In theory — and we’re talking Philosophy 101 your freshman year — the best possible scenario at this point for the Giants would be for Johnny Cueto to chuck a bunch of 7 IP, 3 ER starts. That’s a 3.85 ERA, which is fine. Not dominant. Not worth $100 million. But certainly fine.
Yet when you actually watch him pitch, you know he’s much better than a 3.85 ERA. You know what a 3.85 ERA means in your head. Kyle Lohse is the kind of dude with a 3.85 ERA. And, again, that’s fine. But you know instinctively that Cueto was better than that today. Tomorrow, too. For the next year, and the year after that. He’s something more than an innings-eating stopgap. He was brilliant on Saturday until he wasn’t.
So let him get that ERA close to 4.00. Let the rest of the league wonder what’s wrong. Because the rest of us will be back here, aware that Cueto is pretty much the same pitcher as last year, just with crappier luck. Maybe that will save the ultra-rich people who own the Giants some money? Which isn’t as compelling when you put it like that.
Anything that helps Cueto stays with the Giants is fine by me, though.
However, when we stop talking about theories and move to the games, it should be noted that the game we just watched was annoying as all heck. The Giants couldn’t score. Every hitter in the lineup other than Austin Slater had one hit and exactly one hit. There wasn’t anyone with two hits. Just one.
You’ll never believe it, but they weren’t strung together, either.
The Phillies got the tying run from Commander Khakis, the Grillmaster, America’s Dad, Tommy Joseph, who indirectly helped the Giants win two championships, who hit the ball “over the fence.” The Giants had a stretch where they were hitting at least one of those suckers every game, if not two. There’s a dinger drought again, and it was a two-out dinger that done started the whole mess.
After the score was tied, the Phillies had a Giants-style rally, with a bunch of singles to set everything up. They even had a long fly ball that wasn’t a home run, except this one dropped over the head of Denard Span, which ruined everything.
We’re in year four of the Hunter Strickland Era, which seems like a good time to point out that while he’s been a fine reliever, he’s never been an oh-he’s-got-this reliever. Even when he’s rolling, you expect him to not be rolling. And while I understand the idea behind the slider he threw to Odubel Herrera — trying for the ground ball, and all that — it sure was a lousy location.
I’ll be honest with you: I’m seeing Elvis Costello in a couple hours, and if the Giants won a rousing victory, I would be just as excited to write about it as you would be to read it. But you don’t care about this game, so I’m going to cut out early. It was another loss in a season filled with them. And I gotta catch the BART so I can eat some vittles.
In seven years, we might look back at this loss and realize it was what gave the Giants draft position and allowed them to pick Chras Stintle, who is like Buster Posey with 80 speed. If he were real.
As is, it was a dull loss. The starting pitcher threw well but wasn’t rewarded. The bullpen screwed up at the wrong time, because of course they did. And the lineup didn’t hit again. They might do it tomorrow. They might start a 10-game streak of line-drive terror.
Tonight, though, they didn’t do a heckuva lot. And they’ll have to win on Sunday if they want to feel better than the Phillies, who haven’t felt very good this year. Because they’re pretty bad.
It’s up to the Giants to see if they can be less pretty bad. This isn’t the kind of game that filled you with optimism. They’ve been more Phillies this year than they’ve been Nationals, and the more teams out of the division we see, the more that becomes obvious.