Before the recap resumes its standard format of "Look at this good thing this Giants player did" and "look at this dumb thing this Giants player did," we should probably note the most important part of Friday's game: Gio Gonzalez had excellent command. You might think that this is a minor point. This is not. To prove this, I will offer examples.
- If Jonathan Sanchez had excellent command, he would still be in the league
- If Tim Lincecum had excellent command, every other post on this site would be about his looming extension
- If Erick Threets had excellent command, you wouldn't be thinking "Whoa, I forgot about Erick Threets" right now
I'm not suggesting that any of those three are a good comp for Gonzalez, but that excellent command is just about the most important thing a pitcher can have. Gonzalez usually doesn't have it, which is why he's had such a rough season. On this Friday night, though, he was magnificent. It's not like the Giants were swinging at balls in the dirt all day and night. Gonzalez was at his best, which is extremely annoying.
Tip your cap? Sure. Go for 20 percent this time. The game was over quickly, and that deserves a reward.
For the second game in a row, it's also probably more important to note a silver lining before noting the dumb things the Giants did. Jake Peavy had a very encouraging start. It was his best start since last September, with about seven okay-to-blecch starts between. Those seven starts colored our entire vision of him, moving him from a pitcher the Giants absolutely had to re-sign to a broken veteran and complete afterthought. Really, five starts, if you want to give him credit for his last regular season start and first postseason start, in which he labored for 10 combined innings but allowed only one run.
Five starts. That doesn't mean anything. It's possible, if not probable, that we've assigned too much importance to those starts, since some of them came in the NLCS and World Series. If the Nationals win three straight after Game 1 of the NLDS, maybe we're all way more optimistic about Peavy's return. That doesn't read right.
Of course, by that logic, we shouldn't read too much into the final nine starts that Peavy had in the regular season. The real answer is probably a combination of the two. When right, Peavy can still help a team.
And he looked right, no? His velocity was back where it was last year, and he maintained it into the late innings. His change was solid to non-Harpers, but his breaking balls were solid. He got 12 whiffs on the night, which is about what he was doing at his best last year.
It was okay to expect a disaster, of course, considering how rickety his Triple-A rehab starts were. But it's apparently better to think of those as spring training starts, where he's getting a feel for his pitches and testing the limits of his new, healthy self.
I was impressed, considering the expectations were low. Like Matt Cain, the control was off, but I'll appeal to the rust gods and offer them of sacrifice. Of, I don't know, metal, I guess. Hope they like Celtic Frost.
The Giants lose a game in which they allow three hits or fewer about once every other year. This was their time, apparently. Phew, glad that's over for a while. No way that could happen again any time soon.
Bryce Harper is basically the closest thing to Barry Bonds we've seen in a while. Is he close to Barry Bonds? Ha ha ha, no. No one is. But since Bonds
was forced into retirement by a mixture of collusion and cowardice retired, Harper is the closest match to the combination of eye and power.
Don't believe me? Here's a list of qualified players with an adjusted OPS over 200, sorted by date. It goes Harper, Bonds, Bonds, Bonds, Sosa, Bonds, McGwire, Thomas, Bagwell, Bonds. There's a lot of season left, but that's the company Harper is keeping.
Which is to say, I have no problems playing keep away from Harper. It burned the Giants on Friday. It might burn them again this weekend. But when a pitcher's stuff is as underwhelming as Peavy's (or Lincecum's or Hudson's or Vogelsong's or Cain's or ...), the best way to pitch to Harper might be to pretend he has a bat the size of a moving van, and pitch where the moving van can't reach.
Was Peavy's last pitch to Harper in the seventh a strike?
No. (The top green square.) And it wasn't Harper who hit the winning homer, then. It was Cliff Robinson, former big man for the Blazers and Warriors. Or something.
This has been a great road trip for first basemen I've never heard of hitting huge HRs against the Giants— Jenny (@jp_on_rye) July 4, 2015
Pretty much. This dumb road trip has been dumb. I can't even be that mad about the dumb baseball this dumb team has been playing! It hasn't even been that dumb.
Baseball is dumb.
Buster Posey is in the middle of one of those stretches. In July, 2010, he had a 1.165 OPS. In August, 2012, he had a 1.134 OPS. In June, 2013, he had a 1.062 OPS. And there's no good way to count the non-arbitrary groupings, where he just hit the snot out of the ball for a random 30-day period. When he's locked in, to Krukow the joint up, he's locked in. He just missed an awful first pitch from Drew Storen to tie the game, and he's the only reason we had hope in the first place.
He gave Gonzalez maximum welp-face.
It wasn't enough to win, but light a candle for your Buster Posey votive candle tonight. It deserves it.
Angel Pagan had two hits, so this probably isn't the night to pick on him, But it's not like either hit was that impressive, so ... I'll allow it. Apropos of nothing to do with Friday's game, here's a look at Pagan's fly balls from 2012 through July 3, side-by-side with his fly balls from 2015.
It's not just the balls going over the fence. It's the outs, too. Pagan just can't drive the ball right now, and it's so very obvious. You didn't need the chart. But there's the chart, just in case.
Josh Osich is funky. He wiggle-kneed Harper on a couple funky, 90-mph cutter-what-have-yous in his ultimately successful battle with him, albeit after setting the table with two walks. He will be fun to watch. Jeremy Affeldt can't last forever, you know. Not when he lives in a world filled with stairs, butter knives, and hampers.
Stay woke, Jeremy. And keep pitching funky pitches, Josh Osich.