Sports column: Giants slump persists

Back-to-back World Series titles in the 20th century have not been the norm in modern baseball, and the San Francisco Giants for the second time in four years are experiencing that once again. The Giants early in the season had been in contention for a division title, but a prolonged slump that began around the beginning of July has dropped the Giants to the cellar of the National League West (51-63). But when looking at even two of the Giants issues, it’s a wonder they aren’t in the cellar of the National League (Miami Marlins, 43-70).

Ryan Vogelsong is an athlete who has fallen from grace, risen back up to the high of his sport, and has fallen once again. In 2012 he went 14-9 with a respectable 3.37 ERA in 31 games, along with 158 strikeouts (all stats for MLB games provided by the San Francisco Giants website). Before the 2013 season though, Vogelsong elected to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic (WBC), which required him to train earlier than the rest of the Giants pitching staff. In the WBC, Vogelsong went 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA in 2 games, along with 5 strikeouts (WBC stats provided by ESPN).

Entering the 2013 regular season though Vogelsong hit the wall, hard. He went 2-4 with a 7.19 ERA before begin placed on the disabled list in May with a broken hand. He is expected to return to the major leagues on Aug. 8 when the Giants host the Orioles. When asking fans, they all had a similar reply  to fan Craig Mac: “No, in theory, he should be able to play all season.”

Another glaring problem of the Giants is the lack of an established, top-of-the-order hitter. The Giants started out the 2013 season with Angel Pagan batting No. 1 in the order, but once he went down with a left hamstring strain for longer than the Giants expected, the Giants have had juggle players to get production at the leadoff spot. Andres Torres, Marco Scutaro, Hunter Pence and Gregor Blanco have all been bounced up to the leadoff spot in order to try to spark the Giants offense. Mac said, “Pence, but he is needed at the 5 spot.”

Other fans, like David Potter and Rich Torres, chose the player with average over power, both replying with Scutaro, who sparked a title run last year, but that was 2012. The pitchers were on their game, and the offense had its spark already lit when had arrived; he just added more fuel. Giants fans might not be seeing a scene like Scutaro praising the rainfall in October this year.