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Giants avoid the sweep, bullpen coughs up rough loss

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Lincecum wasn't very good. The bullpen wasn't very good. Brandon Crawford did hit a sweet dinger, though.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, and welcome to the weekly, bi-weekly, or twice-weekly installment of "Giants avoid the sweep." The Giants winning two out of three is a good thing. The Giants taking four out of six on an East Coast road trip is a good thing. Repeat it like a mantra, calm and soothing, as long as you need to. Hey, good road trip, Giants. No irony. Excellent road trip. It was in the top 80th percentile of outcomes, really.

And yet, you're annoyed. That's okay. I am, too. That's our right as a baseball fan. Imagine your favorite filmmaker directing a new movie, just for you, every night. One of my favorite filmmakers is Alfred Hitchcock. My cat is named Hitchcock. Boy, do I love some Alfred Hitchcock. But if he had to make a new movie every night, there would be turds.

SENSO-BOX

(PG) 189 minutes

A wealthy duchess spends a fortune to build a SENSO-BOX that allows her to watch movies of peacocks while feeling the sensation of peacock feathers rub against her feet. This dream is cut short, however, by a tax audit.

In the 189th minute, you would be right to stand up and yell, hey, this sucks! And no one would come up to you and yell, "Hey, have some respect! You got to watch Vertigo two nights ago, North By Northwest in October, Rope in 2012, and Psycho in 2010! You're spoiled!" They would all agree with you that SENSO-BOX was a turd.

That's baseball.

That game was a turd.

★★★

"This ... is a hanger."

Duane Kuiper, watching a replay of a Tim Lincecum curveball

Yeah, you would think I would start with the bullpen, except bullpens will have games like that. Hunter Strickland was imperfect with his command, Norichika Aoki did a weird pull-up on a just-fair ball, and suddenly the other team has a runner in scoring position. Single, single later, and the other team is tied. Flash-forward to the ninth, when a control maven plunks a guy and the backup catcher allows a passed ball. Nothing I just described is fun to watch, but if you have a 389-sided die, sometimes you're going to roll 388. How do you fix it? Watch lacrosse.

The Giants bullpen is still pretty good. They could use some help, considering the innings they're logging, but the only reliever I'm sincerely worried about is Jeremy Affeldt. He was a DNP - coach's decision. Therefore, this was the body thrown into the volcano of the bullpen gods. It made for a dumb game. There's just no need to react to it.

However, this brings us to the more depressing part of the program. It was fun to imagine Tim Lincecum in Cincinnati, All-Star patch on his jersey, rubbing elbows with a bunch of lunks who can throw 100, trolling the world. Sure was fun. Those dreams are quite dead.

Lincecum now has four straight clunkers in a row, and while it might seem unfair to describe a two-earned start as a clunker, please note that it was a minor miracle that Lincecum got into the fifth inning to begin with.

The inning to remember was the fourth. Lincecum, working on a no-hitter, walked Lucas Duda. After an error, Lincecum got the second out. One walk, one error, one pitch from getting out of the inning, right? Except then there was another single and a walk to a create-a-player, Dilson Herrera. The bases were loaded. Eric Campbell, also a create-a-player, came up.

lincecum gif

With the bases loaded, in a one-run game, that's an 87-mph fastball in the middle of the plate. You can blame the weather.

Because that sure is one sweaty young man.

You can also say, hey, it's just one pitch, or it's just one bad month, or so he left a couple balls up. But this is year four of a reduced-velocity Lincecum not showing the capacity to put the ball where he wants. The other three years were bad, statistically, making Lincecum one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball over the last three years. There have been worse pitchers, sure, but they lose their jobs quickly. Of all the pitchers to keep their jobs, Lincecum kind of stands alone. That's what made the early season success so hilarious. What if it worked? It's not like I'd be against it. It would have been beautiful.

Instead, all we have here is logic and recent history. All of which suggests that Lincecum's fancy stats, the stats the nerds said he was supposed to have in the first place, weren't flukes. When you don't know where the ball is going, and you throw 87, there's only so much good that deception can do. Sorry.

★★★

Except Yusmeiro Petit -- the official please-start-this-guy guy of McCovey Chronicles -- was even worse! The box score shows 1⅓ innings of scoreless, spotless baseball, but he was a mess. The curveballs were up, and the fastball was in the mid-80s. Gameday says they were sliders, but I don't buy it. Unless they were literally the worst sliders of all-time, those were low-velocity fastballs, and they were getting hammered right into the gloves of eager Giants defenders.

This would normally be a spot where I would clamor for more Petit. Not tonight.

What a weird game.

★★★

I had some notes about Brandon Crawford's dinger and his incredible turn on a Lucas Duda double play, but they got lost in the misery. Here is a paragraph acknowledging that, good gravy, I'm glad that guy plays baseball for the San Francisco Giants.

★★★

TRAIN THIEF

(PG) 201 minutes

A young boy leaves his home to join the circus. He meets a one-eyed clown who teaches him how to steal trains and eat the tracks. The boy dies because you cannot do that, and the clown feasts on his corpse.