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Giants midseason report: Optimism abounds despite slump

The SportsXchange

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy calls his team lucky.

That is the only way he can explain how a club that lost 22 of its past 32 games somehow managed to remain one game out of the National League West lead at the All-Star break.

"We're not playing good baseball," Bochy admitted on the eve of the much-needed, four-day break. "We're know we're capable. We need to turn this around and get back headed in the right direction."

The Giants believe they have the tools with which to do so, and they should know. Not only did they win two World Series titles in the past four years, but they looked at times like the best team in baseball again in the first 10 weeks of this season, running out to a 42-21 record and leading the division by as much as 9 1/2 games.

It is possible the Giants will be 100 percent healthy to start the second half July 18 in Miami, and that is something they weren't able to say during their early run. Sparkplug second baseman Marco Scutaro didn't return from the disabled list until two days before the break.

Most important, they might get back arguably their most valuable player, center fielder Angel Pagan, for the start of the final 10 1/2-week run to the playoffs. Pagan hasn't played since June 14 because of a bulging disk in his back.

Pagan's back started to hurt during a 5-4 win over the New York Mets on June 7. He did not play the next day, then struggled through six games before being told to take some time off.

Nobody could have predicted at the time he still would be on the sideline a month later, and that the Giants would go 10-22 after that win over the Mets.

A healthy Scutaro. The hopes of a rejuvenated Pagan. The recent return of Tim Lincecum to his Cy Young Award form, and two wild-card spots to fall back upon in case the Los Angeles Dodgers successfully buy themselves a second consecutive division title.

The Giants certainly are optimistic. And why not? They should be well-rested. After all, they basically started their All-Star break about a month earlier than everyone else.
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