Never before in the long history of the Giants franchise had they thrown four straight shutouts, but they have now. They blanked the Reds 5-0. This after throwing three straight shutouts against the Dodgers. Their scoreless innings streak is now at 36 innings, the longest in team history.
The last time the Giants allowed a run was when Santiago Casilla gave up that walkoff homer to Derek Norris in Sunday’s game against the Athletics. Since then a string of pitchers have shut out the opposition. In order: Barry Zito, George Kontos and Shane Loux against the Dodgers on Monday, Ryan Vogelsong, Jeremy Affeldt and Casilla on Tuesday and Tim Lincecum, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo on Wednesday.
Last night was the best performance yet. Madison Bumgarner needed just 107 pitches to shut out the Reds, allowing only one hit and two walks while striking out eight. The only hit was Ryan Hanigan’s sixth inning single. Otherwise: bupkis.
The Giants now are in sole possession of first place in the NL West. If anyone is gonna do anything about that, they need to figure out how to score off these dudes first. For the moment: ain’t happening.
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.