Giants need ‘little things’ for big road trip
You can pull your bed covers over your head, but there’s hiding from it: After splitting their only home series until June 17, the San Francisco Giants are hitting the road.
Friday starts a stretch of nine Giants games played from the visitors’ dugout, and it doesn’t take a Ph.D or ninja skills to know that the Giants haven’t fared well away from AT&T Park.
Granted, a win last Sunday at Busch Stadium against the St. Louis Cardinals could be a turning point in their road woes.
The real test, however, is in the week and a half to come.
The Orange & Black kick off the road trip down in Arizona with a three-game stint against the NL West-leading Diamondbacks (34-25).
They then head to Pittsburgh to face the Pirates (35-25) before ending in Atlanta for a weekend rematch with the Braves (37-22).
A rough roadie isn’t reason enough to give up all hope, as the Giants’ current 31-28 record (10-17 away) isn’t much different from what it was at this time last June (33-25), or the June before that (34-27).
Sure, the Giants swept the Snakes in their last trip to Phoenix. But just before that, the G-men were swept by the last-place San Diego Padres.
Manager Bruce Bochy said following Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays that it’s “the little things” that are costing the club games.
The skipper is all too aware that if his team could avoid those “big innings” that dig them into massive holes, they would have a better chance of winning.
The Giants will need to remedy some of those “little things” on this road trip to climb in the NL standings, where they currently sit three games behind Arizona:
Re-establish mound dominance on the road: Away from home, those detrimental innings seem to be aplenty. And a big part of that begins with the Giants’ starting rotation and their inability to produce on the road.
The Giants have managed just five quality starts in their last 20 games, despite one in each of their last two series from Chad Gaudin at St. Louis and Tim Lincecum versus Toronto.
Friday’s starter Matt Cain fell prey to the dreaded “big” inning in his last outing, starting out strong before giving up seven runs in the to the Cardinals. Turning that around against Arizona — where he has gone 13-6 with a 3.47 ERA — would be a good starting point.
The division-leading Diamondbacks are scrappy, with a team .254 batting average and 260 runs for 544 hits this season. Not to mention Paul Goldschmidt, who is batting .336 with 73 hits, 14 homers, and is currently leading the NL with 53 RBIs.
San Francisco will see plenty of league-leading home run hitters on this nine-game stretch, with Pedro Alvarez in Pittsburgh (12 HR) and Evan Gattis (13 HR) and Justin Upton (14 HR) in Atlanta.
Execute key defensive plays: Pitching isn’t the only that sends an inning spiraling out of control.
Bochy capped Wednesday’s post-game press conference by telling the media:
“Defense is as important as offense. We’ve made more mistakes and we know it. At this point it’s got to get better.”
This was in relation to a double steal in the fifth inning — one of those “big” innings, no less — where getting a tag out at third base might have been the difference between a 2-0 loss and a 4-0 loss.
On the bright side, San Francisco has committed fewer errors, not tallying one since Saturday in St. Louis.
But it was a series of base hits through gaps in the infield that catapulted the Jays to victory Wednesday.
And when the offense is only getting two hits a game, like they did against R.A. Dickey, those misses on defense sting even more.
Offense offense offense: Bochy said he was happy for a day off after facing R.A. Dickey so the offense could “wash their hands” of the knuckleball.
Not that Friday night will be any walk in the park, as Arizona is sending Patrick Corbin (9-0 2.06 ERA) to the hill.
San Francisco is still 15th in the league in runs scored and has a problem with stranding men on base. To their credit, though, they strike out less than any other team in the league.
So, their “little” key on offense? The same things we’ve been hoping for since they went into this slump in the first place, turn putting the bat on the ball into singles and doubles.
Now would be a fabulous time for Andres Torres to boost his road average to match his home average. At home, Torres is batting .356; on the road, his average is .143.
The Giants send Matt Cain to the mound Friday night to face Corbin and the Diamondbacks in Arizona for the first game of a three-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m.