RECORD: 25-14 (.641); First Place in the North Division (three games ahead of Visalia)
San Jose has managed to win despite its offense, rather than because of it. But the most recent run by the team has some wondering if that will continue.
Coming into Tuesday's game, San Jose had the eighth-best batting average (.249) in the 10-team league, and the ninth-best OPS (.673). After Tuesday the team's average dropped to .245, also putting it in line to be the ninth in the league.
The culprit has been a lack of individual performances. The team's most consistent performer in early April had been Ben Copeland, but an injury took him away from the team. When he went down, Antoan Richardson and Anthony Contreras stepped up briefly, but they have both fallen off recently. The Giants need some offense, but where will it come from?
There have been some clear under-achievers who could improve their performance. The most notable is Emmanuel Burriss. The first round pick from 2006 was given a hard push to San Jose, but Burris has not responded, batting just .165 and with an OPS of just .415. He's managed just two extra-base hits, both doubles. And he hasn't shown much inclination of coming out of the spell, has he's gone 3-for-45 in the month of May. He came into the season as one of the Giants' more promising position prospects, but he's losing a lot of heat with his performance right now.
There are other dark spots in the lineup. There's Will Thompson, who has been the team's primary first baseman this year. Thompson has never been noted for his slugging, but he's generally been a very good contact hitter, with a batting title in the Northwest League under his belt and a career .329 batting average. After Tuesday, Thompson is batting .208 with just one extra-base hit and six runs score in 29 games. Then there's catcher Adam Witter, who was one of the top home run hitters for the Giants in 2006 despite just joining the system mid-season. Witter has just one home run on the year and is batting .236. And Michael Mooney, one of the more consistent performers in Augusta last year, has been below par with a .255 batting average and a .369 slugging percentage.
The impacts of their slump were lessened by the hot streaks of others. Richardson is batting just .167 in the past week after raising his average above .350 in late April. And Contreras is batting just .225 after warming up when moved to the middle of the order to replace Copeland.
Can the slumping players recover enough to help this team? It's possible. Neither Burriss nor Thompson is definitively as bad as they've been, and there's room for improvement across the board. And there's not likely to be help from other sources. No one in Augusta is hitting well enough to earn a promotion up to San Jose, nor is there likely to be any players coming down from the higher levels. They briefly got Tyler Von Schell from Fresno, but Von Schell was sent back up to Fresno this week.
In the meantime, it falls on the pitching to keep the team in first place. San Jose's 3.15 ERA is the league best, by quite a bit. They also the lead the league in other major categories, including hits allowed, runs allowed, home runs allowed, and strikeouts. But can they keep it up?
Roster Moves:First baseman Tyler Von Schell made a appearance in San Jose, but it was made brief by his return to Fresno after just nine games. The bullpen also got a shuffle, as Dave Newton was demoted to Augusta, and he was replaced by Sergio Romo. Newton was the closer for the Arizona League Giants last season, but couldn't get into a rhythm in San Jose, with a 6.35 ERA. Meanwhile, Romo is making his first appearance of the season after a spectacular season in Augusta in 2006.
Player of the Week: Dave McKae
McKae has been the rock of San Jose's spectacular rotation, and this week was no different. He started the week with a scoreless outing against the Stockton Ports, which was short (five innings) but got a win. He followed that up with allowing just one run in seven innings against Lancaster, the top offensive team of the league. If San Jose is to keep winning, McKae's continued success will be a key.
By The Numbers: 5
On Monday, Mike Mooney threw his fifth outfield assist from right field. While his offensive output has not been up to his usual par, his arm in right field remains as strong as ever. The five outfield assists is tied for the league lead.
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