We got all of the "YOU KNOW, BASEBALL IS A FUNNY GAME, AND YOU CAN'T TAKE GAMES AGAINST BAD TEAMS FOR GRANTED" out of our system? Good, good. We don't have to be polite and superstitious about these series anymore. Those teams were terrible.
The Astros are next-level bad, and the Cubs are just kind of bad, so it's not right to lump them in together. But it added up to six games against teams the Giants should beat. The loss on Friday was like a kickback to the baseball gods -- something to make them look the other way. The rest of the road trip went the way it was supposed to, and it feels good to admit it. The Giants needed to win four of six to avoid general apoplexy and conniption fits. They needed to win five of six to think, yeah, that's about right.
The best part: By the time the Cubs series was over, I wasn't worried about the Giants playing bad baseball anymore. It's probably a bit too reactionary or cynical to suggest they played bad baseball in Houston, but they certainly didn't play confidence-inspiring baseball. They didn't go in and pick their teeth with a team that could lose 110 games this year, though. It was one of the least-decisive sweeps I've watched in a while, and if it was followed up by a series loss to the Cubs, the road trip would have had a bitter aftertaste.
But they played well against the Cubs. Tim Lincecum had one of his better second-half starts, and the offense hit Cubs pitching just like they were supposed to. The things that didn't work out well -- Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner not getting Alfonso Soriano out -- aren't things I'm especially concerned about. Is it weird to be more satisfied with the Cubs series than the Astros series? Probably. I'll work on that.
I guess my main point is that the Giants needed a guy to work walks, which is why I was hoping they'd get Xavier Nady. After that, everything fell into place.
In case you were wondering, sure, there was a little sarcasm in that last line. Because the last time Xavier Nady worked two walks in the same major-league game, it was May 16, 2008. Also against the Cubs, of course. He's probably their Scott Hairston, and we have no idea.
For gits and shiggles, here was the Giants' lineup on the same day that Nady last worked two walks:
Fred Lewis - LF
Omar Vizquel - SS
Randy Winn - RF
Bengie Molina - C
Aaron Rowand - CF
John Bowker - 1B
Ray Durham - 2B
Jose Castillo - 3B
They were shut out by Gavin Floyd and the White Sox. This seemed important.
As a guy to start against pitchers like Travis Wood? I don't see a way to argue vociferously against Nady, unless you're Mrs. Christian. Gregor Blanco has been miserable against all comers for the last three months, so getting a guy with a chance to be halfway decent on one side of the platoon split isn't a bad tourniquet.
Didn't see the Nady move working out right away quite like this, though. He's worth 2 WAR to the Giants this year. I know that's not how that stat works, but the important thing is that I'm running that joke into the ground.
I'll admit that I was skeptical about Sabean trading one of the Giants' best hitters, Melky Cabrera, at the deadline for Rejuvenated Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro, and Hunter Pence, but it sure as heck has worked out so far, even if Pence isn't hitting yet.
This is something I tell myself because it feels better. I do the same thing when I look at myself in the mirror with my shirt off.