I'm a Giants fan because of my parents. Specifically, my mom. She's the one who set the VCR to record the games she couldn't watch. She's the one who took me to the games and slathered me in Tauntaun fat to stay warm at Candlestick. She's why I'm writing about the Giants beating the Dodgers on a Friday night.
She's also cynical about the Giants. Maybe you've noticed, but that might have passed down a generation. And before the Giants played the Dodgers in July, a series in which they started three games up, my mom said to me, "At least we can't move into second place with a sweep." What kind of cynicism is that? The team that's three games up has the momentum. A losing series makes it a two-game lead.
The Giants got swept. But at least they didn't get bumped into second.
And before this series, I heard a ton of, "At least if they get swept, they don't lose first place." I read tweets about it. I read comments about it. I talked to friends about it. I didn't get an update from my mom, but she was thinking it. I wanted to fight the sentiment. I wanted to rail against the defeatist attitude. But I felt it too. If the Giants managed to win one game, the worst they could finish the series was 3.5 games out.
Well, here you go.
Now's about the time where we overflow with greed. There will be no Dodger sweep. They can move two games closer with two fewer games on the schedule, and that would be a bad result. But it wouldn't be the worst result. If if things go the other way, ho, man. Six-and-a-half games? Seven-and-a-half games? With less than a month to go? Greeeeeeeeeeed.
I'll just leave this here:
Things I loved about this game, besides the everything:
Angel Pagan dropping down a perfect bunt to lead off the bottom of the sixth
Gregor Blanco coming into the game as a pinch-runner and stealing second, even though everyone was expecting him to try
Brandon Belt hitting the ball hard three times and making three outs, then coming up and drilling a single in his fourth at-bat. Slump-proof shoulders.
And, of course, Marco Scutaro. I had a note to write a paean to Scoots, but the Twitter machine alerted me that Jeff Sullivan already wrote one. Well, that's just swell.
From a pure cost/benefit standpoint, the Scutaro trade was the best trade of the year. Better than Sanchez/Melky, even when you pretend that Melky didn't do that stuff back there with the things. Better than Pence, obviously. Because with the other trades, you have to look at opportunity cost. Who doesn't get to start? Which players are the Giants not going to acquire because they think these holes are filled?
With Scutaro, that didn't matter. The prospect going the other way wasn't going to make a difference. The player getting the playing time wasn't good. There was no downside to getting Marco Scutaro.
The upside? Well, it probably wasn't supposed to be this good. But I'll tell you why I'll take it without feeling guilty. Because the last time I played the there's-no-downside game was with Jeff Keppinger, who turned out to be terrible. And who is currently an offensive force in Tampa. That didn't sit right with me. Nope, nope. We were owed a Scutaro.
And he's so danged good for what this team needed. Pence was a luxury. Scutaro was a necessity. Hopefully Pence gets going so we can have both.
Now we get to talk about Tim Lincecum. The top of the third inning was the perfect marriage of personal responsibility and crap luck. That is the back cover on the dust jacket of the novelization of the 2012 Tim Lincecum. I Screwed Up, Sure, But I Didn't Deserve All That.
Mark Ellis hit a ball hard, but just out of the reach of Marco Scutaro. Then there was an awful, irresponsible walk to put two runners on with no one out. That brought up Adrian Gonzalez, which, jeez.
Gonzalez hit a double play ball that was bobbled. One out. Runners on second and third. The next batter was Matt Kemp. Grounder to third. Bobbled. Runner scores, even though he shouldn't have. Two outs.
Lincecum gets out of the inning with a run allowed. The egregious sin was the walk, and that's what pushed the leadoff hitter to second, which is what allowed him to score on the fielder's choice. It was the perfect slice of 2012 Lincecum. A good 'n' bad sandwich surrounded by ghosts we couldn't see.
And then after that, he allowed a billionty walks, gave up a home run on a dreadful 0-2 pitch to a mannequin, and benefitted from a generous, low strike zone. Lincecum wasn't awful tonight. But it wasn't a good start; the results were good from a runs-allowed perspective. There have been starts with better pitching and worse results -- May 9, against the Dodgers, for example -- and I'll just mentally swap this one for that one.
It was a very Lincecum start in every way. Strikeouts. Walks. Ambiguity. Uncertainty. Cautious optimism. Reluctant pessimism. Tim Lincecum in the year 2012.
Emmanuel Burriss catches a lot of guff around here, so praise be unto he for his well-placed bunt in the seventh. You have a guy like Burriss on the September roster just for things like that, and you hope he doesn't screw it up. This is also a good point to remind everyone that I like Burriss, and I want him to succeed. Just that, well, you know. I want to be a knuckleballer and I want to sing on stage with the Old 97's too. I have several wants.
But I still like him. And this is related to the sentiment expressed up there:
Still like Aubrey Huff. Still makes me laugh. In ten years, we'll marvel at the idea that the fans turned on him as quickly as they did, even if there was a logical reason at the time.
Also, Theriot looks like an owl. Am I the only one who's noticed that this year?
And, in what I hope to turn into a recurring segment: Notes from my three-year-old daughter, who watched part of the game with me.
- "I like the boys in orange. Not the Dodgers. "
- (looking at Tim Lincecum) "Boys don't have long hair!"
- (looking at a commercial with Matt Maiocco) "Daddy, he looks like you! Is that you?"
This has been notes from my three-year-old daughter, who watched part of the game with me.