There are things to root for in a lost season, of course. Young players looking like future contributors. Players in the middle of disappointing seasons showing life. And if your team keeps losing, you can always pretend like better draft position is something you care about.
The #1 thing to root for, though, is pretty simple. You want your team to stop looking like a bunch of dillweeds. The Giants looked like a bunch of dillweeds for the last three or four months. If they could have just one month of looking like a real baseball team, that'd be just swell. It's probably -- likely? -- preferable to end the season with a World Series win and a dogpile and a parade and a tempting Sports Illustrated commercial that promises some sort of not-leather-bound commemorative book in exchange for four payments of $29.95 to subscribe to a magazine. But that doesn't happen every year.
Which means it's probably healthy to be satisfied by the smaller victories, too. A playoff-series win, say. If not available, a division-clinching game. If not available, a wild-card-winning game. If not available, a stunning late-inning comeback. If not available, a superlative performance from one of the players. If not available …
And eventually you get down to the dillweed stage. We're here. Meaning, you have to rewire your brain to lower expectations and be satisfied when the Giants look good for three hours. It doesn't take long to remember what it feels like to be satisfied with a game out of the larger context of the season. The Giants looked good on Sunday. They looked good on Friday. They were a perfectly respectable team if you ignored everything that came before. Small victories, small victories.
It didn't have to be like that. The first run of the game was hilariously awful. Adam Eaton scored from first on a ball that didn't get past the outfielders. If you didn't see the game, and you're wondering how in the heck that's possible, just trust us. It wasn't exactly elegant. And not too long after that, the Giants got the dreaded second-and-third situation with no outs. Fly ball, grounder to third, and you figured this was how the Giants were going to lose. They've done the runners-stranded and defensive-buffoonery thing before, so you figured they were just putting on a master class.
Instead, Hector Sanchez got the first two-out RBI hit of the season for the Giants. It was the right hit at the right time, and the Giants took advantage of opportunities to add on. Just like a real baseball team. Just like the team most of us were expecting.
Sanchez has a .345 OBP now. He's still just 23. Posey at second? Only if Scutaro's okay with the switch to center. But even if that doesn't go through, it's nice to see Sanchez swinging much better. And it's nice to see the Giants not looking like a bunch of dillweeds.
The last Giants pitcher who struck out 10 or more and wasn't Bumgarner, Cain, or Lincecum? Jonathan Sanchez, September 16, 2010. Before that, Barry Zito. Then Jason Schmidt. Then Noah Lowry.
If you're looking for the most random pitcher to do it, I think Yusmiero Petit has a shot. Dustin Hermanson did it in '04 and Jesse Foppert did it twice. Roger Mason did it once, as did Pete Falcone.
But Petit probably takes it. The most random 10-strikeout game in San Francisco history. He has games like this every now and again in the minors, so maybe it's not that surprising for him to stumble on one in the majors.
He's 2-0 with a 3.12 ERA and a 23/4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 17 innings. If only he were a prospect, that line would look pretty sweet. He's only 29, you know. Same age as B.J. Upton and Ian Kennedy, who both seem really young to me for some reason. Also, the same age as Jeff Francoeur, who might turn the corner any day now for a new team.
No, Petit's probably not going to make it through the winter on the 40-man roster, nor is he going to make it into the rotation next year. But it's nice to see some good starts from anyone other than the usual suspects. Petit was the guy who broke strikeout-to-walk ratios in the first place, so it's mighty honorable of him to do his best to fix everything.
That was the Giants' largest margin of victory in a month. They've had only seven wins with a larger margin of victory all a season. You're blown away by that factoid. Seven victories? They've had seven this year? I know, I know. This was one of the better ones.