It would be the understatement of the year to say that things haven't gone according to plan for the Giants this season.
Buster Posey's done for the year, Freddy Sanchez is probably joining him, Miguel Tejada hasn't done half of what anyone hoped and the Panda's been missing for a while. Thankfully the Giants have never been about bludgeoning teams to death offensively.
It's about the pitching, which is why Tim Lincecum's recent results have caused more than a little bit of panic among the faithful. If a rogue razor were to attack Brian Wilson's face, there'd be a line of people 20 deep waiting to throw themselves into the Bay.
But would even that be enough to knock the Giants out of first place?
As the list of things going wrong keeps getting longer, so does the length of time the Giants have spent atop the NL West. Call it the confidence of a champion, a lackluster group of challengers or a combination of both, but the reasons for panic have yet to reveal themselves in the standings.
The Giants scored 24 runs over 10 games on the homestand that wrapped up on Sunday, yet they still went 6-4 and gained a game on every other team in the division in the process. Sunday's win also ended a stretch of 20 straight games without a day off. That's the kind of stretch that would devastate most teams facing a ton of obstacles, yet the Giants finished it with a 10-10 mark.
That doesn't mean the bottom still can't fall out, but that scenario seems pretty unlikely. Lincecum had a similar stretch last summer before righting himself, Sandoval is back to help the offense (and, potentially, the issues behind the plate) and all of the upheaval has revealed Brandon Crawford as a player who can help the team over the long haul. The defense is strong, the bullpen is mighty and Brian Sabean showed last year that he'll find creative ways to bolster a roster that needs a shot in the arm.
And, on top of all that, the rest of the division still needs to show that they can do what it takes to knock off the champs. The Diamondbacks have a chance to do that this week, but would you really trade teams with the deset dwellers?
It's been ugly at times recently, there's no denying that. The result still looks pretty good, however, and the destination matters a lot more than the journey when all is said and done.