That wasn't a game. That was a vision quest.
A guardian animal took the Giants into the woods and showed them the way of the walk. The senses went numb. The trek back was hard. Before they returned to safety, Barry Zito was standing atop a drumlin of solid marble, naked, a cape of fire flowing in the breeze. He shouted, "I'LL SHOW YOU THE LIFE OF THE WALK! I'LL SHOW YOU THE LIFE OF THE WALK!" And then there was darkness.
And when they woke up, it was Thursday, and they were making Cardinals pitchers throw strikes. The Cardinals pitchers could not.
And when they woke up, it was Friday, and they were making Athletics pitchers throw strikes. The Athletics pitchers could not.
The Giants have walked 28 times in the last four games. It's stunning. Stunning. The problem with the Giants was that they've been swinging too much at pitches out of the strike zone. They got together, held a vote, and decided that walks were swell. They were fer 'em, not aginn' 'em. Up with walks!
It's been a team-wide thing. Patience isn't about taking the first pitch. It's not about taking with a 3-1 count. It's about having a plan. First pitch: I'm looking fastball middle-away, and if I get it, I'm hacking. Second pitch, I'm looking for hanging soft stuff. Et cetera. Look, i've played a ton of MLB: The Show, so I know what I'm talking about.
No hackin'. Patience isn't about hoping hoping hoping that a pitcher walks you. It's about making an imaginary box with your brain and making sure that the cylindrical stick in your hand only passes through it. Over the last few games, the Giants have been doing it. Maybe it's a coincidence. Maybe it's a sample-size thing. But it's exactly what they needed.
If you could pick any player from the roster and magically paste the power of patience to his skill set, who would it be? Posey? Already got 'em. Pill? That'd be a nice player you'd make. But the real answer is Angel Pagan. Quasi-leadoff hitter. Plays a cromulent center -- we're spoiled by Torres, but Pagan isn't a debacle. A little power. If he only had a little patience …
It's like Pagan is setting the pace for the team. Or he listened to the same pre-game speech. Or he saw the Gregor Blanco feting and thought, hell, I can do that. Just stand there and take pitches and whatnot. Lookit me. I'm Gregor Blanco! Happy now, Boch?
Whatever the reason, it's looked like a new, focused Giants team over the past few days. I have the same knee-jerk sample-size reaction that you do, but what if this is a sea change? What if this is someone or someones grabbing the team by the lapels and saying, "QUIT SWINGING AT PITCHES THAT YOU AREN'T LOOKING FOR"?
We can dream. Before the Edlefesining, this was a game that allowed you to dream like that. Walks. More than that, though: not quick, limp outs. It was in May of 2010 that Posey came up and Burrell taught the Giants how to swing, swing. Maybe this is a different team going forward.
Link to this in a week and laugh if you must. But walks!
Zito got a standing ovation after 5⅔ and (what should have been) three runs allowed. This is how the other half lives. That's how it should be. He pitched well. Well enough, at least. Not enough to say Zito's back or make him the story of the game, but do you realize how many teams around the league would be thrilled with a near-quality start like that? Starting with teams in the American League, i mean. I'm not sure if the Red Sox have had more than a game or three like that yet.
There's nothing like a consistently okay Zito. Except for the rest of the pitching staff. But a decent Zito is found money. Except for that lost money. Dammit, now I'm all twisted around. The point is, hooray, once again, for useful Zito. People like to make Vernon Wells jokes in reference to Zito. Nah. He's been a plus this season. I'm not going to say that it's fun to watch, but it's a heckuva lot better than it used to be. Screw it, fun. Zito's been fun to watch.
Romo had one of these nights.
Brandon Belt looks good. There was this weird ebb-and-flow with the noise surrounding him. For a month the True Believers were pummeled with (possibly legit) propaganda about the hole in his swing, and when he wouldn't hit like vintage Carlos Delgado right away, the doubts would creep in. Oh, no, what if we've been lindened? What if we'll laugh about a minor-league Brandon Belt signing in 2022, after he wins the MVP of the Polynesian Islands Tabletop League?
Since the Mets doubleheader: .377 OBP. Harder contact over the past few days. Strikeouts that aren't quite as absurd. My faith was wavering too. At this point, I'm not sure why.
In a week, we'll wake up in a dumpster and the Giants will be hacking. The infield will still be terrible, and the defense will still be all, doink! And when we look back to this game, we'll wonder what there was to take away from it. What kind of thing could we have possibly taken away from it, other than the cheap high of a run-scoring anomaly?
'Twas the day we realized that 2009 Affeldt came back in a space capsule with a curve that broke six feet to save us all. I'm not sure what's modifying what in that sentence, but just know that we're saved. In a bullpen without Brian Wilson, where everyone is moved up a peg on the hierarchy, it'd be mighty sweet to count Affeldt as a net positive instead as the heir apparent to Guillermo Mota's job.
Seriously, if you're reading this and you didn't watch the game, and you think I'm just wanking to fill space, go back and watch Affeldt in the seventh inning. That's the guy the Giants thought they were signing to an extension. It was the best wait-why-do-we-need-a-setup-man-oh-crap-i-guess-we-do inning I've ever seen.
And then there was Brad Penny in extended spring training after he was released by a team in Japan, and we were like, what?
I had a note to make a .gif of the sweet 1-0 curve that Zito threw Daric Barton in the fifth, but instead, I found this: