When the Giants were stumbling around in June, with a bucket on their head, a garden hose around their legs, and a lobster hanging from each finger, here's what I told myself: Don't worry. Baseball is cyclical. The Giants will have a stretch of wacky baseball where they'll be just as hot as they are cold right now.
When the Giants were stumbling around in July, banging on the window of their locked car with their necktie caught in the door and the keys in the bill of a pelican who was standing just far enough away to mock them without being in danger, here's what I told myself: Don't worry. Baseball is cyclical. Probably. Usually. The Giants might not be this awful. Maybe.
When the Giants were stumbling around in August, doing the same stupid things as the previous two months, here's what I told myself: Baseball is stupid. That's what baseball was waiting for. It's such a danged contrarian. So obnoxious. I was so sure about the cyclical part of baseball, that baseball wanted to remind everyone who's in charge. Baseball. Baseball's in charge.
And baseball's weird. Like, the kind of weird where it was pretending to be weird for so long, it got legitimately weird without noticing it had made the transition. Like Mike Patton or Nicolas Cage. My evidence is this: The Giants just swept a first-place team, scoring more runs on Sunday than they scored in the six-game homestand before the trade deadline. It was the second time the Giants thumped the Brewers that badly in three games. Forget the gaudy runs scored, though, and just look for evidence of the Giants being a good team.
It's an easy thing to take for granted, watching a good team, until you go a couple months without watching anything resembling professional baseball. Some of the reasons to suspect the Giants might not be messing with us this time:
- Following a Pablo Sandoval leadoff triple, the Giants failed in two attempts to get him home without a hit. Andrew Susac punished a lousy two-strike pitch with two outs to get the run home. That sure seemed like something that would happen to a good team.
- In the third inning, with the game tied 1-1, Angel Pagan stole second, forced a throwing error, and went to third with no outs. That's the kind of thing that happens to a good team.
- In the very next inning, with the Giants up 4-1, the Brewers had a runner at third and two outs. Rickie Weeks lined a shot to left, but Gregor Blanco made the kind of running effort that you might expect from a fielder on a good team which is weird, because I was pretty sure the Giants weren't one of those. Because of the last three months.
You can keep going. They hit a dinger (always something a good team keeps in mind), added onto the lead whenever possible (straight from the good-team handbook), and made productive outs (it's the little things that make good teams good, the little things.) The Giants looked better in this homestand -- perfect game threat after perfect game threat, and a month's worth of runs -- than they did all year. That's something, considering the zany start to the season they had.
After all that hyperbole and praise, there's an obvious question: Are the Giants actually a good team now? I have no idea. it's a tautology to say the team is a good team because they're playing well. There hasn't been a six-game winning streak in the history of baseball where the team looked like absolute crap for all six games. By definition, a team on a six-game winning streak is going to look like a team that deserves to win more baseball games than the other guys.
Still, this was the stretch of baseball that would have made us feel so much better if it had happened at the end of June, a "See? They're not that miserable" stretch that never came. It's here now. And I'll be honest with you: I'm for it. Unreservedly for it. The Giants are currently in line for a playoff spot, but for the first time in months, they look like they're supposed to be.
Before the deadline, I had all these secret hopes of Chase Utley or Daniel Murphy coming over and fixing everything. Just two weeks ago, I had secret hopes of Daniel Carbonell coming up and laying waste to the National League. I was looking for secret weapons and hoping the Giants would luck into a flush on the river. Instead, we get to think that maybe these likeable bozos aren't so bad after all. Maybe they're ... good?
Dunno. But I liked this week better than any week over the last year. This ... this was a good week.
The last time the Giants scored more than 10 runs for the second time in a series at AT&T Park, they lost the game to the Reds (2010). The last time the Giants hit nine or more extra-base hits in a game, they lost to the Reds (2005).
The Giants don't play the Reds for the rest of the season. I'm not superstitious, I just have unjustified beliefs in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event. So it's a good thing that the Reds are gone.
The Giants actually set a record in Sunday's game for extra-base hits at AT&T Park, with 10. And, because it's never not fun, here's a list of the last 10 times the Giants scored 14 runs or more:
Those were all fun games. But if I had to choose which game was the most fun ...
Tim Lincecum's relief outing was kind of a downer, but not if you look at it like a spring training game, in which the pitcher was just working on the same thing, over and over, results be damned. It's what I'm telling myself, anyway.
Just wait until he gets his extra-miles-per-hour rebate in the mail for switching from the rotation to the bullpen. I think that's how that works.