The last time a team scored 14 runs in Marlins Park? Why, the 2012 Giants. And that team won the World Series. This is what we call evidence that a comeback is just around the corner.
From the opening of Postgame Live:
Bill Laskey: Twenty-four runs, 35 hits … it was fun to watch.
Vida Blue: Wha … it wasn't fun to watch, was terrible. That was absolutely terrible.
They captured the warring parts of my internal monologue so well. How can it not be fun to watch the Giants succeed at hitting? Gosh, it was fun to watch hitters hit, and middle-of-the-order hitters drive in runs and do middle-of-the-order things. Look at this list of 14-run games in franchise history. They were all fun to watch.
Except for this one. Good thing the TV wasn't invented back then because no one would have wanted to watch that.
Okay, so it was a fun game to watch. But it was also terrible. Absolutely terrible. Look at this sequence after the Giants were up 12-4:
- Adeiny Hechavarria walks
- Ryan Webb singles
- Jeff Mathis walks
I know that I overuse hyperbole as a rhetorical device. It's a tic of mine. Can't help it. But I'm not sure if you can find a three-batter sequence from any major-league game in the past five years that is that feckless. Seriously, no hyperbole. That's a no-hit shortstop, a reliever, and Jeff Mathis. That's Brian Bocock, Santiago Casilla, and Yamid Haad starting a rally with two walks and a single.
So in that respect -- that the Marlins still thought they were in a game -- it was terrible. Absolutely terrible.
But fun. But terrible. Mostly fun, though.
Usually a lost season like this is only salvageable in the late months by prospects and youngsters. Will (Dan Ortmeier-like player) impress enough to be in the mix for a job next year? Will (Gary Brown-like player) start making those tools work for him? Boring stuff like that. We trick ourselves into thinking it's interesting every time.
With this team, though, it's a little different. This is the 2014 team, for better or for worse. Sweet lord, hopefully not for worse. But this team doesn't have options for third base. They don't have a first baseman in the wings if it isn't Belt, and the first person to say "Pill" gets hit with a brick. They aren't going to get a new second baseman, and a lot of the offseason budget is likely going to Hunter Pence. These are the guys, more or less, so hit, dammit, hit.
Hit they did. The difference between this team and the last few teams is that the last two times the Giants had 19 hits (2010), they shut out the opposition. This time, less so. But you're looking a gift horse in the mouth. The gift horse has halitosis, rotten teeth, and what appears to be chunks of horse flesh in its mouth, which is weird because horses shouldn't eat other horses, but you're still looking a gift horse in the mouth. The Giants scored 14 runs. Whether you strip the game of context or roll around in the context, it's a good game. And, yeah, pretty fun to watch.
If you're in full look-for-positive-signs-for-next-year mode, it's hard to get more encouraging than the performance from Pablo Sandoval. I know that batting average doesn't mean anything …
Wait, what do you mean batting average doesn't mean anything? What kind of new-aged, stat-fetish crap is this?
The Giants are fourth in the National League in batting average.
Right. So batting average doesn't mean anything. But you can still look at the batting average of certain players and glean what kind of season they're having. Juan Pierre with a .240 batting average? Quite possibly the least valuable player in the league. Pedro Alvarez hitting .235? He probably makes up for it in other ways. Dingers and such.
When Pablo Sandoval is 47th in batting average out of 68 qualified batters, you know something's wrong. He's not going to walk enough to make up for that. He isn't going to hit for enough power to make up for that. He's not exactly going to be frisky on the bases, either. Sandoval hitting .258 is almost certainly going to be a dirigible accident.
Four hits and two walks in six plate appearances, then, is something rather encouraging. The myth of the free-agent year is mostly hokum, but if I know my human nature, I'm thinking this is going to be a Camp Panda kind of offseason. He already looks much trimmer than he did before his foot injury, but it hasn't translated into results. On Friday night, it did. Today the doubles, tomorrow the dingers, and the next day the near-seven-figure contract. That's the plan, I'd guess. Which is probably bad news if the Giants want to keep him.
In the short term, though, it's great news. The Giants could use a 2011 Sandoval in the lineup if they're planning on standing pat. For a night, at least, he was that player again.
Plus, I paid, like, $30 for my daughter's panda hat. The shelf life has to be longer than this.
Last subject on the team of 2014: Chad Gaudin. Who was toxic on Friday night. Maybe the worst pitching performance of the season by any starter. The contenders:
|1||Barry Zito||2013-04-16||MIL||L 8-10||2.2||8||9||2||5||2||62|
|2||Matt Cain||2013-04-07||STL||L 3-14||3.2||7||9||2||2||0||66|
|3||Tim Lincecum||2013-07-22||CIN||L 0-11||3.2||9||8||1||2||3||78|
|4||Matt Cain||2013-07-05||LAD||L 2-10||2.1||6||8||4||1||0||75|
|5||Barry Zito||2013-06-12||PIT||L 8-12||4.2||11||8||1||4||0||86|
|6||Eric Surkamp||2013-07-23 (1)||CIN||L 3-9||2.2||9||7||0||0||2||56|
|7||Mike Kickham||2013-07-01||CIN||L 1-8||2.2||9||7||0||2||1||70|
|8||Matt Cain||2013-06-01 (1)||STL||L 0-8||6.0||9||7||0||9||0||101|
|9||Madison Bumgarner||2013-05-17||COL||L 9-10||4.2||8||9||2||4||1||102|
|10||Ryan Vogelsong||2013-05-04||LAD||W 10-9||4.2||9||7||2||4||1||89|
|11||Matt Cain||2013-04-18||MIL||L 2-7||6.0||7||7||0||4||3||98|
I'm convinced that the Cardinals were picking up something from Cain in the stretch, so I'm tossing him out. Zito, maybe? The eerie symmetry of Surkamp/Kickham might make for a tie. Whatever, Gaudin's night is up there.
He didn't have the slightest bit of command or control. Which is important because, again, the only thing separating Gaudin from a league-average (read: valuable) starter for his entire career has been control and command. Too many pitches out of the strike zone, too many pitches away from the target. Nine teams have tried their hand at Gaudin-fixing before the Giants; nine teams have given up on Gaudin-fixing.
He just doesn't have the margin of error that other pitchers seem to. The same goes for Ryan Vogelsong, for that matter. If they're five percent off, they might as well be throwing with their left hand. Vogelsong is likely to stay. Not sure if the same can be written about Gaudin. A good comp might be Brad Penny after 2009. Thanks for the unexpected success, fella, but if that's what the other guys are willing to pay you, best of luck.
Long story short: If the other guys are willing to pay Gaudin a chunk of money, I seeing the ugly side of Chad Gaudin, starting pitcher, isn't so bad of a thing. It was just one game, and it's easy to make too much of it, but at least we got a look at the player the other teams didn't want. It was that guy. It was him, I'm sure of it.
But the Giants scored 14 runs. So what are we talking about? It was fun. A lot of fun.