Do you remember Tuesday, May 21?
I remember Tuesday, May 21.
The days were shorter then. The nights were longer. The weather was a bit chillier. I had the innocence and ignorance of a man nine days younger than I am now. So young and foolish back then.
Yet for all that has changed between now and then, one thing stayed the same: The San Francisco Giants win total. When my head touched my lumpy, pitiful pillow that night, the Giants had 21 wins. And when
Chanticleer my iPhone woke me up this morning, the Giants had 21 wins.
Now they have 22.
If there’s one thing the Giants have done consistently as of late, it’s been to be boring. Their games simply haven’t provided anything fun to watch. On the seven-game skid, just three contests were decided by six or fewer runs. They averaged 2.7 runs per game, proving to have an offense that could fix insomnia. They hit all of five home runs in that span.
They didn’t even have any fun prospects to watch to keep things interesting.
And in finally breaking the seal and getting a win - a 3-1 victory over the Miami Marlins - the Giants . . . . didn’t really deviate from the norm.
This game was boring. The teams combined for more walks than strikeouts. There were three extra-base hits in 73 plate appearances. No one hit a ball hard enough to make you think it might be a home run.
It was a game that just . . . was. Only this time the Giants were on the winning end, which is as exciting as we can ask from them.
On a related note: throughout this stretch of excessive futility, the Giants haven’t really done anything well. Everything they’ve done - from individual performances to team results, from starters to relievers, from defense to hitting - has ranged from “not bad” to “very bad.”
The absence of negatives is the closest thing the Giants have come to achieving a positive.
Which made Tyler Beede’s start - his second of the year - feel right at home. Beede’s performance emphatically rested in the land of “not bad.”
The broadcasters put some ribbons on the start and praised it as being very, very good. And you can’t blame them. Beede ended the game with five hits and one run in six innings. Coming into the start, he’d given up 14 hits and 11 runs in 6.2 innings.
On the losing streak, here have been the Giants starters:
Jeff Samardzija: 6 innings, 4 hits, 6 runs
Madison Bumgarner: 6 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs
Drew Pomeranz: 2.2 innings, 8 hits, 5 runs
Andrew Suarez: 4 innings, 9 hits, 9 runs
Shaun Anderson: 5 innings, 9 hits, 6 runs
Jeff Samardzija: 4 innings, 8 hits, 5 runs
Madison Bumgarner: 6 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs
So the optimism when Beede held the Marlins to one run was understandable. It was the first time since May 1 that a Giants starter hadn’t allowed multiple runs in a game.
But the start still qualifies as “not bad” more than “actively good.” Beede showed some good life on his pitches, but still left a lot of stuff over the plate. He only managed nine swing-throughs on 94 pitches, and struck four while walking three.
He deserves credit for limiting the runs, although that credit deserves a massive asterisk of facing the worst hitting team in all of baseball.
But still. “Not bad” can be very comforting. Because if he hadn’t suppressed runs against an entirely listless offense, just imagine how we’d all be feeling!
If there was one silver lining - other than, you know, winning - it came in the form of the Marlins reminding the Giants that they do have some good things.
After six innings from Beede and Sandy Alcantara resulted in a 1-0 Marlins lead, both teams handed things over to the bullpen. Reyes Moronta allowed a walk, and Tony Watson dabbled in dangerous deeds, but they, along with Will Smith, combined for three scoreless innings.
The same cannot be said for the Marlins.
Tayron Guerrero started the seventh, and gave up a leadoff double to Brandon Crawford. Crawford aggressively took third base on a medium-distance flyout by Kevin Pillar, in what was a risky but cool play. He scored on a single by Mike Yastrzemski.
Adam Conley came in and got the final two outs, but the wheels fell off in the eighth. After retiring Tyler Austin, Conley walked Buster Posey and gave up an admittedly weak single to Brandon Belt.
In came Austin Brice, who walked Evan Longoria on four pitches to load the bases, and then was yanked. Tough outing.
This is where the Giants truly got to see an area of strength.
It’s not often that the Giants get to go “wait, you’re doing what?!” and then cackle gleefully. But they were afforded that opportunity on Thursday. With the bases loaded in the eighth inning of a tied game, with only one out, the Marlins brought in Wei-Yin Chen.
Coming into the contest, Chen had pitched 18.1 innings. He had allowed 28 hits, walked seven, hit two, and given up 19 earned runs.
Any result would have been funny. Had Chen succeeded, it would have been morosely hilarious that the Giants folded when Don Mattingly handed them a straight flush. Had Chen failed, it would have been vintage-SNL funny that Mattingly chose - or had no choice but - to bring in a reliever who averages more than an earned run an inning, in the most high leverage of situations.
Brandon Crawford drove the second pitch he saw to the warning track, where it hopped into the stands for a ground rule double, and the Giants had the runs they needed.
In Chen’s defense, he then struck out Yastrzemski and Steven Duggar, but the damage was already done, and the comedy already written.
The Giants losing streak is over, but they’re still 11 games under .500. It’s hard to find too much joy in a coin flip victory over a laughing stock team.