SAN FRANCISCO — We’ve been talking about this being two different teams for a full year now, but still, it’s remarkable.
The Giants were 57-33 at the All-Star break in 2016. They are 34-56 after getting swept by the Marlins to close out the odd-year first half. With essentially the same roster, they have played 23 games worse.
Hunter Pence, how is that explained?
“Baseball is crazy year to year,” he said, shaking his head. “A lot of things change. A lot of players that had good years last year have had tough years.”
That actually pretty much sums it up. Almost across the board, the Giants have been worse over the past calendar year than they were in the first three months of 2016, when they looked headed for another even-year parade.
“It’s been a tough half,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “There’s no getting around it.”
It ended appropriately. The Giants rallied to tie Sunday’s game but couldn’t get the go-ahead hit. In the 11th, Brandon Crawford’s error set up a two-run homer by A.J. Ellis. Giancarlo Stanton followed with another homer in a weekend of destruction.
The sweep was Miami’s first here in five years, continuing a theme of the first half. Others come in and get healthy. The Giants never do. Their 56 losses before the break are a franchise record, topping the 55 losses by a 2008 squad that played five additional games. This goes much deeper, too. The Giants are 64-98 since the break last year. In their franchise’s long history, they have just two regular seasons of 98 losses.
“You try to fix the hole in the dam and put your finger in it,” Bochy said, “And another one opens.”
What comes next? A four-day break and then the Giants will return to San Diego, where it all started going downhill last July. At the time, it looked like a blip for a contender. It now is clear that last year’s sweep at Petco was the beginning of something much bigger.
As players rushed off to flights, a couple said they will try to loosen up and have more fun in the second half. Even that isn’t as easy as it sounds.
“What comes first, the chicken or the egg?” Pence said, noting that you have much more fun when you’re winning.
Pence, eternally the optimist, did find a silver lining.
“The good news is it’s behind us,” he said of the first half.