I remember the last time the Giants hit four home runs. High Pockets Kelly had two, Amos Amas had one, and Quacks Mainlodge hit one in the ninth. Christy Mathewson got the win with a complete-game, 189-pitch effort. There was a short delay in the game when they had to invent lights before dusk. So congratulations to the 2011 Giants for exploding for a bunch of home runs against a sinkerballer who couldn't keep his pitches down. It was fun to watch.
The downside to the four home runs is that one of them was a two-run homer, ending the streak of 21 consecutive solo home runs. I was proud of that record because it summed up this post-break stretch of hitting. It was a combination of poor hitting and poor fortune. The Giants aren't especially adept at getting hitters on base, so that was part of the streak. But it was also totally fluky and out of anyone's control. In between the two-run home runs, the Giants had a couple hundred batters reach base. No, really.
It was the perfect description of the 2011 Giants in the second half: bad, but probably not that bad. The Giants in the first half were good, but probably not that good. It's been an annoyingly symmetrical season like that.
But a series win on the road is more than encouraging, especially when it comes with two great signs: Vogelsong pitching like the plus-command guy who earned an All-Star selection, and Brandon Belt forcing his way into at least one more start. It's easy to make fun of Bruce Bochy's no-risk lineups, where predictability is somehow mistaken for something that isn't risky. But while Bochy has a preference for veterans over rookies, he's not pathological. There's no sarcasm in that last sentence -- it would take complete insanity not to start Belt tomorrow. Bochy is frustrating, but he's not crazy, so it will be nice to see if Belt can build on his best game in the majors.
(Of course, that back-handed swipe sets up a total freakout tomorrow if Belt's not in the lineup. It took me a while to get it that manipulative. And who here dropped their heads when Belt struck out on a nasty breaking ball from Chris Volstad? I figured he'd make a couple more outs and resurface in September.)
Fun game. It's as if the Giants go through stretches where they lose because they can't hit, and then they have stretches where they win because they can hit just enough. But, no, it can't be that simple. No, there's no narrative with that ...