Can you believe the last time the Giants swept the NY Mets baseball squadron at AT&T Park was August 2002? The pitching wins for that series: Jason Schmidt, Kirk Rueter, and Ryan Jensen. Barry Bonds hit zero home runs in that series. By the end of that sweep, the Giants were still 10.5 games back of the division-leading Arizona. Also, the length of the games: 2:33, 2:28, 2:28. Kids, in my day, ballgames used to be SHORTER.
Anyway, all that to say that it has been a while since the Giants accomplished something we all had assumed they'd done many times before and that many other teams do with ho-hum frequency: sweep the Mets at home. The Mets are usually not very good. They were not very good this weekend. The Giants, even when they had some Mets-like moments, were just simply better. *Are* simply better. The Giants are really good. Like… really good.
In Tim Lincecum's last inning of work, he surrendered a solo home run to Curtis Granderson (his second of the game) and left the game with a 4-3 lead. In the bottom of the seventh inning, with the score still the same, Ehire Adrianza hit a ball between the second baseman and the center fielder. A wild pitch got Adrianza to second base and then Gregor Blanco picked up his third RBI of the game with a single up the middle. It was 5-3 and the Giants had added an insurance run.
Now, we usually think of the insurance run as the one that ensures the win, but when Jean Machi's flying forkball got away from defensive C-student Hector Sanchez, the Mets cut into the cushion. The lead was ensured but the win became a bit dicier. But then Terry Collins decided to ignore the small sampling of Brandon Crawford's current platoon split against left handers. Crawford doubled, and the Giants found themselves back up by two runs after Brandon Hicks drove him in with a single up the middle.
All of *that* to say that there was an element of luck and an element of quality that led to two late-game runs for the team with the best record in baseball. Are the Giants voodoo magicking the sport, are they facing bad teams -- look, it's a combination of everything and anything we can conjure in our minds. The Giants win in so many different ways these days that the identity of the team can't be labeled clearly. They're not a "patient lineup with lots of depth" or a "murderer's row" (okay, I guess they are that to some people) or "a David of Ecksteins", they're none of that and all of that at the same time. They're just winning. That's the characterization. That's the label. Winners.
When you're aiming for a career as a television writer, you're supposed to have a portfolio of spec scripts that show you can mimic the voice(s) of a successful show on the air. To write a successful spec script, writers are encouraged to study the show they plan to spec. I tend to avoid spec'ing for the shows I love because I don't want to see the seams, I don't want to know how they come to entertain me. I like the surprise and the pleasure that comes from watching them. I'm at that point with the Giants right now. They're good in so many ways, even though with few exceptions they, individually, don't look like much. In other words, if there is someone behind the curtain pulling the strings, I have chosen to pay no attention to him and just enjoy the spectacle of the team's success.
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Tim Lincecum used to be a spectacle in his own right, and now his quality starts are all that's left.
Six of his thirteen starts this season have gone six innings. Only one start lasted longer than six innings. Of course he's not the guy he was, blah blah blah. There's definitely a prologue now to any Lincecum start, and it usually discusses how great he once was and how barely tolerable he can sometimes be now.
I try not to get too tied up in Tim Lincecum's performances from start to start because that's crazy. Tim Lincecum is rarely the same pitcher from start to start and I have never been a fan of roller coasters.
It was great to see him get swing-throughs on his fastball today. That's always encouraging.
He was not terrible and he gave the Giants a chance to win today (which they did!). In a season where the Giants have seized on the vast majority of their chances to win a game, managing to pitch in just that way should be more than sufficient. Until his next meltdown, where we'll all scratch our heads and wonder what will happen with him in the future -- particularly next season. Today, at least, was a Happy Lincecum Day.
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Another reason for the Giants to feel… I don't know… invincible… is that on a day with no Angel Pagan or Buster Posey, they scored six runs and didn't look like they were missing a step.
Gregor Blanco has always been and will continue to be a near-starter quality backup and games like today's serve as a strong reminder of that. Brandon Hicks seems to have a penchant for timely hitting. Brandon Crawford's cold, robotic voice and demeanor advertises the merciless hitting machine against lefties that he has been this season.
But even discussing these points feel like covering familiar territory, even at this point in the season. The Giants have been doing what we've seen with this same group of characters and it's a little surprising, but as the weeks go by and they just keep rolling and rolling, it becomes less surprising. Right? A fan of any sport shouldn't trust that the good times will never end, but at some point you have to embrace it… even a little bit. Right?
After last season, there was definitely a creeping notion that the Giants would have to "reload" or "rebuild" in the coming years, particularly where the pitching is concerned. But this could very well be one big last gasp of a very talented core (particularly where the pitching is concerned). I thought Krukow's line from last night -- "All they do is win" -- was a jinx of jinxerrific proportion that would doom us all to 40 years of darkness -- and it still might -- but the Giants are winning now. The future is now.
The future is now.