Injuries, poor hitting combine to doom season

Injuries, poor hitting combine to doom season

Injuries, poor hitting combine to doom season
PHOENIX -- Under the circumstances, this year's Giants shouldn't be branded as failures for not reaching the postseason.

If anything, they should be remembered for their ability to remain mathematically eligible for playoff contention into Game No. 158 on Saturday, when they fell, 15-2, to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

San Francisco's fourth defeat in five games erased the Giants from the National League Wild Card picture, one day after Arizona eliminated them from the National League West race. Since moving to San Francisco in 1958, the Giants have never won division titles in consecutive years.

For much of the season, the Giants appeared destined to end that hex. They occupied first place in the West for 81 days, including 47 in a row from June 25 through Aug. 9. That occurred after catcher Buster Posey (left leg) and second baseman Freddy Sanchez (dislocated right shoulder) sustained the catastrophic injuries that sidelined them for the season. Overall, the Giants used the disabled list 25 times, with 20 different players being sidelined.

"I feel like we've done a great job to be where we are right now with all the adversity we've had to go through," left-hander Madison Bumgarner said.

Ultimately, the Giants missed the offense and leadership provided by Posey, the NL's reigning Rookie of the Year, and the all-around excellence of Sanchez, who always performs with galvanizing intensity. Other key players missed significant time, including outfielders Cody Ross, Andres Torres, Nate Schierholtz and Pat Burrell; third baseman Pablo Sandoval; and closer Brian Wilson.

This instability prevented manager Bruce Bochy from establishing a semblance of an everyday lineup. That, combined with the season-long struggles endured by Ross, Torres and Aubrey Huff -- as well as outfielder Aaron Rowand and infielder Miguel Tejada, who were released Aug. 31 -- precipitated the Giants' persistent offensive woes. They ranked last in the Major Leagues in runs scored, or close to the bottom, virtually all year.

This nullified the Giants' pitching, which remained excellent for the third consecutive year. Entering Saturday, the Giants owned a 3.13 team ERA, eclipsing last season's 3.36. "If you look at our pitching, it was a little bit better overall than last year," Bochy said.

Tim Lincecum served as a prime example. The two-time Cy Young Award winner fashioned a 2.59 ERA through his first 32 starts, down from last year's 3.43. Yet he possessed a 13-13 record, mainly because his teammates scored two or fewer runs for him in 20 of his outings.

"Those catch up with you. I don't care how well you're pitching," Bochy said.

The skipper then pondered another pitching statistic: wins. "It's pretty amazing we don't have anybody in the top five or 10. But they can't control that," Bochy said. "It's run support."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.