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For Giants’ offense, hope is not a strategy



Here’s how blah the Giants’ 2017 season has been — the Bay-wide adrenaline rush from big Mike Morse’s smilin’ round-tripper on Wednesday night, the shot through the night that was supposed to ignite a season, lasted all of 17 hours.

By 4 pm on Thursday, the Giants were back in a familiar place. The loss column.

Worse, they landed there via a distressingly familiar mode of transportation: The Weak Bat Express.

A 5-1, 10-inning loss can be fairly blamed on a bullpen collapse in the extra frame, but there wouldn’t have been an extra frame if the Giants could have cashed in an opportunity, any opportunity.

First and second, nobody out in the second inning? Kelby Tomlinson hit into a double play.

Runner on first, one out, Buster Posey up in the fourth? Buster hit into a twin-killing.

Runners at first and second, two out, 5th inning? Unfortunately, Matt Moore could not pull a rabbit out of a hat and lined out.

And the big one: first and second, bottom 8, one out, Buster up, young Christian Arroyo on deck . . . and Buster hit into a second double play.

I’d add the runner on 2nd, 2 outs in the 9th situation, but no one expected Gorkys Hernandez to come through there. He did not.

Finally, the dam collapsed in the 10th.

So all the positive energy of Thursday morning, all the “Arroyo is here, and Morse is here, and maybe the season starts today!” energy dissipated into a familiar thud.

Big win over the Dodgers Monday night? Kershaw killed ‘em on Tuesday. Big win over the Dodgers on Wednesday night? Thursday’s matinee moaner resulted.

The Giants have won one series this year.

What in the name of three parades down Market Street is going on here?

As is the case with so many losing teams throughout history, bad teams aren’t cohesive. Clutch hitting doesn’t mesh with clutch pitching; sound bullpen work doesn’t collide with crisp defense. It’s system-wide, in general, when a team is 8-15. So when the Giants finally got their starting pitching together in the Dodgers series — Matt Cain, Ty Blach, Johnny Cueto and Matt Moore each gave the team a chance to win —the bats collapsed.

Now, this pessimistic screed must come with one ray of sunshine: The Giants’ decision to call up Arroyo was the best move of the year, as we suggested in last week’s Jock Blog. At the tender age of 21, Arroyo already looks to be a decade-long fixture at the hot corner. He’s had impactful at-bats in each of his first four games, in the pressure-packed environment of the Dodgers series, no less.

And the Morse call-up is a huge plus, obviously, for reasons both power-related and good vibe-related. But Morse is a bench bat, and the Giants need pop from their regulars.

They ain’t getting it.

The Giants are 27th in baseball in runs scored, and 29th in home runs. If you think this is an accident when it comes to Posey, Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt, Denard Span, Brandon Crawford and the crew, remember this: in the post-All Star Break ledger last year, they were also 27th in runs and 29th in home runs.

The big boys are limping. Eduardo Nunez got one hit in the Dodger series. Crawford is hitting a buck ninety in his last seven games. Pence has one home run. Belt, after a quick start, has one in his last 17 games. Posey has one this year. By comparison, Arroyo and Morse tied those guys in one game.

The Giants re-assembled the same roster in the hopes that the key cogs would produce better numbers than they did in 2016. So far, the bats and the Giants are proving the old adage that hope, sadly, is not a strategy.