Giants old strategy isn't working but they're still winning

Bizarro Giants are finding a way to get it done

5/21/13 in MLB   |   droth   |   127 respect

Apr 27, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval (48) reacts after being tagged out by San Diego Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera (2) at Petco Park. The Padres won 8-7 in twelve innings. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY SportsSomething weird is happening in San Francisco.  The formula that has won two of the last three World Series -- pitching, defense, and timely hitting -- seems like a distant memory.  The Giants just returned home from a brutal road trip but are still five games over .500 despite playing bad defense and giving up big innings right and left.

The pitching staff, the Giants calling card for most of the last decade, has been bad and has some more hard times ahead.  Matt Cain didn't get a win until the first week of May, Tim Lincecum has apparently forgotten how good he was in the playoffs last year, Barry Zito has been hit or miss and last night Ryan Vogelsong broke his pitching hand while batting during what was, by far, his best start of the season so far.

Their 4.12 team ERA is the highest of any NL team with a winning record and their .256 batting average against is fifth worst in the NL, just a shade better than the 13-32 Marlins.  Last year's studs, Matt Cain and Ryan  Vogelsong, have been at the heart of the Giants pitching woes.  

Cain's 5.43 era is more than two runs higher than his career 3.35 mark and through 56.1 innings he has already given up 13 long balls.  In 2009, he gave up just nine all season.  And Vogelsong was even worse before last night.  He has a 7.19 era and before last night's excellent start, when he gave up three hits, one walk, and no runs through five before breaking his hand, this season had been a total mess.  Now he will have about two months to heal and find his old form.

And on defense the Giants have committed the second most errors in all of baseball with 35.

This year, for the first time since the Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent era, they're relying on the bats and it's working relatively well.

They are leading the NL in hits and are second in the MLB behind Detroit.  They are third in the NL in runs and second in batting average.  In 2012, San Francisco was sixth in runs scored in the NL.

Bruce Bochy and the Giants are fortunate to be where they are given their sloppy play and poor pitching.  At 25-20, they are just a game out of first thanks to walk-offs and a fair amount of dumb luck.  But the way the team is constructed, they need the pitching to get its act together if they want to continue winning.  This accidental new look isn't going to work come September and October.
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