I have a lot of things to write about a loss. I'm less prepared to write about the win.
After Marlon Byrd doubled with no outs in the fifth inning, the Phillies had a 96-percent chance to win the game, according to FanGraphs. Those win-expectancy numbers are based on a faceless, average team, though. It's a number pulled from the bowels of history. In the 210,000 games in major league history, teams up 5-1 in the fifth won about 96 percent of the time. If you customized the numbers to adjust for the 2014 Giants playing against a normal team, they would probably give the normal team a 99-percent chance of winning. The Giants are not equipped to win a baseball game like that.
Thank goodness the Phillies aren't a normal team. It started like it usually does. Someone said or did something they probably shouldn't have, and the the other person reacted in a way they probably shouldn't have. Egos clashed, and no one could back down without looking weak. It was totally avoidable the entire time, yet inevitable. The Giants and Phillies got in an ol'-fashioned shitty-off. I think the Giants lost, which means they won.
This is the Giants' second win in their last eight games, and it was yet another win that wasn't especially convincing. They needed lawyers to win against the White Sox, and they needed Baltimore chops, dunks, fisters, and doinks to win against the Phillies. Oh, and they needed a) a pop-up to drop in the middle of the infield, b) one of the headiest players in the game to freak out and pretend the dropped baseball was covered in fire ants, and c) the player with Brandon Crawford's rightful Gold Glove (2012) not moving on a ball hit three feet to his right, which allowed the winning run to score. I'm not sure I felt especially proud of a single run in that game, other than the Hunter Pence dinger.
We'll take it.
We'll take it.
That was the Giants team we're used to, the kind that can't win against good teams because good teams generally don't drop baseballs in the middle of the field, and because good teams usually don't start Kyle Kendrick on purpose. The Giants can beat those teams every other game, or so.
But it was also the Giants game we starting getting used to in April and May. The team that could come back from a four-run deficit ?!?!?! and score six runs?!?!?!?, even if they had to will those runs into existence. There was a time -- this year, even -- when four-run deficits didn't feel so final. I'd like that feeling to come back.
Maybe tomorrow they'll hit the ball all over the field and look like a good team. Maybe tomorrow, the win won't feel like a gift. Until then, it's quite alright to feel good about a Giants win and root against the Cardinals, Braves, and Pirates. They won. Ha ha ha, that stupid team won.
We'll take it.
What if Michael Morse is good again?
We're about two months into Bad Michael Morse, which means it's almost impossible to remember Good Michael Morse. Yet his overall numbers on the season are good. He still has a 128 OPS+, and his WAR is still in positive territory, despite him fielding like Glenallen Hill riding a drunken burro and running the bases like a drunken burro riding Glenallen Hill. That must mean when he was good, he was really good.
What if he's that good again?
He probably isn't. But I'll take a combination of the two, a player who isn't stuck in one of the two extremes. His extra-base power is back, apparently, and it's hard to imagine a better omen for the Giants. It's easy to get stuck on Angel Pagan coming back, as if he's the magic talisman the team was missing, but it's probably more relevant to look at what Morse and the Giants have been doing together this season.
Good Giants (3/31 - 6/8): 42-21
Good Morse (3/31 - 6/8): .278/.329/.550
Bad Giants (6/9 - 8/15): 21-37
Bad Morse (6/9 - 8/15): .273/.332/.377
That bad Morse period includes his recent hot spell, so the numbers are a little inflated. Still, correlation is always, always, always causation, and we've learned that the Giants are only good when Morse is hitting extra-base hits. They aren't good when he's hitting singles, and he's getting on base at about the same clip either way. But once he adds 200 points to his slugging percentage, the Giants win.
That's the magic talisman! So keep doing that, Michael Morse. Keep hitting the ball hard all over the field. I think it makes the Giants better.
Joe Panik is now hitting .274/.331/.327, with a 94 wRC+ and positive defensive numbers/reports. Suddenly, I'm not so keen on the idea of trading prospects for Emilio Bonifacio.