Start with the update: Brandon Belt's ankle sprain is mild. He'll miss a couple of days rather than a couple of months, which is great news, considering it looked much gnarlier than that. This could have been a very depressing recap.
As is, the Giants beat the Padres for the ninth straight time. They've won 13 of their last 14 games, sweeping three out of their last four series. They're one of the hottest teams in franchise history, even though they've averaged just 3.5 runs during the stretch. For perspective, the last time the Giants won 13 out of 14 games was the start of the 2003 season. They scored 84 runs -- nearly 2½ runs per game more than what his team has done. Scoring runs is sort of a big part of winning.
This is the longest winning streak the Giants have ever had against the Padres, and I have a theory about it. Here's how many strikeouts Padres pitchers have picked up against the Giants this year, compared to the rest of the league:
Putting the ball in play against the Padres is a very, very good idea because most of them field like a pelican trying to swallow its own body. Consider Hunter Pence's walk-off bloop on Monday. Please consider it. It was glorious. While Wednesday's game didn't involve defensive buffoonery, you can tell that they were at least thinking about it.
Whatever the reason, up to and including blind luck, the Giants have played the Padres nine times, and they've won all nine games. This was unexpected. And to think, you spend most of your time running a website where you complain about playing the Padres too often. Ha ha, boy, I'm sure glad that I'm not you.
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Before you use the "Whatever, it was the Padres" excuse as a way to minimize Jake Peavy's start, please note that you certainly didn't use the "Oh, he's fine; the Cubs are just that good" excuse in his last start. Seems unfair to pick and choose your excuses.
Still, it's not time to run through the streets, ringing doorbells and telling your neighbors that Peavy is back. There probably isn't ever a great time to do that, even if it's true, but certainly don't do it right now. That doesn't mean you shouldn't consider this start a positive development. Here, I'll start:
That looked like the Jake Peavy from last year.
At least, the results did. We had such modest expectations before the season started, and his good outings were always supposed to look like this. He worked quickly and was economical with his pitches, just like he was in his best starts last year. He limited the free passes, but he also limited the 450-foot meatballs, just like he did in his best starts last year.
That doesn't mean there wasn't some significant Padresing going on. Derek Norris might be the most screwed-up hitter I've seen all year, and here's what he did to a fastball in the middle of the plate.
Another batter -- most batters? -- might have left us grumbling about Peavy yet again. In this case, it allowed him to sail through the inning and keep his pitch count low.
Still, if you look for those pitches in any outing, you're going to find them. They don't take away from this start, which was mostly excellent. I do want you to take a moment and think about this game from the Padres' perspective, though. Peavy is the greatest starting pitcher in Padres history, a homegrown starter who won the Cy Young. The rough comparison would be Tim Lincecum without the postseason stuff.
Which would make this a roughly comparable game to Lincecum struggling in a Dodgers uniform, then suddenly looking like his old self the second he faced the Giants, which led to yet another series sweep. The analogy almost falls apart because Padres fans don't hate the Giants quite as much as Giants fans hate the Dodgers.
But the analogy doesn't completely fall apart. The basic parts are still valid. Now you have a rough idea of how they're feeling after Wednesday's game.
I don't even have the heart to make a joke. I just wanted to point it out because it bothers me on some level. Luckily, that level is buried beneath layers and layers of darkness and malevolence, so I can't get to it. We'll just let it fester there for a while.
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Kelby Tomlinson has an arm?
KELBY TOMLINSON HAS AN ARM. I don't know why that would surprise me, considering he came up as a shortstop, but when the camera cut to the ball in flight, I wasn't expecting a 90-mph seed that was going to beat the runner by 10 steps.
It's curious that he's starting in the outfield at all, considering all of the offseason chatter about his outfield defense in instructional play. I didn't hear any specifics, but the general consensus was something like, "Uh ... yeaaaaaaaaaah, we're just going to keep him in the infield, nothing personal." Then he's suddenly starting in left and making ichironian throws from a healthy distance.
That's not to say that everything was super smooth. Outfielders don't catch a ball like this unless they did something wrong.
Hunter Pence was like, "Dang, he looked awkward making that catch."
Still, a Tomlinson who can play the outfield as well as every infield position is a mighty fine bench player to have, even if some of the bloops will stop falling at some point. If he were a Gold Glove-caliber infielder, he'd be starting somewhere. If he could hit 15 homers every year, he'd be starting somewhere. As is, those limitations have somehow morphed into something that's helping the Giants, considering they need a jack-of-all-mitts more than another starting shortstop or second baseman right now.
Fine work yet again, Kelby Tomlinson. And his leadoff double in the ninth should have helped the Giants win the game, too.
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George Kontos had entered a crucial spot in a game just twice before Wednesday. The first time, he walked a batter in a tie game, then promptly picked up a double play. The second time, he gave up two hits in the 10th and lost the game. If the Giants can avoid using him in a pickle, they do so. Not to mention, the last two times we saw him, he allowed line drives and runs.
He was excellent. With Hunter Strickland and Santiago Casilla burned and Cory Gearrin appearing in four out of the last five games, Kontos was the only hope for the Giants after a couple of Javier Lopez mistakes.
Kontos' first pitch was a hanging slider, ha ha, but his second pitch was a cutter right at the bottom of the zone, perfect in a double play situation. His third pitch was probably the best slider he's thrown all season, and he got a crucial strikeout with a runner on third and one out.
His fourth pitch of the inning was a cutter right at the bottom of the zone again. Matt Kemp grounded out, and that's the story of how George Kontos was a hero in four danged pitches. He deserved to have water dumped on his head just as much as Brandon Crawford.
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Here are people punching Brandon Crawford before Johnny Cueto runs in and dumps water on him.
This is the best team ever and this winning stretch will never end.
We'll just have to remember the majesty of this peak the next time we're trudging through a valley. I see your stupid June face around the corner, June. Let us have this fun. This enormous pile of fun. It's so very fun.