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Murph: Halfway in on the Giants season, time to think big 



© Nick Turchiaro | 2023 Jun 29

From the same slice of cyberspace that gave you a somewhat-seething Opening Day Jock Blog (remember the indignity of the ‘Mat Beaty Moment’?), I give you a Giants mid-season report card of . . . 

Playoff Fever!

To which I can hear the cynical wing of the Jock Blog Army shout: Say what?!?!

To which I answer: Did I stutter? 

Hey oh! We’re getting spicily confident over here, but that’s what six split-fingered innings from Keaton Winn will do for you.

The Giants open a series in New York tonight against the reeling Mets, and the way the black and orange are hitting it, picking it and pitching it, you like their chances to win the series. At 45-36, they’re on a 90-win pace. Special stuff, sports fans. We all know the Giants won 107 games in the almost-inexplicable miracle of 2021, but can you guess the last time the Giants won 90 games prior to that?

I’ll be over here polishing Buster Posey’s MVP trophy while you figure it out.

That’s right. Not since 2012 has a Giants team won 90 games. They won 94 that year. We were younger in 2012, and nobody had ever heard of TikTok . . . unless you were talking the old school burger joint out on Third Street on your way to Candlestick.

At any rate, that’s the territory we’re flirting with. The Giants have earned this spot, only 2 1/2 out in the NL West and currently holding the third of three NL wild-card spots. You could say this is ridiculously early, talking playoffs before the 4th of July. But 81 games down is 81 games down, and this team should start thinking big. So should this fan base.

One of the unexpected joys of the past four weeks has been the slow rebirth of Oracle Park, a topic addressed a couple of weeks ago here. If you call up young kids, it turns out, they will come. Appealing things await at Third and King: a 4th of July matinee vs Julio Rodriguez and the Seattle Mariners; and end-of-July week hosting the A’s and Red Sox and Arizona; Bruce Bochy’s return with the swaggerin’ Texas Rangers in mid-August, followed by the AL’s finest, the binder-toting Tampa Bay Rays. There should be no shortage of energy at the yard.

And Gabe’s Babes have earned it. Casey Schmitt’s electric month of May may have cooled off in a flurry of aggressive chases at sliders outside the zone, but credit the floppy-haired kid for starting a movement. Luis Matos is 21 and, even though he is coming off an 0-for-10 in Canada, you can’t wait for his next at-bat or fly ball. There’s not much more to say about Patrick Bailey other than it is taking Incredible Hulk-level strength to resist the Buster Posey comps: the sunrise-on-a-lake calm behind the dish, the switch-hitting production, the respect of every veteran, and the laid-back persona chilling out underneath a bandana.

That’s not even to mention the addition of Keaton Winn to your life. The Giants have been high on this guy in the farm system for some time, and the beat writers told us about him this past spring in Scottsdale. Six innings in Toronto looked anything but fluky. 

Oh, and Kyle Harrison is still revving his engine in Sacramento.

The team is overcoming injuries to Alex Cobb, Alex Wood, Ross Stripling, John Brebbia and Scott Alexander with a “Bulk-pen”(shout out Markus ‘Waterboy’ Boucher for the nickname) approach. Cobb takes the hill tonight, and Wood is back, too.

At the plate, J.D. Davis is damn near an All-Star. Thairo Estrada, too. LaMonte Wade, Jr., too. When Davis got tossed in Toronto, he was angry that home plate ump John Tumpane robbed him the chance to “pass the baton” to Patty Bailey after a walk. Davis told reporters that’s what the team is taught; if you don’t get a pitch to drive, take your base and let your teammate keep the line moving. There was something telling in that explanation.

They’re buying what Farhan and Gabe are selling in the dugout.

Halfway in to a fun season, we should be, too. Beats the alternative.