And so the Giants' first baseman was concussed and unavailable, off to see the concussion specialist he saw last year, while the star catcher was on the bench, ailing with hip and back issues. The backup shortstop was forced to play first base, where he was hit in the face with a one-hop line drive, and the fourth-string catcher was hit in the throat with a ball that bounced off someone else's foot.
By the time the cops got there, the Giants were a game closer to the Dodgers.
They're still not close, mind you. At some point, why, one might even start wondering WHAT IF THE GIANTS WON JUST ONE OF THOSE ONE-RUN GAMES AGAINST THE DODGERS? or other silly, unproductive thoughts like that. Not now, though. Save those thoughts for the long and dark offseason, where they'll haunt you much more.
There's a temptation to look at the remaining 12 games and start figuring out ways for the Giants to make up a six-game deficit. If the Dodgers lose their next five, and the Giants win their next five, the Giants could tie for first place with a win in the first game of their series against them. Except that's absurd. And if Buster Posey gets 11 more dingers and 28 more stolen bases before the end of the year, he's got a shot at 30-30.
And yet you can't look away. You simple person, you can't look away. Not like I can, either. So here's what you do: Don't think about how the Giants are going to catch the Dodgers. Not yet. Think smaller. Work your way up to it. I'll start.
If, during the next five games, the Giants manage to gain two games in the standings, they'll be four back when the Dodgers come in for a four-game series. AT&T Park would be bananas shot out of a banana cannon at a parachuting banana-man vomiting bananas everywhere. The crowd for that opening game would rock before the first pitch, humming in a way we weren't expecting from any of the games left in this stupid season.
After that, well, the Dodgers would probably win one. They'd win when their pitcher did better than the Giants pitcher, or because they got the hit in a one-run game that the Giants couldn't. Because that's how baseball works. In a four-game series against the Sacramento River Cats, the Giants would probably win three out of four, on average. Maybe even nine out of 10, but a single loss in a four-game series would make sense, statistically. Which would be fine if the Giants were chasing the River Cats.
That's long-term thinking again, though. Just get to that first game against the Dodgers with a four-game deficit. Make them have the unbidden thoughts of if we lose these four games .... And maybe the Giants steal that first game.
Which would bring up the second game. Now, I know it's unlikely even then, but now if ...
* * *
The optimism fades a bit when you remember that Ehire Adrianza hit seventh, and it was totally justifiable for him to be there. This is, again, because everyone is broken. Honest question, if you had to chose a lineup between one made of Joe Panik, Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and three spare parts from anywhere in the organization, or the lineup the Giants played on Tuesday night, you have to go with the former, right?
They didn't just win, though. They won with the players who weren't supposed to be there. Adrianza currently has the best on-base percentage of any first baseman in franchise history, and Trevor Brown's first major league hit was a 500-foot fly ball that went 400 feet in the weird sub-climate of Petco Park. That's how they won, doing it against an excellent pitcher who made them look silly in most of the other at-bats.
The odd-year lackeys sent by the baseball gods had a real Abbott and Costello thing going on, though, almost murdering Brown in the throat because they didn't realize Buster Posey wasn't in the game. Same thing with Adrianza at first. They were trying to get Belt, and the clipboard said he was supposed to be right there, but they stopped their murder plans when they realized the mistake.
The injuries really will be too much for them. That, and they're running out of time. But get to that game next Monday just four games out.
* * *
Angel Pagan has hit three home runs in his last 15 games. He hit exactly zero in the 169 games before that.
The new, rejuvenated Pagan is something to pay attention to. It would be one thing if the hits were falling in at the right time, and look at that, our old friend is here to help. But it's not like that. He looks different. You're no scout, but you see it as clearly as you've ever seen it. The Pagan from the summer months looked like he was playing with a flaming arrow stuck in his side. This whippersnapper is spry and froggy, running out infield singles and attacking the fly balls in the outfield.
This is all important because he has another year left. If the Giants are stuck with him, to put it far too harshly, at least they can hope he's still quite good.
* * *
It's not not sad that we've been reduced to scoreboard-watchers who think that six games out is a notable accomplishment. Six games is a huge deficit, even with three months to go.
At the same time, hey, six games is better than seven games, which is better than eight games back. All they need is a little luck.
/Mike Leake (tongue stuck to frozen flagpole) will miss his next start, according to ...
Well, sure, everyone's a cynic.