Indians Make Return Trip to the Bay, This Time for the Giants
This weekend, the Indians will make their second trip to the Bay area in 2014. However, this time they won’t be taking on the A’s. Rather, the Indians head to San Francisco to take on the Bruce Bochy led Giants.
Much like the Indians, the Giants come into this weekend’s series playing very inconsistent baseball, having gone 5-5 over their previous 10 games played. That’s the same record as the Indians over that same time frame. Also like the Indians, they trail a juggernaut of a team in their own division. While the Indians get to contend with the Tigers, the Giants have the unfortunate task of competing with the free spending Los Angeles Dodgers, who they currently trail by a half game.
The Giants have never been known as much of an offensive powerhouse. That’ll happen when you play in a stadium more conducive to outstanding pitching performances than home run hitting. It’s proven true once again this season as the Giants, for all their talent, sit at about the middle of the pack offensively. They’re 13th in runs, 25th in batting average, 19th in OBP, and 14th in slugging.
Offensively they have all the talent a team could possibly want, but cold starts by many key pieces along with the aforementioned circumstances with their home stadium have made scoring runs more difficult than it probably should be. The core of their lineup features players any team would love to have. Buster Posey is one of the best all-around hitters in the game today and he is only going to get better. Pablo Sandoval demonstrated to everyone two years ago the force he can be when he gets hot. Brandon Belt, who many had grown impatient of waiting on, has finally made the leap from middling prospect to legitimate middle of the order hitter. He leads the Giants in home runs with 7.
Rounding out the Giants lineup I leadoff hitter extraordinaire Angel Pagan, the ever awkward Hunter Pence, and the powerhouse known as Michael Morse. They also have several supporting cast member that do their best to help the team in a number of ways. Brandon Crawford, who struggles at times with the lumber, is a top rated defensive shit stop who saves more runs than he probably creates. Again, this is a solid tem with more than enough talent. They should be much better than their record indicates based on their offense alone.
A much bigger problem for the Giants has been their pitching. Again, like the Indians they are more similar than they are different. To date, they have only received 9 quality starts from their starters. That is ties with the Indians for 24th in all of baseball. Free agent signing Tim Hudson has been a solid addition to their rotation, but the struggles of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Ryan Vogelsong have been cause for alarm. It’s especially more concerning since their struggles are not isolated to this season. All three struggled in 2013 and even Lincecum showed signs of decline in 2012.
One strength for the Giants is their ace, Madison Bumgarner. The big lefty has been fantastic so far in 2014, posting a 3.14 ERA and 32 strikeouts. At just 24-years-old, he is only going to get better with age. That’s a scary proposition for any opposing hitter to think of. Bumgarner already carries himself and performs like a savvy veteran. It’s hard to imagine what he might do once he actually does become a savvy veteran.
This weekend is going to be a test for the Indians. The Giants are a talented team that should contend for the National League crown this summer. If the Indians can right the ship and get back on the winning track against this team, then that might go a long way towards making all of us feel a lot better about this team as the calendar flips over from April to May.
Carlos Carrasco (0-2) vs. Tim Hudson (2-1)
Tim Lincecum (1-1) vs. Zach McAllister (3-0)
Ryan Vogelsong (0-1) vs. Danny Salazar (0-3)