San Francisco Giants have a puncher’s chance

Imagine the Giants as a fighter.

Early in the bout for 2011, they took a potential knockout blow when Buster Posey went down. They absorbed a stiff uppercut when Pablo Sandoval went on the disabled list.

But they kept punching, scoring enough late-inning victories to keep themselves ahead on points.

It was a solid right to the midsection when Freddy Sanchez went down. They took the worst of a counter-punch exchange when the Barry Zito-Jonathan Sanchez disabled list dance began.

Yet, they came out swinging at the All-Star break, only to be stopped in their tracks by injuries to Carlos Beltran and now Brian Wilson.

Their best punch, Tim Lincecum, has been compromised by poor run support. Still, as a baseball team, they have managed to score just enough to win a couple of rounds on points to still be in the fight.

The defending champs have been gallant in their resolve, giving their all, taking the fight into the late rounds, still tracking the Arizona Diamondbacks. Behind on points, maybe, but still with a slugger’s (or in this case, a pitcher’s) chance.

So imagine, if you will, just before the Giants come out of their corner of their clubhouse this afternoon at AT&T Park, Mike Murphy waving a towel in faces of each of the Giants while Bruce Bochy exorts them to give him just one more round.

Apologies for back-to-back movie references, but this has become a “Rocky” story. They might win, they might lose, but in the end it will come down to how their character holds up in a battle against all odds and injuries.

To say the Giants’ plans for 2011 have been derailed would be an understatement. And their response over the 29 games that remain on their schedule will be the story we all remember. There is talent in that Giants dugout, men who have taken skills honed since Little League to a point where they can compete against the best in the baseball world.

And now, shorthanded, bruised and struggling from the after-effects of a long, hard-fought slugfest, they wobble up off their chair in the lonely corner of the ring to slug it out with the National League West to the final bell.

The next round has the Chicago Cubs at the opening bell, but then three key encounters with the Diamondbacks.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday could feature the series of the year at AT&T Park. Will they be able to punch (or pitch) their way back into being a contender?

Who knows? Either way, the 2011 Giants have taken enough punches to the chin to become the most compelling story of the season. 

Sorry, there’s the bell now, 14th round is about to start, gotta go …

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner. Email him at tliotta@sfexaminer.com.

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