Business idea: Candy necklaces with the date of a hilariously fortuitous win printed on them. After a game like Monday's, you order the necklace, and you wear it around your neck until the next ultra-miserable loss. When it happens, you take the necklace off and eat it, piece by piece, remembering that there are games when the baseball gods are far kinder and gentler.
When the necklace is finished, you'll have sugar in your system and the memory of a game the Giants didn't have to win. Those memories will replace whatever tough loss you just watched.
I know there are venture capitalists reading this. Send me an email.
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Note that I didn't write that this was a win the Giants didn't earn or shouldn't enjoy. No, no, it just wasn't the kind of game that always ends with the home crowd happy. The Giants had runners in scoring position, and they bungled their way out of them. They consistently took awkward at-bats against Drew Pomeranz. There weren't a lot of hard-hit outs, even.
They scored one run, and that run had to be delivered by a courier.
They won because of Johnny Cueto, as much as any team can win behind their starting pitcher. He clearly enjoys facing the Padres, who have the right mix of aggressive and awkward, always in a park that minimizes mistakes. Let's check in with his 2016 against the Padres:
- 4/26 - 9 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 K (W)
- 5/18 - 9 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K (W)
- 5/23 - 9 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (W)
Perspective: The 2013 Giants had two complete games all season. Johnny Cueto has three complete games in a month against the same team.
Additional perspective: The 2011 Giants, one of the finest pitching teams in franchise history, had three complete games all season. Johnny Cueto has three complete games in a month against the same team.
Even more perspective: When Tim Lincecum won his first Cy Young award, he threw two complete games all season. Johnny Cueto has three complete games in a month against the same team.
Still yet even more perspective: In the years 1993, 1994, 2001, 2008, 2011, 2012, and 2013, the Giants didn't have a starting pitcher throw three complete games. Johnny Cueto has three complete games in a month against the same team.
That team is the Padres, but don't make fun of them until they're back in San Diego, please. We've seen how this works, and any team waggling a cylindrical object at the plate is dangerous. It appears that Cueto matches up extremely well with them, however, and familiarity hasn't ruined anything.
Jason Schmidt pitched two complete games against the Dodgers in 2003, and then he pitched a complete game against the Cardinals a week later. I remember listening in my beat-up '65 Bug on a break when Mark Leiter finished his fourth complete game in a month in 1995. But I can't find a three-game stretch in recent Giants history quite like this, where a Giants pitcher threw 27 innings in three complete games in the same month against the same team. I went back to the days of Marichal and Perry, and my eyes started to gloss over.
Part of that is the scheduling, where the Giants saw the same team this many times in a month.
Part of that is Johnny Cueto being incredibly awesome. The star of the night was his changeup, which he threw 31 times, more than any other pitch. He threw strikes with 25 of those 31 changeups. There were 21 swings with those 31 changeups, and six of them were put in play. They were all outs.
In his last outing against the Padres, Cueto threw just 14 changeups. It was mostly sliders and sinkers, with the occasional four-seamer mixed in.
In his first outing against the Padres, it was sinker sinker sinker, with just a handful of changes and sliders mixed in.
It's like watching an AI program become self-aware. He's studying the humans in the blue helmets and responding to their responses. It's as if the Padres went into Monday's game looking for the pile of sinkers, and they stepped in a steamier pile of changeups.
Completely final perspective: Johnny Cueto has more complete games this season than the Blue Jays, Rangers, Padres, Pirates, A's, Yankees, Mets, Brewers, Royals, Astros, Marlins, Rockies, Reds, Orioles, Braves, Diamondbacks, Angels, Nationals, and Cardinals combined. Those complete games came in a month against the same team.
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It was the first time the Giants won back-to-back 1-0 games since 1980. This is a 36-year kind of comet, in other words. It's fun. But it's also freaky. The Giants can't score right now.
This is now tied for the 10th-longest streak of five runs or fewer since the Giants moved to San Francisco. We're up to 16 games without six runs or more, seven away from the San Francisco record. Here's what the Giants did during those stretches:
- 1974, 23 games (5-18)
- 2013, 22 games (5-17)
- 1978, 22 games (10-11)
- 2014, 20 games (7-13)
- 2008, 20 games (9-11)
- 1992, 20 games (7-13)
- 2007, 19 games (8-11)
- 1965, 19 games (11-8)
- 1985, 17 games (6-11)
- 2011, 16 games (7-9)
- 2007, 16 games (3-13)
- 1996, 16 games (2-14)
- 2016, 16 games (12-4)
Look for the outlier. See if you can find it. It's tricky, I know. Best of luck.
Should it continue? No. These bozos should start hitting soon. This was supposed to be a team built around offense, and they would be a billionty games ahead of the rest of the NL West if they had everything going at the same time.
But if you're going to stumble into a team-wide slump, how's about timing it for when the starting pitchers all drink eight-inning-or-better smoothies and the defense is playing brilliantly at every position?
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Gold Gloves since 2009:
- Matt Kemp, 2
- San Francisco Giants, 1
Makes you think.