After Ryan Zimmerman hit his three-run home run with this swing -- on a decent pitch, no less -- he went back to the dugout and did the proud I-just-dingered thing that ballplayers do, where he fought a smile, knowing that the dugout's attention was on him, but not really sure what to do with it. So he commented on the home run.
I'm not a trained lip-reader. But I can make out a "WTF" and "right field." And that's the best way to describe the game the Giants and Nationals played on Wednesday. WTF. Right field. Cut that out.
It's not fair to the Nationals to reduce their nine runs down to the vagaries of a jet stream or some ballpark quirk. They hit the ball hard against Madison Bumgarner. When Mike Morse was down 0-2 with the bases empty, he got a pitch that you'd expect with a 3-2 count and the bases loaded. Bumgarner missed in the middle of the strike zone today, and there was some strike-zone justice meted out.
But I'm not about to pretend that the game today was packed with all sorts of lessons. Things to be concerned about. Things to study. It was an exhibition, a curiosity. It was like a game with nine DHs and one-inning stints from nine different relievers. It was a game on the moon with 200-ft. dimensions. It's like a game where the other team is allowed to employ "productive middle infielders." That isn't to say the Nationals didn't outplay the Giants, because of course they did. It's just that this is a lesson-free game. Here, let's try it:
LESSONS I LEARNED ON THE FOURTH OF JULY
Madison Bumgarner sure throws a lot of strikes, and that isn't always a good thing. It usually is. But it isn't always.
I can't think of a better way to spend a holiday than expanding on that nugget of wisdom for a few hours. Bumgarner was pitching in a ballpark today that wasn't going to be friendly to hard contact. Bumgarner made some pitches that were conducive to hard contact. It was a drunk guy peeing vinegar into a rail car filled with baking soda -- it's a chemical certainty, not a surprise.
So don't get too down on the last two games. Or, hell, go into a deep, lingering, baseball-related depression for all I care. I'm not the boss of you. But it's worth remembering that today is the two-year anniversary of one of the lowest points in our collective Giants fandom.
On July 4, 2010, the Giants scored three runs in a 15-inning game at Coors Field. It was their eighth loss in nine games, and the 11th loss in 15 games. Buster Posey was removed in the eighth inning so Eli Whiteside could pinch-run. Whiteside struck out with a runner on third and one out in the 13th. He also popped out with a runner on second in the 15th and made a throwing error.
That was the day I was convinced -- utterly convinced -- that the Giants were never going to win the World Series with Brian Sabean picking players and Bruce Bochy putting them down on the chessboard. The great pitching was going to be squandered, just like the super-Bonds years were squandered. They would never stop jerking Posey around. They would never hit. Everything was rotten. Everything was broken.
And my reaction to that game makes it especially silly to go on a tirade about a less dispiriting loss two years later. I don't always play the remember-the-Giants-won-it-all card, but when I do, I bring up the Fourth of July, 2010.
Now go blow things up.