For the Giants, winning requires losing


For the Giants, winning requires losing

The Giants first seventh game in 50 years wasnt a game at all, but a high-speed parade with bits of debris stuck in the grill work. It was also a tribute to Indonesia during the monsoons, but that was just something for the tourists and the TV folks.And something to scare Giants trainer Dave Groeschner.Im out there scared to death about the mound, that one of our pitchers is going to slip and hurt his arm or something, he said. But I knew the umpires werent going to stop it, and besides, why would we do anything easy?Well, there is that. Even in the final few flooded moments of their 9-0 victory over St. Louis and the propulsion into their second World Series in three years, they couldnt back in. They had to do a little more stunt work first.Hunter Pence hit a three-run double up the middle, three times in one swing. Marco Scutaro sno-coned the final popup. Matt Cain struggled with the strike zone before subduing it, with an RBI single as an exclamation point. And on and on and on into that sodden happy night.BAGGARLY: The Giants win the pennantAnd in 43 hours, they would have to do it all again, and even weirder, against the Detroit Tigers. They do so soaking wet and scorching hot. Comfortable and balancing on a hot knife-edge. And looking for one more way to scare themselves to death, as they have all year.The Giants have embraced this postseason while wearing a damp dynamite overcoat.They didnt overcome adversity as much as they kicked it in the throat. They didnt overcome the threat of elimination as much as they wore it like a shiny orange fez.The Giants, in short, are the 2010 team, only with a death-cheaters swagger they couldnt even pretend to attempt two years ago.And to play this out to the end, they will require one demonstration of proof against the Tigers. After winning their sixth elimination game in 13 days, winning the World Series apparently will require that they lose the first two games of the series.And no, this isnt the third bottle of Tractor Shed Red talking, or the lead paint inhalation problem acting up. This is now what they do.In laying out the Cardinals in such perfectly bizarre fashion, the Giants have made claim to the elimination game as their chosen idiom. With the dark hand of Uncle Death ready to clutch their very throats (or something like that), they outscored the Cardinals, 20-1. And in defying logic, they have refashioned it for themselves.So now you see how the Series has to play out for them to get maximum value. They have to lose Game 1 to Justin Verlander in a 60-mph wind, and Game 2 to Max Scherzer in an unplayable fog. And both games must feature systematically starved seagulls who view the players as grub on the hoof.RELATED: VERLANDER STATSIt isnt the only way to win the Series, and by most analytics it is a stupid way to do it. But it is the way the Giants seem to like it best these days. Its like when we won (Game 5) in St. Louis (behind Zito), Scutaro said while cradling his LCS MVP trophy. It just seemed like the ball started bouncing our way.And when Game 7 came along, the Giants had their best pitcher, the redoubtable Cain.Hey, hes the guy Id want out there, Game 6 winner Ryan Vogelsong said. I think it started with Barry, but it ended with the right guy.Tales will be told of the extraordinary alchemy Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean affected to make this team . . . well, this team. Brian Wilson became Santiago Casilla who became Sergio Romo, the guy who ended it. Tim Lincecum became Vogelsong. Freddy Sanchez became Ryan Theriot who became Scutaro. Carlos Beltran became Melky Cabrera who became Pence. Orlando Cabrera became Brandon Crawford. Madison Bumgarner became Zito. Pablo Sandoval became a much better Sandoval. Brandon Belt, who homered the last run of the series over the steam cannons in right, became a more reliable Brandon Belt.And Cain pretty much stayed the same.Not all these changes worked out ideally, but the Giants arent an ideal team. They have flaws. They are, however, indigestible. The more you tenderize them, the tougher they are to swallow.This strangely zen approach to the task of winning baseball games makes them hard to figure in the Series, even against a Detroit team that had the seventh best record in the American League. And to be sure, this is Detroit team with its own advantages. Verlander comes about as close as a pitcher can come these days to putting the other team two games in the hole. He beat Oakland twice, crushed New York in Game 3 of the ALCS sweep, and is aligned to start Game 1 against the Unsinkable Molly Brown . . . err, Zito.SPOTLIGHT: The Detroit Tigers
So assuming Verlander is Verlander, and as such the best pitcher the Giants have faced since The Disappearing Steven Strasburg subdued them August 15, the Giants may well have to figure out how to win four out of the other five games to reprise their World Series of two years ago.And if that seems unduly pessimistic at a time like this, you may blame them. They choreographed their postseason for maximum shock value. They juggle cleavers. They saw themselves in half. They scare the audience without scaring themselves. They wait until only the foolhardy proceed, and then they break into a dead sprint. This is what they do now. This is who they are.The conditions be damned.

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Practically speaking, the 50th loss is no different than the one before or the one after, but this sport is built on milestones, and this one came quickly.

The Giants lost their 50th game on August 12 last year. This season, it was clinched when Ryder Jones grounded out in his fourth career at-bat, handing the Mets a 5-2 win on June 24. 

Bruce Bochy called losing 50 of your first 77 games "hard to believe" and "embarrassing." Johnny Cueto, who went seven strong, said the reality was "hard and sad." Brandon Belt, who got Cueto off the hook for a loss, agreed with his manager.

"That's a pretty good word to use -- it is embarrassing to come out and lose every day, especially with the group of guys we have," Belt said. "When you're losing as much as this, it is embarrassing. We're trying to do whatever we can to turn this thing around."

Lately, that has meant changes to the roster. It is officially audition season, and in that respect, it was not a particularly inspiring day for the bullpen. The Giants felt they would have a better mix this year, but it hasn't played out. Instead, they're once again trying to find pieces for the next successful Giants bullpen.

With Hunter Strickland suspended and Derek Law in the minors, two young relievers, a middle-innings stalwart, and a newcomer pitched the final two frames. They gave up four runs.

Sam Dyson was the first on the mound in the eighth. Belt had homered a few minutes earlier, tying a good starter's duel. Dyson gave up a leadoff triple to Curtis Granderson and walked Asdrubal Cabrera before throwing two good sliders past Yoenis Cespedes for the strikeout. With two lefties coming up and the go-ahead run still on third, Bochy turned to Steven Okert. He immediately gave up a seeing-eye RBI single to Jay Bruce. Wilmer Flores doubled off George Kontos later in the frame to make it 3-1. 

In the ninth, Kyle Crick showed some of the wildness that kept him in the minors for seven years. He, too, gave up a leadoff triple, a sin you always pay for. A walk helped put another run into scoring position and a wild pitch extended the Mets’ lead to four. 

Before the game, Bochy talked of getting an extended look at Jones. He was 0-for-4 in his first big league game but he’ll be back out there tomorrow. It’s time to fight for a job, and the same holds true of some relievers who didn’t fare well Saturday. It is a group with a closer locked into a longterm deal and little else decided. 

Are Strickland or Law eighth-inning guys? Will Dyson be a worthwhile reclamation project? Will Kontos be back, and will he carve out a different role? Are Okert and Josh Osich capable of giving Bochy lefties he trusts? Is Crick’s improvement in Triple-A a sign of things to come? There are many questions to be answered over the next three months. 

“This is a good time for them, this is what players get up here for, to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “Because of our situation, we’re going to take a look at these guys and we know there are going to be growing pains.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season


SAN FRANCISCO — The promotion of an intriguing prospect can bring a certain buzz to the ballpark. It didn’t last long. 

The debut of Ryder Jones came in the latest flat performance from the Giants, who collapsed late and fell 5-2 to the Mets. The loss was their 50th of the season. They did not lose their 50th game last season until August 12. 

With the score tied in the eighth, Curtis Granderson crushed a leadoff triple into the alley. Sam Dyson walked the next batter and then whiffed Yoenis Cespedes, but Jay Bruce greeted Steven Okert with an RBI single to right. It kept going poorly from there. 

Here are five things to know from a cool day by the water … 

—- Jones grounded out to second in his first at-bat and then flied out to center, grounded out to first, and grounded out to second. He had one chance in the field, starting a double play that ended the second inning.  

—- Johnny Cueto seems to have turned a corner. Over his past two starts, he has allowed just three earned runs over 14 innings. Whether they trade him or not, the Giants certainly could use a nice little hot streak for the next six weeks. 

—- A few seconds after Bruce Bochy shook Cueto’s hand, Brandon Belt got him off the hook for a loss. He hit the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh into the seats in left-center, tying the game. The homer was Belt’s 14th. He’s on pace for 29. 

—- The Mets got eight one-run innings out of Jacob deGrom, who is quietly the most reliable of a star-studded rotation. He struck out seven and gave up just four hits. 

—- If Madison Bumgarner wants another Silver Slugger Award, he’ll have to chase down deGrom, who hit a homer in his last start. His single in the third was his 10th hit, and he finished the day with a .294 average.