On Tuesday night, Madison Bumgarner outpitched Clayton Kershaw, Buster Posey hit a home run, and the Giants beat the Dodgers.
You look like you have somewhere to be, a train to catch. That's fine. That sentence up there is all you need to know. If you fill in the rest using only your imagination, you'll know exactly what happened in the game. You can visualize it. That's the best part. Close your eyes and play the Platonic ideal of a Bumgarner start. The nervous right-handed hitters who know the ball is coming in on the thumbs. The breaking ball that flops in for called strikes, and dives down for swinging strikes. The command. The high fastball.
That's what happened. For eight innings, Bumgarner pitched as well as he has all season. When he came out in the eighth inning in his last game, there was cause for concern. He had pitched well, but he didn't look like that. After almost six months of not seeing that, you forget what it looks like until you watch eight more innings of it. It would have been a lot easier to explain the trepidation in his last start if I could have just pointed to this game.
It wasn't just the repertoire of pitches that was impeccable, either. This was prime Redass Bumgarner, too. Alex Guerrero was a little demonstrative after missing a pitch in the strike zone, and while Bumgarner probably didn't say, "GO ON. GIT," he was at least thinking it without a trace of irony. And he certainly barked something. I would hate it if a pitcher on another team got that mad about perceived slights, and that means I can love it that much more when our guy does it. Because, boy howdy, I'll bet those other people were annoyed.
If you've been around for a while, you'll notice that I tend to blow kisses to the Kershaw poster hanging in my office. Metaphorically speaking. He's a rival and I should hate him and he's the enemy, yes, but he's a fascination in the same way that Pedro Martinez was in his prime. What if a pitcher could have the stuff of a closer, the stamina of a pitcher from the '60s and the control of Kirk Rueter? That's Kershaw, roughly.
On Tuesday night, Bumgarner was clearly better. It's not like that's a shock -- only one of them has been Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year, for example1 -- but even in the best ace-offs over the years, the best-case scenario was usually a draw. In this game, Bumgarner had more weapons, more command.
He was better. The Giants were better. My house smells better. Everything tastes better. My credit rating is better. My, that was a charming game
Now close your eyes and think about the Platonic idea of a Buster Posey home run off Kershaw. The sound of it ... the way it looked as it flew out of frame and the next camera angle showed the vastness of Dodger Stadium's outfield ... the hush of the crowd ....
Wait, don't do that. Just watch the video.
The beautiful video. Everyone loves a Posey home run. Even these people:
Everyone loves a Posey home run. It's worth noting that CSN Bay Area was flashing this graphic three seconds before the homer:
And what happened to that graphic? Poof, gone for the rest of the game. The Giants had to squeak out a one-run win when they could have knocked Kershaw out in the sixth with back-to-back-to-back-to-back homers. All it took was the graphic.
Possible dumb opinion alert: I was expecting almost nothing from Angel Pagan this year. We're talking 2014 Scutaro levels of just-can't-do-it. Backs are the wet Nilla Wafers of the body, and it's almost impossible to put all the crumbs back when you drop one. It just felt like the end was nigh.
Instead, he stepped right out of a rip in time and is pretending it's 2012 again.
2012 Pagan: Hello, future Giants. I'm Angel Pagan from 2012, and I am here to teach you how to win.
Panik: Actually, we won last ...
2012 Pagan: Please, let me speak, smaller, younger Buster Posey. I am here from the past, and I can teach you how to win.
2014 Pagan: My god, that's the best looking man I've ever seen.
Two more hits on Tuesday, bringing his average up to .357. He did get twisted around on a possibly catchable ball in center, but this is the outstanding player we're used to. This is the one we should have hoped for, if not expected. Everyone get excited about Angel Pagan. Everyone get used to it again. He's back.
Unless this is just an April mirage.
Naaaah. I'll re-raise on this one. Unless the analogy requires me to fold. Whatever, he's probably back from the back, and that's quite the development.
Joaquin Arias had three hits off Clayton Kershaw, raising his average to .316, his OBP to ... well, .316, and his slugging percentage to .474. He stole a base, too!
That sort of performance earns a coveted spot in the No-Snark Zone. Hey, good job baseballing tonight, Joaquin Arias. That was great. Thank you.