The San Francisco Giants have apparently found a cure for run scoring fever. Apparently it involves getting a lot of rest during every half inning of every game, and making more frequent visits to the medical clinic.
The numbers, as they often do, speak volumes: the first 16 games of the season saw the Giants scoring 4.44 runs per game, a full run per game higher than their disastrous 2011 offense produced.
Even San Francisco’s modest 9-7 record after game 16 put the team on a promising 91 win pace. But the last 8 games have seen the runs dribble down to 2.75 per game and a predictable 3-5 win/loss record.
At the same time injury and medical problems have turned the bullpen inside out, kept Freddy Sanchez from starting his 2012 season, and put Aubrey Huff on the shelf for at least several weeks.
But save crossing your fingers for Pablo Sandoval’s hand injury. In last night’s 10th inning 3-2 loss to the Marlins, Sandoval left the game after the 6th inning with “severe pain” in his left hand.
One year ago today, May 3, 2011, Sandoval broke the hamate bone in his right hand and missed six weeks. Sandoval leads the Giants with 30 hits. To say this could be very bad doesn’t even scratch the surface of massive understatement.
Update: And it's a very bad update. Sandoval broke the bone in his left hand; surgery scheduled for this Friday; Pablo's out for six weeks. And that's a major blow for the team.
On another front, the Giants have played the denial card following the loss of closer Brian Wilson. Fill-in Santiago Casilla does a fairly good impression of a closer, but his former spot in the bullpen has not been filled. And Jeremy Affeldt’s latest domestic injury has left the pen in dominoes-falling disarray.
(Historic note: no team since the emergence of the modern bullpen in the late 1980s has achieved post season success with a “closer by committee” strategy. Bottom line: the Giants will have to go out and get a closer by the July trade deadline.)
On the offensive side of this very bad nickel is former uber-god Nate Schierholtz who has found his normal offensive comfort zone with a .262 BA and a .290 OBP. Schierholtz had one good two week period in 2011, and looks like he may have used that up already in 2012.
Brandon Belt is contributing with a .273 BA and .360 OBP, but the Giants continue to treat Belt like he just got his drivers’ license, playing him in only 75% of games so far this season.
Sandoval, Buster Posey (.342 BA/.975 OPS), and Melky Cabrera (.293 BA, leads the team with 10 walks) are the mainstays of the offense so far. Lead-off hitter Angel Pagan is starting to show more plate discipline and surprising power, and he will be the key to reigniting the San Francisco offense.
Difficult times call for a simple solution: score more runs. See? Problem solved (and you're welcome).