When you're in the middle of a winning streak, things just seem to go your way. On Thursday night, the Giants were able to overcome a short, eight-inning outing from one of their starting pitchers. Even after the early exit, they won 3-1, their eighth straight win. The Giants swept a road trip of seven games or more for the first time since the 1913 Giants, who finished the season 101-51.
Maybe you're not so good at putting 103 years into context. Here, this will help. The last time the Giants swept a road trip of seven games or more, these were some of the first names on the team.
- Rube (another one)
Jim Thorpe was on the team. Christy Mathewson threw 306 innings. It was a long, long time ago in a city far, far away. Teams just don't sweep long road trips like this.
Eight-game winning streaks aren't that uncommon, though. The 2015 Giants had one. So did the 2011 Giants. But this eight-game winning streak from the 2016 Giants came with 29 runs scored, total. There are way more eight-game losing streaks with 29 runs or more than there are eight-game winning streaks with 29 runs or less.
Or, to put it another way, the last time the Giants had an eight-game winning streak with 29 runs scored, it was August, and they started the streak 13 games behind the first-place Dodgers. That regular season ended on a home run from Bobby Thomson that won the pennant, won the pennant, won the pennant. The Giants haven't had a pitching-dominated winning streak like this since New York.
Eight days ago, the Giants made J.A. Happ look like C.L Ifflee in his prime. Do you remember how annoyed you were at that game? Giants fans can't get mad for a few years, it's in the rules, but we can get annoyed and annoyed right up to the brink of mad. And that game was right up to the brink. The bozos couldn't hit. They were feckless wastrels of anti-hit.
Then the hitters didn't get much better.
Then the Giants won eight straight games.
I don't know, man. It's fun, though.
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Today's starting pitching hero is ...
[looks at card]
... oh, Jeff Samardzija! Come on down. That was a nice, steady start that was completely unremarkable in its remarkableness. Samardzija allowed three runners over eight innings -- three! -- while striking out eight. His last pitch of the game was a 96-mph fastball with movement.
The at-bat also featured a 93-mph cutter.
Let's say that after Samardzija signed, I was a responsible, dutiful blogger (lol) and watched every one of his starts with the White Sox last year before forming an opinion on the signing. Would there have been a way to piece the mystery together, realizing that Samardzija's struggles were just a part of the system, man?
There's no way. I would have watched baseballs flying over the fence, one after the other, with seven-inning starts continually ruined by one bad inning, and I would have thought Samardzija was a bad investment.
The Giants watched those starts and said, no, this is someone we need to have, even if we need to give him one of the 10 biggest contracts in franchise history.
I'm glad the Giants take care of this stuff, not me. I'm here to post pictures of Johnny Cueto with beluga whales.
"Baaaaby beluga, in the deep blue sea, you swim so wild, you swim so OH GOD THERE'S A SHARK oh wait it's cool he's friendly and affable, and well this song is ruined and saved at the same time."
I can't believe we spent so much time this offseason arguing which of the pitchers were the right free agents to sign. The answer was, apparently, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija.
This stuff is so easy.
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I would have sent Samardzija out for the ninth. I admit it. I'm a fool for symmetry and riding the hot hand. It probably wasn't the right move -- give me a rested Santiago Casilla over a 100-pitch Samardzija any day -- but I was drunk on complete games. They taste like your first crush, and the Giants had two of them in a row.
Bruce Bochy, though, saw an opportunity to rest the pitcher who had thrown the most pitches in baseball this year. That's so danged progressive. There was no reward in leaving him in, other than the shiny medals. And I was so ready for milestones, like an old coot, yelling "LEAVE HIM IN. OLD HOSS WOULD HAVE APPROVED."
Good for him, bad for me. Santiago Casilla gave up a nonsense hit to the first batter, struck out two, and got lucky with the final out of the game. Which is about what you should expect. It all worked out with a two-run lead.
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Joe Panik was due. His batting average on balls in play was ghastly, and it's not like we needed the stats to figure that out. It was obvious that he was hitting into hard-luck outs all the danged time. He was 4-for-5, and he deserves more.
The Giants are a better team with their mini-Boggs hitting as well as he's capable of. It's good to see him keep his head up and slap singles all over the place. His BABIP before this game was in the .230s. He was due.
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Matt Duffy? We'll talk about him another day, maybe tomorrow. It's a rough stretch, but it's happening at a perfect time. In the middle of an eight-game losing streak, this recap might have had dumb things in it. "MAYBE IT'S TIME TO SEE WHAT CONOR GILLASPIE CAN DO, HURR", as if Duffy wouldn't be more valuable with a .650 OPS and his glove than Gillaspie with an .800 OPS and his glove.
But I don't know. Losing streaks make a fella blog some silly things.
As is, I'm not worried too much yet. It's the cushion of an eight-game winning streak. The Giants pitched great (again), got just enough hitting (again), and squeaked into history (again). Focus on the winning, and when Duffy gets hot again, praise him for timing his miserable streak at the *exact right time*.
Really, if he ends up having a fine season, I'm going to side-eye him a little for having timing that's a little too good.