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Giants drop close one to Braves, 9-0

The Giants slipped behind in the NL West race, but there’s still plenty of season left!

San Francisco Giants v Atlanta Braves
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Giants picked up a half-game on the Phillies. Here are the standings:

Phillies 22-46
Giants 26-46 (2.0 GB)

This is all there is to care about. This is all there is to follow. This is our divisional race now. This is the Giants’ only hope.

The Giants picked up a half-game on the Phillies. So this was a positive result, you see.

I don’t really believe that. If the Giants had the first-overall pick in 2008, they might have picked Pedro Alvarez. Rooting for the worst record in baseball isn’t all Ken Griffeys, Jr. Sometimes you get Delmon Young or Matt Bush. Without the gift of foresight, I’ll take the wins in advance and hope the other teams screw up the Draft.

But do not feel guilty for accepting the Chase For Number 30 as a consolation prize. Oh, heavens, no. These are your right. You have earned these crumbs, you simple, Giants-loving person. And if someone complains that Giants fans don’t get to whine, quietly concede the point. Then force them to watch 200 hours of 2017 Giants baseball with toothpicks jabbed into their eyelids to keep them open.

The rest of the season will be defined by these minor victories. The ones that exist in place of the real victories. Watching someone like Austin Slater slap his batting average over .350, even if you know that can’t last. Watching Ty Blach look like a competent major leaguer, even if you understand that the next time the Giants are contending, he might have a 5.63 ERA, which means you’re going to be complaining about him often and loudly. Watching Joe Panik turn a corner.

Watching Buster Posey build on a Hall of Fame career.

Because it isn’t champions every other year, the whole way down, a messy pile of turtles and confetti. And for this game, I choose to take solace in the fact that next year, at the beginning of June, I’m going to be buzzing about the high schooler or college kid to whom the Giants are planning to give $7 million. Tomorrow night’s game might be different. Oh, god, there’s a game tomorrow night, please h

Tomorrow night’s game might make me optimistic about Slater again. Or Kelby Tomlinson might do something that gives me those utility-player-tummy feelings again. Some teams can get away with a fifth infielder for years before they have to set him free. Why not the Giants? Or maybe it’s Matt Moore who gives me hope by pitching well instead of pitching like he wants to be a professional puppeteer but can’t figure out how to tell his family.

On this night, I’m cool with the Giants gaining a game on the Phillies. Because they lost to the Braves, who were supposed to be a billion times worse than the Giants, but weren’t, because to become a billion times worse than the Giants is to consume all the energy in the surrounding space and allow no light to escape, and we don’t want that, now, do we?

Also, Johnny Cueto looked like a solid, reliable, starting pitcher. Which is a good thing, regardless of his future with the team. I love watching him pitch. I will love watching him pitch with this team or his next team, and I enjoy that this interrupted a disturbing trend.

The Giants lost, and this is unsurprising. They opened the season by losing a game in which their starting pitcher hit two home runs, and things haven’t really improved since then. We can chew our thumbs and yell a lot, or we can look for the little things that every baseball game usually offers.

The thing about bad teams is that they can keep it close. It’s not like every 100-loss team is down 9-0 before the fifth inning of every game. That’s not how baseball works. Most wins and losses are built incrementally. A misplay here. A missed location here. A double play with the bases loaded there. They build and build and build, and you wonder, hey, maybe this is just bad luck!

No. You have watched bad baseball before. You have watched good baseball before. This is the former. I will admit to being someone hoping for bad luck in the second half of last season, but it’s been almost a full calendar year. This team is abysmal.

But one of the moments that made me chuckle and bemoan the Giants’ luck early in the game was Brandon Belt’s double that wasn’t. It was truly remarkable. Belt has been swinging like Tommy Lasorda is holding the Wiimote that controls him, and it’s ruined one of the better parts of a dismal season. So this one time he ropes a double into the gap, and he slides in safely ...

He was called out because the umpire was a doofus who thought this at one point:

Well, I’m going to be the umpire who calls this play right the first time, and when the runner’s foot is off the base for a split-second, they’ll call for a replay, and they’ll see, they’ll all see, they’ll all regert the day they laughed at Brian O’Nora, and, oh, god, did I just think “regert” instead of “regret,” that’s just the kind of thing they laughed at, and another thing

Once the ump made the call, though, the replay technicians in New York couldn’t do anything. They had to assume that Belt’s right knee was off the bag, even by a few atoms. They had to assume that this is what O’Nora saw, and they just couldn’t see it from their cameras.

Except O’Nora was looking at one foot the whole time. And I’m not even sure that foot was off the bag, but the other knee/leg clearly wasn’t. Clearly wasn’t. It might have been the worst review decision I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen plenty of the stinkers.

And yet it didn’t matter. Because the Giants are awful. You get your dose of impotent rage, and you get a reminder that everything is doomed, too.

This is how the real world works, too.

Then Belt made an out that was caught by Matt Kemp, a graham cracker of a man put together by steampunk technology who hasn’t caught a fly ball in three years.

Then he got a crappy called second strike because he always does.

Then he hit a ball that was snared by a diving second baseman because he always does.

And, maybe, just like the part about the team keeping it close even though they’re bad, maybe the rebel factions are right. Maybe they’ve been right all along. Maybe Belt is actually just b

No. No, I’m not there yet. This was a dumb game, and Belt was hit harder with the dumb stick by anyone, including Johnny Cueto. But I’m not there yet.

Derek Law’s ERA is 5.40 now, and he was supposed to be the good one. An excellent season from him would have been one of those positive nuggets we talked about up there. Yes, the Giants might lose 162 games retroactively, but at least Law is the closer/setup man of the future.

Instead, he’s broken.

This season, man. This season.