The other day as I was cruising home from ATT Park, after watching Ryan Vogelsong best the Dodgers and their ace Clayton Kershaw Giants announcer and former pitcher Mike Krukow noted just how much fun it was going to the ball park every day.
In fact, "Kruk" noted that he spoke to Barry Zito--who had helped shut out the Dodgers the night before--and noted what a huge smile the Giants lefty had on his face. Zito, Kruk noted, said of his grin, "How much more fun is coming to work than this?"
It is true. The Giants have sold out something like 120 consecutive games. The have the hits leader in the National League with surprising Melky Cabrera, a lovable corpulent third sacker in Pablo Sandoval, a couple of the more exciting young hitters in the league with catcher Buster Posey and the seriously improving Brandon Belt, and the best--and it helps to be healthy, for sure--starting rotation in baseball with Zito, Vogelsong, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, and Matt Cain.
Equally amazing, is the team is doing with ranking 28th in the majors in home runs, with their 47 only two better than the Dodgers (who would be higher were Matt Kemp not injured) and the Padres, who just are not very good at this juncture.
In fact, as I write the Giants pitcher's scoreless streak, which started Monday with Zito's win (Oakland's walk-off by Derek Norris last Sunday against Santiago Casilla) and lasted to the first inning last night, when the Reds scored three first inning runs off this year's Giants ace.
The truth is I had a busy week these past days, working the Giants/Athletics game last Sunday with the Norris walk-off (it was exciting), then Monday when Zito won, Tuesday when Vogelsong won, and Thursday when Bumgarner tossed a one-hit complete game shutout that had me (well, a bunch of us) thinking no-no in the second inning, when the lefty sawed off a third bat on a grounder, earning a pair of whiffs and four ground outs his first seven batters (the lead off hitter walked) and six outs.
It is true that the one hit of the game--a sharp single up the middle Ryan Hanigan--was a legit hit, in fact not one journalist approached my bud OS David Feldman after the Hanigan at-bat to ask if he would reconsider (you would be shocked how often that one comes up).
Still, that made four straight shutouts, one shy of the recent Baltimore Orioles mark of five in 1995, and major league record of six the Pirates culled in 1903.
Not to mention with that win, the Giants nudged their way past the arch rival Dodgers for a solo hold on first place. In fact, the week was so bad for the Bums that the closest they came to scoring a run was Chad Billingsley being thrown out at the plate. Nothing else was even close, as in there were no runners at third that I saw over my three games there.
But, it is not just that. Melky has his legions, known as the "Milkmen" in fact this esprit de corps has just added a couple of women, now dubbed "Milkmaids." They dress up in milkman delivery suits and boogie around in the stands as their hero bangs out incredible hit after hit. There are the Sandoval legions who wear Panda hats, and the Belt minions who wear Giraffe hats.
There are Posey devotees, and Lincecum devotees, and Cain fanatics, not to mention those crazy for Gregor Blanco and Angel Pagan (who knew?).
It is just crazy.
But, just is crazy is the team is playing dangerous baseball, just like they did in 2010 when they ran the table, largely on Aubrey Huff and strong pitching.
The difference is this team is better, with five good starters all in synch. And, you may have your questions about Lincecum, who suffered adjustment issues I believe (check my early May piece, What's With Timmy?), but seems to have come out of his depths last Friday, after allowing the first six Oakland baserunners to reach, allowing three runs (I worked that game, too). Almost 40 pitches in the first inning, but, after that six batter, Lincecum struck out the side, and did not allow another hit for his remaining six innings, carrying that into his Wednesday start against the Dodgers and seven more shut out innings.
And, well, all of this is being accomplished without one of the team's most iconic faces: Brian Wilson, the Beard and their closer.
It is fun to be at ATT, and I think the joy started with the arrival of Sandoval, and then Lincecum. But, it was the 2010 pennant race and World Series win that correctly, as San Francisco GM noted, turned San Francisco into a baseball town.
Chances are that as you read this, I will be winging my way back to the park to work the Saturday Giants/Reds game, and in deference to Zito, and Kruk noting that ATT was the happiest place on earth, I have to agree. I have been to Disneyland.
These days, I would much rather spend my time at the yard.