There is no shame in recounting the dinky runs scored by the Giants in a shutout of the Dodgers. There is only pleasure. Deep, sustained euphoria. And a giggly kind of schadenfreude that you know is going to come back to you someday. Regardless, the Giants shut the Dodgers out, and they used dinky runs to do it. Rejoice. It's funnier this way.
The first dinky run scored with two outs in the third. Joe Panik couldn't have thrown his hit in a better spot, just floating it over short, just dropping it in front of center. Angel Pagan hit his ball hard, but just out of the reach of Howie Kendrick. Then Buster Posey took a lunging, two-strike swing on a 1-1 count for some reason, and the ball made it to the outfield.
The second dinky run scored on a hilarious two-base error in the outfield, a grounder to the right side, and a wild pitch. The error came from the goofball who came in to pinch-run for Adrian Gonzalez, which hopefully made Don Mattingly feel like his head is filled with packing peanuts, possibly because it is.
That's not to say the Giants didn't earn the win or the runs -- putting the ball in play has some fringe benefits, and it's not like Joe Panik wasn't going to hit a walk-off inside-the-parker in the bottom of the 15th -- but they were funny runs. Funny when they happen for your team. Less funny for the other team, which makes it exponentially funnier for all of us.
The Giants beat the Dodgers, 2-0, and they did it in a solidly annoying fashion. That's about all you can ask for, really.
From September, 1976 through July, 1983, the Giants didn't shut the Dodgers out once. That's from Star Wars through Return of the Jedi. The Dodgers always scored at least one run.
The Giants shut the Dodgers out just once last year and the year before. They didn't shut them out in 2009, 2007, or 2001. The point is, these things are easy to take for granted, but they're still pretty rare. The Dodgers sent 38 batters to the plate on Tuesday, and they couldn't do what good, honest investors and businesspeople paid them to do. It's like a taxi driver getting out and running in place on the hood of the car, wondering why the car isn't moving. That is not how you do your job! You are bad at your job!
It's a temporary feeling, of course, seeing as the Dodgers can probably still hit baseballs well. On this night, however, they were somewhere between unlucky and bad. They can hang out there for a while, if they want.
Which would seem like a good way to lead into Tim Hudson, who was forcing the Dodgers to beat the ball into the ground all night (10 groundouts). He was good, certainly, but don't be fooled into thinking he was perfect. In the first inning, with two on and two out, Hudson got a generous strike one call. After a foul ball, Hudson made perhaps his worst pitch of the season, an 0-2 pitch that looked like a hanging slider, but was classified as a cutter.
That's ol' #3, and it just sorta hovered over the middle of the plate. Scott Van Slyke fouled it off. On the next pitch, Hudson got another generous call, this time on the inside. Strike three called.
After that 0-2 cutter, I would have walked to Las Vegas to put money down on one of those rotten Hudson starts if there were enough money in it. After the called strike three, it was clearly going to be a good Hudson night.
In the second inning, Carlos Frias swung at a Hudson pitch like he was holding a severed leg that he just wanted to drop. On the next pitch, Frias tried to bunt his way on, except it looked like he had never bunted a baseball before, nor had he ever heard of the word "bunt," and the only reason he had any idea of what to do was because of an x-rated drawing of a bunt he once saw in a Carl's Jr. restroom. We're talking Santiago Casilla levels of get me out of here, I'm a pitcher, this is unnatural. Hudson never threw him another strike.
That brought up Joc Pederson, who is apparently Mickey Mantle with a robotic exosk ...
Oh, well, you come up with this stuff. The point is that Pederson looks like the best player in baseball history in his short career against the Giants, as if he's always hitting the ball hard or just missing. As before, I would have walked to Vegas to put money on imminent doom if the money were right. As is, Hudson got a grounder. Then another and another. He settled down nicely.
That's not to take away from the fine performance. Just to note that the crossroads were there, they were many, and they were navigated successfully, for the most part. Van Slyke is going to wake up in the bathtub tonight, sweating profusely, thinking about that 0-2 cutter. Best of luck with that, Scott.
Don Mattingly pinch-ran for Adrian Gonzalez after a leadoff single. The Dodgers were down by a run at the time, so the gamble was this: The difference between Gonzalez's lumbering and the speed of a pinch-runner would help the Dodgers get either a tie or a lead. If they got a tie, they would be without their best hitter, but that's okay, because don't forget the old saying: "When on the road, play for the tie" that you've never ever ever heard.
Then the runner was eliminated from the bases on a force play, like, seven seconds later.
Then that runner was picked off.
Then the pinch-runner went into the outfield and committed a boner that gave the Giants a crucial insurance run.
It's been four seasons now, and I'm just so fascinated with this Mattingly cat. When Michael Richards first started playing Kramer, he said he was playing him as if he were a step behind. Later, he realized that he should start playing him as if he were a step ahead. Maybe we'll look back at these games and realize all of the ways Mattingly was outfoxing the Giants without us ever suspecting a thing.
Maybe. Until then, he's almost my favorite non-Giant to watch. What's he building in there?