Clayton Kershaw has now started 24 games against the Giants in his career. Seems like 240, but it's really just 24. Before Sunday, he had allowed seven or more hits in four of those starts, and the Giants won all four. This was the first time the Giants have hit Kershaw -- even a little bit -- without winning. If you're wondering why it's just a touch harder to say, "Meh. Kershaw. What do you expect?" after Sunday's game, that's why. He was hittable. Relatively speaking. He was only great, and the Giants couldn't pounce.
Also, they played like nincompoops for a 30-second stretch. That's all it takes. One infield hit, a short burst of nincompoopery, and Kershaw's impossible to beat. It's like playing chess against Garry Kasparov and removing your knights before the game because you're scared of horses. One of them bit your sister when you were a kid. It's okay, don't really need them. The Giants were fine with spotting Kershaw to a 2-0 lead. What's the worst that could happen? That he was going to pitch well and that if the Giants were somehow able to squeak out two runs, it wouldn't be enough? Ha. Like to see that happen.
The sequence of nincompoopery, in case you wisely decided to watch the Seahawks lose instead of watching that game:
- Nubby-ass infield hit
- Line drive just under the glove of Joe Panik
Coulda shoulda woulda been a double play. Instead, it was a gateway to nincompoopery.
- Hunter Pence winged one to third, which was the right play, except it was wide and Pablo Sandoval couldn't handle it, and it skipped up the line.
- Which is when Yusmeiro Petit, backing the play up, fired a strike to Andrew Susac, who couldn't handle it, which not only let the runner score, but allowed Juan Uribe to move to third with one out.
- Even if Susac caught the ball -- which, to be fair, was a short-hop with a pair of cleats coming at him -- it would have been obstruction and the run would have scored.
The weird thing about it was that it was hard to be especially mad at any particular nincompoop. Pence needed to make that throw. It was off, which is unusual for him, and it short-hopped Pablo, who is usually so excellent at third. Then Petit made a good enough throw, but it was still tough for Susac to handle, and ... well, it takes a village. A village of nincompoops.
You might think this is much ado about nothing, considering that the Dodgers eventually scored two more runs. Except those two extra runs were the only mistakes that Petit made all day, for the most part. He left one up to Adrian Gonzalez, and he hung a brutal 2-0 slider to Matt Kemp. That should have been the only blemish on his record. Instead, infield single and nincompoopery. They still could have been playing right now. Maybe they would have lost on 15th-inning nincompoopery instead.
Maybe that inning was a gift.
Sorry, that's the last time I'll use that word. For this recap.
And after that nincompoopery, Buster Posey was a nincompoop, getting thrown out trying to stretch a single into the double in the third inning. It's hard to be angry at anyone who gets a two-out RBI against Kershaw, but what was he thinking? Good arm in center. Runner at third. September catcher legs like wet sleeping bags. The risk vs. reward wasn't there, and this was the second time in less than a week that Posey's been thrown out on the bases like a nincompoop.
About two weeks ago, I used this analogy in an article about David Ortiz:
One day, I was on the phone and I saw (my 30-pound) cat size up the eight-foot fence around the patio. He did the kitty-wigglebutt thing, stopped, then did it again. I didn't think anything of it because there was no way he was going to ... and then he jumped. He made it four feet up and landed in a pile of boxes. Also, he started the jump from a three-foot planter box.
I wished I saved that analogy for today, when Posey thought he was Billy Hamilton for a split-second, and it was befuddling at best. Probably not the reason the Giants lost, but still worth mentioning.
I've decided on a nickname for Yusmeiro Petit. You're going to hate it, but hear me out.
I know what you're thinking. Hold on. There are times when Petit reminds you of Greg Maddux, even if in an abstract way. Petit threw 62 strikes and 20 balls on Sunday. That's kind of like Maddux, right? He mixed and matched, hit his spots, and at his best, completely confused hitters. His masterpiece last week was almost as good as Maddux's best game. Hey, he's a control maven who can miss bats. If we can compare every skinny Dominican pitcher with a changeup to Pedro Martinez -- "You traded Felix Diaz for Kenny Lofton? But he's the next ..." -- we can compare Petit to Maddux.
So, Yusmaddux Petit.
You hate it because Petit was a minor league free agent who may or may not be a worthwhile rotation experiment on a contending team. Greg Maddux was one of the best pitchers in baseball history.
Except you're missing the beauty. When he hangs a slider and gives up a 400-foot dinger, you can turn to the person sitting next to you and dismissively say, "Yeah, Mike Maddux."
He is both. He is a master of command. He can be hard to hit. He can be easy to hit. He can strike batters out. He can give up long home runs. He is a blessing and a curse, but mostly a blessing. He is the Maddux brothers in one package, kind of like the Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt split cartridge, except your cousin dropped your light gun in the toilet last year, so you can't even play the other game. Yusmaddux Petit.
Okay, maybe not.
More like Mike Maddux. Who was actually pretty okay, looking back.
Adrian Gonzalez made the international yap-yap-yap motion with his hand after scoring in the sixth. You know the one. Obviously, I don't know who said what. Maybe he was yapping at Buster Posey at first. Maybe he was yapping at Angel Pagan in center. Maybe Joe Panik tells devastating limericks to everyone who reaches second. Dunno.
But here's an unwritten rule: If someone does say something yappy to you, you get to make the international yap-yap-yap motion back from the dugout after scoring. If someone were to say something like,
"Hey, Adrian Gonzalez, you have a head made out of meat. You are stupid and ugly and you have a head made out of meat, and it rotates on a spit throughout the day because your brain is a dim heat lamp bulb, keeping your meat head just warm enough to help bacteria multiply, by which I mean you're ugly, too, which naturally follows, considering your head is literally made out of meat, possibly mutton, but I'm not sure. Also, that's a rad goatee, and you don't look like someone at a Puddle of Mudd concert with exactly one tattoo."
Then he is perfectly justified in yap-yap handsing right back at the offender. No problems at all.
Your choices were one game up, one game back, three games back, or five games back. This was the second-worst permutation. It was also not the worst permutation.
Time to update the stupid wild card chart:
|If the Giants go …
|Then the Brewers would have to do at least this to tie them …
Still in line to have everything come down to three hours of baseball, which will possibly be stupid baseball. Feels good, man. Not worried about giving this chance away, no, not at all.