San Francisco Giants: The Magic Ended Too Soon

Oct 11, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) reacts during the ninth inning of game four of the 2016 NLDS playoff baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 11, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) reacts during the ninth inning of game four of the 2016 NLDS playoff baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports /

An abrupt end in the NLDS saw the even year magic end early for the San Francisco Giants. Bullpen woes in the second half came full circle against the Chicago Cubs, eliminating the Giants at home.

San Francisco had the makings of another postseason run with the even year upon the organization. Areas of need were addressed with Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija solidifying a strong rotation behind Madison Bumgarner.

Outfielder Denard Span signed on, believing the Giants gave him the best opportunity to capture a championship.

Division rivals Arizona and Los Angeles loaded their rosters with talent, looking to keep San Francisco at bay. Despite the moves made by their rivals though, the Giants looked to take the NL West with solid pitching and timely hitting.

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With the new additions coming into the fold on a San Francisco team with current players looking to add another ring, all signs pointed to another postseason trip.

Early in the season, the Giants appeared to be running away with the division. By the All-Star break, the orange and black held a seven-game lead over Los Angeles.

Cueto stood out in the first half as he earned an invitation to the All-Star game. San Francisco was firing on all cylinders and looked to continue the success after the break.

But the All-Star break apparently came at the wrong time and the wheels began to fall off soon after the second half started. One noticeable area of concern was the bullpen where the pitchers started to crumble in the late innings. Those late collapses proved costly as the Giants’ lead in the division began to dwindle.

A combination of factors led to San Francisco surrendering the division lead to rival Los Angeles in the second half. San Francisco’s starters turned in solid outings but would get no run support as the offense went cold.

And when the offense did manage to manufacture some runs, the bullpen, a staple of the Giants’ success, would not hold the lead.

All the second half struggle put the Giants’ in serious jeopardy of not making the postseason. Matt Cain was unable to find his old form and was injured for most of the season. Jake Peavy was shaky in starts and then suffered an injury.

In an effort to help the situation, management made a few moves. And one of those moves resulted in fan favorite Matt Duffy being sent to Tampa Bay in exchange for pitcher Matt Moore.

Even with moves at the trade deadline, The Giants simply couldn’t keep pace with the surging Dodgers in the second half. The NL West was all but lost when the two teams met mid-September and the Dodgers took the three-game series.

San Francisco’s focus then became clinching a spot in the wild card game. The New York (Mets), Pittsburgh, and St. Louis were all vying for the two spots along with the Giants. When the dust settled, a sweep of Los Angeles at home secured the final wild card spot for the Giants. Torture – Giants’ Baseball at their finest – the only fitting way for the postseason to start in the even year.

In New York, Bumgarner got the nod from manager Bruce Bochy to begin the conquest. He then added to his postseason legacy by shutting down an offensive-minded Mets team. Thanks to Conor Gillaspie’s three-run home run in the ninth — another unsung hero if ever there was one — and Bumgarner’s complete game, the Giants won and advanced. The win set up a series against the Chicago Cubs that began in the Windy City.

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Chicago, who led MLB in wins, have been primed for a trip to the World Series and a shot at ending their title drought. San Francisco was looking to add another championship in the even year.

What appeared to be heading for a decisive game five in the Windy City ended with a meltdown by the Giants’ bullpen in the ninth and stunned a raucous AT&T Park.

Aroldis Chapman closed the game, putting an end to the even year magic early.

Questions about what went wrong will continue until Spring Training begins. Bochy has been masterful in using the bullpen in the past championships runs — this time, however, he was unable to call upon the right pitchers when needed.

Nothing seemed right about this even year Giants’ team. Even though the postseason run ended quickly, the team seemed to be lacking the magic seen in previous editions. The second half struggles from the bullpen certainly raised a red flag. Santiago Casilla was removed from closing duties and a closer by committee was used the rest of the season. Sergio Romo emerged but didn’t have the edge he once had.

Credit a Chicago Cubs team who never gave up in all four games. The Cubs’ turned the tables on the Giants’ in game four, scoring four in the ninth and sealing the deal in the bottom half. Chicago has something special going as the organization is experiencing success from their minor league teams.

Just from seeing the Eugene Emeralds capture a championship, Chicago’s prospects are looking to make noise for years to come.

Next: San Francisco Giants Morning Minute: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

To the dismay of Giants fans everywhere, the even year magic faded early as Chicago broke the hearts of the San Francisco faithful. A parade may not happen this year, but witnessing three championships resulting from improbable runs is special. This season provided all the ups and downs imaginable and the Giants’ made the ride entertaining.

Thank you, San Francisco Giants, for a great season.