Because you can't possibly be interested in the particulars of Sunday night's game, let me describe my post-game writing routine. I sit on a combination exercise bike/desk and pedal furiously into the capital of Dad City, and I listen to something slow, dirgey, and plodding. Sleep, Electric Wizard, Pallbearer, Neurosis ... stuff like that. I never set out to have a post-game soundtrack. After a couple years, though, I've realized I have one.
Those albums are baseball seasons, every one of them. They have highs and lows, parts where you tune out, and parts where you're glad you checked back in. You're not going to play a minute-long snippet to a friend if you want to get him or her interested. That would be ridiculous and counterproductive. You need the whole thing. I didn't realize it, but I was putting some good ol' metaphors in the headphones. Also, there's a lot of screaming.
We're in minute three of a 76-minute concept album about scythe-wielding griffons on the sun, and we can't possibly know if we hate it yet. We have little, itty-bitty clues. The specific wins and losses are important, but they're not definitive. Take this game, in which the Giants lost. That's a drag, alright. But you also saw Jeff Samardzija pitch like a monster. He made his second-biggest mistake before his biggest mistake. Kenta Maeda made his second- and third-biggest mistakes in innings that he was able to wriggle out of. His biggest mistake came when it hurt as little as it possibly could.
That was the difference. Samardzija's bout of wildness came at the worst time. Maeda's bout of wildness came at the best time. The next time they meet, it might be the reverse. It's a long season. Can't get too down about a single game. Look for those silver linings, you pragmatist, you. Samardzija threw at least as well as their #3 starter. That's a good sign. It's a hook that catches your attention halfway through the first song, even if it isn't enough to make it the album of the year yet.
Cueto's throwing well. Samardzija's throwing well. I swear, I'm not just looking for random positive things because I'm a frantic homer with low self-confidence. Before the season, I was desperate to see Cueto throwing as well as he did on Saturday. I was desperate to watch Samardzija give us a glimpse into the Giants' thought process and justify his very expensive existence on this roster. We have that. We have Madison Bumgarner throwing well, and I'm even encouraged by Matt Cain a little bit.
So why have the Giants lost? Because Kelby Tomlinson had the squirps turning two different double plays, for one. That's not going to happen again, even if Tomlinson is forced into emergency action. The Giants have lost because Buster Posey is in a slump, which is something we know he'll fall into, only to make it up with a cheat-code month. They Giants have lost because Matt Duffy is in a mega-slump, the kind that starts with a called first strike on a pitch six inches off the plate and ends with a double-play grounder at the worst possible time. Those are things you perseverate on if they're Eli Whiteside and Casey McGehee in your starting lineup. Posey will be fine, though. Duffy will be fine.
And when they're fine, Samardzija and Cueto will hopefully remain as effective as they've been so far. They'll keep doing their thing when those guys turn the corner, and the Giants will be a whole team again. These are the mist-visions I had in the darkest winter nights. A team that could hit, but now with a team that can pitch. That doesn't mean the Giants will hit every night -- the 1995 Indians had their rough spots, you know -- and we're about a month's worth of these nights away from "What happened to the Giants' young hitters?" think pieces.
For now, though, I would rather the Giants lose a dull, feckless game after a great start from one of the expensive new guys than lose 8-7 with the new guy getting demolished. This way, I figure the unfortunate parts will be fixed with nothing more than a little patience. The other way, I'm hiding under my bed and wondering when the next five years are going to end.
I'll take this way, then. That doesn't mean it's ever okay to lose the rubber match of a series against the stupid Dodgers, but I'll save the frenzied overreactions for the end of the season.
And I promise you, boy, do I have some frenzied overreactions in store later this season.
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Yep, Samardzija looked good alright. Except he's still the kind of pitcher who can give up a home run against Joc Pederson. That is, a pitcher who isn't quite sure where everything is going, who relies on pure stuff to make up the difference, and who can get burned by a man-mammoth whose approach at the plate is see-ball-hit-ball.
There is still work to do, then. And I'm not sure if Samardzija's nervous system is ever going to get around to that work. Those neurons might not be mapped before quittin' time in five years. It's a shame, considering how well he threw on Sunday. It was an encouraging start, even if he was beat in exactly the same way I would have figured he would get beat in a close game. He can sure give up dingers, he can.
Early impressions, though: still positive.
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You might remember that Kenta Maeda was my offseason crush. It made me feel stupid when his physical reveal that his right arm was filled with packing peanuts and gloom, as if that was the end of the story. But that's how the Dodgers signed him to an absurd eight-year deal with all sorts of options and limited risk. It was a laughably team-friendly contract, which is just what the Dodgers needed. They were just due for a little luck with their finances, they were.
Maeda looks like a success story, a pitcher who can keep hitters off balance and put any of his pitches exactly where he wants them. I'm very, very satisfied that the Giants just had a two-day stretch in which Cueto and Samardzija looked as good or better than Scott Kazmir and Maeda, even if the latter two were far cheaper. It's not like Justin Upton or Yoenis Cespedes was going to fix this game on his own.
But I'm still a little sad that we don't get to enjoy Maeda, at least in the short term. He looks like a fun pitcher to watch. There's no sense complaining, though, considering the Giants didn't exactly walk away with Mike Pelfrey.