In the last two wins against the Atlanta Braves, the Giants scored a combined 18 runs.
But we should be focusing more on the fact that the Giants allowed a combined three runs in those victories.
Pitching is the key for Giants this year, as it was in their championship runs in 2010 and 2012. It sounds simple, but, given some big games from the offense this season, some believe the offense can carry a squad that ranks 15th in baseball in team ERA.
That is the wrong assumption.
What encouraged me most in Friday’s 8-2 win, for example, was the fact that Matt Cain had his second consecutive solid outing of the season. He allowed two runs in eight innings, compiling seven strikeouts in the process. Cain’s improvement is more important than the fact that the Giants scored eight runs.
As we look ahead to Sunday’s game against the Braves, Tim Lineceum will be on the mound. As we know by now, he’s not the same Tim Lincecum who won two Cy Young awards back in 2008 and 2009. He’s allowed a combined 10 runs in his past two starts. He holds a 4.75 ERA for the season.
Lincecum’s performance moving forward, as well as Ryan Vogelsong’s, will determine whether the Giants make another run at the championship this season or fall flat.
The Giants (22-15) are half a game ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks for first place in the NL West as the Diamondbacks face the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night. Arizona ranks sixth in team ERA this season, and that is what should scare Giants fans. Former Oakland Athletics starter Trevor Cahill, second-year pro Patrick Corbin and third-year pro Wade Miley have been outstanding thus far for the Diamondbacks. Arizona also ranks a respectable seventh in bullpen ERA.
The Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies are the biggest threats to the Giants this season, due to their pitching (Colorado ranks 10th in team ERA).
If the Giants are to win the World Series again, let alone win the NL West, Lincecum and Vogelsong will have to pitch better.