What Standings Were Those?
The Giants begin the longest home-stand of the season on Tuesday, against the San Diego Padres. In fact, they play 18 of their next 21 games at home. The mirror image of this stretch was that period in April, when the Giants played 18 of 21 on the road, with the three they played in San Francisco being those that Atlanta took. The third was the Easter Sunday ambush, that represented one of the two times this year, that the Giants lost after leading going into the ninth. Both were against the Braves.
In Sunday’s game in Houston, we saw the Giants get the leadoff batter on base nine of eleven innings, with seven consecutive opening batters reaching base safely. Statistically, the Giant in this slot all year has lagged greatly behind the rest of the National League. Simply knowing that the Giants’ leadoff position has batted .235, ranking fifteenth of the sixteen NL teams, allows us to see a glaring difference in this year’s team, compared to Andres Torres’ success last year.
Collectively, this season the Giants leadoff spot has an on-base-percentage of .294, again coming in fifteenth. They have scored 69 runs (13th), drawn 34 walks (dead last) and stolen seventeen bases (13th). For these reasons I see the nine lead-off batters reaching base Sunday as being a harbinger of good things to come.
I will be the first to proclaim, that I am not interested in seeing the Giants reach the playoffs, only to get the boot in the first round. I’m not saying that it has to be world series or bust, but I am saying the same thing I said last year: It’s more important to be able to sustain a playoff hunt, than it is to merely reach the playoffs. Better to have been squeezed out than to have squeezed in, only to make an early departure.
Monday morning’s S.F. Chron featured a front-page box with the words “Idle Threats” at the top. Within the box was a listing of the sordid details: sixth inning, runner on second, no outs; seventh inning, first and third, no outs; eighth inning, bases loaded, one out; and finally ninth inning, bases jammed, two outs.
The article clearly highlights the fact that these base runners were left stranded, a continuing frustration for the Giants. However, when a team is struggling as fiercely as the Giants are, it cannot recover its balance all in one day. They need to gain some consistency, and setting the table is a key way to going about it.
The Giants play San Diego tonight, the start of a two game series at home, before Houston comes into town to play the remaining four games of our season series. With the day off yesterday, and something upon which to build having taken place on Sunday, the G-Men need to get mentally prepared to play competitive baseball. That might be best accomplished by avoiding contact with the National League West standings.
The Giants need to assume that every team coming into AT&T Park is in first place, and that to put anything other than top effort into each game, is foolish. Having gained a half-game last night, and sitting only one game off the pace, the Giants must play aggressive small ball to get the engine purring again, and then get ready to go down to the wire with the Snakes. Throw away the standings and let’s play some National League baseball.