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Madison Bumgarner pitches masterful complete game, Giants still lose

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This is the way the winning streak ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.

Same.
Same.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Considering that it’s impossible for a baseball team to win eight out of every 10 games all season, much less never lose at all, the best you can hope for when winning streaks die are style points. If every team has to lose periodically, Monday night’s game was almost the best way for it to happen. The Giants lost, 1-0, when ...

  • A 36-year-old backup catcher ...
  • ... who was 2-for-46 in 2016 ...
  • ... and 0-for-16 in his Pirates career ...
  • ... hit a home run over one of the shortest left fields in baseball ...
  • ... that the left fielder almost caught.

The Aristocrats! How can you even get mad at a game like that? After an eight-game winning streak, where you know the Giants are cheating baseball’s design and the loss is going to chase them, Final Destination-style, and eventually drag them down for a game, at least this one had style points.

At least the winning streak allowed us to wave off that silly June Swoon talk.

Dang it.

Oh, come on. Maybe I should have saved the Final Destination analogy for June. It’s coming. (Posey was fine. For now.)

How close were the Giants to winning an extra-inning game in which Jake Peavy hits a pinch-hit grand slam in the 19th inning? This close:

That close. The Giants were a properly timed closed glove away from at least seeing the bottom of the ninth.

And the worst part is that you can’t even be mad because they’ve been winning so much. You just have to take a bite out of it, to appropriate a Krukowism. You just have to take a bite out of it.

* * *

Madison Bumgarner pitched brilliantly, of course. He just couldn’t get the hit when he needed to. Is he in a slump, or is this something that can’t be fixed? My column:

If you want to see something that will make you roll your eyes, here goes. It’s the pitch that Erik Kratz hit for a home run:

A 92-mph fastball on the thumbs to a hitter in the middle of the worst slump in baseball. It was the 24th home run of his seven-year major league career. At least he’s hit some off good pitchers — Craig Kimbrel, David Price, Cliff Lee — before. I checked.

There’s not much to say about Bumgarner’s performance other than a) it was outstanding and b) it stinks that the Giants lost. The Giants have lost four games that Bumgarner has started this year. His line in those starts: 2.77 ERA, 31 strikeouts, and five walks in 26 innings. At least it’s fun to watch him pitch in those games. Silver linings!

* * *

That was the fourth complete-game loss of Bumgarner’s career. If you’re wondering how that stacks up with his peers, note that Bartolo Colon and CC Sabathia both have 10.

On the other hand, Bumgarner is still just 26. Keep chasing that brass ring, buddy.

* * *

When the Giants are on a goofy winning streak, and they roll into a series hosted by a team on a goofy losing streak, I’m not sure why you even bother to watch. I mean, I have to. What’s your excuse?

That’s not to say this is a Giants-specific problem. It’s a baseball thing. The Pirates had lost five in a row and 10 of their last 11. The Giants had won eight in a row. When two teams like that get together, well, it’s in the rules. Literally in the Baseball Gods Handbook. Let’s see ... page 474 ... Section 379.94.1(a) ... yes, right there.

If a team has won at least five games in a row and they’re facing a team that has lost at least five games in a row, the team on a losing streak will win the contest on a home run from one of the random backup catchers mentioned in Section 234.54.9

When you get to that section, the handbook describes how there are actually only five backup catchers in the world, but they all have the power to reverse the aging process, travel through space and time, and assume new identities. Fascinating stuff, really. Erik Kratz is really Yorvit Torrealba is really Tom Lampkin. Keep your eyes open.