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Giants walk off against Cardinals, keep pace with Dodgers

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Kelby Tomlinson had a couple defensive whoopsies, but he made up for it with patience and a well-timed line drive.

okay okay i'll let you look over my shoulder during the test
okay okay i'll let you look over my shoulder during the test
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Giants haven't lost a game in which they've hit a grand slam since 2007. When a team gets a grand slam, they win. That's the rule. It's an instant four runs. It's like a football team running back four kickoffs for a touchdown. The bylaws state, and I quote, "the game is basically over when a team hits a grand slam."

And yet the Giants had to scrap and claw and pull hair and poke eyes to get the win. They did it in a secretly satisfying fashion, too, getting the rare prolonged-inevitable walk-off. You know the one, where a team puts a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth, then tries to wriggle out of it with intentional walks or six infielders or filibusters. It's funny to watch the other team pee into the mouth of a dragon, hoping the flames will stop and everything will work out. Occasionally it will work out, so it isn't that funny. But when it doesn't work, it's just the best.

This game could have been on the shortlist for the Most Frustrating Game of the Year competition. Michael Wacha looked awful, missing with bad strikes, missing with bad balls, and hanging every other breaking ball he threw. Mike Leake looked pretty good, getting nasty movement on a 92-mph sinker and controlling it well. Then the Giants hit a grand slam, and they were leading 4-0. Yeah, everything checked out. That's exactly what was supposed to happen based on the description in the first sentences of this paragraph.

But the Cardinals tied the game on their weak and waning devil magick. They found shards of the devil magick left over from when the Giants defeated them at the Battle of Ishik A'wa, and they reforged them into something just as unholy as before. They're back and stronger than ever. The Giants hit a grand slam, and the Cardinals still had a good shot to win the game. That never happens, so of course it's the Cardinals who figure out how to do it..

And then there was Kelby. Okay, so you're tasked to write the story of an epic, galactic, eternal battle between the Giants and Cardinals. Michael Bay wants your script on his desk by the morning. Do you start with Bonds and Pujols? Is that your hook? Maybe, if you're an obvious hack. But, no, you're an artsy type. You're not going to do the obvious hook, even if it means you're going to lose the gig. No, you're going to build up decades of ill will -- from Ozzie's cheap shot to Candy Maldonado's slide to David Bell to Barry Zito to Travis Ishikawa -- in an opening montage, and then you're going to introduce Kelby Tomlinson and Stephen Piscotty, who will be the main characters.

Again, they don't option your script. They option another one that's about just Ishikawa, and it makes $200 million. But yours has feeling, dammit, feeling. Kelby is the hero of light, and he can walk and single and do whatever he feels like. Sure, he's not as sure-handed as Joe Panik, and that can be a big deal, but that's just some Act II tension. He has other skills, and sometimes they can beat the stupid Cardinals.

Mike Leake deserved better. He was efficient for most of the game, save some odd wild spells, and he kept runners off the bases. The fielders did not keep runners off the bases, though, and because of the asinine rule that dictates that the official scorer can't assume a double play, he took a lot of earned runs he shouldn't have. Single, walk, double play that wasn't, single juuuuuuust through the infield, double play that wasn't, double. Two innings later, there was a single off the second baseman's glove, a sac fly to right, a sac fly to right, and a wild pitch. It was a You Got Served sequel, but with bullshit instead of dancing. Oh, I'd watch that. I just did. The Cardinals and Giants do bullshit-offs better than any two teams in baseball.

The weird thing is that Michael Wacha deserved so much worse. He left some of the worst breaking balls of the season up in the zone -- they were too far up, really -- and he was erratic with everything. The pure strength of his stuff got him through six innings, but even after Marlon Byrd's grand slam, I kept thinking "That's it?" It felt like every hitter in the middle of the Giants' order for the first three innings got at least one fluffy pitch in the upper-middle part of the strike zone.

Why, I don't remember the last time I saw Wacha look that uncomfortable.

RIGHT, right, yeah, now I remember. But the point is that an excellent pitcher looked vulnerable, to the point where a freaking grand slam and nothing else felt like a bit of a let down. It was just setting up the walk-off, though.

That grand slam was hit by Marlon Byrd, burgeoning cult hero, who could have grounded into a double play without anyone being too stunned. Instead, he hit a delightful dinger.

The Giants had a walk-off win for the first time since May 10. Does that seem ridiculous to you? It should. Three months without sweet walk-off nectar is no way to live. But instead of Byrd grounding into a double play, or Kelby striking out and Ehire grounding to second, the Giants walked off. There was a grand slam, a modestly encouraging start, some stellar bullpen work -- note how Bruce Bochy trusts Josh Osich with the important case files now -- and a walk-off win from the kind of player the Cardinals like to sneeze out.

It was one of the better games of the year, really.

★★★

Also note that there was a LITERAL JAWA in the stands and he used his JAWA POWERS to help the Giants win this game.

jawa

Thank you, literal jawa.