The Giants last two losses--the last of two in Houston, then the first of a 4 game set in Cincinnati--suggest why they may be a .500 team this year: without home run hitters, their margin for error is small, especially on the road.
The two games were very similar: the starting pitchers were shaky, and left on the mound an inning or a batter too many. Managerial gambles didn't pay off, there was sloppy play especially on the bases. More than anything, there was a lack of key hits with runners on base. So even though the Giants took a lead or at least a tie into late innings, the likelihood of them losing seemed pretty high.
When this team does well, they win by one run. When they are less than near perfect, they lose by one run. As they did both of these games. The difference in both--since pitching was less than stellar for both teams--was clutch hitting and especially home runs.
The Giants only home runner hitter now in the lineup is Brandon Belt, and he's been striking out consistently again, after a nice streak of hitting at home. He has yet to hit a single home run this season. Other Giants, like Posey or Crawford or really almost anyone, are certainly capable of homering in these homer-friendly parks on the road. But none are consistent at it.
Michael Moore's homers carried the Giants early last year, and he's gone. It might be awhile before Hunter Pence can be expected to return to form, even after he returns to the lineup. It's hard to see what the Giants have to offer other teams in trade for a power hitter, but they've pulled rabbits out of a hat before. Failing that, the law of averages suggests they're going to be a very good team that can't put away lesser teams, and so are always in danger of losing because of one mistake, or one whiff with runners on base. The games will still be exciting, but to get to postseason will likely take a lucky streak at the right time.
As to what's wrong with the Pirates now, I've got no clue. They've lost two low-scoring games to the Phillies. So maybe they haven't turned the corner after all.
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