By Daniel Leroux
The Week That Was
It seems rare to have a full week where every game is memorable in a long baseball season. The Giants had one of those and it was largely a good thing. The Atlanta series stood out because of the insane 9-0 win on Tuesday fueled by Buster Posey's five RBIs and Barry Zito having a nice start and Wednesday when Brandon Crawford and Gregor Blanco each hit shocking three-run homers in the eleventh inning.
Taking the first two games was followed by a wholly unsurprising loss to Tim Hudson in the final game of the series. After heading north to Philly, the Giants got another shocking event from Crawford as he hit a grand slam in a game where Tim Lincecum also delivered a strong performance. I was very pleased that Lincecum was able to only allow seven baserunners and one home run in a park where location mistakes can be catastrophic. After the second straight walkaway series opener, the second game again went into extras with the Giants winning one where each of the starting pitchers hit a home run. Finally, the Giants repeated the previous series by losing a close third game, this time wasting a two-homer show by Nate Schierholtz. Going 4-2 on the trip and winning borh series must be construed as a successful trip for the team as they moved closer to a .500 record away from Pac Bell.
The Soapbox: Just Enough?
Part of me incessantly compares subsequent Giants teams to the 2010 World Series squad since they stand as the only functional example of what this type of team can be when everything goes right. While the bullpen still needs to turn it around to replicate the astonishing pitching performance of that season, the biggest discrepancy (other than Tim Lincecum) has been the Giants actually getting strong performances offensively from three guys for the entire season thus far. Melky Cabrera, Buster Posey, and Pablo Sandoval each made the All-Star team and have been the only steady cogs in the San Francisco offense for the duration. However, three guys are not enough to keep this team reliably ahead in the division or get the team through a one-game playoff between the Wild Card teams. Instead the key has to be whether the team can get just enough contributions from everyone else to keep them dangerous.
This season, the inconsistencies in everyone else have been timed relatively well. Angel Pagan's surge happened at a different time than Brandon Belt's, while Brandon Crawford's inexplicable power stroke this past week came while Belt was mired in a 1-for-20 road trip.
As such, the question must be whether there will continue to be a fourth player contributing at the plate. What makes the Giants situation so interesting is that they are doing it without a ton of offense from Right Field, First Base, and Second Base, positions that often have productive players on other teams. The potential idea of moving Pablo Sandoval to First (particularly against lefties) could yield dividends on both offense and defense since Pablo has had all sorts of problems there this season. While some think that giving up future assets could help this team by getting another hitter, the problem persists that the Giants have needs in RF defensively that change their equation while I also believe in Brandon Belt in the short and long term. Buying low on a player or two would be fine but another shortsighted overpay like the ones the team did for Carlos Beltran and Orlando Cabrera last season would not be worth it for this squad unless a few players play a whole lot better.
The Week Ahead: The Dodgers
While winning as many as possible in the three games against San Diego obviously has importance, the games against the Dodgers hold additional significance since every game "counts double" as a win means the Dodgers lose and vice-versa. The Dodgers are already on a four-game winning streak but will be arriving in San Francisco after a four gamer in St. Louis against the defending champs. Whoever wins the series should take some swagger and momentum through the stretch until the teams face each other in Los Angeles about a month from now.
Marquee Game of the Week: Sunday looks to feature Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers finishing the series against the Giants and the criminally underrated Ryan Vogelsong. A must-see.
San Francisco Giants