After a couple of tough losses to the Dodgers, followed up with a loss in Friday night's series opener vs. Arizona, it looked like the Giants were about to hit a bit of a wall. They weren't scoring and their bullpen and defense have been suspect all year, however, they righted the ship in time to take the series in Arizona which has been Giants kryptonite over the last 2 seasons.
|Melky Goes 4-5 Sunday|
Madison Bumgarner got knocked around a bit in Friday's opener, after Lincecum lost yet again in the finale vs. LA, but Matt Cain and Barry Zito got the team back on track Saturday and Sunday. Cain did it with both his arm and his bat Saturday night, throwing 6 innings of 2 hit ball, allowing 1 run with 8 K's to beat Trevor Cahill. He also had a 2-3 night with the stick, knocking in two runs with a big double off his counterpart. The Giants also got 3-hit days out of Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan to help the team to 5 runs and a 5-1 victory. On Sunday, it was much of the same, as Zito provided a solid start throwing 6 innings and allowing 3 runs and Melky Cabrera figuring prominently in the final score. The Giants 27-year old switch hitting right-fielder went 7-8 in the final two games vs. AZ, driving in 4 runs and raising his batting average to a team-high .348. Pagan also had another multi-hit effort Sunday, going 2-5 while seeing his average move up to .277. The big blow Sunday though, came off the bat of Brett Pill, who got another start, and provided yet another big fly in support of Zito. Pill's now got 3 HR and 8 RBI in 40 at-bats on the season, though his .234 average is an area that could use some improvement. Speaking of plummeting batting averages, the one guy who was scorching the ball to begin the season, catcher Buster Posey, has seen a major decrease in the hit column, as his batting average has nose-dived from the .350's at the end of April, down to .282 after Sunday's game. I'm sure it's just a little slump for Posey, and hopefully Sunday's breather will give him a good rest. He's played a lot more than I was expecting and I think the Giants had planned heading in, and he's not playing first nearly as often as I thought he would. Those are two great signs for Posey, but in Sandoval's absence especially, they need Buster to be around .300 and driving in runs for them.
|Casilla Thriving in CL. Role|
The Giants have also made some roster moves over the last few days, changing a lot things up. In wake of Guillermo Mota's 100-game suspension, the Giants called up former Angel, Shane Loux. The 33 year-old righty has spent most of the last two seasons with Fresno, and was pitching well for them, but is hardly going to provide the stability Mota did. He's a career AAA guy who's had a few sips of coffee in the bigs and all of the sudden, the Giants bullpen has been taken over by a bunch of guys they were hoping they wouldn't need. From Travis Blackley, to Steve Edlefsen and Dan Otero. The Giants bullpen has gone from top-3 in the NL to mediocre at best. Santiago Casilla has done a fine job in place of Brian Wilson, and the 8th inning is still locked down with Romo and Lopez, but anytime a starter doesn't go at least 7, things get a bit uncertain and that has to change. The Giants also have a couple new positional players, one making his return and one making his big league debut. Aubrey Huff was taken off the DL during the trip, but has yet to start a game since then and has only made a few appearances in pinch-hit roles. The big move, and a move I was waiting for though, was the calling up of 2nd basemen Charlie Culberson, who we just talked about at length in our minor league report. He was crushing the ball in Fresno, and if given a shot, could provide some offense at 2nd base. Burris has been OK, but has seen his average drop with the more playing time he gets, and Joaquin Arias seems to have taken over at third in absence of Sandoval. The 23 year-old Culberson got his first career start in Sunday's game and went 1-4. It wouldn't surprise me if we start to see more of the youngster after the way he was swinging at Fresno and this team's desperate need for offense.
Still, even when Panda returns and if Freddy can make a successful comeback, this team will only go as far as their pitching will take them. With Lincecum still sputtering, and a suspect bullpen, they have to be thanking their lucky stars they aren't worse off than they are at 17-17. When Linceucm gets back on track, and Panda returns, it will certainly help, but I have a feeling this team will need some reinforcements for the bullpen at some point. Heath Hembree may be one of them, but this is an area their likely going to have to improve via trade.