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Giants snap losing streak, down Dodgers

Matt Cain was excellent, and the Giants scored exactly one more run than the Dodgers.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

One of the only bearable aspects of the Giants’ abysmal start to this season is that the Dodgers weren’t rubbing it in. They weren’t 15-4 — with a 16-0 record in one-run games, don’t ask how — and already up by eight games. They were struggling, too. Their fans were annoyed, too.

So it follows that the quickest path to redemption goes through the Dodgers. You want to forget about 6-13? Move to 7-13, and do it by beating the Dodgers. With Clayton Kershaw starting on Tuesday night and the Giants in the middle of a losing streak, a loss on Monday night would have been like a dentist tapping out an electric razor into your numbed mouth after the root canal. It shouldn’t have gotten worse, but it wasn’t going to get better, either.

Instead, look at all the beautiful things that happened in this game:

  • Matt Cain pitched well, again, giving us hope that we realistically shouldn’t have four years after his last successful season.
  • Christian Arroyo debuted and made two marvelous defensive plays. While he didn’t get a hit, he helped the Giants to their first run with a productive out.
  • The bullpen was told to protect a two-run lead, and they did it. If you look that gift horse in the mouth, it will bite your damned nose off.
  • The game turned on a Buster Posey caught-stealing in the eighth
  • The game ended on a Posey pickoff in the ninth
  • The pickoff was at second base
  • Justin Turner looked stupid getting picked off
  • Uhhhhhh, hi, I’m Justin Turner, and I’m taking a huge secondary lead, lol, shhhhhhh
  • The game ended when Buster Posey picked Justin Turner, representing the tying run, off second base, where he was taking a huge secondary lead
  • lol

They’re all precious, all magnificent. Let’s isolate each of them in order, with a few random notes mixed in.

Matt Cain left the game before the start of the seventh inning with right-hamstring tightness. To that point, he had pitched six scoreless innings, allowing three baserunners (two hits, one walk) and throwing just 70 pitches. This wasn’t the grind-grind-grind Cain, who had no choice but to rub the amulet passed down from Ryan Vogelsong. This was an efficient Cain. I don’t care who the pitcher is, or how many whiffs he’s getting: 70 pitches through six innings is fun.

The injury, of course, is obnoxiously timed, with Cain in the middle of one of his best stretches since 2012, but hopefully it’s not a lingering concern. For the rest of this recap, I’ll pretend like it didn’t happen and hope for the best.

My number one hope for the 2017 season — other than that sweet, sweet championship nectar — is that Matt Cain succeeds and pitches for another 10 years. I go back and forth about how irrational that is.

On one hand, Ryan Vogelsong is something of a life lesson. Not the general concept of Vogelsong existing and coming back from the dead, but the idea of a pitcher getting hurt, losing his 20-something stuff, and coming back with a new way to succeed, years later, after trials and tribulations.

On the other hand, I regret to inform you that we were having is-he-back conversations about Barry Zito in 2012.

On the other other hand, Zito kind of won the Giants a World Series that year, even if he wasn’t “back.” He was back enough.

Plus, the Giants were 21-11 in Zito’s starts in 2012, even if he had an 85 ERA+. Dude won games. I’d be okay if the Giants were 20-12 in Cain’s starts, if we’re being honest.

I’m 100-percent in when it comes to a Cain comeback story. Oh, man, can you imagine me writing a full-throated appeal for the Giants to pick up his option, only to have him lose his spot by May, 2018? I can.

And I would love it. There are a lot of scenarios I would love more, even if I’m not sure how likely they are just yet.

Welcome to the Christian Arroyo Era. He hits dribblers, makes plays, and wins ballgames.

I remember when Matt Duffy was slumping last year, and his average and OBP were plummeting, but the Giants kept winning and his WAR kept climbing. It seemed counterintuitive, but there he was, continually making plays in the field, running the bases well, and doing just enough to help his team win more often than not.

We’ve seen [checks] one game from Arroyo, so it’s silly to suggest that he’s that kind of player. But we have two pieces of evidence.

Exhibit A:

This was the play that ended up with the larger, older Christian Arroyo looking like Richie Tenenbaum, taking off his socks and cleats.

The larger, older Christian Arroyo who was pitching loved it.

We all loved it.

Exhibit B:

That was no outs, runners on second and third, with the Dodgers down by a run. It’s not a stretch to suggest that play was the game. And if it went by Arroyo — or any third baseman — it would have been the kind of play that would be hard to get upset over. It was scorched.

That’s how defense helps wins games, and I’m so glad we’re enlightened about defense here, in the future.

(Also, the line drives from Arroyo are coming. Got a good feeling about this.)

Four relievers were used. Only one of them was shaky as all hell. I’ll take it.

Mostly, though, the Dodgers get an assist for Chris Taylor trying to steal against Buster Posey with Corey Seager, destroyer of worlds, at the plate, representing the go-ahead run against that shaky pitcher.

Trust me, youngsters, that reference is perfect. And get used to them.

Posey wasn’t having it. Which is funny because I really wasn’t into anyone having it, either. It was a perfect throw, and that’s how teams win 2-1 games. If you want me to pile on, check out how Posey was framing Mark Melancon non-strikes in the ninth inning. It was warming, needed subterfuge, and I can’t appreciate it enough.

The bullpen didn’t ruin it, in other words. They’ve been quietly steady, but don’t tell anyone. Although if you’re wondering when the last 1-2-3 save was for the Giants, it was October 1, Sergio Romo vs. the Dodgers.

Yeah, me too. I was excited about this guy in 2008, when there was very little worth being excited about, save Cain and Tim Lincecum. Suddenly Romo was on the scene, and Pablo Sandoval, and ... nah, they couldn’t really be the future, could they?

They were. And Romo’s funk, his unorthodox success, running parallel to the Giants’ golden age will always make him one of my favorites. I could write a novella about it.

Kudos to the Giants for letting him tip his cap early. If he comes in to protect a one-run lead, there would have been a weirder mix of boo-cheers, with fans wanting him to fail more than they wanted to be nostalgic. Get it out of the way and remember the good times.

There were good times.

The game ended when Buster Posey threw out Justin Turner at second base. I can’t remember a game ending on a catcher pickoff like that. I’m sure it’s happened, and I might have even seen one, but it felt so fresh and life-affirming. What was Turner hoping to do, beat one of the Giants’ vaunted outfield arms to the plate, in the off chance the ball was hit in a way that allowed for a close play? Probably not necessary.

The videos have been giving me problems for various technical reasons, so every recap, I go to YouTube, hoping, begging for them to upload an embeddable version that works for me. It rarely happens.

Sometimes, though, what I find is even better.

But Dodgers offense is ew. No views. It’s the internet entry we’ve been waiting for.