Monday, October 11, 2010

All aboard the Torture Train!

Next stop: Philadelphia!

The Giants punched their tickets to the City of Brotherly Love with a 3-2 win over the Braves in Atlanta. Madison Bumgarner is the first story--six impressive pressure-packed innings by the rookie southpaw, giving up only two runs, both off the bat of the outstanding Brian McCann. The next is mid-season acquisition Cody Ross, a 29-year old journeyman outfielder with his fifth club in seven seasons, who roped not only the game-tying homer off Derek Lowe (to break up the no-hit shutout in the 6th), but also the go-ahead single in the very next inning. The final story is the bullpen trio of Santiago Casilla (1-2/3, 1 hit, 2 K, no runs), Javier Lopez (4-pitch whiff of Jason Heyward), and Brian Wilson (9th inning save--an agonizing, tortuous save, but still a save). They got the outs they had to get. Casilla was particularly impressive, working in two innings and throwing 23 nasty-looking pitches (17 strikes) to six batters.

Derek Lowe made the Giants look really feeble for five innings (he faced the minimum) by working fast and throwing that ridiculous slider-sinker thing. Finally, Ross got his breakthrough hit and the dormant Giants had life. McCann's blast in the bottom half was a deflating, but Lowe finally ran out of steam in the 7th, walking Aubrey Huff with one out. Buster Posey hit a 30-footer into no-man's land that third baseman Troy Glaus couldn't make a play on and suddenly the Giants had a rally. Bobby Cox came out to talk to his pitcher, one cagey old vet to another, and the squinty-eyed pitcher told his squintier-eyed manager "this here mound ain't big enough for the two of us." The Ancient One waddled back to the dugout and watched his gunslinger shoot blanks, walking Pat Burrell. Waddling Cox waddled back out and that was Lowe's night. He was not happy, dropping an obvious f-bomb for the nation's lip readers. I was happy, however. Getting Lowe out was our chance, I figured. Juan Uribe hit a double-play grounder off Peter Moylan that was NOT a double-play. In fact, it was nothing at all. Huff scored on the play to tie the game once again. Aaron Rowand struck out against Jonny Venters, but Cody Ross hit a ground ball in the "five-and-a-half-hole" and the Giants were a run up. Pat Burrell was thrown out at the plate on the play. He should have been substituted for once he reached base, or certainly after Huff scored the tying run. Nate Schierholtz was coming in for defense anyway, and would have scampered home easily on Ross' hit. It's not like we needed extra runs or anything.

Like the win against San Diego to clinch on the last day of the regular season, the Giants did just enough to get through. It was a terrifying 9th inning, with Wilson walking two guys with one out, but the gang hung on for the win. The Braves were a banged-up, short-handed outfit, but they had some fight left and made the Giants work like hell. The Giants came from behind in back-to-back games on the road to win a playoff series. That bears repeating. The Giants came from behind in back-to-back games on the road to win a playoff series.That's one hell of an accomplishment! It's even more amazing when you consider they scored only 11 runs. Thanks to some extraordinary pitching (only 9 runs allowed) and some help from the porous Braves defense, the Giants prevailed.

Philadelphia, here we come!




Ron said...

That Zo ... always on the money: "I'm looking for the bats to have one of their periodic, although infrequent, awakenings today."




More specific comments tomorrow, but ... Wow! They did it!

Anonymous said...

I think both on your blog, and several others people are mixing-up the word tortuous, with torturous. Tortuous means twisted, like on a twisted path or twisted blood vessels etc. Torturous means being affected by torture.

giantsrainman said...

I have to disagree with you on a pinch runner in the 7th for Burrell. The odds favored Ross making the third out more then Ross driving in the go ahead run. If Ross had made the third out and Bochy had pinch run for Burrell the Giants would have been in a tie game without one of their best bats. Bochy played this right and did not replace Burrell until he had a lead.

M.C. O'Connor said...

@Anon: You're right. Funny thing about the Giants, either word works! I'm going to start making the distinction by saying it was a "torturous, tortuous victory last night . . ." thus indicating that not only was it agony-inducing, but that it was devious and twisted as well.

@GRM: After the tying run scored, I would have PR'd Burrell and gone with Nate in RF (and Ross in LF) for the defense. But, hey, it all worked out. What's a game without a few minor quibbles?

Man, their fielders really let them down. The Giants have made some fielding mistakes, too, but the pitching has really come through and the bats--well, "just enough" is the team motto, eh? I'll admit the Phils scare the crap out of me.

Brother Bob said...

What a great accomplishment. This team shows so much determination.
And how nice is it that MadBum did so well? All of our 4 starters were (well one of them was unbelievable) very good.
I was so impressed by Brian McCann. He is the standard by which NL catchers are measured and he performed like a superstar. Let's hope Posey becomes that good.
Saturday seems like so far away.

Ron said...

While we're basking in the afterglow, a few comments:

- Why in the hell do you pinch-hit Rowand for Fontenot, guaranteeing that you have to burn 2 players to substitute an infielder? With a 40-man roster & knowledge that Rowand 'owns' Vetters (which he doesn't), maybe. With the short roster, it was a waste of a player. The correct move was to pinch-hit Renteria for Fontenot. The result speaks for itself.

- Luckily, Fontenot's error did not directly lead to a run (although it did allow Atlanta to turn their lineup over quicker). However, I though that it was a double-dopey play. With Heyward running, he had no play at second in the first place. Then, he made that absurd flip-throw. A bit scary on the decision-making side.

- Later in the game, when Heyward broke up the double play, I thought that Sanchez made a great decision to land on his feet, then throw the ball. Most players would have attempted some crazy in the air weak or wild toss, resulting in an overthrow & problems. Sanchez realized that, with Glaus running, he had a decent chance to get him by waiting. He didn't throw him out, but it was close & a better percentage play.

- Renteria dropping the line drive in the 8th was nearly a disaster. Strange play.

- Bochy made a good move by warming up Lopez & Ramirez to back up Casilla in the 8th, as opposed to bringing in Wilson prematurely.

- I hope that the Giants can find a way to get Romo back into the plan. This is a tough one, when there are no actual games to test him in. He is key, although Casilla really looked good.

- Why does everyone think that the Phillies are going to roll over us? If you look at the numbers, many of their key hitters had off years - not bad years, but not up to their usual standards. We match their starting pitching & top them in relief pitching & defense. They do have recent post-season experience - that is important. I think that we can beat them.

Ron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zo said...

They are already writing the next story - Giants, the Cinderella team, gave it their all, but couldn't handle the rough, tough Phillies. The Phillies are rough and tough, they also won the National League championship the last two years. This could turn out to be one of those Dewey Beats Truman headlines, because I believe the Giants pitching staff can beat ANY team. I'm not predicting it, just saying it is possible. And the Giants have done just more than seems possible all season.

Anonymous said...

Whoa. We have only hit 4 fewer home runs that Philly. I mean, I know that a lot of their guys were hurt at one point or just did not play as good this year, but, that's still incredible. Go Giants!

M.C. O'Connor said...

I do believe Philly can be beaten, but they do have something the Giants don't, and that's big hitters. What's amazing is how well they did despite the off-years of their big guns like Howard and Utley. They are healthy now. They also have a real SS. I think our starters are as good as theirs, and our 'pen is better. The Giants probalby wont get any gift runs, though. And four games in Philly is to their advantage. Flyball that are outs at home are HRs there. It should be a great matchup. They, I've no doubt, have dynastic aspirations--4 straight LDS, three straight LCS, 2 straight WS. You have to beat the best to be the best.

Ron said...

Channeling the Nature Boy, Ric Flair, now? Woooooooooooo!

Brother Bob said...

Obviously the game one matchup of Lincecum and Halliday will be epic.

Anonymous said...

I'm heading out to Philly for the first two games. Where is a good place to sit as a visiting fan?

Ron said...

I suppose that everyone has already seen this, but, just in case you haven't:

Ron said...

So, everyone, are there any roster moves in the works? Anyone up for a Zito/Mota switch in the bullpen?

Here are the justifications:

- Left-handed batters are key to the Phillies (starters Utley, Howard, & Ibanez; pinch-hitter Dobbs).

- Zito has good splits against lefties.

- If a game went to extra innings (probably the only time he would be used), he can pitch longer.

Here are the counter-arguments:

- It's Zito.

- He has pitched in relief twice in his career.

I lean only slightly to Zito. I think that it's a tough decision.

The non-pitchers should stay the same. Sandoval should start Game 1, but we should be ready to make the switch back to Fontenot or Renteria, if it is justified.

Zo said...

I put Zito in, because it is a 7 game series and he can pitch multiple innings, even a couple days in a row if necessary. I know the argument about him not being quick to warm up, but I like having a long arm in the mix for relief or a start if necessary.

Anonymous said...

I prefer Zeets over Mota. There, I said it. I felt really good about him at the beginning of the season and although he ended the season dreadfully, I like him being a lefty. The Phillies are very left handed as you said and I'd rather have a LHP starter over a RHP reliever against them. Besides, We'd probably lose if we were relying on Mota (likely the last guy we would use) or Zeets coming out of the pen. So, I'd just go with the matchup. Go Giants! Let's try to use neither!

Anonymous said...

*That last post was by me, sorry, forgot I wasn't Anonymous anymore*

M.C. O'Connor said...

I'd take Zito over Mota.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Giants are going with Lincecum in Game 1 obviously, but switching Cain and Sanchez. JS gets Game 2 in Philly, MC Game 3 at home.