Chemistry in Action
Someone help me out here. How does a team muster up the fortitude to hurl four consecutive shout-outs? To accomplish the feat one time is always such a complete team effort. It requires not only that the pitcher be 100% on his game, but that all of the defense in back of him, also perform at the highest level. In fact the Giants have not made an error in six games. Though they still lead the National League in total errors, they are beginning to climb out of this deficit.
As I have noted before, a team is in infinitely better shape to have begun the season struggling, before straightening up, than a team that comes out the gate like a firecracker, only to fizzle at the halfway point. Our pitching, always the foundation upon which our team is built, has not only stepped up the pace, but established new parameters as far as expectations are concerned. After all, they do not have to shut out the opposition, they only have to limit it to fewer runs than the home team scores. Let’s just say they are overachieving at this point in time.
The ultimate result of this kind of run of success is confidence. Most of the brain-trust most closely connected to Timmy, assert that his issue is all about confidence. He has demonstrated all season, that there is nothing wrong with his mechanics, only with his consistency. For a pitcher to be able to pitch well for 98 out of a hundred pitches is all well and good, unless those two errant pitches result in enough offense to surpass the heretofore anemic offense that the Giants have provided this past season.
So with the elevation of the pitching and the improvement of the defense, what is left? How about offense? I am not going to start giving you stats that prove that we are a better team than last year. We have Buster back, so I can skip that step. With Buster Posey on the team, whether he catches or plays first base, he is the heart and soul of the Giants, and he makes them a better team. He is the franchise, and his presence in the lineup makes any combination of players stronger.
Brian Sabean had to decide over the offseason, whether he would pursue the “big bat,” or whether he would go with speed and defense. It turned out that by going for the latter, he came mighty close to achieving the former. I’m talking about the combination of Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrerra, playing center and left field respectively, who have provided much of the offense, missing from last year. Melky is currently hitting around .355, third highest in the league, and Pagan set a franchise record, by hitting in 28 consecutive home games. Though neither comes under the category of “big bat,” both fit neatly under the label of solid contributors.
Next, we have seen the two Brandons, Crawford and Belt, emerge in varying degrees, which last year strongly hinted would be the case. Belt has recently found his swing, and had an excellent run, which has included four home-runs, and a batting average pushing .500. Add Gregor Blanco, a tantalizing addition to the team because of his potential, and we are seeing the same kind of chemistry starting to bubble that we saw percolating in 2010, and seemed so incapable of catching on last season. Add to this mix, the rising status of such key components as Hector Sanchez, a promising figure at catcher, Ryan Theriot, Freddie Sanchez’ (remember him?) replacement, and Joaquin Arias, who filled in so adequately for Pablo, and we see the nucleus of a solidly contending team. There are only three teams in the majors with a better win/loss record, and two of them are in the American League.
The one National league team with a better record, Washington, we will be playing four against right after we finish with Cincinnati. There never seems to be much variation among the elite teams in baseball. All have formidable pitching and all pose a threat. Our record against the National League Central, is 15-7, a remarkable feat. Now we will see how the NL East pans out.
I saved Santiago Casilla for last, primarily because of how significant the lack of a steady closer was last August and September, when we slipped out of first place, and ended up well-back of the Rattlers, in the NL West. I also saved him for last because of the manner in which Santiago goes about his business. Whereas Brian Wilson seemed to need a couple of base runners to get his adrenaline (and ours) going, Casilla seems much more efficient, Sunday’s setback at the hands of the A’s, notwithstanding.
Together, new Giants and old, are combining to establish new heights along the road to this year’s playoffs. I know I will not be content, until I have seen the Giants in the World Series again, most likely against the resurgent Yankees (I can’t see Texas making it a third straight year). I’ll stack our starting pitching up against any in baseball, and rely on Bruce Bochy to extract the most out of his talented and underrated lineup. It worked in 2010 and with Buster back, it should work again this year. If you don’t believe me, ask any Dodger fan. A short while ago they were on top. Now all they can do is watch the Giants’ rapidly disappearing taillights, in the mid-summer night’s twilight. Get used to it because the vehicle for success has been put into motion, and with Timmy back, nothing is going to slow it down, until it hits the the crowd in downtown San Francisco, next October, at the parade. Go Giants!