There was a time -- back when you were younger, pull up a seat if you want, sonny, but I won't brook any sass from you -- when the Giants were winning every game. They were 50-3, if my memory serves, and when they would lose, it was so easy to talk about how hard baseball is. How easy it is to run into a good pitcher doing good-pitcher things. That's baseball, alright. That's baseball. Ha, ain't it a pip?
We're on the other side. The Giants are 0-2004 Niners since the Mets series, and the last thing we want to hear is "Hey, that's just Strasburg strassin', baby," which is what we heard/I wrote right before everything caught on fire. There's no excuse for a loss when things are going poorly, no way to feel better. Every outcome is something that has a cause to pinpoint. Every failure is something that can be fixed, but only if the right player is designated for assignment.
To which I say: nah.
Nah. Wainwright will wain. Like the wagon-makers in his ancestry, he will take his team on his back and carry them places. He's good. He's really, really good, and let's not forget that the Cardinals came to him a season after Tommy John, a season after a 96 ERA+, and took a huge risk locking him up into his 30s. The Cardinals are dorkfaces, but they're also smart. The Giants paid for it tonight.
Except there were silver linings. The Giants hit him well. You don't want to read that, but they had a non-asinine approach, and they drove the ball all over the field against him. Wainwright had one strikeout. Do you know how many games he's had as a starter with one strikeout or fewer? Five. He won one of them. One of them was against the Giants in 2012. When the Giants strike out against Adam Wainwright just once in a game, they've historically won the World Series the same year. You can look it up.
The Giants deserved better. That isn't to say they were robbed, or that the BABIP imps were scurrying about, pulling wires and slashing tires, but that wasn't an offensive performance that should have been rewarded with a combined shutout. That's what happened, though. Wear it. That's baseball, alright. That's baseball. Ha, ain't it a pip?
It is not a pip. It is a jerk. In the inning where Ryan Vogelsong allowed the only two runs of the game, there were three balls that could have been double plays:
- Liner from Mark Ellis over Joe Panik's glove
- Hard-hit liner from Matt Carpenter out of Panik's reach, into center
- Grounder from Matt Holiday through the open hole to the right
None of those were Padres hits. They were well-struck, mostly, and it's not like they all deserved to be outs. But they were all a little "Why couldn't McCovey have hit the ball ..." in their own ways. If Joe Panik goes through the Gattaca surgery, if Carpenter is a split-second earlier on his swing, if Holliday is a split-second earlier or later ...
The Giants hit balls well, too. They were just caught.
You said it, Kurt. So it goes. It's just harder to accept the it-goes in the middle of this stretch.
Alternate lede: The Giants are in first place after an Adam Wainwright start. They struck out against him just once, hitting him well all night. Way to go, local sports team!
This lede works because the Giants were out of first, briefly. That means we can get excited about the half-game lead again. Don't get mad at me, I don't make the rules.
Put on your big-picture pants. Go on. They're the ones with stars and puffballs on them. Love those big-picture pants.
In the big picture, it's probably more important that Ryan Vogelsong looks that good than it is for the Giants to beat Wainwright in one game out of 162. Because Vogelsong looked fantastic again. Forget that he's getting cained at every turn. He's missing bats, and he's making hitters look silly. There was a rough stretch in a single inning, which happens. If that's the worst thing that happens to your starter every game, you'll win 110.
In the big picture, Vogelsong being good again is a thrilling development. It means the Giants have a third starter -- fourth if you still believe in Matt Cain (like a true patriot) -- and that they aren't in bad shape, after all. Celebrate the process, boo the result. I don't know what that means, either.
Bruce Bochy is planning a little lineup shakeup, dropping Gregor Blanco down in the order. Blanco has been a very valuable player over the last two years; Blanco is one of the streakier hitters I've ever watched. Both things can be true.
But it's probably time to wait for the good streak. The bad streak isn't fun. Oh, how he missed a Pat Neshek pitch tonight...
Maybe this game costs Clayton Kershaw the Cy Young.