Angel Pagan likes to talk about happy flights after the Giants win a road series.
You do not take happy flights when you’ve lost eight of nine. Besides, Pagan wasn’t even aboard the Giants’ charter following a 7-6 loss to the White Sox on the South Side of Chicago on Wednesday. Pagan took off for Arizona ahead of the team to get treatment on his ailing back.
But it wasn’t all gloomy as the Giants were swept in a two-game series that eroded away more of their lead in the NL West.
The Giants put up a fight against Chris Sale, who’s been the AL’s toughest pitcher. They put the tying run on base in the ninth despite being down, presumably for the count, earlier in the game. Pablo Sandoval continues to have impressive at-bats from both sides of the plate, Buster Posey is throwing more hits out there, and even though Pagan’s back is a concern, Gregor Blanco is on fire right now. He had two hits off Sale, who had allowed a grand total of two hits to left-handed hitters (both to Josh Hamilton) all season entering the game.
Every time I’ve covered a Giants team in freefall, it’s been a lack of offense that was to blame. Everyone in the clubhouse knew they’d score one run, maybe two, maybe nothing at all. The hitters all tried to do too much because the next guy was slumping. The pitchers put too much pressure on themselves because they knew any one mistake could be lethal. The manager would make lineup changes that had a whiff of desperation, like putting paddles to a corpse. It made for negative vibes, and that’s never the atmosphere you want to encounter when you arrive at the ballpark.
That’s not the atmosphere I’m sensing around the Giants. They just had a bad turn through the rotation, combined with a few small mistake pitches and a few big mistakes in the outfield behind Sergio Romo in three late losses to the Rockies.
The Giants have outhit their opponent in four of their eight losses over this stretch.
They say you’re only as good as tomorrow’s starting pitcher, and the Giants will send Tim Lincecum to the mound at Chase Field against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday. By this stage, we’re beyond predicting what happens when Lincecum takes the mound. Whether he’s coming off three good starts or three duds, you can never be sure what you’ll get. It’d be a lot easier if Lincecum can face his personal foil, Paul Goldschmidt, with two outs and the bases empty, though.
Lincecum isn’t the ace of the staff any longer, but the Giants need him to be a stopper now. A good turn through the rotation has to start somewhere, and once the Giants get it, they’re liable to be back at cruising altitude.