R.I.P The Giants Title Defense

Mitch Kramer, unimpressed
The San Francisco Giants blueprint for success is simple: give up one run per game, hope like Hell you can score two. This model led the Giants through the post-season and all the way to the World Series title. The Gods of Regression held off long enough for the defending champs to hold first place for much of this season.

When injuries took their toll and the pitching staff finally succumbed to insane pressure that is their Herculean end of the bargain – it all came crashing down by the Bay. It looks like the end of the road in San Francisco.

It all started well enough. Tim Lincecum battled through six innings, striking out four and surrendering a just a single run, a long tater through the Marine Layer by Alfonso Soriano. The ball left the yard and I jokingly thought to myself “Welp, this one’s over!”

If only it were a joke. The Giants offense mounted all manner of nothing against Randy Wells. Two hits, one a blooper off the bat of Andres Torres, and a single walk (also by Torres) and the Giants went quietly into the night. Randy Wells pitched the first complete game shutout of his entire professional career. At any level.

Lincecum eventually gave up two more home runs, surrendering three round trippers for the first time in his career and walking four. The final Horseman of the Apocalypse rode through the Mission District and the Giants were done.

Brandon Belt shows flashes of the stud he will no doubt become but has fewer at bats as a SanFran Giant than deadline acquisition Jeff Keppinger. The time for Belt to adapt and adjust should not be the relative heat of a pennant race, as Grant notes in the linked piece.

Carlos Beltran is Carlos Beltran but he is only one man — a man who struck out twice last night on the identical pitch — and cannot shoulder the burden alone. Too many at bats for hitters like Orlando Cabrera and Miguel Tejada, any at bats given to third-rate AAA catchers like Chris Stewart give the Giants baseball’s worst offense.

Injuries, fates and playing with gritty veteran fire led the Giants here; to the edge of collapse. The weakened bullpen is not what it was while fatigue saps the strength of rotation surprise Ryan Vogelsong. The end is nigh, dear friends.

Perhaps this is the best thing to happen to these Giants. If management can recognize the need to improve and upgrade the offense, to consider a cogent plan for development for young players like Belt, this beloved team will be much better positioned in the future. An we, as a populous, will be better for it.