Giants have a grand time as they win their 3rd series in a month.

"Hey, Madison! What's up?" "Nothin' much. Just hittin' GRAND SLAMS." "Cool!" - Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner both hit grand slams, the relievers look like the pitchers of yore, and the Giants enter the break only one game back of first place despite losing 22 of their last 32 games.

Just as the Giants' season can be split into three parts, so too can a recap of this game:

- CHAPTER ONE -

"Madison Bumgarner has a higher slugging percentage than Giancarlo Stanton."

It's true. Madison Bumgarner has a higher slugging percentage than Giancarlo Stanton.

Prior to his sixth inning grand slam, though, Madison Bumgarner started the rally that netted the Giants their first runs of the game -- via Buster Posey's second third career grand slam (HOW COULD I FORGET BUSTER POSEY'S MOST FAMOUS GRAND SLAM -- hat tip: taliesin for calling my dumb self out on that). It was the first time a pitcher-catcher battery had each hit a grand slam in the same game, which is pretty cool, I think. He drove a changeup meant for the outside part of the plate but had leaked right into the heart of it down the left field line for a lead-off double.

In his first plate appearance, Madison Bumgarner grounded into a force out.

What I'm getting at here is that Madison Bumgarner had himself "a day" at the plate. He got down two strikes in that first plate appearance and still managed to make contact. Most pitchers would've just started thinking about their post-game meal with two strikes, but not Madison Bumgarner. No, he wants to crush every ball thrown at him. He wants to punish pitchers who underestimate him.

Maybe Madison Bumgarner has no opinion of the designated hitter, but maybe he does and this is it. Maybe he mashes to make his point.

★★★

The point today was that the Giants are still capable of scoring runs. Buster Posey has been hitting the ball hard for the past week and a half but the box scores betray him. Today, a 1-5 with 5 runners left on base, but he crushed at least two of those four outs.

Pablo Sandoval added three hits (all singles) and a walk, but he, too, has looked more like the Pablo of old at the plate in recent weeks.

Ehire Adrianza even looked like a major league hitter today.

Now, I suppose the thing to keep in mind here is that the Arizona Diamondbacks are not very good and of the three series the Giants have managed to win since sweeping the Mets in early June, they've done it against Arizona twice, *however*, it's baseball, and it really doesn't matter how a player gets "locked in" at the plate. Sure, good pitching will almost always silence good hitting, but the Giants of late have looked lost against the National Anthem, so, any positive momentum here is a good thing. I declare that the offense has some positive momentum just in time for a 4-day break.

★★★

Finally, in this somewhat odd season for the Giants' designated ace, Madison Bumgarner allowed 4 earned runs today. It's the fifth time he's allowed 4 in a start, but he also has a 5-run and 6-run outing on the ledger. In fact, his past four starts have been kinda brutal:

IP H ER BB SO
6.0 9 5 1 3
5.0 6 4 3 6
7.0 10 6 3 3
6.1 10 4 0 5

But still an All-Star! I point this out not to bury Madison Bumgarner. When the Diamondbacks scored their first run I was disappointed because Bumgarner looked great. He had all of his pitches working and was efficient  (39 total up to the point Prado hit the RBI single with two outs in the second inning). It has felt like he has in his starts at times been like the Giants have been over the past 32 games: moments of sharpness derailed by flaming wreckage. He never quite turned into a wreck today, but the kinda up and down nature of his innings simply reminded me of the Giants as a team. I'm sure we'd all agree Matt Cain's perfect inning/disaster inning performances are a stronger comparison.

Whatever. He might not have been 100% ace-like on the mound today, but that's okay because he was better than Giancarlo Stanton at the plate.

- CHAPTER TWO -

Cody Ross likes to flip his bat.

In the top of the seventh inning, Cody Ross homered off of Madison Bumgarner on the tenth pitch of the at bat. There were boos from the fans at AT&T Park. Friday, when Cody Ross stepped up to the plate the first time, he received a warm ovation. Practically a hero's welcome.

Baseball's most enduring, endearing quality will always be its history (and #1A will always be this) and that's because it's a conversation stimulator, man. We get to talk about Cody Ross not as a smug Diamondback, but as a heroic Giant. He can be hero and villain simultaneously or neither at all.

It's why I get so upset during the Hall of Fame election season. There are players who are not "Hall-worthy" but certainly deserving of discussion, even lengthy ones. Instead of throwing FEVER PITCH on the schedule, where's the one-hour retrospective on the career of Jim Abbott? HE THREW A NO-HITTER WITH ONE HAND.

There are many problems with the male ego (the cause of all human suffering), but one of them should not be that the less famous or less Hall of Fame-worthy moments of Baseball history disappear. Maybe in addition to naming home run balls I should look into that game on July 3, 1966 wherein Braves' pitcher Tony Cloninger hit two grand slams against the Giants, the last time a pitcher hit two grand slams in a season. I mean, I probably won't, but look right there: obscure baseball history that's worthy of a little more than a clumsily-written sentence.

- CHAPTER THREE -

The Giants won today.

As Grant pointed out on Friday, the Giants haven't scored more than five runs recently:

Rk Strk Start End Games W L HR
1 1974-06-08 1974-07-03 23 5 18 5
2 2013-06-15 2013-07-08 22 5 17 10
3 1978-07-21 1978-08-12 21 10 11 11
4 2008-07-29 2008-08-19 20 9 11 8
5 1992-06-15 1992-07-06 20 7 13 11
6 2007-08-26 2007-09-16 19 8 11 15
6 1965-05-30 1965-06-20 19 11 8 12
6 2014-06-22 ??? 19 7 12 8
9 1985-05-29 1985-06-15 17 6 11 8
10 2011-07-16 2011-08-02 16 7 9 9

The last time they scored more than 5 runs: June 21st against Arizona. Coincidentally, the starter in that game was Brandon McCarthy, the dude the Diamondbacks traded to the Yankees for today's starting pitcher, Vidal Nuno.

The Giants have scored 8 or more runs ten times this season. In last year's nuclear winter of a season they did that 23 times. I don't know what it means that they're only a third of a way to last year's total a little more than halfway through the season, but there you have it.

Meanwhile, the Giants' record before the All-Star break since 2009:

2014 52-43
2013 43-51
2012 46-40
2011 52-40
2010 46-41
2009 49-39

I know even less what this is "supposed" to mean, but there you have it. The Giants are only one game out of first place despite losing 22 out of their last 32 games and having blown a 9.5 game lead faster than an adolescent blows a roll of quarters at an arcade.

{RECORD SCRATCH} Do adolescents even *go* to arcades anymore?
{REALLY LONG RECORD SCRATCH FOLLOWED BY SOUND OF A CAR CRASH} Do ARCADES even exist anymore?

All of this to say that after declaring the Giants to be good only to follow that with a declaration that they are not good, I now declare that the Giants are in a not terrible position heading into the "second half" of the season. As always, they must simply play better, which is of course easier said than done. Today, Hunter Pence made an amazing snowcone catch against one of the archways in right field, Pablo Sandoval looked like a strong defender at third base, and the team just looked like the guys who had spoiled for two months.

The first two months of the season we witnessed the Giants play at an unsustainable pace, given the projections for their collective talent. We witnessed them fail to sustain that pace in June. July so far has been a bit more like trying to guess Pat's gender (6-7 record; 37 RS, 42 RA) in that it's a headscratcher we should just accept as is. It's legitimately hard to predict how the rest of the month will go and the rest of the season feels even foggier.

I am a terrible prognosticator anyway and reverse jinxing seems to have at best a 50/50 effectiveness. The Giants were projected to be "just okay" coming into the season. They blew off the doors to start the season, then they looked like a TRANSFORMERS movie (unwatchable dreck) for a month, and now they're sort of meh. I think that adds up to being "just okay", but man oh man was the way they came to being "just okay" hard to watch.

If nothing else, maybe the rest of the season will be better than the last month and the Giants will at least be not so hard to watch. They certainly were a joy to behold today.

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