The Giants' theme on Monday night was back to normalcy.
No gold-tinted unis. No Dick Bright and his magic fiddle. No flag-raising or ring-fingering. No tuxes or clanging cable cars. No MVP bobbleheads.
No distracting pomp. Just baseball circumstance. At last. And it was refreshing, to hear the Giants tell it.
The Giants started the season in Los Angeles looking much like the team that finished 2012 in Detroit, taking two of three from the Dodgers. But then things got progressively gooey and detached as the weekend progressed against the St. Louis Cardinals.
They got the Friday night game thanks to a superb opening effort from Barry Zito, but Saturday got away from them and Sunday was a flat-out stinker. You don't think the Cardinals had had enough of all that celebratory nonsense? One day, fine. But three? Little wonder they rolled out a couple of touchdowns in the finale.
But the Giants were worn out by it, too. After going through a regular batting practice without anybody hauling out trophies or bling, they seemed relaxed and relieved. And the team responded with a pretty sharp 4-2 victory over the hot Colorado Rockies.
"We definitely did enjoy the weekend celebration," said Buster Posey, who drove in his first run of 2013 -- an important insurance tally -- with an eighth inning single. "But I think most baseball players are creatures of habit, and we do enjoy the normal routines."
"You have to do the celebrations -- the flag, and then the ring," added reliever Jeremy Affeldt, who pitched a perfect eighth against the heart of the Rockies' order. "That's great and all, but it can take away from the focus of what you're trying to do, and that's play baseball. It's just natural -- you're not 100 percent locked into the game."
It was pretty evident Sunday, as hard as they may have tried, that they couldn't concentrate on the business at hand.
They don't have to be told twice to put away the jewelry and get on with it.
"It was pretty special and it was fun to be a part of," said Madison Bumgarner, who gutted out 5¿2/3 innings to get his second win, with a lot of bullpen help. "At the same time, it'll be nice when we get on a regular routine and just come out here and get ready to play games and not have to deal with all that other stuff."
Larry Baer is probably crushed to hear all that, but admit it, three days of it was a bit much.
The man is mashing. The home run he hit off Jorge De la Rosa in the first inning Monday night was one of the longest to left field I've seen at AT&T Park. He scalded two other balls to center, just got under them a bit.
And Marco Scutaro, Brandon Belt and Posey look like they might be coming around a bit. Scutaro laced a single to left in the first in front of Pence's blast. Belt had a double to center off the lefty De la Rosa. And Posey finally had one of those familiar inside-out RBI hits to right field after dropping to .174 with two whiffs in his first three at-bats. His strikeout in the first inning, in particular, was a pitch he squares up for a double or a homer in July.
Said Posey of his swing at the moment, "Not great right now, but the beautiful thing about this game is you just keep working. You're going to have times when you feel great at the plate and other times you don't feel at your best. You just keep on grinding."
Buster was definitely happy to get off the RBI donut.
"It was good ... I hadn't been letting the ball travel the first three at-bats," he said. "So it was nice to pick up another run going into the ninth. I think it was outside and up, but it was on the outside corner, so it was nice to finally stay behind the ball."
Protecting a precarious one-run lead, Affeldt mowed down the middle of the Rockies' order in about 2½ minutes Monday night in the eighth inning. Impressive. Carlos Gonzalez whiff. Troy Tulowitzki grounder to second. Michael Cuddyer meek pop to right.
This is October Affeldt we're seeing right out of the gate
"He's going to be our guy in the seventh and eighth inning," said manager Bruce Bochy. "He's not just a guy I'll use against lefties. He's got the pitches to face righties, too, and he's got great stuff. That's why he's back here. He's so versatile, because you can go multiple innings with him and use him in the seventh or eighth, or if I have to close with him, it's something we're comfortable with. He's just very valuable."