Before we get into anything else: Tim Lincecum is owed eight more of these low-scoring wins. We have the receipt, baseball. Don't screw us on this. Eight more.
If you're a cynical consumer of baseball writing, you know that the word "narrative" is something of a buzzword. Every game is supposed to have a narrative. There are 162 games every year, and each of them has a story. Except some of those stories are basically, "I WENT TO THE STORE. CAULIFLOWER WAS ON SALE. I BOUGHT SOME." Look too hard for an interesting story, and you're likely to be disappointed most of the time.
On Friday night, Angel Pagan came back from a lengthy injury. He scored the only run of the game. This would seem to be a quick and easy narrative. Pagan back, Giants rejuvenated. Giants get spark back. Angel in the Outfield. And if you're seasoned enough, you'll know to roll your eyes.
Except, hold on. Let's all get together and look for the high-water mark of the Giants' season. Let's find the game in which you said to yourself, "Three in four." Where it didn't seem crazy to think the Giants weren't just contenders, but favorites.
Angel Pagan's walk-off inside-the-park home run. Easy, easy choice. It was back rubs and gummy bears before that. It was chlamydia and arsenic after. That one moment, the single-most exciting Giants play of the season, was the zenith. Sure, the Lincecum no-hitter is probably the best single achievement of the year, but if you're looking for the top of the mountain, the peak of peaks, the Pagan homer was it.
And then he disappeared into a fog.
When he returned months later, the Giants won 1-0. He scored the only run.
It's almost a requirement to make a big deal about this, but it's a pretty neat, clean story. The last time the Giants were on top of the world, Angel Pagan was doing things. When he came back, the Giants won 1-0, just like the olden days of yore. That has to mean something.
(It really doesn't. But pretend that it does because it's fun to.)
That just has to mean something. The Giants had something like their Opening Day lineup going, and they won a pitcher's duel. Just like we were expecting the whole time.
A complete list of 1-0 Giants wins, in case you were curious. They're more infrequent than you think. Teams can go years without one. The Giants have had more since 2009 than they did in the entire 1920s. The low-offense era we're in helps the likelihood of a 1-0 game, sure, but they're still rare. This was the second of the year, which beats last season, for example. And the Giants won the World Series last season.
/pets Blu-Ray box set, longingly
But which season featured the most 1-0 wins in the San Francisco era. Go on, gu …
Oh, 1968. You guessed right.
Fine, but guess which season featured the second-most 1-0 wins in the San Francisco era? You're probably not going to guess this one. It was 2008. One of the most miserable seasons in memory. The Giants had pitching, but they couldn't hit, and it was so, so clear for everyone to see. They pitched better in 2009, but that was a year after the Giants had more 1-0 wins than the average team.
My off-the-cuff defensive rankings for the Giants:
C: Posey (Good)
1B: Belt (Very good)
2B: Scutaro (Okay)
SS: Crawford (Outstanding)
3B: Sandoval (Good)
LF: Blanco (Very good)
CF: Pagan (Okay)
RF: Pence (Good)
Quibble with the particulars, but the cumulative tally should make it clear that this isn't a wretched defensive team. There's nothing less than competence at every position, and there are a couple of plus defenders out there.
And yet this team has looked like a bunch of thumbless moles in the field this season.
On Friday night, they looked stellar. Sandoval's play in the sixth was one of the plays of the year. Posey had a golden throw to catch a runner stealing. Scutaro led the game off with a brilliant play. Crawford did his thing.
And that double play in the eighth? Straight trolling. The Giants have lost all kinds of games like that this season, so I'm not even apologizing.
But the defense was stellar. That's how they were supposed to look in the first place. I have no idea what happened this year. Well, I have no idea what happened this year on several levels, but the defensive level is one of them. Tonight, they looks pretty spectacular.
The Tim Lincecum saga has progressed from "$200 million. Do it, Sabes." to "he's gone, just forget about it" to "Hopefully the Giants can bring him back on a short deal." I'm still not sure if they can still do that last one. There's a team lying in the weeds, sure that they can fix him, and they'll go three or four years.
It's a night like tonight, though, that makes you want to take the chance. He had four pitches working. The location wasn't bad. He looked like a pitcher who should be effective on a regular basis.
Here's probably the best way to put it: If Lincecum pitched for the Indians, and he were having the exact same season he's having right now, and the Giants had two rotation spots to fill in the offseason, I would be goofy for the potential of a Lincecum signing. Big park, respected pitching coach, how does this not work out? I'm already preparing a six-part series on Phil Hughes, and he's nothing compared to Lincecum. If he were on any other team, I'd be banging the drum pathetically for Lincecum.
As it stands, he's right here. And I hope the Giants can sign him to a deal that balances the risk and reward.
This hasn't be an elite year for Lincecum, but it's sure a heckuva lot more fun to watch him this year compared to last year.
There were people behind home plate wearing Giants gear. The Diamondbacks gave them an ultimatum: Wear Diamondbacks gear, or get out of the seats. The Giants fans acquiesced, and put on a Diamondbacks-themed "Beat LA" shirt. A fair compromise.
But here's a tip for the Diamondbacks: Grow up. Don't act like the insecure boyfriend. "Whaddya mean 'he's in better shape'?" Whaddya mean you're curious about how his new relationship is going? Hey, what are you doing over there? Who are you texting right now? Can I rummage through your phone log? Tell me. Love me. Help me. Love me."
When the Giants won the World Series, the first dude to stand up was the Marlins guy. Did the Tigers ask the Marlins guy to put on Tigers gear? No, because they're not a bunch of dillweeds. They figured, hey, we're the Tigers, so, like, whatever. They didn't give a damn about Marlins man.
The Diamondbacks are being really, really weird about this. They've been doing it all year. It's not a good look. It's desperate, at best.
Seriously, there are, what, 10 of those seats? That shouldn't be hard to keep track of. Make everyone who buys one of those seats lick Luis Gonzalez. The actual Luis Gonzalez. One lick, and the seats are yours. Or make them write an essay about how much they love the Diamondbacks. Make them take a loyalty oath. Make them give blood. There are ways, man. There are ways.
But "Excuse me, wear this magenta shirt or move somewhere else" is ludicrous. Act like you're a team that doesn't give a damn, Diamondbacks. That's a much better look.