Thursday, September 16, 2010

Got Runs?

Another game peeled off the schedule, another day off the calendar, one more torturous game, but another win nonetheless. The Giants are still very nicely positioned, but desperately need to find a way to better support the pitching staff. The bullpen and starting five have frankly pitched brilliantly since being challenged by Bochy to do so. Over the past five contests, the pitching staff has given up 4 total runs. Despite this absurd display of run prevention, they’ve only pulled out three wins in those ballgames and two of them came in ‘just barely’ fashion. With their catalyst sidelined, this puts pressure on the middle of their lineup to produce. The performance of Huff, Posey, Burrell and Uribe over the final fifteen games will be critical, and a non-horrible Pablo Sandoval – when he’s been horrible recently – would help a lot. Jose Guillen has a bulging disc in his neck and one can only hope this keeps him out of the lineup. I’ll be crossing my fingers. It’s times like these when teams need someone to step up in a major way. The Giants could use a lava hot, Tulowitzki-esque fifteen games out of someone, anyone.

I apologize to any Cardinals or Reds fans who might be reading (though this seems unlikely) as I’m dropping them off my tracking list. The Cardinals are dead in the water and the Reds have all but officially clinched. Despite the Cards’ current status, I hope they get white hot, specifically in the next four games versus San Diego. Here’s where they stand:

The +/- figures are OARD, i.e. Opponents Average Run Differential.
Phillies: +15, 6 Home and 9 Away – Pulling away in the East after sweeping the Fish.
Padres: +26, 7 Home and 10 Away – Righted the ship a bit by taking 2 of 3 at Coors.
Braves: +40, 6 Home and 9 Away – Just dropped 2 of 3 to the Nationals, fading on Cox?
Giants: -21, 10 Home and 6 Away – 1-1 in the series versus the Dodgers, need a win tonight.
Rockies: +9, 6 Home and 10 Away – Just dropped 2 of 3 to the Padres to hurt their chances.

The five teams still truly in the hunt for the remaining three spots in the Dance are the Phill’s, Friars, Braves, Giants and Rockies. The Phillies definitely seem to be pulling away but you never know when you consider they must face the Braves six more times. The best possible scenario for the Giants to improve their playoff chances is for the Phillies to win five of six in those games and really stamp on the Braves playoff chances. The Padres were reeling there for a while but you have to respect their ability to go into Coors and take 2 of 3 from the Rockies, who are really tough at home. The Rockies have four more away games than home games, and that bodes well for the Padres and Giants because they’ve not been very good on the road. The biggest problem, however, is that bay Area native Troy Tulowitzki has gone bonkers with 11 dingers in 14 games. The Giants have by far the most favorable schedule of the remaining teams vying for the final three spots, with 4 more home games than away games, and also being the only team among the five whose remaining competition has an average run differential that is negative. They’ve pulled within half a game in not only the West but also the Wild Card as of this morning, and they hold the key to their own destiny. One of either jubilation or heartbreak is assured in the next eighteen days.

UPDATE: The Giants got some runs to go with that stellar pitching, and are now in first place.  Booya.

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