The shores of McCovey Cove will serve as a welcome backdrop for the Giants, who returned to San Francisco on Sunday night after two forgettable road series. Scratching and clawing to earn just one victory, the team went on an excruciatingly disappointing 1-5 run on the road, losing both contests in Toronto, and picking up only one (by the hair of their chins) decision out of four against Colorado. They now stand at 25-20, still one game behind the first place Diamondbacks.
Home runs and big innings were apparent yet again. The starters looked sharp at first, but quickly succumbed to the two big factors that have been plaguing them throughout the season. However, another major issue arose over the six-game road-trip, adding even more problems for the rotation to think about, and that would be the defense. One of the cornerstones of this team over the last decade, defense has been very important for a Giants club that has prided itself on shutdown pitching and solid defense.
With the shutdown pitching in flux right now, sloppy defense is not what this team needs. Sure, their bats are still much improved and were hitting very well even through the tough losses. But 13 errors helped the Blue Jays and Rockies pummel the Giants and collectively outscore the club 52-30. Obviously, not all of the damage done was due to sloppy defense. It sure helped, but it was their starting rotation that once again seemed to break down. And that’s odd, because it looked as though they had finally started to string together quality outings, and against one of the best teams in the league no less; the Atlanta Braves.
And things were only to get harder upon the team’s return to AT&T Park, as Monday night saw Ryan Vogelsong turn things around against Zach Duke and the Washington Nationals with much success, giving by far his best performance of the season:
Five shutdown innings of three hit ball, issuing only one walk and whiffing two. This was the Vogelsong we know, and he pitched his team to an eventual 8-0 shutout victory. Hell, he finally got a win, and boy did the club need this one.
But it came at a cost.
In an unfortunate turn of events, he was hit by a pitch while swinging, and has ended up with a fractured right hand. He’ll undergo surgery in the next couple days, but he’s expected to be out anywhere from four to six weeks, most likely more due to the fact that its his pitching hand that’s injured — this could not have come at a worse possible time. I mean, this is as close to terrible as it can get. It’s not as bad as when Buster Posey was shelved in 2011, but it’s a gut-wrencher nonetheless, and how the Giants will handle the situation remains to be seen.
Just when Vogelsong returns to form in dominant fashion after struggling the entire season, leave it to the baseball G-ds to lay waste the notion that his season was finally turning around.
So with the pitching still in question, and the defense having displayed what was hopefully a mere collective mind-fart prior to last night‘s win, where do the Giants go from here?
Well first off, defense is key, so Bochy will most likely have sat down with his club prior to Monday night’s game to try and hammer out any issues, remind the team to just keep calm, and regain their mental focus. And whether that was the case or not, it looked like the team cleaned everything up, as they looked very sharp in the shutout victory.
In addition, an intriguing trade-rumor has gained some momentum in recent weeks:
Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee has emerged as the front runner among a few candidates the Giants could potentially go after during the trade deadline. With the starting rotation’s recent struggles, and Vogelsong being put on the disabled list for most likely the next two months, the trade could become more and more of a reality depending on how things go from here on out.
Lee would undoubtedly be welcomed in San Francisco. As one of the best active starting pitchers, Lee has a remarkable record, and could be a potential game-changer if he were to don the legendary orange and black.
But is this trade even a possibility?
Here are some of the pros and cons we must consider in a trade involving Cliff Lee: