Last season, there was hot rhetorical question flying around the Internet when the Giants lost a 10-game lead in two days and 49 seconds. Is it better to watch a team that starts like a bunch of dillweeds, then gets hot? Or is it better to watch a team that starts unconscionably hot, then plays like a bunch of dillweeds? The consensus was that it was better to watch the team that starts slow, but there was no way to test the theory.
I'd like to revisit that question. It's better to watch the slow-starting team. It's so much better. I'll take the ending to last season every time, but if we're talking about the sequencing of the regular season, there's nothing like getting used to a bad team, only to have them turn out to be pretty okay the whole time.
The Giants won again, hitting and scoring again. Their best pitcher had a bit of a scuffy outing, but these are the new swingin' Giants, who have scored six runs or more in seven of their last 12 games. They can pick a pitcher up.
Matt Duffy: Come! On our shoulders! We will overcome this shaky start of yours and persevere! Let us carry you!
Madison Bumgarner: /blows snotrocket
Madison Bumgarner: Don't touch me.
Madison Bumgarner: I mean, okay.
It wasn't a great start from Bumgarner, who had us on no-hitter watch for the first 3⅔ innings, then lost his command in the sixth. Leadoff walk, hanging curveballs, falling behind in the count ... it took a miracle to get out of it with the quality start.
A very hairy miracle. And how do you know a team is doing well? When you can sit back and nitpick a start like that. Madison Bumgarner had a bad inning, and somehow that's news. The Giants still allowed just three runs, which wouldn't have been enough to beat them in 10 out of their last 12 games. They can hit. And not in that Mike Krukow-talking-about-Hector Sanchez he-can-hit way. The Giants can actually hit a little bit, and baseball remains fun to watch.
Remember these happy times when the Giants score three runs during a homestand. Feels like there should be a way to put some of this in the freezer
What if Matt Duffy is actually good? Not just competent, not just a third baseman to do okay until the real third baseman gets here, but actually good? Let's not start the All-Star talk just yet -- he still has just five walks to 25 strikeouts, and his .300/.328/.418 line is extremely average dependent -- but allow yourself to meditate a little on the idea that Duffy can be a key contributor.
Deep inhale. Still thinking about it. Now exhale. Still thinking about it. Good. It would be a joy to watch, certainly, but Duffy turning into pre-overrated Michael Young would have long-term ramifications for the roster and the kinds of free agents the Giants could pursue, as well as the current favorites who are getting closer to extensions. Don't forget that Duffy was hitting .332/.398/.444 in the pitcher-snuggling Eastern League before his call-up last year, and that he skipped Triple-A entirely. He's still an unknown quantity in a lot of ways, so the solid start allows us to dream.
Deep inhale. Keep those happy thoughts going. Exhale. Yeah, that's the stuff. A productive utility knife like Matt Duffy for the next six years. I can definitely get behind that.
That written, I'll wait for the next 500 at-bats before getting too excited, and there were at least two defensive collar-tuggers in Tuesday's game. But I tempered my enthusiasm for Joe Panik this year, too, and he's been fantastic. Maybe the Giants are in the middle of some dodgy-tooled-middle-infielder golden era. It sure beats the not-actually-very-good outfielder golden era after Barry Bonds retired.
What if Matt Duffy is actually good? It would be something an upset, sure, but I'll bet we could all get used to it.
Corey Knebel -- pronounced kuh-NAY-bull, which will probably bug me for at least a couple years -- came into the game having struck out six of the 10 batters he's faced this season. He broke Hunter Pence down completely and made Buster Posey take a bad swing. He was a first-rounder who sailed through the minors, pitching in just 81 games before getting called up for good. You could see why. What a fastball.
Then Brandon Belt came up, already looking like dingus Belt twice in the game. Here comes the slump, I thought. Even though I'm one of Belt's unabashed supporters and always have been, it sure is easy for me to roll my eyes and turn on him quickly. Maybe that's one of the benefits of being an unabashed supporter. We can make fun of him, but how dare you, sir.
I was expecting a two-pitch strikeout. Instead:
I love watching that swing in slow-motion. In real time, it often looks like Belt is swinging a roll of butcher paper vertically through the zone. He has a different kind of load and swing, and I'm almost more confused by it than I am with Hunter Pence's swing. There are just so many limbs to keep track of, and they're all bowing and moving.
Seeing it slowed down helps, like we're watching a frog catch a dragonfly in Planet Earth or something. I get it now. The bat goes through the strike zone and the form is ... I get it.
I get it! Kind of. When it's dumbed down for me. He just starts and ends the swing weird. Pay attention to the stuff in the middle.
One of these days, we'll have to argue about the simplest and most consistent joys of Giants baseball. Crawford making a play like that. Pence using his malfunctioning-vending-machine mechanics to throw a runner out on the bases. Bumgarner's slutter.
Near the top of the list, if not at the top, is Sergio Romo making a right-handed hitter look like he lives in a world where the slider was just invented. Carlos Gomez almost tied the game in the ninth, but he looked like Matt Garza swinging a drumstick in the seventh. He got one fastball, and he just missed it. He probably won't see a fastball in the strike zone from Romo for a long, long time.