The Giants won their first game on the road in the month of August. Oh no wait, it only seems that way. It was actually their *fifth* road victory this month (in 14 chances) and it brought their August record to a not-disastrous 10-10.
It helped that Madison Bumgarner was on the mound tonight against a team that still has a bad taste in its mouth after last facing him nearly a year ago in the Wild Card Game. It also helped that the Giants acquired a real live bird to play for them a couple of days ago and who made his debut in the Giants road uniform tonight. I mean, Pittsburgh's starter Jeff Locke was unprepared for this human-sized bird as it stood in the batter's box, pecking and flapping and squawking and such. You could tell he was nervous. He didn't want to pitch inside because there's just something wrong about clipping a bird's wings, and --
Okay, let me steer out of that detour and drive to the point: the Giants got a shock of life in them with an ace on the mound and a Byrd in the field. Marlon may not be the panacea for the road woes or even a decent stopgap until Hunter Pence returns (have you even SEEN his OBP and K rate?), but he was exactly what the Giants needed *tonight*. He nearly hit for the cycle, which would've been the 26th in Giants' history. I'm not sure how we would've thought of that after the game. Maybe Bobby Evans would be popping a bottle of champagne with the good fortune his first desperation trade brought the team. Maybe.
As it stands, Byrd's the 4th to hit a home run in his debut following a trade, joining a list of recognizable players: Hector Cruz (1978), Kevin Mitchell (1987), and Kenny Lofton (2002). You all remember Kenny Lofton's debut home run, right? It wasn't that long ago...
So, welcome to the Giants, Marlon Byrd. You can stay around for exactly the number below your plate appearance option trigger. And your shoes are pretty hip, too.
11 of the past 12 home runs hit by Giants pitchers have been hit by Madison Bumgarner. The other one was hit by "Still Good" Matt Cain. It is pretty clear now that we're going to remember Madison Bumgarner for his dominance in the postseason and his dominance at the plate. And he's a lumberjack. And he's the ace of the staff. And the Giants signed him to one of the most team-friendly deals in the history of the sport. He's memorable for *lots* of reasons and the list or the legend just keeps on growing.
Which is great because tonight's start was fairly forgettable. So many pitches in the early going (which has been the Giants' doom on this latest road trip and certainly for the better part of two months now) and a general inability to put away hitters. Now, more than a little bit of that has to do with the Pirates being good, but some of that, too, was simply because Madison Bumgarner wasn't sharp. So he had to mash a dinger to keep the fear in the opposition's hearts, and boy did he.
I mean, just watch this poor fastball lose its life to this swing:
Now watch it again.
Watch it AGAIN, this time watching Madison Bumgarner watch the ball as it goes over the fence.
Bumgarner is going to throw at himself for watching that home run— Dave (@gggiants) August 21, 2015
Oh yes. Absolutely. The mirrors in his hotel room are going to get it good tonight.
Bochy went to Josh Osich to face pinch hitter Pedro Alvarez in the 8th inning over Jeremy Affeldt or Javier Lopez. Now, there are plenty of reasons why he did this, but the thing to keep in mind is that when Bochy falls in love with a guy it's obvious to the entire world. A cartoon tongue might as well roll out of his mouth while an "AH-OOO-GAH" sound blares. It's safe to say that Osich is in the inner circle. That's worth noting because building up Osich (and, previously, Kontos) is *as good* if not better than finding Machi and Lopez/Affeldt. The Giants' continued ability to find arms is something we mustn't take for granted.
Romo and Casilla didn't look particularly great and Romo's knee might've started barking during his appearance tonight, and both points could portend to DOOM this weekend, but for now it's safe to say that the Pirates are not easy outs, so, the bullpen was basically a bullpen tonight.
Really, it's the rare bullpen that doesn't turn fans' stomachs into knots. That's always been the case in the history of the sport and even more these days as bullpens become more specialized.
I say all this as an emotional shield should the rest of the weekend melt into despair...
Grant can ram this classic down the world's collective throat all he wants...
... but this will be my go-to for Byrd references.