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Giants steal win, 2-1, in 11 innings

The Giants walked 10 batters, and they allowed just one run. That’s very, very hard to do.

San Francisco Giants v Pittsburgh Pirates
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

“Here, take this game, Pirates,” said Matt Moore, shaky and unsure.

“No,” said the Pirates. “We cannot accept this gift.”

“Please, take this game. Give it to your children,” pleaded Moore.

“No,” said the Pirates. “For we are a proud franchise.”

“What if I were to give you this game myself, Pirates? Would that be acceptable?” said Hunter Strickland, who was pitching with his eyes sewn shut like the guy in the “Man in the Box” video.

“No,” said the Pirates. “If we accept your gift, we will never learn how to do things on our own. We must overcome these obstacles and do this ourselves.”

So the Giants waited and waited and waited, and they eventually bumbled into a win on a walk, a bloop in front of one of the worst outfield defenders we’ve seen all year, and a wild pitch.

“Wait,” said the Pirates.

“Aw, crap,” said the Pirates.

“Dammit,” said the Pirates.

The Giants have won five games in a row, tying their longest streak of the season. Four the first four games, it was obvious how they won. They either out-hit or out-pitched the other team, and if they were locked in a war of attrition, they would outlast them.

In this particular game, they ... well, I guess they outlasted them. But they certainly didn’t out-pitch the Pirates. The Giants walked ~~~~10~~~~ batters in the game and allowed just a single run. You might say that they made their pitches when they counted. Or, if you’re being truthful, you might say that they were hilariously lucky.

If you think that’s unfair, consider this: In the last 100 years, the Giants have walked 10 batters and allowed one run or fewer just twice. In 1987, the Giants beat the Braves in 10 innings, in a game that was similar to this one. The starting pitcher was wild, the relievers were wild, but the other team couldn’t take advantage, and the Giants hung around just long enough.

The other game was the second game of a doubleheader at Wrigley Field in 1960, and it went so long that it got dark, and everyone just said, “Screw it.” It ended up as a tie.

Those are the two games when they didn’t lose. When the Giants have walked 10 batters in the last 100 years, they’re 35-103-3.

Thirty-five wins.

One hundred and three losses.

Three ties.

In a normal season, when the Giants are in a tight pennant race with successful division rivals, there would be a tiny pang of guilt that would come with a win like this. It would be easily dismissed and forgotten, but it would exist for a brief moment. I would like to report that pang of guilt does not exist in this case. Bring me your unearned wins. Let me feast upon them and crack their bones open to feast upon the marrow inside. Even when the Giants don’t earn a win, they’ve earned the damned win.

They’ve earned 38 more of these wins, and we will let the rendered fat dribble down our chins. This is the sweetest unearned win since the last one, the multi-error eighth against the Braves. Which was also beautiful.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t delightful, earned components to this win, though. Even though Matt Moore reminded us again that those Jonathan Sanchez comparisons weren’t so outlandish, he still had glimmers of effectiveness, bending but never breaking. Austin Slater continues to be the in-house left fielder the Giants were praying for all along, and Buster Posey is still excellent.

He’s amazing, everyone.

I’ve watched that play 10 times, and I’m pretty sure it’s one of my favorite plays of the year. Posey ...

  1. Has to react instantly, tearing off his mask
  2. Tell Sam Dyson to back off, which he does with a flick of his wrist
  3. Travel halfway between the mound and home plate
  4. Get a clean grip on the ball
  5. Spin and fire an absolute strike to get a speedy runner

It had to be perfect. It was. It was the kind of throw that a hot-armed closer might make.

Just for good measure, Posey’s fearsome presence in the batter’s box is what forced Daniel Hudson to grip the ball a little tighter, which is what caused the wild pitch that won the game. If Kelby Tomlinson’s younger brother, Belby, is at the plate, Hudson is going to go right at him. Instead, there needed to be finesse, and the finesse turned into a grease fire, and the Giants have five wins in a row.

They probably shouldn’t, but I’m not giving this one back. I can think of 19 dumb losses that could have turned on a single pitch, at-bat, or play, and I’m not giving this one back.

It’s July 1, and George Kontos is three strikeouts away from a career high. No, I’m not sure how, either, but he’s been the Giants’ best reliever this year. He’s still mooning FIP, but his low ERA this year (an annual tradition) is coming with a high strikeout rate, for once.

At least it makes more sense this time.

In 2012, Kontos was a rookie with a hard, biting slider who struck out a bunch of guys and prevented runs. After that, he was a veteran with an occasionally biting slider who didn’t strike out so many guys, and still prevented runs. We’re back to the first iteration, apparently, even if he’ll still hang a few sliders and make us collectively catch our breath.

He never stopped preventing runs, though, compared to the average reliever. He’s also creeping up on the all-time list of adjusted ERA leaders in Giants history, moving past Rod Beck and Brian Wilson. I know that ERA and adjusted ERA are junk stats for relievers, but let me have this. It’s funny and soothing at the same time.

Brandon Belt was on second base when he realized he needed to be on first base.

So he left second base to return to first base.

I guess the idea is that he would have had to awkwardly hopped on second base again after planting and hustle back to first? But he was on second, and he never made a move toward third. His immediate move off second base was to get back to first, and that’s not in dispute.

If a runner turns toward second when beating out an infield hit, I get it. This was not that, though. The way for a runner to prevent this is to live on the right-field side of the bag, just in case this very scenario arises. That would be dumb. Anything that requires baseball players to live as if a .000001-percent chance is going to occur is dumb. He stepped toward third, but only because part of the baseline from second to first happens to be there.

This call was dumb. I’m one of replay’s biggest proponents, and I’m getting twitchy. Cut it out.

(On the other hand, if Belt is safe, the butterfly effect is ... in effect. And the Giants would have lost, 5-1. Don’t ask how. Just appreciate the five-game winning streak.)