Jake Peavy was running on the pitch, and that's why he scored the first run of the game.
Jake Peavy allowed one hit over seven innings, throwing 57 of his 77 pitches for strikes.
I can't decide which one makes me giggle more. They're both a nod to the dadaist tradition of our national pastime, and I love them so. Start with the first one: In the top of the sixth inning, Peavy was on base. A bat died a glorious death to get him there, and it now exists in Bat Valhalla, where it is feted like the hero it really was.
While on first and Denard Span up, Peavy had a telegram wired into his brain by the Even Year Gods.
Run. Steal on a pitcher's first move. Go the distance.
Span is a pretty great candidate for a hit-and-run, really, considering how well he makes contact. But to what end? There were two outs. There was no double play to prevent. Getting a runner to third with two outs wouldn't accomplish much, not enough to risk a swing and a miss. If the catcher dropped the ball or something, and Peavy made it into second, that only means he would score on a double. Why bother with a hit and run with a slow pitcher with two outs? It bugged me.
Until I found out that Peavy made the call on his own, not Bochy.
Run. Go. Like the wind. Ease his pain.
Whose pain? Bruce Bochy's? Tim Flannery's? Thomas Pynchon's? Doesn't matter. Just listen to the voices in your head, and you'll be fine, that's what I always say. Peavy running on the first pitch of Span's at-bat is the only reason he scored on the triple. It's beautiful. The wind whispered Jake Peavy's name, and thinking it was playing a prank on him. It watched, like the rest of us, mouth agape, as he circled the bases.
It wasn't the winning run. At least, the Giants added on after that, so we'll never know. But there's an alternate (NON-CANON) timeline where Matt Wisler doesn't give up the run and pitches differently to start the eighth inning, which would mean he wasn't pulled. And it's not like the Giants were having stellar at-bats against him. That could have been doom.
Instead, Peavy called his own number and ran around the bases, using nothing but echolocation to find his way because he does not have the gift of sight, and it was the first run in a game the Giants didn't allow any runs. Part of me wants to feel bad for the Braves. Part of me thinks about 1993 and realizes the Braves still haven't paid enough back on that pain mortgage, even after 2002 and 2010.
Oh, and now we get to the part where Peavy pitched like an ace again. This was his second straight start against a dreadful lineup, and he pitched brilliantly. You might want to dismiss this outing, then, just like the one against the Padres last week. If he pitches well against the bad lineups, pitches okay against the mediocre lineups, and gets clobbered by the good lineups, what use is he?
That's the description of an average pitcher, though, in theory. It's usually not going to be this neat -- with him mixing in some stinkers against bad teams and solid outings against good teams -- but there's utility in a pitcher who can flummox inexperienced hitters.
Which isn't to suggest that he's back, maybe with a capital B, and the Giants should look to upgrade other parts of the roster in July. But he threw strikes. He hit his spots. One of these days, they'll come out with a ICMMFT stat (inches catcher's mitt moved from target), and we'll get to quantify this, but I guarantee you the mitt was moving far, far less than it was when he needed 112 pitches to get through five innings against the Blue Jays, or when he needed 55 pitches to get through 1⅔ innings against the Cubs.
A Peavy who can live on the edges is a Peavy who can help. He helped last year, alright. That's all the Giants were expecting before this season started. Why was that so weird?
Happy 35th birthday, Jake Peavy. You're making the Giants' loyalty and refusal to give in to kneejerk reactions look smarter than I ever would have guessed.
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Let's give a little nod to Tyler Flowers, whose fifth-inning hit punctured any ideas of a Peavy no-hitter that wasn't going to happen. The hit allowed Bruce Bochy to send a pinch-hitter up with the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth. Good work, Jake. Hit the showers, we're proud of you.
Without the hit, Peavy hits with the bases loaded. I don't know what happens, but maybe the Giants don't tack on another three runs. Maybe they don't tack on anything at all. And Peavy would have gone out for the eighth inning to protect a 1-0 lead ...
That's why Tyler Flowers is our Four Roses Player of the Game. Note that Four Roses doesn't sponsor us yet, but we're being proactive. Bulleit never called me, and I moved on anyway.
* * *
I don't know what Denard Span is going to play like in two years. He's already less than a speedster, and I worry about his injury history.
I'm unequivocally glad that Span is on the Giants. If the Giants signed Zack Greinke and Justin Upton on the same day last December, I would have rolled around in the mud like a dumb dog, laughing and predicting 105 wins. It wouldn't have worked out like that. Instead, the answer was Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, and Span. We would also accept Dexter Fowler and Jordan Zimmermann mixed in there, possibly with a side of Yoenis Cespedes mixed in, but you get the point.
The Giants' offseason has been beyond reproach in the first two months. There are about 20 teams that can't say the same thing.
* * *
Seven of the eight Giants in the starting lineup have an OPS between .718 and .890, with Conor Gillaspie (and eventually Matt Duffy) being the lone exception.
That is a very, very 2016 Giants stat, for better and for worse. Mostly better.