Lots of MLB teams that ultimately make it to the playoffs and beyond have bad Aprils. But while the Chicago Cubs are looking like the Golden State Warriors of baseball, the SF Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates aren't looking like playoff teams...yet.
I haven't followed the Pirates closely but their record is just 3 games above .500. The Cubs are in first place by 7.5 games with the Pirates in second in the NL Central. The only consolation is that the Cardinals are doing slightly worse, at .500 and in third place. The Pirates were in good form Sunday, beating the Cards with their old formula of pitching and power, Andrew McCutchen is a notoriously slow starter and they've got key players returning from injuries, so they are still well positioned.
The Giants aren't in bad position either, in their familiar second spot just percentage points behind the Dodgers in the NL West. But that's mostly because LA has started poorly, and the West is probably the weakest conference in the NL. The Giants too are barely above .500 and it's not because of overpowering competition. They just aren't playing all that well.
The latest series is an example. At home against Colorado, with the Rockies' main weapon of home park power hitters somewhat neutralized, they barely managed a split. In the offseason they concentrated on bolstering their starting rotation, and their two big acquisitions are acquitting themselves well. But after Bumgarner, Cueto and the Shark, the rotation falls apart. And the relief corps remains unstable.
So the Giants tied a club record by giving up 12 runs in one inning, and about a weak later actually broke it by giving up 13 runs in one inning. In their last two games with Colorado they scored a total of 2 runs, and it took until the 13th inning to get that second run. They ran into some good starting pitching but they also did zilch against a statistically weak Rockies' bullpen. In Sunday's game they also hobbled themselves by very questionable base-running. Joe Panik saved the game with a lifetime-highlight play on Saturday, but the defense has been uncharacteristically uneven. The team also paid for perhaps trying to be a little too smart in overshifts.
It's a long season but so far it's been annoying. Losses are one thing, but even with flashes of brilliance, the team seems ragged, out of synch. And, hey, it's May.
Meanwhile the Golden State Warriors won their first two second-round playoff games over Portland without Steph Curry. Klay Thompson outscored the entire Blazers team in one quarter, very Stephlike. But in the third game (in Portland) they lost the last three quarters and the game.
Now fans wait with abated breath to see if Steph returns tonight in Portland, which seems likely, even though he's still listed as doubtful. They could win the series just by winning at home, and there's a little less pressure now that the Spurs-Thunder series is tied 2-2. But getting that third win tonight would make things so much easier.
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