Another loss — a 4-2 setback to the Washington Nationals on Tuesday — has put the San Francisco Giants on an historic path.
A historic path of the worst kind.
The loss dropped the Giants to a .441 winning percentage on the season. That prorates to a record of 71-91 on the season. It would match the Giants’ worst season since going 71-91 in 2007, Barry Bonds’ final season with the Giants.
If the Giants lose 92 games this season, it would be their worst season since going 68-94 in 1996.
But when put into context of defending World Series champions, it gets really bad.
When it comes to follow-up seasons for World Series champions, the 1998 Florida Marlins set the gold standard with their 54-108 season. The Giants only need to win three more games to surpass that season.
After winning the 1997 championship, the Marlins traded away players like Kevin Brown, Al Leiter, Moises Alou, Devon White, Jeff Conine, Robb Nen, Ed Vosberg and Dennis Cook in the offseason. They would trade away Gary Sheffield, Charles Johnson, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich and Felix Heredia during the 1998 season.
In the Nen trade with the Giants, the Marlins received in return Mike Villano, Joe Fontenot, Mick Pageler. So it’s no wonder they lost 100-plus games in 1998.
By contrast, the Giants kept the bulk of their 2012 championship trophy together for 2013. So they won’t challenge the 1998 Marlins. But they are right on course for the second-worst record by a defending World Series champion.
Presently, that honor goes to the 1991 Cincinnati Reds, who went 74-88 (.457). To finish ahead of the Reds, the Giants only would have to go 23-21 the rest of the way. If the Giants finish 75-87, they would also surpass the third-worst mark by a defending champ, the .460 mark of the 1918 Chicago White Sox (57-67).
On more win would put them ahead of the 1932 St. Louis Cardinals. Another win and they slide past the 1986 Kansas City Royals and 1967 Baltimore Orioles.
In all, 15 defending World Series champions have failed to post a winning record in their encore season. For the Giants to avoid becoming the 16th team, they would have to finish the season 30-14.
The most likely scenario is somewhere in between. So here is the list of the worst records of defending World Series champions, along with (in parenthesis) the record the Giants would require in their final 44 games to surpass that mark.
- 1998 Florida Marlins 54-108 .333 (3-41)
- 1991 Cincinnati Reds 74-88 .457 (23-21)
- 1918 Chicago White Sox 57-67 .460 (23-21)
- 1932 St. Louis Cardinals 72-82 .468 (24-20)
- 1986 Kansas City Royals 76-86 .469 (25-19)
- 1967 Baltimore Orioles 76-85 .472 (25-19)
- 2003 Anaheim Angels 77-85 .475 (26-18)
- 1994 Toronto Blue Jays 55-60 .478 (26-18)
- 1989 Los Angeles Dodgers 77-83 .481 (27-17)
- 2007 St. Louis Cardinals 78-84 .481 (27-17)
- 1919 Boston Red Sox 66-71 .482 (27-17)
- 1961 Pittsburgh Pirates 75-79 .487 (27-17)
- 1983 St. Louis Cardinals 79-83 .488 (28-16)
- 1964 Los Angeles Dodgers 80-82 .494 (29-15)
- 1965 St. Louis Cardinals 80-81 .497 (29-15)
The San Francisco Giants officially listed their starter for Sunday’s game in Tampa Bay as “TBA.”
Sunday is Barry Zito’s turn in the rotation.
Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweeted: “Not a good sign for Zito. … Chances of Zito pitching that game … not good.”
Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea chimed in with: “We might have (seen) Barry Zito’s last start as a Giant.”
MoreSplashHits remains completely baffled as to why the Giants didn’t use Monday’s off-day (not to mention last Thursday’s) to skip Zito’s turn in the rotation.
Then they could have given Zito some time in the bullpen to work on his delivery, while Chad Gaudin, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner pitched in Philly and Tim Lincecum, Zito and Gaudin pitched in Tampa.
Instead, they said the ONE GUY who has been terrible on the road and make him the only pitcher to be slated for two starts on the six-game road trip.
Now, they find themselves looking for a replacement starter possibly on Sunday.
So what are the options?
Ryan Vogelsong: Vogey made his second rehab start after his long DL stint with a broken finger Tuesday in Richmond. That would put him on pace to pitch Sunday. But manager Bruce Bochy said Vogey will remain on his original rehab schedule, which is to pitch Sunday for Double-A Richmond. If all goes well, he will return to pitch for the Giants on Aug. 9 at home against the Orioles … in Zito’s spot in the rotation.
Guillermo Moscoso: The Giants acquired Moscoso from the Cubs a week ago just for this situation. Moscoso, 29, was 7-5 with 3.93 ERA in 17 starts for the Cubs’ Triple-A team in Iowa. He had a shaky debut for the Giants in relief of Zito on Tuesday. He gave up a single, intentional walk and hit batsmen before escaping without giving up a run in the fourth vs. the Phillies, set down the side in order in the fifth, then gave up another walk and a two-run homer in the sixth.
Eric Surkamp: Zito could develop some mysterious ailment that would prompt a trip to the DL — or he could be DFA’d — creating a roster spot for Surkamp. Surkamp struggled in his first big-league start since Tommy John surgery, giving up seven runs in 2.2 innings vs. the Reds on July 23. Surkamp was optioned to Fresno on July 24, meaning he needs to stay at Triple-A for 10 days. That period would expire Saturday, allowing the Giants to recall him to start on Sunday. In his first start back at Fresno, Surkamp gave up one run on three hits over seven innings on Tuesday, putting him right on pace for a Sunday start.
Pray for rain: Rain is the forecast Thursday in Philadelphia. The two teams will wait out for a window to play for as long as possible as Thursday’s game is the last scheduled in 2013 between the two teams. But if the game is postponed, then Cain starts Friday in Tampa, followed by Bumgarner and Lincecum. That would give the Giants the option of pitching Zito on Monday in San Francisco against the Brewers, where he’s had more success.
And so ushered in the Roger Kieschnick era.
Kieschnick singled in runs in his first two major league at-bats, finishing the night 2 for 5 and included a nice grab in left field as the Giants snapped a five-game skid with a 9-2 win at Philadelphia.
It’s been a long road to the majors for Kieschnick, a third-round pick in the 2008 draft that included Buster Posey (first round), Conor Gillaspie (sandwich pick), Brandon Crawford (fourth round) and Eric Surkamp (sixth round).
Injuries have stunted Kieschnick’s progress through the minors. After hitting .296 with 23 home runs and 110 RBI for Class A San Jose in 2009, he spent two injury-filled seasons with Double-A Richmond in 2010 and 2011. He was off to a solid start in 2012 with Triple-A Fresno and might have earned a call-up to the majors, but he injured his wrist while crashing into a wall while trying to run down a foul ball, effectively ending his season.
He was hitting .273 with 13 HRs and 56 RBI for Fresno this season before getting his first call-up on Monday. He made his debut on Wednesday.
Here’s how Kieschnick’s debut matched up with other MLB debuts for players on the current Giants’ roster who made their debut as a Giant.
- Sept. 11, 2009 vs. Dodgers — 0 for 1, 1K, entered game in eighth inning
- Sept. 25, 2009 vs. Cubs — 0 for 3, 2 K
- March 31, 2011 at Dodgers — 1 for 3, 1 BB, 1 K
- May 27, 2011 at Brewers — 1 for 3, 1BB, 1 HR, 4 RBI (grand slam)
- Aug. 14, 2008 at Astros — 0 for 3, 1 RBI, 1 SF
HECTOR SANCHEZ (currently on DL)
- July 15, 2011 at Padres — 0 for 0, 1 BB, entered game in ninth inning
- Sept. 10, 2011 vs. Dodgers — 0 for 2, 1BB.
- Sept. 6, 2011 at Padres — 1 for 3, 1 HR, 2 RBI