If you’ve been following along as I scribe the vital historical document that is the San Francisco Giants four-game series with the Chicago Cubs, you’ve noticed a theme: an ominous start followed by misdirection, a plot twist, and a happy ending.
It’s the most simplistic narrative arc in storytelling history. Find a new slant, Giants.
Or don’t, because this one is working fine.
So let’s start with the ominous start.
On Thursday it was Joc Pederson nearly smashing a ball out of the yard, only for Steven Duggar to do his best Mike Tauchman impression and retrieve it, only for Pederson to put one where no one could catch it in the next at bat.
On Friday it was Kris Bryant hitting a two-run home run on the third pitch of the game.
And on Saturday it was Patrick Wisdom, a name you totally had heard of prior to this series, doing something that had only happened once all season: knocking in multiple runs against Kevin Gausman.
Yes, entering the game, Gausman had given up 0 or 1 runs in 10 of his 11 starts. And if you want to add the “unearned” disclaimer to the runs, then it’s now 11 out of 12, because a Brandon Crawford error meant that neither of the runs scored on Wisdom’s homer were charged to Gausman (sidenote: I understand this rule. I really do. But it still does not sit well with me that you can get an unearned run for the guy who scores a run because he hit one of your pitches over the fence).
Earned or otherwise, Guasman had given up multiple runs for the first time since mid-April, and the Giants were in a 2-0 hole.
Gausman then allowed a leadoff single to start the third inning. If you were searching through your cupboards trying to find the Tupperware where you store your pessimism, you might just chalk this up as one of those “didn’t have it” days, or, to borrow the parlance of Alex Wood, one of those “feel like shit and then you are shit” days.
After that leadoff single to start the third, Gausman would face 15 more batters. Here’s how they went:
That ominous start to his game ended with Gausman pitching 7 innings while allowing 2 hits and 0 walks. He struck out 10 batters, all swinging, all with his slider. He had 21 swings and misses, and — save for one pitch to Wisdom — made one of baseball’s best teams look utterly foolish.
Which leads me to the next portion of this article, which I’ll present with formatting such as headlines, a dek, and a pew paragraphs.
The Giants should extend him.
The Giants should extend the hell out of Kevin Gausman.
Thus concludes that portion of this article.
While Gausman was securing his All-Star spot, making a Cy Young bid (he entered the game fourth in the NL in fWAR), and lowering his ERA to 1.27, the Giants were chipping away, turning a 2-0 deficit into a lead.
First it was Alex Dickerson, who is perhaps busting out of his long slump, and homered for the second day in a row.
On the board, courtesy of Alex Dickerson pic.twitter.com/BtfWXJioE0— SFGiants (@SFGiants) June 6, 2021
Then it was a good ol’ fashioned 1980s rally in the fourth inning: Steven Duggar walk, Jason Vosler single, Chadwick Tromp RBI single (in his season debut), Gausman sacrifice bunt, LaMonte Wade Jr. RBI single, lead.
An inning later it was Crawford — who I’m beginning to think is having a good year — making it a 4-2 lead with an RBI double.
But the Giants heard my plea to deviate slightly from the storytelling formula that you’re taught in fourth grade, so they introduced a wrinkle that hadn’t existed on Thursday or Friday: a last-minute obstacle.
And so we present the ninth inning, with Tyler Rogers on the mound after a clean eighth by Jake McGee.
It started with Rafael Ortega reaching base safely when Mauricio Dubón couldn’t handle the glove-to-hand exchange on a grounder.
Then it was Kris Bryant reaching base safely on a fielder’s choice when Dubón again couldn’t handle the glove-to-hand exchange, this time on what should have been a double play.
Then it was a Javier Báez single to put runners at the corners with just one out.
And then came the play that nearly cost the team this game, and could have longer-term ramifications: a collision between Crawford and Evan Longoria.
Evan Longoria left the game after this scary collision with Brandon Crawford in the ninth pic.twitter.com/lYN3PaF4Ty— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) June 6, 2021
Longoria — who had a double and three walks — left the game. Hopefully he’s OK. Bryant scored a run to put cut the deficit in half. The tying run in Báez took second and the go-ahead run in Anthony Rizzo took first, and they both advanced a base on a double steal.
The ominous music grumbled in the background, or maybe that was your stomach.
And then Rogers got out of it and the Giants won.
Sometimes the script works.