|Panda's got the Key|
Well part of the reason is that beyond the last 10 games was that ridiculous nightmare roadtrip of Toronto and Colorado and the other part is that the Giants actually played decently at home going 5-3.
Of course with any bad stretch you want to nail down one thing in particular that the Giants are doing wrong and you would have a ton of right answers: terrible defense, low scoring offense, inconsistent starting pitching and an injured Ryan Vogelsong. But here's another, the Giants live and die with Pablo Sandoval's bat.
In the Giants' last 5 wins, Pablo has hit 8 for 23 with a home run and 4 RBI's
In the Giants' last 5 losses, Pablo has hit 1 for 17 with no home runs and 1 RBI, one of those games he came in for 1 at bat as a pinch hitter.
Now I know, Panda doesn't put the Giants in a quick 2-3 run hole, that's the starters' job, I know he doesn't score or drive in all the Giants' runs either. But this is just one indicator of the Giants' success, but I'd argue it's a big one.
When Pablo is hitting well, he's driving in runs with Pagan/Blanco or Scutaro on base, when he's getting on base, Posey and Pence are getting pitches to hit. With much of the offense being dictated by the top 5 guys in the lineup, if Panda is successful, the whole team benefits.
Well that's easy, just make sure Panda hits at least 2 for 5 every game and we'll win every game right? The answer to all our problems! If Bochy hadn't given him the flu for a few days, the Giants would've went 8-2 in the last 10.
Unfortunately that's not what this shows, what it does show is that this Giants team is far too dependent on the offense reeling off 5-6 runs a game.
But wait! This post is supposed to deal specifically with how Panda is the indicator of this team's success! Yes that's true, but we're also looking for a reason why this team isn't winning more games, and it's hard to blame the guy who's leading the team in RBI's.
No the reason this team is not winning more often is solely because the starters haven't pulled their weight on this team. The most telling stat is the runs allowed by the Giants in the 5th inning per game and in the 6th inning per game. As you know a pitcher does not get credit for a decision unless he's pitched 5 innings, and usually what Bochy is doing when he's allowing his starter get shelled in the 5th is because he was trying to give them the opportunity to finish the 5th inning.
The Giants have allowed the 3rd most runs in the league in the 5th inning with 0.78 runs in the 5th inning per game.
When the bullpen takes over, much of the time in the 6th inning, the Giants shut down the opposition and they are actually 4th best in the league allowing only 0.30 runs per game in the 6th inning. In the 7th inning the Giants are in 1st place allowing only 0.20 runs per game in that inning.
Not surprisingly the Giants also give up the 5th most runs in the 1st inning with 0.69 runs allowed in the 1st inning. The starters are not getting it done and the only reason the Giants are 4 games over .500 right now is because the offense has been almost as good as the pitching has been bad.
Its the same sad story, and same sad ending if this starting pitching corps doesn't get any better.
Laws of the Day
If you want some optimism here, it's that the Giants are in the top 5 in the league in scoring runs in the 9th inning and in extra innings