If I could write the script of a baseball game, Monday night's game wasn't quite how it would go. My final draft would include wizards shooting each other with wizard staffs, hot-air balloons filled with wolverines, and the old Soundwave shooting Laserbeak out of his chest cavity to peck Shane Victorino's eyes out.
If I could write the script of a baseball game, but was confined to things that could happen in real life, that game still wasn't quite how it would go. Brandon Belt might get the hit, and Buster Posey might get the home run, but Tommy Lasorda would fall over in the third-base box after being hit with a broken bat. Also, non-transforming seagulls would still peck at Shane Victorino's eyes.
But considering the constraints of reality, the ending of Monday night's game against the Diamondbacks was pretty darned close to perfect. Posey ties the game, Andres Torres scores the winning run, and Belt gets the winning hit. That's a triumvirate of good fuzzies, right there. I'll just pretend that Cody Ross was flashing the signs to the Giants bench the whole time, and everything ties together in a neat little package.
Even though Posey's hit is the biggest reason everyone around here is in a good mood right now, we'll start with the Belt angle. The gangly, perennially screwed-with first baseman is kind of the king of making you look stupid when you defend him too vociferously. When he's unlucky in the early part of the season, your initial instinct might be to mention this unfortunate spot of bad luck. After which, he'll swing through 32 back-foot sliders and front-door sinkers, usually while you're watching the game with the person who takes especial pleasure in belittling Belt.
And then, just as you're starting to believe in Belt's bad press, he'll do something like this. Belt won the game with an opposite-field approach against a tough left-handed specialist. You might not know Tony Sipp because he's been on the Indians for years, but he's pretty tough on lefties and righties alike. It wasn't an injured Brad Penny up there.
When Bruce Bochy sits Belt against left-handers right now, I think it's done more out of a sense of paternalism than out of the fundamentalism of a platoon-mad skipper. Belt started against Clayton Kershaw on Opening Day, after all; a strict platoon fetishist wouldn't dream of doing that. But as Belt started struggling, left-handed pitchers became an easy time to give Belt a breather, an off day. Get his head together. You need a beer, grab a beer.
If Belt waves through three Sipp sliders, it's not like he would have been benched forever and ever. He would have started against Ian Kennedy. But if he went 0-for-4 in that game, maybe he doesn't start against the next lefty. Or the next one. Or the next one. Soon it really would be a strict platoon, which would be funny, seeing as the other half of it would be a shortstop who isn't really that good of a hitter. That's not really ha-ha funny. More of a wag-your-finger kind of funny. Oh, you. Got us, universe. Got us good.
Instead, Belt (hopefully) bought himself some more at-bats against lefties. That was probably Bochy's plan the whole time -- build his confidence up. Get him going again, get him believing again. You need a beer, grab a beer.
Heck, it's never a bad time to drop one of these in a Belt-fueled win:
You wouldn't like those things when they're angry. Or, at least, not so slumpy.
The Giants have as many walk-off hits this season as they did in the entire 1991 season. Don't take this for granted. These walk-off hits ... they're fun, man. Belt was the first left-handed first baseman with an animal nickname to hit a walk-off before the All-Star Break since Mike "The Spiny Echidna" Ivie in 1981.
But for all the deep-tissue massages that Belt gets around here for the walk-off, yeah, it was really a Buster Posey game. David Hernandez is a dirty reliever, and Posey didn't take a hanger out of the park; he drove a middle-outside pitch to dead center. One of these days I'll get around to ranking the best swings in baseball. Even after adjusting for the fanboyism, Posey has to be the right-handed #1 seed.
The history of Giants walkoffs is neat and all, but you know what gets neglected around here? The great eight-inning home runs. Those are the deep cuts, the B-sides. The Giants had two in 2012 on back-to-back days in Philadelphia -- one from Melky, one from Schierholtz. Hunter Pence's biggest (only?) hit last regular season came in the eighth inning against Colorado. Schierholtz had a good one against the A's in 2011.
The best season for eight-inning homers, though, was 2010. Andres Torres had one that helped the Giants finally win a game against the Padres, and Pat Burrell delivered one of the first Jonathan Broxton fatalities. Eight-inning home runs are the best.
Posey's ranks up there with the recent lot, especially because he was HIT IN THE THROAT BY A BASEBALL earlier in the game, which is something that would make me call in sick for the next week. We were a couple days away from pepper spraying people who asked what was wrong with Posey. Because Posey is benevolent and merciful, it didn't come to that.
You ever play the first-pitch game? That's where you look at the first pitch that a starting pitcher throws, and extrapolate whether or not it's going to be a good game from there. Ryan Vogelsong threw a 91-m.p.h. sinker on the fringes of the outside corner on the first pitch of the game. That pitch could be a chapter in the book about Vogelsong's comeback. Just make a GIF and tape it to the page. Chapter 8: This pitch.
Except it didn't really work out that well. Vogelsong didn't pitch all that poorly -- again, pitcher home runs don't count -- but he wasn't as dominant as the first pitch indicated he could have been, especially with a silly-wide strike zone.
It's almost as if the first-pitch game is a metaphor for April stats and standings. Might mean something. Probably doesn't. You'll figure it out with hindsight.
Say, I guess Cody Ross really is annoying when he's not on your team.