August 2, 2011
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SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants are far too smart to assume the Diamondbacks are going away anytime soon. They learned that lesson last year.At about this very time in 2010, well into a season in which the Padres confounded all the experts by winning with a virtual no-name rotation and a pop-gun offense, the Giants knew that San Diego was in it for the long haul. As is the case this year, last year's National League West was a five-team division filled with flaws, and by early August it was obvious to everyone associated with the orange and black that it was going to be San Francisco and the Friars, down to the wire.RECAP: Giants fall to D'Backs 6-1, tied a top NL West
That's where we're at with the D-Backs, gang. This team is for real, and if Monday and Tuesday didn't make that clear, you've pulled your Panda hat down so far over your eyes that you simply aren't seeing what's right before your eyes.Granted, those eyes might be averted from Arizona's obvious strengths because they're trained on the Giants' befuddling inability to make their own pitchers feel loved. Were run support a measure of affection, a bond that ties, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Co. would be taking Cody Ross, Aubrey Huff, et al, into divorce-court proceedings that would make the McCourt saga down south seem downright civil.What did San Diego have that the Giants didn't have last season? A bullpen that consistently turned a seventh-inning lead into a victory. The Giants have that bullpen now, but getting that lead is proving exceedingly difficult.What does Arizona have that the Giants don't have this season? Is that not obvious by now?The Diamondbacks have Justin Upton, far and away the best player in the division. He's Carlos Beltran when Carlos Beltran was truly Carlos Beltran.Is that enough to outlast the Giants? We'll see, but from this angle it looks unlikely, and it's unlikely because of the Giants' general makeup.When a team turns over three-eighths of its starting lineup in a short span, as the champs did before the trade deadline, the obvious question is this: How will it affect club chemistry?Giants Insider gallery: Snakes, Giants tied for first
When the shakeup is followed by a season-high five consecutive losses, as became the case with Tuesday night's Justin Upton Show, the question gets magnified.But so should the answer, and the answer is this: It won't affect the clubhouse chemistry at all.Much like the 2010 Giants, who went through quite a bit of turnover themselves, this is a team with high-character, low-ego athletes who pull for each other, don't point fingers and simply get to work when work needs to be done.Maybe, in a strange way, this losing streak works in their favor. They certainly shone while playing from behind last season. Perhaps that's what gets these guys off.What won't get them off track are petty squabbles over playing time and run support and individuality that you often see infect other big-league teams.That's not how the Giants roll. The Giants roll with the punches, and while they're currently doubled over, having taken a series of body blows that would buckle any contender, there's every reason to expect them to straighten up, concede they're in the ring with a worthy opponent, and get right back into the fight.It's not going to be easy. That's not how the Giants roll, either. Yet anyone doubting the gumption of this group needs to take the Panda hat off for good and open their eyes.