The Dodgers hadn’t lost 11 straight games since moving to Los Angeles. There was a reason for that, and it’s not just because they’ve been rich bullies the entire time. It’s hard to lose 11 games in a row. It’s a combination of poor look and the absence of good luck, which aren’t the same thing. You have to have a team filled with individuals all committed to not doing anything good at the right time. It’s like flipping a coin 25 times and having them all come up tails and covered with something sticky.
Another way to put it: The Dodgers hadn’t been handed a baseball game by a team that was screwing up even more than them.
The Giants handed the Dodgers a baseball game. Here. Take it.
That’s not to say that Clayton Kershaw didn’t dominate the Giants for most of the game, because he did. He allowed an earned run (two unearned runs!) over six innings, which means he didn’t get a Giants-adjusted quality start. I wanted that to be hyperbole, but it really isn’t. According to game score, this was the third worst start Kershaw has made against the Giants in his career. Kershaw pitched six innings and allowed two runs, one unearned, and it was his 37th-best start against the Giants out of 39 total.
It turns out that, contrary to popular perception, Clayton Kershaw has pitched well against the Giants, actually.
But they still made him work. They had a hit with a runner in scoring position and a home run against Kershaw, which is roughly the equivalent of every Giants hitter going for the cycle, statistically speaking. They got him out after six innings, which means they had a chance. Oh, how they had a chance.
Then the Giants did what other teams could not do in the previous 11 games. Here. Take it.
It started with Chase Utley — the name that Steve Finley took after he murdered a man and began wearing his skin — hitting a long, long home run. It came on a lazy fastball in a 3-1 count, and it deserved to be hit. Apart from that, though, the Giants fell apart complete. Kershaw hit a ball that Austin Slater lost in the lights and went for a brutal double. That followed with a ground ball to short that Kelby Tomlinson turned into a disaster with a horrible throw to third base. Two runners on. Neither of them deserved to be there. There were no outs. There was absolutely no way it was going to work out.
And it didn’t! After a sac fly, strikeout, and intentional walk to Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig hit a double on ol’ number 7 here:
That is a bad place to throw a changeup to Yasiel Puig. Cueto was tired, the ball didn’t do anything until it was sent screaming into the distance, and, well, the good news is that the Giants won’t have to rebuild their rotation completely next year. They’ll have Cueto around. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
The Giants had a chance in the ninth, too. Kenley Jansen gave up a legit hit and two illegitimate hits, Buster Posey was up, and there was a chance. For a moment, I was even willing to forget that Jansen was the Kershaw of closers. Instead, Posey waved through cutters, and then Nick Hundley, like most catchers, looked at his “WWBD?” bracelet and did the exact same thing. A double down the line could have extended the Dodgers’ losing streak, and the dream was alive. This game was almost worth it, just for those moments where I played that fantasy double over and over in my mind.
The Dodgers have won a game, they can exhale, and that’s a total drag. The gnashing of teeth would have been remarkable with a win against Kershaw, especially if it came from a solo homer off the bat of Kelby Tomlinson.
Oh, how I wanted to use that in a happier recap. Tomlinson last hit a baseball over the fence in 2015, which was 454 plate appearances ago. He fits perfectly in the lineage of random home runs against Kershaw, and he now receives the ceremonial necklace that was first crafted by Chris Stewart and handed down to Brett Pill, who passed it to Brandon Hicks, who passed it to Ehire Adrianza. It’s Tomlinson’s now, and he will wear it with pride.
He also had a hit with a runner in scoring position, too:
As with most things in 2017, though, even the good things lead to bad things. Just like it’s hard to celebrate Tomlinson completely after his muffed throw helped the Dodgers with their four-run rally, there is always sad to follow the happy. And there’s usually sad before the happy. Which makes it something like a happy sandwich!
I regret to inform you that the happy sandwich is actually very, very sad.
Happy Kelby Tomlinson night. pic.twitter.com/itYleREksz— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) September 13, 2017
See? That’s a lot of fun! But it would have been a lot more fun with a normal, typical throw to third base to get a pitcher who broke for third like a dingus.
Before lamenting the Dodgers’ win, let’s take a moment to remember when the Giants extended their losing streak to 11 games at 2:11 a.m.. That was a lot of fun, even if I don’t remember it. A Giants win tomorrow — especially if it comes at the expense of the enigmatic Yu Darvish — would go a long way toward making Dodgers fans panic and forget the joy from tonight.
Until then, the Giants couldn’t beat Clayton Kershaw, and we’re all another day closer the end. Of the 2017 season! But also, you know, the end.
One of these nights, the Giants will score six runs and knock him out in the sixth inning, and it will be a festival of ebullience. Tonight ... was not one of those nights.