The myth is busted.
Despite popular culture’s belief, the definition of the word “insanity” is not doing something over and over again and expecting a different result. But the point of the false definition itself is accurate.
Bruce Bochy understands that much.
That is why he picked up a sledgehammer, calmly cocked it back and took a few whacks at the Giants’ lineup Wednesday. The way the manager figured it, if he kept running out the same one, he would continue watching his ill offense hack up gross at-bats and leave a trail of base runners behind it.
“Right now, we got a few guys that it wouldn’t matter what kind of batting order we have,” Bochy said prior to Wednesday’s series finale against the Colorado Rockies. “With that said, I think sometimes changing things just to change them [can be good]. You’ve heard me say ‘Keep doing what you’re doing and you get the same thing.’”
On the sometimes-rare occasion, though, you get nothing different. Bochy’s lineup tweaks — sitting Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Gregor Blanco while dropping Joe Panik from second to eighth in the order — did nothing but produce more of the same feeble, inept offense the team has had over the previous six games. That led to the Giants being swept with a 4-2 loss to the first-place Colorado Rockies on Wednesday at AT&T Park, their sixth consecutive setback.
In their last seven games, the Giants have scored 10 times. They are hitting a combined .180, and they are 4-for-their-last-47 with runners in scoring position, including 1-for-7 Wednesday.
Things did look like they would change early on, though. After Colorado’s Nolan Arenado homered on a spinning 0-2 slider from Tim Lincecum, posting the Rockies to a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
But the Giants actually answered. Quickly.
Nori Aoki, the lone consistent Giant at this point, was hit squarely between the 4 and 2 on his Jackie Robinson Day jersey. A stolen base and an error moved him to third with nobody out.
Still, you’d have to forgive pessimism for peeking through the promise, for these Giants are becoming scholars in the school of stranding runners. And after Matt Duffy struck out behind Aoki, that seemed all the more plausible.
But then, with the help of a poorly placed Tyler Matzek slider, Angel Pagan introduced the ball to his bat barrel, and reintroduced the Giants to a first-inning run with a single to center, the first time they’ve scored in the first frame since April 7. Actually, the only other time it has happened this season.
Six innings later, the Giants got a second run by way of a Duffy solo homer, the first of his career.
After that, the magic was again a misplaced tangible, most likely left behind in October. And this is the point in time when we wonder if the club can ever wander back and retrieve it or if this will just be another odd-year deflation.
Is the offense good enough to prop up a rotation that has yet to clear up the uncertainty surrounding it?
Yes, Hunter Pence is on his way back from a fractured forearm, but he alone is unlikely to spin this lineup from straw to gold. And sure, Casey McGehee is going to be back in the lineup soon, but he is still a downgrade from the once-beloved Panda who used to occupy his roster spot.
Panik is now in his first full season in the majors, and no longer with the luxury of needing less than 300 plate appearances to endear himself to The City. Crawford has never been any better than league average with the bat, and Aoki will eventually return to this planet and fall into a platoon because, of course, he is not a hitter who will sustain an OPS north of .900.
These realities Bochy also understands.
He gets a few other things, too. He knows that early-season results are magnified, and if this kind of spell were cast in mid-June, it would cause little more than a whimper, and certainly not panic. He knows the Giants just completed game No. 10 of 162, or 6.2 percent of the season.
Most of all, Bochy understands these players have gone through adversity before, including in 2010, 2012 and 2014, the last time the team endured six straight defeats. Those seasons seemed to work out pretty decently for the Giants.
“Being world champions,” Bochy said. “That’s what you draw on.”