Here is a link to my Friday column about the Giants. The full text runs below:
SAN FRANCISCO — This is what we learned about the Giants after their first homestand and after 16 games and after they lost to the Dodgers 2-1 on getaway day.
We learned they are not the 1927 Yankees when it comes to hitting. The Giants began the season on the road knocking the rock all over the place. Such power inspired awe and fear and epic poetry. All that ended pretty fast. In their last five games, they have scored 11 runs. You want the average? Do the math.
It gets even more interesting. They won three of those five games. So, we reach a preliminary conclusion based on a small sample size. The Giants are who they were and always are.
They are a pitching team with a supporting cast of hitters who hit some of the time. I’ll get to the pitchers in a moment, but here’s Bruce Bochy after the game when I asked if the Giants are the usual Giants — lots of pitching, not so much hitting.
He smiled. It was not a happy smile. It seemed to imply, “You can depend on this pest to ask that question.”
What he actually said was, “I know what you’re saying. I don’t think so. I think we saw great pitching in this series. We’ve got some guys, to be honest, they aren’t swinging the bat well right now. They’re not going to hit what they’re hitting right now. They’ll come around. This team should put up more runs. I know it’s a wait and see, but that’s the way I feel.”
Bochy is entitled to his feelings. We certainly encourage him to express himself and not hold in his emotions. It’s just that some of the Giants’ batting averages verge on the X-rated and certainly don’t give the impression this is a hitting team. Joaquin Arias, .167; Hunter Pence, .206; Pablo Sandoval, .175; Buster Posey, .259; Hector Sanchez, .167; Gregor Blanco, .125.
Of course, they will get better. How much better? That’s the question.
Someone asked Bochy about Sandoval who went 0-for-4, who came up in the first with a runner at second and no outs and grounded out to short, who came up in the third with a man on first and two outs and grounded out to third, who came up in the eighth with the tying runs on first and second and struck out swinging, swung so hard he looked like someone trying to fall an oak.
“He’s struggling,” a reporter said to Bochy. “Yes he is,” Bochy said. “He’s really pressing. I’ve talked about this. It’s human nature for these guys, they don’t get off to a good start and they’re not getting their numbers — I don’t know what he’s hitting — and so they start fighting that. Maybe I’ll drop him down in the order, try to take some pressure off him. He’s a good hitter.”
Is Sandoval’s contract negotiation distracting him?
“No,” Bochy swore. “He and I have talked about it. His job is to come out here and play the game. You can’t let that be a distraction. That’s something he’s hired somebody to take care of, and his job is to go out there and play.”
We learned Bochy may drop his third hitter in the batting order.
We learned about Giants’ pitching. The starting pitching was a concern. Not Tim Hudson or Madison Bumgarner, although Bumgarner didn’t even go five innings on Thursday. He labored every at bat, took a millennium between each pitch as if the ball weighed a ton. But he is not an area of concern.
The three other starters definitely were an area of concern. But Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong did just fine in their most recent starts. Again, a small sample size.
The good pitching and so-so hitting imply these are the same old Giants, the same old Giants who won the World Series in 2010 and 2012. These are the Giants who will win while they drive you crazy.
We learned the Giants’ bullpen is better than the Dodgers’ bullpen. This is important because the Giants and Dodgers will fight to the end for dominance in the National League West.
Jeremy Affeldt, recently of the disabled list, gave up a double to his first batter — Adrian Gonzalez to lead off the eighth. But he got out of the inning with a double play. And then he put down the Dodgers 1-2-3 in the ninth.
It bears mentioning that Sergio Romo is a splendid closer — underrated, frankly — and Santiago Casilla is tough to hit. And the Dodgers’ relievers are stomach acid producers. Brian Wilson pitched the bottom of the eighth, put two men on base, faced the go-ahead run and threw about a million pitches before he wiggled out of the inning.
The Dodgers’ closer, Kenley Jansen, seemed to lose his mind in the bottom of the ninth. He almost gave the game away, allowing a run, let the winning run reach base, and threw about a million pitches before he wiggled out of the inning.
We learned the Dodgers’ bullpen is shaky and the Giants’ isn’t.
We learned the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig is a trip. He’s the guy who got benched for not running out a fly ball in the first game against the Giants. His mind seems to wander. In the bottom of the second, he nonchalanted a fly ball from Brandon Hicks with Brandon Belt on first, nonchalanted it so much he dropped it.
He picked up the ball and threw Belt out at second for a weird fielder’s choice. That means he was very bad and very good on the same play.
Gregor Blanco then came up and crushed a ball over Puig’s head and Puig ran after it like Willie Mays and caught it over his left shoulder.
We learned Puig is great when he’s not horrible.
Most of all, we learned the Giants are tied with the Dodgers for first place with 146 to go.
That’s what we learned.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.