For the San Francisco Giants, the words rock bottom have been used to define them for at least the past month.
But where is rock bottom, and have they even hit it yet?
You thought rock bottom was when they lost three out of four to the MLB-worst Marlins. You thought rock bottom was when they were swept by the archrival Dodgers.
You thought rock bottom was when they scored just two runs in two games in the bandbox that is Coors Field, dropping a series to the Rockies. You thought rock bottom was…
Oh, wait a second.
That was the exact same intro that I used two weeks ago in an article titled, “San Francisco Giants: Have They Hit Rock Bottom”?
Since that time, they somehow won two series against the Padres and Diamondbacks, but were then utterly destroyed by the Reds, and just lost a game to the Cubs, of all teams, because Brandon Belt channeled his inner Bill Buckner.
So yeah, if this team is reminding you of Bill Buckner, then they clearly have hit rock bottom, and perhaps gone a little deeper.
You see, at ten games under .500, the Giants are in a position that they are totally unfamiliar with, having finished with an above-.500 record every season since 2009.
Two of those seasons, they won the World Series.
Which makes me wonder: how the hell has this team won two championships in the past three seasons?
This team that can’t hit, can’t pitch, can’t field, can’t…well, can’t do pretty much anything to win a ballgame these days, literally inventing new ways to lose.
The answer? They don’t have the magic, or the swagger that comes with being defending champions. Usually, when a team plays the World Series champions, they mark those games on their calendars and prepare harder for it than any other game. But this season, playing the Giants is exactly what it looks like: facing a team that is worse than the Cubs.
Because frankly, they won the World Series in 2010 and again in 2012 because their pitching was phenomenal, and everything else went their way, as if the baseball Gods were on their side.
Look at the 2010 team. You had the Braves’ Brooks Conrad committing errors all over the place in the NLDS. You had Cody Ross, acquired off waivers, go absolutely ballistic in the NLCS, blasting multiple home runs off of ace Roy Halladay. Heck, the game winning hit to win the World Series was a three-run home run by Edgar freakin’ Renteria, who had hit just three home runs all season.
And how about 2012? Somehow winning three consecutive games on the road in Cincinnati to keep their season alive. Lance Lynn’s throw hitting second base, leading to a four-run rally against the Cardinals in a do-or-die game in the NLCS, which the Giants would also come from behind and win. Hunter Pence’s triple-hit in Game 7 of that same series, when the ball hit his bat three times and spun into the outfield, clearing the bases. Gregor Blanco’s bunt in the World Series that rolled, and rolled, and rolled….and stayed fair.
But then there was the pitching, and that was not a fluke in the slightest way.
2010: Tim Lincecum dominating, pitching the iconic Game 5 clincher in Texas when he allowed one run in eight innings. Madison Bumgarner, a rookie back then, pitching like he had been to the World Series before. Matt Cain not giving up a single run the entire postseason. Brian Wilson freezing the likes of Ryan Howard and Josh Hamilton, then striking out Nelson Cruz to end it.
2012: Not as dominant, but the same story nonetheless. Barry Zito (yes, Barry Zito) somewhat justifying his contract, pitching lights out in the NCLS and World Series. Lincecum, coming out off the bullpen this time around, doing a solid, underrated job. Ryan Vogelsong winning all three of his postseason starts. Sergio Romo striking out Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, freezing him to conclude matters.
If the pitching wasn’t there, the Giants wouldn’t have even come close to those championships. If the ball hadn’t bounced their way so many times, it would have been even harder.
This season, the Giants have not had the benefit of either of those things.
Vogelsong hurt. Cain struggling. Lincecum far from Cy Young-form. Zito far from living up to his contract.
As for the breaks, look no farther than their last two games and you’ll figure out quickly that things are just not going their way.
The Giants pounded out 15 hits (count ‘em, 15) against the Reds on Wednesday night, and Hunter Pence went 5-for-5. The Giants scored three runs, and were blown out 8-3.
Three runs on 15 hits. You better believe it.
And on Friday night? Nine times out of ten, Belt should be able to handle a line drive hit right at him. At worst, he should be able to knock it down and prevent it from going into the outfield.
But not this night. Not this season.
This season, nothing is going right.
No Cody Ross, no Edgar Renteria. No ball going between Brooks Conrad’s legs (instead, going between Belt’s legs).Â No triple-hits, no bunts that roll and roll and roll and stay fair.
No, the baseball Gods are not helping the Giants out at all, and the pitching has been mediocre at best.
How about a dose of reality? How about a record of 46-56 for your defending World Series champions? (want another dose of reality? The Cubs, who have not won a World Series in 105 years, have a better record than the Giants).
The Giants were done a month ago. Now, they’re just fading into the abyss, game by game, as their lost season rolls on.