Home Field Advantage?
It’s so secret that the Giants have struggled at home this season, and it’s been a big reason why they’ve slipped from a commanding lead to a floundering second place in the National League West. After starting 22-9 in their first 31 games at AT&T Park, they’ve gone 8-22 in their final 30 to put them under .500 (30-31) at home in 2014. They’re 33-26 on the road, which is impressive considering some of the places they’ve had to travel to and some of the tough road trips they’ve been on.
But looking at where they were when they were playing well at AT&T (first place, 9.5 up on the Dodgers) and where they are now (5.5 back), it’s obvious that the pattern can’t continue. Counting Friday against the Phillies, the Giants will have 20 more games in San Francisco. Most of those are against teams that are under .500 (the Phillies, the Diamondbacks, and four-game sets with the Rockies and Padres). The only winning teams they’ll face are the Brewers (August 29-31) and the rival Dodgers (September 12-14).
On the flip side, the Giants road trips become increasingly difficult for the remainder of the year. They ease into it next week with a three-game set against the Cubs before doing battle with the first-place Nationals for four games. September will bring the second-place Tigers with their world-class pitching staff, and the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Yes, San Francisco will also go against the rest of the National League West, which isn’t a tough order, but a long road trip at the end of September is never easy.
Hopefully, the Giants struggles at home won’t continue. It’ll be nearly-impossible to overcome the Dodgers to win the division, but without winning at home, this team won’t even contend for a wild card spot.
Bruce Bochy revealed today that Brandon Belt will not travel to Chicago with the team to face the Cubs. The Giants first baseman will instead fly to Pittsburgh to see a concussion specialist. This is the second time since July 19 that Belt’s been placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list after getting hit in the head during infield practice in Miami. He’s suffered headaches, dizziness, and nausea since then, even when resting, according to Bochy. Belt will see Michael Collins, the same specialist who saw Mike Matheny when he was with the Giants back in 2006. Matheny was advised to retire from baseball after a series of concussions made even simple exercising difficult.
Hector Sanchez, however, is making progress in returning to the Giants. Despite trying out a new injury on Thursday nights game in Fresno, leaving with back spasms, he’s doing better and is expected to be in the lineup this weekend.
Heart and Hustle
In the least surprising news of the week, Hunter Pence received his Heart and Hustle Award on Friday night before a packed house at AT&T Park. The award is voted on by Major League players and coaches and is awarded to one player from each team who demonstrates a passion and a love for the game of baseball. It’s the second year in a row that Pence has been the Giants recipient, and it should come as no surprise at all to anyone who’s ever watched him play. His hustle rivals anyone, and he’s second on the Giants in home runs (15) and doubles (25), fourth in RBIs (52), tied for first in triples (nine), and first in runs (81).