There were four full days without baseball. If you're counting from game-to-game, there were five. So many days without baseball. Your teeth were chattering. Your nights were long. When would the embargo end?
Here. Here is two baseball games, jammed into one. There will be ups and downs and diagonals, and you'll blink a lot when it's done. And you were so close to hating baseball for a little bit.
A loss would have meant something. Here's what it means that Ryan Vogelsong is a reliever now or My thoughts on Brandon Belt against left-handers. Heck, we don't even have to talk about Angel Pagan (LONGER POST INCOMING). A win is just nervous laughter. A ha ha ha, I don't know what happened. Better them than us?
Start at the beginning. Matt Cain was ... Matt Cain. He was the starting pitcher. Husky guy, been with the team for a decade or so. Right, so Matt Cain was off. He was pitching like Trevor Hoffman in the first inning, trying to lull the Diamondbacks to sleep with changeups, changeups, changeups. I have no idea what the plan was. It didn't work in the first inning, and the Giants were lucky to escape with just a one-run deficit.
From there, it was a back-and-forth affair, with the Giants inching closer and the Diamondbacks pulling away. I have a note in here about Jean Machi. I don't really have to flesh that out, do I?
On the other side, the Diamondbacks had a guy who had two pitches: 1. a very nice fastball with suspect command, and 2. a hanging slider. The Giants can hit fastballs, even if the pitcher knows what he's doing with them. The Giants can hit hanging sliders because everyone can. And yet the Giants couldn't break through against Robbie Ray. Instead, they fouled pitches off like they got a bonus for them. They were always just late. Baseballs went hither and thither, but never within the right angle of the baseball field. The ones that did make it in play were caught, over and over again.
There were hits. Most of them didn't matter. The Giants were 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position, and one of those hits was a ludicrous bunt from a pitcher who was just busted down to private. It didn't score a run, at least not on the play. The entire game was manic frustration, a shrill, Hitchcockian violin score that never had a resolution. Oh, just getting the mail, don't know what those violins were about.
The other one of those hits, though, was a Hunter Pence home run to tie the game. Two outs, one on. How many times in a season does a team come up with a power hitter representing the tying run at the plate? I wish there were a Play Index search for that. It feels like it happens four dozen times every season. And every so often, the exact thing you're thinking about comes true.
That does not look like a pitch that's going to end up as an opposite-field home run. It was the dinger that tied the game and allowed the Giants to win, though. It makes no sense. Nothing about that game made sense. Did it?
Single, passed ball, walk, bunt single, error.— Jon Weisman (@jonweisman) July 18, 2015
It did not. The Giants hit the ball hard for most of the night, and then they won on some rinky-dink nonsense. I can respect that.
Please note, without a hint of regret or disappointment from the eventual results, that the strike zone was a bunch of prog rock bullshit. All night, for both teams.
I think I've figured out my least favorite feeling in baseball. It keeps me up at night, keeps me screwing around on the Internet instead of watching baseball games.
My least favorite feeling in baseball is waiting for the other team to come up in the bottom of the ninth (or beyond) with a chance to win the game. They can win it with a dinger. They can win it with a walk, a balk. a wild pitch, and a dropped third strike thrown down the right-field line. Home teams can win on anything. And it's unnerving. Possibly cheating. Definitely unfair, at least when you're on the road.
I have no patience for the creeping death of extra innings on the road. The counterpoint is the feeling of invulnerability in the same situation at home. "Oh, a runner on third and one out? We got this, bro. Watch this," screams my interior monologue, even though I keep telling myself that my internal monologue doesn't talk like that. When the Giants get the runner in scoring position at home, and it's a walk-off situation, it feels so very inevitable. The obvious corollary is that the Giants are hosed on the road. It's a bargain that I've pretty much accepted.
The baseball gods haven't accepted, though, and that's a good thing for tonight. The Giants were about to screw up, and then Cliff Pennington threw a ball into the dirt, and ... well, you had to be there.
Ten pitchers. The Giants used 10 pitchers. Looooook.
The last time they used that many? In 2012, against Arizona. They lost.
There's a catch, though. That was with expanded rosters, in September. Shane Loux pitched an inning in that one. So did ... literally seven of the same damned pitchers that pitched in tonight's game against the Diamondbacks. But when it comes to regular, 25-man rosters? This is the winner. This is as many relievers as can be jampacked into a regular-season game. Welcome to the new age, to the new age. There are a lot of relievers in this tedious new age.
Did you see the nifty part of that picture, though? Cain gave up a bunch of runs, we've covered that. Machi gave up a run because that's what he does, and there's no need to cover that. The nifty part comes with the rest of that bullpen. That's 6⅓ scoreless innings from a bunch of scamps and ne'er-do-wells. Josh Osich and Hunter Strickland came into the game and struck out exactly whom they needed to. Sergio Romo was a revelation, allowing nary a baserunner. Santiago Casilla had corner-pitching funk working for him. Javier Lopez came back from a 3-0 hole to bury a left-handed hitter.
Ah, but that neglects the closer. Ryan Vogelsong. This was the third time he's come into an extra-innings game in relief for the Giants. The first time was an 18-inning loss. Barry Bonds was 0-for-5 with three walks. The second time was a 15-inning loss, three weeks later. Felipe Crespo hit cleanup that game. Cleanup. It's weird, they walked Bonds a couple times there, too ...
What this is getting at is that Vogelsong had earned an extra-innings win in his career. He's still an inexperienced late-innings reliever, but if there was one thing that was coming to him, it was a fluke extra-innings win.
An extra-innings win with a Ichiro-like bunt, that is. Stay there, Jake Lamb. You go back to your home, and you stay there.
Vogelsong has earned a lot of things, actually. He's gotten most of them. Here's just one more of those things.
And now we've come full circle.