When did you realize the Giants really weren’t going to win the National League West? That after leading by eight games — a lead large enough to be a historical rarity on its own — the Giants weren’t even going to make it to the final week of the season with a chance to win the division?
There are a lot of answers, none of them incorrect. It’s a feel thing. Maybe you had the feeling when the Giants fell out of first place the first time, after Jung Ho Kang hit an eighth-inning homer off Derek Law. "Jumpin’ cheese and crackers!" you thought. "This second half just can’t get any worse, I’ll tell you what!" It was a little early for doom and gloom, but you do you.
Maybe you had the feeling when they lost 1-0 in Dodger Stadium, with Brandon Crawford crushing what would have been a game-winner to the warning track in the bottom of the eighth. It pushed the deficit to three games. Their longest winning streak of the second half was two games, accomplished twice over a 35-game stretch.
Maybe it was when Santiago Casilla balked away the save in San Diego. Or when he blew the save against the Orioles. Or the one against the Cubs. Or the one against the Rockies. Or the one against the Cardinals.
Maybe it was when Bruce Bochy tried someone other than Casilla, and the Padres scored five runs in the ninth in front of a horrified, sobbing crowd.
Maybe it was when the Dodgers came back in the ninth against anyone-but-Casilla.
Because I’m an idiot, my answer is that I waited until the first inning of tonight’s game. With this game, see, the Giants would have been four back. Then, I don’t know, maybe both teams win the next night, but the Dodgers lose the night after that, with the Giants gaining a game, then giving one back, then gaining one! Then gaining another one and treading water and so on until the final series when the Giants sweep. These are the sorts of things that I, a grown man, think of in my spare time.
Instead, Yasiel Puig hit a three-run home run in the first inning of Wednesday’s game, and the accompanying thought was this:
Oh, man. There’s no way the Giants can score four runs.
Which led to a follow-up thought.
I actually believe that. Maybe that means it’s time to set the division free.
We had some times, 2016 NL West divisional race. We had some times.
That doesn’t mean that I’m giving up on the season. The Mets got swept at home by the Braves, which would easily make the Giants’ top-10 list of dumb second-half series, possibly as high as #5 or #6. The Rockies finally did one single stupid thing to help the Giants by beating the Cardinals.
That all means that if the season ended today, deep sigh, the Giants would still play past their 162nd game. This is the 135th day we could make such a remark, and it just keeps getting sadder and sadder, but it’s absolutely true. The Giants might have to fly to New York so they can fly to St. Louis so they can fly to Chicago, which sure seems like quite the to-do, but that progression would be a good thing.
They could also fly to New York and then right back to San Francisco. But it would still mean the Giants had a better season than two-thirds of baseball. It’s a sliding scale of pride I’m offering, here.
So keep on keepin’ on with the season. It’s painful, but it’s still more interesting than I can possibly believe, considering the Giants have lost 40 out of their last 41 games, give or take. I suppose that I will pay attention until the doorbell rings and there’s just no other way to put that flaming bag out.
But I let the NL West go this evening. Not in a reverse-jinx way. In a very real, very relaxed way. There was no way the Giants were going to score more than three runs tonight, and I’m pretty sure we all felt it. We shake and mumble when the Giants have to protect a three-run lead with three outs left in the game, but we completely understand that it’s impossible for them to score three with 24 outs left in the game.
And once you realize that, how can you possibly root for whatever Game Genie scenario gets the Giants ahead of the Dodgers in the next 10 games?
Looking forward to the buffoon-off with the Mets and Cardinals, though. This can still be fun.
* * *
Matt Moore allowed a leadoff hit to ruin the suspense of this game, and then he allowed ... more hits. It was a more special outing than you might think, considering the Giants’ long history in San Francisco! The complete list of Giants starters with six runs or more in one or fewer innings since 1958:
|Tim Hudson||2014-09-13||SFG||LAD||L 0-17||GS-2, L||1||8||6||6||0||2|
|Eric Surkamp||2011-09-24||SFG||ARI||L 2-15||GS-1, L||0.2||3||6||6||4||0|
|Madison Bumgarner||2011-06-21||SFG||MIN||L 2-9||GS-1, L||0.1||9||8||8||0||1|
|Brad Hennessey||2006-08-19||SFG||LAD||L 7-14||GS-2, L||1||7||7||6||1||1|
|Wayne Franklin||2004-08-24||SFG||FLA||L 1-9||GS-1, L||0.2||5||7||7||2||1|
|Kirk Rueter||2001-05-06||SFG||PHI||L 8-10||GS-2, L||1||6||8||7||4||0|
|Trevor Wilson||1995-06-08||SFG||NYM||L 6-9||GS-1, L||0.1||5||6||6||1||0|
|Gil Heredia||1992-06-04||SFG||HOU||L 6-12||GS-1, L||0||5||7||7||2||0|
|Mike LaCoss||1991-04-26||SFG||LAD||L 0-9||GS-2, L||1||7||7||7||2||1|
|Atlee Hammaker||1988-08-16||SFG||NYM||L 6-13||GS-1, L||0.1||6||7||7||1||0|
|Bill Laskey||1984-09-06||SFG||HOU||L 2-14||GS-1, L||0.1||4||6||6||2||0|
|Fred Breining||1983-06-30||SFG||CIN||L 5-15||GS-1, L||0.2||6||7||7||1||2|
|Bob Knepper||1979-09-06||SFG||CIN||L 3-12||GS-1, L||0.1||5||6||6||1||0|
|John Curtis||1977-06-21||SFG||CHC||L 2-8||GS-2, L||1||6||6||5||0||0|
|John D'Acquisto||1976-08-28||SFG||PIT||L 1-7||GS-1, L||0.1||3||6||5||3||0|
|Ed Halicki||1976-07-06||SFG||STL||L 7-13||GS-1, L||0||5||7||7||2||0|
|Rob Dressler||1976-05-21||SFG||ATL||L 0-8||GS-2, L||1||5||7||6||3||1|
|Ed Halicki||1975-06-22 (1)||SFG||ATL||L 2-8||GS-1, L||0.1||4||7||5||2||0|
|Ron Bryant||1974-05-25||SFG||LAD||L 5-9||GS-1, L||0.2||5||6||6||1||0|
|Don Carrithers||1972-06-20||SFG||CHC||L 8-15||GS-1, L||0.1||4||7||7||3||0|
|Bobby Bolin||1964-08-27||SFG||MLN||L 0-13||GS-1, L||0.1||5||6||6||1||0|
|Billy O'Dell||1962-07-29||SFG||LAD||L 1-11||GS-1, L||0.2||5||6||6||1||0|
|Jack Sanford||1961-05-02||SFG||CHC||L 4-9||GS-2, L||1||6||7||4||1||1|
I remember a lot of those! They were awful. That last one from 2014 might have been the one that made me realize the Giants really weren’t going to win the NL West that year, either.
So we’ve come full circle. I wish it felt better to point that out. It doesn't.