This was a recap headline from August of last year:
Giants win home series for first time since moving to AT&T Park
Again, that was August, in a championship season. The Giants just couldn't win at home. They shook it off and started winning at home. This year, they were doing just ducky at home for a bit. Now, they've lost seven straight at home, tying their longest losing streak in AT&T Park history. Oh, gee, let's just take a look at what the Giants' lineup looked like the last time they lost seven in a row.
- Fred Lewis - LF
- Jose Castillo - 3B
- Randy Winn - RF
- Aaron Rowand - CF
- John Bowker - 1B
- Travis Denker - 2B
- Steve Holm - C
- Emmanuel Burriss - SS
- Pat Misch - P
Ayup, that's the kind of team that loses seven straight at home. The odds are pretty strong that you'll never see one of those players in the majors again, and that was just seven seasons ago. It was a mix of players on their way out, and players who would never figure their way in. It was a very, very bad team.
That's not what this team feels like though. When the hitters come up, I'm eager to watch them. Aoki? Hell, yes. Slap that ball. Panik? Basically a Chase Utley you don't want to push off a moving train. What a gift. Angel Pagan? Well ... not sure why he's hitting third ... suppose we'll get to that ... hasn't hit a homer in over a year ... okay, but Posey/Belt/Crawford/ Duffy is solid. And the placeholder for Hunter Pence is a placeholder, but even then, there's latent power, usually.
This isn't the kind of team that should lose seven in a row at home, at least not on merit. You can believe either of two things. Either the Diamondbacks are in the middle of a baseball-related enlightenment that will change the sport forever, having figured out a radical new method of using batted-ball data to position fielders, or they've caught a lot of hard-hit balls for the second straight day. I know which one I'll believe in, but that doesn't make it feel any better.
... attack zone and their mistakes will not leave the yard. AT&T makes mediocre pitchers better.— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) June 14, 2015
I agree that the park makes pitchers look better, but I'm not sure about the idea that the Giants are somehow more susceptible to losing at home than the opposing theam. If anything, a series like this makes me think, my goodness, the Giants have been built to succeed here. Aoki, Panik, even the idea of McGehee ... this wasn't a team that was supposed to bludgeon the other team into submission. They were single-to-single, run-to-run. The surprise power from Panik and Crawford has made this strategy even more compelling, but I don't see this team as being one that dies with every 400-foot fly into Triples Alley.
It's just one of those stretches. That's a fancy way of saying that you should tip your cap. I'm not sure to whom, especially, but this doesn't have to be a home losing streak that italicized means something. It's just annoying. It's been over 25 years since the Giants had back-to-back games in which they were no-hit for the first five innings. That team, the 1986 Giants, was a pretty good one. They just ran into one of those stretches.
This is probably just one of these stretches.
Oh, yeah, that makes everything feel better.
Apparently Angel Pagan can't hit a lick anymore. That's just splendiferous timing, considering that one of the other starting outfielders is on the DL, along with the fourth outfielder. Since Pagan's high-water mark of an .819 OPS, he's hit .213/.259/.252 over 127 at-bats. Could Joaquin Arias do better? Oh, heck yes. Could Arias play center?
Well, to be honest, I would really, really, really like to see that, just because I run out of ideas so quickly.
But the point stands: Pagan is a really, really ineffective Arias at the plate right now. The lack of power is extremely disconcerting because it's arriving in tandem with chronic back issues, and it's not being made up for with singles and doubles. The defense is, as usual, okay, but not anything that would justify a starting job for someone hitting like a dizzy Joaquin Arias.
The prescription is probably to wait and see. It's not like Bruce Bochy has a quick trigger for his veterans, which is one of the reasons he manages the team better than a talk-radio caller.
In the interim, though, please stop hitting him third. It's been a month. This is an extended slump that needs attention. It does not need middle-of-the-order confidence boosts. It's past that. There's a chance the back is really messing things up. There's a chance this is just one of those streaks, like the Giants' home losing streak.
Either way, stop hitting the guy third. He's messed up right now. He came up with a runner on third in the first, he led off the inning in the fourth, and he came up with two runners in scoring position in the sixth. Not one of the at-bats filled me with confidence, even if the last one ended with a sac fly.
Ryan Vogelsong probably isn't one of the best five starting pitchers on the 2015 San Francisco Giants.
Positive notes! Michael Broadway looked funky and hard to hit. He's the flavor of the week! All hail the new Broadway/Strickland bullpen that will lead us to the promised land.