It’s tough to go all-in and declare that a team is really, really good in June, ESPECIALLY after watching all of their games. Instead, the tendency is to talk about how bad the other teams are. The Twins came into AT&T Park with a record of 23-21, but you couldn’t convince me that the Twins weren’t awful after the Giants swept them.
The Twins are still hovering around .500, just like the Mets, Braves and Indians — the other teams the Giants have swept. The Mets aren’t the best team at hitting baseballs, and that was a nice bonus for Tim Lincecum today. But at some point, we either have to decide whether Major League Baseball is full of crappy teams or the Giants are just really, really good.
There’s still a lot of baseball left, and it’s not like the Giants are blowing teams out every day. They won their fifth consecutive game on Sunday, a 6-4 win over New York. It was also their fifth straight come-from-behind victory. Again, just like Friday night’s would-be Caining and last night’s totally-frustrating-until-the-end win in the ninth on Michael Morse’s walk-off drive to right-center, this looked like a game they would’ve lost a year ago.
Tim Lincecum walked the leadoff hitter, later picked him off (Matt den Dekker isn’t quite as intimidating as Billy Hamilton), but still gave up a two-run home run to Curtis Granderson to put the Giants in a bind.
No big whoop … again. A three-run second inning featuring hits from Hector Sanchez, Tyler Colvin, Brandon Crawford and Gregor Blanco put the Giants in front, and that’s where they’d stay.
Angel Pagan and Buster Posey didn’t play. Lincecum gave up two home runs to Curtis Granderson. Michael Morse went 0-for-4. The Giants were going against a former prospect who throws 96-97 mph and still wants nothing more than to beat the team that traded him for Carlos Beltran in 2011.
Just the 42nd recipe for a win this season, cooked up by a team that has shown a habit of making average teams look incompetent.
— Blanco hadn’t started in a week, which sounded crazy to me. It probably sounded crazy to Blanco too, since he was 11 for his last 24 after going 2-for-4 last Sunday in St. Louis. But after three at-bats over five games, he went 2-for-4 again today.
— What a great job by Crawford to jump up and over Brandon Hicks on Granderson’s eighth inning double. Crawford was thinking about diving, but saw Hicks was closer to the ball (and had already started his dive), so he jumped into the air and made sure he landed just shy of Hicks’ back. You wouldn’t know it from watching Crawford act all athletic on TV, but he’s a big dude.
— Maybe there are reasons why the Giants were willing to part with Zack Wheeler that we’re not privy to. But in watching his pitching arsenal — rising fastball, tight slider, sinker/curve/change — it’s hard not to wonder if his career trajectory would be different if he had Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner and the Giants’ pitching staff as potential mentors.
— The double play started by Morse in the top of the fourth to end the inning was sensational, and Lincecum (who recorded the second putout at first) was pumped.
— Am I the only one who’s wondering if the Giants should’ve gotten Belt some experience out in left field this spring? Belt is the team’s best defensive first baseman, but Morse is definitely serviceable. Wouldn’t nine innings each from Morse and Belt be optimal? I like Blanco as much as the next guy, but …
— I’ve gotten used to the taste of crow after writing about sports for over a decade, so here’s another bite — I was 100% wrong on Hicks’ defensive abilities. He has the best arm of any second baseman the Giants have had since Jeff Kent (and Hicks’ arm might be a little better), and he’s even sure-handed these days.
— Hicks also had a very Hicksy day at the plate — an RBI-single and three strikeouts. A trade for someone like Chase Utley or one of the White Sox middle infielders could be coming in late July if the price is right and the Giants’ winning percentage (currently .667) dips a bit.
— I’m not sure if it took getting his scooter stolen, but Hunter Pence has been a little salty lately. Who could blame him for getting upset after Wheeler drilled him in the ribs with a 94-mph two-seamer, but he’s been arguing called third strikes with almost Pagan-like frequency over the last couple weeks. I can’t lie — I kind of like it.
— If Juan Gutierrez wore Guillermo’s old number (59), I’d have a hard time not calling him “Rich Man’s Mota” from here on out.
— Bruce Bochy made a pretty funny comparison between Sergio Romo and Brian Wilson yesterday, and Romo squashed the Mets like snail on a busy sidewalk today. He’s leading the majors with 20 saves, a 51-save pace.
— Chris Young looked so defeated after fielding Hicks’ eighth inning RBI-single. It’s not often that you see a center fielder smirk sadly while making a crappy short-hop throw to the first baseman.
— The Giants can go 53-46 and still win 95 games. And as someone who’s been a total math nerd for three decades, to the point where I actually thought majoring in economics was a good idea during my days at UC Santa Cruz, there’s something fun about the Giants’ current record. 42-21. Winning two-thirds of your games is fun.