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Giants take you on quite a journey before losing

But at least it was a journey.

Darin Ruf sliding into home plate Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Some baseball games are straightforward. They tell you where they’re going to go, and then they go there, and at some point you realize that they’re there, and that’s it, and then you go to sleep, wake up, eat some food, and start thinking about the next game.

And some games are circuitous and evasive. They tell you where they might go, and then they start going there, fake you out, go somewhere else, pretend to go back to where you thought they were going, head in an entirely new direction that you didn’t know existed, and then return to one of the prior false destinations.

Friday night’s game between the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres falls into the latter group. It was a circuitous game. An evasive game.

A fake out game.

The first fake direction was that of a rather basic Giants win. Jakob Junis pitched two perfect innings, and then the Giants small-balled their way to a lovely second inning run, using two singles, a nine-pitch walk, and a very hard sacrifice fly by Curt Casali.

The Giants have been relying on small ball a shockingly-large amount of the time this season, and gritting out a few runs with some high-quality at bats, mixed with exceptional pitching from a player that the rest of the league didn’t realize was as good as the Giants did, felt like a very on brand way to win.

But it was a fake out.

The next fake direction was that of a maddening Padres blowout win. The Padres can do that. Even without Fernando Tatis Jr., they have players who can very quickly make you regret your decision to become interested in baseball.

And sometimes they get some help.

In the third inning, Ha-Seong Kim got aboard when he hit an 0-2 grounder directly at second base, which allowed him to use the base as a pinball jump to evade the defender. After a fielder’s choice, Jorge Alfaro doubled not down the line, but on the line, and the game was tied.

One pitch later and Jake Cronenworth had bopped a ball into the bleachers. And then Manny Machado singled, managed to take second and third on a ground out, and took fourth on a wild pitch.

Funky. But effective.

It gave the Padres a 4-1 lead, and it gave you little hope. They would blow out the Giants with an equal dose of both funky breaks and overwhelming talent, and you didn’t want to witness either of those things.

But it was a fake out.

The third fake direction was that of a heroic victory which would have allowed me to parade down the internet’s street talking about what a delight the grand ol’ sport of baseball is. How special the game is, how special the team is, how special some players are.

In the third inning, with a runner on, Darin Ruf — who has had some of the worst luck in baseball this season — launched one into the left field bleachers to make it a one-run game.

There was life! There was hope! And two innings later there was, once again, Ruf, and there was, once again, a home run to, once again, the left field bleachers.

The game was tied. I started crafting Ruf-centric headlines to celebrate his heroism in leading the team to victory. None of them were good, so that’s the silver lining of the Giants losing. Actually, one of them was good but only if the Giants lost, and then they lost in a manner that killed off the headline.

Such is the pained existence of a writer.

Anyway, Ruf had a multi-homer game and it looked like the Giants would win.

But it was a fake out.

The next fake direction was a return to the Padres winning in funky fashion. Not blowout fashion this time. Just funky.

Tyler Rogers came in to pitch the eighth inning of a tied game. He hit the first batter he saw, then got outs on a fly ball and a fielder’s choice.

With two outs and a 1-2 count to Jurickson Profar, Rogers looked ready to hand a tie back to the offense. And then Profar hit a ball 46.9 mph, which is a very fast speed if you’re running, but a very slow speed if you are a professional baseball player with a very hard wooden bat hitting a very hard baseball that has been thrown to you at a very fast speed. Rogers couldn’t handle the funkadelic slowmobile, and Profar was aboard with an infield single.

And then Wil Myers banged a double off the bricks, and the Padres led 6-4. They would win in aggravating, infuriating, funky as funk can be style.

But it was a fake out.

The final fake direction was that of a highly improbable win. They happen a time or three each season. They re-spark your love of this silly sport, and every time they happen they put you in a place where for three weeks you won’t turn off the game even if the Giants are trailing by seven runs in the ninth inning because you just don’t know.

The first two outs in the ninth inning came quietly. Joey Bart (who entered in the eighth for Casali, who was having “visual symptoms” after a foul tip) and Luis González both struck out, taking one ball between the two of them.

Down to their final out, Mike Yastrzemski snuck in an infield single. Ruf was pitched to like a guy who had already hit two home runs, and subsequently walked for the second time. Then Joc Pederson pinch hit for Evan Longoria and somehow turned an 0-2 count into a 4-2 count, loading the bases.

That brought up Wilmer Flores, against a righty. The Giants still had Brandon Belt on the bench, but kept running with Flores.

That tells us one of two things: either Belt is dealing with something, or the Giants don’t yet feel comfortable putting Tommy La Stella in the field, and thus couldn’t afford to remove someone capable of playing the left side of the infield.

I don’t like either of those options!

While I was still wondering about Belt, Flores fluffed a little fluffnugget of a droopy line drive just over the outstretched arms of Kim, and the Giants tied the game.

How fun it would be to write about this miraculous rally, I thought. How lucky we are that we’re getting one of those amazing come-from-behind wins that we’ll still be thinking about in September, you said.

But it was a fake out.

The final direction the game took us in was one of a very straightforward baseball game that happened to last one inning. Things reset for extras, and normalcy ensued. Machado hit an RBI double because he’s been the best position player in baseball this year. The Padres then scored him, because they’re a good team and good teams score runs.

The Giants got their Manfred Man home, but it wasn’t enough, and they lost 8-7.

You didn’t know where it was going until it got there.

And then once it got there, you didn’t care for it one bit.