So, here's what we've been reduced to. The ol' but-if-we-sweep-them card. But if the Giants sweep the Diamondbacks, they'll only be 3.5 back! Yeah, 3.5 back. I'm assuming the Diamondbacks won during their off day yesterday.
A three-game would be juuuuuust close enough to start believing again, to put all sorts of time into scoreboard-watching, and to really curse those stupid Rockies out for failing to sneak out out a single game against the Giants' direct competitors for the first time in the history of that miserable, purple-bedecked franchise.
Seriously, since the Rockies came into the league in 1993, the Giants have finished second and missed the playoffs four times by fewer than five games. Here are the Rockies' records against the teams that made the playoffs over the Giants in those seasons.
1993: Braves, 0-13
1998: Cubs, 2-7
2001: Diamondbacks, 6-13
2004: Astros, 1-5; Dodgers, 8-11
Not that they should be helping the Giants, but it'd be swell if they could find different teams to suck against. Oh, they're 4-11 against the Diamondbacks this year. They're just annoyed that we stole Duane Kuiper back.
But enough about the Rockies! 'Tis the Diamondbacks we have to fear now. And it's always so sad when you have to play the but-if-we-sweep-them card. Because it's possible! It could totally happen! They've already done it this year! It could totalllllly happen! It's just not especially likely. It's hard for any team to sweep another team. I'd use the Astros as an example, but they kind of wiped themselves with the Giants. But it was really hard for them to sweep the Giants. See? Sweeps just aren't that common.
If the Giants win two of three, they'll be five out. That's still boring. With 22 games left, a five-game deficit would take some serious luck to overcome. It wouldn't be impossible, but it'd be ridiculously unlikely. Just winning the series isn't enough. Sweeping the series is really the only solution for the discriminating optimist.
Sweeping a series is hard. My reasoning is thus:
- It's hard for the Giants to win a game right now
- Therefore, it would be hard for the Giants to win two games in a row
- This would affect their chances to win three games in row
I've run the numbers on all of those points. Did some research ... everything checks out. The early evidence suggests this has to do with the Giants scoring an average of -3.14 runs per game in August, but I'll wait until the stat guys run their simulations. (Yes, the Giants were so bad, they were anti-pi. This gives the cake-loving heathen great comfort.)
So it's the same situation as it was last week: I really don't care about the Diamondbacks. That's not because I'm flippant or hopeless or daft, it's just because they're not the Giants' main concern right now. The Giants' main concern is the Giants. The Giants were outplayed by the worst team in baseball in two different series last month. If they play like the miserable team they were last month, what good would it do to worry about Justin Upton or Chris Young?
It is the post-shakeup era, of course. No Rowand, no Tejada. There's fresh blood, like Brett Pill. There's reheated leftover fresh blood, which is fine, it's been in the fridge, it's fine, eat it, we can't afford to eat out tonight, so eat it, it's as good as fresh blood, c'mon, it's fine, like Brandon Crawford, Manny Burriss, and Conor Gillaspie. They're not going to help on the field, most likely, but it's a fresh clubhouse, which may or may not count for something. At this point, I'll grasp at any straw I can find.
Sweep or feh. That's the rallying cry. The Diamondbacks have won nine straight. The philosophical argument known as Gambler's Certainty posits that they're due to lose now! Sounds swell. We'll just hope they do it three times in a row, and then a bunch more after that.
Hitter to watch:
Aaron Hill. He's hitting .355/.412/.581 over 29 at-bats. He has driven in two more runs for the Diamondbacks than Carlos Beltran has for the Giants in 80 at-bats. This sort of thing is why I hate baseball.
Pitcher to watch:
Danged if that isn't the smuggest-looking mug shot in baseball. It's a look that says "Um, yeah, I went to USC" and "Uh, yeah, my team scores runs when I pitch" at the same time. You have to have some strong eyebrow muscles to do that.
At some point, in some inning, I'll have false hope. Then I'll feel stupid later.