The San Francisco Giants won a baseball contest against the San Diego Padres, 5-4. That is usually a sentence that's followed with mirth and/or merriment. There's a formula to it. Celebrate the win, point out some players who were responsible for it, and close the danged laptop. Giants win, Padres lose, and all is right with our little baseball world.
Except I don't know about you, but I'm still staring dead-eyed into the distance. The oxygen masks dropped, everyone was scrambling around for a bit, and you don't just pull out the corn-cob pipe and start laughing about how frantic it got for a second there. The Giants were up by three runs heading into the eighth inning. Since AT&T Park opened, the Padres haven't scored three runs in over a third of the games they've played here. A three-run lead in the eighth inning at AT&T Park should be an absolute fortress.
They were a hanging curveball away from losing it. They were a Jemile Weeks broken bat away from playing until 1:36 a.m. They almost blew it.
But they didn't.
But they almost did.
But ... well, they didn't. Still, I want there to be someone who can act as an avatar for the collective bullpen. A guy named Murray in a rumpled white dress shirt who just sits there while you yell at him. I want to look him in the eye and say things like, "Now, Murray, this crap isn't going to keep happening all season, is it?" And Murray would say, oh, no, I can't apologize enough, sir, we'll get right on that. We would all get our personal Murray, and it would help us get a ton of stuff off our chests.
There is no Murray. There's just a bullpen that should be a lot less scary than it's been over the first three weeks. Roll call!
Cory Gearrin was cool tonight. A third of an inning, no drama. I'm not entirely sure how much I trust his command, or how that sinker will play in August when his arm's a little tired, but you can see why the Giants didn't want to lose him on waivers.
Hunter Strickland is good, dammit. He's a talented pitcher who just gets sucked into a vortex of loud contact, and I'm not entirely sure how to analyze it. Last season was about 50 innings of his middle finger in the air, rewarding the Giants for sticking with him and preventing runs, hits, and homers better than the typical reliever. He looks the part, he gets the strikeouts, and he throws hard.
And yet. Here's the 1-2 pitch he threw to Melvin Upton:
It was 95, right down the middle. That isn't the typical Strickland pitch, regardless of how many guffaws are still had at his expense regarding the 2014 postseason. A string-straight fastball down the middle isn't his go-to offering.
Bochy pulling Strickland for another right-hander lets us all know that the late-inning hierarchy is written on a dry erase board, though. This isn't Javier Lopez with a millionty years in the same role. Even after an excellent 2015, there's still a little mystery to Strickland's true talent.
Derek Law was the other right-hander, and he's the type of pitcher who will slide into those eighth innings in a month and hang around for five years. He threw an iffy curveball tonight with one of his two pitches, as if he were very intent on reminding you that there's no such thing as an infallible, magic reliever.
Josh Osich was great against the one hitter he faced, unless that was Steven Okert. They should put numbers on them or something to make it easier for us.
Which brings us to Santiago Casilla, who will always take far more guff than he deserves. He absolutely dismantled Jose Pirela in the eighth inning, even though most of us couldn't see it with our hands over our eyes. And, yes, that hanging curveball to Upton was one of the worst pitches he's thrown as a Giant, but at least there were plenty of excellent, cautious pitches mixed in.
Casilla has thrown 57 games for the Giants in which he's thrown more than an inning. He's allowed runs in just six of them. When Casilla throws more than an inning for the Giants, his ERA is 0.67. That's a self-selecting sample because whenever any reliever is a hot mess, he isn't going to stick around for the second inning of work. But, still, it's a nice little factlet to remind you that Casilla has thrown a lot of excellent innings in his Giants career.
I just wish he were a little less stressful. As do we all. But it's not the journey, it's the destination, ha ha. Ha.
This far into the recap, and we didn't even get to Madison Bumgarner, who was fantastic and probably deserved a little better, as usual. His fastball velocity is down, and that certainly isn't something we should ignore, but it's also not anything we should freak out about just yet. Pun half-heartedly intended.
And what of the dingers? They were glorious, naturally. Buster Posey:
There's nothing prettier than the uppercut swing on a hanging curveball. This is what Carlos Villanueva gets for continuing to be active and reminding me of Wayne Franklin.
Hunter Pence's homer is here (not embeddable, sorry) if you're so inclined. The Giants hit multiple homers for the sixth time this season. They're about a third of the way to the 2008 total for multi-homer games over the entire season, and a quarter of the way to the 2013 season.
This is the kind of lineup that should show up in a Padres game, and that's basically the Bumgarner who should show up against the Padres, which means this is something of an archetypal Giants win.
Hopefully future archetypal 2016 Giants wins will incorporate less bullpen melodrama. There's nothing more annoying than a well-rounded team that's missing a bullpen, except for maybe a bullpen-heavy roster on a team that doesn't have any leads to protect.