We'll have to wait for the stat professionals to tell us if this is a first, but can you remember a Giants team getting swept in a four-game series at home, then going on the road against that same team and sweeping them in four games? I cannot. There's probably a three-game series swap out there, or maybe a three-game series that was preceded or followed by a four-game series, but it's rare enough just to have two different four-game series, period, against the same team, this close to each other.
This is how the universe should work, of course. When the interlopers take something that isn't theirs, the good guys should get a chance to march into their home and do the same danged thing. It's like how the Dodgers swept a series from the Giants at AT&T Park in 2010, 2012, and 2014. They got that one series, and the Giants won the World Series, so it totally evened out.
Things should even out like that. It's only fair.
The Giants swept a four-game series against the Diamondbacks in Arizona for the first time since 2010, and they did it while averaging 3½ runs a game, topping out at a whopping five runs on Saturday night. These Giants are supposed to be an offense-driven contender, the kind of team that can win 6-5 on a good night, especially in a hitter's park on the road. Instead, they took a four-game series against a hot-hitting team because their pitching did so well.
Which brings us to Matt Cain.
I'm not going to dig too deeply into it here -- the recap after a four-game sweep is reserved for mirth and revelry -- but Jake Peavy's cromulent start on Saturday didn't make me think, "OHHHH LOOK WHO'S BACK." I wasn't tempted to post a frog on a unicycle like a hipper dad might have, and it didn't make me excited for Peavy's next start. That's not to say that I've given up on the Peavy from the second half of the last two seasons. Those guys were awesome. It's just that last night wasn't so great that I'm expecting a return to form, now.
Matt Cain's start on Sunday was different. It wasn't just that the Diamondbacks were making outs without scoring runs, it had to do with the quality of Cain's pitches. There were first-pitch strikes. When the count went to 1-0, he would regularly put a perfect 1-0 pitch on the corner. If the count went to 1-1, Cain would steal the count advantage with another well-thrown pitch.
This wasn't an outstanding outing on paper that didn't match up with the eyeballs. This was a pitcher pitching his way out of unfriendly pitcher situations, but only if he was a pitcher pitching his way into friendly pitcher situations, over and over again.
Before the season started, I came up with one hope for the Giants. That they would win the World Series again, see the other contenders driven before them, and hear the lamentations of the other teams' fans. However, if we could have added just one more hope, one that didn't have anything to do with the postseason or division, it would have been Cain pitching like his old self. It would have made me feel better in the feelings department; it would have made the Giants better as a team. That's a powerful combo.
This isn't to say that Cain is back, or that we should expect at least seven innings from him every outing, just like we used to. It's just to say that he looked good, frightfully good, and this is a sport where Rich Hill is being earning millions to pitch well, even though he was a baseball footnote just a year ago. If Hill, why not Cain? Matt Bush is just a year-and-a-half younger than Cain, and suddenly he's the living example of baseball's favorite word, youneverknow.
The Diamondbacks were, admittedly ... bitten ... by hypothetical creature ... in a manner that would render them sluggish and without good fortune. But it was still an excellent, excellent start. His second in a row. You don't have to believe just yet. But you can suspend your disbelief that it can happen at all.
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Cain didn't get the win, of course
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Trevor Brown has as many home runs in 2016 as Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, or Buster Posey. That's not what I was expecting at the start of the season. He has more than Denard Span, Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco, Kelby Tomlinson, Mac Williamson, and Jarrett Parker combined. That is also not what I was expecting at the start of the season.
He also grounded into an awful double play and struck out in a key situation, but remember that dinger. It was the only hit the Giants had going into the ninth inning of a game they eventually won.
Brown is becoming a folk hero, and I'm pretty sure we shouldn't do anything to stop him.
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I haven't mentioned it much here, but Brad Ziegler is the most annoying pitcher on the planet. He should have platoon splits. Left-handed hitters should take him to opposite field with every stupid sinker on the outside edge. And yet they don't. Which means it's more complicated than that. Which means that Ziegler is the most annoying pitcher on the planet.
Don't believe me? Here, take a look at his career against the Giants. The last time he allowed a run was July, 2013, in a game the Diamondbacks won anyway. It was an unearned run, and it was 23 games ago.
That's ridiculous. He is not Kenley Jansen made out of vibranium. He is an excellent reliever who is prone to occasional mistakes, just like other excellent relievers.
So it's about time the Giants went single-single-single against him in a one-run game. IT'S ABOUT TIME. It has really, really bugged me for some time now. There have even been games where the Giants got the leadoff runner on against him, but couldn't do anything. No joke, the most annoying pitcher on the planet, and that's a title that comes with all sorts of respect.
In the ninth inning of the game on Sunday, Brad Ziegler came in and gave up three consecutive singles, which led to a Giants win.
Goodness, how I've waited to type that sentence.
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Santiago Casilla was hella sketchy again, until he wasn't. He induced a double play that was desperately needed, and it led to the best umpire GIF of the season so far.
YOU, safe, YOU, out, wait, YOU, out and YOU out, EVERYBODY out, did you hear that EVERYBODY OUT, all while the other umpire is thinking, you idiot, you're doing it wrong.
And on the 30th time the GIF repeats, you notice the person sitting behind them, trying to make sense of the hand gestures that are describing the end of the game.
It was a silly end to a very impressive series. The Giants swept the Diamondbacks in four games. They've won five straight. They're at least tied for first place heading into Monday.
And suddenly, baseball is very, very fun again.