If you're me, then "settling in" means making sure I've got a tall, cold drink and an open box of Red Vines before the movie starts. If you're a baseball player, then "settling in" means acclimating yourself to the competitive rhythm and flow of a sporting event staged before thousands and sometimes millions of people. To "settle in" after your team has just come off of one of its worst weeks in recent history and in a season where your arm slot is dropping and after you've already surrendered two runs when the opposing pitcher is Stephen Strasburg makes what Matt Cain did on the mound tonight all the more impressive.
This start went a long way to quell fears about the rotation. If Matt Cain Matt Cains and Tim Lincecum stays not terrible, and Barry Zito remains dominant at AT&T Park but figures out how to be passable on the road, and if Madison Bumgarner continues to do his thing, then maybe, maybe -- especially with the offense being the team's de facto strength (still hilarious to type that) -- that fifth starter situation will, as with every other team in baseball, not really be a huge deal. Mainly, though, it's just a lot of fun watching Matt Cain do his thing. In an uncertain world during turbulent times, it's nice to know there's always Matt Cain.
And he wasn't the only one to settle in tonight. Sure, Strasburg was shaky in the first couple of innings before settling in, but after a shaky April, Marco Scutaro sure has settled in to a 19-game hit streak. Now, it's not so much that Scutaro should be expected to do what he did in September 2012 and the postseason. That's absurd. It's simply that the Giants really are counting on him to, oh I don't know, put up, like, 80% of that out-of-this-world performance. That's still plenty absurd, but the fact that he's able to come through at his age and while playing a demanding position in the field really does underscore his value.
Gregor Blanco's value to the team is pretty clearly measurable (0.4 fWAR heading into tonight), but the way that he's settled in has been awesome to see. He's one of those guys who's always going to be an "extra" player, but he's proven himself worthy of a major league roster spot. Yes, we all waxed poetic last Spring Training about his marvelous OBP potential. His speed, defense, and timely hitting are what have truly brought him into the fold. Plus, White Shark is a cool nickname. Gregor Blanco didn't win tonight's game, but he saved tonight's game.
It was Pablo Sandoval who won tonight's game. It was Pablo Sandoval who stepped into the batter's box and did this:
I mean, look at that. LOOK AT IT.
Pablo obliterated that poor baseball. He made Yunesky look Yuniesky. I'm pretty sure he did damage to the bleachers. Years later, graphic novelists will use the onomatopoeia of that home run to illustrate Batwoman knocking out Lady Joker. SPWAP! ... or GRRRRRAT! ... or BAHWHOOM!
And Pablo hit that suffering from the flu. He had an IV drip in the morning and then an HR rip for a nightcap. Just what every doctor advises in the treatment of a flu. That was Pablo Sandoval's day. Can you imagine Yunesky Maya's day?
Great win against a team I assumed would walk through the Giants this year, given that the Giants were 4-9 against the Nationals the past two seasons. Now they've won a series against them with a chance to sweep tomorrow afternoon. So this post had to be a kudosfest.