- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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Yes, ladies and gentlemen. The San Francisco Giants are officially amazing us. Again. They started the season 4-10. Since then, they're 25-10.
But that isn't even the amazing part.
The amazing part is they throw a shutout every couple days. Whether they need to or not. They're America's foremost Zero Heroes. And it isn't even all Madison Bumgarner's doing. Who knew!
They've now thrown eight shutouts in May. Eight. So on Friday, I asked an NL scout who just saw them how that was possible.
"I don't know how it happened," he said. "I really don't. I love Ryan Vogelsong, but I don't know how he can shut anybody out. I love Tim Hudson, but I don't know how he can shut anybody out anymore. So I know this is happening. I just don't know how it can happen."
Great. That about sums it up. The Giants' rotation ranks 20th in the major leagues in strikeout ratio (averaging just 6.55 whiffs per 9 innings) and 19th in strikeout/walk ratio (just 2.47 to 1). And still, all they do is throw shutouts. Hey, of course they do.
Now here's all the insane stuff you need to know about this shutout binge:
• Needless to say, eight-shutout months stopped being a common phenomenon a long time ago. Back in 1969, Tom Seaver's legendary Mets staff (10 that September) and Fergie Jenkins' soon-to-be-unraveling Cubs (nine that May) both topped eight shutouts in a month. But since then, only three other teams have thrown eight in any calendar month. Just one of them has done it in the past quarter-century. And only one team that didn't play its home games in Dodger Stadium has done it in the past 45 years. Here's the not exactly lengthy list:
2013 Dodgers 8 (August)
1988 Dodgers 8 (September)
1974 Orioles 8 (September)
• But other than those two teams in 1969, you know how many teams in the entire live ball era have thrown more than eight shutouts in any calendar month? Precisely two, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Sandy Koufax's 1965 Dodgers did it a half-century ago, twirling 10 that September. And Allie Reynolds' 1952 Yankees also pulled it off, firing nine shutouts in June.
• So if the Giants are looking for something huge to shoot for this weekend, this will work: No team has thrown more than eight shutouts in any month in the past 45 years. And just four teams have done it in the past 97 years. So how 'bout that?
• And no Giants team has crafted more than eight shutouts in any calendar month in almost a century -- since Ferdie Schupp's 1916 Giants spun 10 shutouts in September. I hear Ferdie was the Tim Lincecum of his time, but that's just a rumor.
• Finally, here's an even cooler link between these Giants and the 1916 Giants, courtesy of Elias: All eight of this team's May shutouts have been thrown at home. And do you want to guess the last NL team to rip off at least eight shutouts at home in a calendar month? Yep. It would be those 1916 Giants, who pitched all 10 that month at the Polo Grounds. Of course, it helped they had a 31-game homestand that month! But we won't hold that against them.
All right, let's give you a few moments to digest all that, because it pretty much boggles the mind. Now here's even more perspective:
• The Giants have thrown eight shutouts in their past 25 games. Meanwhile, in Houston, the Astros have also thrown eight shutouts -- in their past 362 games.
• Even the most romantic rotations of modern times never did what this team is doing. The Smoltz/Maddux/Glavine Braves never threw eight shutouts in any month. They topped out at seven, in September of 1998. The Gooden/Darling/Fernandez Mets of the '80s? Their most in any month was five, in June of 1984. And remember that ace-laden 2011 Phillies team? They peaked at six, in August.
• Lastly, in an even more momentous development, the Giants have also thrown back-to-back-to-back shutouts twice this month. And you know how many teams in the past 100 years have had two different streaks of at least three straight shutouts in the same calendar month? Precisely one. That would be those '69 Mets again. They had a three-game streak and a four-game streak that September. Those games were started by Seaver, Jerry Koosman (2), Gary Gentry (3) and Don Cardwell. And I mention that just because it was so much fun to type those names!
So here's what we're getting at: This sort of thing is hard to do. And rare to do. And historic to do. And yet it's being done right now, in front of our eyes, by a rotation we've mostly come to regard as MadBum and Those Four Guys Who Pitch In Between MadBum Starts.
The Giants. Isn't it time to stop doubting anything they do?