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Giants snap losing streak behind the emergence of Mac Williamson

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The Giants win for the first time in 13 calendar days under a hot New York sun and behind a hot Williamson.

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Angel Pagan stood on third base as an intentional ball intended to walk Brandon Crawford sailed to the backstop in the bottom of the 11th inning. He took a couple of perfunctory steps towards the plate, but by then it was too late. He had missed the window. The Giants failed to score in the bottom of the 11th inning. You knew the game was over at that point.

You knew it was over when Ramiro Pena doubled into the LCF gap and Brett Gardner fielded the ball on a bounce barehanded, fired a perfect throw to Didi Gregorious, who pumped a perfect relay throw to home plate to cut down Mac Williamson and end the top of the second inning.

You knew it was over when Javier Lopez came into the game... when Josh Osich came into the game and started a second inning and walked the first two batters of that second inning... when Santiago Casilla relieved Josh Osich with runners on first and second and no outs and then intentionally walked Carlos Beltran to load the bases with one out... when Hunter Strickland had to close...

Maybe you thought it was over in the first inning, when the Giants had a runner on third with one out. Buster Posey scorched a ball to RF, but (Yankees player)'s cannon of a throw prevented Pagan from scoring. And then Brandon Crawford's smoked liner to LF was caught by a sliding Brett Gardner to end the inning.

You knew it was over when Mac Williamson flubbed a hit in RF, leading to the first run of the game.

We use baseball metaphors in real life for plenty of reasons, but all under the umbrella that baseball is like life because like life, baseball is constantly trying to overwhelm you with sadness to make one lose his mind and give up. Thing is, losing six in a row will make you think lots of crazy things. Maybe the Giants *should* trade Joe Panik...

But it all tends to come back around if a team has talent. Of course the Giants are talented, even when they've been hurt by injuries and poorly synced slumps, but there's always that fear that things don't come back around in time to save the season. Was a 7- or 8-game losing streak (or longer) really going to sink the season? Maybe. Maybe not. But were any of us interested in finding out the answer?

As it stands, the Giants lose one of their longest losing streaks in a while with an arduous win in Yankee Stadium. Extra innings in 150-degree heat (I'm rounding up) against a team the Giants don't usually fare well against (they're not very good against any AL East team, come to think of it). Not bad at all.

Sure, there were actually plenty of bad things that happened in the game (everything mentioned above), but the Giants countered some of that bad luck with decent plays. Brandon Crawford hasn't been able to catch the ball since the All-Star snub, and today in extra innings, he fielded and bobbled a difficult ball up the middle but recovered to get the out. Angel Pagan, for all his mental flightiness, made a terrific play in LF to start a double play, and Mac Williamson made up for his fielding flub by carrying the team on offense.

That's a good transition into a conversation about Mac Williamson. There's always been high hopes for this massive dude. He was drafted in the 3rd round. He hits for power, has some speed, and fields well. His name is Mac. It suggests power and strength. He's also had a slight reverse platoon split his entire career. And now Bruce Bochy keeps playing him.

The absence of Hunter Pence has certainly hurt the Giants, but it hasn't devastated them because Mac Williamson has emerged as a capable replacement. And, to be fair, Jarrett Parker has really stepped up, too, taking advantage of the additional 2016 opportunities afforded him after his 2015 sample size. But Jarrett Parker is the guy who's making the most of his time on the roster. Mac Williamson's the guy who was expected to contribute in exactly this way.

Baseball is far from perfect and every organizational plan gets tossed out the window in whole or in part. Williamson lost a year to Tommy John surgery (which you'll find from this tweet happened, coincidentally, on the same day as Ivan Nova's) and the few glimpses Bochy got of him last year were less than impressive. He was slow to regain the stroke he had pre-surgery. But now he's getting consistent playing time, and it looks like it's starting to pay off. There might just be a major leaguer here. He might be more than a guy who can crush impressive-looking home runs while offering little else. He might also fall off a cliff because it's baseball and that's what happens. Whatever the case, if he's nothing more than the bridge to Hunter Pence's return, then the Giants will have once again lucked out. An impressive streak over the past 7 years.

* * *

Trevor Brown came in to face Aroldis Chapman and didn't look like how a backup catcher facing Aroldis Chapman would usually look. And then he doubled in the top of the 12th and became the winning run on Mac Williamson's 1-out single.

All this to say that he's had a helluva week and should get some credit for being one of the few Giants since the end of the All-Star break to not look like I, Bryan Murphy, suited up in the Giants uniform and tried to play baseball.

* * *

In the post-game comments, Duane Kuiper called himself out for being unprofessional and apologized. Good on him. It's tough to maintain professionalism when one is broiling in a broadcast booth while watching a team play through a six-game losing streak, but when you blow it, you've gotta own it, and he certainly did.

But the more important thing here is that Angel Pagan (and, C+ at best 3B coach Roberto Kelly) totally missed a crucial play in the baseball game they were trying to win. Pagan has been a solid -- perhaps even a key -- contributor this season, but he gets hurt a lot and he's not a great fielder. There was little chance the Giants would re-sign him after the season, and no chance they'd make a qualifying offer, but I think this play along with others throughout the previous months should make it very clear to anyone holding out hope that the Giants won't be bringing him back (also: Mac Williamson).

It was too hot for Bochy to go out there and strangle his own player, but a marine layer would've changed that.

* * *

Does Santiago Casilla wriggling off the hook mean anything? Maybe. Maybe not. In any case, it's good to see that he still has the ability to get out of a reliever jam. And Osich pitched a strong inning. It was that second inning that really was a bad idea. And then there was Javier Lopez and Hunter Strickland...

Look, relievers have ups and downs. The Giants definitely like to give theirs an opportunity to bounce back after a poor outing. Typically, those relievers reward the team's faith in them by backing up that bad outing with a good or at least solid one. This is why it gets tricky to evaluate bullpens and figure out what your team actually needs as the deadline approaches. It's also why it's so frustrating to watch them work at times.

* * *

Of course, had it not been for Johnny Cueto's perseverant start, we wouldn't be breathing a sigh of relief tonight. The Giants are 17-3 in Cueto's starts and all of them have been fun in some way (sometimes for only a few minutes, sometimes for several hours -- but always fun).

Look at Johnny Cueto's shoes. Like them. Look at Johnny Cueto's 94 mph fastball. Love it.

The most you can ask for from a starting pitcher is that he gives your team a chance to win. Johnny Cueto threw 117 pitches for the second time this season. He's thrown 118 as recently as three starts ago. Workload and fatigue are certainly things to keep in mind as the calendar turns, but ultimately, when you've got an ace pitching like an ace, you've got to treat him like an ace.

And in terms of how teams treat their ace(s), specifically Johnny Cueto:

The Royals didn't extend an invitation to him (or Ben Zobrist, for that matter) to visit the White House for the ceremony with President Obama celebrating their World Series victory. It's not worth firing off insults, accusations, and pop psychology at an organization most of us only know as being the team the Giants beat in the World Series, so I'll be brief:

Royals, we get one life on this planet. There are first times for lots of things but not many times for a few things, such as World Series wins or being honored by the President of the United States. The team that's being honored is not the team that's on the field in 2016, it's the team that was on the field in 2015. That team doesn't receive the honor without Johnny Cueto. To put it in a way that might make the most sense to you: you really Omar Infante'd this thing.

* * *

The 2010 Giants lost seven in a row. The 2012 Giants never lost more than five in a row. 2014? Six. A loss today would've been bad, but not historically bad or comparatively ominous. The Giants do face the Nationals four times next week, but that's after they play one more at Yankee Stadium. Is it better to have a 7- or 8-game losing streak or lose 12 out of 15?

The Giants will try to win the series tomorrow at 10am with Jeff Samardzija on the mound. Home runs will be hit.