© Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
The Giants are playing the worst baseball they’ve played in two decades. For the first time since 1996, the team has dropped 10-straight games and there’s little refuge in sight.
Wednesday’s matinee will close out a series against the National League East-leading Atlanta Braves before a three-game homestand against the NL West-leading Colorado Rockies. With 16 games left in the season, Bruce Bochy made it clear he understands where the Giants stand.
“There is nothing tougher as a manager when you have to tell your group, ‘you’re out of it,'” Bochy said.
Bochy has been trying to tiptoe across the tightrope of mixing in young players like Chris Shaw, Aramis Garcia, Abiatal Avelino and Austin Slater (who leads active players in batting average at .272 through 173 at-bats) while remaining competitive and snapping the historically-long win drought that’s left the Giants 0-for-September.
The experience against top-tier major league pitching has been good for that young group, Bochy said.
“I think it’s been great for them,” Bochy said. “It gives them an idea of what they’re going to see in the major leagues. That unknown factor is gone.”
But at a certain point – that point being a 10-game losing streak – it’s time to focus solely on winning. At least that seems to be Bochy’s approach today, as not one rookie player will get a start and the average age of the starting lineup is 31.27 years old.
When asked whether Chris Shaw was sitting due to his hitting struggles (1-for-20) and/or to give both Alen Hanson (starting in left field) and Joe Panik playing time, Bochy made his intentions crystal clear.
“Trying to get them both (Panik and Hanson) in the lineup,” Bochy said. “(Shaw) is going to get some playing time, but right now, we’re trying to also win the ballgame. We’re trying to develop these guys, but also, we have to try to win some games here too.”
The experience hasn’t been an enjoyable one for anyone in the Giants’ clubhouse, but Bochy said it’s a valuable time to evaluate players’ character and see how they are “playing through this.”
The Giants end their season with three of their five final series coming against playoff contenders in the Rockies, St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers. Bochy still doesn’t like the term “spoiler,” though.
“I probably prefer disruptor,” Bochy said. “It’s not a great position to be in, but it is a motivating thing for the players this time of year when you’re not in it. You can impact what happens.”