NL West: Giants aren’t pushing the panic button yet

Aug 18, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (15) watches the game against the New York Mets in the eighth inning at AT&T Park. (John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports)
John Hefti/John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — Bruce Bochy isn't pushing the panic button yet.

With 37 games remaining for the San Francisco Giants and the club trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers by only two games despite its recent performances, it is too early for that.

However, Bochy, the Giants manager, knows his team needs to turn things around soon.

“There's a lot of baseball left,” Bochy said. “As I said, this series is not going to determine it all, but at the same time, and how it's been going, we know we need to start rolling here and get back to who we are.”

That didn't happen Tuesday night. Bochy and the Giants performed much like the same team that has played more poorly than any since the All-Star break. San Francisco dropped a 9-5 decision to the rival Dodgers in the opener of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium.

Right-hander Johnny Cueto (14-3, 2.90 ERA) will try to help Bochy and the Giants right the ship Wednesday when he faces Dodgers lefty Rich Hill (9-3, 2.25 ERA).

Cueto earned his first win of the second half in his last start by beating the New York Mets on Friday. Cueto allowed a run and scattered eight hits in seven innings. He struck out two and walked none in an 8-1 victory.

Against the Dodgers, Cueto is 2-0 with a 3.63 ERA this season.

Hill, acquired by Los Angeles along with right fielder Josh Reddick from the Oakland Athletics at the trade deadline, will be making his Los Angeles debut. He spent the past month on the disabled list with blisters on his middle pitching finger.

“We're excited about that,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Hill's first start.

Hill last faced the Giants as a member of the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22, 2007. Although he didn't factor into the decision, Hill fanned 10 and gave up two runs on six hits in seven innings of a 4-2 Cubs win.

San Francisco (68-57) has lost three in a row and seven of its past nine games. The Giants had the best record in the majors at the All-Star break at 57-33 but have stumbled to the worst mark since then, 11-24.

Despite it all, the Giants have remained within sniffing distance of the Dodgers (70-55). Los Angeles is riding a three-game winning streak.

“I think it's going to be important we get cracking. It's been a struggle since the break for us,” Bochy said. “The record shows it, and you look at some of the numbers and some things are hard to explain, but it is what it is. That's behind us. Hopefully, something will spur us to get back to where we were in the first half.”

Roberts is as surprised as anyone regarding the Giants' struggles, but his club is benefitting.

“It's a very good team over there,” Roberts said. “And considering how they've played in the first half and the (win-loss record) in the second half, yeah it's a surprise. That just shows that every game is tough to win.”