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Giants suffer post-fracas hangover, lose quietly

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Really, it was a moral victory that the Giants even got the Nationals’ closer in the game. Fine work.

Washington Nationals v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Washington Nationals entered Tuesday night’s game with a 31-19 record, and they’re off to their best start since leaving Montreal. They’re in first place, and they might be the best team in baseball.

The Giants countered with this lineup:

  1. Orlando Calixte
  2. Eduardo Nuñez
  3. Brandon Belt
  4. Buster Posey
  5. Justin Ruggiano
  6. Aaron Hill
  7. Christian Arroyo
  8. Gorkys Hernandez

Or, to put it a different way:

  1. .000 career OPS
  2. .673 OPS
  3. .803 OPS
  4. .979 OPS!
  5. .571 OPS
  6. .482 OPS
  7. .548 OPS
  8. .498 OPS

If you take Belt and Posey out of the mix, you can almost add any two of those OPS together and get something worse than Ryan Zimmerman’s OPS this season. Nuñez’s big bopper numbers ruin the perfect symmetry, but will you just look at that? Imagine showing this lineup to someone from a year ago, when the Giants had the best record in baseball.

Orlando Calixte leading off, eh? Never heard of him, but he must be doing something right if he’s leading off. He’s one of those random surprises that baseball likes to spring on us.

I have no idea who he is.

Eduardo Nuñez back in the #2 hole. Good for him. Would have been easy to regress.

He’s not very good.

Brandon Belt. Still got it, I’ll bet.

People are still arguing about him, and I’ll be honest: When he looks bad, he really looks bad.

Buster Posey is still good.

Yes.

Justin Ruggiano! I remember that name. He must be killing the ball to hit cleanup.

No.

Aaron Hill is having one of his patented crush-everything seasons, I’ll bet. He’s a like a baseball cicada. If he’s hitting fifth, I’ll bet there’s a good reason for it.

No.

Christian Arroyo burned through the minors and arrived ahead of schedule, right? He must be holding his own if he’s sticking in a Bruce Bochy lineup.

No.

Gorkys Hernandez, eh? He’s probably holding his own against left-handers.

No.

Just imagine this conversation. The Giants looked like championship contenders a year ago, and now they’re trotting out a lineup filled with non-roster invitees and mourning. That poor hopeful sap is thinking all of these guys are hitting much better than expected. But no. They’re actually hitting far worse, and it’s not like expectations were lofty to begin with.

This isn’t fair to the players who had a good game, like Orlando Calixte, who picked up his first two career hits, drove in two, and played all three outfield positions. Hill scored a run and took a walk.

But did you take a gander at what the Nationals were doing? They were hitting the ball hard. Their outs were hard. They got a touch of luck with balls in play, but even if you took those away, they were still doing things with their bats that the Giants can’t do if Posey isn’t hitting. Slap the pitcher’s spot in the middle, there, and you have a stretch that runs Ruggiano-Hill-Arroyo-Hernandez-Samardzija-Calixte-Nuñez. That’s the world’s longest captcha, not a proper lineup. And there will be nights where Calixte doesn’t make things interesting.

Trea Turner is the slumping player in the Nationals’ lineup. He would have the fourth-highest OPS on the Giants, just behind Brandon Crawford.

Jeff Samardzija pitched to contact, which turned out to be a bad idea. After allowing nine hits in four innings, he was pulled with 100 pitches. If it seems hard for a pitcher to throw 100 pitches in four innings or fewer, it is. This was the 11th time it’s happened since they started keeping track of pitches thrown, and the offenders are exactly who you would expect: Russ Ortiz, Jonathan Sanchez, Barry Zito, et cetera. Except all of those players walked a bunch of batters. Samardzija didn’t walk anyone.

That’s just the fourth time a pitcher has thrown 100 pitches in four innings or fewer without walking a batter since they’ve been keeping track. This was an unexpected jackpot of an outing, then. Make your mark, friend. Make your mark.

It happened because this is the wrong team to throw get-it-in strikes to. They had 18 runners in scoring position because they can control the strike zone. The Giants kept getting count leverage and screwing up. I really want these good teams to go away because the contrast is making me itch.

Remember that fracas on Memorial Day? The one that provided us with entertainment and jokes? Well, it’s over. Michael Morse has a concussion now, and the Giants still smell.

At least the game was long.

Goin’ to bed.