Aug. 27, 2011
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Well, I guess we know what happens now. Duane Kuiper finds some exotic animal doing something silly or menacing to compare Eric Surkamp to, say, like a three-beaked eye-pecking hawk, and before you know it, hes getting topiaries mailed to him by crazed Chia-fans and the Giants are rushing three-beaked eye-pecking hawk paraphernalia into production.
Hey, what would you rather have Ted Robinson at the 49ers games pitching the stuffed red-tufted Three-And-Out?
No, Surkamps harrowing but successful six-inning debut as a Giant pitcher, in which he gave up one run, six hits, several hard outs and made the backstop cry with his second pitch as a major leaguer makes him an immediate folk hero at Third y King, and immediate folk heroes get animals and hats.
And lousy run support.
The Giants gave him one, in the first, and finished with two, the other coming in the 10th, in a 2-1 win over the Houston Astros. The unlikely combination of Mark DeRosa (single, stolen base) and Jeff Keppinger (single) kept the Giants within one good weekend of catching the Arizona Diamondbacks, who beat San Diego, 3-1.
RECAP: Keppinger delivers in 10th, Giants beat Astros
We will now pause a moment while we let you imagine what three runs would feel like.
There. All tingly and envious?
Now wed like nothing better than to bore you with another heart-rending tale of a Giant pitcher forced to live off starvation rations I mean, we could change a few names on old stories and turn them in as new but even we dont have the nerve to cheat the boss that much.
Not all the time, anyway.
But this is how pitchers outings go here the Giants get good starts, no hits, and the lack of fun never ends.
The key to Surkamps further development, though, lies not in the marketing department prodding Kuiper into a quasi-impromptu zoological reference (He looks like a Senegalese vampire bat out there) and then spinning it into one-size-fits-all hats, but in keeping him away from the other starters when they gather for their secret meetings.
You know, the ones where they mutter to each other about how none of them have seen a three-run lead since Easter.
And you know they happen. The rotation has been good at biting its tongue when the topic is raised by some enterprising some snoop with a tape recorder and 22 inches or three minutes to fill, but to themselves, in the privacy of their metaphorical treehouse, they bitch a blue streak about the Wiffle Ball league theyre in.
They have to. Theyre not stupid. Theyre good teammates and all for not bringing it up to their fellows, but the straight ones and fat zeros they have been subsisting on all summer long have made them lean, mean and hungry.
And at some point, maybe soon, maybe late, maybe next spring, one of them is going to snap. And when one goes, theyll all go. Not because they mean to be hurtful or because they are inherently CYA types; were that so, theyd have done it well before now.
But it could happen because the stress of silence will finally give way to a torrent of profane recriminations and If I wanted to pitch in 1916, I would have asked my great-great-grandparents to have me instead.
As day dawns, the Giants have three of the seven pitchers with the lowest run support in the game (BumgarnerCainLincecum), and Ryan Vogelsong is 84th of 101 among qualified starters. And with Surkamps performance, even though he doesnt obviously qualify, he would be tied for 246th.
But he did what needed to be done against the games worst team. He kept the Astros in the ballpark, didnt let his occasional high fastball become a real problem, or let the four doubles he allowed turn into a bloodletting. He challenged enough of his nervousness into a strong debut, and a place in Giant folklore.
That means a nickname, and well guess that Kuiper will go marsupial for a change here, and gifts that turn into a fan fetish that turn into gift shop shmata, all within days.
And Eric Surkamp will be a full-blooded Giant. Almost. Hell be full-blooded when the other pitchers let him into their meetings and talk about the latest zero-to-minus-one loss one of them endured. He hasnt known that pain yet.
But he will. They all do, eventually.