WASHINGTON Remember that historic, four-game shutout streak? Thatwas fun.
It also happened at AT&T Park. The road is a muchdifferent story for the Giants. There are strange things lurking about. Wildand strange things like opposite-field home runs, which Madison Bumgarnerencountered three times in a five-batter span Wednesday morningafternoon.
Bumgarner got tagged for seven runs and the WashingtonNationals scored nine for the second consecutive game while sticking a sparklerup the Giants rear end in a 9-4 victory on Independence Day.
Some numbers to ponder as you skewer those All-Americankebabs:
--Those sure were majestic blasts to right-center byJhonatan Solano, Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse. As for the Giants, they owntwo opposite-field home runs ALL SEASON -- both hit by Buster Posey in April.
--Pablo Sandoval gave the Giants a 3-0 lead with a home runin the first inning. The last Giant OTHER than Sandoval to go deep was MelkyCabrera, off the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw on June 26. That was eight games ago.Or 65 innings, if you prefer.
--Oddly, the Giants entered this series having outscored theNats 317-316. Hard to believe, since the Nationals had out-homered them 80-48.
--The Giants road ERA ballooned to 4.70. As of this moment,that ranks 26th out of 30 major league clubs in road ERA, and is ahalf-run above the league average. Even the broken-armed Colorado Rockies had alower road ERA than the Giants.
--Compare and contrast! The Giants home ERA is 2.42, whichis the second best in the big leagues. (Only the Pittsburgh Pirates, theGiants next opponent, was lower as of this writing.) The Giants home ERA is1.35 runs below the league average.
To summarize and synthesize:
The Giants dont hit a lot of home runs. You knew that. At Thirdand King, thats not an issue. They find a way to manufacture enough runs tosupport their fantastic pitching.
On the road, unless the pitching firms up, theyll have towin more slugfests. And they arent really built to do that. Especially whenits hot. Especially when theres a jet stream to right field.
In the postgame clubhouse, Giants manager Bruce Bochy wasasked if the early start time, the heat or the travel played a role in thesetwo flat losses.
Well, sure, he said. You travel across the country andget acclimated to the time change and have to bounce back and play an earlygame sure it plays a part. But its part of the schedule and you deal withit.
That last sentence was the nugget. The rest was soft-shoe.
Bochy said Bumgarner was just making mistakes, especiallywith two strikes. Its true, the three homers all game on two-strike pitches(2-2 slider to Solano, 2-2 slider to Zimmerman, 0-2 fastball to Morse).Bumgarner also allowed a tying, two-run single to Ian Desmond on a two-out,two-strike pitch in the third inning. But that one was a curveball in a prettygood location that Desmond was able to ground up the middle.
I had a hard time finishing guys, Bumgarner said. It wascarrying today, but they all put the good part of the bat on it.
You can finish all talk of Bumgarner being a last-minute additionto the All-Star team, too. Although much was made of Ryan Vogelsongs snub,nobody asked Bumgarner how he felt to be left off.
Did he put a chip on his shoulder, as Vogelsong did?
No, he said. I knew I pitched good enough to have a shotat it, but a lot of guys better than me got left off the team. So Im notreally too worried about it.
As for that other topic, the widening gap between the Giantshomeroad ERA, dont ask Bumgarner for any revelations about it.
He pointed out that the discrepancy was reversed for him in2010, when he was 6-3 with a 1.91 ERA on the road but asked constantly abouthis 1-3 record and 4.60 ERA at AT&T Park.
Its coincidence, Bumgarner said. Its just the way itsgoing right now."
If it keeps going that way, the Giants probably won't enter the All-Star break as a first-place club.