Jonathan Sanchez's No-No Is Just Icing on the Giants' First Half Cake

Danny PenzaSenior Writer IJuly 11, 2009

Just 24 hours ago, a pretty good portion of San Francisco Giants fans were wondering what the heck Jonathan Sanchez was doing back in the rotation after struggling so mightily before his demotion to the bullpen.

But because Randy Johnson was placed on the disabled list and, with much fanfare beforehand, Sanchez was put back in the rotation for the immediate future. It was one last shot to either show he is a valuable trade commodity or an arm that can stick with the club through the rest of the season.

Well, if tossing the first Giants no-no in 33 years with your father in the stands for the first time as a professional starting pitcher is impressive, then he may be one of the best 3-8 pitchers in the game.

He dazzled—striking out 11 and walking none—more than anybody who was in attendance, watching on the television or going old school and listening on the radio could’ve ever thought possible.

You think he made the most of his second chance?

All of this master artwork his first trip beyond the seventh inning this season, his first career complete game, his first career shutout, and all in his first start in three weeks.

As Giants broadcaster Jon Miller said after the game, “The pitching has, all the sudden, gotten even deeper.”

He’s topped Tim Lincecum just one day after The Franchise took a no-hitter of his own into the seventh, he’s topped Matt Cain’s stellar 2009, he’s done something neither of the previous two have.

For once, Sanchez has bragging rights over the two All-Star studs.

But that’s how the Giants season is going in 2009. So many things haven’t gone the way people had thought they would have and this team, despite its pitfalls, is contending for a playoff spot as the first half comes to an end.

After Sanchez and his remarkable return to the rotation, the Giants are 10 games over .500 and have 48 wins through 86 games. Not bad for a team whose offense was supposed to hold them down and prevent them from doing great things.

The Giants now have a chance to do something that wasn’t thought to be possible before the season started—win 50 games before the All-Star Break.

To put things into perspective—the Giants didn’t get win No. 48 in 2008 until game No. 113 on Aug. 6. They then went on to win No. 50 three days later and ironically, two days later, it was Sanchez who took a loss.

It’s funny how this game works.

Did we think they would contend for a playoff spot this season? Some might have but a lot of people wouldn’t have minded this team being close to even .500.

Yet they’re exceeding expectations and going beyond a lot of people’s wildest visions of contention.

A mediocre offense is now something that is built around a 22-year-old hitting machine whose nickname is becoming a fashion statement around the yard.

Pablo Sandoval is becoming the light-in-the-bottle that Lincecum was in his first-full season. He’s taken everybody not named Charlie Manuel by storm. A legitimate threat in the Giants lineup is something you wouldn’t have though was possible in the winter.

But now it is and Pandomania is runnin’ wild.

For all the offensive struggles at times, the six loses against the Padres in San Diego, the rough East Coast road trip filled with rain delays, this team believes in themselves and so are the ones who watch them on a daily basis.

It may be the second week of July, but there’s just that feeling again by the Bay that this team is going to be in it until the final weeks of the season.

This team plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played and they are all-for-one and one-for-all in every sense of the phrase.

The sign in the clubhouse that reads, “25 Guys...One Common Goal,” is certainly this case with this group of rag-tag ballplayers.

They’re a group you want to root for and if you don’t want to see them do well then you might want to have your fan card revoked.

This is the way you want a team to play and act. A rebuilding phase doesn’t mean you’re supposed to contend at the same time yet the Giants are defying the norm and expectations...again.

It’s starting to sound like a broken record but it is true.

The boos towards Sanchez turned to cheers—something we’ve seen so many times already this season.

When somebody starts to seem like they’re struggling, they get right back on the horse, start to contribute again, and regain the support of the faithful followers.

With Lincecum and Cain firing fastballs past hitters and snapping off breaking balls at the knees, it’s becoming a friendly competition of “whatever you can do, I can do better.”

And now Sanchez certainly can be invited to the party.