The Giants are 5½ games out. They could have been 7½ games out. That's an important distinction.
Tomorrow, they could be 4½ out.
After Sunday, they could be 3½ out.
That's better than 7½ games out. And that's the hope, now.
That's what an All-Star Break does for you. It's an arbitrary line in the sand, a New Year's Resolution that's really gonna mean something this time. Usually, it's a bunch of bunk. There's no way to turn something on and off like that. Except 13 years ago, I said, "Look, I'm done with smoking. No more cigarettes." And it happened. The arbitrary line became a life-changing moment. There have been 493 arbitrary lines since then, and none of them panned out. But that one time, it all worked.
Maybe this demarcation line will mean something. The odds are against it. But maybe. Long story short, the Giants are eventually going to give you heart disease and cancer. But maybe they're different for the rest of this season. I'll tell you what: How about the Giants just keep winning, and we'll see where it goes from there.
For the last week, I've been spouting a cynical line about how the Giants are going to win just enough to make the wrong decision at the deadline. Oh, that hilarious cynicism. Never gets old. Tee hee.
But I'm not going to lie to you. I'm sort of hoping for the Giants to win the division.
No, seriously. The Giants making the playoffs would be "rad." And if you don't believe that, try making the air-quotes with your fingers on your own. Nothing but "rad." I'm not optimistic. Don't get me wrong. But I'm less pessimistic than I was three hours ago. And, oh god, one day at a time, 110%, one foot in front of the other, it's a long season, you can't predict baseball, still a lot of baseball left, ummfffphfff.
Whatever. Good game, good win. Let the long-term meaning reveal itself when it's ready. Until then …
When the symbiote attached itself to Andres Torres in March, 2010, all he felt was a little burning on the base of his neck. The amorphous, extraterrestrial parasite attached itself, and suddenly he was the best center fielder in the world.
But the juices ran dry. Ryan Vogelsong thought he was trying out for a reality show when he came to Giants camp in March, 2011, but the symbiote became one with his neck, and he was suddenly one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Gregor Blanco woke up in 2012 with a 104-degree fever. Some ibuprofen and cold compresses saved the day, but after that night, he was the starting left fielder for a World Series team. That won. The World Series.
The symbiote was cold in the winter, shivering, not used to this winter Earth climate, so it took residence in Chad Gaudin's goatee. When the trimmer came within an inch of the goatee, the symbiote awoke from its slumber, and dove into Gaudin's ear without thinking.
And here we are.
The difference between Chad Gaudin the minor-league free agent and Chad Gaudin the guy the A's, Rays, Yankees, Padres, Nationals, Cubs, Marlins, and Blue Jays thought would help is nothing more than a little bit of control. He's had league-average everything across the board, except for his control. There were always more walks than he could handle. That's why he bounced around so much.
Since becoming a starter: nine walks in 41 innings. Which is a small sample. A six-walk outing in five days would change all this fuzzy talk. But if he can really avoid the fourth ball like a normal pitcher, he's a valuable commodity.
A batter into his return from the disabled list, Santiago Casilla walked the bases loaded to get to Paul Goldschmidt. I don't know about you, but I did a rail of Tony's Creole Seasoning and laughed and laughed. At this point, you're a masochist if you do anything else.
Casilla got Goldschmidt. He looked okay. And it's times like these where it's worth remembering that losing an eighth-inning guy doesn't just hurt the eighth inning. It pushes everyone ahead. The guy cleaning lettuce who shouldn't be near the french fries is suddenly dicking around with the french fries. The guy on the french fries who's never microwaved a hamburger patty in his life is suddenly sticking them in the toaster. There's a domino effect.
Casilla back where he belongs is a good thing, even if he's still as shaky as ever. It was a promising outing (with a promising slider, really). More of that would be welcome.
Quirky thing about the Giants right now: The only differences between this roster and the ideal roster I had in mind before April are:
- Jake Dunning is on the roster instead of Ryan Vogelsong
- Jeff Francoeur is on the roster instead of Cole Gillespie
Edit: Forgot about Pagan. Guess that means Francoeur gets the axe in my ideal roster. A SACRIFICE I'M WILLING TO MAKE FOR THE GOOD OF THE TEAM, I SUPPOSE.
The first one is an injury thing, and as much as I like to panic about Francoeur, he's at least comparable to Gillespie. Probably better. The only difference is that Gillespie didn't get 2,000 at-bats over several years to prove how unsuitable he was for the job.
Other than that, everything's cool. Sandy Rosario's up. Tony Abreu is the second infielder. Guillermo Quiroz is the backup catcher, and Hector Sanchez can ply his trade in Fresno when he's healthy. Kensuke Tanaka is flipping balls hither and thither. It's a decent bench. The bullpen shouldn't be bad. The lineup isn't as discouraging as it has been in years past, and the rotation should be a positive instead of a negative.
Win, dammit. Win.