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Giants lose, slip back into second place

The Giants could have won the series, but they, well, didn't. Blame Noah Syndergaard.

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

In the last two or three weeks, the spambots have been going bonkers on Twitter. It’s hard to explain if you’re not on there, but these random computerized accounts are digging up tweets from months and years ago and liking them. I don’t know the algorithm. I don’t know the point. All I know is that a few times every day, I get a notification that "Baz Stoonger liked your tweet Giants trade for Marlon Byrd," which was a tweet from ... my goodness, Marlon Byrd was on the Giants last year, that’s so weird.

Point is that today one of these spambots liked a tweet of mine from last year, a recap from when Clayton Kershaw dominated the Giants so thoroughly, it made history. So I re-read it before Sunday night’s game. The theme was "Damn, that cat is good. Beat the Giants up for other things, but don’t beat them up for not hitting a pitcher that talented when he’s at his best."

It made sense. And I closed the tab to watch the Giants face Noah Syndergaard. Like an idiot. Like I didn’t just see my own future.

The Giants have been a festering puddle of heartburn over the last month-and-a-half. It is known. They’ve blown leads, they’ve stranded runners. They’ve scored runs in the games their pitchers gave up more, and they’ve been shut down in the games where the pitchers were stingy, but not stingy enough. Be mad at them if that’s your thing.

At the same time, you watched that, right? Syndergaard throws 98 with an obscene slider at 90, and he had pretty fine command throughout the game. Don’t get mad that the Giants couldn’t do much against that. Take the anger, fold it in half, eat it, and pass it in the direction of that stupid Orioles game that Santiago Casilla blew. Or any of the other stupid games in the second half.

These games, the games where the elite talents do elite things, are coming. They’re coming every year. It’s why a holodeck team of Mike Trout, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax, Pedro Martinez, et cetera, would still lose a game to the White Sox if Chris Sale got to pitch.

So be more annoyed that Jake Peavy gave up the three-run homer in relief yesterday. Be more annoyed that the Giants scored five runs yesterday, when they could have copied-and-pasted the zero runs from Sunday night and lost just as convincingly. Don’t be annoyed that they couldn’t hit Noah Syndergaard when he was just about at his best.

With that out of the way, maybe we can overlook the results and appreciate that Jeff Samardzija has been trending upward, if just a little bit? The dingeritis of Samardzija is so easy to explain away as one of those things, defined as something that’s embedded in his DNA. But Yoenis Cespedes’s homer was the first allowed by him in 18 innings, which happens to coincide with his new affinity for the curveball. It’s not the best pitch, and he hangs a couple every game, but maybe the dingeritis isn’t one of those things. Maybe it was just that when hitters can have a sit-hard-stuff philosophy, it’s going to result in more home runs than the average pitcher would allow.

The curveball throws that timing off just enough. He writes, hoping that it’s true because he writes it. But, look, the pitch that Cespedes hit wasn’t a classing Samardzija meatball over the plate.

That’s from Brooks Baseball, and the pitch wasn’t ideal, but it’s a 1-0 fastball you’ve seen 100 times without incident. It’s the kind of pitch that’s going to get beat every now and again, and all you can hope is that when it happens, your team is scoring a lot more runs than the other team. In this game, the Giants were not accommodating.

I'm hoping that he's turned a corner, I have. That was a fine start, right down to the six no-hit innings.

The message? Use a game like this to be angrier at the dumb losses. There was always one of these folded into the season. Right when the schedule was released, it should have been so obvious to look at this four-game series and think, "Oh, in one of these games, the Mets are going to shut the Giants the heck down."

That Orioles series, though. That Pirates series. Those things were garbage, and we should continue being angry about those. That’s the message.

As is, the Giants didn’t lose a series. They’re going in to Los Angeles in a near tie for first, and they can soil themselves in all sorts of different ways. But they could also redeem themselves. And how.

I’m not so offended by them splitting the series against the Mets after winning the first two games, not when Syndergaard was thorring the hell out of the place. I’m offended by the month before that, and I reserve the right to be offended by the month after.

It just would have been a lot cooler if they had won the series, to be honest.