Giants hit late, take series

Thearon W. Henderson

If the Giants lost this game the way they looked like they were going to lose this game, it would have been a special, dull kind of miserable. It would have been the kind of miserable that would have stuck to your subconscious like chewed gum, and it would have made you turn away free tickets in 2016, even if you weren't exactly sure why you were doing it.

Friend: You want tickets to the game? Crick's pitching.

Subconscious: That Rockies game from 2013. Bunch of runners, no runs. Boring. Deathly, deathly boring.

You: Oh, can't, have dinner plans. Thanks, though.

Subconscious: He is not your friend. Do not believe his lies.

You: I should get going.

Subconscious: He wants you to experience something like that Rockies game from 2013. He means you harm.

You: So, I'll just be …

Subconscious: Stop him, or he'll just do it to someone else. Stop him. Forever. Stop him forever. End this. Do it. Do it. Do it.

If the Giants did not win this game, you would have at least considered murder in three years, and you wouldn't have been sure why. Pablo Sandoval's double that went over the wall. Hunter Pence's grand slam that wasn't. Walks, walks, walks. One run.

For years and years, a common complaint around these parts has been that the Giants swing at too many bad pitches. The numbers since Barry Bonds retired:

Swings outside the strike zone
2008: 30.7% (28th of 30)
2009: 33.6% (30th)
2010: 31.5% (30th)
2011: 31.3% (28th)
2012: 31.0% (26th)
2013: 31.1% (24th)

Alright! The league is getting worse around them! Good work.

For the homestand, though, they've looked like a reasonably patient team. They've worked the counts.  They walked 28 times in these seven games, the most in a homestand since the nine-game homestand in late July.

And if they didn't turn those walks into runs -- they lost the five-walk game to start the homestand and the eight-walk game on Turesday, and they were close to losing this eight-walk game, too -- it would have been especially annoying. After years and years of yelling at them for hacking, they're doing some patient things and losing more than ever. The Giants have lost 14 games this season in which they've walked five times or more. They did it four times in 2012, twice in 2011, and six times in 2010. When the Giants walk, they usually win. That hasn't been the case this season.

So when they looked like they were going to waste the walks in this game, you could feel it. Even if you didn't know the numbers, you could feel that the Giants were losing more of their patient games. This has almost everything to do with the lousy pitching this year, don't get me wrong. You wouldn't notice this stuff if the 2011 Giants were pitching in front of the 2013 Giants lineup.

But that's why this game would have stuck in your subconscious. That's why you're not thinking about the Giants finishing with the 11th-worst record and losing a draft pick because they signed A.J. Burnett. Okay, maybe you're thinking about that now, but that's why you still root for the Giants to win in a lost season. When this stupid team does good things, you want them to be rewarded. You want them to be rewarded because you want your dopamine.

Everyone's happy now. Good work, gents. I was fully prepared to hate this game with a dull, desperate fury. Turns out a couple of well-timed hits can make everything better. Huh.


The Giants' win expectancy went up after Ehire Adrianza's bunt, by the way.  In related news, the Rockies' win expectancy went down by all percent after Charlie Blackmon's hilarious, game-ending bunt.


On the whole, I preferred Yusmeiro Petit's last start more than this start. But it was still encouraging. Encouraging in a "Say, this guy could be the next Chad Gaudin" kind of way instead of a "Say, this guy could be the next Ryan Vogelsong" way, even though Gaudin and Vogelsong mean wildly different things this year.

The Giants will have a lot of decisions to make in the offseason and spring when it comes to the rotation. They'll have Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, certainly. And they'll have the chance to fill at least two of the remaining slots with cheapish, reasonable options like Gaudin, Petit, or Vogelsong. But, boy, do I want to see just one of those pitchers in the rotation. I don't have any bright ideas for the other two slots, but I want just one of the low-upside pitchers to low-upside their way into a Zito-like role. At least, the role that Zito did when he was going well.

The smart answer is probably Vogelsong right now. He was a quality-start machine 13 or 14 months ago, and he's a familiar fan favorite with a reasonable contract option. I call them all low-upside guys, but if Vogelsong can do 80 percent of what he did in 2011, his upside is high enough.

But Petit isn't a silly answer. He was a month ago. With each subsequent start, though, he's looking more and more reasonable. He's up to 37 strikeouts and six walks in 32 innings, with a 2.53 ERA. Maybe he just needed to get the heck out of the PCL and into a spacious ballpark.

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