The matchup was bad foreshadowing in a bad movie, something so obvious that it was included only to set up a ridiculous twist at the end. Madison Bumgarner vs. Jason Marquis. That is, one of the best pitchers in baseball matched up against one of the best that-guy-is-still-playing? pitchers in the league, if not his generation. It was a mismatch, something that was clearly supposed to happen a certain way. Baseball hates that. It was too easy to analyze, too easy to predict.
Sometimes, though, the butler is just a butler. He brings you food and stuff. He kills absolutely no one. Everything plays out as expected. This was exactly how the Bumgarner/Marquis matchup should have gone. The Giants hit every other ball hard. The Reds, with a couple of exceptions, couldn't do much against Bumgarner. Sometimes baseball doesn't surprise you.
EXCEPT FOR THE FLAMING SMOKESTACKS OF DEATH.
But, yeah, that game was pretty predictable, in retrospect. Seriously, do you remember which team Marquis played for last year?
No, you dum ... wait.
No, you dummy. He didn't even pitch last year. And for some reason he's pitching in a homer-happy ballpark in his late 30s. The Giants were happy to hit homers off the homer-happy pitcher in the homer-happy ballpark. They did what they were supposed to, and that means we can ask the important questions. What if Buster Posey hits dingers all the time? What if Brandon Belt can hit dingers now? What if the Giants never allow another homer with runners on base? What if they're really this good? Hey, this really is the best baseball team ever, right?
You know, the important questions. If you're not asking those questions in your head, at least, after a win like that, you're not exactly clear on what to do after a blowout win. Dream a little. Roll around a little in the stink of your own satisfaction. Forget about tomorrow. For on this night, the Giants looked like the best baseball team on the planet.
Really glad the postseason starts tomorrow, to be honest.
There was a time when you would have been so overjoyed at a seven-inning, two-run performance from a starting pitcher. I remember getting in my car during a break from my summer job, turning on the radio, and finding out that Mark Leiter was better than kinda okay. Oh, what a luxury that was.
There will be a time when you feel that again. It might not be this year, or next year, or 20 years from now, but there will be a time when it's not so easy to take a start like this for granted.
Until then, appreciate the simple things in baseball life. Bumgarner hung a couple curveballs. He was around the middle of the plate a little too much, at least to a couple of hitters. He was still excellent. If he had this start in every game for an entire season, he would probably win the Cy Young and MVP. It wasn't the archetype of dominating Bumgarner, but if that's what we saw every time out, wouldn't we take that for granted?
Please note that whenever you disagree with anything I write, it is perfectly acceptable to think, "Wait, this jackass would have drafted Beau Mills if he had the chance," and close the tab. I've earned it. You've earned it. At least we can meet in the middle and be grateful that Madison Bumgarner exists.
Oh, sorry, Brandon Belt is good again. Forget about me poking fun at him last night. Say, he hit his first homer in a game that meant something since ...
Ah, yes. That was a good home run. Feels like there's not enough made that the Giants played a freaking 18-inning game in the postseason.
Regardless, that was Belt's first homer in the season. That seems like quite the drought, but do you remember when Belt hit his first homer of 2012? June 12 . Then he hit one in the next two games. He finished the season with a solid average/on-base/slugging line and cemented himself as the first baseman of the future.
That's the funny thing about the occasional flare-ups of the Belt Wars. It's always like this. He slumps. He catches fire. He hits no dingers. He hits all the dingers. He waves through everything, then he hits everything hard. We've gone through all of that this season, and where are we?
.291 batting average
.365 on-base percentage
.427 slugging percentage
As in, exactly where he was supposed to be. Maybe take a few chunks of average and paste them on the slugging side. Still, after six weeks, Brandon Belt is basically the player we thought he was, the player he's always been. Why he has to start the season like a dingus with a bucket stuck on his head, I have no idea.
Hey, look at this dinger:
My only quibble with this dinger is that the bat moves too danged fast to appreciate it all. So I made this:
Now you can appreciate the artistry of it all. What a swing. What a ... wait, enhance.
You sons of ... you know what? Not even mad. He's not a stormtrooper. He's Darth Vader. Except he doesn't get all weepy and sentimental when someone's choking his dumb son with lightning fingers. He just kind of lets it happen, and then he does even worse things to you later.
What a swing. What a dinger. What a game. That was a good game.