Can Johnny Cueto regain his first-half form? (Emma Chiang/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Can Johnny Cueto regain his first-half form? (Emma Chiang/Special to S.F. Examiner)

3 things that must happen in near future for Giants’ title dreams

Are the San Francisco Giants’ struggles following the All Star Break a traditional Even Year swoon or are they indicative of future disappointment?

We won’t know for sure for some time, but with no games outside of California for the rest of August, it’s imperative the G-Men prove they’re back on track sooner than later.

With home series against the Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets (all previously heralded teams that have struggled lately) before a three-game series at Dodger Stadium, it’s hugely important for the Giants to start stringing together some series wins.

Despite dealing with a rash of key injuries, Los Angeles has stayed in the race for the division and sits just one game back as of Thursday.

If the Giants are going to recreate some Even Year magic, here are the three things that must happen in the near future:

  1. Turnaround time for Johnny Cueto: He was a top-5 pitcher in baseball during the first half, but has struggled mightily after starting the Midsummer Classic. Since then, he’s given up 3.4 runs per start and — aside from a 7.2 inning outing that was derailed late — hasn’t made it past the sixth. He’s slated to pitch the series finale against the Orioles on Sunday.
  2. New guy vs. old friend: Acquired at the deadline, Matt Moore will make his AT&T Park debut on Monday against the Pirates, and — if all goes to plan — beloved former Giant Ryan Vogelsong will start opposite him. Moore has been effective in two starts for the Giants, but he needs to lower his walk rate to sustain success.
  3. Dodgers’ regression to the norm: L.A. has overcome a lot lately, but baseball is a game of high highs and low lows, and the boys in blue have been overachieving like the Giants did earlier this season, winning several one-run games despite not hitting or pitching particularly well.

One more thing to track: The time it takes for Dodgers fans turn on former Oakland Athletic Rich Hill, who is still fighting to overcome a blister on the middle finger of his throwing hand that cost him his slotted start today.

This story has been updated. In a previous version, the writer erroneously stated that both Matt Moore and Ryan Vogelsong are lefties. Vogelsong throws right-handed.jacob c. palmerJohnny CuetoLos Angeles DodgersRich HillSan Francisco Giants

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