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Wait, wait, wait. The Giants... won?

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And the Giants somehow didn’t (does a triple take) blow a lead, either?

San Francisco Giants v San Diego Padres
Johnny Cueto is just the best.
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Oh man, what a relief. Seriously, the Giants are 2-5 to start the season but it could’ve been worse. After Johnny Cueto gave up two hits after getting two outs in the first inning I started to wonder what shape today’s loss might take. Would Cueto get shelled early and that would be that? Would he give up 2-3 runs in the first, the Giants claw their way back to even or even scratch out a lead by around the 6th inning only to have the blowpen cough it up? (blowpen started life as a typo but now I see it as a word I can monetize — buy your “Not My Blowpen” shirts during the next homestand.) This is what happens when a team not only stumbles out of the gate but attempts to pick itself up by burying its metaphorical face deep into the metaphorical mud of the track. And after the Padres spent 18 innings shoving around the Giants it didn’t feel like another 9 of the same would be impossible.

Instead, Johnny Cueto overcame his early shakiness to lock in long enough for the Giants’ offense to get rolling. He was able to fluster hitters who had surely gotten comfortable over the series. Go back and watch what he did to Manuel Margot and Travis Jankowski, two guys who have been thorns in the side all series. He overpowered them both with his fastball and kept them off-kilter with the changeup. He hit the right targets to jam their bats, too. It was a deceptively simple attack and that’s when Johnny Cueto is at his best: when his stuff is the trick and the shimmy is just for fun.

It’s too early to start thinking about him not wearing a Giants’ uniform next year, but it’s never too early to start feeling completely irrational when the idea comes up.

{Pause for irrational feelings.}

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Buster Posey and Hunter Pence hitting home runs is a wonderful sight to see. In the case of the former it’s because he’s Buster Posey and everything he does is right and good; in the case of the latter, Hunter Pence home runs means Hunter Pence is seeing the ball well, which is preferable to when he’s not seeing the ball well because then he is not a fun baseball player to watch at all.

Hunter Pence is also the only Giant consistently projected to hit anywhere close to 30 home runs, a feat that is somehow now impossible for the organization. Hunter Pence will most assuredly not hit 30 home runs this season, but it will be great to see him get close to that number, because that will mean he’s both healthy and helping the Giants win a lot of baseball games.

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Congratulations to Chris Marrero for recording the first hit for a Giants left fielder in 2017. It took 7 games and it was still the only hit for the position, but its timing was perfect as it drove in the Giants’ first runs of the game.

Given how Clayton Richard was pitching Marrero away, it’s possible that Marrero was the only Giant who could’ve hit that pitch in just the way that it was hit. Sure, Buster Posey himself could’ve put an inside-out swing on the ball to hit it into right field, but the way the ball was sinking away from the righty, it was the AAA-level length of Marrero’s swing that truly made it possible for him to reach and flip the ball into right.

Marrero can make a mark as a major leaguer if he can be content with going with pitches of that ilk instead of trying to pull everything. Given the dire straits of the Giants’ depth, it looks like he’ll have at least a month to take today’s lesson to heart and it will be fun to see if he can do it. Every baseball season has minor subplots within and so why not let his quest to stay on a major league roster be one of them?

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Bruce Bochy put Derek Law in to pitch the eighth inning because Bruce Bochy wants Derek Law to be the setup man. If Derek Law continues to pitch how he pitched in today’s eighth inning today, however, he will have fewer opportunities to pitch the eighth inning going forward.

Now, Yangervis Solarte already had two hits today before his home run off of Law and he’s been good all series, so, it’s not like Derek Law came in and gave up a home run to Daniel Descalso or Jeff Mathis, but he didn’t look particularly sharp (again) and the only thing he setup was anxiety in the ninth inning (again). But this was a GOOD thing, and here’s why --

Cueto was sharp for most of the game until he stopped being sharp in the sixth. A walk to Travis Jankowski, a dude he had dominated for most of the game, paved the way for Wil Myers to blast a 2-run home run. But then Cueto gave up a single and another walk. Last year, Bochy would’ve gone to the ‘pen.

Bruce Bochy was not about to go to the bullpen. Instead, he wanted to see if Cueto could work his way out of the 1-out jam against the bottom of the order. A flyout got the second out but then Cueto hit the indecisive Austin Hedges and the bases were loaded.

Bruce Bochy was not about to go to the bullpen. Instead, he wanted to see if Johnny Cueto could retire Erick Aybar, because as any good manager knows, Johnny Cueto should be able to get out Erick Aybar.

Now, maybe there’s not much to the move beyond “it was Cueto versus Erick Aybar”, but it seems likely this was all about not having to make too many pitching changes and dragging the Giants into the reliever roulette situation, where every substitution brings you one step closer to the fatal pitch.

And that means that Bruce Bochy left in Derek Law in the eighth because he wanted Derek Law to figure it out for himself. This is a departure from 2016, when Bochy was all about taking his chances with the bullpen. By the end of the season, he was making moves pitch to pitch. This is a welcome shift in philosophy, if only from a “pace of play” perspective. How it will help Law and the other relievers in their development as major leaguers going forward remains to be seen. I just don’t want these games to take forever.

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Hahaha his face

Mark Melancon put two men on in the ninth and if he hadn’t blown the game last Sunday, we probably would’ve chalked it up to rust (he hasn’t pitched since last Sunday, after all). But because of last Sunday, we probably thought he, like the rest of the relievers, is cursed.

But seriously, Mark Melancon was actually good today and that should not be a surprise. He’s going to give up plenty of contact, of course, and while he adjusts to some newer faces in the NL West and as Buster Posey and co. adjust to his repertoire we should expect for that contact to create some hairy ninth innings. But we’re Giants fans, and if we haven’t built up a level of tolerance to shaky bullpenning, then we should consider a new team. If Mark Melancon’s ceiling as Giants’ closer is only Brian Wilson’s 2010, we should consider ourselves lucky. That’s better than Armando Benitez.

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It will be very good indeed to watch the Giants play at AT&T Park again.