Last week we muddled over how well the Giants were doing offensively and what a tour-de-force they would be once they got their starting rotation firing on all cylinders and pitching deep into games.
Well, their top two starters came to play against the Colorado Rockies. Which just so happened to coincide with when the lineup decided to start cooling off, and then be inconsistent in the series finale.
Leave it to the Orange & Black to switch things up and make it extra difficult to win ballgames.
After an incredibly disappointing 1-0 loss to the Rockies on Saturday — following what was, arguably, one of Matt Cain’s best starts since 2012 — skipper Bruce Bochy commented:
“We had two or three guys who weren’t swinging the bat like they (usually) can.”
That’s a kind way to phrase that red-hot Angel Pagan went a cool 0-for-4, or that Michael Morse struck out looking.
Or that, when the offense did make a late game push and loaded up the bases, Pablo Sandoval walked up to the plate with two outs and swung at pitches so low he might as well have been digging for gophers.
This isn’t to say that the team is completely doomed or that they’ll never put the ball in play ever again. The offense had hits behind a very dominant Madison Bumgarner on Friday night.
But of course, the Giants really won that game because the southpaw squared up in the batters box and hit a grand slam to pair nicely with the seven strikeouts he’d issued.
Colorado scored their only run on Saturday afternoon on a sac fly by Troy Tulowitzki in the third inning which brought Charlie Blackmon home from third base. The only reason leadoff man Blackmon was on base to begin with was because Cain had walked him earlier in the inning, and he was able to advance along the base pads on Brandon Barnes’ single.
So instead of feeling good about his second outing of the 2014 season — where he struck out eight batters over seven innings pitched — Cain was beating himself up after the game over one of three walks he’d issued:
“Give up a leadoff walk… And I did a bad job of paying attention to (Blackmon) on second. And that’s what ended up costing us.”
Cain isn’t a guy who throws his teammates under the bus or places blame on anyone but himself. But, had the offense been able to capitalize at some point during the game, he might not have dwelled so much on issuing the base on balls to the Rockies’ centerfielder.
Nobody expected the Giants to keep hitting multiple home runs a game, that’s just not what the team is built for. But their dismal 2013 season was proof that pitching and defense can’t carry a team that isn’t putting the ball in play.
Not that the defense is completely innocent, as was evident in the Sunday finale against the Rockies. When the bats finally started going and San Francisco took a 4-1 lead, neither Tim Hudson the defense behind him could keep Colorado from tying up the ballgame.
However, as nice as Brandon Crawford’s walkoff hit for the win was, a consistent-hitting ball club might not have let that game go into extra innings.
Let’s hope this offensive helter-skelter is just a weekend fluke, and not something the Giants will be carrying into the week when the Dodgers come to town.