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Giants pound out 18 hits, 13 runs, win fourth straight

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There were hits. Lots of them. And the second-longest winning streak of the season is right now.

San Francisco Giants v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

I’m not sure this winning streak will last, but there’s an extended one coming this year. One of these weeks, one of these months, the Giants will remind everyone that they weren’t supposed to look like complete bozos. They’ll remind everyone of why they were supposed to contend, and they’ll win for, like, two weeks. Future generations will look back at the 72-90 team and think, “Woof, that wasn’t a good team,” instead of, “That was the worst team in franchise history.” And we won’t be there to explain how they looked like the worst team in franchise history for a long time.

If they’re going to do that, this might as well be the winning streak that starts it all off.

Heck, ride it until the week after the All-Star Game. It won’t make the Giants buyers instead of sellers. It might screw up the draft pick, which is to say, it might mean they’ll draft Buster Posey instead of Tim Beckham. It’s fun when the Giants win. It’s fun when they make the other team look like complete bozos. The Giants scored 13 runs for the second time this season, and while that’s fun and grand and welcome, I would like to point out one important fact: The 2008 Giants never scored 13 runs or more in a game.

This is because the 2008 Giants were completely awful, and I’m absolutely willing to believe that the 2017 Giants are just bad. I’m willing — no, desperate — to believe that this lineup is better than the 2008 Giants because it would validate everything I think I know about baseball. Before that season started, I was sure the Giants were going to score six runs, tops, all season, and I was right.

Before this season started, I was pretty sure the Giants were going to be good. And over the last four games, I was also right! Man, that Cactus League felt like three months, beautiful day for baseball, let’s play two and get this season started.

And at the risk of diminishing the two-hit, two-run night from Austin Slater, the Giants got 18 hits, and most of them were from familiar sources. Here, let’s pretend that the Giants are good, and you’re using this game to explain it to someone from the past.

Span was 4-for-5, and he scored four runs.

Well, sure, people forget that he was really good with the Nationals when he was healthy, not to mention the Twins. The Giants knew what they were doing when they signed him. Dynamic leadoff hitter when he’s going right.

Joe Panik was 3-for-5.

I kept telling you, the concussion was the real problem last year. He shook the cobwebs off, and he’s raking again. Probably on track for another All-Star Game, really.

Brandon Belt hit his 15th homer of the year, and he has a chance, a real chance, to be the first 30-homer guy on the Giants since Barry Bonds retired.

Heck, yeah. He’s such a treasure. I’m just glad that everyone agrees and every last Giants fan can rally around this guy.

Hunter Pence had three hits and five RBI. That was the first time he’s driven in more than two runs in any game since May, 2016.

Yeah, well, he’s good at what he does, and ... wait, did you say 2016?

Brandon Crawford was 0-for-6.

what is wrong with that guy

Dunno, but just drink in the idea that this was supposed to be the kind of lineup that would string hits together like this. They weren’t going to dominate the National League. They weren’t going to lead the NL in runs scored. But every so often, the line drives would come in the proper permutation, and the Giants would look like a contender.

We can talk about the Giants’ organizational approach and how it’s slanted to line drives instead of home runs, and whether that’s a worthwhile gambit in AT&T, but I don’t think anyone expected the team to be as dreadful as they were for the first three months.

Check that: the first three months, minus four games. The Giants are playing at an .800 clip over their last five games. Are you not impressed?

I am.

But I’m sort of looking for anything at this point.

Johnny Cueto’s command was so wonky that he couldn’t even tempt Brian Gorman’s ludicrous strike zone. Cueto missed early, missed often, and never looked comfortable.

If this were the Cueto we’ve had to watch all season, I would be terrified. It would have meant that he was going to opt in, and we were going to have to watch the death rattle of a previously dynamic ace.

Except Cueto hasn’t looked like this all season. He’s looked like the same pitcher as last year, for the most part, except there’s always an ill-timed bloop, or home run ball, that ruins all of his good work. Happens. And it’s why I haven’t been worried about him.

More starts like this would worry me. I have no idea who that guy was. You could smell his shoulder burning from 3,000 miles away.

And yet he still got the win. What a wonderfully dumb stat. What a wonderfully dumb sport. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jeff Samardzija hired some masked goons to take the win from him.

Ryder Jones got his first hit. Say, Ryder, how did it feel?

San Francisco Giants v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Oh! Well, I’m happy, too. I was grinding along with him with every at-bat, begging for him to get a hit so that everyone could stop thinking about how he doesn’t have a hit, especially him. And there was always disappointment. Sometimes deserved, sometimes not.

Ryder Jones got his first hit, and it’s probably a good time to remember that it’s absurd he’s in the majors in the first place. Look at his minor league line and marvel. What a year he’s having. Even if he went 0-for-47, he should have felt proud about the progress he’s made.

But it’s better if he doesn’t go 0-for-47, so here we are. Look at that proud papa face up there. He birthed a hit, and everything is back on track.

And Jones got his first hit in the same game that large anthropomorphic rectangle Dan Slania made his major league debut. How did Slania feel?

San Francisco Giants v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Kind of like that, bless him. He swallowed the butterflies and threw them back up, and he was all smiles the whole time. I love that.

It was a game of smiles. Thirteen runs and a winning streak will do that for everyone.

Brandon Belt did so well, he got interviewed for the post-game show! How did you baseball so well, Brandon?

That’s So Brandon™! When the Giants find Belt and return him safely, we’ll update you on his condition.