One of these years, the Giants will play a Fourth of July game in the Pacific Time Zone, and they’ll lose in 13 innings. They’ll screw up your parking spot. They’ll screw up your view of fireworks. And everyone who didn’t understand why you had to see the end of the game in the first place will be bitter and resentful.
If the winning streak had to end, let it end in less than three hours. It was like ripping a Band-Aid off for two-and-a-half hours, and I think that’s a compliment.
Of course, winning streaks always have to end, and this game was a pretty good example why. It’s hard to defend against the infield hit, and the Tigers had two of them in the fateful seventh inning, which went like this:
- Grounder up the middle
- Infield hit to short
- Infield hit to second
- Two-out line drive single
The first three were a mix of right place/right time for the Tigers, which is the same thing as wrong place/wrong time for the Giants. But before you curl up like an armadillo and complain about the Giants getting unlucky, focus on that single from Justin Upton. It came with the bases loaded and two outs, with George Kontos pitching. The pitch sequence looked like this:
The first two pitchers were cutters. They looked like sliders — awful, lumpy sliders — but they were in the high-80s, so they were apparently cutters. They were atrocious pitches, and Kontos wasn’t lucky they weren’t hit hard enough to catch the foul pole on fire. It left him in a 2-0 count and without the ability to trust any of his pitches with movement.
So he threw a fastball. Upton was looking for the fastball. And here we are, talking about the one-game losing streak. It wasn’t just the infield hits, then. It was the bad luck and bad baseball that characterizes most losses, really. We’re just out of practice when it comes to watching a game with optimism, though, so it caught us off guard.
I can’t express how bad those cutters were, and how they set up the loss. That’s the life of a reliever, I suppose. It seems like a total drag, save for the millions of dollars, but I can’t imagine writing one hacky metaphor that ruins the 1000 words surrounding it. I mean, I can, but those are a lot easier for the reader to skim over and forget.
Anyway, it wasn’t just Kontos, because he took over for Matt Cain in the seventh inning, and those words are a serious red flag. Here, a flowchart:
That’s unfair because the seventh inning was unfair — the damage against Cain in the seventh was limited to a 47-hopper up the middle and a grounder into the hole — but it’s not like I waited until the results were poor to question the decision. Get six innings out of Cain and thank him for his service. That’s kind of an unassailable truth at this point.
At the same time, he pitched well. Well enough to win! But he slipped to 3-8 on the season, which puts him at 11 games under .500 for his career, which makes me want to eat thumbtacks, even though I’m not supposed to care about won-loss records.
If there is a silver lining to the game, it’s that all the runs scored on homers from Hunter Pence and Brandon Crawford, who are two of the more disappointing players on the 2017 Giants. Pence has been swinging relatively well since coming off the DL last month, so his letter-high, opposite-field homer wasn’t exactly surprising. It’s always welcome to watch, though, and hopefully his numbers can creep and creep and creep up — like a Hunter Pence gnome scaling your bed frame to watch you sleep — and reach their normal levels by the end of the year.
Crawford’s homer was welcome because in a season filled with Giants hitters looking lost, no one has looked more lost than him. He spun on a hanging Michael Fulmer breaking ball in a way that he hasn’t in a while, and it gave everyone temporary hope.
That hope was fun because of the winning streak that preceded this. I thought, “Yeah, here it comes” instead of “whatever they’re gonna screw it up anyway [takes long drag of cigarette behind gymnasium] [flips bangs and sighs].” There benefits to a winning streak that extend beyond the actual winning, apparently.
There were other positive aspects to the game:
- Jae-gyun Hwang made a spending diving grab of a ball that was going so fast, the TV cameras followed the path that the ball was about to take all the way into the outfield.
- Kyle Crick had another quiet inning
- Hunter Pence continues to play defense like it’s 2012 or so
- The Giants didn’t make an out with a runner in scoring position! Don’t think about that one too hard, and it’s a fun fact
- Brian Johnson did the color commentary, which means I can post this:
For the most part, though, it felt like a 5-3 loss to the Tigers in the middle of the day. Which it was.
So enjoy the rest of your day, and make sure you buy a bouquet of flowers for America before the stores close.