As the Giants season kicks closer into playoff mode, enduring long road trips in the August heat becomes that much tougher. While the Giants enjoy a much-needed day off on Monday before returning to AT&T Park, they just saw how relentless those kinds of stretches can be.
From July 31 through Aug. 9, the Giants went on a 10-day road trip against the Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, and Chicago Cubs, in which they finished with just three wins to seven losses.
After being swept in a four-game series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow spoke on KNBR's Murph & Mac Show Monday morning about how tough these kinds of road trips at this point in the season are and the issues the squad showed starting with their thin bench right now.
"They've got some weaknesses on the bench," Krukow said. "They don't have a lot of guys able to come up for an at-bat late in a ball game."
That was seen vividly in Sunday's loss during the top of the ninth inning. After loading the bases with no outs, Hector Sanchez, whose replaced an injured Andrew Susac as Buster Posey's backup catcher, went down swinging in a pinch-hit situation. He was then followed by strikeouts from Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco to end the game.
"We saw that late in the game yesterday with Hector Sanchez. He just got completely overmatched in the three pitches out of the strike zone, and ya know, you get exposed," Krukow continued on with the Giants' late-game struggles from their bench.
This could very well be an issue of stamina more than anything else. With 111 games in the books, Krukow, who enjoyed a 14-year career in the bigs himself, knows these kinds of stretches can wear a team down.
"They looked tired, and that's what 10-day road trips in August will do to you.
"Is it the end of the world? No."
The Giants start a six-game trip back at home starting on Tuesday. To Krukow, this could be a huge turnaround for the Giants and a momentum shift.
"As bad as it seems, once they throw on the home creams tomorrow, get in front of the home crowd, they'll be fine."
Looking at the numbers, Krukow could certainly be correct. With a 59-52 record, the Giants are seven games better at home than on the road. They are 30-23 in San Francisco, compared to 29-29 on the road. And, on the bump, their pitchers have a 4.41 ERA on the road with only a 3.07 ERA at home.
Clearly, their lack of depth has plenty to do with recent injuries. Losing Joe Panik at second base and Susac as a key bat off the bench and a viable backup catcher that gives Posey more innings at first base, is huge. Not to mention, newly acquired pitcher Mike Leake hit the disabled list after one start for the Giants.
"When you get Panik back, when you get Susac back, you will improve your scenario dramatically, and the same thing can be said for bringing back Mike Leake," Krukow said on the Giants being hit by an injury bug.
But, one other scenario that has been recently brought up, is bringing in players from outside the organization through waivers. One such player that has been brought up if Panik's back injury lingers on longer than the Giants hope, is Phillies second baseman, Chase Utley.
Even with these reports swirling around, Krukow doesn't see this happening and instead believes the Giants will "just hold the fort" until their injured players return.
In Sunday's loss, another player was added to the list of Bruce Bochy's injury report. Nori Aoki left the game after being hit by a pitch in the right side of his helmet, and when Krukow first saw it happen, he feared the worst just like everyone else.
"It's just fortunate that he's okay."
Though fans may have their heads down as the Giants slid down in the National League Wild Card standings and sit 3.5 games behind the Cubs for the second NL Wild Card spot, there's reason to be optimistic. The Dodgers were swept as well by the Pirates, who own the top NL Wild Card position, thus the Giants are still only three games behind the Dodgers in the NL West.
As Krukow noted, "Everybody kind of gets tough hands dealt to them in August."