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Giants lose fourth 2-1 game of road trip, drop series

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Maybe put on the "score three runs" play next time, Roberto Kelly, come on.

Same.
Same.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I'm not sure where you were when you heard about the Mike Leake trade. The Giants were off that night, so I was probably sitting in a chair, staring at the wall. The kids may or may not have been taping paper airplanes on my cat to see if he could fly, I don't remember the specifics. But I remember the feeling. The Giants were a half-game out of first, and they fixed the part of the team they needed to fix. Perhaps it wasn't with David Price or Cole Hamels, but it was still a better team. It was a contending team. They were in the middle of the race.

Think about where you were when you heard about the trade. Think about your exact thoughts about the San Francisco Giants on the night of July 30. You're back there, right now. You're back in that moment.

An envelope slides under the door. You don't hear any footsteps or tires squealing away, and no one's there when you open the door. You pick up the envelope. There's writing on the front, in perfect calligraphy.

September 9

You open the envelope. Inside is another envelope. There's more calligraphy on it.

Ninth inning

You open the second envelope. There's a third envelope. More calligraphy.

Diamondbacks lead, 2-1. Their closer is in.

A breeze rattles the shade. You're always up for a good mystery, but you can hear the darkness in the final envelope. You can smell it wafting out from the seams. You debate whether or not you should open it. You lose the debate.

Due up for the Giants: Nick Noonan, Jackson Williams, Juan Perez

There wouldn't need to be a wolf howling in the distance. The power wouldn't need to go out. Your bobbleheads wouldn't need to start rattling. You would know. Even though you watched Travis Ishikawa literally send the 2014 Giants to the World Series, you would have known what that would have meant. You would have pulled the hope out of your heart, slathered it with jam, and ate it, piece by piece, until you were finished.

Later that night, well, I probably don't need to explain what happens next, but, okay, fine, you would poop your hope out. And either it would linger around for a bit (this would be a bad decision), or you would set it free. It would go away forever.

Due up for the Giants: Nick Noonan, Jackson Williams, Juan Perez

You wouldn't need to know the exact permutation that lead to that bottom of the ninth, but we can go over it quickly. Noonan is there because Brandon Crawford broke, and then he was hit by a pitch the night he returned. He eventually broke again. Williams is in there because every single backup catcher in the Giants organization played "Hide In the Abandoned Refrigerator" at the annual picnic, and Buster Posey's ankle was sore. Don't worry, it's just the one that was fractured in 2011. Perez is there because Hunter Pence is still hurt and Norichika Aoki had a third recurrence of his concussion-related symptoms.

Due up for the Giants: Nick Noonan, Jackson Williams, Juan Perez

And that's how that happens. Even then, the Giants still deserved to win this game. They consistently hit the ball hard with runners on base, but always right at someone. Not that it matters. No sense whining about it now. I'm not whining, you're whining.

The Giants are underperforming their Pythagorean record by five games now, and they're 16-23 in one-run games. They've dropped 11 of their last 12 one-run games, including four 2-1 losses on this road trip. No one will cry for the them. Whatever sympathy they built up in baseball during the oh-for-San Francisco drought is gone, and that's fine. It's part of the trade-off, and we'd all make that deal again. We just have to sit here and take it.

What a disappointing season, though. There were so many things going right for this team. It was so exciting for a bit, there.

Due up for the Giants: Nick Noonan, Jackson Williams, Juan Perez

Yeah, well, you're the dummy who opened some random poltergeist envelope from the future. You know better.

★★★

We talk about the reason to continue watching Giants baseball in 2015 -- or, at least, I'm beating it into the ground -- but looking at the rest of the season like that misses an important point. There are reasons for a lot of the players to keep playing, beyond a sense of pride and obligation. Tim Hudson wants to pitch as well as he possibly can because the baseball is going away forever. Ryan Vogelsong wants to pitch his way into a job next year. Kelby Tomlinson wants to open next season on the Giants' bench. And Chris Heston is clawing for his rotation spot next year.

The Giants have Madison Bumgarner. They have Jake Peavy. They'll at least start the season with Matt Cain, if he's healthy. And they'll have New Acquisition. They might have two of them, or Mike Leake might stick around. There are a lot of ways for Heston to start the season as the sixth starter next year, and precious few for him to start as the fifth starter. These games are really, really important to him.

And in the middle of a mostly meaningless game, Bruce Bochy pulled him after two runs, four&23frac; innings, and 69 pitches. He was missing bats and getting grounders, and the only reason he didn't get out of the inning with a double play is because the Diamondbacks sent the runner on first before Chris Owings grounded into the second out.

It was very, very unlike Bochy.

The options are:

1. Bochy is playing this like a manager who knows the odds, who knows the Giants are hosed. He knows Heston has pitched more innings this season than he has in his professional career and that he pootered out in the second half. He doesn't want him to writhe through a nasty, 25-pitch inning, and he noticed some sinkers up. They were up, alright.

So Bochy pulled him because there's no sense getting into a mess in a game like this, in a season like this, with a pitcher who needs a little confidence.

2. Bochy is playing this like it's a must-win, can't give up hope, and he pulled Heston because he had absolutely zero faith in him.

I'm choosing to believe the first one. The second one scares me, mostly because the lack of faith might have a legitimate foundation, and I was getting used to the surprisingly effective pre-arbitration pitcher. But the first one probably passes the sniff test. If Bochy really thought that tonight was a must-win, that the Giants had a reasonable shot, Buster Posey might have been behind the plate.

My guess is that the Giants don't start the season with Heston in the rotation, but they keep him in a glass case in Sacramento, and it won't take long to break it, for whatever reason. He's caring about these remaining games, though. Oh, you'd better believe it. And if you're looking for reasons to watch, how about a career minor leaguer fighting for his major-league life after instant success? That's pretty compelling. I'm in.

Nick Noonan, Jackson Williams, and Juan Perez

Carnac the Magnificent slid the envelope open, mugging for the cameras. The crowd chuckled. He blew on the envelope to open it, as he always does. That's when the eternal stream of locusts shot out of the envelope. They will never stop, they will eat everything, and we will all waste away, wondering why people keep opening these envelopes.