DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 18 : Matt Cain #18 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Colorado Rockies during their game at Coors Field on Sunday September 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)
You know, for just a few bucks a person, you could send me on a much longer vacation much earlier in the year. Just throwing that out there.
There are nine games left. Back in early September, when the cynical jumped off board -- and I'm as guilty as anyone -- it was because of a scenario like this. Even if you could have ingested enough angel dust to visualize an eight-game winning streak, there just wasn't going to be a lot of time to catch up. And, hey, look at that, there isn't a lot of time to catch up.
But when the Giants fell mostly out of the race, there were still things to wish for. They were modest, achievable goals, such as an extended look at Eric Surkamp, and Brandon Belt starting (almost) every day. It's not like we were hoping Brandon Crawford would show signs that he was Chase Utley with a shortstop's glove, or that Orlando Cabrera would leave to start a career as a college football analyst, as cool as those two scenarios might have been.
So in that context, the Giants have been amazing over the past week. Belt has been playing and hitting, and whoever is in the lineup lately is hitting too. It's been encouraging at a time when encouraging isn't good enough, but it beats the absolute heck out of the steaming piles of discouraging they were serving us in August. And then there's the list of things I shouldn't care about, but do:
- don't care about win/loss records, yet for some reason it's really, really important to me for each of Cain/Lincecum/Vogelsong to be above .500.
- don't care about the Pythagorean win/loss record, yet for some reason, it would really, really make me feel better if the Giants scored more runs than they allowed for the season.
- don't care if Carlos Beltran gets hot or not -- if the Giants aren't going to make the playoffs, why should I care about the mercenary who didn't help them get there? Yet for some reason, it makes me feel better that he hit like he was supposed to, even if the hot and cold streaks weren't exactly evenly spaced.
Don't care about any of them, except for the parts where I care about all of them, and the Giants have been complying. Everything's working right now, which is sort of how eight-game streaks are supposed to go. And, heck, a four-game deficit for the Wild Card isn't completely impossible to make up in nine games. Just mostly impossible. The good news is that the Giants have three games left against the Diamondbacks. Sweeping a three-game series in Arizona is ten shades of unrealistic ... but, then, so is sweeping a four-game series in Coors Field. I don't unbelieve just yet.
Still operating under the assumption that the Giants lost too much ground in August and early September, to really make it work, of course. But if there's one thing to be thankful for it's that they got the wretched losing streaks out of the way early. Imagine if the Giants had torn off an eight-game winning streak right after acquiring Beltran, stretching their lead to eight or nine games. No one would have begrudged Giants fans for looking forward to a Phillies rematch in the NLCS. Then the losing and historically wretched offense would have been revealed to us over this past month, like a bad twist to a crappy movie. It would have been beyond miserable.
If the Giants had to have one repugnant stretch that knocked them out of the race, and one brilliant stretch that made them look like a real team, a least they did it in the right sequence. I can't imagine pulling my hair out about this team, living and dying with them. As is, it's fun again. That doesn't sound like much until you realize that the Giants could have continued down the path they were on. If they did that, they'd be the Rockies.
That doesn't seem like a lot of run right now.