These games are our right. They were a part of the Treaty of Duane Kuiper, signed in 1994, after the Rockies stole a broadcaster and failed to win a single game against the Braves. We got Kuiper back, and we agreed to completely nonsensical high scoring games in their park, as long as they allowed completely nonsensical low-scoring games in our park. The arrangement works.
And on Thursday night, the Rockies violated this treaty. It was an aggression that needed to be addressed. Those 17 runs violated international laws, local laws, tribal mores, and I'm still mad about it. The only correct sanction was a caricature of a low-scoring game, especially one where the Rockies got 12 hits.
That is, five fewer hits than Thursday night. Five fewer hits and 16 fewer runs. This game, man.
I'd like to think that there's at least one Rockies fan who absolutely hates games like. When the score was 0-0 in the sixth, he or she was pacing back and forth, mad at physics and the geography of San Francisco. When the score was 0-0 in the ninth, he or she was completely apoplectic, disgusted at the lack of 30 straight bloops in front of a center fielder who was stationed 500 feet away, wondering where the pop-fly home runs were.
Me? Pretty comfortable in these kind of stalemates. This was the 85th game in which the Giants scored two runs or fewer at AT&T Park and still won. It was only the 10th against the Rockies, which is a little surprising, but there is no expiration date on the Treaty of Duane Kuiper. We're owed one of these dumb games for every one of their dumb Coors Field games. It's not a perfect arrangement, but it feels good after a game like that.
* * *
Johnny Cueto was a delight, Matt Duffy is back, and the Brandons are a gift. But our story hinges on the ability of Joe Panik to make a transcendently brilliant play.
The memory of The Double Play was invoked.
And it fits, if not in terms of importance, then in degree of difficulty. Not to mention the initial excitement was semi-spoiled by a blown call that was overturned after a review.
All series, the Rockies have made tough plays look easy, and they've had some absurd plays lead to outs. Nolan Arenado is a figment of a baseball god's imagination, and we're all suffering through it. DJ LeMahieu is a deserving Gold Glover. They were both annoying all series. And the Giants weren't responding. Balls were just squeaking under Brandon Crawford's glove or eluding Denard Span's dive. The Giants' typically brilliant infield plays were on layaway.
Until that one. It was the best play of the year, and it came from a second baseman who shuffled from a back injury right into a groin injury.
This is how future Gold Glove winner Joe Panik got an out at second ... pic.twitter.com/XOjgh4FZch— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) May 8, 2016
He's probably fine.
He might be double-jointed, too. How in the ...
* * *
Brandon Belt's triple with no outs in the 10th inning was more than a crucial hit for a team down by a run. It was a poke in the eye of the Rockies' entire offseason strategy. That makes it even more enjoyable.
Jake McGee was, previously, an untouchable, magic reliever. Think Kenley Jansen or Craig Kimbrel at his best. He was one of those closers, and even though the Rockies shouldn't have been an automatic contender just because they got one, it was still going to be super annoying when he came into the game and reminded us that the Rockies had an untouchable, magic reliever. Especially when the Giants had to send a left-handed hitter up for the first at-bat, ugh.
Except McGee has been a mess this year. He struck out 33 percent of the batters he faced last year. That's a complete joke. Thirty-three percent. Before today's game, he'd struck out nine percent of the batters he'd faced this season. That's less than Kirk Rueter's career rate, and I'm not making that up. Something is wrong.
Credit Brandon Belt for taking advantage, then. He looked 95 from a lefty right in the face, and he drove it for a game-winning triple (technically).
That's Brandon Belt's 2016 season in a screenshot. Contact. Good takes. And a fantastic, quick swing. I do wonder if a single breaking ball would have tied Belt (or Ted Williams) up in knots after that many 93+ fastballs. We'll leave that for the philosophers.
* * *
It's so different watching a scoreless extra-inning dirge like that when you're confident in the lineup. Here, I'll pick a random low-scoring win against the Rockies from history. In this game, Eugenio Velez led off, Randy Winn hit third, and Travis Ishikawa hit fifth. The Giants won, but the entire time they weren't scoring, the mood was, "oh no i knew this was going to happen i hate everything." In a game like this, the mood was more, "It'll happen. C'mon. It'll happen. C'mon, you bozos, make it happen."
The entire lineup has an OPS over .700 now, which is the basic level of competence in a starting lineup. Duffy is hot -- like you didn't have confidence in him when he came up with the winning run on second -- and Span is swinging better. Even with Angel Pagan out, Gregor Blanco reminds us that the Giants are kind of spoiled.
In 13 innings, I didn't roll my eyes once, is what I'm saying. Every regular who came up deserved to be a regular, even the ones who were just filling in. That's a fine sign.
* * *
Johnny Cueto is an absolute treasure. He can also pitch.
In the top of the sixth inning, Tony Wolters bunted into an out. Wolters is apparently a hyper-caffeinated David Eckstein-type catcher, a jittery tarsier of a man. And his response to bunting into an out was to TWITCH SHIMMY JUKE and dive, helmet-first, right into Cueto's knee, trying to avoid a tag that was impossible to avoid. On a different day, with different circumstances, it could have ended Cueto's season.
As is, Cueto stayed in and kept pitching well. I took the Jerk Log out of my back pocket, scribbled in a name, and everything was fine.
In the bottom half of the same inning, Cueto bunted into an out. Here was his response:
I mean, I don't want to be the balding, 40-year-old dad who thinks he can tell 20-somethings that "they have no chill." And yet Tony Wolters, buddy, come on ...
(Of note: Johnny Cueto's ERA is about half of what David Price's and Zack Greinke's ERAs are this year. Told you so. Cough.)