The first thing you need to do is grab an unpaid bill and place it next to you. After every sentence you read of this recap, glance over at the unpaid bill and remember that you’re also in debt. The bigger the debt, the better. Go for the student loans. You just couldn’t stay in-state, could you?
The second thing you need to do is put some mood music on. Maybe Hospice by The Antlers. Anything from Mark Kozelek. I think I’ll start with Disintegration and move on to some Joy Division after that. Because we’ll be here for a while.
The third thing you need to do is laugh.
Look at the bill. Listen to the sad music. Remember that the Giants blew their sixth save out of their last 10 chances, and cackle until you’re dizzy. This blown save came on a three-run homer from Ryan Schimpf, a 28-year-old rookie who was a minor-league free agent in November. Anybody could have had him. Instead, he has more home runs in the second half than anyone on the Giants has all year. He was fated to be with this Padres team. And he was fated to be the hitter up with two outs against this Giants bullpen. That is funny to me, a person who is up until midnight writing about baseball.
The fourth thing you need to do is think about how Santiago Casilla could have saved that game. Not because he’s been unfairly maligned, or because he’s secretly effective. Not because he’s a real diamond in the rough. But because anybody could have saved that game. The odds are great that Javier Lopez could have saved it if he were available, powering through right-handers and left-handers alike. Matt Reynolds could have saved this game. Ty Blach. Matt Cain. Chris Stratton. Jake Peavy. Brent Mayne.
The Padres used Jake Smith in the bottom of the eighth. He was removed from the Giants’ 40-man roster earlier this year because they felt he was expendable. He walked 25 batters in 27 minor-league innings this year, and he gave up a run in his debut. He immediately hit a guy, walked the next batter, and went down 2-0 to the third batter. But he didn’t give up three runs. Because that’s hard for a bullpen to do in an inning. Especially in the ninth inning. Someone who was removed from the Giants’ 40-man roster could have protected that lead.
That game was a microcosm of Giants’ second half. It was bad. It was ugly. But there was a repugnant beauty in just how bad and ugly it was. Just an extra sprinkling of ugly dust, the kind of magic that turns Difford/Tilbrook into Lennon/McCartney. Sure, it was great before. But now it’s something absolutely unforgettable.
The fifth thing you need to do is remember that the Giants don’t have a ninth-inning comeback all year. They do not make other teams sad. They do not disappoint other fans who are expecting a win. They are a very polite baseball team, and the rest of the league is just so goshdarn rude. Once you’ve done that, you have to consider how it happened. Take a deep breath. Are you ready?
- Derek Norris blooped a ball into right field
- Jon Jay blooped a ball in front of Angel Pagan, who would probably be better off at shortstop at this point
- Luis Sardinas grounded a ball into the shift that Buster Posey got a glove on, but couldn’t corral. Hunter Strickland broke late to first base, and everybody was safe
- Wil Myers walked
- Yangervis Solarte grounded a ball that Strickland deflected just enough to prevent a double play
- Ryan Schimpf got a 1-2 fastball down the middle of the plate with two outs
The sixth thing to do is applaud. Really get the ol’ tux tails into it. Wake your family and/or roommates up with the clapping.
The seventh thing to do is wait until they fall asleep tomorrow and wake them up again with more applause. Because this was gorgeous. Just a perfect medley of wrong place/wrong time.
What if Norris hit the ball a little better? It carries out to Pence. What if Bruce Bochy treated Pagan like the defensive liability that he is and put Mac Williamson in left for the ninth? Williamson probably gets it. What if Sardinas hits the ball a little softer? It goes right to Posey for a double play. What if he hits it a little harder? It carries out to Panik. As is, it was a perfect little porridge ball, right where it needed to be. What if Strickland remembers to cover first? There are two outs with Solarte up. What if Strickland’s reflexes were just a little off, and the ball goes right to Brandon Crawford? He would have started a double play. What if Strickland grabbed the ball? He would have started a double play. What if Schimpf’s 1-1 foul ball would have stayed in play, if he hit it just a millimeter differently? The game would have What if Steven Okert threw a slider in a two-strike count? He probably wouldn’t have given up a homer. What if he threw a fastball in on the hands, like Trevor Brown wanted? He probably wouldn’t have given up a homer.
The eighth to do is marvel at that paragraph again. I usually like to break my paragraphs up a little more than that. Makes it easier to read on the internet, it does. But that needs to remain whole. It's a list of things that went wrong for the Giants that didn’t have to go wrong. And it’s remarkable, yet again, to think about how the Giants can’t string together a bloop double and a broken-bat single when they’re down by a single run in the ninth. Yet the Padres can find every loophole in fate’s skien to get to the hitter who is best prepared for the worst pitch a Giants pitcher could probably throw at the worst possible time.
This isn’t even getting to what-ifs like Ehire Adrianza getting doubled off to end the eighth like a maroon, or Buster Posey getting his leg down one more inch on his slide into home. We don’t need those.
I wonder if Casilla has even a smidgen of "Serves ‘em right" going on. I wouldn’t even be mad. I just want to know. Heck, let him have it.
The ninth thing to do is remember that the Giants are still in line for a postseason spot for, like, the 140th consecutive day. I have never hated a Giants team quite like this one. I would say the 2009 Giants were close, but now we have several of our very own Spilborghs moments for this season, so I’m leaning toward this one. I hate this team, yet they still might make the postseason, at which point they would have about a five- to 10-percent chance of winning the whole stupid thing again. Which would be absolutely hilarious. They’re officially the most painful team in franchise history now, at least as far as the ninth innings are concerned.
This is just all setting up the movie before the montage kicks in. Daniel Russo being the best around. Rocky Balboa training in the frozen Siberian tundra. Gorkys Hernandez beating out an infield hit in the ninth inning of Game 5. You can see it coming. Oh, yes, you can. It’s beautiful. It’s coming from a bright light. All you have to do is go into the light.
The 10th thing to remember is that we’re all going to die and you’ll probably be thinking of other, far more egregious mistakes and regrets right before it happens. You have a lot more to worry about than a silly old baseball game. We all do.
If the Giants were going to murder the even-year mythology, at least it looks like they’ll be kind enough to murder it right in the throat, so there’s no doubt when 2018 rolls around.
We should all probably get some sleep. That goes for you, too, people reading this in the morning at work. Find an air duct or something and crawl in.
The Giants scored four runs on Tuesday night, but it wasn’t enough, as the Padres came from behind in the ninth inning. We’ll see you back here on Wednesday afternoon.