Last week, I was invited on a Pittsburgh radio show to preview the Pirates series. At one point, the host ran down the list of scheduled pitchers. "Gerrit Cole vs. Vogelsong ... Liriano vs. Hudson ... A.J. Burnett vs. Chris Heston ... it's safe to say the Pirates have the edge in all of these pitching matchups, right?"
Whoa. I ... I hadn't thought of it like that. It turns out, that when the Giants go up against a good team -- without their Bumgarner, mind you -- they very rarely have the edge in starting pitching. The solution is, apparently, to do one of two things:
- Not allow a hit
- Out-hit the other team
Call me cynical, but the first one seems a little implausible. The second one, then. If the Giants are going to do anything, they're going to do it by out-hitting the other team.
You, in 2011: Awesome. Everyone on the team is on steroids again. Told you that would work.
No! That's not what's happening! It was a slow slog to hitting competence, and then no one told them to stop. While Norichika Aoki probably isn't going to hit .330 for the rest of his Giants' career, and I'm still not sure about middle-of-the-order Crawford just yet, it's not like I'm skeptical of any of the particulars, either. Oh, right, I forgot about Robinson Pano over at second, but other than those three players, who do you doubt in this lineup? We've seen Buster Posey do more. We've seen Angel Pagan do more. We've seen Hunter Pence do a lot more.
This offense just might work. Focusing on the non-Bumgarners might be a great way to miss the point. This team might be this good, and they might be completely lopsided. That's okay.
You, in 2011: I'll bet you Sabean read my 800-word post on that forum about how the Giants should come up with a two-year-plan that ends with them signing Albert Pujols.
Oh ... sure, he probably did, but that's not how the Giants suddenly got better. They developed from within, and then ... I don't know, Hensley Meulens magic? Some sort of deep-cover, NSA-type saberscouting program that tells the Giants exactly how Joe Panik can hit for more power? I don't know how we got here either. The Giants are above the league average in runs (despite playing their home games in a seaside Astrodome), second in the league in adjusted OPS (and one of two teams above average), and above the league average in walks (despite being the Giants).
The lack of power that we feared before the season? Panik aside, we weren't too far off. Except it doesn't matter that much, just like the nerds told us.
Joe Panik hit his homer off an 0-2, 96-mph fastball. Buster Posey added to the lead with a double on an 0-2, 99-mph fastball. Brandon Belt hit his homer on a two-strike, 90-mph changeup, and then later in the game, Posey came back and got a final RBI on an 0-2, 98-mph fastball. There will be games when the Giants don't have a quarter of that two-strike magic, probably a lot of them. But there won't be a lot of games where the Giants don't have a chance against a fastball.
I think I'm still high on no-hitter. Forgive me.
You, in 2011: Do the Giants trade for Jose Reyes, or ...
They did not. They built a lineup, though. If Panik, Matt Duffy, and Crawford can keep the extra-base magic going, they've sure built a lineup.
We aren't talking about Tim Hudson right now because of that lineup. That's fantastic. I'll take that every time.
According to the internal polling numbers I've got here, though ... yep, yep, no, he's slipping in the polls. With the Giants blessed with an early, dinger-granted lead, Hudson allowed a screaming line drive, an intentional-unintentional walk, a hit that should have scored the line drive, and then a two-out nubber that killed the momentum. In the fourth, he allowed a two-out, two-strike, run-scoring hit on a hanging curveball with the pitcher on deck.
Five innings, four runs. Some hits that were deserved, and some bleeders that weren't. Momentary lapses of control, and hardly any swing-throughs. That start was featured in the trailer for the movie about Hudson's 2015. There it is, a very Hudson start. Perhaps the most Hudson start.
We aren't talking about it now. Seems like something the Giants should figure out, though. Hopefully by fixing whatever's ailing him in the first place.
Matt Duffy has a five-game hitting streak since Casey McGehee was recalled, going 8-for-19, with two homers and two doubles.
Advice for Duffy's agent: Float rumor after rumor about the Giants' interest in a third baseman to Ken Rosenthal, Jon Morosi, and Buster Olney, then set MLB Trade Rumors as your client's home page. This advice is free. Don't let us down.