The important part, see, is the loss.
With this loss, the Giants need to beat Clayton Kershaw to avoid watching the Dodgers celebrate in front of them. The team that was on pace for 106 wins in the middle of May, the team that had an insurmountable 10-game lead that vanished within a month, the team that's filled with fewer jackasses. That team will watch the other team jump on each other and celebrate if they don't get their shit together against the best pitcher in the world.
That's why the loss matters. Once you get over the fact that the division is lost, at least. I don't want to watch the Dodgers celebrate. I kind of want the Giants to watch, but maybe that's my punitive side. Once we're in stage four of the stages of grief -- tacos and shame, I think -- we'll get to think rationally about this. We'll get to debate the merits of altering the rotation to make sure Bumgarner starts the one-game playoff (yes). A win there -- or a win against the Brewers and then a win against the Pirates -- gets the Giants into the same wacky tournament that makes gods out of scrappy middle infielders and allows $126 million failures to rise from the ashes, born anew. That's what will matter in a week.
Right now, we get to look forward to Yasiel Puig wearing stupid goggles and acting like the world's most confident man because look at those goggles. We get to look forward to a ball of utility fur colliding with a ball of fourth-outfielder fur and embracing and screaming and whooping. We get to look forward to ... whatever it is that Matt Kemp does to celebrate.
If they don't get their shit together against the best pitcher in the world.
I suggest they get their shit together.
With that out of the way, there's complaining to do. Allow me to present a full and complete list of the hitters on the Giants' active roster right now who are better at the plate than Madison Bumgarner.
- Buster Posey
- Hunter Pence
- Pablo Sandoval
- Joe Panik
- Brandon Crawford
- Gregor Blanco
- Brandon Belt
- Matt Duffy
- Juan Perez
- Gary Brown
- Andrew Susac
- Travis Ishikawa
- Adam Duvall
- Chris Dominguez
- Joaquin Arias
- Guillermo Quiroz
- Michael Morse
This is not a point worth arguing. This is isn't something worth being on the fence about. It's neat that Bumgarner is a good hitter for a pitcher and that he hit another dinger. Watching him swing out of his shoes is one of baseball's greatest gifts. Watching him account for the only runs of the night, one of baseball's greatest wedgies. But he's not a major-league hitter. Not with 80 at-bats a year. Not with 500 professional at-bats in his career.
I'll give you this: It has to be unsettling to face a hitter like Bumgarner. I remember watching a new poker player decimate three players at the table by going all-in over and over and over again. They figured he was bluffing; he just didn't know what he was doing. And he caught cards he shouldn't have caught, and he ruined three separate nights. Pitchers don't waste time figuring out how to attack Bumgarner. They just know they can't screw up. This year, they've screwed up often. It's been fun.
Maybe if Bumgarner took the Rick Ankiel path and went to the low minors for a year, then the upper minors for a year ... maybe he could be a major league hitter over a full season. That's a soft maybe. This isn't a controversial, wild idea. Have you seen how Bumgarner swings wildly at every other breaking ball? If a prospect from Triple-A did that, he would be a bipedal meme, given to us by the yuk god for yuks. Don't be fooled by the amazing, fun, unlikely season from Bumgarner this year. I'd still rather see those 17 hitters up there in the eighth inning of a one-run game.
I'm guessing Bochy agrees, to be honest. Which means that he thought the advantage of Bumgarner staying in the game to pitch was worth the advantage lost by sending up his 10th-best option in the eighth inning of a one-run game. I disagree. Justin Turner disagrees. That's the kind of move you see from a manager who manages an industrial accident of a bullpen, not a stellar one. And it hurt.
Like the Giants were going to score another run anyway.
The Brewers are totally going to lose before first pitch tomorrow, and the Giants' celebration will be a briefs-clad Mike Murphy sitting on a folding chair, sighing loudly, and pouring Martinelli's over his own head as the Giants take the field.
One of these years, Madison Bumgarner and Yasiel Puig are going to wrassle. And I hope, hope, hope it's one of those scuffles that involves the catcher taking the charging hitter down from behind, or one of the ones where everyone collapses so quickly, nothing really happens. Because those are two large, freakish redwood trees. They should not be wrasslin'. One of them could get seriously hurt.
Unless there's something supervised. Like, something on pay-per-view. It would be the Vince Neil/Axl Rose of our times. Now that would be something.
But the full-fledged mound charge that's going to happen one of these years will be spectacular. Hopefully, it's not spectacularly ugly. I got a bad feeling about this.
Krukow was intimating that Bumgarner's bad first inning had to do with the adrenaline of the shouting match. If that's the case, the Giants kind of need Bumgarner to settle the hell down. The sequence, as I can best piece together:
- Bumgarner loses control of an 0-2 pitch, puts a runner on base with no outs
- Bumgarner uses a naughty word, quite loudly
- Puig, who has already been hit this series, looks at Bumgarner, like, "You ... you're not talking to me, right?"
- Bumgarner, who doesn't like Puig's stupid face, tells Puig to stop pointing his stupid Puig face at him
- Puig swears back
- Bumgarner chucks his glove back and yells more naughty things
If the adrenaline of that sequence makes it too hard for Bumgarner to control his slutter, I can see two or three different points where the adrenaline could have been kept in the holster. More likely, it was a bad inning that doesn't need an explanation. Still, I wouldn't mind less prickly on Bumgarner's pear.
The part where he chucked the glove back was pretty badass, though.
Angel Pagan is broken. Brandon Belt is in the middle of extended spring training. Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval forgot how to hit. This is a team that's relying on Andrew Susac, Brandon Crawford, Gregor Blanco, and Bumgarner to get their runs. That's a helluva way to get through the playoffs.
Next week, though, it could all be different. That's the hope. I've seen freakier things. Jose Guillen actually started the 162nd game of the 2010 season, you know. The Giants might have to watch the Dodgers hop around tomorrow, but there are about 20 teams they wouldn't trade places with right now. Get those hitters fixed, and see what happens.
Yes, you. Get those hitters fixed. I don't know how. You try something. Get them fixed, see what happens. Don't be a slacktivist, complaining on your Internet machine. Do something.
I'm going to be over here playing Civ.