Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cain and Giants zero in

Ian Kinsler smoked an 0-2 mistake leading off the 5th into deep center field. Andres Torres turned and hustled back to the warning track in front of the 399-foot sign and watched the ball come down. It hit the top of the fence and caromed right back to him. Torres fired it back to the infield, holding the stunned Kinsler at second base. He clearly was wondering which of the baseball gods he had pissed off. By all rights, that blast should have broken the tie--it was a nail-biting 0-0 pitcher's duel at that point between Cain and Texas lefty C.J. Wilson. It was as close as the Rangers would come to scoring. Cain stranded Kinsler, and in the bottom of the same inning, Edgar Renteria showed the visitors how it was done by hitting a 388-foot bomb down the line in left field to take a 1-0 lead. The Rangers would put two on in the 6th, and Cain would wild pitch the runners to second and third with one out, but blow away the next two guys to keep it one-zip. After a dominating one-two-three 7th, Cody Ross and Juan Uribe would team up for a second Giants run and suddenly Texas, with six outs remaining, was staring into an 0-2 hole. Cain came out for the 8th to face the 9-spot and the leadoff hitters, with Josh Hamilton looming. With Javier Lopez warming up in the bullpen, you knew he'd be called on if the lefty slugger got a chance to hit. Cain walked Elvis Andrus with one out, and Buster Posey just missed throwing him out on a steal, the ball bouncing off Renteria's glove. After Michael Young flied out, Ol' Boch came out to get his big righty. I'll admit the testosterone side of me wanted Matt to go after Hamilton and finish the inning. But the safe, conservative move was the right one, and Lopez made short work of the threat. It was a 2-0 Giants game, a page right out of the "pitch like hell and hope for the best" playbook, exactly the kind of thing everyone was expecting from the squad in orange and black.

Then all the weird shit happened. The Giants scored SEVEN runs after two were out in the 8th. The Texas bullpen had an epic meltdown, walking in two runs and then giving up a single, a triple, and a double to make it a 9-0 game. It's hardly comprehensible, even as I sit here and re-imagine it. I'm not capable of describing it accurately. It was both the weirdest and the most wonderful inning in Giants history. A taut, tight, dramatic game ended as a laugher after an excruciating display of poor pitching and probably worse managing. It was so bad that the Giants were able to use last man Guillermo Mota to finish the game, and he did so with relaxed ease.

The Giants find themselves up 2-0 in the World Series after once again demonstrating remarkable poise and patience at the plate, flashing some absolutely stellar leather, and pounding the strike zone with nasty shit batter after batter, inning after inning. Matt Cain stepped up and delivered another string of zeroes, continuing his remarkable post-season run. For all the craziness tonight, and all the contributions from the lineup and the bench guys, it all started with Cain retiring the first seven guys he saw and 12 of his first 13. It was a huge performance and a well-deserved win for the man who rarely gets the run support he should. The Texas Rangers had only been shut out five times in the regular season, and were 14-4 in inter-league play. I hope they enjoyed their trip to San Francisco.



UPDATE (0707 Friday): Take a look at Baseball Musings. David Pinto does a nice graphic look at Matt's pitch locations. He says the pitch to Kinsler was a good one, it was just a case of a good hitter getting a good rip in. OK, I'll buy it. It looked like it caught too much of the plate when I saw it live, but that happened in the blink of an eye (and I'm not known for my eyesight!). I also think that when my boy Matty gives up a bomb it's because he missed his spot and not because the other guy is good. Great visuals and a fun way to bask in Cain's awesomeness.

UPDATE (1128 Saturday): Speaking of basking in Matt Cain's awesomeness, Peter Gammons has this to say about our guy:
But in many ways the face of this series is Matt Cain. He has no pretense of having an "it" factor. In the last two years, he's 27-19 with a 3.02 ERA and the lowest run support on his staff. He's thrown 441 innings in those two seasons, hasn't missed a start, has failed to finish the fifth inning three times and finished the eighth and/or the ninth 26 times.
He has thrown 21 1/3 innings in three starts in this postseason against the Braves, Phillies and Rangers and has not allowed an earned run. He has allowed one hit in 15 at-bats with runners in scoring position.


Anonymous said...

Not much needs to be said. Matt Cain is the true "ACE" of the post season. We won the last two series on the road, lets win this one on the road too!

Ron said...

Well, well, well - that was another odd one. During most of Wednesday's game, one might have asked 'Do either of these teams look like they belong here?'. Last night, we clearly looked the part, mostly thanks to Matt Cain's studliness & some very nice plays in the field. I was totally fine with a nail-biting 2-0 victory, finished off by Wilson. The way that the game got out-of-hand in the bottom of the 8th inning created the impression that one team out there still doesn't belong in the World Series. I actually felt bad for that High School kid who walked 3 guys in a row. Giving up runs on hits is so much easier to swallow, from everyone's (Players, Manager, Fans of both Teams) perspective - I'm glad that, eventually, we did (the always potent 1-2-3 punch of Renteria, Rowand, & Torres). So, of course, as I always worry about the Giants, no matter how good things appear, during that inning & at this moment, I worry about us scoring 20 runs in 2 games & whether or not that has anything to do with our ability to score more runs in the next game. It therefore becomes imperative that J. Sanchez & Bumgarner go into total shutdown mode, because I think that we are on the cusp of some of more typically-eeked out 3-2, 2-1, or 1-0 victories.

So, I was a day early & one run off in my Mota prediction, but I was still happy to see him in there, breaking a sweat to earn some of his lucrative post-season bucks. The shot of Romo dancing back into the dugout, when it became clear that he wouldn't pitch, was priceless.

Against the righty, C. Lewis, I believe that we are compelled to go with the Panda at DH. Everyone seems to be talking themselves out of Burrell taking on that role. The downside of going with Huff as DH is that Huff is still a dependable & versatile fielder. Ishikawa seems to be seeing the ball again at the plate, but I think that the potentially explosive left-handed bat of the Panda is worth a look in Game 3.

As an ex-CF, I really enjoy watching Torres take charge out there, calling his corner outfielders off emphatically. Ross & Burrell seem a tad miffed from time-to-time, but, deep down, I think that they're in awe.

Finally, I just can't say enough about the superior coverage on Fox Deportes. The commentators are to-the-point & entertaining, but without being 'entertainers'. Ozzie Guillen, after doing his bland pre-game on the main Fox, comes into the booth & spills his guts in a much less measured fashion for the first few innings, & there are the charming Spanish baseball parlance ('batazo elevado flojo' = 'lazy fly ball') & other idiomatic expressions that I am learning. My favorite last night was the description of some of Buster's tentative swings during the game as being 'entre azul y buenas noches'. After discussion with Susana & some additional internet research, we agreed that, in that context, the appropriate translation of that common expression would be 'indecisive' swings. The imagery apparently refers to the period between the blue ('azul') skies of daytime & the darkness of the night (expressed as 'buenas noches'). And, bizarrely, in both games so far, they have been no less than 5 seconds ahead of the Fox broadcast. I'm sure that they're on a delay, too, but it is probably 5 seconds, instead of 10 seconds. If you get that channel, I highly recommend checking it out for awhile, even if your Spanish is minimal. We all know what's going on in the game, &, for God's sake, are you really missing anything at all by tuning away from Buck & McCarver? Watching highlight replays last night, I heard McCarver actually step on Buck's call of the final out with tangential BS (the exciting tidbit that Jeff Francoeur had told him that his beard is natural). Couldn't that have waited? Wow.

The off-day will be nice, but I'm excited to see Game 3.

Go Giants - Win!!! Win!!!!

Ron said...

One other tidbit from last night's Fox Deportes broadcast: Both Rolando Nichols & Carlos Hernandez reported that Edgar Renteria called his upcoming HR during BP.

Anonymous said...

Damn it. I fell asleep when we were up 3-0 and I miss most of the BEST INNING EVER apparently. EPIC SAD FACE. I kid. I've had some scary thoughts recently that I'll go into greater detail in the upcoming days if I have to. Sigh, I hate sleep.

@Ron: I don't think I get that channel. Even if I do, Fox and Cablevision are still fighting, so, they wouldn't let me see it anyway. It sounds great though. Now I have even more of an incentive to finally learn Spanish! At least I have Jon Miller on the radio!!

Go Giants!!!

Brother Bob said...

Ron, I love it how close you got with your Mota prediction.
And I'm so damn proud of Cain. While I'm hoping he doesn't need another start, wouldn't it be sweet to see him extend his no earned runs streak?
Now it's up to our lefties. I'm pretty sure Sanchez will be solid, desperate to compensate for his meltdown against Philly. I'm very curious to see how MadBum copes with the situation.
No celebration until it's done this time. Eight years ago I actually shed a tear when I "realized" we had won the WS. Then Dusty gave the ball back to Ortiz.

Estacada said...

It's only two games into the World Series 2010, but does anyone see a resemblance to the 2002 Giants/Angels World Series? Go Giants Go. It's been a long time since bat day at Candlestick Park!

M.C. O'Connor said...

I thought that a typhoon canceled the 2002 World Series--or am I mistaken?

This team is amazing, but let's not get too excited. One game at a time. One inning at a time, one batter at a time, one pitch at a time. Take a page from the Big Book of Cain: calm, steady, focused.

Go Giants! WIN! WIN!