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Giants avoid sweep, winning streak snapped

The Giants had won five in a row, and then Clayton Kershaw appeared. As he does.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants
Clayton Kershaw (22) throws a pitch at Clayton Kershaw Park in San Francisco
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

In the end, it was very obvious and we should have seen this coming. The Giants had a little momentum, a little spring in their step, and Clayton Kershaw looming. I allowed myself the daffy optimism of a daffy fan because the dream was too beautiful. Could you imagine the Giants beating Kershaw for a six-game winning streak?

I mean, just close your eyes and imagine that.

C’mon, just try it.

Look, I’ll go first.

I tried.

And I should have known better. You cannot dream of an elevator to the stars if you’ve lived in a cave. And the Giants were not going to beat Kershaw twice. Not to extend a five-game winning streak. Not to sweep the Dodgers.

This doesn’t change the fact that the Giants had an excellent homestand, easily their best of the year. They’ve had exactly two unambiguously excellent homestands since the All-Star Break last year, and both of them involved satisfying series wins against the Dodgers. The Giants came home and played more good games than bad. Which is what normal teams do.

They avoided the sweep, of course, because that’s what the Giants do. It’s hard to sweep anyone, especially a team as talented as the Dodgers, but it’s clearly the least favorable of all the possible series-win scenarios.

  1. Win-win-win
  2. Loss-win-win
  3. Win-loss-win
  4. Win-win-loss

The outcome is good, sure, but there’s more trudging involved before the next series. The suitcase is just a little heavier. There’s regret. There are what-ifs. What if Clayton Kershaw were three inches taller and could shoot a 3-pointer, for instance? Things like that.

The details of the game aren’t as important. Johnny Cueto wasn’t as sharp as he can be, but I’ll continue to insist that nothing is wrong. In the first inning, Corey Seager singled on a first-pitch fastball that wasn’t exactly down the middle, which isn’t something to get mad at. Justin Turner doubled on a pitch on his fists:

And then Yasmani Grandal doubled on an 0-2 pitch that Pablo Sandoval would have taken.

Grandal looks like he’s a robot that’s being powered down. Posey looks like he’s trying to block a wild pitch. And it was roped for a double. What a horrid sport.

I suppose a future post would be “How poorly does Johnny Cueto have to pitch before he doesn’t opt out of his contract?”, but we’re not there yet. He wasn’t at his sharpest, but nothing he did on Wednesday made me wonder if the bodysnatchers got him. He’s pretty much the same guy from last year, with worse luck and timing.

It would have been a lot cooler if he threw his first shutout of the season in this game is what I’m saying.

There was a hullabaloo! Some real alarums and excursions! It was pretty boring! The sequence went like this:

  • Johnny Cueto suspected the Dodgers of tipping location when they were on second base, which would explain how Grandal could square up a pitch at his shoelaces
  • Cueto winged a ball by Grandal’s head in his next at-bat
  • Bark woof bark woof woof woof grrrrrwrrrbl woof bark
  • Nothing else

While I don’t have access to the full video of Justin Turner on second base during Grandal’s at-bat, I have no problems calling him a liar.

Don’t McMaster us, pal. You’re denying something that wasn’t the question. We’re talking location, where Buster Posey sets up. The left hand lower than the right hand. A subtle lean. There are a hundred different things a runner on second can do to let the hitter know the catcher is setting up inside.

And after Turner’s non-denial denial, he tacitly admits it wouldn’t be wrong to steal the signs, after all.

The thing about it is, well, he’s right. Can’t even be mad at a team for tipping location. Seems like a valid piece of subterfuge to this unwritten observer.

What you can be mad at is when a pitcher throws at a hitter’s head. I have thoughts on the subject. And I’m about 1,000 times more disappointed at Cueto throwing at Grandal than Turner tipping location.

Especially when that purpose pitch goes to the backstop for a run. Total self-own.

That written, it sure looked like Cueto’s reaction to Grandal screaming at him was less, “BRING IT PAL” and more, “Look, I didn’t do it on purpose.” It seems hard to believe for a pitcher as control-driven as Cueto, but it’s not like he’s immune to the occasional screw-up. I’d be more likely to guarantee it was a purpose pitch if he immediately snapped back at Grandal.

The overall point is still important, though: Stop throwing baseballs at people. They can hurt, and you don’t know exactly where they’re going, really.

The Giants hit another home run, which is good!

That home run was their 13th solo home run, which is bad.

They’ve hit a home run for the 10th consecutive game, which is good!

The home run contained potassium benzoate. Which is bad.

If you were wondering, the solo home run streak is not a record. The 2011 Giants hit 21 solo home runs in a row (July 6 to August 14!) before getting a two-run homer from Cody Ross, and then they got seven more solo home runs after that for good measure. So it can get worse.

At least they’re hitting the home runs, though. That’s my motto. And the 10-game homer streak is the longest since last April, and with another homer on Friday, it’ll be the longest streak since 2014. Things are still looking up.

But, really, if Clayton Kershaw is such a nice guy, why isn’t he spending his life on charitable causes and children? Seems pretty selfish to spend his life playing a game when he’s capable of doing so much more, but that’s just me.