Let’s look at each.
Act 1: Hope and growth
The Giants 7-2 loss to the Rockies on Monday got off to an ominous start. Johnny Cueto allowed runners on the corners with just one out in the first inning, and only a few minutes into action, the game was on the line.
Cueto struck out Trevor Story, and a scoreless inning was within reach.
But he just couldn’t find a way to close the door, and back-to-back singles gave the Rockies a 2-0 lead that the Giants couldn’t recover from.
So Tuesday’s start gave you nerves, when the first two batters singled, and the Rockies ended up with runners at second and third with just one out. You could see the Giants repeating themselves, giving up a pair of first inning runs en route to a meek, mild, and utterly deflating loss.
But no. Drew Smyly got a strikeout for out two, and a groundout for out three, and suddenly you were reminded that Tuesday isn’t Monday, and maybe the Giants could grow and evolve.
The first inning felt absolutely vital, and Smyly not giving up the runs that Cueto did felt like one of the more important performances of the season.
In the bottom half of the inning, Austin Slater led off and ... well, post-injury Slater hadn’t looked like pre-injury Slater until this swing.
109.1 mph— SFGiants (@SFGiants) September 23, 2020
1st career leadoff HR for Austin Slater. pic.twitter.com/lWWp3POvTs
109.1 mph! Do you know how much that speeding ticket would cost? I uhh.....certainly don’t. No, of course not.
Slater had a dynamic game, going 2-2 with that home run and a hat trick of walks. The Giants are a substantially better team when he’s hitting well.
The Giants added an insurance run in the fifth inning off of just the second extra-base hit of the month for Joey Bart, and at this point you really thought the Giants would win, you
poor fool smart person.
Act 2: Agony and despair
The Giants really needed to win. They really, really needed to win. And at 2-0, against a bad offense, you thought they could cruise their way to their garage beneath the W column.
Not so fast, sport.
The Rockies cut the deficit in half with a sixth inning rally, and former Giant Kevin Pillar tied the game in the seventh with a double.
Things were bad, though there was some consolation. The Rockies likely would have taken the lead, were it not for the first outfield assist of Daniel Robertson’s career, in the first outfield game of Daniel Robertson’s season, after he was moved from shortstop to left field when Luis Basabe suffered a hamstring injury.
But still. The Giants had blown a lead they couldn’t afford to blow, and the Rockies had the momentum. You wept. You drank. You hopefully kept the game on.
Act 3: And boom goes the dynamite
But the Giants would recapture the momentum, and how.
Alex Dickerson led off the bottom of the seventh inning as a pinch hitter, and for the second time in as many games since returning from the Paternity List, he did the intelligent thing and simply put the ball over the fence where the outfielders aren’t allowed to go.
Dickerson took on center, and he made it look easy.
Home runs aren’t usually considered rally starters, but that’s exactly what it was. Bart followed up Dickerson’s blast with another double, Slater added a single, and then Brandon Belt entered the game to do what Brandon Belt does best.
No, wait, check that, he didn’t walk. So Brandon Belt entered the game to do what Brandon Belt does second best.
Suddenly the Giants were in command, leading 5-2. They had chances to add on, with a Belt grand slam in the eighth inning getting nabbed by the last remaining clutches of Oracle Park’s defensive dignity. Had they not won, their 2-12 mark with runners in scoring position would have been a heartbreaker; but instead it serves as a reminder for how strong their offense was, even if the timely hits weren’t always there.
The win moves the Giants back to .500, and into a three-way tie for the two Wild Card spots, though the Giants lose the tiebreaker to both teams (the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers). With those two teams playing each other on Wednesday, the Giants will take sole possession of the second Wild Card spot if they can win again.
I vote that they do exactly that.