To appreciate this game fully, think back to the last time the Giants scored six runs at home.
Stop staring at me like that. Just pick a date.
July 9. The last time the Giants scored six or more runs at home was July 9 against the Mets. How about the time before that? The second-to-last time the Giants scored six or more runs at home was May 29 against the A's.
The Giants lost both of those games.
So if it felt as if this game was a little cathartic, that's because it was. It's not like we're talking about a homestand or two with that stupid factoid. The Giants have played 37 home games since they both a) scored six or more runs at home and b) won the game. They've gone 13-26 in the home games since that last six-run win at home.
And I'm not going to be so brash as to suggest the Giants deserved all those runs, either. They got some hits with runners in scoring position, sure, but here's how the first inning went:
- Solid single
- Double that was probably foul
- Shattered-bat single
- Soft grounder
- Infield hit
- RBI groundout
- Excuse-me single the other way
Technically, the Giants did two things right in the inning. Scutaro had a great at-bat to lead the game off, and Sanchez worked a rare walk. Everything else was a little fortuitous.
That's the thing, though. You never see the Giants get innings like that. Not this year. And it's so impossible to explain. People constantly ask me what's wrong with the Giants. What's wrong with the Giants this year? What's wrong with the Giants this year? The real answer is probably somewhere in here. The Giants have hit seven home runs at AT&T Park since the end of May. They hit 16 in May alone. The lack of power is the real problem.
But wither the ground attack? The Giants were a little lucky in the first inning, but that's probably the first time since May. Yes, the Giants have problems. But this season has still been a complete bowl of spiders in every respect. They don't even get the occasional lucky games. So when they get a gift horse of a win, hell yeah I'm going to check out its mouth. And hooves and ears and tail and bathroom parts. Because it's the most amazing thing I've ever seen. The Giants scoring six runs and winning at home? Let's study this. Let's leave something for the scholars of tomorrow.
I feel bad for the Pirates, who really wanted that game for legitimate reasons. After watching the Giants look like dolts for the past three months, it was nice to see a nice, steady game without a lot of twists and turns.
Hector Sanchez had that walk, by the way. His on-base percentage is .338. He has two more walks this season than he had all last season, and that's with 153 fewer plate appearances.
That doesn't have to mean anything. Small samples. But as you'll probably hear if I ever corner you drunk at a party, the reason Sanchez was a blog-approved semi-prospect as a teenager was because his walk rate was fantastic. I'm not sure what happened.
Maybe it just takes him a while to feel comfortable looking for his pitch. That would sure be awesome, a switch-hitting complement to an MVP catcher who gets regular time off. Considering that catchers generally take longer to develop as hitters compared to every other position, I don't think the Giants are crazy to think Sanchez still has considerable offensive potential.
Just imagine if he had been catching in the minors every day. Not that I think about that every single time Sanchez starts. Nope, no sir.
Feels like the Tim Lincecum/Francisco Liriano matchup should have had more metaphorical heft. But these pitchers don't the same meaning that they used to. Liriano was the one who got away, the George Foster of his generation. But he was brittle, which was the reason he was even available in the first place. Then the Giants won two championships behind stellar starting pitching, which relegated Liriano to a historical footnote instead of a pitcher who would haunt the franchise for generations.
Lincecum was the pitcher who did the things Liriano was supposed to do with the Twins, winning Cy Youngs and becoming the face of the franchise. Right now, though, he's a pitcher auditioning for a job for next year. And the Giants are eagerly taking notes. Everyone forgot about the 2008 and 2009 Lincecum back in, oh, May. This is a new version, and his ultimate value is debatable for a team looking for short-term success. Every start is an audition. Every start gets the Giants closer to yay or nay.
Saturday night's start was more of a naayyaaay?dunno, which Lincecum's pretty good with. Lots of bat-missing, but lots of target-missing, too. That's our Lincecum. /slide whistle
And I still can't figure out if he can contribute to a team looking to make the playoffs next year. But that's much, much better than the completely lost, unwatchable pitcher from last season and May of this season. There's a chance he'll be back now, and there's still a chance he'll be good. We saw that in fleeting glimpses on Saturday night, same as almost every other Lincecum start these days.
The Giants saw more pitches against Francisco Liriano in the first four innings than they did against the entire Pirates staff last night.
I know that left-handed specialists are often overrated and overvalued considering they face only a handful of hitters every season, and the difference between a properly used Jose Mijares and Javier Lopez might not even be a game in the standings over a full season. That's pretty standard nerd dogma.
But I'm still going to sob big, breathy sobs when Lopez throws his last pitch for the Giants. He's allowed one homer since becoming a Giant, and that homer didn't even cost them the game.
That homer was to Pedro Alvarez, by the way. Exactly who was up in the seventh inning, representing the tying run at the plate. That was a scary moment. But Lopez is a special kind of magic, and he's a security blanket that I want around. I'd love to see what kind of offers the Giants got for him. But I also want him on the Giants for the next few years, even if I know that's not logical.