If there's one thing that annoys me about life, it's all that reality. Get that stuff out of here. So when the Giants slipped back into second place last night -- a fate that's far too kind considering how poorly they've played -- I just closed my eyes and pretended that everything is going to be okay. I put some 2010 in a spoon, put a lighter under it, and ... well, I don't need to give a tutorial. But you get the idea.
Because the Giants had some August struggles last year, everything will always work out every year. Or, at least, it could. I'm as guilty of this as anyone. Last year on August 11th, the Giants were 2.5 games back. Two weeks later, they were 6.5 games back. Still tied for the Wild Card lead, but the division wasn't a realistic goal.
This will be brought up every time the Giants struggle in the summer months until 2058, when Zan Posey hits a grand slam in the last game of his career, leading the Giants back from a 12-game deficit and winning the division. Then that will be brought up through the next century. Every time the Giants look like a festering scab of an offense: 2010! Remember how they pulled it all out! 2010!
And it's obvious why it's brought up. If you gave up on the Giants last year, you were wrong. There were moments of darkness that looked permanent, as if Jose Guillen had broken the light bulb in your heart while trying to swat a mosquito. He missed. And then this, then that, that one thing, and World Champions. It happened once. Don't give up. I get that, and I do it too.
Except here's the thing: the struggles from last August weren't that bad. They were 13-15. Not good, but not abysmal. And the reason the Giants were struggling was because the starting pitching wasn't doing well. Matt Cain had a 3.00 ERA in August, mostly because he stopped walking hitters, but Madison Bumgarner was horrible. Tim Lincecum's struggles are well known, and even Barry Zito didn't do well, with a 7.76 ERA in August. The pitching stopped being uniformly great, which it was for the better part of two years.
But I trusted the pitchers. I was starting to get a little nervous about Lincecum, but I wasn't panicking. Same thing with Bumgarner. The Giants had a 4.55 ERA as a team in August, 2010, but they never stopped striking hitters out. They allowed a few more home runs, but nothing egregious. They were basically the same staff, just going through a spell of bad luck. The pitchers were still good.
Right now, the Giants are struggling because of the hitting. They traded for Carlos Febles or something, and he's hurt, which is really screwing things up. And without him, it's the 2009 Pablo or Bust Spectacular. nothin nothin Pablo, save us! nothin nothin nothin nothin nothin nothin nothin nothin Pablo, save us! nothin nothin nothin.
I love Torres, but it's entirely probable that his 2010 was a fluke. Love Ross, but he's the streakiest mofo this side of Randy Winn. Aubrey Huff alternates bad and good years like few others. Cabrera is hot flotsam, just like anyone the Giants could put at short. Keppinger is now hooked on the endorphins created by a strikeout, and Aaron Rowand. And Aaron Rowand. I don't trust this offense to get better. I don't trust that Brandon Belt will get more than 20 at-bats for the rest of the season, and I don't trust that Huff will stay hot. All of these guys are goofs.
Doesn't mean I'm giving up. Dude, half-game back. Lincecum. Cain. Bumgarner. Vogelsong. Romo. Wilson. Lopez. It's a great collection of arms. They'll recover from their own mini-slide and keep the Giants in most of their games. But I am giving up on mainlining August, 2010 as a source of encouragement. Different team, different struggles.