The San Francisco Giants resume the second half of the season Friday night and the champs will need to play some great baseball if they want to repeat as champions. For them to reach the postseason again, there are five keys to make it happen.
1. The road has been a rough patch for the Giants this season and they will need to play much better away from AT&T Park if they want to get back into the National League West race. The Giants are 18-31 on the road, where they have been swept three times and recorded one sweep of their own. Pitching wise, they have the second worst ERA in the NL on the road with a 4.60 mark, while allowing the most runs 240 and second most earned runs in the NL with 217. They are holding the opposition to a .264 batting average. Offensively, the Giants have done quite well with 438 hits, fourth best, scored 200 runs, fifth best and producing a .258 batting average, fifth best. They still have an East Coast trip waiting for them in August with stops to Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Washington, Miami and New York. A good record and better play on the road will help the Giants chances of making the postseason.
2. The Giants will need a better performance out of Matt Cain in the second half after a surprising disappointment first half. Cain went 5-6 with a 5.06 ERA in 19 games, allowing 95 hits, 64 runs, 63 earned runs, 16 home runs and 103 strikeouts in 112 innings. The opposition is batting .226 off him. He struggled mightily in his last two starts and the Giants will have no shot of making the playoffs if Cain doesn't pitch better.
3. Buster Posey needs some help and the Giants need the 2012 World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval to get on a hot streak in the second half. Sandoval missed time with a foot injury and struggled upon his return. He batted .266 with 79 hits, nine home runs and 42 RBI's in 76 games. Sandoval finished the first half of the season with a nice series in San Diego against the Padres. He went 6-for-15 with a homer and three RBI's in the last four games and hopes to carry that momentum into the second half. The Giants need to have the combination of Posey and Sandoval clicking at the same time to tun their season around.
4. The Giants defense had its problems during the first half as they committed 66 errors, tied for third most in the NL. Sandoval led the team with 11 errors, followed by ten by Marco Scutaro and Brandon Crawford. The Giants will need to play some clean baseball and help their pitchers out by not giving the other team extra chances.
5. The Giants will need a consistent Brandon going forward whether its Belt or Crawford. Crawford ended the first half nicely, batting .293 in 11 games in the month of July, smacking 12 hits. Belt struggled in his last ten games before the All-Star break, batting .243 with nine hits in 37 at-bats. The Giants will need at least one Brandon to contribute if they want to be playing in October.
The Giants enter the second half 6.5 games out of first place and need to start playing better baseball right out of the gate. The loss of Angel Pagan has hurt the team, but this group is battle tested and knows what it takes to win at the highest level. Never count out the champs!Tags: Baseball, Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey, Marco Scutaro, Matt Cain, MLB, San Francisco, San Francisco Giants