When we last saw our favorite baseball team, Matt Duffy delivered a walk-off hit against the Florida Marlins. Tonight, he picked up where he left off, being the hero for the Giants from the very first pitch he saw from the Astros' Collin McHugh. He saw 2 first-pitch fastballs tonight and both times they went for RBI hits. He'd later add a third hit (after another good at bat). A career high 3 hits and 5 RBI.
When last we saw starter Chris Heston (aka younger, handsomer Rob Corddry), he was getting pounded by Padres. Tonight, he threw his first complete game in the majors (sixth as a professional) as well as a career-high 10 strikeouts.He had his now-typical Hestonian arsenal of a horizontal fastball and a break-dancing slider. Life's few guarantees have been amended (death & taxes) to include "a Chris Heston slider that goes to the backstop". I love it for its predictability, but also because, my goodness, Chris Heston's pitches sure do move enough that they could sign an endorsement deal with FitBit. The home run he allowed to Jason Castro, the only run the Astros would score, came off a pitch that dropped below the knees that Castro really had to go down and muscle over the fence. It was a defensive display of hitting and the only time Heston got beat.
If you consider that Duffy and Heston are essentially substitutes, then you'll be all the more impressed. They're not taking the pressure off, they're making us forget about the pressure altogether. Jake who? Casey McWhatnow? Who knows if their early success is sustainable. To the matter at hand, such predictions are kind of irrelevant, and I'll tell you why...
There's the baseball saying (maybe Dusty Baker said it) that a day of rest in May gets you two days in September. Or something to that effect. Why can't restful performance also be true? And by "restful performance" I mean "the Giants don't have to stay up all night figuring out how to stop the bleeding." Calmed nerves in May might just buy you the mental stamina needed to fight through August and beyond. Knowing that you can count on the backups, too -- that's a net positive.
So here's to the substitutes. Matt Duffy, you already look like a substitute driver's ed instructor, but thanks for stepping up and filling in for Mr. McGehee while he deals with a GIDPersonal issue. Chris Heston, you're the Jake Peavy the Red Sox and 2015 Giants wish he had age-curved to, so thanks for stepping in for that imaginary person.
The Giants infield was completely homegrown. Certainly, there are prospect hounds who faptasize to an all-farm starting nine, but for the rest of us, and maybe even just for Giants fans, tonight was probably the platonic ideal of a Giants win. 8 runs and domination from talent the Giants scouted, drafted, and developed. A game where we could kick our feet up afterwards, lean back in our chairs and smile... maybe even allow ourselves to drift into a dream about more wins like these.
Baseball shatters dreams, of course. Baseball is the iceberg that cracks our ship of hope in half causing us to scramble for the life boats while clinging to whatever valuables we were able to grab from our trunks before the cabin filled with ocean water. For a night, at least, we had smooth sailing.
Then again, smooth sailing never makes a good sailor. But I give you permission to relax for a night. The Giants played well. They're capable of playing well with stopgaps and surprise performances. A night to remember that sometimes we get exactly what we want and sometimes it's exactly as good as we expected it to be.