There is no better way to explain the Giants' season. Three -- three -- losses this season have come with a center fielder making a brilliant catch with the go-ahead runners on base with two outs in the ninth inning. That's remarkable. That's the lotto coming up 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42.
The first was Will Venable. It was probably the best catch I've ever seen live. You can watch it here.
The second was Matt Kemp. It wasn't as good as Venable's, but it was still pretty good. You can watch it here.
The third just happened. Hunter Pence hit a ball into the gap, and Denard Span chased it down. You can watch it here.
Three wins wouldn't turn this team into the '27 Yankees. The rotation stumbled early, the runs haven't been there … it's been a mess all around. The Giants aren't in the playoffs with three extra wins.
But it's fluky. Creepy. At least one of those balls should have fallen, should have been dropped, should have been hit six inches farther. In a good season, they're all hit six inches farther. Six inches on a baseball field is a rounding error. But every time the lead runs are on base in the ninth inning, every center fielder turns into something out of Baseball Simulator 1.000.
Great catches all around. And because I'm totally a glass-half-full guy, let's remember these three catches when the Giants draft fourth instead of fifth, and they pick the next Matt Cain instead of the next Matt Bush. Yes, let's.
Because if you don't look on the bright side, this is kind of a discouraging season, right? Is that too strong of a word, "discouraging?" Don't care, I'm going with it. This season has been discouraging, and I don't care who knows it. Of course the game ended on a diving catch with the lead run on base. When will these Giants ever catch a break? This year, I mean. Everything resets on New Year's, and we get to complain about bad breaks again. Everyone knows that.
Before we get to the part where Lincecum's line looked worse than Lincecum's pitching once again, let's review an important development: Tim Lincecum has become a pitcher worth looking forward to. Again. He was there for years. There was something called Timmy Day, and, lo, it was a glorious day. And then a bunch of high-schoolers decided to make Timmy Day about drugs and cat-skinning and whatever it is that high-schoolers do, so we forgot how awesome Timmy Day could be. But in the first inning, Lincecum was pitching well, and it seemed so obvious. Yeah, he's pitching well. That's what he does now. Again.
Ignore the fact that his average velocity is .1 miles per hour behind Kevin Correia this year.
Now, I look forward to his starts again. He's not someone you miss a funeral for, like he was in '08 or '09. But he's not a downer. He's been on a good run. He's provided excitement. He's looked like he's known where the ball is going. The breaking stuff and off-speed stuff can still make professional baseball players look like they're swinging a bitey otter. It's been fun.
But in Lincecum's inning of doom -- which he seems to have with less frequency these days -- there was an infield dribbler. It was a poor swing and a weakly hit ball. And it was a hit.
After a productive out, Bruce Bochy loaded the bases on purpose with one out because …
Lincecum's command has been so stellar this year that … wait …
Hitters hit worse with the bases loaded, so … wait …
Lincecum is 45th out of 90 qualified starters in groundball-percentage, which means it's likely that … wait …
Anthony Rendon is a pitcher who … wait …
There is no reason to load the bases there. None. The odds of a grounder to get out of the inning are not worth the added leverage the hitter has when he gets ahead in the count with the bases loaded. This isn't an advanced concept. THIS ISN'T AN ADVANCED CONCEPT.
It didn't work out. Lincecum allowed six runs. It wasn't his best game, but he deserved … three of those. Buster Posey had a miserable stab at a ball in the dirt that brought another run home, and Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt couldn't connect on a ball in the dirt that usually gets caught. Maybe four if you're grumpy.
Eh, maybe the ERA will scare bidders away in the offseason. Today is all about the silver linings. Turn that frown upside-down. Take that miserable loss and turn it into a best-selling memoir, that's what I always say.
For example, the Giants looked like a somewhat-alive baseball team. Progress! There was spirit and fire and derring-do, and if not for a spectacular catch, they would have come back.
Again. If not for a spectacular catch, they would have come back again.
This season is like the credit-card bill for the world's most amazing Vegas trip. There were kangaroos on diamond leashes, front-row seats to REO Speedwagon, and stretch-Bentleys that were 80-feet long. And then the bill came. Welp. Can't say you didn't expect it. But it still stinks.
At least Brandon Belt is making the goofballs look like goofballs.