Giants/Padres series preview

One more win.

It's easy to make too much of a single game in a 162-game season, so I'm not going to make any grand proclamations about this one. It's just too easy. But I can write that, without a doubt, this season is going to be the exact same golden shower of misery and awful hitting, with enough good pitching to keep our hopes alive for far longer than they should be.

That was after the first loss to the Padres this year, before it seemed like the Padres were never going to lose against the Giants. It was just a game. It was frustrating because it was familiar, not because the Padres were lactating leprechaun milk.

Post-game thread: Sanchez chokes, allows single

Come on. Really? The Giants are so awful offensively that they can’t win a game in which they allow one lousy hit? It was 2009 again. Everything was so, so familiar, like a pair of old jeans. Also, the old jeans were filled with leeches and thumb tacks. Certainly not magic.

Post-game thread: Giants strand eleventy-twelve baserunners

Suddenly, it started to seem like something more. This wasn’t just a team exhibiting the shortcomings of a sub-par offense. This was a team that seemed cursed against a division rival -- a division rival that was playing much, much better than anyone expected them to play.

Remember the one guy we acquired who kind of, if you squinted, seemed like he could help the offense in the short-term? His wrist is filled with tapioca pudding, and those little nubby tapioca parts are all rubbing against the bone. Aubrey Huff seems like he could be a little better than Travis Ishikawa. That's worth, like, seventeen wins. Bang up job, front office.

The Padres are the speed and defense team that the Giants want to be, but they actually have players who can run from first to third without a break for buffalo wings at second.

Oh, that was cute. The losses against the Padres kept piling up. The anger was rising.

In two games against the Padres this year, Jonathan Sanchez has pitched 15 innings, allowing four hits, four walks, and two runs while striking out fifteen. He has lost both games.

In two games against the Padres this year, Jonathan Sanchez has pitched 15 innings, allowing four hits, four walks, and two runs while striking out fifteen. He has lost both games.

In two games against the Padres this year, Jonathan Sanchez has pitched 15 innings, allowing four hits, four walks, and two runs while striking out fifteen. He has lost both games.

It was inconceivable. And, yes, I’m well aware of what that word means. The Giants were 3.5 back of the Padres, but it felt like 35. One team looked like the stars were aligning for them; one team looked like the stars were imploding for them, pulling hits and runs into their gravity. The Giants had played the Padres six times...

Post-game thread: Giants slug four hits, still lose to the Padres

...seven times, and they had lost them all. It was a nightmare.

Then, the most underrated home run of the 2010 season: Andres Torres takes Mike Adams deep. A late-inning comeback? Against the Padres' bullpen? Witchery.

And if that isn't enough underrated for you, here’s one that even Matt Downs’s mother probably forgot about: Matt Downs hits a double with two outs. So unlikely. So glorious. He will always be more than the 40-man sacrificial lamb disposed of to make room for Jose Guillen, just for that hit. That was a game of hope. Even the most cynical, anti-superstition skeptics were starting to wonder which Olympian the Padres were diddling to get the kind of protection they were enjoying before that game.

It’s easy to overstate the importance of this game. C’mon. It’s May. So I’ll just note that this was the most important game in the history of San Francisco sports. Andres Torres > Dwight Clark. Matt Downs > Joe Montana. Don’t form an opinion on that statement just yet. Let it sink in. It’s empirically true, so don’t fight it.

It’s hard to explain, but suddenly the Giants went from being cursed to being unlucky. They were a good team. They were just unlucky against the Padres. Don’t misconstrue the world "unlucky" -- the Padres outscored and outplayed the Giants at every opportunity. But the Giants’ pitching had been pretty good. Surely, they should have been able to squeak out one win, right? With Torres and Downs, they finally had.

A couple of months passed. Bengie Molina was shipped to Abu Dhabi, Nermal-style. Buster Posey came up, complete with a visible aura. The Rays had an old Pat Burrell they weren’t using, and the Giants helped themselves. Todd Wellemeyer, as it turns out, wasn’t very good. Madison Bumgarner was. It was a totally different team.

I don’t believe in "this team has the other team’s number." I believe that baseball is a game of skill and luck, and that for one team to win that many close games against the other is an imbalance between skill and luck. I think Madison Bumgarner is going to come out tomorrow and FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF his way into our hearts. I also think that I need to stop writing before I punch a plate-glass window.

With totally similar results. The Padres. Damn those Padres.

There wasn’t an obvious turning point. After the Padres took two of three from the Giants in the August series, the Giants were 3.5 back of the Padres, and everyone was freaking out about Tim Lincecum. Three days later, on August 18th, the Giants would be six games back. Lincecum had another bad start shortly after.

So the Giants should probably win the division. And with the wins they’re giving the Phillies and Braves, they’re doing the right thing to ensure that the Padres can’t win the wild-card after they slump their way into second place. Because there can’t be a postseason in which the Giants and Padres make it at the same time. There just can’t. You know how it would end.

Ahem. There was some sort of cosmic turning point. The Giants came together. The starting pitching that was dreadful in August became superlative in September. There were suddenly seven or eight home run threats in every lineup Bochy wrote out. The Giants went into to Petco Park and didn’t put the toilet seat down. The first game of the series was beautiful -- dingerz-a-poppin’! -- and the last game of the series was transcendent. Yes, our Timmy is real, and he’s spectacular. Also, the Padres lost seven dozen games in a row at one point. That helped just a little.

It all led to now. Right now. Every bloop hit, every runner stranded on third, every slider grounded weakly to second base all led to right now. This post wasn’t meant to evoke a whimsical nostalgia -- "Gee, sure glad that is all over!" -- but rather it was meant to remind folks that the job isn’t done yet. The flag isn’t fluttering at the top of a previously unscalable peak. Not yet.

One more win. One more win, and the torture at the hands of the Padres will seem whimsical. One more win, and all of that was a funny prologue to the rest of the story. The Giants have come so damned far. Once he didn’t have to figure out who he thought could hit, Bruce Bochy started to manage quite well. Brian Sabean kept adding complementary piece after complementary piece, and before anyone knew what was going on, the 25-man roster was pretty deep. Pitchers pitched. Hitters hit. There was frustration. There was torture. There were a whole bunch of wins.

One more win. Come on, Giants. We know you have it in you. One more win.

One more win.

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