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Giants fall short in Game 3, down 2-1

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The Giants lost just their third one-run game of the postseason in the Bruce Bochy Era, falling to the Royals, 3-2.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

You feel like this, like your stomach was replaced with a car battery, like there's no way the Giants are going to finish over .500 until the ice caps melt and wash us all away, because it's been years since the Giants were behind in a postseason series. Years. The Giants dropped Game 3 of the 2012 NLCS in a game much like this one. Well-pitched, well-played, with the Giants just coming up short. That isn't supposed to be a remember-2012 note of encouragement. It's supposed to be a reminder that we're all spoiled. Five postseason series later, and the Giants are behind.

It's not a good feeling.

It's not a hopeless feeling, though. Just despondent. A light dusting of despair. But only partially hopeless. The Giants have come back from worse, you know. I remember this one time, they looked like a team that had only one good starting pitcher, a patchwork bullpen, and a streaky offense, and they made the World Series against all odds. You should have seen it. It was the kind of fleeting, improbable magic that made you think positive thoughts. It would be hard to recapture that feeling, but there's still a chance.

The first pitch of the game was a sinker that didn't. It was the first pitch in Tim Hudson's World Series career. It was the worst pitch he threw all night. It's on a short list of the worst pitches he's thrown all year. It was a flat, belt-high sinker that deserved to be hit into the water over the left field stands, past the parking lot, over the harbor. As is, it was just a double, and the Royals manufactured a run.

That was one of the more annoying parts of Game 3, by the way. It was a first draft of a script written by a Royals fan who just started watching the team three weeks ago. It was a hacky World Series preview, animated and terrorizing the villagers. Good pitching? Good pitching. Good defense? Great defense, boy you should have seen Lorenzo Cain. Shutdown bullpen? Oh, and how. Timely hitting? The timeliest, especially with two outs. Small ball? The smallest ball you could possibly fathom.

Gross. And accurate. Still, you never want your team to lose in the same way the rest of the world is expecting them to.

The Giants needed to hit Jeremy Guthrie hard. They couldn't, at least not as much as they would have liked. They had Kelvin Herrera looking a little like Aaron Barrett in the NLDS, like someone who just swallowed a tarantula. They let him skate. Brandon Finnegan, swell-looking prospect and super fourth bullpen arm, did not impress with his command. He was absolved. The Giants deserved to look bad against Wade Davis and Greg Holland. It was the path they chose.

Guthrie didn't strike a single hitter out, you know. Hard contact, caught. Hard contact, caught. Soft contact, caught. Part of that was poopy luck, another part of it was the poopy luck the Royals' defense likes to sprinkle on the other team's cereal. It was a frustrating game to watch. They looked like an odd-year team out there, dang it. The humanity.

The last time the Giants were down 2-1 in the World Series, they rallied to win the next two games. They had a lead in what could have been the deciding game, and they should have won it. It's possible for them to get to a place where the heartbreak is even worse for all of us. I truly believe that. I'm not sure if that's supposed to make you feel better or worse. The important thing is that I'm in a bad mood and I want to share that bad mood with you.

★★★

The capriciousness of baseball in two at-bats:

1.
After Kelvin Herrera hit for himself with a runner on first and two outs -- which was completely nutty, considering he looked sketchy in the previous inning -- he walked the leadoff hitter in the seventh inning. He didn't know where the ball was going. He threw a first-pitch fastball way wide to Brandon Belt, and he was behind again.

At this point, Belt is looking for a fastball in one location.

belt


Yeah, that one. He got it. He missed it by a fraction of a second. This isn't to say the Royals are so lucky that Belt missed his pitch; it happens. It's baseball, and baseball is a sadistic twit. That's all. It's a highlight you won't see tonight or on MLB.com. But that was the swing that meant the most in the last three innings. It was so close to being a magic moment. Baseball, y'all.

2.
Buster Posey can hit a fastball. He got a perfect fastball to hit. And he was looking for it with one out in the ninth, down by a run.

posey


That was 95, right down the middle to a fastball hitter in a fastball count. He popped it up. You can use it to advance the narrative that Posey is tired/hurt/slumping/unclutch/gassy/whatever. I'm using it to advance the narrative of aw-dangit. As in, aw, dangit, he just missed that. Posey hit the ball hard all night. He just missed one of the most delirious home runs in Giants postseason history.

★★★

Starting Madison Bumgarner on short rest, in a season where he's thrown 250 innings, after a game when it took him a few innings to find his command, just to set up a possible Game 7 start that would also be on short rest, was always nutty. Bruce Bochy didn't consider it seriously for more than a second, and he shouldn't have.

I would love a surprise, WWE-style Yusmeiro Petit start tomorrow, just to mess with the Royals. That's probably not going to happen, is it?

★★★

More on the "we're spoiled" theme: That might have been the first time in the last three postseasons that Javier Lopez allowed a left-handed hitter to do good things in a high-leverage situation. He was overdue. That doesn't make it feel better, but the at-bat from Eric Hosmer was one of the best I've seen this season. Eleven pitches. Caught a little too much of the plate. It ended up being the ballgame, even if it just looked like the Royals were piling on at that point.

★★★

The biggest mistake of this game was that they didn't pinch-hit for Mark Gardner in their one shot against Bobby Jones.

★★★

My confidence was shot when a new country band that I've never heard of, and who had no connection to San Francisco, sang the National Anthem. I'm not expecting them to let Flipper reunite and sing it, but let's make it regional instead of a transparent cash grab.

★★★

Sergio Romo looked great. Michael Morse had a tremendous at-bat to help the Giants even come close. Tim Hudson looked outstanding for the middle innings. The defense was crisp. There were positives.

It still feels like I'm chewing on an ashtray. A win tomorrow, and everything feels much better. Funny how that works. But only funny if it happens.