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Giants walk off again, split series with Marlins

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There was a ninth-inning comeback and excellent pitching.

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Mostly, I'm just glad that the Marlins and their death fog left without infecting any of the Giants with typhoid or trench foot. Splitting the series against them is just an added benefit. Winning in come-from-behind fashion in the bottom of the ninth is just one more added benefit. Making Mat Latos think, "Oh, dude, my win" like Jimbo is another benefit.

Okay, there were a lot of benefits.

The Giants walked off, and they don't have to spend the day off thinking about another flat, flawed game. The alternative was going to be about 48 hours of annoyed thoughts about baseball. Here, friend, is a pile of happy thoughts about baseball. Let them be the nubby things in your tapioca, unless you don't like tapioca, in which case they're the absence of nubby things in your tapioca. This was the fourth walk-off the season, just one behind all last year. The last three walkoffs came when the Giants were tied, 2-2, coming into the final at-bat. This was the first one they were in danger of losing, and you were absolutely sure they were going to blow it.

You, specifically. You, reading this. You were sure they were going to blow it. That's okay. We all were. Now we get to talk about how they didn't blow it.

★★★

In a game like this, the default reaction might be to praise Matt Duffy (who had a fantastic at-bat to win the game) or any of the other ninth-inning heroes (there were a few). However, the Giants don't make it to the ninth inning in a close ballgame if Ryan Vogelsong doesn't pitch one of his very best games of the past year. After his dinger debacle in Dodger Stadium, Vogelsong has thrown 14 innings and allowed one run. On the Maddux/grinder/Pirate chart, this was as close to a Maddux as he's been in a long time.

I don't remember who tweeted it, and I don't really want to look it up because who wrote it isn't the point, but in the last week something came through my timeline that read, roughly, "If you don't think the Astros know what they're doing, check out Ryan Vogelsong's ERA and WHIP," and it bugged me. Forget that I've spent much of the season so far writing 1,000-word columns that basically translate to "Love the guy, but he's probably done forever." Forget that the tweeter in question might be absolutely, verifiably correct. It still bugged me in that no-one-makes-fun-of-my-sister-but-me kind of way.

First, why does that prove the Astros are smart? They were interested in him in the first place. They were so interested, the deal was announced as done. If they're smart, it's because they recognized the value of quality innings on a one-year deal. The Giants must be smart too. So they didn't liked what they saw when they looked at his physical.

"What's that black gunk on the MRI?"

"Doctor says it's a viscous, energy-providing tar made entirely of the doubts of other people."

"Whatever it is, I don't like it. Deal's off.

On the other hand, yeah, that start surprised me, too. If Matt Cain or Jake Peavy were healthier by about two weeks, we wouldn't have had a chance to see it. As is, Vogelsong is suddenly making the rotation decisions a lot more interesting.

★★★

List of unfairly maligned Giants, 2012 - 2015:

  1. Gregor Blanco
  2. Brandon Belt
  3. Sergio Romo

Romo fed some chum to the grumblers with his eighth inning on Sunday, but I'm pretty sure Blanco holds the top spot uncontested. When people hate on Belt, they come up with ridiculous trades, or just hint that he should go to the bench. When people hate on Belt, they want him ejected from the roster entirely. We've had three straight very valuable seasons from Blanco, who was supposed to be an extra outfielder the whole time. And there are still people who spend so much energy thinking, ugh, that guy is the worst.

That isn't to say he's anything but a streaky player. The bad streaks are, well, bad. They're hard to watch. But they're usually followed by a scintillating stretch of at-bats where he looks like someone who could hit .330 with power for the rest of his career. With any luck, we're witnessing the birth of one of the latter. P> Blanco's double in the ninth inning was one of the more important hits of the game, but he also should have been on third base with one out in the seventh, if not for a bad bounce and a short wall. He's seeing the ball well, Mike Krukow might say. He's seeing the ball well.

★★★

On April 16, Norichika Aoki swung at ball four with the bases loaded in a tie game, in the bottom of the ninth of a game the Giants would eventually lose. Even though he was hitting .348 at the time, he was an easy target to pick on.

On Sunday, Aoki faced a dude who throws like Aoki swings, which can't be a good feeling when a strikeout or poor contact can end the game. Funky pitchers have to make hitters get in their head just that much more. While I'm not going to suggest that Aoki took pitches that were millimeters off the corner -- none of the four balls in the at-bat were especially close -- but he still atoned for that earlier game. The Giants gave the game away on a wild pitch, and then they took it back with a bases-loaded walk. That's the kind of falling up the stairs that makes me not care so much about my typos.

Also, the autocorrect in TextEdit changes "Aoki" to "Loki," and I'm not going to stop it.

★★★

Diary of an embattled closer: Steve Chisek threw two perfect pitches to Andrew Susac to start the one-out at-bat. Susac had never seen Chisek before, but I'm sure he knew about the side-armed slider. "Don't look like an idiot against the side-armed slider," said Susac's internal monologue. Then a perfect sinker caught the bottom of the zone. "Okay, I guess he can throw a perfect sinker Don't ..." then a perfect slider caught the bottom of the zone.

Only an embattled closer could screw that at-bat up. The next pitch was a fastball in the middle of the plate, and the Giants ended up winning the ballgame because of it. Those are the pitches that never happen to a closer who is in the middle of a quiet stretch.

★★★

If Matt Duffy doesn't get a two-out hit, we're probably still watching the game. It would be the ... bottom of the 11th right now, and the Giants would be stranding a pair of runners.

Alex Pavlovic credits the bats.

Others credit the obese cat.

Everyone, please, you're all right. Matt Duffy is just a guy who broke out of the lab where the Twins create players like him, and the Giants picked him up on the side of the highway and nourished him back to health with warm broth and a roof over his head. Now he's a likable utility player with a fat cat and Simpsons-referencing bats. When he wins baseball games, it's just because good things happen to good people and the universe is not random.

Don't overthink it.