There are only two good things about the Giants stinking so bad this season. The first is that they’re going to walk away from next year’s drafted with the next Tim Lincecum or Will Clark. I’ve decided this to be irrevocably true, and this idea pleases me. The other good thing about this season is the catharsis win.
I love a good catharsis win.
There are several distinct components to the catharsis win. They’re not all necessary, just a handful will do. And, considering I’m pulling this out of my nether regions as I type, the definition is fluid.
But I’ll list the elements of a catharsis win that were present in this game and see if we can narrow them down.
The early, big lead
You sit down to watch the stupid baseball game. You might or might not be frowning at this point. I usually am. Sometimes I spit at the TV. We all have our own routines.
And then ... the Giants scored?
Often! While a lot of it came courtesy of Yonder Alonso muffing up a pair of double plays — the Giants tried to stay on brand — it wasn’t all handed to them. Gorkys Hernandez singled, Kelby Tomlinson singled, Buster Posey singled, and Nick Hundley homered.
This is the most important part of a catharsis game. You have to be mad that the Giants are dumping all of these runs in a Tuesday night game against the A’s instead of MAYBE SCORING TWO OF THOSE RUNS AGAINST THE DODGERS but you also have to be happy that the Giants are scoring all these runs. The two conflicting emotions come out like dry ice from your nostrils, and you start getting mad at the A’s. Like it’s their fault your team has been playing like drunk, depressed colobus monkeys for the last four months.
Doesn’t matter. Run with that feeling.
The moments where you think they’re going to screw it up anyway
Jeff Samardzija took the mound and allowed a double within three seconds.
Buster Posey turned a wild pitch into a TOOTBLAN, and you relaxed.
Ah, yes, this is fine. It’s very unlikely that he’s going to give up five runs.
Then there was a single.
And a walk.
Come on. That’s the one thing you’re not supposed to do this year.
And a run-scoring single.
[slips fortified Bailey’s into Peet’s Cold Brew bottle]
That brought up Ryon Healy, who just looks like the type of guy who would hit a 500-foot home run against Samardzija. At this point, I was proofreading my recap, which I prewrote after the first run.
“‘And, lo, the Giants will never win another game again, for you are dead and in purgatory ...’ wait, maybe I should change that to ‘Abaddon’ ...”
Then it all worked out.
Before it all started again in the second inning.
The extra runs
These are the runs that let you breathe just a little. Not enough for you to refrain from yelling at Josh Osich. Not enough to prevent you from whimpering when Jeff Samardzija allowed the obligatory multi-run homer. But enough to feel comfortable. The kind of comfort the Giants haven’t afforded a lot of this year.
Hunter Pence hit a three-run homer, his first in almost two years. It was the Giants’ third three-run homer this year, and they need just five more to reach the 29th-place Cardinals! As long as they don't hit one between now and the Giants hitting five.
It was an absolute treat to watch Pence react, too. The Giants haven’t just lost several agonizing baseball games this season. They’ve lost the little things, too, like Hunter Pence acting like a berserker because the situation calls for it. He’s been quiet because his year-long slump forces him to be. I miss the frenetic, darting eyes.
Mostly I miss the Giants winning.
The win ... which, again, is just dripping with catharsis
Now you have a win, and you’re not sure what to do with it. The Giants have a .380 winning percentage, which is exactly one point better than the Phillies. That doesn’t tell you anything, but it doesn’t not feel good, either? It’s a cathartic win, and it doesn’t have to make sense.
It just has to feel like you’ve earned it. This win is your right. You’ve earned this by watching THOSE STUPID GAMES AGAINST THE DODGERS.
Jeff Samardzija threw a Samardzija special, an eight-inning, four-run start, and while I’d give him credit for the quality start, his error was the reason for the unearned run. I will never not cringe when a pitcher winds up to throw to second base.
And what did we learn? That Samardzija will look great, and then he’ll have some hiccups, and, ha ha, there goes a baseball, consarnit, and then he’ll settle down and pitch seven or eight innings. This changes everything. Or nothing. But it’s fun to watch in the service of a semi-blowout.
The Giants won. There is a chance they will win again. Just remember that all these losses are in the service of you exploding and getting happy-mad at the Giants and whoever they’re facing. It’s kind of fun.