May 2, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder Michael Morse (38) celebrates a solo home run in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Back in April, from the 17th through the 22nd, the Giants dropped five of six, scoring a total of six runs in the five losses. The Giants’ win/loss record at this time was 11-10, and there was much weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
Since that time San Francisco has won ten of eleven games, including the last six so I ask you, which team is the real San Francisco Giants-the one playing at one game above .500, or the one which has gone 10-1 in its last eleven games? The answer is obvious: neither one.
The Giants are not going to play at better than a .900 clip for the duration of the season, nor will they play at a .500 level. If they took two of every three for the remainder of the season (.667) that would be exceptional, though possibly still not good enough to take back the division title from Los Angeles.
What this most recent searing stretch clearly establishes, is that our starting pitching is beginning to gel in the same manner as our bullpen. Couple that with the increase in home run production, and it produces an element not available on the open market: It produces confidence. Confidence is that intangible commodity that cannot be acquired through trade or free-agency. It must be forged in the fires of the battle.
Take last night’s opening game of the Pittsburgh Pirates series. Yusmeiro Petit, fresh off his quality start last week, again replaced Matt Cain, but this time the results were different and he gave up eight runs. Down 8-2 after five, the Giants found a novel way [for them this season] to score runs.
Mar 16, 2014; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Hudson (17) is a huge reason why the Giants are in first place. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
After not getting one single hit with a runner in scoring position during the entire series in Atlanta, the Giants had eight such hits in last night’s game. After homering in ten straight games, they did not hit the long ball. And after giving up only three runs in three games in the series in Atlanta, Giants’ pitching gave up ten runs last night. Go figure.
The game had more highs than a gathering of aging hippies. From Michael Morse’s first-inning, run-producing double, to Jean Machi’s electrifying sprint up the first-base line in the thirteenth inning, the game continuously kept me off-balance with its tempo, and the bullpen had to get out of one jam after another. Each time the Giants scampered free of another pickle, I felt this delicious sensation of enjoyment.
This is National League Baseball at its best. Relax, as much as that is possible, do not get too high when the going is good and-most importantly-do not get too down when the going is tough. For tough it will get and very soon. Just ask Tim Hudson who will have to face Clayton Kershaw this Sunday in Los Angeles.
On this killer road trip, though, the Giants are making a statement to three teams which made the playoffs last October: We have arrived; we did NOT make the playoffs last year; we do not intend to repeat that mistake.
This is how we do.
April 5, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford (35) celebrates the 7-2 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports