The Giants defeated the Astros tonight and it wasn't particularly difficult. Sure, there was some drama and a thimbleful of uncertainty added to the goblet, but the wine of victory was poured early and enjoyed in short order.
The Giants won tonight because the bullpen held on somehow (losing Clay Hensley would cripple most teams, after all). The offense continued to -- heck, let's just admit it -- shock the baseball world and disrupt the very fabric of reality. If this really is a golden era of Giants baseball, then a season where the offense carries the team while the pitching is "just enough" isn't a bad thing. It's just the way the hand was dealt this year and it's probably worth our precious time and emotion to back the bats as the reason the Giants could make it to the playoffs and excel there. "Just enough" pitching can also become "the Rangers' bats got cold at the wrong time" pitching.
So, yeah, this was a "team win", even if they're all team wins. Relief pitching, "timely hitting" by Pence, Pablo, and Arias; and, the defense had some nice plays all around. I mean, a 3-6-3 double play to end the game is pretty darned sweet.
Dude, Hunter Pence was friggin' robbed by Jimmy Paredes. That was a well struck ball which I hope like hell means he's about to resume productivity. I think it's safe to say that Grant's post from earlier today had everything to do with this sudden turnaround and not the curveball that spun right into Pence's kill zone. That pitch -- along with the changeup -- away has been Pence's undoing lately, but it needs to break away and stay way down. Tonight, though, Grant's post from earlier today changed the rotation of that pitch.
The Dodgers may not have a lot of time left for their All-Star haberdashery to be dominant, but the Giants don't have a lot of time left, either. Of course, the difference is that the Giants haven't *really* hit any sort of stride this year, but the roster's been fairly consistent, so, I'd peg their odds of coming together just in time for the playoffs as being slightly better than the Dodgers'. And, yes, that's because I'm giving some credit to the intangible category of team chemistry/unit cohesion. Starting tomorrow, every last Dodgers' acquisition could go on some unbearable hot streak until the end of the season and I will look like an even bigger idiot than usual, but in the meantime, I'll say that the Giants' continuity is probably a point in their favor going forward. Sure, they have a 3.5 game lead, too. That helps.
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Barry Zito is like getting in the shower still wearing your glasses. You forgot he was there, even though he serves a purpose, but then he gets all wet and you're ruined.
Barry Zito is like your fingernail clippings left out on the sink that then get stuck to your skin or knocked onto the floor because you forgot they were there. Clipping served a purpose, but it left a mess you forgot all about, but then there it is, all over the place, and an even bigger mess to clean up. And you'll probably have to clean it up again in a couple of weeks after they grow back.
Kruk & Kuip made a reference to the feature film Cool Hand Luke, which starred screen icon Paul Newman as a down on his luck pitcher who gets arrested and sent to jail after stealing a lot of money from his organization. He redeems himself during his sentencing by eating a lot of soft-tossed eggs and helping his fellow inmates discover their inner giants (or confidence). Then, they all escape through a Rita Hayworth poster and help yoked-out criminal mastermind secure Gotham City, I think. Barry Zito is a lot like that: entertainment.
I don't know if Barry Zito's upper back stiffness had anything to do with his pitches getting left up in the zone or if a lack of chemistry with Buster Posey had something to do with his pitches getting left up in the zone, but Barry Zito followed up his great start against Atlanta with a bad start in which he left a lot of his pitches up in the zone. Those pitches -- which were up in the zone -- were right proper crushed all over the park, like a frustrated father taking out his lack of success or virility on his son's wiffle ball pitches on a Sunday afternoon. **Quick disclaimer: in truth, the scoring "barrage" that led to his hook in the third was not really the result of his pitches getting crushed, but they were getting crushed before that inning.**
He had a bad start, but it was after a good start. Human beings can't help but look for patterns. We crave them, hunt for them, force them onto things where they don't belong, like Judd Apatow forcing "these serious adults are stoned" scenes into his films. But the pattern with Barry Zito needs to be viewed in the macro sense. His sequential starts are not the pattern/trend, his career is: he is consistently inconsistent. He's the fifth starter. You take what you can get. Tonight, he left his pitches up in the zone. He will do it again. He will throw starts like he did versus Atlanta or shutout the Rockies in Coors (LOL Dodgers), but he will also get yanked after 2.1 innings against the Astros. It will happen again.
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Tomorrow, the Giants will try to sweep a series for the first time this century.