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Giants hang on against Rockies, win 3-2

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The Giants won a ballgame because Jeff Samardzija was excellent and Nolan Arenado screwed up *twice*.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants tied the game in the eighth because Nolan Arenado made a bad throw to second base. The Rockies didn’t tie the game in the ninth, even though Arenado got a hanging curveball from Santiago Casilla. And while you sleep, your astral form will ascend the pillar of fire, and your corporeal form will be left behind. Congratulations. You made it.

There’s a tendency with a game like that to remember only the last inning or two. Specifically because the Giants came back on a pile of nonsense, and they somehow avoided a combination Casilla/Arenado heartbreak, which is worth 6x the heartbreak points and unlocks playable characters. The playable characters are all left-handed relievers. You’ll think of that before you move on to the rest.

Except, really, what’s the story, here? Getting eight hits? Teams do that. The Giants have done it 147 times now in Coors Field history — nearly a full season over the last 21 years. You don’t have a parade for eight hits, even if it kept the Giants from making some unfortunate history.

Nolan Arenado not hitting the hanging curveball 500 feet? I’ll admit, it surprised me, too. But we’ve seen hittable pitches fouled back or popped up from great hitters before. The Giants have been specializing in them this second half. Baseball is supposed to frustrate even the greats from time to time.

Casilla not blowing the save? Well, I’ll put it like this: He hasn’t been very good this year, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t had a couple of tough blown saves, with doinks and borderline strike calls going against him. If you believe in karma, he has at least another one of these coming. If you believe in karma, you have several of them coming, which is nice! Also, if you really believe in karma, you get to point to the ‘70s and the first half of the ‘80s as the reason why Giants fans are so spoiled now.

No, none of those are the real story. They add color to the end result, a positive one for your favored baseball squadron, but they don’t matter at all if Jeff Samardzija isn’t astounding.

Jeff Samardzija was astounding. And just because the rest of the team were a bunch of buffoons for the last week, that doesn’t mean we get to gloss over one of his best starts in a Giants uniform. Seven innings, nine strikeouts, one walk, and four hits in Coors Field. He allowed two runs. One of them came when Brandon Crawford couldn’t quite keep a ball in the infield. The other one came on a double, bunt, and sac fly. Other than those two indiscretions, Samardzija was in control all night. He was pumping first-pitch strikes with his cutter, curve, fastball, what have you.

That’s not a reason to have a new statue commissioned for the front of AT&T Park. But it’s not not a reason to have a new statue commissioned, either. The Giants have played 195 games in Colorado. Of those, the starting pitcher went a full seven innings in 44 of them, which is about 40 more than I remember, but okay. That’s still a rare creature — it happens just over a fifth of the time the Giants play a game in hope’s mausoleum.

Seven innings and two runs or fewer? That’s just 26 of the 195, or 13 percent of the time. Which still seems high, but it’s not like I’m paying the intern doing all this work.

Seven innings, two runs, and four hits or fewer? Just 16 out of the 195, or just over eight percent of the team’s history on the road against the Rockies. The Giants were 13-2 in in those games. You’ll never guess who pitched in those two losses.

Matt Cain

Okay, well, you got lucky with that one, but you’ll never guess my next trivia question.

Anyway, the point is that it’s not fair to watch a pitcher do that in Coors Field and think of anything but that pitcher. If Samardzija gave up four homers on balls in the dirt, we would have grunted, "UGH, TYPICAL SAMARDZIJA" and complained for at least a week.

Instead, he pitched a park-adjusted two-hit shutout. Which is exactly what the Giants needed in the middle of this slumpy bog. It’s the reason why the Giants were in position to win with a pile of nonsense.

And make no mistake, the lineup didn’t win the game. At least not as much as you’d like. Not as much as the Rockies handed it to them. When the eighth inning started, the Rockies were under the spell of Todd Helton’s stupid goatee.

You can see how they were befuddled. And they started screwing up. Gorkys Hernandez singled, and Trevor Brown grounded to Arenado, who screwed up. For the [checks] first time ever against the Giants. He made a wide throw, pulling D.J. LeMahieu off the bag. It was hit hard enough to be a double play. The Rockies got nothing.

That was followed by a bunt and an RBI groundout with the Rockies playing back because they figured they could score another run, pfffft, it’s Coors Field. They were right to think that.

In the ninth inning, Buster Posey made it to second on an error from Daniel Descalso, who was playing shortstop on purpose. He made it to third on an infield single from Hunter Pence, a ball hit too poorly to record an out on. Posey scored on an 0-2 fister from Kelby Tomlinson.

The Giants didn’t deserve a single runner. They spent the entire inning doing nothing right. They took the lead because that’s how baseball happens sometimes. Sometimes it’s miserable and unfair for the other guys, too. The Rockies, again, had four hits, so it’s not like the Giants didn’t do anything right, but this was the game that was missing from the second half. There haven’t been a lot of garbage wins.

Here’s a garbage win, and we will love it as if Travis Ishikawa just won the pennant in it. The record in one-run games improves. They have a chance to win a series. They kept pace in the wild card race, which is apparently something we’re paying attention to now.

And it all happened because a large human threw a beautiful game of baseball in unfriendly conditions, and because the Giants hit the ball just poorly enough at exactly the right time. Welcome back, garbage win. We’ve missed you.