The San Francisco Giants beat the San Diego Padres 1-0 last night, as Johnny Cueto threw a complete game shutout and they won on what was charitably (for Matt Kemp and Alexi Amarista) scored as a walk-off double for Hunter Pence.
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The Giants are on one right now. They are 11-1 in their last 12 games, with the lone loss against the Major League-leading Chicago Cubs. The stretch has been characterized by relatively quiet bats: they haven’t scored more than five runs in any of the 11 wins, averaging just 3.3 runs a game. The reason they have been virtually unbeatable is because their pitching is otherworldly.
Cueto’s complete game shutout was his second of the streak, and Madison Bumgarner has one too. Offseason pickups Cueto and Jeff Samardzija have been even better than advertised, and along with Bumgarner form a scary top of the rotation. But perhaps the most encouraging sign is that after an ugly start to his season, once upon a time ace Matt Cain has gone at least six innings and given up two or fewer runs in each of his last three starts.
When the Giants won the World Series in 2010, they were led by the pitching of Cain, Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, and an unhittable bullpen. By their 2014 World Series victory, the rotation was average and Buster Posey, Mike Morse, and Hunter Pence were raking. This season’s team seems to be better balanced, as despite the weak bats lately the Giants are still 10th in the league in runs scored, and the strength of their pitching staff is apparent.
And as everybody knows, it’s an even year, and last night the Giants got a little bit of that even year magic.