Before the ninth inning started, the Giants had hit seven balls out of the infield. One of those went over the fence. One of them went into the gap for a double. One of them was a clean line-drive single. Four of them were outs, and none of them were especially threatening.
I can’t tell if I’m mad at the ninth inning, then. It injected life into a moribund baseball game filled with dribblers and nubblers, and those were just the hits. But it provided false hope and dashed dreams, and it ended on a stupid call. The Giants had a pulse for the first time in two games, but to what end?
Should the ninth inning have even existed? I have a theory that it didn’t need to exist, and I’m willing to test it out loud.
PRO: Mac Williamson has been having a miserable time since returning to the majors, and he was 0 for his last 12. This was a fine time to have the best at-bat of his career. And there’s no question that’s what it was.
That’s 12 pitches against a nasty closer, with the final pitch resulting in an opposite-field home run against a pitch on the black. Completely unexpected, completely beautiful. It reminds you of what a strong homer lad Mac Williamson can still become.
Of course, he didn’t charge a ball earlier in the game that led to a run, but it was still a sweet at-bat.
CON: It was a two-run homer, which ruined the streak of solo home runs. The Giants hit 19 solo home runs since their last homer with runners on base, which is still one of the longest streaks of all time.
PRO: Actually, more runs are better when it comes to baseball games.
CON: But think of the history! If you’re going to lose, make it funny, that’s my motto.
PRO: Wade Davis hadn’t allowed an earned run this season. Now he has. I don’t have anything against him, particularly, but I’m not wild about showoffs. If they don’t play for my favorite team, at least. Not allowing an earned run is showing off. Serves you right.
CON: Except you know that Davis is going to save a one-run game against the Giants at some point. There will be no shakiness. There won’t be a spirited rally. The Giants won’t force him to throw 30 pitches, and there certainly won’t be an opposite-field two-run homer.
There should be rain checks for these kinds of innings. Every team should get five transferable Spirited Ninth Inning Comeback cards at the start of the season.
PRO: The Giants didn’t lose by a bushel of runs after all. Even as they’ve been winning a little bit more, it’s seemed like the pattern is to lose by three or more runs when they lose, while they’ve won just a handful of games by three or more runs this entire season. This game made it close.
It was aesthetically a better loss.
Look, I needed a “pro” to even up the numbers.
CON: The game ended on a dumb strike call. GameDay had it as just a hair off the plate. Brooks Baseball had it as well off the plate. My eyeballs had it as striking out a Braves hitter in the 1997 NLCS.
This isn’t to suggest the Giants would have won without the call. There was a dodgy interference call with Jason Heyward running to first, and that’s the only reason the game was close at all. Re-read that part up there where the Giants were incapable of hitting the ball out of the infield. That’s more important than a blown call in the ninth.
On the other hand, it sure would have been cool to see what would have happened if it were called correctly. You can bet that Santiago Casilla wasn’t getting that call last year.
PRO: This happened:
Nuñez was thinking about the new guy making him look bad. Williamson was thinking about absolutely nothing. Nuñez found it amusing by the end. Williamson continued expressing the only emotion he has, which is “hrnngh.”
I’m very glad this happened.
CON: Now we have to care that Steven Okert allowed an eighth inning run. I was completely okay with that being a meaningless run that we never had to think about again. Instead, it became the margin of victory for the Cubs.
And the triple that led to the run came on a pitch that Jason Heyward hasn’t hit since 2011.
Sure, he was set up off the plate, but it was exactly where Posey wanted it:
The velocity wasn’t as good as it’s been for Okert in the past — 91 mph — but that’s still a pitch that should mess up a left-handed hitter in an 0-1 count.
PRO: This gimmicky recap means that I can ignore Christian Arroyo, who is under the Mendoza Line and should probably be sent to Sacramento, where he would play with other 21-year-olds in a safe and fun environment.
CON: The Giants couldn’t come back, and that means they’ve lost two in a row for the first time since they were in New York and couldn’t hit Zack Wheeler. Which is a game that I should remember, but I think I was in a total fugue state by that point of the season.
Add it up, and .... yeah, I need that GIF of Nuñez almost getting passed up. I decree that the ninth inning was useful and deserved to exist, even if the game was a dumb one overall. Matt Moore should probably stop giving up dingers to Anthony Rizzo, Brandon Belt should bunt more, and that’s the story of how the Giants lost again.
Tune in for the next game, which will start in a few hours.