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Post-Game Thread: Giants Lose a Near-Masterpiece

Is a single baseball game that important to you? Why are you even a Giants fan? Because 163 years ago, your great-great-grandpappy came here looking for gold? Because 30 years ago your parents came here looking for a living wage? Because you liked the color of the uniforms, or the way the Mike Ivie card sounded in your spokes? It's all arbitrary. This means nothing.

You're going to let the outcome of a single baseball game -- one of 162 this year, and one of thousands and thousands in your life -- ruin this for you? You can't be serious. This was art. That was condensed Giants -- an epic of frustration, hubris, and tears in under three hours.

It had to be Matt Cain. That gives it the sense of familiarity. That sets up the genre. This was a Matt Cain game, a genre with rules to follow or break, just as if it were a western or mystery. You have a sense of expectations now. And the Matt Cain game followed convention. There was a walk, a steal, and a wild pitch to put a Marlins runner at third with one out. You knew that run would score, and you knew that set up a tough-luck loss for Cain. Jack Morris wouldn't have allowed that walk, loser!

On the other side of the ball, you had the Giants dribbling, dribbling, dribbling, popping up, popping up, popping up. Ricky Nolasco had one strikeout tonight. One. He goaded the Giants into terrible contact all night, perhaps after reading the scouting report from their advanced scout that read, "THESE GUYS WILL SWING AT ******* ANYTHING" on a piece of hotel stationary, which was as close as the scout needed to get to advance-scout the Giants. He stayed in the room all week, ordering room service and pay-per-view porn. He regrets nothing.

All expected. We've seen this before. This was to be Cain's 12th loss as a Giant after allowing two runs or fewer in seven innings or more. You knew the ending. It had the comfort of a sturdy, if unexceptional, addition to a well-defined collection of work.

The end of the second act was brutal, and that's where it became transcendent. There was a leadoff double, followed by an awful throw to first on a stupid bunt attempt! First and third with no outs.

You started to hope.

Oddly enough, it's a similar feeling to the fear you have when watching the hero of a movie skirt death over and over again. You knew what wasn't going to happen -- there was no way the Giants were going to take the lead, just like you're pretty sure that, I don't know, Harrison Ford isn't going to die in The Fugitive. But you allowed yourself to believe. It was pure escapism. You were caught up in it.

And the twist wasn't really that surprising. It was Buster Posey, who is such an unexpected goat that you almost expected it. They spent the whole time convincing you he wasn't going to be a goat. Once the Giants loaded the bases, the doom was thick around the park. And the decline and fall of your hopes was everything you hoped it would be. It was set up so expertly. It was a such an intricate machine, with perfectly crafted and tiny moving parts each playing their parts.

Then the dagger of an epilogue. Ryan Theriot hit a double that wasn't . The umpire, whose job was to stare at the area in front of where he was standing, missed the ball sail directly over the base in front of where he was standing. It was like when you found out Ricky got into USC at the end of Boyz N The Hood. Would the Giants have gotten the run home with Theriot on second and two outs? Don't know. Will never know. Twist of the knife. Boom. Credits.

It wasn't a life-changing game. But it was expertly produced. Deftly executed. It was one of the purest Matt Cain games in history. That's hard to do. And you got to watch it. Others will check the score tomorrow and make a dismissive sound when they see the Giants struggled to score. But you got to watch it.

Rating: ***½

Almost the perfect Matt Cain game. It gets docked a half-star for being a little too conventional, but it was a credit to the genre. A near-masterpiece. Well done, Giants. Well done. Except for all the shitty parts.