Over the past 2 weeks, the unthinkable has happened... the Padres have shown that they aren't really that good and have lost more than three games in a row for the first time all season.
In fact... their slide hit 10 games and only ended last night because they were facing an equally inept Dodgers team.
That puts the Giants at just 1 game behind the Padres for the NL West lead! The seemingly insurmountable lead the Padres had built upon the rest of the division has nearly evaporated with the Giants going into San Diego for a four game set starting on Thursday.
It doesn't need to be said, but every game in September is important right now. We need to finish strong in Arizona against two very young and very tough pitchers in Barry Enright and Daniel Hudson. And then we need to head into San Diego and post at least 3 wins in 4 games to gain some ground in the chase or perhaps to pad a new lead.
After losing 2 of 3 to Arizona at home, I commented that this Giants team was not playing like they deserved to go to the post season. But after the last three games, I can tell you that this team is now playing like they deserve it, and they're gonna do whatever possible to TAKE it.
With Uribe giving the Giants a much needed spark in two very close wins over the Dodgers, and clutch starting pitching beginning to become contagious. I'm starting to feel that this team is destined for October baseball.
With that positivity shower over, I want to point to some concerns I have for the Giants as we make our final push:
Feast or Famine Offense
It seems that this offense doesn't really like to get going unless the starting pitcher is showing that they can't hack it anymore. Once a starter shows some dominating command, the offense starts to fall into bad habits. Hacking at pitches, swinging early at balls out of the strike zone. I know this sounds like I'm picking on Sandoval, but a lot of Giants hitters are falling prey to this bug including Huff, Freddy Sanchez and Torres. When the offense was clicking, the 1-2 punch of Torres and Sanchez were getting on base 3-4 times between the two of them. Now both are mired in slumps and are doing a horrendous job of setting the table for the hitters later in the order.
Crowded in the Outfield
Seems like lately you could probably run into 3 random people on the street in San Francisco and at least 1 of them would be an outfielder for the Giants. This is the type of problem that managers say they'd love to have, with all their depth: Burrell, Guillen, Torres, Rowand, Ross, Shierholtz, and Ford. Nate has been pegged as a defensive replacement and Ford has shown his use as a pinch runner, but the other 5 outfielders fight for playing time and in turn.. for consistency.
Starting Pitching Consistency
Timmy's had an up and down year, Barry Zito checked out at the All Star Break and hasn't been back and Jonathan Sanchez goes from a Cy Young looking pitcher to a minor leaguer in a big league uni. The only steady hand in this rotation is Cain, who hasn't really had many exceptional games this year, but has been pitching well enough to win. If this rotation can find some consistency down the stretch and put zeros on that board, you can be sure that the Giants will be looking at pushing their vacations beyond October.
Laws of the Day
To get to the playoffs, the Giants must have more wins than the other teams in the NL West or more wins than the other teams in the wild card race...