Usually, these post-game ramblings are short-sighted affairs. Take Friday night, for example. Bruce Bochy left Madison Bumgarner in too long, and I wanted to yell at him like he told me the ending of a movie I hadn't seen. In the long-term, though, I get that the Giants will eat glass for Bochy, and little decisions and exhibitions of trust like that are part of the reason why.
Taking the long-term view of every game is boring, but it doesn't hurt to step back and see the Morris for the Threets every so often. Every game is 1/162nd of a longer story, and usually games don't mean too much in isolation. So the Giants are having an awful road trip. Big whoop. Remember the last road trip before the All-Star break last year? The Giants were pounded by the Nationals and Pirates, and everything was in the toilet. Then Ryan Theriot was a DH, and you spent $100 on sweatshirts you didn't need. Things worked out.
Allow me to step back and take a long-term look at the team then. Forget the game. The horrid, miserable game. Let's check in with the Giants. The newly second-place Giants. How are you feeling about the Giants?
Kind of terrified. Not sure about you. But I'm kind of terrified.
The Giants allowed their 202nd run of the season on Saturday. That's one behind the Brewers for the bottom slot in the National League. The Giants play in a vast expanse of acreage. The Brewers play in a park that's easy to hit in. There's a pretty good argument to make that the Giants have been the worst pitching team in the league. Yet they've spent most of the season in first, or close to it. They're doing this because of of the offense, which has a penchant for eighth- and ninth-inning home runs.
At some point the late home runs will stop. And here's what the league hits with runners in scoring position:
Here's what the Giants hit with RISP going into Saturday's game:
I can believe the Giants are a better hitting team than we're used to. Feels like that's the case. But the well-timed hits might not always be there. In 2011 and early 2012, the Giants not getting hits with runners on was kind of a thing. That switch might flip again.
And if it does, the pitching will be worse than it has been since the Jamey Wright era. If you thought 2011 was frustrating, goodness, imagine it without the superhero pitching.
Saturday's game felt like a crossroads game in a way. The Giants need to pitch better. When they're in the field, they'll need to throw the baseball like they have thumbs, too. That's important. But they'll need to pitch better. I'm still cautiously optimistic that they'll shake this off like a bad dream and pitch somewhat like we're all used to. But they've given up 47 runs over the last five games, and at no point did it feel like a mistake.
Goodness, it's been ugly. Zito tomorrow should take the sting out. Unless he's completely awful, which is always a possibility. I'm not ready to believe the Giants are a miserable pitching team now. But the idea's growing on me.
As for Tim Lincecum, it feels like he actually threw better on Saturday than he did in some of the other games this year. But I've given up trying to parse the good starts from the bad starts with Lincecum, separating the process from the results, even though all I want to do is make a big deal about the results.
What I want is a stat. A PITCHf/x stat that tells me how much the catcher's mitt moved away from the target. I don't need it for the rest of the league. I just want it for Ryan Vogelsong, Matt Cain, and Tim Lincecum. And I want it retroactive to 2010. Once I have that, I can tell you what Lincecum's starts mean.
Feels like a start that got away from him after a derpy error that we shouldn't expect too often. That doesn't excuse the Wilin Rosario meatball or the walks that set up the Rockies runs, but it didn't fee like full-meltdown Lincecum tonight.
It was just bad Lincecum. And then the bullpen was bad. And the Giants gave up 10 or more runs for the fourth time in five games. They gave up 10 or more runs six times last year, you know. They gave up 10 or more runs five times in 2011, and five times in 2010. They've done it four times in the last five games.
So if you're wondering why you feel like this ... there you go. This is how the other 29/30th lives. And it kind of stinks.