There's no such thing as a must-win game in the middle of September. But there are games that feel like must-win games. And, sitting in the press box at Willie Mays Park Wednesday night -- and by the way, the press box here must be as close to the fans as any press box in modern baseball history -- this one did feel pretty important.
When I was younger and more skeptical and someone would refer to one game resulting in a "two-game swing," I couldn't understand it. "How can one game be two games? That's not mathematically correct!"
Eventually, I got it. For any skeptics out there, here's a real-world example: If the Giants could beat the Rockies Wednesday night, the Giants would have trailed the Rockies in the wild-card standings by just one-and-a-half games, which is sort of the standings equivalent of a bloop-and-a-blast; it can happen in the blink of an eye. But if the Giants were beaten by the Rockies, and they would trail by three-and-a-half games.
This is what it comes down to, then: Can you beat journeyman Jorge de la Rosa with your No. 2 starter on the mound? If you can, your postseason chances still burn brightly. If you can't ... well, in the Hierarchy of Horribles, being three-and-a-half games behind with two-and-a-half weeks left doesn't top the list.
But then you look at the schedule, and you see that among the Giants' 16 remaining games, 10 will be road games (including three in the decidedly enemy territory of Los Angeles). And you see that among the Rockies' 15 remaining games, nine will be home games. And you see that the Giants won't have another head-to-head shot against the Rockies this season. And you realize that while the Giants didn't have to win Wednesday night ...
Well, in the Hierarchy of Horribles, if you're a Giants fan, losing to Jorge de la Rosa -- being practically shut out by Jorge de la Rosa, then coming oh so close in the ninth inning -- and having to play that schedule, and having a lineup full of struggling hitters ... well, that's gotta be pretty close to the top.
Then again, I don't know that anyone on the Peninsula has any cause for complaint -- Jorge de la Rosa or no Jorge de la Rosa. The Giants are 13th in the league in scoring, and you might recall that six months ago, they weren't given even the slightest chance to be playing for anything but third place right around now. Unless your favorite team is the Yankees or the Red Sox, all you can really hope for, each season, is that your team is still playing games that mean something, right around now. That your team's games must be seen or heard, because each pitch quickens your pulse.
And the Giants' games will still do that, for at least a few more days. Catching the Rockies might now rank somewhere on your Hierarchy of Impossibles. But it's not at the top. Not yet.