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Giants think about winning, don’t

The Giants almost played well enough to snap their losing streak, but things broke bad at exactly the wrong time.

San Francisco Giants v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

If the hour and a half rain delay at the start of the game prompted you to find something else to occupy your Saturday night—for instance, you and a dear friend checked out the Stardew Valley multiplayer beta—consider yourself lucky. The Giants dropped their sixth straight behind a mercurial Jeff Samardzija and some extremely poor sequencing.

The losing streak is reaching the point where you not only question why you like the Giants, but why you like baseball at all. Streaks like this make you tabulate the hours you spend watching and listening and reading about (please keep reading) baseball, and make you think of what you could be doing instead of watching your team lose on a hit-by-pitch.

It’s almost worse that the Giants came so close to winning this game. When they were getting blown out, at least you could throw up your hands and say, “They just need to stop playing like bozos.” There was some nincompoopery tonight, for sure, but there was also good stuff and bad luck mixed in.

This loss was frustrating. In the five losses preceding it, there was an overwhelming feeling of helplessness, that winning was such an abstract concept that you couldn’t really be mad it never happened. Tonight, the Giants had victory dangled in front of them. They could have had it. They arguably played better baseball than their opponent. But it didn’t matter that they had more hits or fewer strikeouts. They were going to lose anyway.

This loss was Kafkaesque. This loss was a scorekeeper saying, “This game could have only been won by you, but now Jordy Mercer is going to stick his shin out.”

The Giants finally had the fortune of running into a pitcher who pitched as well as the Giants starters have this week. Chad Kuhl had a very Chad Kuhl start tonight in that he had a lively fastball, but that was about it. He couldn’t throw the offspeed stuff for strikes consistently.

The Giants hit the ball hard against him all night. The three softest hit balls against Kuhl had exit velocities in the 80’s. Everything else was 90 MPH and above. The problem was they couldn’t string together their hits at the right time.

They could have scraped together more runs off Kuhl and the bullpen. They probably should have. Twice in the game they managed to tie the game, and once, for a brief moment, they took the lead. But every time they gave themselves an opportunity for a big inning, they couldn’t get more than one run across.

I haven’t looked this up, but I’m willing to bet the Giants lead the league in losses in which they outhit their opponents. The Giants allow their opponents to be so efficient with their baserunners and they’re so inefficient with their own. Consider the eighth inning, in which the Pirates scored the winning run:

· Double

· Ground ball

· Intentional Walk

· Ground ball

· Hit-by-pitch

· Strikeout

· Strikeout

An inning with that sequence of events results in a run, what, maybe 10% of the time? But Evan Longoria couldn’t get an out on a ground ball to third and the runner off the base right in front of him. Then Tony Watson made a mistake to Josh Bell and hit Jordy Mercer in the shin, so the Giants lost.

Austin Jackson could have been the hero tonight. He was, as Mike Krukow (and Gambler’s Fallacy) would say: due. Jackson, who had been showing glimmers of his former self but only had three extra-base hits all year, came up down by one with a runner on first and one out. Jackson came about six inches from hitting his first home run of the year and giving the Giants the lead.

Not to mention that Alen Hanson, who scored on Jackson’s double, appeared to injure his hamstring and came out of the game. If that ball goes over the fence, not only do the Giants take the lead, but Hanson doesn’t have to run as hard and maybe he doesn’t pull something?

Here’s hoping Hanson’s okay, because he’s probably going to lead the team in homers at the end of the season.

After the first inning, I was ready to pitch a “Is it time to panic about Jeff Samardzija?” article, but the second through fifth innings made that seem unnecessary, Gregory Polanco’s home run notwithstanding. But then Samardzija gave up a couple more hard hits in the sixth, one of them a two-run shot off the bat of Francisco Cervelli and now I don’t know what to think of Samardzija’s outing. So now I pose the question:

Is it time to write a “Is it time to panic about Jeff Samardzija?” article?

In Samardzija’s first five starts since coming back from the disabled list, he hasn’t looked like the same pitcher. His velocity finally appears to be fine, and the command looked much improved tonight though he did walk two. At fifteen walks on the season, he’s nearly half of the way to last season’s total of thirty-two. The strikeouts are still there, but so are the dingers.

Tonight was his first time pitching in the sixth inning, which he deserves some credit for considering the hour and a half rain delay. He’s just not eating innings like he used to. If innings were cereal, Samardzija would be Ryan Gosling in that Ryan Gosling won’t eat his cereal video.

If you’re looking for some solace in this stupid week of baseball, remember that the Dodgers are somehow having an even worse season than the Giants. They lost their second game in a row to the Reds. Take time to gloat before the Reds sweep the Giants next week. Also, they haven’t won a World Series in my life, and I have about six-months left to be a twenty-something dude with a podcast.