Remember when the Giants were winning one-run games with wishes and pixie dust? Like, oh, this game, this game, and this game? That was adorable. It wasn't luck, right?. It wasn't a few fortuitous bounces! They were magic! Like few other teams before them! It was going to continue forever!
A five-game losing streak -- with a four-game lead disappearing like a sneeze -- will mess with minds. The team went cold all at once, and the pitchers have been imperfect, which means they lose, and it's easy to read too much into this stretch of play. It's easy to extrapolate too much from this horrific week. So I'll take a breath, and calmly explain what the problem is.
This team isn't so good.
They're okay. They're a .500 team - a team that scores as many runs as they allow. But they got some in-game breaks in the early season that masked the flaws of an injury-riddled lineup. After Pablo Sandoval would single or double, the lineup went Huff/Schierholtz/Cabrera/Stewart/pitcher.
That's over half of the offense. And it's not good, not passable, not something you can plug your nose and live with, it's terrible. That's the worst hitting first baseman in baseball right now, a horribly slumping corner outfielder, one of the worst hitting middle infielders in baseball, and one of the worst hitting catchers in baseball. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are great, Manuel be damned. But they're not magic. Filling the bottom half of the order with the worst hitters in baseball isn't going to win without magic pitchers.
For a while, they were magic. From last September through November, they were magic. And the offense wasn't so back, either. It was just fine. And that was all great. But it wasn't permanent.
I'm not saying that Sabean screwed up -- on the contrary. There's one more real hitter in this lineup than there was two weeks ago, and losing Zack Wheeler might haunt the Giants in future seasons, but for the short-term, it helps. Freddy Sanchez disintegrated, and Sabean did well to replace him with his rangeless clone, Jeff Keppinger. Cabrera can't hit, but it's not like the difference between him and the other options is worth anything more than a couple of singles every 100 at-bats. Posey should be here, but he's not. Not going to yell about Sabean.
I'm more ticked at a) the hitters, b) Bochy, and c) the hitters. Schierholtz should be better. He's not, so it's up to Bochy to find someone to take his place. Huff should be better. He's not, so it's up to Bochy to find someone to take his place. I'm tired of watching the same hitters struggle.
This shouldn't be a .500 team. With this pitching, and Beltran, Sandoval, Ross, Keppinger, Torres, Burrell, and Belt, there should be some way to mix-and-match enough hitters to fake a good team, one that deserves the record they've been sporting all season.
Eh, I'm rambling now. This isn't a night for salient points. This is a night for being irritated. The worst part was that their rookie first baseman -- called up from AA, no less -- gets to start, and ours can't even find time in the outfield. We'll feel better in the morning. Unless we don't!