This time last week, the San Francisco Giants were looking up through a hail of dirt, courtesy of the naysayers who—even now—refuse to believe pitching and defense can win. That the combination can even emerge from 162 games of bumps, bruises, and scars with a Wild Card or division flag.
The latter is still safely on its way to Chavez Ravine, but the former is very much a possible reality for the Orange and Black.
Don't believe me?
Then perhaps you haven't noticed which squad has the fewest losses on its home field in all of Major League Baseball.
Yes, the Gents are a different and inferior team on the road—very few squads can resist a similar pox. Only the Philadelphia Phillies can claim to be well-above .500 away from home...and they are way above .500.
The Phils are so good in roadies, their record (31-15) can almost match San Fran's gleaming home equivalent. But that simply makes them an egregious statistical outlier.
After Philly, you have the Los Angeles teams—the one actually located in LA and the one hailing from Anaheim—who sit seven and eight games above even money, respectively.
So the Giants, at 21-31 away from AT&T Park, must get better if they hope to stay in contention. But they don't have to get that much better. Most of the second season hopefuls toil a little south of .500.
Additionally, it's equally true that very few nines can win 33 of 48 in their commodious local digs. Fortunately, San Francisco can.
Los Gigantes are two home games removed from an awkward road trip that kept landing the fellas in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like in Pittsburgh as Ryan Doumit and the Pirates remembered how to play good baseball with bat and leather.
Like in Atlanta as the Braves trudged three formidable hurlers to the mound where they were backed by a suddenly volatile offense.
Like in Colorado as the wave of Rockie love and confidence crested.
As I alluded to, the six losses in nine roadies prompted the pundits and experts to starting lowering the San Francisco coffin into its inevitable grave. This was it. Unless the organization went out and spent lavishly for a premium bat, the lack of offense was finally gonna drag the Giants down.
Hold the phone and someone cue Samuel Clemens.
Tim Lincecum squashed a bit of those premature pronouncements by throwing an absolute blinder, even for him. He went nine strong, didn't suffer an earned run, and set a new career-high for whiffs with 15 against those same Buccos.
Barry Zito followed the Freak's lead by twirling a dazzler of his own. Of course, he also showed why his season is so distorted—he spotted the Bucs a single earned run, but was yanked in the sixth with two outs because the bats only cobbled an equalizer in response.
It was the right move to bring in Sergio Romo (who preserved the tie and eventually got Zito's W), but it's a perfect example of the maligned southpaw's luck—if he's getting shellacked, they let him eat the carnage while he gets hooked early when pitching well because he's getting no run support.
Regardless, the Gents grabbed a second straight victory and go for the sweep today behind Matt Cain.
They're back atop the NL Wild Card race for now, the New York Mets seem to have broken the Rox' momentum, the self-congratulation over a demise everyone knew was coming has trickled to a couple inane ramblings, and even the Bums are getting shelled.
Yep, life is good again in the City by the Bay.
As it usually is when the San Francisco Giants are back in town.