One step at a time, but it could be two steps forward, one step back
Well, the Giants accomplished the first step of their journey towards respectability: they beat the Braves 5-4 to move into a tie for third place with the D-gers, 8.5 games back. They have been in 4th place for too long now. The D-backs are now 3 games ahead of them in 2nd place.
However, it will be hard for the Giants to stay in 3rd (the one step back part) as they face Smoltz tomorrow whereas the D-gers face Lidle and Lieber the next two days, much easier competition than Smoltz. Plus the Giants have not been hitting well against RHP, hence Sabean's stated wish to obtain a LH bat for the lineup (Sanchez does not count...). The one good thing is the Phillies are hot right now, winning their 6th of 7 games Tuesday against the D-gers, so you never know, they could sweep the D-gers for us and leave us alone in 3rd place.
Incredible that Felipe batted Matheny 5th today, the way he has been hitting this season, I'm surprised he didn't get batted higher, sooner, especially given Durham's struggles with hitting with runners on this season (and chronically throughout his career). But 5th? Is Feliz struggling that much? Then again, Matheny already has 9 homers, not far behind Feliz.
As maligned as Alfonzo and Grissom have been by certain fans (and yew know who yew are), when they rejoin the team, the team will be relatively healthy (besides Bonds) for the first time since Alou went out with his calf problem (why couldn't he just aggravate it in spring training and be done with it? :^). They may give the team an offensive boost (especially given Ellison's falling back to the mean, and I do mean mean) that will help the team win more frequently, assuming the pitching staff keeps pitching well (and that Walker can stay the closer, he just blew his second save in a row; hopefully he can hold on until Benitez returns, which right now sounds like it might be early to mid-August, much ahead of schedule).
If, if, if... sad when you are reduced to a number of ifs when viewing the season. But the Giants are not in horrible shape right now (just not good), though they still need to keep the momentum going and hopefully catch up with the D-backs by the end of the month (there goes an "if" again). After the Braves leave, the Giants then play Florida, the Cubs, and the Brewers, all .500 teams. If the Giants pitching can continue to do well, the Giants could come out these games with a winning percentage and gain some ground, hopefully, on the 'Dres and the D-backs.
I know there are fans who say what's the use of making the playoffs, we'll get drubbed in the first round, but I believe in the randomness of the playoffs the way it is run, all you need are a few hot players to get you over the hump each series, and you could be in the World Series. And we Giants have been the unfortunate recipients of underdogs coming in and beating us.
So we know that the Giants, if they should make the playoffs, could play the same role, especially if Bonds ever returns this season and if we can get a hot rookie carrying us, like F-Rod did the Angels (hello Matt Cain! :^). And frankly, we were the underdogs in 2002 and yet went the furthest any Giants team has ever gone to winning the World Series since I became a fan. So you really never know.
And maybe Sabean can get the Giants some help via a trade of a AA/A level prospect, a blockbuster trade that gets us players who are young and ready to do well and help in the pennant drive. One can dream...