Centuries ago, Sir Isaac Newton wrote that, in science, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Turns out that applies to sports, too. Just ask the Giants.
Everything went right for the Giants in the closing weeks of last season and the postseason. The San Diego Padres, who had been cruising atop the NL West all season and had a 6½-game lead, collapsed with a 10-game losing streak, giving the Giants a chance to win the division.
Castoffs Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell and Juan Uribe had big hits. Cody Ross, whom the Giants claimed on waivers primarily to keep him from the Padres, got some huge hits. Andres Torres came out of nowhere with a sensational year.
In the postseason, the Giants pitchers were at the absolute top of their game, even the inconsistent Jonathan Sanchez and rookie Madison Bumgarner.
The 1962 Giants and the 2002 Giants were both better teams, but they couldn’t close the deal, both losing the World Series in seven games. The 2011 Giants had the karma, and they won.
That karma is gone now, as is Uribe. Huff and Ross are again the inconsistent hitters they’ve always been. Burrell has been on the DL. Torres has been injured — and ineffective when he’s played.
Even the pitchers have suffered, though Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain have been consistently strong. Sanchez has been injured and his old inconsistent self. Bumgarner has not had much run support, but he hasn’t been the dominant pitcher he was in the postseason last year, either.
Now, the Giants are going through a terrible stretch of injuries. Some of them were predictable, given the age and injury history of players; did anybody think Freddy Sanchez would come close to playing a full season? But most of it seems to be bad karma, balancing last season’s good karma.
Even when healthy, the Giants are a badly flawed team because of their offensive weaknesses. Their lack of power was the reason general manager Brian Sabean brought in Carlos Beltran, who is now on the DL himself, but it goes beyond that.
Most of the Giants are hackers, disdaining walks; it’s no coincidence they set a major-league record with 21 straight homers with nobody on base. Without Torres, they have no base stealers; when they get a runner on base, they’re much more likely to ground into a double play than hit a home run.
Their confidence and pitching carried them earlier in this season, as they led the majors in one-run victories. The question is: Can those factors carry them when their injured players start to return?
The schedule will help. With the Atlanta series behind them, the Giants have only six games remaining — all against Arizona — against a team with a winning record. Before they have to face the Diamondbacks, they have 12 games against the three weakest teams in the league — the Houston Astros, San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs.
But they have to beat the D-backs to win the NL West, because Atlanta seems almost assured of being the wild card. That’s possible, but it doesn’t seem probable at this point. For every action …
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.