Wednesday, July 6, 2011

San Francisco will need more than Giant breaks this fall

No, there wasn’t anything wrong with you television. With high-definition we all saw it crystal clear. San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson striking out Nelson Cruz to win the first World Series Title for the Giants since their move from New York. 1954 was a long time ago with the Say-Hey Kid and an upset over the Cleveland Indians. So long ago, most fans of the orange and black couldn’t believe what the just witnessed. But it did happen although not without quite a few things going the right way besides an alignment of the stars beyond the Milky Way.

The Giants had to battle all the way to the final game of the regular season and beat the San Diego Padres to clinch the N.L. West title. The hero of that nail-biter was pitcher Jonathan Sanchez. Not only did he pitch well, but added an RBI triple to jump-start an often stagnate Giants offense. Once in the post-season, San Francisco after losing home-field advantage to the Atlanta Braves, received help from Atlanta second-baseman Brooks Conrad who committed three errors in game three, helping the Giants retake the series advantage as they advanced to the National League Championship Series. Once in Philadelphia, the unthinkable took place as Roy Halladay gave up a pair of homers to Cody Ross of all people and once again the Giants grabbed momentum and never let up. In the Fall Classic, you just knew it was San Francisco’s Series to lose when Ian Kinsler’s shot off Matt Cain should have given the Texas Rangers a 1-0 lead in the 5th inning of game two. Instead, an inch of the pad on top of the wall kept the ball inside of AT&T Park. Kinsler would end up stranded and the Giants would go on to take a 2-0 series lead and the rest of course is history. Talk about the baseball God’s putting a team in their good graces.

Now in giving the Giants their due, the pitching of the San Francisco staff made all of those breaks hold up. But that was last year and this season things are already quite different. The Giants still lead the worst division in baseball, the N.L. West by a game over the Arizona Diamondbacks. But the starting pitching has not been as over-powering as last year. Take for example Tim Lincecum’s 6-7 record with the all-star break a week away. Cain, the number two man in the rotation is just 7-5. If it weren’t for the miracle comeback of Ryan Vogelsong’s first half, the Giants wouldn’t be in first place. Not trying to nibble on the pitching too much, but this season out of Brian Wilson’s 24 saves very few have been clean and without the opposition threatening to comeback with men on base.

Offensively the Buster Posey injury was a killer! Not only was he the most valuable player to the team offensively but no one could steal bases with him behind the dish. Injuries to Pablo Sandoval and Freddie Sanchez have kept both of them from consistently producing solid numbers. Juan Uribe’s bat is now in Los Angeles, which is a good thing for Giants fans, while Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell have both come down to earth from clutch years at the plate in 2010.
These Giants do have nine walk-off wins so far this season. But what you see by looking closer at this version of the Giants is very clear on your 60 inch high-def at home. Unless the defending champs pick up their level of play in the second half of the season in all areas, the Baseball Gods will not have enough charity this time around, to get them a repeat come October.

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