When San Francisco Giants Can’t Help Themselves, Pirates Come Through


It was a miserable four-day weekend for the San Francisco Giants. They were swept straight out of Chicago, when the Cubs pulled out their brooms for a four-game series. The Giants were thoroughly outhit and outpitched, and their already overworked bullpen was exposed. Four Giants’ starters combined to retire only three batters after the fourth inning, all coming courtesy of Jake Peavy in the series finale on Sunday.

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While the Giants couldn’t help themselves, they received a big helping hand from the Pittsburgh Pirates, the very same team that they eliminated in the National League’s wild card game last season. The Pirates single-handedly kept the Giants close in the NL West race, as they swept the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers in three games over the weekend.

There’s no denying that the Giants didn’t enjoy their visit to Chicago, despite good weather and beautiful scenery. But thanks to the Buccos, it could have ended up a whole lot worse.

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When San Francisco rolled into the Windy City, they were two games back of the Dodgers in the division. On Thursday, when the Giants fell to the Cubs in their series opener, the Dodgers orchestrated a come-from-behind win against the Phillies on a day when Zack Greinke gave up six runs in six innings. That dropped San Francisco to three games behind the Dodgers.

But as the Cubs continued to beat up the Giants and knocked them further back from the second seed in the wildcard race, San Francisco didn’t lose any more ground in the divisional race.

On Friday, when the Giants were bombarded by a huge Cubs’ fifth inning, Pittsburgh walked off in the tenth inning, when Pedro Alvarez raised the Jolly Roger with a bases loaded single.

Aug 7, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pinch hitter Pedro Alvarez (C) is mobbed by teammates after hitting the game winning RBI single against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the tenth inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 5-4 in ten innings. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, when the Giants’ ninth-inning rally fell short, the Pirates’ bullpen held off the Dodgers’ own last-ditch attempt at a comeback.

On Sunday, when the Giants couldn’t get anything going against the Cubs’ stud, Jake Arrieta, the Pirates scored nine runs in the seventh inning against the Dodgers’ bullpen, eight of which were charged to Jim Johnson (whose ERA shot from 2.82 to 4.18 in the blink of an eye).

That’s a small bright side to an otherwise dismal weekend, but as the season pushes forward through August, the Giants can’t continue to rely on other teams to bail them out. They have to start helping themselves, and furthermore, proving they can play with the big boys, as they have 22 straight games against opponents with a winning record.

The next six games are a good jumping point for the Giants. On Tuesday, they begin a quick two-game series with the AL West-leading Houston Astros, who have hit a bit of a cold spell. The Astros have lost six of their last seven games, including the last three of a four-game set with the Oakland Athletics.

After that, they clash heads with the Washington Nationals for four games. The Nationals have lost nine of their last 14 games, and look like a different team than when the Giants met them over Independence Day weekend. The Nationals are in a similar spot as the Giants, as the New York Mets are trying to get a little cushion to their NL East division lead.

Then, things get interesting. The Giants match up for three games with the St. Louis Cardinals, in the Gateway City, against the team that owns the best record in baseball. That will be the biggest test for the Giants, not only in August, but for the entire season. Proceeding that, the Giants take on their weekend savior, the Pirates, for four games in Pittsburgh.

The upcoming schedule is very bumpy, and the Giants’ suspension is in danger of wearing out. They need a tuneup before the potholes and speed bumps put them in the shop for good.

If Pittsburgh is really intent on meeting the Giants in another wildcard matchup, they can help San Francisco out again later in the year. They meet the Cubs twice more, for a pair of three-game series, later in September.

The Giants can’t rely on that. Nobody can truly help if you can’t help yourself.

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