Sunday, August 02, 2009


What Phunk?

Remember less than two weeks ago, when the Giants were in the throes of a rough road trip, and the shine of an unexpectedly exciting season looked like it was wearing off in a hurry? Giants fans who were heretofore jumping with glee were back to their old 2005-2008 ways, lining the sidewalks of 24 Willie Mays Plaza, holding signs proclaiming the end to be nigh, and demanding Brian Sabean be strung up by his Buster Browns.

Yeah, that seems like an eternity ago. Funny what a little home cookin' will to to revive a team and the loyalty of its fanbase. The Giants took three out of four from the first place Phillies in what had to be the most exciting series of the year so far. Barry Zito pitched another great game today, especially impressive since he didn't walk anyone. That makes four terrific starts in a row, and five of his last six. Dare I say he's starting to gain the trust of a Giants fanbase (not to mention blogging community) that derided him so? Most impressive of all was the fact that his fastball was touching 90 mph on several occasions. Perhaps the offseason training regimen in Muscle Beach is paying dividends, after all.

Freddy Sanchez made a major contribution in his Giants debut, hitting a game-tying double off of Cole Hamels that ended up sparking the victory. Good first impressions are always nice. Any player who is brought in, like Sanchez was, to help out in the heat of a pennant race benefits from a short honeymoon period (hell, even Shea Hillenbrand was cheered upon his arrival), and sure enough, he got a hearty ovation from the fans in his first at-bat and throughout the entire game. It served as a nice reminder that, as much as I (and many in the blog world) ranted about the lack of wisdom in the Sanchez trade, I'm in the significant minority on that subject and in my general Giants worldview.

I can't leave without mentioning Tim Lincecum's amazing start on Saturday night. In a performance that may have been his most impressive all year (that's saying something, obviously), he dominated one of the best lineups in the major leagues, and at times just had Phillie hitters eating out of his hands. I mean, you know you're good when everyone in the ballpark knows the changeup is coming, the batter sure as hell knows the change is coming, you still throw the pitch, and the batter still can't hit it. Even with Lincecum sitting at over 110 pitches after eight innings, I would have understood if Bruce Bochy had just left him in to finish the job. Brian Wilson came in and retired the Phils without incident, though, so it turned into a moot point.

Next up: A short road series against an Astros team that is slip-slidin' away from the upper regions of the NL Central, caught in a valiant race to equal their brutal Pythagorean record. Ideally, it's a series the Giants should win, but you could have said the same thing about the Pirates two weeks ago, and the offense has been even more terrible away from home, if that can be believed. Take nothing for granted, even with MLB's designated poster child for atrocious long-term contracts, Mike Hampton, going tomorrow.

--I have to say, one of my favorite crazes around the ballpark these days is the fans running around in panda suits. Fans of opposing teams must watch these games at Mays Field and think we've gone completely insane. Some guy even put a panda costume on his poor dog in the bleachers last night. Aside from the incredibly creepy "Spuds Mackenzie" panda masks (which is what Krukow refers to them as), it's a hilarious and fun phenomenon.

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