June 28, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) pitches during the fourth inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE
Madison Bumgarner’s first career shutout becomes Giants history as for the first time ever the team has pitched four consecutive shutouts in a single season. Truly, our souvenir cups runneth over. We are living in a golden era of Giants Baseball, and there’s nothing the stats can report that will prove otherwise. The record of accomplishments far surpasses the Rowands and wRC+s of now and yore. Did we ever expect to see a World Series in our lifetime? A perfect game? Sweeping the Dodgers with three consecutive shutouts? Madison Bumgarner?
This is certainly an extremely successful 4-game win streak (and 6 of 7!) and it’s very easy to get greedy and maybe even outlandish and think that the team is about to go on a run, make the playoffs and win the World Series (against the Yankees AND the Rangers simultaneously, of course), but even if you remove the hyperbole and throw cold water on the hot and heavy thinking (and, perhaps, medicate the neural pathways that led to the Yankees + Rangers scenario), this is a high-resolution image (we’re talking retina scan-quality) of what the Giants are "supposed" to look like. Dominant pitching, timely hitting, and some average to above average offense from guys the organization swears are (and must constantly defend as being) "better than you think!", that’s what they’ve been trying to do since Bochy came aboard. It’s working. Marvin tap dancing Benard, it’s working.
One hit. Two walks. Eight strikeouts. 22 years old. Locked up through 2017 for a total of $35.56 million. Commence smugness.
The young leftander (I think we need to make this a word because left-hander or left hander is just cumbersome for me to type but it sounds more fanciful than "lefty") gets on the mound and becomes the story in virtually every start. As I’ve said before, he is effortlessly dominant. Even his flustered face looks like a controlled explosion. There’s just no rattling the guy. That his effortless dominance follows the rapturous constancy of Matt Cain and orgasmic stuff of Tim Lincecum is a tribute to the player development side of the organization. We are watching a historically great run of pitcher development by the Giants. This could wind up being their best stretch of success in the San Francisco era because of the pitching.
His stuff is relentless. The pitches look the same every time. It’s usually the location that gets him, but even that’s a rarity. The best way to describe him is a toy that’s ready to go out of the box, no assembly required. When he’s shaky it’s a mild surprise that doesn’t really elicit concern. With Cain you’ve got that FIPxiety in the back of your mind. With Lincecum you’ve got August 2010 and most of this season to turn the hair white. With Bumgarner it’s just expected that he’ll bounce back and be the same bearded machine we know him to be. That’s scary. That’s… unreasonable. We mustn’t think that way. That’s not how young pitchers work. They’re supposed to be horses who spook easily: we’re gonna get bucked eventually and it’s going to take more time to break them in… or else turn them to glue.
Speaking of glue, and, I suppose I should do some actual game analysis, I have no idea if the zany characters the Giants have in the clubhouse really do help the franchise maintain financial solvency, but what I do know is that it takes very little to provoke the organization’s marketing machine. So, when THE PANDA does this:
I think that means we’re in for THE ARROW. Now, I don’t know what arrow and Theriot have to do with each other. My guess on Twitter was that it was an Avengers reference, that either THE PANDA or THE ARROW liked Hawkeye the best (which is absurd). However, upon further analysis of this image, I have developed a theory:
"Ohhhh hey, I’m Pablo, but they everybody around here calls me Panda."
(Barry Zito looks up from his guitar)
"I coined it. You dig, Ry?"
"Uhh… okay. Hi, pleasure to make your acquaintance, Pablo. My name is Ryan Theriot."
"Ohhhh dooood, Ryan Tharrow, like an arrow? Pew-pew!"
(Pablo pantomimes shooting arrows)
(Barry Zito looks up from his Pablo Neruda collection)
"He coined it. You dig, Ry?"
Or maybe it was during batting practice, hanging around the cages:
"Ohhhh doooood, Theriot, you ever think your name sounds like Arrow, yo?"
"No, Pablo, I’ve never thought that. People often employ the moniker, ‘The Riot’, which is a reverse portmanteau of my surname."
"Ohhhh kewl. I’m gonna call you The Arrow now!"
(Barry Zito looks down from one of his warm up pitches that got blasted into McCovey Cove)_
"Excellent coining, Panda!"
I don’t know. This team is weird and fun and winning and dominating and they’re now in first place and that’s awesome and hooray for history!