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Giants remind you that playing good baseball can lead to wins

Thankfully, they reminded you because they were the ones doing it.

Alex Cobb throwing a pitch Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

When I was writing up the gamethread for today’s contest between the San Francisco Giants and Milwaukee Brewers, I was feeling optimistic. It was hard not to.

First I was looking at Alex Cobb’s stats. He’s having a delightful season — one that should merit All-Star consideration if he keeps it up. And he’s been especially brilliant in his last two appearances, shutting out the St. Louis Cardinals in a complete game, and then looking like he was pitching in a normal park at the ridiculous Mexico City elevation against the San Diego Padres.

And he was facing a Brewers lineup that ... look, the Brewers are a good team. There’s no way around that. But it’s not because of their offense. When I was writing the gamethread, I put in the OPS+ number for each player in each starting lineup.

For those new to OPS+, it measures offensive output and places it on a scale where 100 is league average. 110 is 110% as good as league average, 90 is 90% as good as league average, and so on and so forth.

Six of the Brewers starters had an OPS+ below 100. Five of them had an OPS+ below 90. On top of that, five of them were right-handed hitters.

On paper, it was a matchup that Cobb should have dominated. But baseball never really adds up like that, so I kept my thoughts to myself.

Except it did work out like that. It worked out exactly like that.

Cobb started the game in cruise control, and he stayed there until the fourth inning, when he encountered a pretty funny obstacle in the middle of the road.

After making a second throw to first base, one of the umpires forgot how to count and called for a third-throw infraction. Cobb and Gabe Kapler protested, the umpires met, and decided that it had only been the second throw, and it was longer an infraction.

Brief note: I have no idea if it was the second or third step off. The people covering the Giants seemed to have a different count than the people covering the Brewers. I’m taking the Giants angle. It’s funnier.

The Brewers didn’t like that, which led to the funniest moment of the season: Brewers manager Craig Counsell and bench coach Pat Murphy both in full-blown arguments with different umpires simultaneously. It was adorable.

Counsell was quickly tossed, and got his money’s worth in a delightful way.

All the while Cobb stood on the mound, arm growing cold, body growing tight. You wondered how he might respond to an unexpected delay that lasted a good five or so minutes.

Not well, at least initially. He finished the plate appearance with a walk, putting two runners on with no outs. It was danger time. And after getting two outs he allowed a single to load the bases, and the Brewers were one swing away from completely changing the game. We’ve seen that so many times this year with the Giants. It usually doesn’t go very well.

This time it went well. Cobb worked a ground ball that J.D. Davis put away beautifully — as he’s done time and time again this season — and his clean pitching line remained.

And with the road cleared, Cobb was able to find his cruise control button once more, and glide through the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings unscathed and virtually untouched. It was another masterful performance, and us expecting it doesn’t make it any less so.

Along the way the Giants gave him the support he needed. They struck first in the second inning on a two-out rally when Michael Conforto worked a brilliant walk, and emptied his gas tank to score on a double by Joey Bart.

The next runs came an inning later and a little bit more smoothly, when Thairo Estrada — probably in line for the first All-Star appearance of his career, fell behind 0-2 in the count only to rebound and hit a no-doubt two-run home run.

It felt like it would be enough, and it was. But why settle for enough when you can have great stories? So I present to you one of baseball’s greatest joys: the first career home run. This one courtesy of one Brett Wisely, who also played a stellar game at second base.

Now if you don’t like that, then you don’t like baseball.

Speaking of liking baseball, it always tortures you a little bit. That’s part of the allure. So after Taylor Rogers ripped through the eighth inning to send the Giants to the ninth with a 4-0 lead, John Brebbia came in.

Something was not right with Brebbia. He threw balls on 10 of his first 12 pitches, and eventually the training staff came to check in on him. He settled down for a strikeout, but then gave up an RBI single that brought the tying run to the plate.

In came Camilo Doval. With, again, the tying run at the plate.

That tying run was Tyrone Taylor, who sat on a Doval sinker and hit it 101.1 mph and 357 feet. It found Cal Stevenson’s glove in center field.

Then the tying run was Christian Yelich, who sat on a 1-1 slider and hit it 101.7 mph and 381 feet, enough to leave Wrigley Field had the game been there (which would have been very odd). It also found Cal Stevenson’s glove in center field.

Both cracks of the bat stopped your heart. But neither crack of the bat did anything but put another out on the board, securing a 4-1 win for the Giants.

It’s a four-game winning streak. It’s a second consecutive series win against a very good team. And now they get to go for the sweep.

Not a bad day at the office.

Happy birthday, Willie Mays.