Sunday, October 31, 2010

Game 4 Observations

While all his friends went Trick or Treating tonight, 21 year old Madison Bumgarner pitched a three-hit shutout in the World Series against the great Texas Rangers bats.  That's two shutouts now against this team. 

The Giants had a phenomenal defensive performance behind Bumgarner to bolster the win.  But the great glove work started out with Hamilton's diving catch to save the Giants from scoring first.  The G-Men turned several double plays, and Cody Ross came close to matching Hamilton's feat later in the game with a sliding catch of his own.  Rook Buster Posey gunned down Hamilton in a seemingly sure steal attempt.  But the play that sticks out is Freddie Sanchez's robbery of a line drive.  Hit over his head, he went high up, landed into a backward somersault, and came up with a sno-cone snag.

The Giants provided all the offense in the game in a blowout.  Blowout?  Yes, four runs scored by this team is a blowout.  Huff's two run bomb, Torres' bouncer off the top of the fence that bounced back into the yard (yes, Ian, he did it too), and Posey's blast added up to an insurmountable lead.  Bumgarner was iffy in the 7th, but Bochy left him in for the 8th to face the bottom of the order.  The Beard slammed the door shut in the 9th with a 1-2-3 inning.

Final - San Francisco 4, Texas 0
Los Gigantes surge to a 3-1 series lead

Game 3 Observations

As much as Johnathan Sanchez struggled, the difference in this game was one bad pitch by Sanchez.  One pitch.  Cruz led off the second with a double, but Sanchez pulled it together the next two batters.  Molina was hot, so walking him wasn't a bad outcome if Sanchez were pitching around him.  Moreland had a very good at bat, and Sanchez battled back.  Moreland slammed the pitch he needed to, deep into the bleachers.  This is what a good hitter does.  He hits the one pitch he needs to all game long, and that's all it takes at the major league level to win a game.

On the other hand, the Giants have been doing all year long just what Moreland did in game 3, and it has been written off as luck.  Could I get away with labeling this Texas Rangers World Series home run as luck?  Not a chance.  Anyway, the Giants showed signs of getting to the Rangers pitching late in the game, but it was too little, too late.  Feliz came in and blew the Giants away in the ninth.  The key to the rest of the Series is for the Giants to keep this kid on the bench.  The Giants didn't play all that bad, and the Ranger bats showed us what they were capable of doing.  Josh Hamilton finally showed up in this series with a solo shot to give the Rangers an insurance run. 

Final - Texas 4, San Francisco 2.
Texas cuts San Fran Series lead to 2-1.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Game 2 Observations

Okay, another torture game, but only 7 1/2 innings worth.  Matt Cain was simply Matt Cain.  Zero runs in the post-season.  CJ Wilson tossed a really good game, too.  Edgar Renteria!  This was the pitching matchup everybody expected in game 1.  But it got really out of hand in the bottom of the 8th inning.  Both the Giants' bats and the Rangers' bullpen did some things out of character for them.  And, how does Ron Washington let a guy walk more than one batter in that situation in a close World Series game?  That just set up their 9-0 collapse.

I saw a post-game interview with Washington, and he was visibly annoyed at some of the questions.  Are the Rangers unraveling?  Let's hope so.  The Giants need all the opposing team's blunders they can get.  But...and this is a large but...the Rangers still have to play their first World Series game at home.  Those fans should be absolutely crazy.  GO GIANTS!

Final - San Francisco 9, Texas 0
Giants take a 2-0 Series lead

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Game 1 Observations

Torture.  Anti-torture.  Game 1 was anti-torture.  Torture is when everything comes down to the ninth inning in a one-run game and Wilson lets several runners on before striking the last batter out on a full count.  NLCS torture.

Anti-torture is when all of that happens at the beginning of the game.  Like when Tim Lincecum has a brain fart and doesn't throw the ball in a run-down.  Like when Freddy Sanchez gets doubled off second on a blooper that Bad Vlad simply can't catch.  Like when Benjie Molina tries to score on a sac fly, and he's out by ten feet, except that the throw is half way up the first base line.  And like when the Giants beat the best playoff pitcher ever to be born by racking up seven runs on him before the fifth inning is over, making sure that there won't be a one-run game.  Scary.

What can you say about 18 runs, 25 hits, 6 errors, a double by an AL pitcher setting up Molina scoring on a sac fly, the Giants bullpen giving up 3 runs in the ninth inning in a game started by Lee and Lincecum?  This was as bizarre a game as I can remember.  Check out this summary by McCovey Chronicles.  Giants up 1-0 over the Rangers.  Holding my breath, turning purple.

Final - San Francisco 11, Texas 7
San Francisco takes a 1-0 Series lead

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Game 1 Shocker - Giants Defy Odds In World Series

"Nobody had been able to hit Cliff Lee in his playoff career.  Game 1 of the World Series was different."

The title of this post, along with the quote above, were the headline and summary on Comcast's homepage story when I logged on tonight.  Shocker?  Well, if that's what the rest of the world thinks, we've got you where we want you.

Mat Latos, Derek Lowe, Derek Lowe (yes, twice!), Roy Halladay, Cole Hammels, Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee.  These were the dominating pitchers, in order, guaranteed to beat the Giants.  They all lost.  Is there a pattern here?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Road Warriors

Guess which teams had the two best home records in baseball this year, and in which order?  Well, if you don't know, you could figure it out easily by looking at the title of this post.  Yup, you guessed it.  The Atlanta Braves were #1, followed by the Philadelphia Phillies at #2.  And the Giants beat each team on the road in that same order to win the pennant.  Games 3 and 4 in Atlanta in the NLDS and games 1 and 6 in Philly in the NLCS.  A 4-1 road record vs. awesome home teams.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


The Philadelphia Phillies' dream of being the first team to win three consecutive NL pennants since the 1942-44 Cardinals has been slaughtered by the extreme underdog San Francisco Giants!!!!  Juan Uribe hits an 8th inning opposite field home run to put the Giants ahead 3-2.  Brian Wilson makes the perfect pitch - a low, backdoor slider - the pitch that awesome slugger Ryan Howard simply cannot hit.  Howard was fooled badly, and THE GIANTS WON THE PENNANT!  Another extreme form of torture!

The parties are spilling out into the streets!  We're going to the World Series!  Wahoooo!

Friday, October 22, 2010

No Respect

Well, the Giants aren't getting much respect nationally.  Just tonight, MLB Network was doing highlights of the Rangers beating the Yankees to win the AL pennant, and the talking heads started yakking about how the Rangers matched up against the Phillies.  Harold Reynolds interrupted the party and inserted, even if a bit hesitantly, "The this thing."  I know you need to earn your respect, but really.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


"Schocking!"  That's how MLB network described the Giants' 3-1 NLCS lead over the Phillies.  Shocking?  To whom is it shocking?  Oh, everybody who thought the Phils would roll, that's who.

"Phils in five."
"Uh, I don't know about that.  We should give the Giants more credit than that.  Phils in six."

Yes, that's the way most of the people "in the know" talked about the series before it began.  Neither scenario is possible now.  And of course, game 1, where Tim Lincecum outpitched Roy Halladay, was the Giants lone half-expected win.

I simply haven't had time to blog about these games so far, I've been so busy late at night watching highlights from the games I haven't been able to see on TV.  Anything can happen on any day in baseball.  Anything can happen in October, including the Phils rebounding to win.  But the Giants winning the pennant can also happen.  And that can happen tonight.  GO GIANTS!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

And The Giants Win...Three Days and Two Nights in Philly

Well, the Giants did it.  They beat the Braves in four.  It was an intense series, with each game being the only one-run games in all the division series.  Now to move on to the NLCS.  But what exactly did they win?  Baseball has a formal division championship, a formal pennant and a formal world champion.  The winner of the division series has no flag, ring, etc.  They just get to move on.  So with that, the Giants win a three-day, two night trip for 25 to Philadelphia.  GO GIANTS!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Torture Continues

Last month, the Giants announcers described the way the Giants play - and win - as torture.  And it has become the team slogan.  Torture.

Well, the torture continues.  Game 3 gave the fans a severe case of torture yesterday.  What amount of torture can you receive when your pitcher tosses a two-hit shutout?  Well, if you're leading 4-0 or 6-0 or 10-0, not much.  But when almost the entire game has a 1-0 score, it's torture.  That means that every single batter the pitcher faces during the whole game is either the potential tying run or the potential go-ahead run.  That's torture.

When two pitchers toss two-hit shutouts with 1-0 leads, that's double torture.  Lincecum did it in game 1.  Sanchez did it for most of game 3.  With 2 out and 2 strikes in the bottom of the 8th, and a runner on, the pinch hitter was the potential go-ahead run.  And he hit a home run.  Torture.  If the score had been 5-0 it would have not been a bit deal.  Then with 2 strikes and 2 outs in the 9th inning, the Giants one strike away from losing - torture - Freddie Sanchez gets a hit up the middle.  Huff drives him in.  The Braves make an error.  Giants take the lead...for a few minutes anyway.  Torture.  Then in the bottom of the 9th with a one run lead, Wilson gives up an infield hit to bring the winning run up to the plate.  Torture.  When Matt Cain pitches a gem, and the bullpen torches it in the 8th inning, that's torture.  When Buster Posey hits into a double play in extra innings with the bases loaded instead of driving in the winning run, that's torture.

You know what else is torture?  The only one-run games in the whole post-season so far have been every single Giants game.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wild Card Spells Death of the Great Pennant Races

The Giants and Padres (and Rockies!) just had a great pennant race.  The NL West wasn't decided until the last day of the season, and the two teams in the race were playing each other in the final of a three game series.  As great as the race was, it was diminished a bit by some bad ball played by both teams.  The two teams weren't the greatest.  There is, however, another kind of pennant race that is much better.

That kind of race is between two super-teams.  Teams that win a lot of games.  Upper 90's or 100+ win teams.  I was part of one of the greatest pennant races in history.  The 1993 race between the Giants and Braves, where each team was tied at 103 wins going into the last game of the season.  The Braves completed a season sweep of the Rockies, while the Giants lost to their arch rival Dodgers 12-1, who relished the spoiler role as one of the two greatest rivalries in baseball.  They knocked the Giants out of the race.  My 400 mile drive home from LA that evening was the longest of my life.  I-5 was a trail of thousands of Giants fans that made the trek.

This year had one such hypothetical pennant race.  The Yankees and Rays came out of the chute on fire, playing .700-.750 ball in the early part of the season.  They were clearly the best two teams in baseball the first half of the season.  They were neck and neck all the way down the stretch drive.  Going into the last day of the season, they had the same record, just like the Giants and Braves did in '93.  The Yankees even played their arch rivals, the Red Sox, on the last weekend of the season, in the other of the two greatest rivalries in baseball, just like the Giants/Braves race.  It went down to the last game of the season, just like the Giants/Braves, and the Red Sox beat them to knock the Yankees out of first place, just like the Giants/Braves.  It had all the marks of one of the great pennant races in recent memory.  Except it wasn't a pennant race.  Not even close.  Nobody even cared about it.  All season long.

The reason is that the race was so great that both teams were going to make the playoffs in the end.  There was no race.  There's not much difference at all in winning the division and winning the wild card.  Maybe a couple of home games in the playoffs.  Maybe.  It wasn't the exciting Olympic 100 meter finals.  It was a meaningless qualifying heat where everybody who is anybody makes it to the finals.  In fact, if you look at it from a probability standpoint, the better the record of the two teams, the more likely it is that the second place team will be the wild card.  So, the wild card has given an inversely proportional relationship between the greatness of the race and the excitement it creates.  It shouldn't have to be this way.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Avoiding catastrophe, the Giants put it together and won the NL West today!  Despite losing 12 games (I think) to the Padres this year, they won the last game of the season to be the last team to clinch their division.  The Atlanta Braves are coming to town for a rematch of the 2002 NLDS, where the Giants won in surprising fasihion. 


Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Giant Collapse?

Well it appears the Giants are in the middle of yet another enormous October collapse.  Needing to win only one of the three games (or a fourth tie-breaker, if necessary), Matt Cain was shelled last night.  The Padres don't even know  how to score six runs in a game, and the pitching staff that led the majors in September ERA since 1965 (1.76) is coughing it up.  Today, Barry Zito walked in two runs in the first inning, and was touched for two more by the fourth.  Sanchez goes tomorrow.

The ultimate collapse could be to have the Braves lose 2 of 3 to the Phils and tie the Giants/Padres for the wild card.  The Giants could lose the division to the Padres in a tie-breaker on Monday and lose the wild card to the Braves in a tie-breaker on Tuesday.  Wednesday morning the Giants magic number would still be one, but with no games left to play.  It would re-set to 163 for the 2011 season.  I just hope one of the most unbelievable collapses in history doesn't happen.  If the Braves are swept this weekend, then the Giants will back-door a playoff position no matter how many games they lose.  So, Go Phillies!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Magic Number Is One

Well, don't look now, but the Padres have nearly collapsed and the Giants are on a win streak.  They play a three game series this weekend, and a fourth tie-breaker in case the Padres sweep.  The Giants would need to lose all four for the Padres to win it.  I have some excitement, but mostly reserved anticipation.  I hope they're not passing out those rally towels at the game tonight in anticipation of the clincher.  I was at one of those games in 2000, and the air was full of lint and everybody's eyes were scratchy.

But, here's to a first playoff spot since 2003.  It's about time.

Giants Win Projection Through September 30

September 16 through September 30, 2010:

W 83-64, 91; L 83-65, 91; L 83-66, 90; W 84-66, 91; W 85-66, 91; L 85-67, 91; W 86-67, 91; W 87-67, 92; L 87-68, 91; W 88-68, 91; W 89-68, 92; W 90-68, 92; W 91-68, 93.