The Giants were the story of the year in 2010. Behind a dominant pitching staff and some clutch hitting, San Francisco wowed the baseball world en route to their first World Series Title since 1954 (as the New York Giants). The commissioner’s reward? A grueling first month schedule with 22 of 31 games on the road, having the fewest home games of any team in baseball over that span.
After spending 16 of their last 19 games on the road, the Giants finally return home. Despite hitting a lowly putrid .236/.296/.362 on the season and scoring the second fewest runs of any NL team they stand at a respectable 15-16 - just 4 games back of the division-leading Colorado Rockies. As in 2010, the pitching staff has kept the team afloat. Behind the arms of Tim Lincecum (2.47 ERA) and Matt Cain (3.28 ERA) the team currently has the 4th lowest ERA in the NL (3.47).
Through 31 games in their championship season, the Giants stood at 18-13, with a 3.07 team ERA and hitting .272/.341/.418. Keep in mind that 16 of those games were in the friendly confines of AT&T Park. Moreover, the Giants didn’t really turn it on until the second half of the season going 45-29 (.608) – a far cry better than 47-41 (.534) in the first half.
Naysayers who are quick to denounce the Giants’ championship as merely a fluke are irrational if not premature – especially with a quick glance at the standings. It’s way too early in the season to make such sweeping conclusions. Back at home after 10 straight road games, the Giants are poised to make a big move in the NL West. Over their 6-game home stand, they’ll face off against the Rockies and the Diamondbacks, teams who they’ve already taken 2 two out of 3 from on the road.
Speaking of those Rockies, they sported an MLB best 12-3 record before playing the Giants. Since then they have gone just 6-8 with a slender 4-game lead over the Giants in NL West. AT&T Park has not been kind to the Rockies who have a 6-12 record over the past two seasons. Factor in that: 1) Carlos Gonzalez has been struggling, 2) Troy Tulowitzki has gone ice-cold, and 3) Ubaldo Jimenez, their game 1 pitcher tonight, has looked like a complete shell of himself.
The moment is just right for the Giants to pounce. The Rockies were never as good as their record made them out to be, they simply took advantage of a cupcake early schedule.
Don’t let the 4-5 home record fool you. The Giants have been solid, winning two out of their three home series thus far (the only loss coming against the Braves). Take those 9 games with a grain of salt due to the small sample size.
However, what can’t be taken lightly is the Giants’ dominance at home last year where they went 49-32 (.605). If past performance is any indication of future success, the Giants will step up their game being back on their home field. Given that they nearly swept the Mets, behind a spectacular pitching performance by Lincecum and what looks like the resurgence of Aubrey Huff, it’s easy to see why I’m expecting big things from the team over the next week.
Matt Cain will get the ball in Game 1. This will be just his second home start of the season. For his career, his ERA at home (3.18) is nearly 60 points lower than on the road (3.74). Based on this trend, it looks like the best is yet to come from Cain on the season. Cain has been pitching very well of late, posting a quality start in 5 out of his last 6 outings. He’s been great against the Rockies for his career (3.11 ERA), so it should be time to gain some ground in the division.
That being said…
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Written by D L