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Giants shut out by Twins, Ervin Santana

The Giants had four hits, but it wasn’t enough.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at San Francisco Giants
I, too, love lanping.
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Ervin Santana came into AT&T Park and put a futon behind the mound. He set up a couple bookcases down the third-base line, and he rolled out a beautiful area rug behind home plate. He hung a few pictures around the walls, all tasteful and reserved, and he invited some friends over to ask what they thought.

Santana shut the Giants out on 91 pitches, and it’s hard to believe he threw that many.

When a pitcher gets a shutout with fewer than 100 pitches thrown, it’s known in internet-speak as a Maddux. There’s a certain level of irony here, as the actual Greg Maddux never threw a Maddux against the Giants. Ervin Santana has, though! He did it against the Giants in front of another sellout crowd. Huge sellout crowd, spilling into the aisles. They couldn’t believe it.

For perspective, consider that Clayton Kershaw threw the last Maddux against the Giants back on Opening Day in 2013. Since then, he’s thrown 21 starts against them, while remaining the golden-dipped god pitcher he’s always been. But he hasn’t been able to throw a shutout with fewer than 100 pitches. Probably because he’s not trying as hard.

One of these days, though, Kershaw will throw another Santana. And we’ll think, “Man, that’s just how good he is. He’s Ervin Santana good.”

To be fair, Santana was sharp. His slider? Man, it was a hot one. Like seven inches from the midday sun. But he was also created in a lab to shut a team like the Giants down. Even when they’re stinking it up, the Giants can still make contact. Santana is okay with that. He isn’t out there trying to blow the world away. For years, the Twins built a contact-friendly organization from the top down, as if they were preparing to face the Giants the entire time. They were like the poor manager at the peanut factory preparing for an elephant attack, except they accidentally repelled the elephant. And good for them.

As for the Giants’ lineup, they were 4-for-30 with a walk. They had a leadoff triple that didn’t score, and, screw it, don’t be a jerk and spoil a man’s Maddux if you aren’t going to win. That’s just being polite. Besides, without Santana’s help, I wouldn’t have remembered that Kirk Rueter once threw a Maddux against the Giants. I’m really grateful for that.

There really is a lot of season left, and I’m sorry for that. We’ll try to have fun, I promise. For now, though, they’re looking like a community college team in a spring exhibition against a real major league team, especially at home. This game felt like everyone in the lineup was following along with the Warriors game in the dugout. Or maybe the fans were doing that in the stands, and the disappointment wafted down to the field.

Regardless, the Giants and Twins are playing again tomorrow. So change your plans or whatever.

Matt Moore did not pitch a Maddux. He pitched a Moore. And while I chuckle to myself at that amusing juxtaposition, I’m crying on the inside. Because Moore needs to be good. He’s, like, a big part of the future plans of this entire organization, and it wasn’t that wild to take that chance.

Matt Duffy, bless him, is having just an awful time staying on the field, so at least that isn’t being rubbed in our face. But Lucius Fox is quietly kicking butt as a 19-year-old in Low-A, and the Giants weren’t able to sign any premium international prospects this year because of him. They might even have a rough time signing Shohei Otani because of the Fox deal, but the Giants exchanged him for Moore because that made sense for a team with short-term concerns.

And here we are in June, and I have no idea what to make of Moore. He’s probably going to help the Giants win over the next couple years, at least compared to anyone they were going to develop.

But, yeesh, I keep waiting for the tumblers to click, and there’s always one miserable inning mixed in. Santana doubled his career RBI total tonight. When a player doubles his career RBI total against your team, your team has probably had a bad night. While I’d love to complain about bad luck, the first three runners weren’t an accident. It was just Moore doing what he does, which is miss a few bats, miss a few locations, and hope that it all works out.

It didn’t work out.

That was the first bases-clearing hit since Patrick Corbin against Ryan Vogelsong in 2012. And you know what happened that year! So this was a good thing. Yes.

Hunter Pence was 0-for-3, and his OPS dropped below .600. He’s gone through slumps like this before, but those felt more painful because the rest of the team was doing good things at the same time.

Right now, though, it feels like Pence is just one of the gang, and it’s only upon closer inspection that you realize that he’s much worse.

He might be the worst hitter on the 2017 Giants right now. Think about that. THINK ABOUT THAT.

He’ll probably get better. But not before I look up some 2018 mock drafts. We’re going to get something out of this season, dammit, and we’re going to enjoy every second of it.