We all knew the shutout streak would come to an end, but I don't think anyone foresaw the tables being turned on the Giants the way the have been the last few games. Ever since the Giants moved into sole possession of first place atop the NL West, they've gone into an offensive rut that's yielded them just 2 runs over the last two games vs. Cinci.
|Zito Throws Well in Loss Sat.|
They started off the series in terrific fashion Thursday night behind a strong performance from Madison Bumgarner, but Barry Zito and Matt Cain could not do enough in their starts on Friday and Saturday to overcome a couple of slow offensive games for the Giants. One part of the new-look Giants lineup that was working so well was that they've avoided pro-longed team slumps. I know 2 games isn't a huge slide, but coming up with just 2 hits off of Mat Latos on Saturday brought back some very unpleasant memories. The only run the Giants manufactured Saturday came on an RBI groundout by Gregor Blanco in the bottom of the 9th inning, knocking in Brandon Belt who the Reds were allowing to score in order to get the sure out at first base. In Friday night's game, they managed to pile up a few more hits, but they were just miserable with runners on base. Ryan Theriot, Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey combined to leave 6 guys on Friday, and they came into this series as arguably the hottest hitters on the team. The only reason they avoided the shutout was because of Pablo Sandoval's big fly in the bottom of the 9th.
Unfortunately, everyone's seen their batting average take a dive over the last few days though, including Gregor Blanco, who was up in the .290's about 10 days ago, and now is just above .250. It's not just Blanco either, the whole top of the order, from 1-3, is what sparks this offense and Blanco, Theriot andCabrera have been a bit off lately. Melky is in danger of seeing his average dip below .350 for the first time in a month. One of the hitters who has stayed pretty consistent of late has been Brandon Belt, who
|Belt and Panda|
busted out of his slump a few weeks ago and hasn't really looked back. Surprisingly, Bochy is still not comfortable playing Belt against a lot of left-handers, and didn't have him in the lineup Saturday. Belt came on to pinch hit and ended up with one of the only hits, and the only run of the game for San Francisco. He's picked a good time to get hot, as Aubrey Huff is getting ready to start his rehab assignment, but I'm still not clear on why Bochy isn't displaying more confidence in the young hitter. Same thing can be said for Pablo Sandoval. I understood hitting him lower in the order upon his return from a month layoff, but Pablo's back now and hitting well (his defense has been another story). There's no reason he should be any lower than 5th in the order.
There are a couple other things I wanted to quickly mention. The Giants purchased the contract of Brad Penny before Friday's game, bringing the big right-hander back to San Francisco, this time in relief duty. The Giants DL'd Shane Loux to make way for Penny. The Giants have been looking to upgrade in the bullpen anyway they could, and Penny went 2 1/3 perfect innings in relief Saturday... Also, down in LA, the Dodgers are attempting to fill some of their outfield void by trading for Houston slugger Carlos Lee. The funny thing is, Lee looks set on using his no-trade clause in order to stay in Houston, where he lives in the offseason and has a large ranch. I haven't yet gotten anything official on that, but last I checked, it was a no-go on Lee's end.