The clock turned over. Bells chimed. Everyone relaxed just a bit, still nervous, still panting. There was a stillness, a blessed stillness. A beat. Two beats. Thats when the skeletal hand of August shot up from the earth, dragging the 2015 Giants down to Hell with it. August wasn't done with us yet. At the end of the worst month of a very odd year, the Giants had their toughest loss of the season. They're 4½ games out in the NL West, but it really feels like only 8½.
Oh, how odd it was to have a game like this the night the Giants traded for an extra bench bat on the other side of the country. Oh, how perfectly awful it was to have a game like this the night before rosters expanded, before the Giants could add another reliever or four. The Giants got 390-foot outs, and then they got more. They limped to first after starting rallies with their corporeal sacrifices, and they did it again. They wriggled out of impossible situations, and then they recreated the trick if you missed it the first time. They were so close to making this a magical game.
Then the intern with the 97-mph fastball left the door open, and the cat got out. The skeletal hand dragged the cat down to hell, too. I'm telling you, August doesn't give a fuck.
The Giants went 13-16 in August. Along the way, they lost their starting centerfielder, left fielder, second baseman, right fielder, and shortstop, all for at least a week, and a couple of them for the entire month. They recognized they needed a starting pitcher before the month started, and he promptly blew out his hamstring once he arrived. Yet, still, somehow the Giants outscored their opponents by a cool 10 runs. Not that it matters. "It could have been worse" is a valid response, but it feels hollow when you realize that it sure could have been better.
There's still time for a miracle finish, certainly. The Giants were seven games behind the Dodgers on Sept. 1, 1951. They were six down with 13 to go. There's nothing like a reminder that something happens every 70 or 80 years to make you optimistic. And that's the point, those rare stretches of beauty are fertilized with the decomposing remains of horrid games like this. If these games didn't exist, those miracles wouldn't feel as wonderful.
It's like my grandpappy always told me, "You don't get to watch TV unless someone invents it first," and when I would tell him that doesn't make sense, he would say shhhhhhhh and close my eyes with his skeletal fingers, and that's when I realized that my grandpappy was August and he was going to kill me.
It's 1:30 in the morning, so I'm going to wrap this up right quick, if you don't mind.
Mike Broadway will be a goat, and that's fine. He was the only awful reliever in a game that featured 14 of them, issuing a leadoff walk to a hitter who doesn't hit for power, and getting worse from there. In five years, you'll still be mad at him. I haven't forgiven Merkin Valdez for the Ryan Spilborghs grand slam, and it'll be a while before I think of Broadway as anything other than the dingus who lost the 14-inning game.
That's unfair, if just a touch, because the most important decision of the game came in the sixth inning. Broadway should never have pitched.
In Game 7 of the 2014 World Series, with the score tied 2-2 in the second inning, Bruce Bochy walked out to the mound and took Tim Hudson out of the game. After the game was over, there were all sorts of interviews and press conferences and celebrations, and at no point did anyone question why Bochy took Hudson out. I'd wager that even Hudson was a touch grateful. It was a move that just made sense, considering the Giants were trying to win the World Series.
The Giants aren't quite as screwed if they lost Monday night's game as they would have been if they had lost Game 7. That game, my friends, was a literal must-win. This game was a please-dammit win. But the philosophy should have been the same. It was a game that needed to be managed with a different kind of urgency. At no point this season has Jake Peavy inspired confidence that he's a late-game, workhorse pitcher. It's not what he's done since joining the team. It's not what he'll ever do again. He is an avocado slice on a warm day, and if he isn't consumed quickly, he turns brown and goopy. Everyone knows this.
But the October gland isn't pulsing yet, I guess, which means Bochy left Jake Peavy in to face Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier -- with a nasty lefty already warm in the pen, mind you. Gonzalez tied the game with a two-run homer, and Ethier gave them the lead two batters later. Bochy responded the way you figured he would, talking about "stuff left in the tank," which almost makes at least a little sense, considering Peavy pitched well and was still a ways from 100 pitches.
In the postseason, though, Bochy goes to Josh Osich. There's no way to prove that, no way to confirm a hypothetical scenario, but I'm pretty sure of it. He considers the possibility of Gonzalez tying the game with one swing, and he goes for the power arm. He does it because the Giants wouldn't be able to afford the loss.
The Giants couldn't afford that loss, either. We're talking 4½ games out with 31 to play. There's no reason to assume that a pitcher -- especially one who's known for suddenly not having anything left in the tank -- can go another inning because you want him to. Because the symmetry and neatness would be pleasing. The reward for leaving Peavy in was that Bochy would say, "Phew. Glad that worked out." The risk of pulling him was that he might have said, "Ugh, that was a disaster. I wonder what Peavy would have ... eh, probably the same thing" after the subsequent reliever failed.
Of course, we don't care if the Giants get a hit with runners in scoring position in extra innings. Just pointing out that Postseason Bochy is the best, but things can get a little weird until he gets there.