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Giants down Reds, 9-6, after furious comeback

Johnny Cueto had a 46-pitch nightmare inning, but the Giants' bats bailed him out.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The abridged version of the Giants' 9-6 win against the Reds on Monday night: While looking up happy stats about pitchers hitting, I had to stop to look up sad stats about pitch counts in a single inning. That's when the Reds bullpen ate tainted clams and fell up a flight of stairs. Brandon Crawford hit a well-timed three-run home run shortly after. The end.

If you're looking for nuance, this wasn't your game. The Giants are the kind of team that can score more runs than the other team. Johnny Cueto is the kind of pitcher who can throw bad strikes, but he can apparently fix the problem between innings.

Add it up, and you get a game in which Cueto looked like a gyrating Greg Maddux for five innings and like Chet Maddux for one very bad inning. You don't know about Chet. The family doesn't talk about him much, and it's kind of sad, considering how even Mike became a successful pitching coach. Regardless, it worked. That's twice now that Cueto has supremely soiled an inning, only to watch his lineup bail him out.

Matt Cain: My therapist says I should read this to you, Johnny.

Johnny Cueto: Ha ha, okay.

Cain: It's a poem called "Feelings," and it's about run support.

Cueto: I love poems.


Cueto: Johnny Cueto would like to stop you right there and tell you that you are good at poems.

Hey, as long as they win, let's not haggle over the details. On June 28, 2011, the Giants beat the Cubs, 13-7, in the first game of a doubleheader. It was one of the first games in which Ryan Vogelsong looked like the minor league free agent he was supposed to be, the the Giants scored enough runs to take the game.

That was the third game that season in which the Giants allowed six runs and still won. It was also the last game they did that all year. The 2016 Giants have already won more games than the 2011 Giants did when allowing six runs or more. They're tied with the 2007 and 2009 Giants now. If you're tired of this esoterica, I can't help it. I'm intensely fascinated by this team's ability to score runs.

You're young, that's fine. But I'm still scarred by the seasons in which the Giants were a post-Bonds national joke.

The San Francisco Giants put aside their differences Sunday night, working together as a team in a common effort to score a run in a baseball game.

And now we're supposed to think that they can just overcome a 6-3 deficit against a dreadful bullpen?

Yeah, kinda. The hero of the night was Brandon Crawford, who has been mostly quiet this season. He entered the game an RBI ahead of Jeff Samardzija, good for 9th on the team, behind every other starter and the backup catcher. We know that RBI are an old-timey stat that are more likely to mislead than enlighten, but they sort of told a story here. Crawford had one hit in 24 plate appearances with runners in scoring position. He was a cool 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and two outs.

So if you were less than optimistic when Crawford stepped up with a runner on third and fewer than two outs, you weren't alone. Just a fly ball, you might have murmured, possibly with some curse words sprinkled in. Just a fly ball.

He hit a fly ball! A very, very long one. But it took more than that to get there. Buster Posey started the rally with a single, and then Hunter Pence continued the rally by taking two pitches that he almost certainly would have chased in the past.

That's how you pitch Pence. At least, that's how you were supposed to pitch him in the past (and possibly will in the future). For now, the robo-LASIK is still working, and he took the close pitches.

Brandon Belt followed with an opposite-field hit -- a category in which he's been excelling this year -- and Gregor Blanco had enough contact and patience to keep his at-bat alive until a pitch leaked over the plate. And so on.

After a lot of that, Crawford hit a ball really far.

The year before the Giants signed Barry Bonds, when they were about to leave San Francisco for good, they scored nine runs or more in five different games. The 2016 Giants have tied the 1992 Giants in that category. There are 135 games left this season.

I'll stop with the poor man's Jayson Stark stuff when the Giants stop giving me nostalgia tokens to spend.

* * *

Giants pitchers have now combined for more RBI (11) this season than the 2004 and 2009 teams had over 162 games. In 2009, the Giants had only three pitchers pick up an RBI: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Osiris Matos.

I'll stop with the poor man's Jayson Stark stuff when ...

* * *

Cueto doesn't worry me, in that his overall stats are still within the margins of reasonable expectations. It would be nice if the nightmare innings were buried under the ocean along with Matt Cain's, but he's still been a treat to watch. He gets bonus points for not completely melting the bullpen after suffering through one of the ugliest innings in memory.

So instead of ruminating on What We've Learned about Cueto (that he's susceptible to poor innings), let's take a moment to clap Javier Lopez, Josh Osich, and Santiago Casilla on the back for a drama-free bullpen game.

The box score says that "Vin Mazzaro" pitched in the game, too, but I'm sure they'll fix that by the morning. Unless ... no, no, they'll fix that, surely.

Osich, in particular, looks like he's coming along nicely, throwing strikes and making left-handed hitters look flustered and/or confused.

Once again, the Giants pitched great in all of the innings except for one of them. This time, though, it's a funny anecdote, not a record-setting loss. This feels much better, to be honest.