Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals, the pitcher with the best Earned Run Average in the Majors, characterized Your San Francisco Giants’ lineup as “very deep.” After they clobbered him for seven runs in 4 1/3 innings, Wainwright added, “Morse . . . in the middle . . . that’s murderers’ row, right there.”
Murderers’ Row? Your San Francisco Giants? You must be dreaming.
If you’re thinking about taking in a game, now might be a good time. Cold nights yes, but when has the hometown team been hotter?
Where things stand:
At the end of May on top of the National League West; 6.5 games up on the Dodgers. At the end of May the best record in the MLB.
1. Michael Morse
The “Morse” referred to by Wainwright above, picked up in the off-season with hopes that his bat would enliven the lineup. And has it ever! He’s hitting consistently and with power.
2. The Panda
Hibernating in April, Pablo Sandoval came alive in May, reminding everybody why he may be the best “bad ball” hitter in the sport today. Which makes him both loveable and annoying. In April he was annoying, with 16 hits for 28 total bases. In May his loveability ratings went through the roof, recording 34 hits for 58 total bases. In April he knocked in five runs; in May 19.
3. Scoring Runs
Scoring runs wins baseball games. This rather obvious postulate has not always been embraced by the Giants. Even in their championship seasons, especially 2010, the team maximized the high anxiety value of low run production. Forget that (at least for a couple days)! Right now San Francisco has the third highest run total in the National League.
The bullpen remains the team’s anchor, strengthened this past month by a resurgence in consistency from the starting pitchers, especially Madison Bumgarner, who went 5-0 with a 2.08 ERA. Tim Hudson continues to shine. Although his record was only 1-1, he only gave up five runs in over 24 innings, lowering his ERA to 1.92. After a rocky April, Ryan Vogelsong showed signs of his 2012 version.
As a team, they are playing with an edge. As if they had something to prove. After last year, that would be an understatement.
I have never met a true baseball fan who is a true optimist (after kindergarten). Realists abound, as do pessimists. Can it be any other way in a game where failure, frustration and luck play such an outsized role?
We know that despite the current record, the pessimists see the downside. Otherwise they wouldn’t be pessimists. What about the realists? What are teams’ anxiety points for then?
1. Buster Posey
The Giant surge in offensive production came without much help from their leader, who was the National League batting champion when they won the Series two years ago. Last week Scott Ostler pointed to Posey’s low and dipping numbers. A minor problem at present, but what Ostler doesn’t mention is that Buster lost something at the plate mid-way through last season. We all thought the prolonged slump was due to fatigue. Maybe his back is bothering him more than he lets on, but whatever he lost, he hadn’t found it by the end of May, going 3-34 to finish the month. (Maybe he found it on June 1, going 3-5 in St. Louis.)
2. Sergio Romo
Right. I was surprised too, until I looked at the numbers. Ex-Dodger fan Romo has excelled as the Giants closer over the past two seasons. Many consider Romo to be the main cause for the reduced number of heart attacks and prematurely grey heads among Giants fans. This year, he’s doing what he’s paid to do: save ball games. But he’s also bringing melodrama back to the ninth inning.
3. The Big One
How about them A’s? A Bay Bridge series this fall? Can’t wait.