I watched this game in part at the laundromat, where I saw some surprising parallels with this game. I forgot to bring a dryer sheet. A quartet of Brazilian exchange students* forgot how to work a washing machine. Eventually, it all worked out okay and I went home with clean clothes and a bounce in my step (and on my shoe because Bounce is also a brand of dryer sheet, you see). Oh, and the Giants won. That's the main thing.
But they looked like they forgot how to win a baseball game. This was almost like a rough draft of "how to win", if "learning how to win" was a script or some sort of muscle memory, or whatever malarkey the grizzled vets try to push on us in the absence of interesting baseball analysis. Maybe it was getting their clocks cleaned by the Cardinals... the haze of consecutive celebrations... or just plum dumb early season cobwebs... the Giants haven't looked quite right overall, and on this particular turn through the rotation (though, if you count Vogelsong's first start, I suppose it extends back to the first turn) even more not quite right.
Madison Bumgarner walked five batters tonight. That's the first time Madison Bumgarner has walked five in a single game and -- wait, what's that? He's done it one other time? AGAINST THE COLORADO ROCKIES? JUST LAST SEASON? What manner of Mile High elwave particle manipulation is this? Oh... oh my goodness. Bumgarner walked DJ LeMahieu in that game, accounting for 7% of his career walk total. Tonight, Bumgarner walked Eric Young Jr. -- EYJR (which is the sound you make after watching someone walk Eric Young Jr.) -- TWICE. 3% of EYJR's career walk total is thanks to Madison Bumgarner.
So, yeah, Bumgarner was shaky, didn't look quite right. Like he had forgotten how to pitch a little bit. He had it all going for the first few innings and then like Cain yesterday it looked like the wheels were going to, you know, do that bad thing that can sometimes happen with wheels.
Pablo Sandoval forgot how to run the bases, though he's usually good for one or two of those Pandaboners on the bases every year.
Until the 8th inning, the Giants offense had only two base runners since the first. To be fair, the Giants offense hasn't looked quite right all year, Buster Posey especially.
And then it all clicked when it needed to, sort of how you might script it.
Another quick aside -- my dirty little secret of this entire offseason was that I both wrote off and intentionally forgot about Hunter Pence. Think he's a swell guy and he's not the worst player to have on the team, but really had no expectation of him making a big difference for the offense. Well, a booming, eye-popping three-run home run doesn't reverse my position, but it does make me see how ludicrous I was (well, let's face it, I'm pretty ludicrous even now). I still don't know how he hit that home run in LA, but I was more impressed by his shot tonight, just because of how authoritative it was. It made me think, "Oh yeah, right. Hunter Pence can be good and very useful to the lineup."
And yet another aside -- I wrote off CarGo and TuLo and DeLaRo, too, but only because I agreed with Grant's categorical banishment of the Rockies. These guys are great! De La Rosa is a known Giants "killer". Fowler had 4 home runs in six games heading into tonight and his flyout in the fifth was close enough to get my detergent encrusted hairs on the back of my neck to stand up. This game reminded me of a lot of stuff I had forgotten. Maybe remembering all this important baseball information is why I forgot my dryer sheets.
Oh right, the game.
So, the rough draft of the script I was talking about resolved in the way you'd expect. Buster Posey suddenly remembered how to activate insideoutswing.exe, which is why he's such a great force -- his power to all fields and ability to change his approach mid-plate appearance. Every player struggles, often many times over a season, and I don't think even Buster Posey is immune to the ups and downs of a swing. And we definitely know that the league isn't immune to Buster Posey when his swing is going well.
Santiago Casilla appeared to throw a two-seamer, some sort of filthy swing-and-miss pitch that Dexter Fowler (another fantastic player I and probably many others had forgotten about!) couldn't handle twice in his last plate appearance, and then Sergio Romo... oh Romo. So sweet. So amazing. So wondrous with your slider. And your slider. And the slidering slide of your sliding slider. RIP Chris Nelson. R. I. P.
*-Quick note about this quartet: three fellas and a lady. The fellas looked like: a Brazilian George Clooney, a Brazilian The Nerdy Lead Guy from Wet Hot American Summer, and a Brazilian James Van Der Beek. The lady looked like a Brazilian Janel Moloney. What was impressive about them was how they ran around the entire laundromat checking each machine and asking people how each machine worked and what made them "go" and what went "inside them" to "clean the clothing".