That wasn't a game that you'll have a name for in a year. It wasn't the Brian Johnson Game. It wasn't the Don Mattingly 'And One More Thing' Game. It wasn't the Jonathan Broxton Blown Saves Box Set. It wasn't even the Gagne/Bonds matchup that the Giants still lost by a run. It was the standard-issue Giants win they'll occasionally come up with in Dodger Stadium or Petco. It didn't have that moment, that dramatic turning point, so it'll be one of those, "Oh, yeah, that game"s when you're idly sifting through old box scores on your company's dime in a few years.
So try extra hard to appreciate it now, because it's just as good as any of those other wins. The Giants beat the Dodgers in Los Angeles to move into first place. This happened toward the end of August, in the middle of a taut pennant race. It is, pending future results, a significant game in the 2012 ledger, if not the post-Bonds rivalry. Think about all of the things it had going for it:
1. It was filled with bumgarnering of the highest order.
2. The Giants' first run was manufactured like it was from the centerfold that Don Mattingly stares at before every game. But Mattingly couldn't replicate the same magic, getting two runners thrown out trying to steal.
3. One of those runners was Shane Victorino, which is just the best. When Buster Posey throws out Shane Victorino stealing, an angel gets its wings. Then the angel whips out a Flying V and rips into a 30-minute solo as it flies into the sun. The sun explodes like a celestial Roman candle, and red-white-and-blue streaks shoot across the night sky. That's what happens when Buster Posey throws out Shane Victorino stealing.
4. Matt Kemp screwed himself into the ground on awful pitches in key situations. It's nice to see him go Pedro Feliz, even if it's only for a night. Kemp will get out of his slump one of these days, and there will be shrapnel, but he didn't do it tonight against Bumgarner.
5. Clayton Kershaw pitched. I think one of my favorite things in baseball is to watch Kershaw pitch well in a Dodgers loss. I've seen a whole lot of splendiferous starting pitching over the last four or five years. You have too. But I'm still smitten with the radioactive talent of Kershaw. The best part is that when something happens that'd normally make you grumble -- say, Brandon Belt striking out looking -- you can't even get annoyed with the hitter. The fastball, the breaking stuff, the command … he's just a joy to watch. When he loses.
6. The Giants beat the Dodgers in Los Angeles to move into first place. This happened toward the end of August, in the middle of a taut pennant race. Did I mention that? Seems like a footnote worth bringing up again.
That isn't to say this was a perfect game. Bumgarner really labored through the eighth inning; I'm not a pitch-count zealot, but I don't think it took a biomechanical breakdown to show that he was tired. The first out was a line drive, the second out was Juan Uribe, so it barely counts, and he made at least two miserable pitches to Shane Victorino that could have turned out much differently.
Posey sure took some fugly swings. That was like a baseball-god audit catching the 1.001 average Posey has had since the break.
Romo, man. It was better when he was hirsutely invincible.
Now we're picking nits. You can do that with just about any great game. And this was a great game. The Giants beat the Dodgers in Los Angeles to move into first place. This happened toward the end of August, in the middle of a taut pennant race.
But it will be doomed to languish as an underappreciated great game. It's a B-side, the Dennis Wilson solo album when all your friends are getting into Pet Sounds for the first time. It doesn't need time to look good, though. Feels pretty good right now.