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Giants walk off, Dodgers celebration delayed

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That's all we can ask for at this point. Right? Unless ...

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Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

I don't know. Maybe?

If you're ranking Giants slogans from the last 30 years, You Gotta Like These Kids is almost certainly the top slot. I Feel Good! got them to a World Series. The 2012 slogan of Let's Get Back. Together has a permanent place in my heart because they really did get back, and it feels like they personally invited me. That was so sweet!

Right now, we have I Don't Know. Maybe? It's all we have. Take it and shut up. There are six games left in the season, and the Giants need to win them all. They need help from the Padres, too, which is like hoping your cat will call 911. It's a smart cat as far as cats go. I don't know. Maybe?

The symbol of I Don't Know, Maybe? is clearly Trevor Brown. Can he get the biggest hit of the game against Zack Greinke? I don't know. Maybe? Probably not. But ... I don't know. Random fifth-string catchers do get hits. They get them 20 percent of the time, give or take. The best hitters get them 30 percent of the time, give or take, and that's one of the reasons I don't understand this game. So I don't know, maybe? Maybe Trevor Brown can get a two-run gapper against Greinke, the favorite for the NL Cy Young this season?

It seems ludicrous. But I don't k... yeah, you probably get it by now. The reality is that the Giants are hosed, and it takes exactly one five-run first inning in the next three days to remember that. You'll feel stupid for even entertaining a hint of a scintilla of a glimmer of a thought of hope. That's your future if you're making that puckered-lip I'm interested face. It will end in disappointment.

Unless, I don't know. Maybe?

Take it in sections, then. Break the hope into easily digestible pieces. It would be dandy, for instance, if Madison Bumgarner could out-duel Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday. That seems reasonable enough. They're both mighty talented.

After that, it would be nice if the Giants could win that particular game. And after that, well, it would be great if the Dodgers didn't dogpile on the mound that Barry built. One day at a time, as they say. Focus on the Bumgarner/Kershaw game, with a MEDIUM PICTURE goal of preventing a celebration at AT&T Park, with a BIG PICTURE goal of ... hoping the Padres won't screw up. Yeah, it's not likely.

But maybe? There are 17 teams that would kill for maybe. Don't take it for granted, even if your rational side knows it's going to end in rolled eyes. If Trevor Brown could win a game for the Giants, maybe?

* * *

Every manager of every one of your favorite teams will drive you mad. This is a truism, and it will never change. They'll put in Petey when they should have put in Porpy, and they'll pinch-hit Stample when they should have sent up Stimple, who had the platoon advantage. They're all morons compared to you, the learned fan.

Bruce Bochy can leave his starters in too long, searching for the elusive and dumb pitcher win. He can trust in veterans for too long, and he can make eleventy pitching changes in a 11-3 ballgame. There are flaws. But Monday's game showed you the flaws of another manager, and you get to compare and contrast.

Don Mattingly is weird, y'all.

Consider his bunt fetish. He loves, loves, loves putting runners in scoring position with one out, even if it means sacrificing an out to the baseball gods. A wee, precious out. So fragile, so rare. Mattingly crushed the out's skull against a rock and feasted on the syrup inside. He didn't give a single damn.

Contrast that with Bruce Bochy in the bottom of the 12th. After a leadoff single, Kelby Tomlinson came up. He's fast and ostensibly bunty. Seems like a fella who can half-swing the stick. Mattingly was probably telling his fielders to crash and crash hard. Bunt's-a-comin'.

Except the bunt never came. And Tomlinson lined an opposite-field single to right, allowing the winning run to scamper to third. Good things can happen when the bunt is neglected. It's not all double plays and pop-outs. The Giants won because they didn't bunt; the Dodgers lost because they did.

If you don't care so much about the bunt, focus on the fact that Kenley Jansen warmed up four times without coming into the game. He's the best pitcher on the team after Kershaw and Greinke. He can get outs. He can get strikeouts with a runner on third and one one, which, say, was the exact situation the Dodgers were in when they lost.

If you need a primer on why Jansen should have been in there, some dingus wrote about it here:

... when it comes to the Dodgers and Kenley Jansen, who is clearly the best reliever on the team (without a close runner-up), not using him in a tie game on the road is the same thing as saying, "Nah, that's okay. Improving the odds of the game continuing isn't as important as the closer getting a save opportunity that may or may not ever exist, even if it comes in a three-run game." Yet, that's what Don Mattingly does, without fail.

That was in an article about Matt Williams and the Nationals, by the way. That's how predictable Mattingly can be.

It's all a moot point of the Dodgers win one of the next three games. He'll be drinking champagne, looking like a Kurt Russell puppet from the "Land of Confusion" video, happy as can be, possibly sitting on Mike Murphy in chair form. It won't matter.

But it makes me itchy to watch Mattingly pull levers, and I'm someone who's actively rooting for him to fail. It's the dangedest thing.

* * *

September baseball, you are on drugs, and those are bad for you.

* * *

Jake Peavy started that game and pitched rather well. He is the physical manifestation of a sleepy quality start. Never eight innings, never four. There's a warm, happy medium buried in there. He is the state school of starting pitchers. You could do better, but you could do far, far worse. State schools are good. Don't be so snotty.

I'd have more on that, but I forgot that Peavy started the game. That was a long time ago, and now I'm 84 and forgetful.

* * *

Kelby Tomlinson's defense is much improved, and I'm regretting my casual dismissal of his glove from his first two months. Duane Kuiper uttered these exact words about a diving play he made:

"It isn't a great play, but it's a nice play."

Heck, yeah. That's what I want to hear. Nice is a ceiling worth dreaming about. Tomlinson -- voted best defensive second baseman in the Eastern League this year, remember -- was a little weird around the bag after getting called up. Slow on the turn, a couple of goofy errors, and with balls just zipping under his glove. All three of the previous second basemen would have fared better, but all of them are chained under the ballpark, eternal fuel for the black magick that sustains us all, so we mustn't judge.

Now that magick is helping Tomlinson make solid, steady plays. He looks like a second baseman you play on purpose, on both sides of the ball. He can run a little and hit a little. We know that. But what if he could field a little bit?

It's fun to goof on the odd year, but the Giants have a roster that's much more interesting than the one they started the season with. That's a plus. That's a positive development. Now let's all appreciate that while waiting for the trap door to sproing.

* * *

Dodgers lose. Giants win. There was a walk-off and people hopped around. It clinched a winning record for the Giants. Happy baseball, everyone.