Giants Facing Obstacles Down the Stretch

The Giants are outside the playoff picture and coming off a four-game sweep at the hands of the Cubs. The road doesn’t get easier from here, though.

Any San Francisco Giants fan will tell you that the month of August has gotten off a rough start for their team.

The Giants, who went into the All-Star Break having swept the Phillies, won 10 of their first 12 games coming out of the break and looked set to overtake the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West and claim first place for the first time since May 29.

But since the last day of July, it’s been an uphill battle for the defending World Champions as they’ve gone 3-7 over their past 10 contests. Their struggles were punctuated by getting swept in four games to the Chicago Cubs over the weekend.

The NL West deficit to the Dodgers has grown from just a half game on July 29 to three games entering play on Monday. Just a week ago San Francisco was also securely in place for a wild card spot and even that evaporated into a 2.5-game deficit entering play on Sunday.

While the Giants are by no means out of the postseason picture, they’re now being forced to play catch-up in the standings. And there’s a few key obstacles they’ll have to jump over if they plan on making the playoffs for the fourth time in six seasons.

  • Their Schedule

The month of August will be a grind for the Giants. They return home to face the American League West-leading Houston Astros starting Tuesday for a brief two-game set. But the road doesn’t get any easier after that as they host Washington for four before setting back out on the road to face St. Louis and Pittsburgh before returning home for the Cubs and Cardinals.

June 03, 2015: Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez (24) loses control of the ball as San Francisco Giants right fielder Justin Maxwell (43) makes it safely on base, the ballduring the game between the San Francisco Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California, USA. The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the San Francisco Giants 5-2.

August will end and September will begin with a series in Los Angeles against the Dodgers, before they embark on a stretch that will see them take a look at the D-backs, Rockies and Padres, but just because it’s the bottom three teams in the NL West doesn’t mean you can necessarily pencil them in as series wins. San Francisco has a record of 18-20 against those three teams this season.

  • Their Cold Streaks

When looking back on what the Giants have done this season, they have gotten to this point by riding a number of cold and hot streaks.

They started the season off with a 3-9 mark, but started off the month of May by winning five straight games. Between May 15 to May 29, San Francisco would roll through their schedule and go 13-2 over a 15-game stretch, only to turn around and drop five straight right after.

The Giants would end June and begin July with a seven-game skid, but from July 7 through July 29 they would go 14-3.

In total, the Giants have had losing streaks of five or more games four times, while they have had winning streaks of five or more games five times. Consistency will be the key moving forward.

  • Their Injuries

The Giants can ill afford any more injuries, especially to the starting rotation. Tim Hudson has been on the DL with a shoulder injury since July 31 and Tim Lincecum currently has no timetable for a return from an elbow contusion and issues with both hips. Even the newest member of the rotation, Mike Leake, is currently shelved with a hamstring issue. Even outfielder Nori Aoki had to be lifted from a game this weekend after taking a pitch to the helmet.

09 August 2015: Fans react after San Francisco Giants Left field Nori Aoki (23) [6975] was hit in the head by a pitched ball in a MLB game between the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants, at Wrigley Field, Chicago, Il. The Cubs   swept the Giants, four game set, by defeating San Francisco, 2-0.

Luckily for San Francisco, they’re deep with pitchers who can pick up the slack and that’s exactly what Ryan Vogelsong will have to do until the injured starts are able to return. Matt Cain, who is 2-3 with a 5.59 ERA, 1.59 WHIP and has allowed 23 earned runs in 37 innings pitched, will have to take another step forward as he has only had seven starts since his return from injury.

The Giants are at a low point right now, outside the playoff picture looking in after their four-game sweep in Chicago. With several obstacles in their way, the defending champions will have their work cut out for them over the season’s final two months.

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