Cut the String
Winning makes it easy to be a Giants fan. What about when they lose? How about those games where the offense simply doesn't show up, or when there are spurts of firepower (thanks Cody, Aubrey) with minimal payoff?
Let's return to our mantra: Good pitching beats good hitting, and the Giants have excellent pitching. Charlie Manuel's absurd statement about Timmy and Matt being good pitchers, not great ones, misses the point. Consistency is a huge part of good pitching. Since the All-Star game, going into Cincy, Giants pitching, especially the bullpen, has been lights out. I know that Wilson gave up the hit to Edgar the other night, but note the ability to single out a rare breach in the wall.
Even last night's offensive output by the Snakes consisted of a series of singles by a club that generally uses a big club in administering defeats. I have to tell you that I am not worried. In the ebb and flow which comprises a major league season, I expect series like the one in Cincy. It is not as though we suddenly lost the ability to function in Great American Ball Park; recent history shows that Dusty's troops take full advantage of their home field.
The series sweep represents the fifth time this season that the G-men have been taken for a ride via broom. However, and you can look it up, each of the sweeps was followed by a surge. Always noted for being somewhat streaky, the Giants generally balance a low point with a corresponding upbeat run.
Critically important when it comes to evaluating a team's competitive spirit is the way it responds to the contenders. The Giants are on a nice run when it comes to confrontations with teams which are in first place. Going back to the D-Backs themselves, who came into AT & T Park on top of the heap, we took the series, and regained first. Then came the Twins, at the time the hottest team in baseball, and we took two of three.
Next were the Indians; we swept them and knocked them from first place. The Tigers came in right afterwards, having taken over first from the Tribe, and we took two of three. We took on the Brew Crew (the NL Central's current leader) and we took two of three from them. Finally the Phollies fell victim to the Giants, losing the first series at Philadelphia since the end of May.
That's six contenders from four different divisions. We are entering the dog-days of August, and the schedule favors us, having spent much of the early season on the road. Because of our ability to play the strong teams competitively, I cannot worry too much when our momentum fizzles against a nemesis like Dusty Baker. The man is the consummate motivator; give him his due.
Meanwhile, look at the losses for what they are, a one hundred and sixty-two game schedule, rearing its ugly head, and saying, "Just when you think you are top dog, along comes a rough string." Well, get the scissors out (Timmy?) and cut the string. We have a lot of pent up offensive angst, anxious to break loose, and it will happen. Just let that chemistry swirl around Jeff Keppinger (he reminds me so much of another Jeff K.), Orlando Cabrera, and Carlos Beltran, and see what sort of reaction occurs. My guess is that these elements, being stirred into the Giants stew, will produce a more than palatable ensemble, fit to be served up to an appreciative audience, on the banquet table that is AT &T Park.