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The Grass Is Sometimes Browner on the Other Side

Can we play the Giants for the rest of the year?

Let’s be clear about something: the Mets’ three-game sweep of San Francisco doesn’t mean they’re suddenly good. They’re just better than the Giants, for whom “can’t get out of their own way” would be a kind assessment. The Giants are having a once-in-several-generations cratering of a season, one that will be recalled with a snort, shrug or shudder in decades’ worth of broadcasts, season previews and blog posts. This is their summer [1] of Roberto Alomar [2] and Jason Phillips [3], the one that seems to take several years and then lingers maddeningly and eternally, like a dead thing under the house.

Still, that’s not to say Sunday afternoon’s game [4] was worthy only of pity. Two performances stood out: those of Rafael Montero [5] and Rene Rivera [6].

Theirs was the perfect pairing: the talented pitcher who can’t ever seem to get his head on straight and the pitcher whisperer who’s seen plenty of such problems. Montero has seemingly had about a billion chances, living through multiple exiles to various minor leagues and all but being branded soft and dishonest by his own employer, yet he won’t turn 27 until the offseason. Like Wilmer Flores [7], he’s been around so long that it’s easy to forget how young he still is, and to realize how much growing up in public he’s had to do.

Montero still wasn’t great — he was inefficient and occasionally lapsed into his trademark timidity, trying to gnaw at the edges of the strike zone instead of trusting pitches that are good enough to get big-league hitters out. But he was more than good enough, with 104 pitches carrying him nearly through six innings.

Rivera should get some of the credit — his value as a coaxer and cajoler of spooked hurlers has been apparent for some time. That’s a subtle thing, but there was no missing the two home runs he crashed over the fence, part of an unexpected offensive awakening that ought to be very good for Rivera’s future job prospects, as it’s likely that Travis d’Arnaud [8] currently has his leg trapped in a Miami baggage-claim conveyer belt, has been pecked bloody by a maddened macaw, or suffered some injury even less likely than those two.

Points also go to Jay Bruce [9] and Curtis Granderson [10], who get extra credit for not only contributing to a win but also making themselves look yet more attractive to some playoff-bound club. Granderson starts every spring looking like he’s overdue for the knacker’s yard but then suddenly plays like he’s two decades younger when actual summer arrives, an unlikely trick he keeps managing to pull off.

And points to Chase Bradford [11] for becoming the 1,032nd player in team history instead of getting slotted into limbo as the prospective 10th Met ghost and third with no debut for anyone else. (If you think I’m overreacting to the latter peril, well, I’m sure Billy Cotton and Terrel Hansen thought they’d get another call-up too.) That’s a fate that would make even a 2017 Giant blanch.