The Latest Injury-Pride
There’s nothing “wrong” with the Giants. They are in the midst of a 3-5 road trip, the first four played in Atlanta. They managed to eke out one victory, with Timmy taking the final game down to the wire, before losing 1-0. Many Giants fans ran that “turnabout is fair play” notion through their minds, as they contemplated that score.
Tim Lincecum pitched one of the most masterful games in baseball history last October, blanking the Braves in the NLDS opener, 1-0. He struck out fourteen, and allowed two hits. Most significantly, he did it in the postseason, where it counts most.
A first-year pitcher named Mike Minor out-dueled Timmy the other day, because the Giants were unable to score even one run. There is nothing wrong with the Giants' starting pitching, and if there is one component that can be singled out as most key to success, it has to be starting pitching.
Giants starters have a 1.72 ERA on this current road trip. How it is possible to have that sterling of an ERA, and yet also possess a 3-5 win/loss mark is baffling. Rather, it is misleading. Teams with starting pitching, which can dominate like that, are usually amidst the division leaders.
Hold on a second; the Giants are among the contenders. For a moment there, with all of the weeping and wailing going on, I thought we had fallen out of contention. Fortunately, the Diamondbacks must play the same grueling 162 game schedule as the Giants, and they are having an equally rigorous time against the same two teams that gave the Giants fits. What a surprise.
I would list the current injuries that the Giants have reported, but I do not have adequate space. Besides, I am beginning to believe that this injury streak has gone from “As the World Turns” to “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” in the sense that the Giants have simply endured a spate of injuries that defies explanation.
In the interests of regional sanity, I am going to offer a possible explanation. Last season was a special season for the Giants, because everything fell into place, including masterful pitching performances and minimal injuries. The Giants placed a total of nine players on the disabled list last year, compared to twenty-two, so far this year.
Last year the players recognized that their success was due, in large part, to their lack of meaningful injuries. No spotlight rested on any given player, who might be icing up a sore shoulder after the game, because there did not seem to be a reason. In contrast this year, the Giants have had a series of high-profile injuries, and the overwhelming string of minor dings right now seems extreme.
Every player who experiences the normal pitfalls of a long season, as real as they are, seems to encounter a reporter with a notepad, to record the ongoing problems that crop up. Conversely, the same sorts of problems probably arose last year also, but did not draw attention, because the backdrop was different.
Our biggest injury (besides Buster) is that of pride. The Giants are used to getting it done, and this current downward spiral is infuriating. Therefore, they are getting hot under the collar, and more frustrated than ever at these rookie pitchers who come in here wanting to show up Tim Lincecum. There is a lot of motivation for a kid like Mike Minor to be able to put into his resume, that he out-pitched Timmy.
Therefore, each and every Giant, with Aubrey and Cody leading the way, is trying to kill the ball every time he swings. They swing at pitches outside of the strike zone, and they are “trying to tear the cover off the ball.” They need to return to small ball, an example of which was the four sacrifice flies the other night.
Hitting for singles, and making contact with the ball, is the only way to snap out of a cold spell. That and winning a couple games. Much has been said about the weak schedule that the Giants have to play. They need to set their sights on that two and one-half game deficit, and play small ball for small gains.
The Giants are not going too overtake the Braves in the wild-card race, so they better overtake the D-Backs now. Otherwise they will have an extra month this October, to rest their weary bones, while they watch the playoffs on TV.