By almost every measure, Ryan Vogelsong is one of the worst pitchers in Pirates history. We don't care about that. We care about what came after. But the Pirates have had a lot of dreadful pitchers roll through in their storied history, and Vogelsong was one of the very worst. Yet he never allowed as many hits in a game as he did on Monday night.
The Giants still won.
Finally. A game the Giants didn't deserve. This might have been the first ill-gotten victory since May. Vogelsong was horrible with his command, and he was unlucky at times, too -- a miserable combination. The Giants still won.
They were facing Cliff Lee, who absolutely dominates the Giants in the regular season. His career against the Giants entering Monday night:
The Giants still won. Brandon Crawford borked a double play that turned a bases-empty, two-out situation into a two-on, no-out situation. The Giants still won. You could do this for hours, picking apart the various reasons the Giants should have lost. The reasons they deserved to lose, if you're zealous about the aesthetics of the game. They still won.
Nonsense. But I liked this nonsense. It was some of the best nonsense of the nonsensical last two months.
Hero(es) #1: The bullpen. Let's take a gander at the lowest reliever ERAs in Giants history, minimum 100 appearances.
Saaaaay, that's funny. The first three appeared in the game tonight, and a fourth reliever from tonight made the top 10. Five members of the current bullpen make the top 10 in franchise history. The evolution of modern bullpen usage means that lists like this are going to be slanted toward more recent pitchers. It's still impressive. When you include starters -- dead ball era included -- Santiago Casilla still has the lowest ERA in franchise history.
Before you slap me with a live fish for mentioning reliever ERA, note that I'm mentioning it because it's cool, not necessarily because it's predictive or super exact. It's a simple metric that's easy to understand. When Casilla (and Machi and Lopez and Affeldt ...) pitch, runs generally don't follow.
Missing from the list, but present for the heroics, is George Kontos, who allowed a run in 16 Triple-A innings after being demoted in mid-June. He hung a couple sliders, as he's wont to do, but he got away with them. Mike Krukow mentioned the fabled Tyler Walker game, and he was right to do so. It wasn't quite as impressive, but it had the same feel. Alternate comp for old-timers: The Joe Roa mop-up magic against the Braves in '97.
Good work, Giants bullpen. Stay away, Chad Qualls.
Hero(es) #2: The delightful lineup. The Giants had 15 hits, which they hadn't done since May 14. Even Joaquin Arias hit a double! The most important hit, of course:
That pitch had a handlebar mustache and a top hat. Such a bad pitch. But the easy power to center, coming on a quick short-armed swing, was tremendous. Take a minute to imagine Duvall hitting enough to start in the majors. It's a beautiful fantasy. It's easy to pooh-pooh his Triple-A numbers because of the Pacific Coast League, his age, his strikeout-to-walk ratios, and his defense. But the power is intoxicating. Dingers, everyone. Dingers.
Hey, look everyone, I have an irresponsible comp!
The most important thing to note about Duvall is that he played 26 games at second base in the minors. Just sayin'.
Domonic Brown doesn't seem like a popular player in Philadelphia. Our offer is this: Dan Uggla. Think it over.