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Giants lose holiday stinker, 5-3

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Jeff Samardzija wasn't sharp enough, and the Braves are suddenly rolling at home.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

To put Monday's game into perspective, that was the first time a non-Peavy starter allowed more than two runs since Matt Cain did it on May 4. That was 24 games ago. If you want even more perspective, here's the breakdown of what Jeff Samardzija, Johnny Cueto, and Madison Bumgarner have done since Cueto was tagged for six runs against the Reds on May 2:

0 runs allowed: 4 starts
1 run allowed: 9 starts
2 runs allowed: 3 starts
More than 2 runs allowed: 0 starts

That's a [takes off socks] 16-start stretch from the top three in the rotation in which two-run outings were their absolute worst performances. All of the starts were six innings or longer, of course.

Which is all a long-winded way of saying that we've been spoiled by the top of the Giants' rotation. That's not real life. Even good pitchers have yucky innings, where they can't get anyone out, or when they can't get that third strike or third out. We've been living in a fantasy world. I blame the pitchers for enabling us.

Look at the dumb hits that started the second-inning rally:

That is not a very good way to hit singles, Adonis Garcia. You are bad at your job.

Why are you swinging at a cutter at the belt and in on your hands, Nick Markakis? You are bad at your job.

And so on, and so forth. The triple to Mallex Smith was a cutter on the outside-bottom corner of the zone, too, even if it actually caught some strike zone. No, this game wasn't about Jeff Samardzija being incompetent. It was about baseball flipping over a card table because it felt like it.

Not that it does any good to go back and retroactively examine our feelings, but didn't it feel like this kind of game was obvious? The Giants were winning. The Braves have had one of the worst home starts in baseball history. It felt like it was going to be the kind of game/series that we could all take for granted because it would be so easy. And you know what that means. Baseball has been telling the same stupid knock-knock jokes for decades, and it still thinks it's funny.

At least they made it close in the end, which brings up something that's been missing from this season: the dramatic comeback against the other team's closer. They had scored just seven runs in the ninth inning this year before Monday, and just one was against a team's closer (Brad Ziegler, in a tie game). The Giants have been winning, so it's silly to look through a loupe and search for imperfections. But that's a legitimate, if minor, quibble. They could stand to pull the still-beating heart out of the other team's chest more.

There's no deeper meaning. The Giants lost a frustrating game to a bad team because that's what happens sometimes, especially after flying into the city early in the morning from another time zone. I just wish that I decided to listen to that game in the background while playing frisbee at the park. If you watched the whole thing, you probably feel the same danged way.

* * *

Matt Duffy's x-rays were negative, and there weren't any broken bones. So good for that. He's day-to-day, and I'd guess that Kelby Tomlinson is going to pick up whatever playing time there might be.

That was the third time this season that Duffy was hit with a pitch. The entire Rockies team has been hit five times. That's a non sequitur, but that doesn't mean it isn't amusing. Well, awful. But also amusing, so long as the x-rays come back negative.

* * *

One thing I try not to do, and I hope at least some of you have noticed, is complain about umpires. Yes, I know that Angel Hernandez and Joe West are frustrating as all heck, and when there's a nonsense call, it's not like I'm going to ignore it. But I make it a point not to be one of the weenies who complains about every single call that goes against the Giants. That demographic just isn't a lot of fun.

That written, hooo, that was a dreadful strike zone from John Tumpane. With some help from Brooks Baseball, let's take a peek:

Okay, so this is from the catcher's perspective. The red ones are strikes, and the green ones are balls. The squares are the Braves, and the triangles are the Giants. Tumpane was pretty consistent about giving the pitches on the outside to lefties, and it was noticeable on the telecast.

Here's what he called against right-handers:

Even more egregious. The Giants' pitchers couldn't catch a break with any of the outside pitches in the typical right-handed strike zone. When there was a blown call against the right-handers, it went against the Giants every time. That's not going to help.

Again, Samardzija didn't prevent as many runs as Mike Krzyzewski did, and that was the biggest problem of all. That doesn't mean the strike zone was fun to watch. It most certainly was not.

* * *

The Giants intentionally put A.J. Pierzynski on base in the second inning, setting up a force with the pitcher on deck. It took four pitches to put him on base.

That is three pitches too many, imo.