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Giants come back behind Bumgarner homer, clutch hits

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When Madison Bumgarner’s arm wasn’t helping much, the Giants staged an improbable comeback with the help of his bat

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants were behind, 4-0, on a grand slam, and they were never going to score again. Ever. It was going to be the biggest story in sports until everyone just got really sad and stopped covering it. It was going to devolve into something that would be only for the tourists. "Get scared by the guy hiding behind a bush at Fisherman’s Wharf, then head down to AT&T Park and watch the Team That Never Scored Again!"

Then they scored. Then they scored again. There were hits with two outs. There were hits with runners in scoring position. There were rallies — literal, sustained rallies. Here, check this out:

Do you know what those numbers are? They’re the number of hits that Giants players got while hitting close to each other in the lineup. It wasn’t a night of "Denard Span is 3-for-5 ... and Trevor Brown, hitting seventh, is 2-for-4." It wasn’t the way it’s been all second half, where the Giants have had the "Q" for 21 straight Scrabble turns without drawing a "U." The hits were strung together. They came at the right time.

Also, the Giants got the hit that saved their season.

Okay, fine, there can’t be a moment in August that saves a 162-game season. If the Giants win the division, pennant, or World Series, it will be easy to point to this game as some sort of bellwether, the night that the Giants stopped being polite and started getting real. But that will be with the benefit of hindsight. From here, it’s just a game, and they’re still in second place, so ha ha ha OF COURSE THIS SAVED THE SEASON. I mean, we can believe that for a night, at least. It will take exactly one (1) inning where the Giants leave the bases loaded for you to turn on them again. But in this game ...

  • The Giants were down
  • Backs against the wall, man
  • Didn’t look good
  • Then, a rally!
  • The rally was capped off by the pitcher hitting a moonshot
  • The other team threatened!
  • The Giants added on
  • There was no drama in the ninth inning

No, it probably didn’t save the season any more than the Opening Day win saved the season. But it was a game of catharsis that we alllllllll needed. Finally. I want to go out and buy a tub of Dubble Bubble just so I can flip it over in my living room. Finally there was a primal scream kind of game, where you got to watch the Giants do what the other teams have done to the Giants in the second half.

Mets fans want to kick me in the sternum right now. And that’s fine. If you think the Giants have gone through some pain with runners in scoring position, check the Mets out. They’re making history. They don’t have to qualify their statements with this "second half" nonsense. They’re a waking nightmare with runners in scoring position, and in this game, they got a grand slam. They were doing the same thing you do when the Giants get the bases loaded, thinking about all the ways it was going to get screwed up, and then there was a grand slam. Four runs! With one of their co-aces pitching! They don’t want to hear about how tough we’ve had it.

But, like a good American, I’m only interested in what concerns me. What’s immediately in front of me and/or what passes through my tiny sphere of attention. Right now, that’s the Giants. They came back. They used a Madison Bumgarner dinger to do it. They came back with two outs, and then they added onto the lead.

It can’t mean anything more than a single win. But put that thought in an envelope, lick it, and mail it to someone you don’t like. For now, it was the Win That Changed Everything. Don’t try to figure out what stage of grief is the one that makes you feel ecstatic about a half-game deficit, and you’ll feel even better.

* * *

I don’t want to oversimplify things, but it feels like it’s been a long time since the Giants have run into a starting pitcher who could say that. "I just didn’t have it. Sinker/fastball/curve/knuckler/whatever was up, and you can’t win like that." Those weren’t the quotes you heard from starting pitchers, and they weren’t the quotes you heard from relievers.

The relievers would say generic post-game quotes while thinking, "HOW DID I GET OUT OF THAT? I HAD NOTHING," and the starters would be buoyed by the kind of false confidence brought by shutting down the second-half Giants.

There’s a very good pitcher who wasn’t at his best when facing the Giants. That’s much, much easier to watch than Tom Koehler having his annual game of concentrated dominance right when the Giants are in the middle of a dumb slump.

* * *

I just watched this 59 times in a row, and I think I have to be late for work tomorrow.

Do make sure you have the sound on. It’s hypnotic, and I would only recommend it to my best friends and worst enemies. We should probably name the different faces:

1. The Sly Dog

Oh, I .. didn’t see you there. It’s a pleasure to meet you, and ...

2. The Part Where You Notice That He Or She Showed Up To The First Date Dressed Like Snorlax

3. Like, A Really Attractive Snorlax

4. With Red Paint Dripping Down The Side Of Oh God That’s Not Paint

The best part? Hunter Pence was hitting. After a throw-the-remote double play in the second inning, Pence was hitting. Even one of his outs went 400 feet. It’s all well and good that Bumgarner helped bail himself out with a dinger, but the momentum doesn’t mean a thing until Pence starts hitting as well as he’s capable of.

Same goes for Joe Panik and Eduardo Nuñez, both of whom had outstanding moments in the game. Both of them looked like they were in line for some better luck. It’s all fun when the hits fall, alright.

And you were so annoyed with baseball the other day.

* * *

You know what’s oddly entertaining? Going through this list of players who’ve hit grand slams against the Giants over the years:

I remember so many of them! They all made me want to pull my nose hairs out and smoke them. I think the first one that I don’t remember is a young Jose Bautista against Tim Worrell. That’s probably for the best.