It will get lost in the maelstrom of runs that followed, but for about 30 minutes, the Giants were the luckiest team in the world. It’s how they tied the game, it’s how they took the lead, and it’s how they maintained the lead. The padding after that was a different story, but I want to appreciate those 30 minutes.
I want to appreciate them because, friends, there hasn’t been a lot of good fortune this year. Those 30 minutes made my soul warm.
In the second and third innings, the Dodgers sent nine batters to the plate. Five of them smoked the ball. One of them walked. Another one got a weak single. So of those nine batters, seven of them had some sort of positive outcome, in theory.
One run scored. In between, there was a line drive double play and a couple more line outs for good measure. This isn’t to suggest that Matt Cain didn’t have a fine outing in several respects. Just that the Dodgers weren’t fooled in those innings, and he lived to see the seventh.
Which is funny. I don’t want to lead you by the nose, but that’s the point of all this. It was really, really funny.
It was also amusing to watch the Giants score their first run on a single, bunt, and bloop. After all those line drives, the game was tied in a completely inequitable fashion. In the next half inning, with a runner on first and one out, Chase Utley was running on the pitch. Because he was running, Brandon Crawford was right behind second base when a grounder came right to him. It was the easiest double play of the year.
If the game reverted to a normal baseball contest at this point, all of this would still be worth mentioning. But we haven’t even gotten to the funniest inning, which was the bottom of the fourth. It went like this:
- Bloop single
- Line drive single
- Double over first base, past Utley, who was playing first base for some reason
- A broken-bat nerbler that was perfectly placed between the shortstop and second baseman, rolling, rolling, rolling to freedom as they both looked ridiculous chasing it down, only to have a play on Crawford, who was giving himself the stop sign and expecting to be thrown out, except the ball was cut off by the pitcher, who spun out of the way of an invisible tackler as he made sure that Crawford wasn’t going home after all, and when he spun back around, welp, looks like that run was going to score, so he looked for the consolation prize of getting Eduardo Nuñez at second base, except the infielders who looked ridiculous chasing the nerbler down were still in the outfield for some reason, where there are no bases.
- Seriously, just watch it. I will always be here for your videos titled “(Player) plates two on an infield single.”
- A stolen base to set up a sac fly while everyone was processing the above
- A sac fly
Posey’s single was hit hard. Crawford’s double was hit hard. Christian Arroyo had a great at-bat to get that sac fly. This wasn’t a classic Giants-Padres slap fight, and I don’t want to diminish the offensive output. At the same time, it was a delirious contrast from every televised second of Giants baseball this year.
It helped the Giants beat the Dodgers.
It helped the Giants win their fourth game in a row.
I don’t know if this team will escape the maw of the antlion sucking them into the sand below, but if you can’t appreciate the silliness of this game, you’re probably barking up the wrong hobby. The good news is that you could appreciate it. Because you’re here. And tittering, right along with the rest of us.
Matt Cain will have another outing like that, and it will lead to 5 IP, 4 ER. That’s nothing against him or how he pitched. It’s just the life of a grinder. We watched it for years with Ryan Vogelsong, and Cain’s 6⅔ IP, 3 BB, 5 SO line was eerily Vogelsong-like.
Here, I’ll look for the exact games that Vogelsong pitched with three walks and five strikeouts. Here’s one in which he allowed one run. Here’s one in which he allowed four runs. Here’s one in which he didn’t allow a run over 5⅔ innings, but he had to grind to get that far. Here’s one in which he allowed four runs again.
The first sentence of this section came before the research, and I’m thrilled to have my anecdotal assertion backed up with evidence. There won’t be a lot of eight-inning, one-run outings. What you hope for, then, are a lack of two-inning, six-run outings to make up for it. Vogelsong was pretty good at that for a couple years.
I’ll take it from Cain. Anything he provides in the fifth-starter department will be absolutely welcome. His ERA on the season is down to 4.04 (4.14 FIP), and while that’s not exactly impressive in the context of AT&T Park, it’s certainly fine relative to expectations. Not just the expectations of the fans, either, but the expectations of a team looking to squeeze anything out of their fifth starter.
I’m not ready to compare Cain to Vogelsong fully, not yet. We enjoyed years of that dedicated grindgrindgrind, whereas Cain has showed it off for a solid month.
But the template is there, and it’s worked in the past. Vogelsong was 33 when he came back to the Giants and perfected the grind in 2011. Matt Cain is still 32.
If this Matt Cain chapter unfolds like that, I can’t describe just how excited I’ll be.
I mean, yeah, probably that excited.
Welcome back, Mac Williamson. He doesn’t have to be the hitter I thought Hunter Pence was going to be. He just has to be better than the hitter Pence was. Two opposite-field singles into his season, and I’m ready to declare him the starter for 2021.
Which might be laying it on a bit thick. But as someone who was stumping for him to win the left field job when it became clear the Giants were done making moves, I’m happy to see him enjoy immediate success.
A group of approximately 9,282 Dodgers fans in center field unfurled a huge, bleacher-sized Dodgers flag. I couldn’t even get mad.
The planning that had to go into that, man. I’ll bet when that thing is folded up, it weighs about as much as a labrador retriever, too. Well played. All due respect. This is the best retort so far to our American hero from a couple weeks ago.
The Giants won that game, too.