A Trifecta of Sweeps Sees Giants Optimism Soar, Fall, Then Rise Again

Danny PenzaSenior Writer IJune 22, 2009

Oh, how things over the course of the most recent San Francisco Giants homestand changed with every series that passed.

After the Giants swept their cross-bay rivals, the Oakland Athletics, the city was filled with optimism. People thought maybe this team, which is so loaded with pitching, could actually contend for the National League wild card.

Three days later, those good vibes were quickly disposed of almost as fast as Giants hitters against the Los Angeles Angels. The Halos jumped all over San Francisco pitching, and the series was capped off by an eighth inning comeback against reigning NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum.

What is the most memorable thing of the series against the Angels? Not a potential late-inning comeback in the opener, but the fans booing Barry Zito off the mound after his worst outing of an otherwise great season.

One bad start obviously overrides two months of quality starts, right? Fickle fans don’t fly with this guy.

Was it the Giants playing poorly or just running into a hot Angels team? Yeah, some uncharacteristic plays in the field cost the boys in the series finale, but over the course of the season, every team is going to go through that. Zito had a poor start, and it’s better to get it out of his system now rather than during a potential playoff run in September.

But as quickly as those cheers from his last start at home turned to boos for Zito, they were back to standing ovations as the $126 million man was finishing a sweep of the Texas Rangers.

A homestand with nothing but sweeps...does that make any kind of sense to you?

The pitching that was so bad against the Angels was phenomenal against the Rangers, limiting one of the best offenses in the business to just seven runs over the course of the three-game series.

Not too shabby against a team that leads its division.

The Giants offense wasn’t spectacular as it had been against the A’s—Matt Cain got shafted out of a great start, like he has been so many times in the previous two seasons—but when you’re pitching great, all you need is to play solid ball behind them and let the arms lead the way.

Get used to it, because this may be the way things are.

Because this team doesn’t mash like the team it just faced; there are going to be a lot of up-and-down performances. Obviously it’s not what we want, but it’s going to be something we’re all going to have to deal with.

Look at it this way: ...things could be a whole lot worse.

Considering how mediocre the National League has been and how much clamoring there has been for the Giants to acquire a bat, the way we evaluate this team might as well be on a series-to-series basis. That causes people to complain, and sometimes rightfully so, but, then again, things can improve just three days after they seemed so grim.

And let’s face it—how many of us expected this team to be six games over .500 at any point in the season?

While it may have been up-and-down like a crab boat on the Bering Sea in the middle of January, the homestand showed us that this team has quite a bit of fight in it. In the aforementioned series-opening loss to the Angels, the Giants didn’t give up, and with the help of a couple Pablo Sandoval bombs to left-center, made a blowout into a somewhat relevant game.

In the Texas series, they got out to early leads only to see the game get tied up both times in the latter stages of gems thrown by Zito and Cain.

Did they give up and throw in the towel? Nope. Just put the hardhat on and fought back to get a win both times.

Nothing more you can ask from a ballclub than to just keep fighting no matter what is happening.

Simple elementary school science tells us that what goes up must come down. But with great starting pitching and a rock solid bullpen, you’re able to get up once again.

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