The road to a possible World Championship repeat has been a rocky one for the San Francisco Giants. The competition is stiffer, the stakes are higher, yet the team still hasn't got it going in the dog days of summer. The bane of the Giants existence in 2011 has been their injuries, from major, season ending injuries, to smaller more delicate injuries keeping the playmakers off the field and the team constantly searching to get comfortable.
Obviously there was Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez going down for the year; two staples in their 2010 championship run. That's going to be tough to get over. But other, smaller injuries have added up as well, like Miguel Tejada's abdominal strain and Timmy with the stomach flu; all seemingly small problems which add up, causing players to get out of their routines and have the team constantly playing catch up. But it gets much worse than that.
Most recently the amount of injuries being accrued by the Black and Orange is almost laughable. Pablo Sandoval hurting his foot, Sergio Romo with a sore elbow, Andres Torres back on the DL, Brian Wilson and his lower back, and the most glaring injury of all, Carlos Beltran's nagging wrist. Pablo has been the team's most consistent player, and if he loses time the team's chances of losing go up. Torres' injury turns the leadoff spot into a question mark. Wilson's back very well might have cost the team the game on Monday against the Braves, while Romo's absence throws the dynamic of the bullpen all out of whack. Beltran's wrist is the most disturbing of the team's lastest wave of injuries for multiple reasons; they payed a lot of money to essentially rent him for the rest of the year, and doesn't do anybody good sitting on the DL (possibly). And it certainly doesn't help out tag of being injury prone either.
Let's not forget the most recent injury to Barry Zito's foot down in Fresno, and the ongoing saga of Pat Burrell and Mark DeRosa's injuries as well. These guys played important roles along the way in 2010, even if Zito didn't make the postseason roster and DeRosa missed almost the whole year. They still were mainstays in the clubhouse and did their part to help out.
All of this went on during arguable the toughest stretch the Giants have all year. Multiple series with the Phillies, hosting contenders like the Pirates and Reds, a road trip down to the muggy south to play the red hot Atlanta Braves. This is the time that the team should be playing some of it's best baseball of the year, but instead is constantly having to put their finger in the dam only to watch it spring a leak somewhere else.
The ripple effect shakes the team from the clubhouse all the way through the farm system. The signings of guys like Beltran, Jeff Keppinger and Orlando Cabrera change the team dynamic and how Bochy decides to use his players (i.e putting Nate Schierholtz in LF where he never played, ever). Brandon Belt being yanked back and forth between the Show and Triple-A, never getting accustomed to being an everyday MLB player. Taking guys like Brandon Crawford out of Double-A to be the starting shortstop for a while. These things take guys out of their comfort zones, even those who aren't injured, and it isn't good when your team is trying to settle in still in the middle of August.
Yes these guys are professionals and injuries happen, I know. All these guys have dealt with things like this before. You have to play the games and there's no point in crying over spilt milk, and the team has still fared very well with the amount of setbacks they've had this year. But either the Giants players have the worst Karma ever, the baseball gods are pissed at San Francisco, or blind, stupid luck has reared it's ugly head far too many times this season.
The Giants' final stretch includes 31 of their final 41 games against teams currently under .500 in the standings, and a majority of them coming at AT&T Park. They are undoubtedly going to have to win the NL West to make the playoffs, as the Braves have all but have a stranglehold on the NL Wild Card as of now. The Black and Orange aren't only going to have to beat their competition, their going to have to get past the injury bug, get everybody healthy, and get back to their winning ways that carried them to the mountain top last year.