It’s the Splits

The GIANTS and the Royals each have 1 win under their belts as they head to San Francisco for Game 3. The bad news is the GIANTS lost last night. The good new is they’re coming home. Remember when Bochy tried the Panda at 1st? He reached–or over-reached for the ball–and ended up doing a split? It put him on the DL. I think that split hurt worse than this one.

imageI was a little nervous when last night’s game started–but the GIANTS looked really good coming out of the gate. Blanco led-off in the 1st with a solo  home run over the center field wall–always a good sign when we draw 1st blood. Well, almost always. Not this time, though–this time was the exception to the rule. Why? This time we had a 6th inning that buried the GIANTS. More about that later. When Blanco hit that blast, I thought it was a really good sign. I’m going to swear-off thinking for awhile. The Royals tried stealing 2nd in the bottom of the 1st, but Posey fired a rocket to Panik, who laid down a perfect tag and the runner was out–caught stealing. The famous Royals wheels got flattened by the GIANTS. After that, they did manage to score a run, tying the game, then scored another run in the 2nd. After 2, the score was:

GIANTS 1, Royals 2

imageThe GIANTS scored again in the 4th–this time they cobbled together a run–Pablo led-off the inning with a double and then Brandon Belt doubled him home. Game tied. After 4, the score was:

GIANTS 2, Royals 2

Peavy started off a little shaky–in the first two innings he gave up  5 hits, 2 runs and a walk–but he settled in after the 2nd to deliver 1, 2, 3 shut-down innings in the 3rd, 4th and 5th. He pitched 1strike out, so the GIANTS defense got busy–they were fantastic. I was relaxed and excited, at the same time, because the GIANTS had a shot at going home with a 2 in the ‘W’ column. Then along came the 6th inning and the wheels came flying off the bus. It got so ugly I started watching the game between split fingers covering my eyes. peavy.gm2Bochy, whose management style I consider unassailable–actually more like infallible–made some moves that had me asking myself over and over again–“what the hell?” Alright, it was really WTF, but I’m trying to keep it clean here! First of all, let me say this–I’m not questioning Bochy’s moves–he is, after all, the one with some serious World Series bling, and you don’t get that by being a hack. I’m just trying to make some sense of it. This is what happened in the 6th:
image

Peavy started off by giving up a base hit. Then he walked the next batter. And Bochy had apparently seen enough. So he took Peavy out–I wish he hadn’t–and brought in Machi. NO! NO! NO! Machi makes me more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. His last few appearances have ended badly for the GIANTS. What we needed right then was somebody who could pitch “lights out” not ” lights off”. He gave up a hit and a run scored. I did not feel vindicated. But it was just 1 run and Bochy took Machi out–it could have been worse–and replaced him with Javy Lopez. Much better. Lopez faced the next batter–a imagelefty–and got the out. But Bochy, using his lefty/righty match-up theory, took Javy out and brought in Strickland to face the righties that were coming up. My best friend Vickie, Gamer Babe extraordinaire, had the same reaction to Strickland that I had to Machi. “Don’t worry” I told her, “he only gives up hits to lefties, this is the perfect time to use him.” Well, Vickie was right and I was wrong. So horribly, horribly wrong. I like Strickland, if Strickland was campaigning for a regular spot in the bullpen, he had my vote. But Strickland gave up a hit–a double–threw a wild pitch, handing the 2 Royals on base a free 90 feet, then tossed in a homerun to add insult to injury. And, in a move that turned the situation from bad to really bad, Strickland imageengaged in a nasty bench-clearing verbal exchange with one of the Royals hitters.  To be fair, it looked to me like the Royals hitter started chirping at Strickland, who didn’t take it well. Bochy took him out and brought in Affeldt, who gave up a base hit, but threw for a grounder to the next batter and the GIANTS turned a perfect–and close–double play to end the inning. The GIANTS didn’t score again, neither did the Royals–but they didn’t need to–they had this one. The final score was:

GIANTS 2, Royals 7

imageI looked for a silver lining on this dark cloud, and found one. Bochy reached into the depths of his bullpen and pulled out Lincecum–Big Time Timmy Jim–who proved he’s still a GIANT and has what it takes to get some outs. He pitched a 1, 2, 3 shut down 7th and got out the first two hitters in the  8th, but he pulled something in his back and had to be helped off the field. Santiago Casilla came in and struck out the next batter to end the inning. The good news is Timmy still has some gas in his tank–at least as a reliever, the bad news is he hurt himself. He’s undergoing an MRI today, so fingers x’d it’s nothing too serious. I’ll let you know if I hear any thing.

Game 3 tomorrow night. Huddy’s on the mound. The GIANTS want to win this one for him. I’ll vote for that.

Game 1–GIANTS!

San Francisco City Hall wears Orange October well.

San Francisco City Hall wears Orange October well.

Last night’s opening game of the World Series, the Fall Classic, the Big Show, had a surprise ending for some. But not this Gamer Babe–no, I didn’t doubt our GIANTS–not even a little bit. Nor did any of the other millions of GIANTS fans. Joe Buck & Co. were a little stunned–in fact, their sugar-coated love fest for all things non-GIANT continued through Game 1, according to my cousin–a die-hard Dodger fan–who is rooting for the GIANTS in protest of Joe Buck’s bias, and because he is surrounded by SF GIANTS Gamer Babes, so he knows what’s  good for him. He kept me in touch–via text–about the broadcasters BS because I was watching the game on my TV with the sound muted and KNBR on my At Bat app. I’m much happier that way. Listening to Joe Buck & Co. puts me in a bad mood, and who wants to be in a bad mood when we’re winning?

imageThe GIANTS got things started PDQ–Blanco led-off the 1st with a base hit and Pablo drove him home with a double. Pablo scored when Hunter Pence fired a rocket over the center field fence for a 2-run HR. The Kansas City fans were making a lot of noise–especially when Hunter got to the 2-strike count–they were on their feet, they were really loud, but when that ball went sailing over the fence? That sure shut them up. The Royals started to make some noise on the field in the 3rd, but Bumgarner and the GIANTS defense put a stop to that and the Royals left the inning scoreless–again. The GIANTS scored another 2 runs in the 4th–and it went like this:

  • Hunter Pence led-off with a double, advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch
  • Brandon Belt walked
  • Michael Morse got a base hit and an RBI when Hunter Pence came home
  • the Royals brought in a new pitcher–the GIANTS got rid of the Royals starter after just 3 innings
  • Juan Perez hit a SAC bunt moving Morse and Belt to 2nd and 3rd
  • Brandon Crawford walked
  • Gregor Blanco walked–with the bases loaded–scoring Belt–an RWI!!

After 4, the score was:

GIANTS 5, Royals 0

imageThe GIANTS brought quiet to Kauffman Stadium again in the 7th, when Gregor Blanco led-off with a walk, then scored when Joe Panik blasted the ball to center field for a triple and an RBI–and the GIANTS chased off another Royals pitcher after 3 innings. Pablo Sandoval came to the plate and smoked a grounder past the Royal’s shortstop for a base hit and an RBI when Panik scored. The Royals scored a run in the 7th when they hit a solo HR off Bumgarner–on one of the few hits he gave up. His line looked like this: 3 hits, 1 run–the home run, 1 walk and 5 strike-outs. Javy Lopez pitched the 8th–he gave up 1 hit, but the GIANTS took care of that with a double play. Strickland pitched the 9th–and he retired the Royals hitters in order. The final score was:

GIANTS 7, Royals 1

imageSpeaking of Bumgarner, he was lights out–unhittable–and the GIANTS defense was unbeatable. Blanco caught a fly ball out to deep center, essentially swiping an extra base hit from the Royals. Bumgarner snatched a line drive that was hit right to him, and deflected another hit that came his way, but quickly picked it up and threw to 1st for the out. Ned Yost, the Royals manager was asked how the GIANTS were able to stop the Royals–who are known for their fleet feet–and he basically said they didn’t have a chance to use their running game because the GIANTS kept them off the base paths. He said “there’s an old baseball adage, you can’t steal 1st.”

imageThe talking heads were split on which team would take Game 1. There was a split between the “Bumgarner is a seasoned ace who has World Series experience” camp, and the “Big Game James” believers. They’re singing a different tune today. Today Bumgarner is “the greatest pitcher in the world” and ” Big Game James” is now James Shields, pitcher. What a difference a day makes! Bottom line? Game 1 goes to our GIANTS!!

 

 

 

For Russ Hodges

imageFor a night that ended with a definite Russ Hodges moment. it sure didn’t start out like it was going that way. For those who don’t know, Russ Hodges was a radio announcer for the GIANTS–New York and San Francisco–best known for his famous call of “the shot heard round the world.” It was October 3, 1951 and the New York GIANTS and Brooklyn Dodgers were tied for the National League top spot–each team had 97 Wins and 59 Losses–and it was the last game of the season. Back in those days, there were no division play-offs, no championship series. The team in each league with the most wins played each other in the Fall Classic. It came down to this game and these 2 teams for the National League pennant. The Dodgers were leading 4-2, bottom of the 9th–the GIANTS had 2 men on and 1 out. Bobby Thomson was at the plate and he hit a long drive to the lower left field deck–a walk-off home run–prompting Russ Hodges to shout excitedly into the microphone: “THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!!”

PANIK.BLANCOLast night’s game was the 1st time since 1951 that the GIANTS have won the pennant with a walk-off home run. But wait, there’s more! In a game reminiscent of that 1951 game, the GIANTS trailed the Cardinals–until the 8th inning when the GIANTS tied the score. St. Louis scored first, with 1 run in the top of the 3rd. The GIANTS scored in the bottom of the 3rd when Joe Panik delivered a HR–the 1st GIANTS HR in the series–with Gregor Blanco on base.  St. Louis scored 2 more runs in the 4th. After 4, the score was:

GIANTS 2, Cardinals 3

morse.hr.xSt. Louis kept the lead until the GIANTS tied it up with Michael Morse’s solo HR in the 8th. The GIANTS held the Cardinals in the 9th, keeping the score tied as the GIANTS entered their half of the inning. Pablo led-off with a base hit, then Brandon Belt drew a walk. Travis Ishikawa was up next and in a move that was so unexpected–but in typical GIANTS fashion–hit a 3-run dinger for the walk-off win. The final score was:

GIANTS 6, Cardinals 3

MATHI’m going to take a moment to talk about Mike Matheny. Mike Matheny has been the Skipper of the Cardinals since Tony LaRussa retired in 2011. Under Matheny’s management, the Cardinals have reached the postseason every year since Matheny took the job. Last night, after the GIANTS unexpected, but not completely surprising walk-off win, Matheny could be seen tipping his cap to the GIANTS–what a class act.

Now I’m going to talk about the guy or guys who were not class acts last night. Oh, I’m ecstatic, elated–otherwise over the moon about the GIANTS win–but BUMG.MVPI’m still going to pause a moment to deliver a rant. Throughout the entire game Joe Buck, Tom Verducci and Harold Reynolds staged a sugar-coated love fest for all things Cardinal–especially Adam Wainwright–to the point where I was wondering: do they realize there is another team on the field? Adam Wainwright, according to these guys, pitched an amazing game, “he’s a gamer” according to Harold Reynolds. The starting pitchers in last night’s game ended with very similar lines–the difference being Bumgarner gave up 5 hits to Wainwright’s 4, 3 runs to Wainwright’s 2, and 5 strike outs to Wainwright’s 7. Bumgarner also pitched 1 more inning than Wainwright. I think they were shocked, and yes, I’m going to say it–extremely disappointed when the Cardinals lost. There wasn’t one moment of objectivity in their reporting. It was ridiculous. It was a travesty. Shame on Joe Buck, Tom Verducci and Harold Reynolds and shame on FOX Sports for providing the platform and allowing them to blather on unchecked. They were so unprofessional. Here’s a side-note to the FOX announcers–the pitcher you didn’t talk about? The one you basically ignored? Yeah, that was the NLCS MVP. Put that in your book.

gg.xEnough about that–here’s the bottom line::

“THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!!  THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!!

and we’re going to Kansas City–Kansas City here we come!

Mishaps, Missteps, Mistakes

imageLast night’s game was quite a game. I almost didn’t make it through the entire thing. It was like watching a train wreck. You know the feeling–you can’t look because you are horrified by what you see, yet you can’t help but watch out of morbid curiosity. You settle for putting your hands over your eyes with your fingers separated slightly so you can see through them. And you cringe–last night I cringed so much, I can’t stand up straight yet. Torture? You bet it was. The important thing is we suffered through it together.
imageIt started to go bad pretty early–the Cardinals put a run on the board in the top of the 1st. The GIANTS responded with their own run in the bottom half of the inning. The Cardinals added another run in the 2nd. The GIANTS didn’t. I really didn’t like the way this game was going. In the 3rd, the Cardinals put up 2 more runs–but so did the GIANTS. Vogey didn’t have a great outing–his pitches were missing their spots–but not by much. He kept the game from getting away from the GIANTS by getting the Cardinals offense to hit grounders into double plays. After 3, the score was:

GIANTS 3, Cardinals 4

imageIn  the 4th inning, Bochy brought in Petit–and I started to move my hands away from my eyes. Petit pitched 3 scoreless innings, and the bullpen picked up the rest–6 shutout innings for the bullpen. The GIANTS staged a 6th inning rally–scoring 3 runs on 2 hits. This postseason the GIANTS have been scoring on what Tim Flannery calls “RTIs–Runs Thrown In” hey–I’m getting to the point where I don’t care how they score, as long as they score, right? The Cardinals 1st baseman made some poor choices in throwing–he got the ball to where he wanted it to go–he just picked the wrong place to send it or the wrong time. Either way–it resulted in at least 1 GIANTS run.  After 6, the score was:

GIANTS 6, Cardinals 4

imageThe 7th inning was the inning I’d been dreading. If the GIANTS new tagline is “Runs Thrown In” the Cardinals postseason theme is “7th Inning Rally” because they have either staged a rally in the 7th or at least scored in the 7th, in every postseason game except 2:  in Game 2 of the NLDS–they didn’t score in the 7th, but scored 2 runs in the 8th, and Game 1 of the NLCS–when the GIANTS shut them out 3-0. To say I was a nervous wreck when the 7th got underway, would be like saying the Grand Canyon is a ditch in Arizona–serious understatement. The GIANTS bullpen was giving me good reason to be nervous–they took torture to a whole new level. Lucky for me, Bochy wasn’t taking any chances on the 7th inning. Affeldt faced the 1st two batters, got 2 quick outs, then walked the 3rd. Bochy took him out and brought in Machi, who gave up a base hit. Bochy took him out and brought in Lopez, who got the next batter to hit a ground ball, Panik fielded it cleanly and threw the hitter out at 1st.

imageWhew! That was scary–but I knew that the Cardinals would give it their best shot in the 8th. Romo pitched to the 1st two batters, got 2 quick outs, then gave up a base hit. The good news is the next batter flied out to end the inning. In the 9th, Casilla faced the 1st two batters and got 2 quick outs–are you seeing a pattern here?–then gave up a base hit. The next batter to the plate was Matt Holliday–aka the Scutaro Killer–Casilla had to get this guy out. And he did–struck him out–looking. The final score was:

GIANTS 6, Cardinals 4

The GIANTS have won 3 games in this best of 7 series–I’m keeping my fingers, my toes and my eyes x’d–IF they win 1 more they go to the World Series. Tonight is their final home game in this series. Let’s all hope they don’t have to go back to St. Louis.

For those who are curious–the ALCS is over. The Kansas City Royals, the AL Wild Card team, swept the Baltimore Orioles–and they are headed to the World Series–with the home team advantage since the American League won the All-Star Game. But as Shania Twain used to say–“that don’t impress me much.”

A Fight to the Finish

I had high hopes and a really good feeling about yesterday’s game–before it was played. I didn’t talk about it, blog about it, or even think about it. That’s the superstition at work. The GIANTS were home, playing in front of a packed house. Perfect. The game came on in the early afternoon, and the GIANTS were ready.

imageHudson pitched–a 1, 2, 3 shut down top of the 1st inning, then the GIANTS bats went to work and scored 4 runs in the bottom of the inning. I’d say we were off to a pretty good start. With 2 outs, Buster came up with a base hit, Pablo followed with a base hit too. Hunter Pence hit an RBI double, scoring Buster. With Hunter at 2nd and Pablo at 3rd, the Cardinals intentionally walked Brandon Belt to get to Travis Ishikawa for the 3rd out. Didn’t happen. Just like Robert Burns said–“the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.”  In this case awry was way the hell out in the outfield off the brick wall and past the Cardinals gloves. Ishikawa ended up with a double–clearing the bases.
imageHudson held his own for a few innings–even getting a base hit in the 4th–but he gave up the game-tying HR in the 7th and Bochy took him out of the game. Hudson worked hard to keep the game close, though–he gave up 7 hits and 4 runs, but he issued zero walks and struck out 5. The Cardinals scored 2 runs in the 4th, 1 in the 6th and the HR in the 7th. After 7, the score was tied:

GIANTS 4, Cardinals 4

imageThe game was tied through the 9th, so it was on to extra innings. Hudson gave the GIANTS their last hit in the 4th, and I was starting to get worried. But with the game at home, last ups belonged to the GIANTS–they just had to keep the Cardinals from scoring again. The bullpen and the defense did a great job of making sure they didn’t. Both the 8th and 9th were 1, 2, 3 shut down innings. The Cardinals made a little noise in the 10th–but the GIANTS were louder. Brandon Crawford led-off with a walk, Juan Perez followed up with a base hit, bringing Gregor Blanco to the plate. He laid down a SAC bunt and took off for 1st–the Cardinals pitcher fielded the bunt with their 3rd baseman gesturing that he should throw to 1st–so he did. Or tried to. The ball sailed wide of 1st toward the Cardinals dugout and Brandon Crawford scored on the walk-off SAC bunt error. The final score was:

imageGIANTS 5, Cardinals 4

The GIANTS take Game 3, giving us 2 games in the series to the Cardinals 1. And do you know what the big shot baseball analysts and media people are saying now? The GIANTS got lucky. Lucky!! That’s just pure BS. Oh sure, the GIANTS ended up winning on a Cardinals error, but what might have happened if the pitcher hadn’t overthrown 1st base? Who cares?? He did, and that’s their tough luck. But I will say this: if they had gotten Gregor out at 1st, Crawford and Perez advance with Panik and Pence coming to the plate. Crawford was coming home anyway–he just got there a little sooner. Luck, my a**!

I Told You!

I’ve been saying it! Haven’t I been saying it? The minute the Talking Heads pick the GIANTS to win–what happens??–down we go. I’m not saying the only reason the GIANTS lost is because the experts decided the GIANTS might pull this off. That would be crazy–or would it? Either way, hopefully, last night’s–oh so close!–loss will prompt them to start ignoring the GIANTS again. Fingers x’d.

imagePeavy was the starting pitcher in last night’s game and he held on for 4 innings. He gave up 4 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, and he struck out 2. He fought hard. He tried like hell to keep the GIANTS in the game. The Cardinals scored 2 runs off Peavy, including a solo HR in the 3rd. They scored another run in the 4th, then went on to score more solo HRs–1 each in the 7th–off Machi, in the 8th–off Strickland and in the 9th–off Romo for the walk-off win.

The GIANTS cobbled together 4 runs: 1 each in the 5th: imageBrandon Belt scored on Joaquin Arias’ groundout; in the 6th: Hunter Pence scored on Pablo’s base hit; in the 7th: Brandon Crawford scored on Blanco’s single. Then there was the incredible run scored by Duffy in the 9th, tying the game. With Panik at the plate, Perez on 1st and Duffy on 2nd, the Cards pitcher threw a wild pitch, the catcher lost track of it and Duffy ran from 2nd to home like his hair was on fire–2 whole bases on a pitch that got lost at the plate. Amazing. The Cardinals won the ballgame simply because of the solo HRs scored late in the game. The GIANTS were able to answer back each time until the 9th, when the Cardinals, unfortunately, had the last say. The final score was:

imageGIANTS 4, Cardinals 5

It was a great game to watch, both teams refusing to give up. The GIANTS played with a lot of heart–in the 7th inning the GIANTS defense caught one of the Cardinals in a rundown, and they didn’t let up until Panik tagged him out. Here’s how it went: Strickland threw to 1st for the pick-off, the runner headed for 2nd, Belt threw to Crawford. The runner turned around, Crawford threw to Strickland, who was covering 1st. The runner turned again, Strickland threw to Panik who chased the runner and dropped the tag on him to end the inning. The GIANTS were tenacious. In other good news, after an extended absence from an oblique injury, Michael Morse picked up a bat to pinch hit in the 7th and got a base hit.

imageThe game reminded me of some of those games from 2010–you know the ones I’m talking about–the ones that inspired our unwitting leaders, Kruk and Kuip, to coin the phrase: “GIANTS baseball–TORTURE.”

The GIANTS head home to San Francisco with the series tied at 1 game each. Hopefully–hopefully–the GIANTS will prove there really is no place like home.

There is Superstition

imageYou know how during the NLDS games I talked about the national baseball media–how they kept counting the GIANTS out–and yet…well…here we are in the NLCS! The pundits said before every game the GIANTS played against the Nationals that the GIANTS couldn’t possibly win. Except once. The one time they said we were sure to win, because Bumgarner was pitching–we lost. You should understand why, then, it makes me nervous that the so-called “baseball experts” are saying the GIANTS could win this. I wish they would just shut-up. Leave us alone. In fact, like I said in an earlier post–I prefer it when they say the GIANTS can’t win. I know you think I’m crazy–and that may be so, but what does that have to do with anything? Crazy doesn’t make me wrong.

imageStill the GIANTS won last night’s game. Bumgarner was on the bump and he was brilliant. He pitched 7.2 innings–giving up 4 hits, 0 runs and 1 walk while he striking out 7. Romo came in to take out the last batter in the 8th and Casilla pitched a 1, 2, 3 shut down 9th. The GIANTS offense got the job done by putting hits together and taking advantage of some Cardinals’ mistakes and misses. In the 2nd, Pablo scored on Ishikawa’s pop up that had the Cardianals’ 3rd baseman go for the diving catch and coming up with a handful of grass; Hunter scored when Blanco reached on a fielding error. Brandon Belt plated Posey in the 3rd with a SAC fly. The final score was:

GIANTS 3, Cardinals 0

imageThe GIANTS caught a couple of breaks in last night’s game. I’m not saying it would have made a difference in the outcome, but the score might look different. In the 7th inning, Bumgarner carried the ball to 1st, tagging the runner before they reached the base–Bumgarner ran smack into the runner, or actually, the runner ran into Bumgarner while he was applying the tag. The runner was called out. The Cardinals cried obstruction and asked for a review. The call was upheld. There were runners on 2nd and 3rd when the next hitter came to the plate. At one point it looked like Buster and Bumgarner got their signals crossed–the broadcaster and analysts said that Bumgarner started his motion, then stepped off. A balk. Either the officials didn’t think it was a balk, or they didn’t see it, because it wasn’t called. The runner at 3rd stayed where he was and the hitter struck out to end the inning.

imageWhen the baseball analysts, media and so-called experts said “no way can the GIANTS beat the Pirates in the Wild Card game” and “the GIANTS can’t possibly take the Nationals in the NLDS” I was fine with it. In fact it made me very happy because my superstition is all about not “counting your chickens before they hatch.” I may go as far as saying “I like our chances” but even that makes me skittish.

Baseball is a sport that is steeped in many traditions and rituals–which come from superstitions. Pablo has his plate appearance ritual, Vogey has his enchiladas. Some players refuse to change their socks if they’re imagewinning. Or shave their facial hair. Joe DiMaggio made sure to touch 2nd base every time he headed out to centerfield. Some players make sure they don’t touch the foul line when coming from or going to the field–by jumping over it. In the spirit of TMI, Jason Giambi wore a gold woman’s thong to get himself out of slumps. The list goes on, and mostly it involves eating certain foods to ensure a win–with Justin Verlander it’s Taco Bell and Justin Morneau ordered a particular turkey sandwich from a particular sandwich shop. One superstition, widely practiced today was authored by Ronald Reagan when he was starting his broadcasting career right after college. He thought it was bad luck to talk to a pitcher during a no-hitter, and wouldn’t even talk about it on the radio. Bottom line: I may be crazy, but I’m in pretty good company.

It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over

imageAnd it ain’t over yet. The GIANTS beat the Nationals in the NLDS. The prize? The GIANTS face the Cardinals in the battle for the NLCS, a best of 7 series. Sound familiar? It should–we’ve been here before. Remember Scutaro, arms raised to the skies? As the very talented Ashkon put it–“a taste of the heavens we won it in seven as it rained and poured!”
The GIANTS went into last night’s game with the advantage, having won 2 games in the best of 5 series to the Nationals 1 game. One of two things could happen: the GIANTS win and end the series as the victor in San Francisco, or the GIANTS lose and travel to Washington, DC for the rubber game of the series. Nobody wanted to go to Washington. Well, nobody except the Nationals, that is.

imageFirst of all, Vogey did a tremendous job. He went 5.2 innings–he gave up 2 hits, 1 run, 2 walks and he struck out 4. The GIANTS defense was on fire–especially the unbelievable, amazing catch by Hunter Pence in the top of the 6th to take away a hit from the Nationals that was sure to result in extra bases.

The GIANTS got on the board early–putting up 2 runs in the 2nd that went like this: Brandon Crawford hit a single, imageJuan Perez reached on an error by the Nationals, Vogey laid down a SAC bunt that was so good he moved both runners over and reached 1st safely. With the bases loaded, Blanco came up and drew a walk, scoring Crawford. Perez scored on Panik’s RBI groundout. At the end of 2, the score was:
GIANTS 2, Nationals 0

The Nationals scored 1 run in the 5th and then a solo HR in the 7th to tie the game. It didn’t stay tied very  long. In the bottom of the 7th, Panik reached on a base hit, Posey followed with another base hit and Pence drew a walk to load the bases for Pablo. With Pablo at the plate, the Nats pitcher threw a wild pitch–the catcher couldn’t recover it quickly enough, which allowed Panik, the go-ahead run, to score. Game no longer imagetied. And, believe it or not, it happened again. The Nats pitcher threw another wild pitch–this time Buster tried to score but he was called out at the plate. After a video review the call was upheld and the GIANTS were held to 1 run in the 7th. Romo came in and pitched a 1, 2, 3 shut down 8th and Casilla pitched the 9th for the save and a Buster Hug. The final score was:

GIANTS 3, Nationals 2

imageWhat a game! I was so nervous, I was tempted to mix up some cocktails–actually, I was considering a drink straight from the bottle–to steady my nerves. Although, honestly? Another game like that and I’m going to have to get a prescription for Xanax.

 

 

 

No Chickens, Just Eggs

imageThe GIANTS certainly can’t be accused of counting their chickens before they hatched, and that’s a good thing, we didn’t hatch any chickens. It was just eggs–funny part is the eggs were all over the faces of the baseball experts. The national baseball media, again, tossed out predictions like beads at a Mardi Gras Parade–but this time, of course, they had the GIANTS pegged as the clear front-runner in last night’s game.

imageTo be fair, last night’s game was the GIANTS to lose. We had our Ace on the mound, Bochy went with a line-up that proved itself successful–twice–and the GIANTS played the game at home. According to my calculations MB+LU+ATT=W. I didn’t say it out loud, though, I never went that far–and I certainly wasn’t going to claim victory until the last out in the 9th with the GIANTS in the lead. Didn’t happen.

The game was one that has become increasingly familiar–an old-fashioned pitching duel where both teams held each other scoreless until the 7th. Then things went horribly wrong. The Nationals were up, and with 2 men on and no outs, the Nats hitter laid down a bunt–a SAC bunt–but Bumgarner picked up the ball and fired it to 3rd–and overthrew it. Both runners on base scored, and the hitter who laid down the SAC bunt ended up safely at 2nd.  The next hitter in the line-up brought him home with an RBI single. After 7, the score was:

GIANTS 0, Nationals 3

imageThe GIANTS had some scoring opportunities they didn’t cash in. The bottom of the 2nd found Madison Bumgarner at the plate with the bases loaded and 2 outs. GIANTS fans everywhere were thinking the same thing–a Grand Salami. Unfortunately, Bumgarner struck out swinging to end the inning. The GIANTS had runners in scoring position in the 7th, and again in the 9th. The Nationals hit a solo HR in the top of the 9th. Pablo led-off the bottom of the 9th with a base hit, Hunter Pence hit a double moving him to 3rd and Pablo scored on Brandon Crawford’s SAC fly. It proved to be too little, too late, but at least it averted a shut-out. The final score was:

GIANTS 1, Nationals 4

I’m going to on record saying I prefer it when the national baseball media predicts disaster, humiliation and loss for the GIANTS. Because they are almost always wrong–and they end up with egg all over their faces.

 

Counting Chickens

When I reviewed Game 1 of the NLDS, I talked about counting chickens and all that. The lesson continues. Because after the national baseball media announced that the GIANTS didn’t stand a chance against the Nats pitcher in Game 1–only to have the GIANTS prove them wrong, they redrew the line in the sand and said absolutely no way do the GIANTS win facing this Nat’s pitcher in Game 2. This guy is their ace–the best pitcher in the their rotation. Turns out the naysayers are gonna need a bigger sandbox, because they’re gonna have to draw another line in the sand.

imageLet me preface this recap by saying it was a long night. I know the game started at 2:38 in the afternoon, our time, but it didn’t end until  9:00 last night. In DC, where the GIANTS played, the game took 2 days–from 5:30 PM Saturday ’til a tick past midnight Sunday. 6 hours, 23 minutes. 18 innings–the equivalent of 2 full games. It went down in the books as the longest post-season game ever.

It’s true, the Nats pitcher in game 2 is good. Really good. He pitched a no-hitter to finish up his regular season. But, hey–the GIANTS took the field behind Tim Hudson who is also good. Really good. He proved it last night with an exceptional outing. He went 7.1 innings–he gave up 7 hits, 1 run, NO walks and he struck out 8. That only tells half the story.

imageThe bullpen came in–7 of them–including Petit who pitched 6.0 innings in relief. Petit gave up 1 hit, NO runs, 3 walks, and he struck out 7 for the “W”. Hunter Strickland–our bullpen rookie–closed it out, got the save and a Buster Hug. That still only tells part of the story. The GIANTS were flawless on defense. Between Hudson, the bullpen and the defense–the Nats were held to a 1 run lead. The Nats scored the run in the 3rd, on a double and an RBI single. The GIANTS were held scoreless through 8. After 8 innings, the score was:

GIANTS 0, Nationals 1

imageIn the 9th, with 2 out and nobody on, Joe Panik drew a walk. This prompted the Nats manager–former GIANT Matt Williams–to take the ball from their Ace and hand it off to their closer. Buster Posey came to the plate and got a base hit. Pablo was up next–he hit an RBI double scoring Panik and tying the game. After 9, the score was:

GIANTS 1, Nationals 1

It was on to extra innings and each team held the other scoreless through 17. Brandon Belt led-off the 18th–boy, did he lead-off–with a solo HR to give the GIANTS the lead imagefor the 1st time in 18 innings. In the bottom of the 18th–enter Hunter Strickland and it’s game over. The final score was:

GIANTS 2, Nationals 1

That gives the GIANTS a 2 game lead in a best of 5 series. It’s an advantage, sure, but we can’t claim victory yet–that would be like counting chickens before they’re hatched.

Here’s hoping there’s lots more Buster Hugs on the horizon! #GoGIANTS!!!

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