Want the good news about the Giants’ 40-39 start to the season?
Last year at this time, they were 28-51.
So there’s your rally cry for the 2018 Gigantes: “AT LEAST IT’S NOT 2017!”
In the meantime, Giants fans await definition to the season.
Some sympathetic fans have already defined it: It’s been a tough luck season, with the Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto injuries, and now the Evan Longoria injury, and the boys have been fighting hard to stay in the race and, bless their hearts, they’re in the conversation.
That’s the easy way out.
The tougher road, the one I lean more towards, is that this is a team that promised its fan base they were in it to win it, that trading for Andrew McCutchen and Longoria was a pledge to the loyal fans that there would be no rebuild. The Giants, management told us, chase championships.
And yet, they are not playing anything close to championship ball. They have all the earmarks of a .500 team: a so-so starting pitching staff, no true closer, aging veterans not producing their career numbers.
So if the Giants want to win over the saltier fans, now is the time to do it.
The 10-game homestead concludes with three against Colorado at AT&T starting tonight. I’m going to need, at minimum, two of three. And if we really want this team to start turning over its engine, I’m going to need a sweep.
That means Derek Holland, the reclamation project who has stitched together a decent June, must answer the bell. That means Madison Bumgarner, who failed to win in his first three starts back, must deliver like he did last start against San Diego. And that means Chris Stratton, whose home ERA is over 5.00, must build on his better June on Thursday.
The Giants have to finally start showing us they mean business, and are not a collection of older, bruised bodies fighting to stay even. The presence of Alen Hanson has been startling on a number of levels. There’s his talent level, which is strong. But more noticeably, there’s his youth and energy level, and how starkly it compares to the older Giants like Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Austin Jackson and Evan Longoria.
There are teams out there that have players like Hanson up and down their roster: kinetic energy putting pressure on defenses. The Giants are going about it a different way, trying to pitch and use their savvy baseball minds to stay in this thing for 162.
Take, for example, the great moment on Sunday at the park. You’d have to be a hard-hearted fan to not be touched by the emotion surrounding the Hunter Pence walk-off. But you’d have to be a short-sighted fan to realize the Giants can’t hang their hats on Pence ground balls exiting the bat at 73 mph.
If this team is into it, it’s time to start winning. Cueto’s return could coincide with a team that has decided to play its best ball in the second half of the season, and we could all be fired up in August.
Otherwise, we’ll just cry into our $13.50 beers, saying: “Hey, at least it’s not 2017.”