People always talk about what they'd do if they could travel through time. Dictators would be assassinated. Lottery numbers would be squirreled away. Those are all adorable plans. I'd go back in time and take a body part from the guy who came up with the idea for 154 games. And then I'd travel forward in time and show the body part to the guy who came up with the idea for 162 games.
Because this season is too damned long. I thought I knew what the Giants were. I was comfortable in this knowledge. They could pitch, but they had problems hitting. Forever and always. It was simple -- a nice, organized world view. I had the answer three or four weeks ago. Apparently it was wrong, but it's not like I'm going for accuracy here. I want clean storylines.
The last time I felt this uneasy about the Giants' pitching, the following players were pitchers on the team: Keiichi Yabu, Geno Espinelli, and Osiris Matos. Kevin Correia had a 6.05 ERA in 110 innings; Brad Hennessey had a 7.81 ERA in 40 innings. Matt Palmer started three games. Then 2009 came and went … 2010 … 2011 … the first half of this season … the Giants were the Giants were the Giants. Sometimes they jiggered with the control knobs to turn the hitting up or the pitching down, but the paradigm was pretty simple. No hit. Just pitch.
Now I don't know what to make of this team.
Can they pitch? Sure seems like there are a bunch of tired arms in that rotation. Or unlucky arms. Or, hell, I'm not going to pretend to have the answer. All I know is that a couple of months ago, the Giants had a freaky-long scoreless streak going on, and now it seems like there isn't a pitcher on the staff who can get out of the first inning without allowing a two-out, run-scoring hit.
Can they hit? Well, they were doing it there for a while. Over the last week, they've had a few comeback wins, and they piled up the runs. I even had a little faith that it was going to happen again in the seventh before Ryan Theriot terminated the rally with extreme prejudice. When Brandon Belt contributes, I can con myself into thinking this is a decent, worthwhile lineup.
But when you watch a game like tonight's, you get the fear. What if they pitch like this and hit like the team we were expecting? It'd make the Red Sox' collapse last year look like a gallant, hard-fought charge to the finish line. A Giants team that can't pitch shouldn't win. We've been blithely ignoring that simple fact, sated with this newfound offensive competency.
So the only option is to pitch better, dammit. The runs will come and go, and the Giants will get cahilled every now and again, but that's okay. That's what we were expecting. It just can't happen when Madison Bumgarner gives up four runs and the Jean Machi experiment is melting test tubes and graduated cylinders.
Bumgarner didn't pitch that poorly tonight. Feels like I've spent all season making excuses for Giants pitchers, but I guess there's no stopping now. A better fielder in left and some quicker third outs, and it was a typically stellar outing. Or, what used to be typically stellar. Don't even know anymore. This season's too damned long. Come back, familiar Giants.
Here's a visual representation of what it was like to watch this game:
There was a bit of a brouhaha in the game tonight -- a fracas, a hubbub, a real katzenjammer. John McDonald got caught between a head-first slide, a feet-first slide, and not sliding at all. Pablo Sandoval thought he was trying to plow through him like a catcher. There were words and belly bumps. The belly bumps were one-sided.
Through it all, Matt Williams was keeping the peace. I figured that would be the perfect time for him to tear off his Diamondbacks jersey, reveal a "LET TIMMY SMOKE" shirt underneath, and hit Kirk Gibson with a chair. Williams would high-five Bruce Bochy, and pandemonium would ensue.
That didn't happen.
Later in the game, the cameras cut to Will Clark in the dugout, in uniform, talking with Madison Bumgarner and giving him the crazy eyes. And that made the scenario up there seem kind of pathetic. Instead, it was better to picture Williams jawing at Pablo and pushing him back. Suddenly, everyone in the scrum would look up to see Will Clark, standing on the top of the dugout rail like it was the top turnbuckle. He'd be making those same crazy eyes, staring right at Matt Williams. And Clark would leap into the air ...
Yeah, that was a better scenario.
I think I"ve seen Matt Williams in a Diamondbacks jersey one too many times by now. Pretty sure I'm done with him. Sweet memories, Matty. Thanks for the Kent, and may the next 76 runners you wave in get thrown out by 15 feet.
Another day off the calendar, another day the Dodgers don't gain any ground. That's not a small thing. It sure would have been cool to be 6.5 games up going into the weekend series, but let's not pick too many nits.
Alright, a few nits.
Damn you, nits.