Giants week in review: Comebacks, doinks and dingers


The Giants have had better weeks in franchise history. They’ve had undefeated weeks, championship weeks, record-setting weeks, et cetera, et cetera. But I’m not sure if they’ve had more improbably entertaining weeks than last week. It was the kind of week that other languages probably have a word for, but English is lacking. Improbletaining doesn’t cut it. Just know that it was a very, very fun week.

Because of the holiday, there’s an extra day and an extra win stuffed into this recap, too. This is an eight-day recap, which opens us all up to some serious controversy, so let’s just dive in.

The Ballad of the Forgotten Doink

The Giants trailed in the eighth inning of four straight road games, and they won all four. They were the kind of wins that make a Sarah Langs-shaped beacon appear in the night sky, and she absolutely did not disappoint. While we covered the improbabilities of a streak like this after Friday night’s incredible win, the Giants went out and had another improbable comeback, so the math needs to be updated.

Here are the lowest win expectancies for the Giants during their four-game streak of comeback nonsense:

• 5/22 — 4%
• 5/23 — 3%
• 5/24 — 3%
• 5/25 — 15%

Multiply them together, and you get 0.00054 percent. That’s roughly the same percentage of billionaires in the general U.S. population, which means that the odds of the Giants winning all those games in a row is similar to the odds that you, the person reading this, is a billionaire. If that’s the case, note that the odds are much higher that you, the person reading this, will give me a large sum of cash as a “thank you” or an “attaboy” just because you feel like it. That’s just math.

If you want to get even funkier, tack on the comebacks from the Giants’ opponents that bookended the winning streak. By the numbers, the Pirates’ comeback was the most unlikely of them all, as they were down by four runs with one out and nobody on in the ninth inning, which gave them a one-percent win expectancy. The Mets still had a 6 percent win expectancy when they came back against Tyler Rogers, so now we have .01*.04*.03*.03*.15*.06, which gives us a .000000324 percent chance that the winning teams collectively had in those six games. That’s, let’s see, the same odds that U.S. currency will be returned to the Treasury because of defects. I’m struggling to find interesting comparisons now, but that’s kind of the point. These numbers are so silly that they just don’t come up very often.

However, throughout all of this madness, there was one play that got stuck in my head like an ABBA song. It wasn’t Matt Chapman’s game-saving defensive play, and it wasn’t the other Matt Chapman game-saving defensive play. It wasn’t LaMonte Wade Jr.’s game-tying single or Luis Matos’ stolen base. It was the humble doink.

I used the video from the Mets’ telecast because the grumbling is both justified and funny, but if you haven’t seen the call from Dave Flemming and Javier López, it’s outstanding. And while I can get too hyperbolic about this stuff, the reason this play got stuck in my head is because it’s a perfect example of why baseball is the most fascinating sport. While it’s possible for an NBA shooter to bank a 40-foot three-pointer unintentionally, and it’s possible for an NFL player to fumble the ball to a teammate, who runs in for an unlikely score, baseball is the sport where this stuff is baked in. Yastrzemski’s hit was extremely improbable, but at the same time, the potential for nonsense in baseball is always extremely likely. It’s similar to how the order of every shuffle of a 52-card deck has probably never happened in human history, but the odds that the cards were going to get shuffled at all were always 1:1.

The odds of a major-league hitter getting fooled that badly aren’t that high, especially if he’s slumping. But then multiply them by the odds of being fooled that badly but still making enough contact to put it in play. Then the odds of keeping it fair, along with the odds that it’s not hit hard enough to get to an infielder faster. Then there are the odds of Abner Doubleday personally decreeing that bases shall be three to five inches high only seconds before he led the second infantry into the Battle of Gettysburg. It all adds up.

Every silly baseball play is unlikely. Every foul ball is unlikely. You’re only here because one lobe-finned fish was attracted to another lobe-finned fish 450 million years ago. None of this makes sense, but it all makes perfect sense, man. (You can consider this an unintentional homage to the great Bill Walton.)

Without this doink, the Giants don’t win the game, and maybe they’re pressing a little harder in the subsequent games. Maybe they’re still in the grasp of a seven-game losing streak.

Respect the humble doink. Even if you hate them. Like this guy.

We’ve all been there, buddy.

Leftist infighting

In Thursday’s game, Brett Wisely was facing Aroldis Chapman with two outs and the go-ahead run on third base. Wisely got behind in the count, 0-2. He still got the go-ahead run home with a single.

Would you like to guess how many left-handed batters have gotten a hit off Chapman in an 0-2 count during his 15-season career? Go on, guess.

Wisely was the eighth, and his hit was the only one that drove in a run. While I get that this isn’t Chapman in his prime, it was still a supremely unlikely outcome. Other left-handers in the club include Michael Conforto, Norichika Aoki and Stephen Vogt. It’s good company.

It also gives me an excuse to include a video of one of my all-time favorite Giants moments (non-championship division):

Here’s another video of that triple, this one recorded from the stands. Before watching it, I never realized that the water-cannon operator had the leeway to say, “I know it’s not a homer, but screw it, that ruled” before mashing the water-cannon button. That hero should always have the discretion to make that decision.

The Prettiest Home Run of the Week™

I’ve done weekly recaps like these in the past, and I’ve fallen into a trap of adding different segments, then adding more. Suddenly, I have a long checklist of topics to cover, and I have to come up with Fozzie Bear jokes for all of them. It’s exhausting, and I promised myself that I wouldn’t do it for these.

This one should be an easy lift, though. Watch all of the Giants homers for a week, then pick the one that’s the most aesthetically pleasing. They can come when the Giants are down by 17 runs, or they can be walk-off homers. All we’re looking for is the prettiest home run. The one you know is gone as soon as it leaves the bat and has a satisfying, parabolic journey to its destination.

The inaugural winner of the PHRW just happens to be the best-timed and most exciting homer the Giants have had in years:

At first, I thought it hit the same metal awning that Conor Gillaspie hit in 2016, but Bailey’s homer was even farther out into right-center. This is probably the last time Gillaspie gets mentioned in this, but you never know.

It’s simply a beautiful home run. It’s a batter waiting for one spot, one speed and doing exactly what he was trying to do. You watch hours and hours of baseball every week, if not every day, because there’s an implicit promise that you’ll get to see a homer like that.

More amazing than a grand slam, down by three, that sails deep over the visitor’s bullpen? Bailey’s homer led to a trifecta of face-reaction artistry.

We have the perfect pitcher face:

The perfect manager face:

And, finally, the perfect fan face:

Patrick Bailey’s grand slam contained multitudes, and we’re all better because of it. Except for that kid. And the manager of the Mets. And the pitcher, who looks like he’s about to tell his head chef that he accidentally left 30 pounds of halibut in the parking lot instead of putting it in the walk-in, like he was supposed to.

The rest of us, though? We’re all better.

* I’m on vacation next Sunday/Monday, so it’ll be two weeks until the next installment. If the games are as good next week as they were last week, though, I’ll cancel the vacation.

(Photo of Bailey after the grand slam: Luke Hales / Getty Images)



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