And sometimes the other team screws up.
That’s not meant to take away from Johnny Cueto’s fine pitching, or the solid hits the Giants did get. The bottom of the first opened with a four-pitch walk and a 101-mph screaming shot down the line that caught a first baseman, not the other way around, so I’m not apologizing for any of it.
It’s just that the Rockies screwed up a lot. That happens! Sometimes, during the course of a 162-game season, you would hope that the Giants would occasionally run into a team that’s glued its feet to its face. Good team, bad team, doesn’t matter. Just as long as the team has one o’ them days where the tubas play and the studio audience laughs. They aren’t super rare, but like a successful-pickoff kind of rare. You don’t expect one every game, or even every three weeks, but when one happens, it fits with the flow of the baseball you’re used to.
The games where the other team plays like a bunch of chowderheads just haven’t been there in the second half. They go into Cincinnati, and, look at that, the Reds are all playing so well. Same with the Phillies. The Padres are probably making the wild card, right? Haven’t checked in a while, but they seem like the best team in baseball. The definition of a team firing on all cylinders in the second half is whichever team is playing the Giants.
Here, then, are boners. The Rockies:
- Got a slow guy picked off first
- Broke the wrong way on bunts
- Made bad throws on bunts
- Made a dumb fielder’s choice to ensure the inning would fall apart
- Walked in a runner
- Walked more guys
- Hit a guy
- Failed to use the cylindrical stick they carried to the plate to make contact with pitched baseballs, which the rules explicitly encourage
To the Giants’ credit, they were patient, walking six times. They also struck out just three times, which is why they got to benefit from contact shenanigans in the first place. Brandon Belt’s walk against Jake McGee was masterful. Angel Pagan’s bunt (and decision to do so) was inspired. The Giants had a large part in winning the game by five runs, of course.
But I remember the games in the first half when teams would screw up, and you would think, "Oh, you can’t do that against the Giants. You can’t just give them an opening like that." Those games haven’t been plentiful lately.
Here’s one! The best part is that Nolan Arenado was in the middle of several of the screw-ups, even committing some of them himself. I hope this makes the Rockies trade him to the Twins. You’re not an oracle. It could happen.
Long story short: The Rockies screwed up.
And how. It allowed the Giants to win, 7-2, and look good doing it. They outscored the Rockies 19-7 in the series, which they had to win to stay in wild card position. Good series.
Sorry if I was grumpy last night.
* * *
The most important reason for the Giants to make the postseason: We need to see Johnny Cueto pitch again. It’s kind of important. That could have been the last time we’ll see him in 2016. But he just got here! We all just got here! How are there three games left in the regular season? Don’t go yet, Johnny!
With his second brilliant start in a row, albeit with a crab-to-groin injury mixed in, Cueto is reminiscent of his first-half self, which was the guy who started the All-Star Game. His ERA on the season is 2.79, with 219⅓ innings pitched and the second- or third-highest WAR in the NL depending on which version you use.
The NL Wild Card Game is next Wednesday, so if the Giants win the first or second wild card outright, Madison Bumgarner could start on his normal rest. Which means there’s still a chance that this was the last we’ll see Cueto until next year.
If that’s the case, what a year. He’s probably a long shot for the Cy Young, but he’ll get votes. And he’ll deserve them.
* * *
Gordon Beckham looks like Wayne from The Wonder Years.
No, wait, he looks like Homer with Dimoxinil.
Either way, welcome aboard. Strong cheering game.
Also I think I figured out his raison d’être, at least with the Giants:
Gordon Beckham vs. Rich Hill: .500/.500/1.000
Gordon Beckham vs. Clayton Kershaw: .400/.500/.400
That is in, let’s see, two plate appearances against Hill and six against Kershaw, so there might be a sample size thing going on. Considering that the Giants have hit .182/.220/.251 against Kershaw over 956 plate appearances, sure, whatever, fine, try Beckham. Can’t hurt, and I sincerely mean that.
Also, back to that GIF: Who’s the idiot who jumps down and starts waving in the runner before he disappears stage right? Is that Gorkys Hernandez? I hope it’s not too hyperbolic to suggest that he’s the real hero of the night. Because he is.
* * *
Next up, the Dodgers. Who probably shouldn’t even bother trying, considering how many Nationals scouts will be in attendance. Like, Rich Hill should throw right-handed to throw them off, in my opinion. Corey Seager should bunt in every at-bat and yell, "I live to bunt, and I bunt to live!" to the crowd behind home plate before running toward first.
Because if they play hard and win the way they’re used to? Dunno, man. Seems like you’re giving away the recipe to the secret sauce. Just my two cents, really.