SAN FRANCISCO -- The novelty of sweeping any team by holding them to zero runs is something to admire. Doing it to the team you hate, better. Doing it to the team you hate when they had the best record in your league, grander still.
And now, with a 3-0 win over Los Angeles to go with the 8-0 and 2-0 wins just before it, the Giants understand that the novelty is done, and the self-satisfaction ended when the cars pulled into the driveways.
That is the game even when you want to preen and have every good reason to do so, the workload is simply too great to allow it. Having comprehensively crushed the Dodgers, the Giants get to bask in it for . . . .
Well, actually, times already up. The second-best team is down and bleeding, but now there are four with Cincinnati, the third best team, and then three with Washington, currently the best team. The Giants, in sum, aced a midterm, and thats all.
Well, almost all. In relocating the best Barry Zito theyve ever known and watching Tim Lincecum resurrect himself, the Giants look as close right now to the team that closed 2010 as it ever has. The starting pitching looks deep again, nobody got hurt in holding the Dodgers to 13 singles and three doubles (although Hector Sanchez looked a but the worse for wear after Wednesday), and the players are convinced again that they are more than one-trick ponies.
RELATED: Zito leaves Giants fans with no complaints
It isnt so much in what they say; they have mastered the art of the buttondown. Having seen the good times and the bad in back-to-back seasons, they have learned the value of equilibrium. And having played a few seasons, they know that exactly zero pennants have been won after Game 76.
At least thats been the case since 1882, and only Jeremy Affeldt remembers that season.
But shutting out the Dodgers thrice does send them a message, albeit a muted one, and it is this: Good teams can dominate bad teams any time, but the best teams can dominate good teams when they are down. The Giants had nothing that had to be done in this series except avoid injuries and maybe relocate their two wayward starters, but they throat-punched the Kemp-less Dodgers in a way they havent managed against any one team since 1954.
And we all know what happened that year, hint-hint-fake-harbinger-chickens-counted-before-hatching.
And shutting out a good team three times, while it is a novelty, also puts some go in their show as they head toward the All-Star Break. They knew they could be good, but this was the first time all year they saw how good they could be.
GAME RECAPS: Game 1, Game 2 & Game 3
Not will continue to be, because they are not without their flaws. They just have fewer of them than they did a year ago not as many outs in the orders, not as many distracted players living off the fat of the Series trophy, not as many injuries, etc.
And let us not forget that the National League is awash with flawed teams; the Dodgers lost Matt Kemp and went sideways, and now they are probably without Andre Ethier until after the All-Star Break. Washington hasnt figured out how to make all their pitching translate into dominance, Cincinnati is all fits and starts, and Atlanta, New York, Arizona, St. Louis and Pittsburgh are largely interchangeable at this point.
But the Giants proved with this series that they are capable of being every bit the unpleasant opponent they were in 2010. They may not recreate that season; only an idiot would venture such a stretch with the season not yet half over.
They have their nasty back, though. The Dodgers are the first team to truly feel its sting, and even if it is just an accident of timing, its an accident that left tire tracks all over the top end of the National League.