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The Giants/Pirates season series in review

The Pirates handed the Giants some losses this year, but they also handed them a win. Which was very, very nice of them.

Jason O. Watson

The Giants and Pirates played six games against each other this season. The Pirates won four of them. This means nothing. This means everything. Let's revisit these games to divine the meaning and meaningless.

Game 1 (PNC Park): Giants 11, Pirates 10

Wha' happened?
This happened:

That's Jean Machi running to first in 4.1 seconds. I went back a couple weeks ago and re-timed it just because I didn't believe myself. It kept me awake at night, like Josh Brolin and the agua in No Country for Old Men. Sure enough, 4.1 seconds. According to an Internet drifter, that's about what Angel Pagan runs:

Jean Machi might be as fast as Angel Pagan.

Jean Machi might be as fast as Angel Pagan.

Jean Machi might be as fast as Angel Pagan.

Jean Machi might be as fast as Angel Pagan.

If the season ends on Wednesday, I won't even be mad at the Pirates. They gave us the gift of rocket-powered Jean Machi.

Also, that game was a treat. It was a 13-inning mess, with the Giants coming back from an 8-2 deficit in the fifth inning, tying it in the ninth on a Buster Posey single. Jared Hughes came into the game in the 13th inning and did this:

Also also, Matt Cain almost slapped Michael Morse's ass hard enough to send him spinning over the railing.

Apparently, it was the most GIFfable game of the year, if not the decade.

It was the sixth straight win for the Giants, and their 10th win in 11 games. Remember what it was like to be that optimistic?

Key line from post-game recap:

Forget the extra innings and Jean Machi and the comeback for a second. Think about the simple stuff first. The Giants went the entire 1980s without winning a game in which they allowed 10 runs. The entire decade. This is the second time they’ve done it in two weeks. It’s the third time they’ve done it in their last three months of baseball.

Giants gonna win 110 games, everyone. Giants gonna win 110 gaaaaaames.

The Pirates were 12-20. I felt bad for them.

Game 2 (PNC): Pirates 2, Giants 1

Wha' happened?
This was a sinkerballer's delight, with Charlie Morton vs. Tim Hudson, with both pitchers giving up just one earned run. It was also Hudson's only complete game as a Giant, as he threw 8⅔ innings of one-run ball until he gave up a triple that was Yakety Sax'd into a home run.

This was the first game to ever end on an instant replay. Between the ducks and that, we should have figured that the cosmos had more Giants/Pirates left to give us.

Key line from post-game recap:

This was the kind of game that reminds you why the very best teams in baseball history lose a third of their games. Sometimes — and I’m just going to use a phrase that I coined on the bus the other day — that’s just the way the ball bounces, you know? And when that ball kind of bounces into your beans, it doesn’t feel so bad when your team literally won a game on a bunt single from a reliever the night before.

Hey, don't worry. It's just one game? Just one game. Just onnnnnne game. It's not like the Giants were going to hit an extended skid at some point and really, really need that win.

Game 3 (PNC): Pirates 4, Giants 3

Wha' happened?
Brandon Belt drove in all of the Giants' runs, hitting a dinger and a two-run double against Gerrit Cole. Alas, Belt was thrown out at third base with two outs like a nincompoop, and the Giants got just one more runner over the next four innings. It was a sad, slow disintegration.

Tim Lincecum started that game and pitched horribly, which led to questions of "Is Lincecum going to snap out of this?" for the 434th time. Key line from post-game recap:

What we have with Lincecum is a hope. The hope is that he figures out the ball is going. It could be that he never really knew, even in the Cy Young years, but his stuff was so otherworldly, it wasn’t nearly as damaging. The other possibility is that something’s not the same, that he had an ability that’s not there right now.

If it’s the first, forget about it. You might as well sign William VanLandingham to a 10-year contract and wait for him to harness his stuff. Any day now. Aaaaany day.

If it’s the second, okay. What was lost can always be found.

I’m in the first camp. After two-plus years of waffling and waiting and hedging, I’m almost entirely convinced the only thing left to do is hope the velocity comes back in the bullpen.

So danged sad.

Game 4 (AT&T Park): Pirates 5, Giants 0

Wha' happened?
Madison Bumgarner was pummeled in the first inning, and Vance Worley threw the first shutout of his career. The game lasted two hours and 34 minutes, probably because the Giants weren't trying. Gregor Blanco was thrown out trying to steal when the Giants were down by five runs. Read that in a Sam Kinison voice. It's still not angry enough.

Key line from post-game recap:

So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, "Stop wasting our time, you awful baseball team." This is as angry as I've been at a team in a long time. Stop wasting our time, dammit. It's not like you can blame a single player, either. Bumgarner, sure, but he's been excellent, generally, and at least this debacle didn't come with the short bullpen last week. No, everyone is wrong, everyone is awful. No one looked good in this game except for the bullpen. It was a flat, feckless, moribund team that pouted through the game. They looked like they couldn't get the day off because they couldn't find coverage, and they were going to passive-aggressively get their revenge on everyone.

This series was the end of the end, give or take. The Giants would win the next series against the Mets, and though they faltered against the Royals and Brewers shortly after, they were generally okay for the rest of the way. That game was the worst of the bunch.

Game 5 (AT&T Park): Pirates 3, Giants 1

Wha' happened?
Francisco Liriano slidered the Giants to death, possibly while muttering "A.J. Pierzynski? That butt-nosed malcontent? Really?" as he released each pitch. Tim Hudson was again a tough-luck loser, throwing seven strong innings that weren't quite strong enough. Michael Morse would hit one of the three home runs he hit after June 5.

This was the sixth straight loss for the Giants, and it pushed them 2½ behind the Dodgers and into a tie for the second wild card spot for the first time. The Pirates were the team they were tied with, FYI. Key line from post-game recap:

Over their last 28 home games, the Giants have been shut out as many times as they've won. I've never seen anything like it. I hope to never see it again. And when Crick is picking up his 20th win in 2018, with the Giants absolutely rolling, we'll look back at this homestand, this specific homestand, as the one that saved everything. Thank goodness the Giants looked like a Division II school in that particular homestand, you'll say. Thank goodness.

Really, we should be thanking this team.

Everything was awful, everything was ruined. The Giants were slowly slipping out of the playoff race, and they had the Pirates to thank for expediting the process.

Game 6 (AT&T Park): Giants 7, Pirates 5

Wha' happened?
And, suddenly, a glimmer of hope. Maybe, just maybe, the Giants weren't total boobs. Maybe they could squeak out just enough wins to make the playoffs. Maybe ...

The Giants scored three runs in the first, then tinkled away that lead within four innings. Tim Lincecum gave up a painful pair of two-run dingers to Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer, and the Giants were hosed again. Except this time the Pirates kicked the ball around. Justin Wilson issued a walk to Morse in the seventh inning, Joe Panik blooped a single, Blanco got an infield hit, and then a passed ball gave the Giants a run. In the eighth, Buster Posey tried so danged hard to hit into an inning-ending double play, but the Pirates booted it. They gave the game right back to the Giants.

Look at this amazing contribution to the stupid-baseball arts.

The Giants took it! The Giants took it. It hurt their pride a bit ...

... but the Giants took it.

Key line from post-game recap:

Tim Lincecum is the 2014 Giants of the 2014 Giants pitchers. You're happy. You're sad. You're dejected. You're elated beyond words! You're very, very dejected. Throughout it all, you're confused. Deeply confused.

Good thing that's all cleared up.

So what can we learn about the Giants and Pirates through these games? I'll help you: very little. Seriously, very little. Tims Hudson and Lincecum started four of the six, and they're not expected to start a playoff game at all if the Giants get past the Pirates. The Pirates were starting Charlie Morton and Vance Worley back then. The Giants were playing Brandon Hicks in the first series and starting Dan Uggla in the second one. Madison Bumgarner made a start; Edinson Volquez missed both series.

The Giants are hosed against the Pirates unless they aren't. But other than that stupid Vance Worley game, at least the matchups between the two teams this year haven't been boring.