Giants Win, Do All Sorts of Weird Things
To say this was a strange game would be the understatement of the season. This was a supremely peculiar game in every sense of the word. Orlando Cabrera hit fifth, the Diamondbacks threw out a white flag lineup by deciding to rest their catcher, left fielder, and second baseman, and Guillermo Mota might have pitched Barry Zito out of a job with six strikeouts in two innings. Really there were smiles all around as the Giants managed to cling to a one game lead in the NL West. From here though, things don’t get any easier.
The Phillies come to town for four games tomorrow, as the Giants will continue to be tested in August. This is followed by a reeling Pirates team, and then the Marlins and Braves on the road. This stretch of games this month is arguably the most important one of the season, as it’s the last instance of the Giants facing above-.500 teams until September. In fact, the only contending team we’ll face after the Braves all season is the Diamondbacks in two more series. Other than that, we plays the Astros (7 games), Padres (8 games), Cubs (3), Dodgers (6), and Rockies (7). While that’s all well and fine, the DBacks have a similar stretch where they play just one non-Giants contending team over that same period (Braves for 3 games).
The ease of both respective schedules means that this division will come down to two things: how the Giants fare in the next 13 games, and how they fare in their remaining 6 games against Arizona. The rest as they say is silence. If the Giants struggle with the likes of the Cubs or Astros, then they probably don’t belong in the postseason anyway. Going forward, the same concerns still loom though, as we’ve become all too accustomed to such memes as “hit past a diving Keppinger” and “Orlando Cabrera is hitting fifth today.”
On a more positive note, today was a premium example of the greatness that ensues with Pablo and Beltran hitting third and fourth in the lineup, especially with Andres Torres back in the leadoff spot. There’s a right way and a wrong way to construct this lineup, and the wrong way involves not playing Torres against righties. When it comes to the Belt issue (five straight posts mentioning this now), I’ve become resigned to him never getting regular playing time barring an injury to a key player. The resignation I feel is both cathartic and depressing, but I’m sure I’ll get past it eventually. It helps to think of Ryan Vogelsong and the pure amazing that he’s exuded this season, as he comes out of this game still holding onto the NL ERA title. Good to have some positive vibes from this game following a soul-crippling five game losing streak. More to come later.