ST. LOUIS The Giants road trip is over, and it was a goodone.
They swept three from the radioactive Rockies, then washed off abad series-opening loss at Busch Stadium to split four with a Cardinals clubthat is more talented than the standings would indicate.
Sure, the Giants made a few mistakes in a 3-1 loss Thursdayafternoon. Madison Bumgarner left a slider up to Carlos Beltran, yet the pitchprobably wouldve resulted in a long foul ball to 95 percent of major leaguehitters. Beltran was talented enough and strong enough to keep it fair for atwo-run home run.
The Giants were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position,Hunter Pence struck out three times and the play that scored their only run Marco Scutaros sacrifice fly in thefifth was actually the moment they most lamented. Jon Jays sliding catchkept it from being much more.
I thought Scutaros ball would get heavy and fall in,Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. They made a nice play on that. Its theturning point in the game, really.
But no result Thursday could turn this road trip into adisappointment. The Giants will take five of seven anytime, especially whenthey can pound out 57 runs in 63 innings.
Now they head home, hoping they can carry some of their roadmojo into AT&T Park, where the Giants struggled to a 3-7 record when theyshouldve been making hay on their last homestand.
As its been pointed out many times, the Giants enteredThursdays game as the highest scoring club in the majors on the road (5.18runs per game) but the second worst offense at home (3.27 runs per game).
Theyve hit a total of 17 home runs in 55 home games. For alittle perspective, Detroits Miguel Cabrera has hit 19 all by himself atComerica Park.
If that pattern holds, can the Giants prosper?
It can, if you keep the line moving, Bochy said. Wevegot more speed this year. So yeah, that can work. The park is built for that,really.
But when you dont hit home runs, you cant afford to fallbehind. And you certainly cant afford to give them up. So itll be up to thestarting pitchers to continue to set a tone, beginning with Tim Lincecumagainst the Rockies on Friday.
Fair or not, the pressure has been on the pitchers toperform for several years now. On the road, they might get the occasionalreprieve when the Giants outhit their mistakes. At home, those mistakes dontoften get covered up.
Bumgarner provided the brightest moment of the day for theGiants when he faced Beltran for a second time. He definitely pitches with anedge out there, and he looked to have something extra as he struck out Beltranon three pitches.
Then Bumgarner fielded two sharp comebackers with a snap ofhis glove, as if he were prodding cows trying to jump the pen.
No, I didnt think I needed any extra fire to pitch againsta team like this, said Bumgarner, who credited Beltran for putting a goodswing on that first-inning homer. Bad pitch selection, I guess. For the mostpart, we went with the game plan today and it worked out for the most partexcept a pitch here or there.
Marco Scutaro ended up with 12 RBIs on the trip. Yes, hesfilled in quite nicely for Pablo Sandoval.
Some folks have asked about wild card tiebreaker scenarios. For example, what if the Giants and Cardinals are the two wild card entrants for the National League? Who gets home-field advantage for the one-game playoff?
Well, simple. The team with the best overall record plays host to the knockout game. But if the Cards and Giants were to finish the season with identical records, the next tiebreaker would be head-to-head record. Because they've split the six-game season series, the next tiebreaker would be record within their respective divisions.
But again, regular-season record trumps all.
The Giants will install a Matt Cain perfect game plaque onthe portwalk beyond the right field arcade. Itll be unveiled prior to Fridaynights game. First pitch has been bumped back to 7:35 p.m. PDT as a result.