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Giants overcome inner turmoil, defeat Brewers

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The Giants defeated the Brewers, 3-2, in a game they probably should have won by five.

"We're going to take you to the tent, okay, buddy?"
"We're going to take you to the tent, okay, buddy?"
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

For seven innings, the Giants thoroughly and unambiguously outplayed the Brewers. There isn't a Brewers fan in the world who would possibly disagree. Madison Bumgarner started for the Giants, and he pitched with power and command. The Brewers countered with a previously disabled pitcher who hasn’t been remotely effective since Michael Morse was on the Giants. The Giants had approximately 47 hits. The Brewers had four.

Bumgarner took more walks than he allowed, you know. We can keep going for a long time.

But for a while, the Giants' dozen hits, three walks, and hit-by-pitch weren’t enough. They couldn’t top a solo home run, a double, and a bloop. It was the kind of game that makes you think baseball is the a wacky next-door neighbor on a sitcom that’s about to be cancelled, a collection of uncomfortable jokes in front of an appalled studio audience. Not all of the time. Not most of the time. But in a game like that. How were the Giants not up by six runs?

That’s when the ethereal phantom mist of Abner Doubleday took over Will Smith’s body and forced him to throw two wild pitches. Not just two wild pitches, mind you, but fear-inspired scuds to the opposing pitcher. The game being that inexplicably close was throwing the sport, nay, the universe out of balance, and it needed spiritual invention. The Giants got two wild pitches and a lead. Now that Doubleday’s soul is at rest, the true creator of baseball will be revealed to us.

Probably. That’s probably what happened. Check back later for updates.

Think about that deciding run, though. There were two runners on in the seventh inning of a tie game, with one out and the pitcher’s spot coming up. The pitcher in question was at 100 pitches. There’s no Play-Index search we can run, no instant database of managerial leaps of faith. But I don’t know if we’ve seen anything like that for decades.

The best part? Well, there are two. The first is that Will Smith, quality major league reliever, was absolutely unwilling to throw a fastball in the strike zone, choosing instead to miss with several breaking balls. Bumgarner started the at-bat with runners at first and second, and he finished it with a walk and a run scored. The official scorer assigned the RBI to abject fear instead of Bumgarner. He was right to do so.

The second best part is that Bumgarner’s OPS is .605 after Tuesday night. Here were the options to pinch-hit for him, with each player’s OPS:

Jarrett Parker, .680
Trevor Brown, .666
Conor Gillaspie, .532
Mac Williamson, .494
Ramiro Pena, .000

It’s possible that Bumgarner was actually the best hitter of the bunch, at least based on 2016 stats. Parker vs. Smith would have been a grotesque lefty-on-lefty mismatch, and the added benefit of Bumgarner is that he would absorb an inning that the bullpen wouldn’t have to.

It might have been the right strategic move after all. Good gravy. I'm not sure if I'm mad at the bench or infatuated with the pitcher. Maybe both.

Now, I don't really think that Bumgarner is a better hitter than Williamson, but I’m also pretty sure that the Brewers don't know that. They treated the pitcher like he was Barry Bonds with a base open, even though he was a pitcher without a base open. And, heck, maybe they were right to be that careful. Still, it decided the game, and I haven't stopped giggling.

Edit: Forgot that Williamson was optioned out before the game. The point stands, and it is even stronger!

More importantly, Bumgarner was a delight on the mound, too, making a mistake to Jonathan Lucroy and occasionally committing the oft-forgivable sin of throwing baseballs in the general vicinity of players who are paid to hit them. He went eight innings again. Let’s turn to our correspondent, Reuben, for an update:

Yup, that’s about right. It’s possible that Clayton Kershaw would have been asked to bunt in that seventh-inning situation, and it’s possible that he would have allowed just a single run, if he allowed one at all. But for pure entertainment, at least tonight, give me the combination of equine machinery on the mound and a terrifying man-mountain presence at the plate.

After the winning run scored on a wild pitch, Bumgarner walked. He was incredibly pissed about it.

I love this team.

* * *

That probably isn’t the tag line I would have used if the Giants would have lost. They were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, and they left 13 runners on base. The Brewers were 1-for-1 with runners in scoring position, and they had five baserunners all night.

I’m still all revved up for a Sam Kinison-style recap. I’ll calm down with another star-divide.

* * *

Earlier today, I had a spell of writer’s block, and before I settled on the Adam Duvall topic, I was struggling with an article titled, "The Giants would have been hosed if they didn't sign Brandon Belt to an extension already." Here’s the lede:

The timing was always off for a potential Brandon Belt extension. He would tantalize the Giants with his potential, and then he’d get hit with a baseball. He would claw his way back, and then he’d get hit with a baseball.

Eight hours later, he was hit with a baseball. It’s not like he’s Carlos Quentin, sticking his dangly bits out there, using the HBP as a part of his game. They’re rock-hard spheres thrown directly at him, and he can’t do a damned thing other than take calcium supplements.

Belt was healthy enough to stay in the game, hurt enough to leave shortly after. I’ll guess he misses a game, at least.

I would like to make a plea to pitchers around Major League Baseball: Stop hitting Brandon Belt with baseballs.

Every day, a Brandon Belt is in danger of being hit with a baseball. These baseballs can bruise or, even worse, break bones. For just a dollar a day, you can ...

* * *

Santiago Casilla struck out two and pitched a perfect inning for the save. Nothing unusual here.

Nothing unusual here at all! Just an adult throwing up because of events related to his favorite baseball men. What a fantastic, easy win that was in no way stressful.