There is no shame losing to Clayton Kershaw. He's no Justin Verlander, throwing bushels of hittable fastballs, one right after the other. No, this is Clayton Kershaw, who is almost certainly the best pitcher in the National League. You match up anyone with Kershaw -- Matt Cain, vintage Tim Lincecum, the ghost of Christy Mathewson -- and there's still a great chance that Kershaw is going to be unhittable, and there's nothing the Giants can do. That's how this best-pitcher-in-the-league stuff works. There will be games against Clayton Kershaw over the next decade. There will be losses against Clayton Kershaw.
All you can ask is that the Giants limit the kinds of losses to Kershaw to the ones that people won't remember in 20 years.
So, well, uh … shoot.
If you would have asked this morning what kind of loss that might have been, I probably wouldn't have had an answer. Maybe some kind of memorable brawl? A scoreboard fire? Midges? It was probably going to be midges. Because no one would really remember a game that was just Kershaw with his best stuff. Do remember all of Lincecum's good Opening Days? What about Jason Schmidt's? Do you even remember a Jason Schmidt start on Opening Day? Exactly. There have been over a thousand Giants games since then. The new games push the old ones out of your brain, and they do it relatively quickly.
But an Opening Day with a shutout and a tie-breaking home run from Kershaw is the kind of game everyone will remember in 20 years. I wish I had a classier, more erudite analogy, but all I can think about is Eddie Murphy's friend in Delirious. Okay, Dodgers. You got me. Alright. My mouth was open. My mouth was open on that one.
Supporting evidence that this game will be brought up for years: I still remember the Brad Hennessey game. And when I call it the Brad Hennessey game, more than a few of you now exactly what which game I'm talking about. That was a May game against the Brewers in a terrible season. I remembered it as a Hennessey shutout and a grand slam; it was actually a seven-inning outing and a three-run homer. Still, it was one of those games that made you giddy.
Again, that was May. Against the Brewers. On the road. And it was Brad Hennessey. It wasn't Opening Day. It wasn't against a hated rival. It wasn't at home. And it wasn't the face of the franchise. Yet it's still one of the more memorable regular-season games over the last decade.
So, well, uh … shoot.
If there is such a thing as momentum and Meaningful April Omens, that kind of game would be sort of a humdinger. And the Dodgers fans sticking around after the game, cheering wildly during Kershaw's post-game interview, certainly want to believe it was 27 outs worth of aerosol momentum. They want to believe in Meaningful April Omens. And I can't blame them. I'd be right there with them if the situations were reversed. Opening Day wins always feel good. This one … goodness, that must have been exciting for them.
But it's a long season. There was about a 50/50 chance that when today's game was over, that would be the response. Long season, everyone. One-hundred-and-sixty-one games left. Don't panic. Long season, y'all. And I would have meant it.
That doesn't mean that the sentiment feels sincere after a game like that. I mean, there are ways it could have been worse. But there aren't a lot of them.
At least it wasn't a true caining. Matt Cain's ERA is still 0.00, and he's still without a loss on the season. If this were 2007, he'd be 0-1 with a 1.00 ERA. Small victories, small victories. When life gives you goddammit Clayton Kershaw, you just have to make goddammit Clayton Kershaw ade.
Considering the first-inning nightmare for Cain (29 pitches, lots of sweaty), it was nice to see Cain mow down the Dodgers lineup after that. His back-door fastball to Andre Ethier was a sonata moving at 91 miles per hour. I wish we could have appreciated it more.
Let's see ... ooh, ooh, Pablo Sandoval had a good game. Oh, and Buster Posey hit a ball hard. That was neat. It was almost a double play, but until Kershaw's homer, it was just about the hardest-hit ball from either team. Mmm-hmm. Say, that's inspiring me to make a running list of the Giants' top-10 moments of the 2013 season so far:
1. Matt Cain striking out Andre Ethier looking
2. Buster Posey throwing out Carl Crawford
3. Pablo Sandoval going 2-for-4.
4. Buster Posey lining a hard-hit out
5. Angel Pagan hustling really, really hard on an unsuccessful steal attempt.
6. Jeremy Affeldt not getting his hand stuck in a batting donut
7. Jeff Francoeur not coming over in a trade
8. Miguel Tejada not coming over in a trade
9. Look, I don't even
10. Something with a t-shirt gun or some crap
Looking forward to curating this list throughout the year. Hoping it gets more fun, guys.
You waited months for this, by the way.