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Double-double with cheese (and walks)

The Giants had 8 doubles and 11 walks as they beat the Rockies.

Joc Pederson running around second base Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The table was set for the San Francisco Giants as they headed to Coors Field to face the Colorado Rockies for the first time this year.

Joc Pederson, their fourth-best hitter by wRC+, was returning from the Injured List. Thairo Estrada, their fifth-best hitter by wRC+, was also returning from the Injured List. Michael Conforto, their sixth-best hitter by wRC+, was back in the lineup after a heel injury mostly sidelined him for the last week.

And they were up against a pitcher, Dinelson Lamet, who entered the game with a 13.17 ERA.

This goes one of two ways. It always goes one of two ways. You know the two ways it always goes.

The first way is what the math says should happen more often than not: they score a whole bunch of runs, because they’re adding good hitters and facing a bad pitcher.

The second way is what your heart says does happen more often than not: they get shut down because baseball is a baby bird of silliness wrapped in a David Bowie themed beach towel being hand fed caviar.

The first inning left us entirely in the dark as to which outcome we would witness. LaMonte Wade Jr. doubled on the first pitch of the game, which was a positive data point. Estrada struck out in his first at-bat since May 25, which was a negative data point. Pederson drew a walk in his first at-bat since May 12, which was a positive data point. J.D. Davis hit a comebacker that looked like a double play, which was a negative data point. Lamet bobbled it, didn’t try for a double play, and then made an awful throw to first, which was a positive data point. Nolan Jones saved the error at first, and then Conforto struck out looking at what should have been ball four, which was a negative data point.

We left the inning as confused as we started it.

But I’ll be honest. I’d spent the whole warm up to the game thinking about that angle: the Giants offense facing a struggling pitcher while getting a burst of energy by swapping the .547 OPS of Brett Wisely and .502 OPS of Bryce Johnson for the .844, .811, and .807 marks of Pederson, Estrada, and Conforto, respectively. I’d kind of forgotten about the other side of the coin, perhaps because the Rockies sported the second-lowest wRC+ in the Majors entering the game.

John Brebbia was the opener, and he threatened to remind me of my negligence. He got the first out, then promptly loaded the bases. He missed the strike zone on three straight pitches, falling behind Randal Grichuk 3-0. Here we go I thought, you thought, we all thought.

Then Grichuk placed a bullet right into Davis’ glove, Jones flew out, and each team breathed a sigh of relief. In a ballpark where runs are incubated 25 hours a day, the Giants and Rockies had combined to strand five runners in the first inning alone, with nary a run on the board.

It briefly looked like more frustration to begin the second, as Mitch Haniger grounded out and Mike Yastrzemski got caught looking at the same strike three masquerading as a pitch three inches above the zone that got Conforto. But the two-out magic inspired the Giants. Patrick Bailey, getting his first taste of Coors (the field, not the beer, I’m sure he’s thrown back a few banquets in his day), ripped a double, and Brandon Crawford follow suit.

One run.

Wade drew a walk and Estrada singled.

Two runs.

But after what had happened in the bottom of the first, you needed confirmation that the Giants could have a smooth defensive inning before a lead felt like a lead. And Ryan Walker, who has most definitely graduated from a thing to A Thing set down the side in order with two strikeouts.

Things were looking good.

It was more two-out magic in the third. The Giants were making Lamet work, with seemingly every count going full. Haniger had a one-out double, and the big hit came when Bailey again stepped in the box with two outs, this time lacing an RBI triple, the first of his career.

Lamet would get through the inning but his night was over. He’d needed 83 pitches to get nine outs.

At long last, the frustration we all feared rose up in the fourth. The Giants managed to not score in the inning, despite having a double and drawing three walks (Wade was thrown out trying to take second on an errant throw to first). And the Rockies scored in the bottom half of the inning, aided by a Grichuk triple that bounced off the wall at an angle not mathematically possible, and a play at the plate that may have been overturned had the Giants not used their challenge trying to contest the aforementioned Wade out.

Despite the fact that the Giants had forced Colorado to throw 118 pitches through four innings, and despite the fact that they seemed to be dominating, it was just a 3-1 lead.

And then the happy days arrived. Yastrzemski led off the fifth with a walk, and Bailey followed it up with another double, missing a home run — and the three toughest legs of the cycle — by a mere foot.

Poor Bailey. You grow up your whole life watching MLB games at Coors Field and dreaming of getting to be a hitter there, where home runs are offered up as giveaways to the first 10,000 fans. And then, in consecutive at-bats, you hit balls that would have been home runs in 26 and 25 ballparks, respectively, per Statcast, only to see them bang off the wall. Tough one.

But the Giants had runners at second and third with no outs, and a big inning in sight, even if Hunter Pence made the broadcasting mistake of pointing out that Crawford always brings the run home in this situation.

You can guess that Crawford did not bring the run home.

But good teams pick each other up, and Wade knocked in both runners with a single. Two more singles — one each by Pederson and Conforto — sandwiched a double by Davis, and all of a sudden the game was 8-1. It was a well and happy time.

From there on, the Giants cruised. By the seventh inning they had hit their eighth double of the game, their most this season, and a total that tied their single game record in the San Francisco era.

When Wade, Estrada, and Wilmer Flores walked consecutively to lead off the ninth, and Haniger drew a two-out walk to score a run, the Giants were left with 11 walks to pair with their eight doubles. It was just the 11th time since 2000 that they had drawn 11 walks in a game.

The Rockies tacked on runs against Sean Manaea, who was much better than the box score would indicate, but the game was never close after that fateful fifth inning. The Giants looked like a good team, which it’s starting to seem like they might be. The Rockies looked like a bad team playing in an acid dream ballpark, which they must surely are.

The final score was 10-4, resulting in just the second time that the Giants had scored 10 or more runs at Coors Field without a home run, but that’s what the ballpark has become: a place for many hits, and not so many home runs. Not only was Bailey robbed with his two long hits, but Davis’ double would have been out in 24 parks, an Estrada double would have been out in 19, and Haniger’s would have left the park in 12.

A game that had no home runs for either team at Coors Field would have had five at Oracle Park. Imagine that.

It was a day to remember for Bailey, who became the first Giant with a triple and multiple doubles in a game since Crawford five years ago. It was a day to remember for Wade, who finished 3-3 with a double and three walks, and is second in the Majors in on-base percentage. And it was a day to remember for fans, who heard a hot mic pick up someone saying “he said he just took a shit,” which drew enough of a giggle from Dave Flemming to confirm what you thought you heard, but not enough to draw attention to it.

It was just a good day, I guess.