There's a spectrum of baseball enjoyment. On one end is remote-throwing. On the other is stranger-hugging. On either side of the middle, there's the sort of numbness that comes with a 2-1 victory or loss against the Padres. This game had it all, and it ended with the stranger-hugging. I just started ringing random doorbells in my neighborhood, and I didn't really care who answered. Whooop.
The game started with the quiet confidence of four runs. The broadcast didn't run that oft-cited Zito stat -- where he's, like, 839-0 when getting more than four runs of support -- and I was glad they didn't run it. I don't believe in jinxes, but I don't not believe in jinxes, either. And running that stat when Zito has a big lead always makes me nervous. Turns out the jinx is not running that stat. Duly noted. It's almost as if you can make jinxes up as you go along.
That was the middle-right part of the spectrum. Just a calm, nice, and orderly Giants win on a sunny holiday. It was pleasant.
Then came the nonsense. Cody Ransom walked twice and came around to score both times. It seems like there should be something written in the collective bargaining agreement that would automatically grant a loss to the team that allows that. The Dodgers probably have some pretty good lawyers; I wouldn't count this one as an official win just yet.
Actually, "nonsense" is too kind. The sixth inning was probably the worst inning of Giants pitching this year. There are other contenders -- the 14-2 loss against the Nationals two weeks ago, the April debacle against the Rockies -- but as far as empirically bad pitching, this sixth inning had a lot going for it. There were walks, shoddy two-strike pitches up in the zone, and hanging slider after hanging slider. Just about everything the Giants did that inning was the exact opposite of what pitchers are trying to do. There weren't any doinks and bloops. Just bad pitching. That was the remote-throwing portion of the contest.
Then came the lull, the resigned defeat. For as good as the Giants have been for most of this season, there haven't been a lot of come-from-behind, closer-immolating wins this season. The only one I can find going through the game logs, and the only one I can remember, is Angel Pagan's homer against Sean Marshall and the Reds in April. And Marshall isn't even the closer for the Reds these days, so that only half-counts. The Diamondbacks had two pretty good relievers, David Hernandez and J.J. Putz, coming into the game, and the Giants were kind of hosed.
That was the spittle-on-the-chin, can't-believe-I-wasted-an-afternoon part, the apex of which was the second out in the bottom of the eighth inning. Xavier Nady grounded out. The Diamondbacks led 8-5. There would be more ground outs. There would be more fly outs. There would be outs. Four of them, to be specific, and they were going to come quickly.
A reminder: This was an 8-5 game with two outs and the bases empty in the bottom of the eighth.
That's what set up the stranger-hugging. There were so many good things that needed to happen. Hector Sanchez, Brandon Crawford, and Brandon Belt each hit two-out rockets in the eighth. Marco Scutaro continued using the care package of talent that Jeff Keppinger misplaced.
But the at-bat that stood out was the Buster Posey at-bat against Putz. The first pitch of the at-bat was at least six inches off the plate on the inside, but it was called a strike. Posey doesn't get animated over strike calls that often, but he knew that pitch was un-American and distasteful. The next pitch was in a similar spot, and it would have shattered Posey's thumbs if he had swung. A less-disciplined hitter would have swung.
The double that tied the game was on a splitter in the same location. It might have been a ball, in on the hands. But Posey rapped it by the third baseman. He knew they were going to come back to that location, and he was waiting for it. It was a sublime piece of hitting.
Except, you know what? If they had decided to back-door him with a two-seamer on the outside corner, he would have been ready for that, too. He would have stroked it to the opposite field, dunking it right in front of a charging Justin Upton. And if they had decided to throw a high fastball, Posey would have driven it into the right-center gap.
What I'm trying to say is that Buster Posey is a good hitter, but I'm couching it in a way that doesn't seem that controversial. Guess it's too late for that now.
And I love Marco Scutaro and Sergio Romo and Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence and Hector Sanchez and Pablo Sandoval and … hell, let's go stranger-hugging. Hey, you, with the unibrow, get over here. You smell like a diaper in a toaster oven, but gimme a hug. The Giants came back and won a game they had no business winning. They had hit after hit with runners in scoring position, and they bailed out a pitching staff that was mostly miserable until Romo got into the game.
Feels good. Then you think about the Dodgers fans watching that game to kill time before their game started. Feels better.