When the Giants scored three runs in their final three games of the recent Diamondbacks series, it was easy to be annoyed. Perplexed. Flummoxed. Disappointed. And, sure, a little ticked off. They were not fun games to watch.
Compare a similar scenario to previous years, though. Pick your least favorite odd year, or dig something out of the post-Bonds/pre-Posey void. When the Giants would do that, when the bats would go through a futile stretch, everything was much more extreme. You were more annoyed, more perplexed, and flummoxier.
Oh, and you were without hope. That's the main difference. A stretch like that made me think, "This team is hopeless. This team will never win again," back in 2009 or 2011.
A stretch like that now makes me think, "So when are the Giants going to have one of those games where they score a dozen runs again?"
Here! They just did it here. It was a bochy's dozen, but that still counts. The Giants had one of those games where they kept hitting and hitting, and they reminded you the entire time that nothing was weird about it. Fred Lewis didn't hit for the cycle. Eli Whiteside didn't hit a grand slam. Everything seems so natural when this team is hitting.
Denard Span took a walk and hit a single? Well, he's supposed to.
Joe Panik got two hits and took a walk? Well, that's not a surprise.
Matt Duffy was 3-for-4? Yeah, he'll do that.
I won't do it for the entire lineup, but you get the idea. It's a lineup devoid of easy outs and sub-.350 OBPs, especially when there's a portrait of Angel Pagan slowly getting older somewhere. There are games -- several in a row, even -- where it doesn't matter, when the hits aren't falling, or when they're staggered in a way that can't help enough. And then there are games when they score 13 runs and make you feel like they missed a bunch of opportunities to score more.
Do you want stat facts? I have stat facts. This is the second time this year the Giants have scored 12 runs or more at AT&T Park. The 2012 Giants didn't do it once. This is the third time this year the Giants scored 12 runs or more. Here is a list of San Francisco Giants teams that didn't do that:
It's April. The Giants have played 23 games. They've already had a season's worth of offensive explosions for a bad team, and then some.
So go ahead and be annoyed and flummoxed when they have foggy, disappointing, feckless games. It's your right as a fan. Just know that, in this case, there's probably a happier offensive day around the corner. We can't say that every year.
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When I write an article with a headline like, "THE GIANTS BULLPEN MIGHT BE THEIR BEST EVER" and they give up six runs that night, everyone's quick to yell at me and call me a dumb jinx. But when I write an article about how Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence might have an improved plate approach, and they have outstanding games shortly after, where are you then, huh? Where are the comments that call me an anti-jinxing hero?
I don't read the comments, so I guess you could be saying them.
Never mind, sorry about that.
Anyway, the point is that I'm still fascinated by the hot hitting of Belt and Pence, and Wednesday's game was the most extreme example yet. Belt's day went like this:
- Worked the count in his favor, hit a scorching line drive to knock in a run
- Pummeled a lazy sinker on the first pitch
- Worked the count in his favor, hit a line drive double
- Took two curveballs, singled on a change
There was an over-fetishization of OBP at one point in the mid-2000s, where it was too easy to appreciate patience for its own sake. But that's more like it, a mix of patience and aggressiveness that leads to fantastic results in the right hands. This isn't to say that we're never going to see the Belt with a hole on the high-outside part of the plate again. It's just that everything's working for him right now. He has a plan, and he's executing it perfectly right now.
Belt improving in his age-28 season would be a dog-bites-man kind of baseball story, though. He was always talented, always an asset, so if this keeps up, it makes a ton of baseball sense. Pence turning into a faster Gary Sheffield when he should be way past the point of learning new tricks? Well, I'm at a loss, there. It's still early, he wrote, as if you were a moron, but it's impossible to ignore.
Pence walked twice in Wednesday's game, bringing his season total to 14. He's played 23 games so far. He walked 16 times last year in 52 games. Here's how long it took him in previous seasons to get to 14 walks:
Again, this isn't like home runs, where you might expect a player to hit 11 in one month and three the next month because baseball is just so quirky. Walks are generally steady once a player is established. If you want evidence, the table with a bunch of mid-May games right there should do.
Far too early to say it means anything, sample size, April stats, something about Freemasons, could be nothing, dunno, hey, what's that? You might stumble across this in August and laugh at its naïveté. Fair enough.
But it's getting better, not worse. Goodness, I hope this continues
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That bit from Tuesday night about Johnny Cueto being so fun to watch? That's not quite as true about Samardzija, not just yet, ha ha. Ha. Erk. You don't want to read concern-trolling after a blowout win, and I'm not in the mood to write it. But, good grief, can hitters do awful things to Jeff Samardzija pitches when they set their minds to it.
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Same thing as above, just replace "Samardzija" with "the bullpen."
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I was not in favor of seeing what would have happened if the Padres were down 13-9 with a runner on third and one out.
More important, Gregor Blanco was also not in favor of that scenario. The Giants probably would have won anyway, but that's one probably that we just didn't need to investigate.
The Giants took their first series sweep of the season, and they picked an excellent time to do it. They're over .500 and a game out of first. They'll be a half-game out of first if the Marlins can help a team out.
April is the worst-best month for baseball, let me tell you ...