter said he’s maintained his velocity throughout the years with an intense fitness regiment. Something for the Giants’ hurler to consider.