Saturday, September 15, 2012

On to the Ninth

It's the final inning of the season. Last night in Arizona was game number 144, and we all know that 18 x 8 = 144, right? The Eighth Inning of the 2012 season wasn't quite as dominating as the Seventh, but it was damn good nonetheless. The Giants continued their impressive second half by going 11-7 and find themselves secure atop the NL West at 82-62. The Dodgers came to San Francisco in the middle of this stretch with a chance to get back in the race and were quickly disabused of that by a clinical Giants squad. The Magic Number is now 11 after the 6-2 win over the Diamondbacks and LA's loss in St. Louis on Thursday. Here's the season so far:

1st inning: 9-9
2nd inning: 9-9
3rd inning: 12-6
4th inning: 10-8
5th inning: 10-8
6th inning: 9-9
7th inning: 12-6
8th inning: 11-7

It's easy to have confidence in this bunch. They are so consistent. They claw their way out of funks and toss off winning streaks with regularity. If things go well the rest of the way they could clinch at home, and that would be a lot of fun. We all know that anything can happen in this game. We're Giants fans, fer chrissakes. We know this only too well. But I like this team. They just seem to have what it takes. Bip Roberts always talks about "chemistry" on the pre-game show, it's his favorite subject besides "confidence." It's easy to scoff at the old canards these guys trot out every night, but the Giants are living proof of both. They have talent, of course. You have to have that. But they have that magic dust, too, and they sprinkle it all over each other all the goddamn time. They have that synergy, that "whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-the parts" thing goin' on, and it's beautiful, man. Just beautiful.

Hunter Pence got a chance in the 1st with the bases loaded against rookie southpaw Tyler Skaggs and he made the most of it with his third career grand slam. I'm a believer in lots of arrows in the quiver. Having some guys who can give you a big jack now and then (well, at least on the road) is great. We haven't seen the power bat we expected from this guy, but he just might find his stroke here for the final run. Pablo Sandoval bounced back from his recent poor form, and he's another key bat. I'm not sure he can deliver the dingers, but some hard-hit balls sprayed all over the yard would be just fine. It seems like he's not physically 100%, that the injuries and DL time have taken a toll. The highlight of the evening was of course the RBI hit by Santiago Casilla to make it 6-1. Those kinds of things are real back-breakers. A relief pitcher gets a clutch hit? Cash it in, man, you know you are doomed. Matt Cain had the bases on balls bug, but would only bend a little and not break. He kept the Snakes off the board until the pitch count caught up with him in the 6th. Six guys finished up. Ol' Boch sure knows how to use a 40-man roster.

What would I like to see before the end of the season? The starters get some rest. They've still got a lot of work to do, but all of them could use a day off. They are not quite their dominant selves. Effective, yes, but not the aces they can be. It's not worrisome. How could a 7-1/2 game lead with 18 to play be worrisome? But I think the long grind has sapped them a bit. Having a cushion for the last inning of the year ought to be good for something, and I think that something ought to be a skipped turn or two. Ryan Vogelsong comes to mind first. Then Madison Bumgarner. I like the way Tim Lincecum is looking, maybe you don't mess with that now that it is coming together. Barry Zito is always Barry Zito, and he just might get hot and pitch himself on to the final roster. That game against the Dodgers was huge, and he's on track for four more starts. There is an off-day at home on the 24th before the final nine games. Matt is scheduled for three more starts and will miss the last series in LA. Tim's last start is the final Saturday in San Diego, the day before. Both are obviously on track to be the 1-2 guys in the first post-season series. If they can clinch before going on the road maybe a guy like Yusmeiro Petit could get a start and bump Vogie or MadBum from their last start and save their arms for the playoffs.

Let's go, Giants! Get it done.



Brother Bob said...

The Giants got their best hitter suspended, then they started winning. The Dodgers made a huge trade and picked up some star players, then they started fading. Go figure. I love it when things happen counter-intuitively.

Zo said...

Santiago Casilla's lifetime OBP is .667.