1. Madison Bumgarner is skilled in the base-ball arts.
2. AT&T Park is playing like a small planet with different gravity
3. Brandon Belt is thrilling us with his renewed approach to hitting the crap out of baseballs, with a note about his nincompoopery on the bases
4. Please stick with this lineup, Bochy
The director's cut includes notes about Buster Posey's impressive batting eye, the non-Theriotmittery of Marco Scutaro, and Hunter Pence throwing weird, but we shan't have time for those.
There were a couple of different times when I was half-expecting Madison Bumgarner to fall apart. Not because I'm cynical toward anything Bumgarner-related, but because it's been happening a lot lately to every Giants pitcher. Cain, Vogelsong, Lincecum -- all of them are doing things, like walking leadoff hitters or allowing doubles on 1-2 counts. And when Bumgarner had weird things happen -- like Jordan Zimmermann leading off an inning with a hit, or Bryce Harper reaching on a bunt-fueled error -- you had that feeling of dread.
That's because it's been too long. It's been too long since a Giants pitcher took over a game, refusing to allow runners and runs alike. This is how the other half lives. They have to wait a couple of weeks between stellar outings. Maybe even months. When it happens for the Giants, it's somewhat expected. Cool, cool, that's our weekly shutout. Was waiting for that. Cool, cool.
That was a dominant outing, and it was welcome. It was tiresome to listen to people talk about the Nationals' hitters as if they were some sort of unstoppable and unspeakable juggernaut. The Nationals have a good team, but people were talking about them like …. like, I don't know. Like they were reading a scouting report that had a picture of Fabio on the dust jacket. They're a fine collection of professional baseball players, but let's not go nuts.
Bumgarner snot-rocketed them into oblivion. The cutter was cutting, the slider was sliding. The fastball was crisp, and the command was there. That was the prototypical Bumgarner start. It was fun to watch, especially after last night's grease fire.
AT&T Park played freakishly big on Tuesday night. It's not like one team got jobbed because of the park; every fly ball with a decent chance to go out came up short. It's was bizarre, the anti-Coors. It happened for the Nats, and it happened for the Giants. There were 400-foot outs all over the place.
It made me re-think those single-year park factors, at least. Maybe they're right. But I don't remember ever seeing that many hard-hit, warning-track outs in any game in AT&T's history. It makes it hard to evaluate a game like tonight. Did the Giants just win 6-2, or did they lose 9-8 in some sort of weird Sliders-like alternate reality where the fences were moved in?
Occam's Razor suggests that Madison Bumgarner is good, and I'm sticking with that.
Let's all agree on the following:
It's bullshit for a player -- any player -- to watch a ball and expect a home run at AT&T Park. The walls are 490 feet in every direction. There are alligators swimming around where the warning track should be. Electric fences. Your ball is probably not going out. Think you hit it hard, think it has a chance to go? No. Probably not. You'll learn. Run, Brandon. Ruuuuuunnnnnn.
The really, really important part is that Brandon Belt is hot as heck, squaring things up to the opposite field, and knocking the ball around to all fields. I expect Belt to stop getting thrown out on the bases. Like, tomorrow. But I'll also expect him to keep hitting for the foreseeable future. That's the important part because this lineup is a different entity with a productive and healthy Belt. It's so, so much better. He looked like he was wearing a giant papier-mâché mask of Nixon at the plate in July, stumbling around and swinging at everything, never a crook.
Things got better.
The nincompoopery on the bases has likely ended already. A stern Bochy talkin' will do that. The hitting should continue for a view years, if all goes well. That's the big news. You can see how Brandon Belt can help a team, a playoff push, and a championship contender. It's surreal when he gets in one of these hot streaks.
I suppose the really big news tonight is that my word processor autocorrected "nincompoopery", so apparently that's a real word.
This is the lineup. Pence hitting sixth. Sandoval fifth. Buster cleanup. Melky third. Scutaro in the #2 hole. Remember when Angel Pagan took a few rips at cleanup earlier this year? No. No, we don't. Look at this lineup. There's a switch-Posey-switch middle of the order that should tie the other team in knots. Scutaro hitting second, ably replacing the second baseman the Giants thought they were going to have for some reason.
It's not a bad lineup, and it knocked the NL's ERA leader out before the end of the sixth. The Giants scored six runs. Well, I'll be.
This is the lineup for the next two months. i'll pay you five dollars, Bochy. I'll pay you in quarters, singles, and five-dollar bills. Just keep Scutaro at second, and the rest of the lineup as-is. It should work, dang it.