A team with a .667 winning percentage would win 108 games. It'd be one of the best teams in major-league history. A team with a .333 winning percentage would lose 108 games. It'd be one of the worst teams in major-league history. So when a good team plays a bad team in a three-game series, winning two out of three should be a good result. At least, it should be the expected result.
This is kind of stupid logic, akin to saying "if a player could go 2-for-4 every night, he'd be a Hall of Famer", but work with me.
At no point during the early innings tonight, when the Giants were down 4-0, did it seem like it was okay for the Giants to take two out of three against the 2012 Houston Astros. It was discouraging. It was frustrating. The Astros were making the Giants look silly, and I don't care if baseball can get weird, that's not okay. The Astros will be fine, eventually. But they sure as hell aren't fine right now, and there was no way to be okay with a loss, even in that ain't-baseball-a-stinker kind of way.
All I wanted was for the Astros to Astro up the joint for an inning or two. I wanted them to show the Giants-loving world what the difference was between a garden-variety terrible team and a team that can lose 90 games before September.
The middle innings inning were that perfect marriage of bad and cursed that every 100-loss team has to deal with. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Jimmy Paredes got thrown out at second with one out to take away a runner-on-third, one-out opportunity. It was a hilariously awful decision, the kind that you make playing a video game when you're still learning the controls. It might have cost the Astros an insurance run they could have used.
In the top of the seventh, Marco Scutaro hit a booming double with two outs. Pablo Sandoval hit a single that was an inch from being in Jose Altuve's glove, and an inch in the other direction from being a clean single that might have held Scutaro at third. Instead, it ticked off Altuve's glove, and Scutaro scored. That led to a wild pitch, which led to a Buster Posey intentional walk. That led to another wild pitch, which put two runners in scoring position. And Hunter Pence broke the tie with a single off his cuticles, a flip job that he can probably still feel in his pincers.
Amazing. There's so much bad luck and bad involved in all that, I almost felt bad for the Astros. Almost. Then I remember they scheduled a night game on a getaway day, when the Giants have a day game tomorrow. That helps me get over it.
Also: Suck it, Mike Scott.
Not worried about Vogelsong, and you shouldn't be either. What his latest mini-slump is reminding us is that he wasn't '68 Bob Gibson. No one is. For a while, Vogelsong was doing his dangedest to pretend he was there. But he was probably more than a little lucky. It's not a sin to point that out. He was leaving more runners on base than just about anyone in the league. That might be a Righetti-taught skill. But it seems like something that might vary from season to season.
Where Vogelsong's weird is that his string of dominance and stretch of regression are both so neat and easy to define. He was good -- so good, he put up 18 quality starts out of his first 19. That's insane. He hasn't been able to string together two consecutive quality starts out of the six since then. So it seems like he's hit a wall, or something's wrong. The endpoints are so easily identifiable.
But he seemed like the same Vogelsong tonight. Grinding, grinding, grinding, always trying to curl the two-seamer around the corner of the plate. He left a few pitches up -- more than he usually does, for sure -- but this start wasn't that much different than, say, his June win against the Dodgers. The results were worse from an earned-runs perspective, but he's still a heckuva pitcher. Not weirded out by this stretch at all.
The nadir of the night was the bases-loaded, no-out situation for the Giants in the top of the second. Gregor Blanco had a pretty bad at-bat, but I'll grant him some leniency because that was the only at-bat in the game that the home-plate umpire decided to call the high strike. With a 0-1 count, though, Brandon Crawford swung at a 58-foot curve. I would have walked out there, grabbed Crawford by the ear, and led him off the field like a bitter, 1800s schoolmarm. Joaquin Arias would have been the pinch-hitter, even if the at-bat was already in progress.
I'd be such a horrible manager. But it would be entertaining!
There's some clamoring on the talk-radio circuit for more Joaquin Arias. He really is the cowbell of feckless middle infielders, you know. And my first inclination is to laugh at the clamoring. Silly clamoring.
Obviously Arias isn't this good. But I'll say this: Crawford sure is picking a crappy time to slump. After his nine-game hitting streak, he's four for his last 26, with a walk and four strikeouts. And he's looking bad doing it.
Meanwhile, Arias is stroking double after double, dinger after dinger, and looking like he was as a top prospect this spring instead of seven years ago.
I'd still give Crawford the edge because of his defense -- it's really that good -- but Arias is making it close right now. I believe in hot streaks. I don't believe in the ability of the human brain to tell the difference between hot streaks and random variance. But Joaquin Arias is like Derek Jeter without the smarm right now. I could go for a gift basket right now. So could Bochy. I wouldn't blame him for going for it, even if it's not the decision I'd make.
When Belt and Pence are hitting at the same time, and hitting back-to-back, it's like a big ol' lineup spider. Eight limbs flailing, coming straight at you. Pointy fangs, venom, and hits all over the place. It's fun to watch when it's going right.