It’s How You Finish

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John Laskins

Contributing Writer

The San Francisco Giants are in the midst of an incredible tailspin that seems to defy all baseball logic. Going into the All-Star Break they were boasting a 57-33 record, which was the best in the MLB at the time. As of Saturday, they’ve gone 13-25 since the break, which is the worst record in the MLB during that span. This begs the question: What the heck is going on?

The answer: just about everything. The once untouchable pitching rotation looks vulnerable, the offense completely disappears on some nights, and the ballclub is simply not winning games they would have won earlier in the year. This was typified in last Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to bitter rival Los Angeles Dodgers. Giants starter Johnny Cueto tossed 6 innings of 1-run ball and the bullpen put on the clamp, but the Giants offense couldn’t do anything. With two outs in the 8th, they had the tying run on third and go-ahead run on first. Brandon Crawford steps up and tags one into deep right field…only to be caught at the wall.

Giants All-Star first baseman Brandon Belt bore the worst of the second-half slump, as he was among the league’s leaders in batting average and on-base percentage prior to the break, but he has sported an average in the low .200’s since then. On top of that, he’s struck out 53 times in just 38 games as of Saturday.  Giants manager Bruce Bochy opted to move Belt down to 7th in the order; it will stay that way if he cannot work his way back to producing consistent office.  Let’s hope that the 2016 All-Star can get back to form, as he was a huge part of the Giants’ first half success.

However, all hope is not lost. These guys are the San Francisco Giants. The team’s magical 2010 season saw Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper brand their agonizing games with the nickname “Torture,” a name they still live up to today. There is plenty to be optimistic about, as these are the same guys that compiled the MLB best record in the first half. This roster is filled to the brim with talent, and there’s no reason that they cannot break out of the funk that’s been with them all of the second-half.

Last Friday night’s 4-0 win over of the Dodgers is a look in the right direction, as newly-acquired starting pitcher Matt Moore threw an absolute gem, tossing 8⅔ innings of no-hit balls before losing it in the 9th to a bloop single. The offense was able to produce at the same time, highlighted by second baseman Joe Panik’s two-run jack.

Games like this are essential to getting the ship righted; it was a prime example of how unstoppable this team is when the starting pitchers are rolling and the offense is producing. After the game Moore, who is a new acquisition to the clubhouse, insists that the team’s spirits are and have been high throughout the skid. “I haven’t seen a lot of worried faces, there’s no panicked talk of, ‘What’s going on?’ They are who they were way before I got here and way before this rough patch. … It’s a sense of confidence.” Matt Moore -Yahoo sports

The whole city of San Francisco is hoping that Thursday’s game is a sign of things to come. As of Saturday, the Giants sit two games behind the Dodgers in NL West standings. The team is poised for a playoff run — whether it be by winning the division or claiming a Wild Card spot — but taking the division crown from the Dodgers would be a sight to behold, and make the path to retaining the even year magic in October that much easier.

PHOTO CREDIT: ESPN.com

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