It wasn't the Giantsest win of the first-half -- four runs? What is this, Coors Field? -- but it will do. Superlative starting pitching, stranded runners, double plays, and just enough offense. The Giants never seem to disappoint for the ESPN game. It's always some sort of annoyingly low-scoring game on Sunday nights.
Annoying. That's what this team is. Oh, not necessarily to us, though we like to feign annoyance. Folks have blown gaskets for Aaron Rowand leading off, Miguel Tejada hitting second, and Mike Fontenot hitting third in lineups this year, but there were perfectly good explanations for all of those. One of these days, we might even get to hear those explanations.
As annoying as we think lineups like those are, though, the Giants are in first place. They've been incredibly lucky (with the run differential) and incredibly unlucky (with injuries), but any team that's three games up at the All-Star break isn't an annoying team to follow.
But as an opponent? Most annoying team ever. When they Giants win, which they do more often than not, they're beating teams with ...
- annoying hitters. Guys who are hitting .220 with a .280 on-base percentage, but have to turn that 22% into a hit some time.
- good hitters with obvious weaknesses. Pablo Sandoval swings at anything, and Nate Schierholtz can't lay off sliders at his back foot. Yet they keep hitting. That has to be annoying.
- pitchers who dominate. Every fan is guilty of blaming their own lineup rather than giving credit to the opposing pitcher. That's the right of a fan. About 2% of New York is thinking, "Boy, Matt Cain was untouchable" tonight. The other 98% are banging their heads against a bathroom mirror, wondering why the Mets just couldn't hit. The Giants' pitchers tend to screw with people like that in every win.
And of all the annoying players, I'm starting to see why Matt Cain is probably the most annoying player on the team. He throws 90 to 92 mph. He doesn't have some sharp curve, magic change, or plane-breaking slider. He's not breaking down hitters like Lincecum. He's just ... a guy. One who is, in fact, much better than you. We see it. We know what makes him good. Other fans don't. And that annoys them. If I could bottle that annoyance, I'd pour it over my waffles in the morning.
I love it. I have no idea how the Giants are in first place. That really, really annoys other teams when you admit that. Obviously, the pitching is great. But two players have compiled enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title this year: Miguel Tejada and Aubrey Huff. Everyone else has been (or is) injured or terrible. First place. So annoying. For them.
Matt Cain is an acquired taste. He's an independent or foreign film that the other simpletons don't know about yet. They can keep their "Transformers 3". Matt Cain is like a French movie about robots that change into cars and then fall in love with a middle-aged widow who works at the robot coffee shop. Clearly superior, and we're better people for choosing that over "Transformers 3." But the more you talk about Cain, the more annoying and pretentious you seem. The more annoying Matt Cain seems. Everyone's all turned off.
Except for us. Good. They're here, and they're annoying. Really annoying. And they're pretty danged good. It's quite impressive.