I don't know about the Giants needing this win. Even before you get to the part where must-win games don't exist on June 30, it almost seems overly optimistic to suggest such a thing. Wouldn't it sound silly to hear a Mariners fan say that they needed a win? Or a Phillies fan? A Twins fan? Those teams don't need to win a specific game in June. Those teams need better teams. And the Giants are right there with those teams when it comes to winning percentage. Only the wretched NL West is keeping the Giants in a race.
But I needed this. You needed this. I needed this mostly because I was out of GIFs of parakeets pooping on cats, but you probably needed this because you wanted to like baseball again. It's always easy to overreact to an extended losing streak -- like, say, comparing the team in question to the Twins or Mariners -- but that doesn't make it easier to turn on a game at Coors Field when the Giants are in the middle of a six-game losing streak. A losing streak combined with Coors Field is like a poison oak sandwich between two slices of bread that your dog licked.
Coming into Sunday's game, the Giants had scored four runs in their last four games at Coors. Think about that. From 1995 through 2000, the Giants had only two games with two or fewer runs at Coors Field. The Giants just had four of those games in a row. And when Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval couldn't do anything with runners on base in the first inning, it looked like the Giants were going to do it again. They were going to go a fifth game without scoring runs in Coors Field, quite literally one of the easiest places to score runs in baseball history.
But in the bottom of the first, the Rockies came down with it. They couldn't score with runners on first and third and no one out, and they had trouble getting runners in all game. The Giants infected them. The trap door to the Trojan horse opened, and all sorts of outs poured out. You fell for our trap, you fools! Now the Rockies are "it," and the Giants can be a normal team again. At least, I think that's how that works.
The most frustrating part of this streak, no question, has been how good the starting pitching has been. The bullpen and lineup would take turns putting forks in the microwave every day, but the starting pitching has been generally good. Maybe even a little unlucky. The starters have a strikeout-to-walk ratio of almost 3.5 in June, and they've held hitters to a .247/.297/.382 line for the month. It's like someone sat on the 2009 button. I don't even know why they keep a 2009 button in the clubhouse. Seems dangerous.
To think, we're just pleased as punch to watch the Giants score five runs in Coors. Teams should start with five runs in Coors, like getting "RSTLNE" before the final Wheel of Fortune puzzle. The Giants had to claw for their five runs, and it took the Rockies winging the ball into the outfield because they were so mesmerized by awful Giants baserunning. But we'll take it.
And after the streak ended, the Giants never looked back, taking control of the NL West, and making the playoffs for the third time in four years. He typed hopefully. While giggling just a little.
I absolutely can't believe the Giants are just three games out right now. This is hilarious.
Madison Bumgarner pitched a dandy of a game, there. He used his curveball to get two strikeouts in a runner-on-third, less-than-two-outs situation in the first. I'm not sure if I've seen him use that pitch as a strikeout weapon quite like that before; usually I think of his curve as a get-it-in pitch to steal a strike, or a pitch that he'll throw just to remind hitters that he isn't all fastballs and sliders (even though he's mostly fastballs and sliders). He used it to get both Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer, though, both of whom are hitting a billion against the Giants this year.
It's an interesting pitch, though, considering that more hitters swing and miss at it than any of his other offerings. That's probably because of that lack of familiarity and the element of surprise, but I'd be interested to see if he's going to use it more as he gets older. Bumgarner can get a little predictable, especially considering he's around the strike zone so much. I
Also of note: after grinding, grinding, grinding to get through the sixth inning, Bumgarner came out for the seventh. He pitched a beautiful inning. This validates Bruce Bochy when it comes to leaving pitchers in too long, and it does it from now until the end of time. This one decision is like the letters of transit from Casablanca. It doesn't make any sense, but it's magic and can't be rescinded.
Nitpicking after a win is the best kind of picking.
Carlos Gonzalez is the first player in history to hit a home run off two Giants pitchers in the same at-bat.
I'll always remember George Kontos fondly.