The hot corner is getting a complete makeover. First, our loveable Kung Fu Panda chose Boston over San Francisco. I thought that was going to be the only heartbreak GIANTS fans would suffer this off-season. Or the biggest one. And then this happened: this morning, on his Facebook page, Tim Flannery, our 3rd base coach–the best there is in the bigs–announced his retirement. Yesterday, when I heard Pablo was defecting to Beantown I wrote a blog entitled “It’s Hard to Say Good-Bye,” and it is hard. The Kung Fu Panda is a fan favorite and a clubhouse favorite–he is not only loved by the fans, but by his fellow players too. It’s a big loss for San Francisco. But, I’m going to come right out and say it–probably at the risk of ticking off the Panda People–it might be hard to say good-bye to Pablo, but it’s not hard to say good-bye to Tim Flannery–it’s downright impossible.
Tim Flannery is a champion. No, I’m not talking about being a World Series Champion–that goes without saying. He is also another type of champion–an advocate, a supporter, a counselor. He is a champion of the entire San Francisco GIANTS organization–I don’t know him personally, but I don’t think it is a secret that he is loyal to the team. It shows in his deeds and actions. He supports Bochy, I don’t think he’s ever publicly disagreed with Bochy–maybe they’ve never disagreed, but that is unlikely, since they’ve worked together for so many years. They’re going to disagree some time–but we’ll never know. His job doesn’t stop at 3rd base coach. Sometimes, before a game, we’ll find him down on the field singing the National Anthem with his friends Bob Weir and Phil Lesh. Other times will find him working with the players as the resident bunting instructor–showing them how to lay down the perfect bunt.
He is a champion of the players–he doesn’t merely send a player down the 3rd baseline to home plate–oftentimes he runs right along with them. While he is running, Kruk and Kuip pipe in with: “my butt’s on the line, my butt’s on the line, my butt’s on the line”–their impersonation of the thoughts running through Flan’s mind when he runs a player home. To relax when the team is away he likes to find an enclosed stairwell where he can sit and play his guitar–he says the acoustics are better in stairwells. Recently he invited Jake Peavy to join him for their rendition of Pancho and Lefty. You can check it out on YouTube:
He is a champion of the fans–evidenced most recently by his Facebook announcement of his retirement–check it out on his Facebook page: Tim Flannery and Lunatic Fringe –it includes a sincere, heartfelt message to the fans. And then there’s Bryan Stow. Remember him? Tim Flannery does. Bryan Stow is the GIANTS fan who was severely beaten in LA in April 2011. He is still working on his recovery. In the meantime, he can’t work and he has enormous medical expenses. Tim Flannery and his band–Lunatic Fringe–were instrumental (pun anyone?!) in raising a ton of money for Bryan Stow I don’t think selfless can even begin to describe our 3rd base coach.
He will be missed. And I’m sorry, Panda People, we’re going to miss him a lot more than Pablo Sandoval. I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’m way more sad to see Flan go. Sabean will find another 3rd baseman–of that there is no doubt. There are 3rd basemen everywhere. But a bunting instructing, National Anthem singing, benefit concert giving, guitar playing 3rd base coach? They only made one–Tim Flannery. When he announced his retirement he said “I just now feel it is the time to send myself home safely.” The selfless part of me–very small part–applauds him and wishes him well, and to always return home safely. The selfish part of me just wants him to stay.
They say no one is irreplaceable. Maybe not. But Tim Flannery comes pretty damn close.
It’s no secret–The Giant Panda is now a Panda with Red Sox. I woke up this morning to reports that Pablo made a deal with the Red Sox for 5 years and close to $100 million. Then I checked my Twitter feed and learned that the reports were denied by Pablo’s agent, but that he would make his decision today. He did. The Panda is moving to Fenway. And the GIANTS are looking for a 3rd baseman. There are lots of rumors and speculation–but one thing I do know–we still have Joaquin Arias. I’m sure Sabean is looking for a replacement for the Panda–who swore he wanted to stay with the GIANTS. The GIANTS reportedly matched the Boston offer, so I’m a little perplexed. Bottom line is this: the GIANTS won’t be the same without him. Not saying they will be worse, not saying they will be better–but it will be different. I agree with the statement released by the GIANTS this afternoon: “His connection with Giants fans – young and old – is truly special and he will be greatly missed. We wish him nothing but the best in Boston.”
I also know this: the Panda People will miss him most of all. I honestly don’t think Pablo will find the love in Boston like he did here in San Francisco. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the Royal Rooters will change their rally cry from Tessie to Pablo.
I do love a parade. Thanksgiving Day wouldn’t be the same without the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It is the parade that sets the standard for all parades. Only 1 parade tops it in my book–the San Francisco GIANTS World Series Championship Parade. The good news is lately we’ve been seeing it almost as much as Macy’s famous parade. World Series Champions like to celebrate their victory with a parade–and why not? Parades are fun, parades are happy. Have you ever been to a parade where the paraders–or spectators, for that matter–were crying? I didn’t think so. Parades are a celebration, and nobody, I mean NOBODY, knows how to celebrate like the San Francisco GIANTS and their fans. The big difference between the Macy’s Parade and the GIANTS Parade? Instead of ginormous balloon creations–you get buses, cable cars and vintage automobiles full of GIANTS. See why it’s better than Macy’s?
To the San Francisco GIANTS and the entire GIANTS family:
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! What a year!! Being a San Francisco GIANTS fan this year has been–as it always is–more fun than you can imagine. How many fans of other MLB teams can boast about their players like San Francisco fans? Think about it–how many MLB starting pitchers are credited by their teammates as “putting the whole team on his back and bringing everyone along for the ride?” Just how many of those pitchers do you know would hop off a broken-down bus–ready to crack the hood and see what the problem is? How many other MLB teams have their right-fielder ballyhooed with signs from the fans of the opposing team? How many other MLB teams have a indubitable petting zoo–complete with a panda, a baby giraffe, a horse, and a white shark? Don’t worry, you can pet the white shark–he doesn’t bite. How about the Superheroes–SuperSpeed, Beast Mode, Batman, you name it, they’re all there. Or how about a rookie 2nd baseman who showed up in June, clearly he came to play–he definitely brought his bat, is an absolute magician with his glove, or bare hand–and took to the job like a seasoned veteran. And a 1st baseman-turned left fielder, who was with us in 2010 and came back in 2014 to hit the Bobby Thomson-esque walk-off homerun which led to “the GIANTS win the pennant!” “the GIANTS win the pennant!” “the GIANTS win the pennant!” “the GIANTS win the pennant! They should have played Russ Hodges walk-off call from that game–it had a lot more zing.
Make no mistake, we–GIANTS fans–love our GIANTS. And they love us. When the GIANTS play at home, they play before a packed house–every night. One of the media people asked Pablo what he thought about playing in front of a packed Kauffman Stadium, he told them it’s like that every night at AT&T. The GIANTS games sell out every night–and have for the last several seasons. The Royals games didn’t sell out until they got to the post season. The only reason I’m picking on the Royals is because Ned Yost made headline news when he called out the Kansas City fans for not supporting the Royals after an abysmal 13,000 fans turned out one night in August. GIANTS fans are die-hard, tried and true. When you see someone on the street or in the grocery store–wearing their colors–GIANTS fans will stop and talk about the last game, about the next game, the Panda’s latest antics, Hunter’s latest speech, and in the off-season–Sabean’s latest trade or deal. Sabean likes to call us “the lunatic fringe”, but I’m willing to bet he loves us anyway. And don’t get me started on fair-weather fans–a fan is a fan is a fan–whether you’ve been a fan since birth or you just started sporting the orange and black–everyone has to start somewhere! Welcome aboard! The more, the merrier. TOGETHER we are GIANT.
I don’t think I missed a game this year. On the days the GIANTS weren’t playing I felt lost, cut adrift–even panicky at times. Rogers Hornsby, Hall of Fame infielder, whose playing career spanned 23 seasons–including one where he was both a player and manager of the New York GIANTS, once said: “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” I understand. Completely. On those days off I got a taste of what the winter was going to be like–and it wasn’t good. Luckily, I haven’t experienced it too much yet–the MLB Network replayed the entire postseason over the weekend. But now I’m starting to feel it a little bit. Like any other addiction, I’m getting the shakes, the cold sweats–the panic, and it’s not the good Panik–it’s the bad kind–the kind that requires alcohol, valium or more baseball. The good news is the Arizona Fall League is in full swing. When that’s over? Stop by some time, I’ll be staring out the window, waiting for spring.
No, I’m not talking about the prime-time soap opera from the 80’s–I’m talking about the San Francisco GIANTS of this decade. 3 World Series titles in 5 years. How in the world did they do it? TOGETHER. It wasn’t just a marketing slogan for the guys–it’s how they worked, how they played.
Last night’s game was a testament to that. A huge testament to that–especially when our Ace, our number 1 starter and the starting pitcher for 2 World Series games already–came into the game as a relief pitcher in the bottom of the 5th. That’s right–Bumgarner in relief–and he stayed until the last out was made. Affeldt pitched 2.1 innings and got credit for the win, Bumgarner got the save. This is BochyBall at it’s finest.
I’m not gonna lie to you–there were a couple of scary moments last night–Hudson couldn’t find his spot and ended up hitting a batter, one of the Royals batters got a hit off Bumgarner in an attempt to get a rally started–that thankfully fizzled. But the play that had us all chewing our nails–the one that had every GIANTS fan out of their seats, screaming NO!–was the Royals base hit in the bottom of the 9th, that turned into a triple when it got by Blanco. Add to that Perez kicking it away before picking it up and throwing it in–and you had the scariest moment of the entire postseason. I think the
GIANTS caught a bit of a break when the Royals 3rd base coach put up the stop sign. So, there we are, 2 outs, bottom of the 9th, Bumgarner is on the mound facing the Royals’ catcher–the guy that got hit by a pitch in the 2nd. The tying run is on 3rd base. 1 swing of the bat was all that stood between the GIANTS and the promised land. I don’t think there was a GIANTS fan anywhere in America that wasn’t at the edge of their seat–if they were even sitting. The batter chased a couple of pitches, then popped it up, down the 3rd baseline, and Pablo was underneath it–caught it and collapsed. Game over. Series over. The final score was:
It was an edge of your seat serious championship fight. Yeah, there were some scary moments, but not once, not ever did GIANTS fans stop believing.
So the big question everyone is asking: are the GIANTS a dynasty? Considering that they are only the 4th team in this century with 3 championship titles in a 5-year span–joining the Lakers, the Spurs and the Patriots, all considered dynasties in their sports–I’d say:
YES!! YES!! YES!! The GIANTS are most definitely a dynasty.
I’m going to do something I usually don’t do–instead of talking about last night’s game, I’m going to talk about tonight’s game. Why? There’s not a whole to say about last night’s game. I will say this: it’s history. It reminds me of this kid I know–his parents were chewing him out because he got a ‘D’ in History. His reply? “That’s right–it’s a ‘D’ and it’s history.” Last night’s game was the same–it wasn’t an elimination game, and it’s over. The GIANTS and the Royals are split. Again. But, let’s face it: when it comes to elimination games, the GIANTS are the absolute best. They are unsurpassable. Remember 2012? The GIANTS did some of their best work when their backs were against the wall. The 1st two games of the NLDS went to the Reds–at AT&T Park! The GIANTS went to Cincinnati and played the next 3 games–all elimination games and won. All three games. After Game 4 in the NLCS, the Cardinals were up 3-1, a GIANTS loss would eliminate the GIANTS. What did they do? Well, of course, they sure didn’t lose! They won the next 3 games–each and every one of them an elimination game. The GIANTS faced the Pirates in a 1 game elimination game to kick off the current post season–and they won that too.
There are 3 good things that came from last night’s loss: 1) it allows the GIANTS to play an elimination game–which we all know is something they thrive on, 2) it gives the GIANTS one more day with each other, and 3) Hudson gets a mulligan, a do-over. I like that. I wasn’t satisfied with the way Hudson’s only World Series start turned out–and I like the idea that he gets another shot.
Here’s the thing about tonight’s game. It’s all or nothing, do or die time. I put my faith in Bochy & Co. and the GIANTS. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY wants the GIANTS to win more than the GIANTS. Not even me. I’d say good luck–but they don’t really need it–they have everything it takes to beat the Royals. Whether it’s Ishikawa or Juan Perez in left, Michael Morse as DH, hitting the big fly or a base hit, Hunter with his wild and wacky at-bats that somehow manage to work, or the Panda crushing pitches–that have no business being hit–for an extra bag or two, these guys get the job done. I believe in the GIANTS. I never stopped believing.
There is just one other thing that is good about last night’s game–I get one more day with these guys. What’s wrong with that?
I knew better than to ask the baseball gods for another win. Asking–read begging and pleading–for the win Saturday night was a little presumptuous–somewhat impudent, bordering on impertinent, as a matter of fact, almost insolent. In other words, I had no chits left to cash. I hoped, really, really hoped that the GIANTS would win Game 5. Somebody up there must like me. Or maybe–probably–somebody up there really likes the GIANTS. That’s more than likely the case–MLB Jesus is a big GIANTS fan. I know what you’re thinking–who the heck is MLB Jesus??Or maybe you’re already familiar. For those who don’t know him–he’s a fixture on Twitter. He usually tweets during baseball games making comments like: “Time to stare into the deep dark hole that is Joe Buck’s soul” or “Blessed be the righteous @KNBR and all Franciscans keeping the faith” and “Blessed be Gregor Blanco for he steals without sin.” If you have a Twitter account, follow him–if you don’t have Twitter account, get one, then follow him.
Back to Game 5–it was a great game. The GIANTS had Madison Bumgarner leading the charge and his pitching was splendiferous, there’s a word for you–it means splendid, magnificent, fine–and to be totally honest, he was über splendiferous. He pitched 9–count ‘em–9 shut out innings, with NO walks. In a World Series game! It’s a testament to Bochy’s faith in our Ace. The GIANTS defense was dialed in, and between Bumgarner’s pitching and the GIANTS defense, Kansas City didn’t have a prayer. As MLBJesus put it: “All Royalty need seek shelter, for the MadBum cometh.” Bumgarner gave up 4 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks and he struck out 8.
The GIANTS offense was dialed in. They manufactured a run in the 2nd–Hunter Pence hit a grounder up left center that just skated past the shortstop’s glove, Brandon Belt bunted him over and beat the throw to 1st, Travis Ishikawa hit a SAC fly–both runners tagged up and advanced. Brandon Crawford brought Pence home on an RBI groundout. Pablo led-off the 4th with a base hit and advanced to 2nd on Ishikawa’s single. Crawford hit a shallow fly to the center fielder–who couldn’t come up with the ball–and Pablo scored. Pablo led-off the 8th with a single, Hunter Pence followed with another single. The Royals changed pitchers, bringing in one of their “unhittable” pitchers–apparently this guy rarely gives up a hit, let’s not even think about a homerun. Then Juan Perez stepped up to the plate–quiet, unassuming, “Mystery Man” Juan Perez, whose job is to ride the pine until someone needs to be replaced in the outfield, or when they need a pinch-runner, like last night, he stayed in–and crushed a fly ball all the way out to the center field wall. It hit off the top of the wall, but stayed in the park. He was this close–picture me holding my thumb and pointer finger about an inch or two apart–to a homerun. The Royals manager looked so shocked, I thought they might have to revive him. Anyway, while all that was going on, Pablo raced home–with Hunter on his heels–literally, I thought Hunter was going to run over the Panda. Perez spied a throwing error by the Royals shortstop and quickly took 3rd. Crawford was up next–we’re going to crown him RBI King–and hit a single that scored Perez. That gave Brandon Crawford his 3rd RBI of the night. Perez got the other two. The final score was:
GIANTS 5, Royals 0
The GIANTS defense was absolutely amazing. They so made many incredible plays–too numerous to name, but here’s a few: starting in the 1st with the 2nd hitter–Panik caught the ball in a slide, he stopped, did a little spin and threw the runner out at 1st–all while he was on his knees–on his knees! Blanco raced in on a fly ball hit to shallow center in the 3rd inning, and caught it. In the 4th, the ball was hit toward 3rd, took a strange hop, but Pablo stayed with it somehow and threw to 1st in time to get the runner out. The next amazing play was my favorite–also in the 4th, the ball was hit to right field, between 1st and 2nd, Belt was there and snagged it, but needed to get to 1st before the runner–and he did–by going into a slide, reaching the base with his feet before the runner crossed the bag. Out! In the 6th, the Royals hitter popped the ball up, way up, above home plate and Posey caught it at the screen.
It was a special night. The Panda people were there, en masse, Steve Perry got the crowd stirred up with the Journey classic “Lights” his iconic homage to his San Francisco home, and Billy Crystal welcomed the crowd by showing a scoreboard video replay of Robin Williams welcoming the crowd to the 2010 World Series. Crystal also caught the ceremonial 1st pitch thrown by Robin Williams’ kids.
It was a bittersweet night for Juan Perez. He found out during the game–as did the rest of the world watching the game–that his good friend, Oscar Taveras died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic earlier in the day. He was devastated. He did his best, though, to focus on the game–he was called in to pinch-run for Travis Ishikawa in the bottom of the 6th and stayed in the game. When he came to bat in the 8th and hit that double–he dedicated it to his friend. Oscar Taveras played for the St. Louis Cardinals and he was considered one of their top prospects. He was called up earlier this year, and hit a homerun in his major league debut, off GIANTS pitcher Yusmeiro Petit. Bochy gave a statement saying Taveras was a special talent who was looking forward to a great career.
The GIANTS are going back to Kansas City. Kansas City here we come! Remember–together we’re GIANT–so let’s send the GIANTS all the positive vibes we can. It’s our year!
I asked for a win. I prayed or a win. I actually begged and pleaded for a win–making promises I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep. Last night’s game accomplished 2 things: 1) it made it possible for me to breathe again, and 2) it ensured there will be a Game 6.
When the game began, I had high hopes. The GIANTS looked great, Gregor Blanco led-off the bottom of the 1st with a walk, advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch, and stole 3rd. Hunter Pence hit into a force out–the Royals threw from 3rd to 2nd to 1st–the classic 5-4-3 double play, but they were too late to throw Hunter out at 1st. While all that was happening, Gregor scurried down the 3rd baseline to score the first run of the game. Vogelsong was vintage Vogey–for the 1st 2 innings. But the 3rd inning got away from him somehow. I’m not really sure what happened, in fact I don’t think you can point to any one play and say “that’s where it all fell apart.” It was more like the perfect storm of mishaps, missteps and mistakes. When the dust settled, the Royals had scored 4 runs and Vogey was out of the game. Bochy brought Machi in, and I started to shake. Machi walked the 1st batter he faced–loading the bases and giving me a sick feeling. He took the next batter–the pitcher–to a full count, but on ball 3, the hitter tossed the bat aside, began to take 1st, and I started screaming–until I realized the hitter jumped the gun. He came back to the plate, and Machi struck him out–looking. I wasn’t sure I could take much more. After 3, the score was:
GIANTS 1, Royals 4
The Royals had the GIANTS on the ropes after the 3rd inning, after losing Vogey so early, and things didn’t look good for the GIANTS.
Yusmeiro Petit entered the game in the 4th and pitched three scoreless innings for the GIANTS. The GIANTS went scoreless in the 4th–the bright spot was Petit got a hit in his at-bat–much to everyone’s pleasant surprise, maybe even his. In the 5th the GIANTS bats woke up and scored when Panik led-off with a double, Pence and Pablo each got base hits and Juan Perez hit a SAC fly. In the 6th, the GIANTS offense went back to work. Joaquin Arias pinch hit in the pitcher’s spot–he got a base hit and Blanco followed with another base hit. While Arias was at 2nd, the Royals’ catcher fired a rocket to 2nd base in a pick-off attempt. The 2nd baseman tagged Arias, but the umpire called him safe. The Royals challenged the call–and the call was confirmed–the replay showed Arias was clearly safe–the tag was applied too late. Joe Panik hit a SAC bunt advancing Arias and Blanco, Buster Posey was intentionally walked and the bases were loaded. Hunter Pence hit into a force out, and the Royals threw Arias out at home. Pablo hit a 2 RBI single, scoring Blanco and Posey. After 6, the score was:
GIANTS 7, Royals 4
In the 7th , the GIANTS offense got even better. They batted around the entire order, and scored more runs. Brandon Crawford led-off with a base hit, Michael Morse pinch hit in the pitchers spot and drew a walk, Gregor Blanco moved them over with a SAC bunt–Blanco reached 1st safely and Brandon Crawford trotted home when the Royals pitcher made a throwing error to 1st. Joe Panik hit a double–scoring Michael Morse and Gregor Blanco. Hunter Pence hit a double, scoring Panik. Defensively, the GIANTS made some great plays–highlight reel plays. In the top of the 6th, with a man on 1st, the Royals batter hit a grounder to Belt, who threw to Crawford at 2nd, Crawford tagged the bag, getting the runner out at 2nd, and fired a bullet back to Belt, getting the runner at 1st. A 3-6-3 double play–tough to turn successfully–but the Brandons were looking good out there and they did it! In the 7th: Juan Perez caught up with a fly ball, reached for it and went into a slide–keeping the ball in his glove; Pablo snagged a line-drive, mid-drive. In the 9th, Hunter Pence raced in on a fly and made an amazing slide catch–saving Strickland from adding another hit to his stats. The final score was:
GIANTS 11, Royals 4
The GIANTS were on fire, they were dialed in, they were locked and loaded. And they won that game–just like I asked–more like begged and pleaded. So–to all the talking heads I just have one thing to say: BOOYAH!!!
Last night’s game did not go the way I saw it in my head. In the game that played out in my mind, the GIANTS won. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I think that’s how the GIANTS saw it too. All of us would really like a mulligan, a do-over, or a DeLorean to transport the GIANTS back to yesterday–just before the game started. It was a huge disappointment–especially for starter Tim Hudson–this was his first opportunity to pitch in the Fall Classic–possibly his last–and I wanted him to come out the winner, or short of that, at least on the winning team. He may have been the losing pitcher of record, but he did a good job out there and worked hard to keep the game from getting away from the GIANTS. He succeeded.
In the top of the 1st, the Royals lead-off man hit a double off Hudson–on the 1st pitch of the ballgame. Not a good sign. The next 3 hitters ground out, but the lead-off man advanced to 3rd on the 1st out and came home on the 2nd, putting the Royals on the board. The GIANTS didn’t score in the bottom half of the inning. After 1, the score was:
GIANTS 0, Royals 1
The GIANTS defense last night was phenomenal. Ishikawa, Pence, Pablo, Panik and Hudson made the highlight reels with some incredible catches and fielding. They were all doing their absolute best to keep the GIANTS in the game. They came really close. The score in last night’s game looked more like the score we expected for these games–a real close game that came down to pitching, instead of the blow-out games of games 1 and 2. Both teams remained scoreless in innings 3, 4, and 5. The Royals scored 2 runs in the top of the 6th off a single, a double, and another single. The GIANTS staged a rally in the bottom of the 6th–Brandon Crawford led-off with a base hit, Michael Morse hit an RBI double to bring him home, Gregor Blanco drew a walk, Panik hit a high bouncer back to the pitcher who threw Panik out at 1st and while that was happening, Morse and Blanco advanced. Morse scored on Posey’s RBI groundout. Hunter Pence led-off the 7th with a walk, and after that neither team allowed another base runner. The final score was:
GIANTS 2, Royals 3
The Royals have 2 games and the GIANTS have 1. Winning tonight’s game is a huge priority–it was important before, but now it’s become a) essential b) imperative c) crucial or d) all of the above. The correct answer is d–all of the above. This is a must win situation for the GIANTS. The main reason I want the GIANTS to win is because–obviously–I’m a huge GIANTS fan. But there’s also a very small part of me that wants a GIANTS win because it would be the ultimate neener-neener, in-your-face, BOO YAH to all the talking heads, pundits and baseball experts who have engaged in this syrupy-sweet, sugar-coated love fest for the Kansas City Royals. And before that–the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Washington Nationals, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. I just want the GIANTS to shut them the hell up.
C’mon GIANTS–it’s time to lock it up!
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.
I 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
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. Bochy, 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:
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 lefty–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 engaged 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
I 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.
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?
The 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
The 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
Speaking 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.”
The 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!!