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Giants lose game, series, respect, your car keys

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The Giants haven't scored more than five runs since their last homestand, over a week ago.

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants are playing .500 over their last two games. The Giants are playing .500 over their last 86 games. The Giants will play .500 over their next 78 games. The Giants are a plain Ritz cracker, neither good nor bad.. There was a jar of peanut butter earlier in the season, but the dog got to it, and now they're just a plain Ritz. Things can get worse, certainly, so maybe just appreciate the stupid cracker before the dog gets that, too. This is probably a .500 team.

After losing to Jacob deGrom, there's a tendency to throw your hands up. Eh, what are you going to do? He's one of the best in the league, can't blame anyone, one of the best in the league. Except there's always a deGrom. If it's not him, it's Jose Fernandez or Clayton Kershaw or Johnny Cueto or Cole Hamels or Jordan Zimmermann or ... it turns out that baseball is filled with talented pitchers who excel at throwing baseballs. The trick, see, is to beat them, at least occasionally.

Earlier in the year, the Giants could do that. They would knock Matt Harvey around or jump on Kershaw just enough. In this latest funk, they can't even touch Jonathan Niese. They can win against Kyle Kendrick and Chris Rusin, but once it gets to that Dan Haren/Chad Bettis level, the pitchers will have to make do with two or three runs. The paradigm seems to be something like ...

  • Jump on the worst pitchers, more often than not, hope Giants' pitching is competent
  • Do as little as possible against the mediocre pitchers, hope the Giants' pitching is excellent
  • Do nothing against the best pitchers, hope the Giants' pitching is untouchable

Add in some unexpectedly awful or brilliant starts of equal measure, and you have a perfect recipe for .500. The Giants hit some balls hard against deGrom but, well, that's what they all say. If you start wondering about Matt Duffy's true current ability as a hitter, about Brandon Crawford reinventing himself as a heart-of-the-order semi-slugger, about Joe Panik's surprising success, and about the ability of Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt to be consistent, much less hot at the same time, you're not alone. A bummer of a month will do that to you. What if everything that was supposed to make the Giants good suddenly goes away?

What if everything that already worried you about the Giants never goes away?

For all the it's-early thoughts floating around my brain, it's worth noting that the Giants were never this close to .500 this late in the season last year. On July 8 last year, they were nine games over .500. They would get as close to seven games over .500 before the end of the season, but that's all. This team is already behind last year's, and last year's team needed the Brewers to enter a self-destruct code to sneak in. The Giants are already behind.

Maybe I'm just grumpy and overreacting. The best possible prescription for that is an off day, which lets you marinate in the ugly loss-juices, making you extra tender and ready to overreact to a loss in two days. I'll see you on the other side.

★★★

max

that is not where the base is what are you doing

maxwell

On a team with Gregor Blanco, Brandon Belt, Angel Pagan, and other awkward, confused players, Justin Maxwell ended up with the baserunner boner of the year. It isn't going to be topped. It had better not be topped. Oh, no, it's going to be topped, isn't it?

This one took the Giants out of the inning, with a bases loaded/one out situation turning into two runners on, two outs situation. When the ball was hit, admittedly from a much different angle than what Maxwell saw, it looked like it was almost certainly a base hit. Maxwell strenuously disagreed, moving back to second even as Eric Campbell was letting up.

In another game on another day, the Giants will benefit from the screwup from a struggling team. Right now, the 2015 Giants are heading in one direction instead of the other, and when they get close to their goal, they'll probably slide three feet to the east. That wasn't a slide. That was a metaphor.

★★★

Brandon Crawford also screwed up, but this one is different. He's allowed a few of these. He threw from here:

crawford

And the ball beat the runner to the bag.

crawford

It just didn't work out. If you're angry at Crawford, that's fine. You just have to accept my terms, which are these: Whenever Crawford makes a risky throw -- from his knees, to get the lead runner, whatever -- you have to promise to be unhappy, regardless of the result. If he makes a crazy, off-balance throw to get a runner at first with the bases loaded and two outs, you have to tut-tut and loudly explain to everyone around you that he shouldn't have made the throw, that if he threw it away, the bases would have cleared.

When Crawford glove-flips to Panik for a double play, you have to cluck and shake your head, reminding everyone that getting the lead runner is more important than trying for a difficult double play.

Being mad at Crawford for borking an absurdly difficult plays means that you agree to never, ever appreciate one of his absurdly difficult plays again. Because there are risks involved in those, you know. And risks are for daredevils and felons.

I figure Crawford's going to make a lot more of those plays work than he'll screw up. This is just the unseen cost of all the great efforts that do work. Occasionally, he'll spoil a pitcher's duel and give the other team free money.

★★★

Jake Peavy pitched well. Jean Machi did not.

Peavy is feeling stronger, like bull, and he's finishing his pitches off. Of course, we're looking at him through a Mets lens, and they literally had a 4-5-6 of Wilmer Flores, Lucas Duda, and Kevin Plawecki. If you laugh at that, remember that the Mets just won the series. But they won the series by scoring just seven runs in 27 innings, and the Giants' starting pitchers gave up exactly one earned run in 20⅓ innings. I don't feel like it's sour grapes to point out the Mets are a pretty lousy offensive force right now. Flail recognize flail.

Still, I'll stay encouraged by the Peavy and Cain starts from the series, even if they came against a team that's basically the 2009 Giants, more or less.

With that out of the way, we should note that we're coming to the end of Machi's time with the Giants. He's now allowed as many runs this season as he has in any season as a major leaguer. His velocity is off, but not as much as his break, but not as much as his command. It's making the Giants' decision rather easy for when the Tims return. The Giants have eight relievers, and Machi is about ninth on the depth chart, but only because Mike Broadway was sent down.

It's easy to pick on a reliever after a bad game, but I was really hoping to see the Giants enter the ninth, down by two. Even though they weren't going to score two runs, I just wanted to feel hope for that mid-inning break. Never take away my mid-inning-break hope.

Whatever. At least there's no way the Giants can lose on Thursday.