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Improved San Francisco Giants lineup, same old torture

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Who knew “better on paper” might translate to worse on the field?

Unfortunately, that’s the quandary the Giants found themselves in right after Brian Sabean worked his trade-deadline magic.

But honestly, did you expect it to go any other way for Giants fans? Nothing comes easy in China Basin. Torture begets more torture begets, aw, you know the rest.

You can tell a Giants fan by their fingernails. Or lack there of. 

There’s been more than enough nights of chewing the past two seasons. And now there figures to be plenty more.
Sabean was universally applauded for restocking the Giants’ roster for the stretch run, adding Jeff Keppinger, Carlos Beltran and Orlando Cabrera as the Giants’ first calls at the second base, right field and shortstop spots. And everybody agrees they’re a better team “on paper.”

And that better team looked awful against the Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks, losing five in a row, outscored 31-8. Until Ryan Vogelsong came to the rescue. He’s an All-Star. Did you know that?

The fact that Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum put together the Giants’ worst string of starts so far this season made Vogelsong’s rescue on Wednesday that much more impressive.

No matter, just like that, the Giants’ lead in the National League West has been whittled down.

What we have to remember is that a winning clubhouse is just like a flawed-but-fine-running race car, moving through a season of turns and straightaways with an efficient, reliable ride. Sure, that ride has had reduced every Giants fan’s fingernails down to nubs, but they were winning.

Now, that race car, all sparkly with shiny, new parts safely fastened on, is struggling to find the same vibe that carried the Giants to eight wins in the first 12 games out of the All-Star break, and 12 of 17 from July 6 through July 27.  

The Giants are still tweaking things, with Cody Ross in center field as the latest Bruce Bochy maneuver attempting to get his eight best players around what we have to remember is an excellent pitching staff.

What the lull has really shown us is just how many potential negatives the Giants’ pitching staff has managed to keep hidden from view (or the loss column) so far this year.

The good news is that when the Giants take the field this afternoon against the Phillies, they’ll have 48 regular-season games to play. And as Bochy pointed out during the depths of the losing streak, “It’s just a matter of getting back to playing ball like we were.”

Which they will. As soon as Bochy figures out how to drive this shiny, new roster.

 

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner. Email him at tliotta@sfexaminer.com.