Though Giants aren't clicking, no cause for alarm
MILWAUKEE -- The San Francisco Giants are not playing their best baseball and still they are 9-6. On balance, the news is not all that bad for the defending World Series champions.
The last two games in Milwaukee have not been encouraging, but they haven't spelled real trouble, either. Wednesday night, the Giants came back from a three-run deficit, but lost to the Brewers, 4-3, on the last at-bat of the game.
The Giants could take consolation from the fact that they spent their evening inside Miller Park with the roof closed. Everywhere else in Milwaukee it was raining: incessantly, predictably, and continually. But the Giants did not require much consolation. With them, defeat is regarded as a strictly temporary condition. And they really don't have to apologize for being 9-6.
"We've got some guys not clicking; we're not quite there yet," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Wednesday night. "I think we're fortunate, to be honest. We've done a good job of battling back. The guys are fighting hard.
"We're not quite there yet and we know that. But they will be."
The Giants did a nice job of rallying against Kyle Lohse, who has been Milwaukee's best starting pitcher in this young season. After being no-hit by Lohse for five innings, the Giants found five singles and three runs in the sixth to tie the game.
But the evening turned in the bottom of the ninth with a 3-3 tie, one out and one on. The exceptionally speedy Carlos Gomez hit a ball deep in the hole at short and Brandon Crawford made a fine stop on it. His long and hurried throw to first was off target, however, putting runners on second and third and setting up pinch-hitter Blake Lalli's eventual game-winning hit.
Bochy thought Crawford should not have attempted the throw. Crawford thought, after viewing video of the play, that a good throw would have retired Gomez.
"I've made that play before and I'm sure I'll make it again," the shortstop said.
Bochy may have disagreed on the advisability of making that throw, but this did not shake his confidence in his shortstop.
"He's so good over there, though," Bochy said. "Occasionally, we're going to make mistakes but he's as good as there is there at short."
The Giants recently had not been pitching with anything resembling their usual effectiveness. Their team earned run average ranks 12th in the National League.
The Brewers came to this series struggling to score. But Tuesday night, this same club, which had just one day earlier ended a 32-inning scoreless streak, scored 10 runs against the Giants. The Brewers also ended Barry Zito's streak of 16 consecutive starts won by the Giants.
Nobody could have anticipated this sort of outburst by the Brewers, who are without two of their key run producers, cleanup hitter Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart. And in particular, nobody could have predicted breaking out of a team slump against the pitching of the Giants.
"That doesn't come into it," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said about the possibility of scoring in double figures against San Francisco. "I think the conversation the day before [the series] was we're playing the Giants so we're going to have to pitch really well, because we wouldn't be able to score.
"That's why I can't figure out this game. It changes from day to day and week to week. You don't know what's going to happen. That's part of the fun of it but it's also part of the frustrating part of it, when you expect some things to go well and they don't."
The Giants can expect to pitch well, extremely well. Over the last three seasons they were first, second and fifth in the NL in team ERA. Their current ranking could be the result of a small sample size or an early season aberration or both, but they should be better than this.
In defeat Wednesday night, there was some encouragement on that front. Starter Ryan Vogelsong, roughed up in his first two starts, limited the Brewers to three runs over seven innings.
"Still not perfect, but today was definitely better," Vogelsong said.
Offensively, however, the Giants seem to be in the appropriate neighborhood. They are fifth in the league in runs scored. Last year, they were sixth.
Whatever they are doing offensively this year, they are doing it with 2012 National League MVP Buster Posey off to a slow start, hitting .213, with a .319 slugging percentage.
When it was suggested to Vogelsong that Posey was struggling, the pitcher responded: "I wouldn't say that he was struggling. He hit the ball really hard twice tonight. He just needs some balls to start falling in."
Posey did, in fact, hit the ball really hard twice. He said that in the past few days he had begun to feel good at the plate again.
"It's just a matter of keep on grinding and keep on working," Posey said.
The record says that Posey will be much better than he has been for the first two-plus weeks of the 2013 season. That same case has been made for the Giants' overall pitching. The current 9-6 record doesn't get them first place in the NL West at the moment, but it certainly doesn't offer any cause for alarm, either.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.