Baseball makes an ass out of you.
It's a truism of the sport that teams are neither as bad as they look when they're stumbling around and getting beat nor as good as they look when they're rolling. And so it is with fans: When our team's bad, we can't imagine they'll ever be good, and yet a good week leaves us to blissfully forget all that's come before.
So it was that I managed to snooze through the last two innings of the Mets' rather convincing 5-0 defeat of the Giants. Though it should be said that the Giants hadn't given me much reason to fret. What we've been for long stretches since last Memorial Day, and could easily become again, is a mediocre team whose whole is somehow less than the some of its parts. That's frustrating, as we've chronicled in at least 100,000 words or so. But based on the evidence of the last two nights, the Giants would love to have such problems. They're plain bad, in an Is There a Plan Here? way. (You can leave nasty comments for me after they pound us in 12 hours or so.) Yes, Johan Santana was good — heck, he was very good. But the Giants helped by turning in limp at-bat after limp at-bat against Johan and three relievers, never looking like they were particularly interested in the task before them.
It was much discussed last night, but what on earth was Randy Winn doing in the fifth inning? Ray Durham had just worked out a walk despite possibly being in danger of drowning, because he knew it was in the Giants' interest to have the umps call for the tarp before the game was official. Durham probably didn't know that the monsoon pounding Shea was due to roll through in another 20 minutes, so he sensibly figured that if he could just prolong things long enough, the umps would put the fricking tarp on already and maybe the game would be washed away. (And if the umps knew the storm was going to roll through, I'd argue they showed too much deference to Santana. Not that I mind.) So Durham rather gamely watched Santana try to throw strikes (and remember a fastball could easily have slipped and approached his head at high speed in blinding rain) and wound up on first, to the almost-visible annoyance of Gerry Davis. So what does Winn do after watching this display of veteran savvy and baseball selflessness?
He swings at the first pitch.
Was Randy Winn the tying run? No. Is Randy Winn a veteran who should know better? Yes. Does Bruce Bochy need to go to Costco for comically oversized tubs of antacids? I'd imagine.
The Giants have pitching, Lord knows. Jonathan Sanchez made only one bad pitch all night, though why he made it to Ramon Castro with two out and Santana on deck is beyond me. And Tim Lincecum is wonderful to watch even on a bad night: His arms and legs come at the batter like sabres, a motion miraculously left alone by a succession of pitching coaches, and his thunderbolt fastball and CGI curve are even more dazzling considering he looks like the office intern whom everyone suspects disappears to huff printer toner.
But with their offense seemingly eager to ponder the joys of room service and a veteran like Winn making you wonder if he was watching the same game everybody else was, you have to feel for the likes of Sanchez and Lincecum and Matt Cain. By the looks of things, they're going to be fairly calloused up by the time help arrives.