It was no secret coming into the year that the 2008 San Francisco Giants were going to have to beat you with small ball, pitching and defense. However, as we approach mid-August, I don't think anyone expected the Giants to be quite as much of a soft hitting club they've been. Through Tuesday, the Giants sit dead last in all of baseball in home runs, and it's not even close. The Giants have hit only 64 home runs through the seasons first 118 games which is 16 below the next lowest team (Blue Jays). I'm not trying to say that if you don't hit home runs, you won't win games, but I am trying to point out that it's tough to generate runs when your team has substantially less power than every other team in the league. Two guys who have been in a huge power drought this season are Randy Winn and Bengie Molina. Neither are your prototypical number 3 or 4 hitter, but Winn, who's averaged about 14 homers a year over the last 5 seasons, has only 5 this year. Molina, who had 19 in each of his last 2 seasons only has 9 so far. It's not just their bat's that have lost punch this season. Nobody expected Aaron Rowand to repeat last years career numbers, but I did expect him to be closer to the 20 home run mark at this point than the 10 home run mark. I'd have to say, the only Giant who has met or exceeded expectations as far as the power numbers are concerned is Jon Bowker, and he wasn't even a guy who had expectations coming into the year. Again, not saying that you need power hitters to score runs, but it's pretty obvious why the Giants have struggled to do so this year.
Now, on to the positive, which again is the starting pitching. Matt Cain shut down the Dodgers in his last start, followed by a terrific 7 inning performance in Houston by Jonathan Sanchez Monday, then another gem by Tim Lincecum (albeit for 4.1 innings) Tuesday night. Whenever the Giants "Big 3" throw well in consecutive starts, it definitely gives the fans something to get excited about. Sanchez especially needed a good start after a horrific July, and he turned in one of his better starts of the year. He suffered the loss due to no run support, but he only walked 1 batter and allowed 5 hits through his 7 innings. Something that he had been doing to much of in July was letting runners on base. It seemed like every inning he threw in July, there were always a runner or 2 on base. He's going to be one of the better lefties in this league if he can minimize the number of base runners allowed via base on balls and he did so on Monday. There had been some whispers about slowing Sanchez down a little as he's already surpassed the most innings he's ever pitched in his professional career. The same thing has been mentioned about Tim Lincecum. The Franchise left the game in the 5th inning Tuesday after taking a liner of the knee, but early reports where that nothing was serious. However, this may push the Giants towards giving him a start or two off so he doesn't throw too many innings in only his first, full big league season. I don't mind letting Lincecum take a few starts off to rest his knee, but I say let Sanchez keep going and learning.
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