Game 27 // Fifth Inning, S.F. // The Eating of the Words

TOP OF THE FIFTH: ROCKIES 17 (4) – 3 GIANTS

Less than a week ago, when this very same Giants team gave up 12 runs in a single inning:

I don’t think I’ll have to eat my words, I said, if I say this was this biggest inning we’ll see this year. And, by the end: Wow, I said, if that isn’t the biggest Big Inning I’ll ever see.

I’ll ever see. A week ago.

So as Redditor see_mohn so charmingly asks, Would you like those words broiled or fried?

Well, I guess, let’s do this thing. Go ahead and lather up those words with hot sauce and butter, dunk them in pride-swallowing shame, glaze them in the bitter marinade of foolish baseball prognosticators, put a cherry on top, sprinkles all over, a spread of icing written in cursive saying: I got got. Damn. 13 runs. One inning. Thirteen runs.

It’s a baker’s dozen, with Matt Cain laying egg after egg after egg, the ERA soaring and respect from NL hitters plummeting.

I don’t quite know how to sum up an inning like this, having busted out every metaphor I could think of for the last big huge inning:

“….like a rare comet streaking by unannounced—if you missed it, you wouldn’t believe it ever happened.”

“…the Gameday feed now reads like a a grocery-store receipt, spilling over itself in a big looping mess that would take years to read, with RBIs and runs and balls and strikes stacked up in an endless script…”

What can I add to that? Like a near-endless jam from an old Grateful Dead concert? A Leo Tolstoy novel? It was a Fruit-By-The-Foot roll of an inning, twisting and wrapping over and onto itself until I hardly could tell what sport I was watching.

Maybe this sums it up best (courtesy of Redditor TomK115)

I need some more time to recharge here—if the Giants give up 14 runs in an inning next week, I might explode. Either that or this website will fry, the text coming unglued and pixelated, the pictures cracking, sketches erasing themselves and melting into a big steaming pile of disbelief, muttering: How can innings get this big??

A little history:

According to Buster Olney, via the Elias Sports Bureau: “Giants became the 1st team in MLB history to allow 12-or-more runs in a single inning twice over a seven-game span.”

And the all-time record for runs in a single inning appears to be 18, by the Chicago White Sox (now Cubs), against the Detroit Wolverines, back in 1883. Second closest: 17 runs by the Red Sox (1953).

As for the game, it was yet another ugly one for Matt Cain. He’s up there on the mound with “Gigantes” stitched on the jersey, in favor of “Giants”—still an odd marketing ploy (I’m guessing for Spanish-language TV outreach), but to their credit, the best one I’ve seen (was always baffled by the NBA version, why it becomes “Los Bulls,” and not “Los Toros”…)

So Cain comes in tonight having slogged through April, looking to recover the form that brought out a perfect game just under four years ago.

And the Giants, despite a mediocre first month, we know they’ll be okay. It’s all set up for that odd-year championship magic again, having won the World Series in 2010, 2012, 2014, but missed the playoffs in between. Last year? Missed the playoffs. So here we are, in 2016, their fourth to-be magic year. Can’t question that math.

Trevor Story walks up now out of the on-deck circle, fresh off the best first month a rookie has had in a long while. The game’s 4-3, Rockies up one, and the floodgates are about one droplet of water away from bursting open.

On a 1-2 pitch from Cain, an outside slider, Story reaches out across his body and connects, the ball carrying to deep left-center field, and it’s gone—just over the 382-ft sign into the bleachers. Story’s 11th home run. Hitting a pitch like that is no fluke. Colorado got their Tulowitzki back, just eight years younger (and maybe even better?).

Now it’s Carlos Gonzalez, and soon this’ll become just a list, too absurdly long to narrate into anything. Floater down the left-field line, and the left-fielder bobbles it. Car-Go cruises into second.

Mound meeting. Cain stays in. The inning still in the normal-sized range.

Now, in trouble, he deals to Nolan Arenado, who’d already hit a home run in the 1st, as he fouls off a high fastball for a 1-2 count. Cain’s control is all over the place—not looking good.

But he strikes some luck as Arenado hits a ground-ball to short, a no-problem out, but… Brandon Crawford whips it low over to first base, in the dirt to Brandon Belt bouncing up and off the glove—the Brandon-to-Brandon connection foiled, with Arenado on first, Gonzalez now on third.

Gerardo Parra comes up, and hits a first-pitch single to center. 6-3. No outs. Two men on. Cain’s done, in comes the bullpen.

With the first post-Cain at-bat, we get another bad error: Reynolds hits a grounder to Tomlinson, and it hits off his wrist and dribbles into the outfield grass. Double play flipped into a nothing play, and a sure-fire way to start a—well the TV guy took the words out of my mouth:

“And now it’s set up for a big inning.”

Nothing more you can say other than, grab a front row seat for the biggest inning of the year. Or the week. At the very least, of this one day of baseball.

Tony Wolters hits a line drive to right, bouncing off the brick wall. Double. Hanging slider down the middle. Arenado and Parra score. 8-3.

Chris Rusin comes up, the pitcher. Finally, an out. Ground-ball to second.

But then it’s DJ LeMahieu. Single to right. Reynolds scores. 9-3

Charlie Blackmon: double to center. 10-3.

Trevor Story up (again). Single. 11-3. Still just one out.

Arenado up (again). Hit by pitch, right in the tricep. Starts jawing with Buster Posey, as he jogs to first. 12-3.

Parra up, again. Singles up the middle. Story and Gonzalez score. 14-3.

Mark Reynolds, again. Doubles to left. 15-3.

And finally, a pitching change, long-awaited by the home crowd. Derek Law in for Vin Mazzaro.

What can these fans even be thinking now? It’s long-surpassed anger, frustration and the gamut of negative emotions, into disbelief, awe, even humor. And now, finally, the last emotion to wriggle its way into the Giants’ fan consciousness: certainty—that no runs have scored, no Giants have imploded, no game has been played, none of this is real. That it’s all some sort of sick dream, as they pinch themselves back into the painful heartache of a nightmare come to life.

But then, finally, another out. Wolters with the strikeout. And the pitcher up next, Chris Rusin again, which should cap this thing at eleven runs. They’ll end it here. The first guy to make an out, and the last.

Chop off another sliver of words for me to eat.

Rusin singles to center. Parra scores. Reynolds scores. 17-3 Rockies.

Seventeen to three. Seventeen to three!

Then DJ LeMahieu grounds out, and the inning is over.

Just like that, back to normalcy, four-and-a-half more innings to play, one ninth of one game out of 162–just for a moment feeling like time and baseball logic had frozen.

Not sure how to wrap up an inning like this, given it its proper due. It’s a rare thing, like a no-hitter for the offensive side, all compressed between three outs and a double rotation around the order. Sometimes the greatest ones are best left alone, transcendent, in the realm of the spooky, tucked away in some drawer of forgettable moments for one set of fans, up on a pedestal of eternal innings for the others.

No promises that we won’t see another inning like that. 15 runs another week from now? Don’t want my stomach to burst. Last week’s words still lodged in mid-digestion.

[More reading on this game, from Fangraphs]

 

 

Previously:

3rd Inning: NYM vs. SFG

3rd Inning: COL vs. ARZ

8th Inning: SFG vs. LAD

6th Inning: LAD vs. MIA

5th Inning: HOU vs. BOS

3rd Inning: WSH vs. ATL

7th Inning: BAL vs. BOS

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