Four. The losing streak where you can start to complain loudly and often. One's not a losing streak. Two's a bad couple of games. Three's ... getting there, but anything can happen in this game we love, ha ha. Four is where you start to grumble without prompting. Four is where you question your previously held assumptions.
Previously held assumptions, like, say, last week? When we thought the Giants were good? Seems weird now. You can see the flaws in the plan so clearly. This is like when I dropped out of college to follow my singer-songwriter dream. Have you heard my songs? They're crap. Mumbly California country that's way too self-aware, and that's on a good day. No one's going to buy that. You should have learned about spreadsheets, you jackass. You should have majored in computer science.
Replace spreadsheets with dingers and computer science with starting pitching, and you get the idea. Why did we think that was going to work? Got caught up in the moment, I guess. The only good news is that we're a four-game winning streak away from thinking everything is okay!
This is the kind of team that can score four runs in a pitcher's ballpark against a league-leading pitcher and still lose handily. That's the main point from that last section before it got out of hand. We figured as much before the season, then assumed it was just an awful time all around. Then we got pulled in another direction and figured everything was awesome.
Back to the starting point. Ol' square one. In which we figure the Giants have enough going for them to be taken seriously, but we're also acutely aware that they have a lot of sketchy options behind Madison Bumgarner. Roll call!
- Tim Hudson is 40 and erratic
- Ryan Vogelsong is basically 40 and erratic
- Tim Lincecum throws 40 and is erratic
- Chris Heston is ... wait, where did this guy come from, and why did we trust him so quickly?
- Jake Peavy is hurt and erratic
- Matt Cain is the best and the truth and probably our salvation but ... likely to be erratic as all heck
It's the kind of rotation some Indians and Rangers teams from the '90s would kill for. But these aren't the '95 Indians or '99 Rangers hitting. The Giants have a nice, steady, balanced lineup that's capable of good things, like getting out to early leads and putting pressure on the other pitchers. They don't have the kind of lineup that's going to carry the rest of the team if it's below average.
Which brings us to Chris Heston, who looked like he was going to make the Giants' looming rotation decision difficult. He was brilliant against the Braves back when the Giants were good, and he deserves more chances, but here's another reminder that he's a younger pitcher with imperfections. If he can't keep the ball down in 20 percent of his starts, well, chalk those up to the sinker gods. If he can't keep the ball down in 40 percent of his starts, he's not one of the five-best starters the Giants can cobble together. We were smitten when he looked like a guy who wouldn't have a problem keeping the ball down.
I'm still not sure if this is the anomaly or if that great stretch was, but it sure feels different. Maybe the dude throws too many sinkers around the waist when he's trying to throw them around the ankles, and we're just seeing it now. If that's the case, Jake Peavy can do that for 20x the price and add some experience to this whole mess.
Sorry. It's the four-game threshold. It does something to me, man.
Interesting note from the bench files: With two outs, two runners on, a three-run deficit, and a left-handed pitcher on the mound, Bruce Bochy chose Andrew Susac as a pinch-hitter over Justin Maxwell. The risk is that, I don't know, Matt Duffy has to catch six innings in the event of injury. The reward is a dinger or double, or something comparable. Bochy took the risk, hoping for the greater chances at the reward.
It might not mean anything. But right now Maxwell is a defensive replacement for an outfield that's pretty solid defensively. If he's not hitting against a lefty in a situation like that -- over the backup catcher, no less -- what's he doing?
Would name a boy Arquimedes. Regret that I didn't have the chance. Still have cats and dogs coming in the future. Will report back.