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Giants split series they should have won, lose ground to everyone in wild card race

But heyyyy, the Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers. That counts for something, right?

Neither USA Today nor Getty has a single picture from this game in my photo tool. This will have to do for now.
Neither USA Today nor Getty has a single picture from this game in my photo tool. This will have to do for now.
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The first half of the Giants/Cardinals series was the first half of the Giants’ season. The starting pitchers impressed you. The hits came at the right time. The defense was flawless, to the point where nobody was sure where the great pitching ended and the defense began.

The second half of the series was the second half of the season. Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. Inexplicable managing. Feckless hitting with runners in scoring position. Rallies without closure. The Giants were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position over the last two games. The one hit did not score a run. Rather, it came on a single with the runner going on the pitch. It takes effort not to score on that kind of play. The second-half Giants will always find a way.

Your job is to decide which half is more predictive, and it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the series or the season. It’s all the same. There’s no shame in splitting a four-game series against the Cardinals, just like there’s no shame in being one of the 10 teams in baseball in line for a postseason spot. The shame accumulates slowly when you realize what could have been. With an effective closer, the Giants could have been neck and neck with the Dodgers in the NL West, if not leading, while having a very comfortable wild-card safety net.

With an effective closer, the Giants could have been at least three games up on the Cardinals.

It takes effort not to hold an eight-game lead, which is what the Giants had on the Dodgers. But don’t worry. It was once an 8½-game lead against the Cardinals. And blowing that is just as bad.

The Giants have 13 games left in the season to determine if this stupid season has been unfairly maligned, or if it was pegged just perfectly. In this game, they lost against Young Pitcher, which is right in the middle of the list of frustrating shutdown opponents:

  1. Random, busted veteran who won’t have a starting job next year
  2. Random young pitcher who won’t have a starting job next year
  3. Excellent young prospect who pitches as well as he can (Reyes fits here)
  4. Established, solid starting pitcher
  5. Ace (Clayton Kershaw pitches tomorrow night, FYI)

You take your lumps with the last one, and you deal with the solid pitcher doing the thing that makes him reliable. Once you get to the hotshot arm, though, it becomes annoying. Alex Reyes had walked 16 batters in 28 innings so far in the majors, and the Giants are one of the best teams in the National League when it comes to drawing a walk, so you could see how this was going to go. Except, whoops, nope. Reyes had outstanding command. And he also threw a fine changeup, which is the pitch that turns every Giants hitter into Dory from Finding Nemo.

Waaaaaait. That was like a fastball, but slower. Can they do that?

You might be tempted to invoke the "The Giants can’t hit young pitchers they see for the first time" clause, perhaps using it to concern troll about Hensley Meulens. Except that’s sort of a confirmation bias sort of thing. They pummeled Luke Weaver just three nights ago. They’ve won games that were started by Julio Urias, Reynaldo Lopez, Zach Eflin, Cody Reed, Aaron Nola, Vince Velasquez, Marcus Stroman, Dillon Overton, Kevin Gausman, Matt Wisler, Archie Bradley, Jon Gray, Colin Rea, Wilfredo Boscan, and Seth Lugo this year. Unknown youngsters aren’t the Giants’ kryptonite.

Changeups? Yeah, those are the Giants’ kryptonite.

It’s like he’s doctoring the ball or something. I don’t know, but his arm is going REALLY FAST, and then the ball comes out SUPER SLOW. We should probably get the league to look into this. Seems fishy.

The Giants outscored the Cardinals in this series, 16-10. Did you care about that? Nah. It’s just another way to point out that the Giants have a worse sense of timing than my cousin Dom, who once asked a girl out at a wake. She was probably wearing headphones, too, but I can’t confirm that for sure. That’s the Giants. Completely oblivious to the situation around them.

Also, Dom was a first-half kind of guy. Totally peaked in high school. Can’t buy a hit with runners on base now. The odds said he couldn’t really be that awful when he started slumping, but then he just kept getting worse. Don’t worry about him reading this. He can’t read, probably because he’s just a metaphor.

Can you imagine what other teams feel like, going into the ninth inning against another team’s closer and having hope? That was sucked out of us a long time ago. And yet the Giants can enter the ninth will all the probability matrices in their favor and still screw it up. It’s like they’re burying the ninth-inning comebacks like squirrels, and we’ll all understand this better after Trevor Brown’s grand slam in the World Series.

The Giants are a game behind the Mets. They’re a game ahead of the Cardinals. I’m only half paying attention to whatever the Dodgers are doing because there’s no way I can have enough energy to pretend the Giants can storm back in the NL West. They’re either in an enviable position according to 20 teams around the league, or they’re the biggest bunch of buffoons to wear the French vanilla.

Point of order: This game also gave the Cardinals the tiebreaker in case the Giants need to play them in the Wild Card Game, or in the play-in to the Wild Card Game. Though I’m still madder about Saturday night’s game, for obvious reasons. Anyway, good talk.

Did you know that the Giants have blown a save in each of the last five series? That is, they went into the ninth inning with a lead, and came out of it without a lead. My word, that takes dedication, and I’m just so proud of them.

Guess I’m just doing the rest of this recap Larry King-style. Cory Gearrin: looked good. When was that when we needed it?

If you’re wondering why the Giants kept Matt Reynolds on the roster instead of adding a third catcher, let Josh Osich explain it.

I’ll bet if the Giants gave Buster Posey the night off on Saturday night and started him today, they would have won one of the games. That’s not blaming anyone. That’s just how the coin flip bounced.

The Giants had five hits, but don’t worry: two of them were infield nubbers.

I’m tired of hearing about Conor Gillaspie being some sort of secret weapon off the bench.

Matt Cain: four strikeouts in 3⅔ scoreless relief innings. I’m just saying.

There are 13 games left in the season. It’s not too late for the first-half Giants to show up. That goes for the first-half Giants before the All-Star break and the first-half Giants from this particular Cardinals series.

Also, I know that Larry King is a Dodgers fan, and this might be bad luck. But all of my good luck tricks didn’t work, so we’ll go with some reverse psychology.

Clayton Kershaw tomorrow night. See you there.