I'll be honest, when the Giants signed Brad Penny on Aug. 31, I wasn't thinking he could recreate what he did the last time he was considered a legitimate major-league pitcher when he first strapped on the orange and black.
Not only was his time in Boston a complete disaster, his 2008 in sunny SoCal wasn't exactly something you want to remember either.
When the Giants signed him, his ERA the past two years was close to six and while he still had quality strikeout numbers, he wasn't coming close to the same pitcher we had seen when he started the 2007 All-Star Game at AT&T Park.
Boy, do I have egg on my face.
Not only has Penny been reinvigorated in the orange and black, he has been a complete stud. He’s made three starts, recorded three wins, and all three of them have been dominating performances for a microscopic ERA of 1.56 in a Giant cap.
A former Dodger is now being embraced by Giants fans—has hell frozen over?
Sunday's start was the most important of them all.
Not only had the Giants dropped two games to begin the biggest stretch of September, but they had been completely embarrassed, in their own ballpark, by their biggest rivals.
The Dodgers had completely steamrolled the Giants in the first two games of the weekend series, outscoring the Giants 19-4.
Then up steps Penny, the man who the Giants are paying less in September than the New York Yankees pay Alex Rodriguez for a couple of at-bats, to toe the slab and avert a complete revolt from the fanbase.
What was his response?
Seven innings, five hits, two runs, and one huge 7-2 win for not only Penny personally, but the Giants as a whole.
Statistically, that’s his worst start as a Giant. You know you’re cruising when giving up two runs over seven innings is looked at as a bad start compared to the others.
But by no means was Penny’s start on Sunday bad. In fact, it was desperately needed.
Let's face it—the Giants needed this win in every single way possible. Not only had the Giants looked completely incompetent against the team atop the National League West, but the Rockies have opened a comfortable buffer that even a San Francisco sweep in the next three games wouldn't completely close.
If not for Penny's win Sunday, the return of Tim Lincecum to the rotation might not have mattered as much as it should.
A sweep would have taken any kind of optimism that the faithful would have had—and that's with six more games in the crucial nine left to be be played.
The Giants were a team stuck in reverse when the Rockies actually lost a series. That's not what you want to do when you're the team trying to make up ground.
And the rotation is exactly how the Giants needed it to be—Lincecum, Barry Zito, and Matt Cain. The last time they faced the Rocks with that
One loss against Jim Tracy's boys, the season is cooked. Over and done with.
Los Gigantes can’t realistically close the gap, although they would never say it, after the Rockies leave town with the gap only lessened by one game.
Even a sweep means things aren’t going to be easy—especially with a trip to Chavez Ravine set to begin on Friday.
The way they have played this year away from the friendly confines of AT&T, there is no way to think that the Giants would all of the sudden make their triumphant comeback on the road.
That means the Giros have to win as often as they can at home. And before Penny's third gem in as many games in a Giants uniform, they hadn't done that—losing two out of three against the Padres and then losing the first two against the Dodgers.
The ship was sinking fast. Now at least Penny has slowed the pace down a bit.
Now it's up the Franchise to get the first game in the vital three-game set in the Giants’ favor. He said the team he is the face of needed a kick in the behind to get going once again and Penny provided that.
The bats can’t be counted on to lead the way and it’s time for Tiny Tim and his fellow gunslingers to put the team on their backs. There’s no easier way to put it.
Penny started it, now the others have to continue it.
But if there’s one slipup in the next six games, it might as well be wait 'til next year.
We all love meaningful September baseball returning to the City, but we didn’t hope it would develop into desperation mode with almost three weeks left to be played.
For one day, though, we can again say we're in again.