Monday, September 3, 2012

Sunday Giants v. Cubs Recap, Version 2

Thanks for your initial recap, Zo. Just wanted to chime in with one of my own.

First, I pose a question:  What do you do, if you've accomplished just about everything that you need to in Madison, WI?  You've gotten your Kid installed in his Residence Hall, you've gotten together with the limited number of people you know in the Madison/Milwaukee area, you've bicycled, drank a lot of local beer, eaten some good food, gone to the Farmers' Market, bought souvenirs ... all of that stuff.  But, you've still got a free day.  Naturally, you say to your somewhat skeptical Wife: "Hey, let's drive to Chicago ... it's only 3 hours, & the Giants are still in town!"

Actually, due to very favorable traffic conditions, from our B&B here in Madison to our very close-in, but free, street parking space, it took only 2 1/2 hours, as we arrived in Wrigleyville at around 11:45 AM for the 1:20 PM game.  Soon, we had Bleacher tickets in-hand from a guy on the street a few blocks closer & approached the stadium, a real classic.  I had been there once, in 1982, for a game between the Cubs & Phillies.  But, to visit again to see the Giants, with Susana, at Wrigley was an opportunity just too good to pass up.

We got to our seats around Noon, allowing ample time to explore & take some good photos.  Giants' fans were everywhere, including the The Dog & his entourage, who apparently got some air time on Comcast Bay Area.  We were in the front row of the same LF bleacher section of which they were in the back row.  It was very muggy, but not excessively hot.  Still, I was instantly soaked through with sweat.

When I saw that the wind was blowing in (not strongly, but consistently), I thought that that bode well for Matt Cain.  In fact, I thought that that bode very well for Matt Cain.  But, yesterday's Matt Cain was getting a lot of K's & not that many of those harmless fly ball outs.  Still, he looked sharp through the first 4 innings, making Soriano look particularly bad by getting ahead of him, then getting to swing at garbage.

Meanwhile, the Giants cobbled together their first rally.  Remarkably, I thought that the key AB was Scutaro's eventual pop-up to 2B, after a lengthy battle with the surprisingly good Travis Wood.  Scutaro wore Wood down enough that the next 2 guys (Sandoval & Posey) lashed RBI singles to make it 3-0.  I thought that we were in good shape.  Then, after another DeJesus RBI hit (the Barney-Wood-DeJesus combination really worked well twice), Matt did the unthinkable ... he walked a guy, then got behind on the count to Soriano.  I was really worried at that point, & the dreaded 3-run no-doubter quickly followed.  Yuck, especially since we seated in Soriano's 'territory'.

Thankfully, the Giants came back with 2 crazy runs of their own in the top of the 6th.  First, Xavier 'The God' Nady slapped one down the RF line for a 2B.  Then, Belt hit that ball right beneath us that I was sure until the final split-second would be caught by Soriano.  I don't know if he hit the warning track & pulled up a little, but it just eluded him. We were in that cutout area down the line, where the wall juts out & the warning track is wider, so maybe that had something to do with it.  It seemed like a very ill-advised decision by Belt/Flannery for Belt to continue to 3B, but he made it, much to the dismay of the Cub fans around us.  Given the ensuing WP, that was also a key moment.

A tense period of very good Cubs & Giants relief pitching followed, building up to the drama of the 9th.  Again, Nady started it, this time with a no-brainer 4-pitch BB, an outcome predicted by many battle-weary Cubs fans around us.  Marmol succeeded to ingratiate himself further to the locals by throwing to 1B a thousand times & calling time-out a dozen more.  The natives were, indeed, getting restless.  Although also irritated by the delays, we knew that they would work in our favor.  Sure enough, after a particularly feeble Belt at-bat, off went Blanco, & Crawford surprised me by earning his own free pass (I was sure that he would slap an RBI hit).

It's amazing how much faith I have in Pagan these days.  After the slapstick fielding of his first month as a Giant, he has settled in as one of our more dependable guys in all facets: hitting, running, & fielding.  When he tried to bunt, I was not happy, because he was The Man right there ... luckily, he fouled it off.  Then, the RBI rope to left-center ... "Yes!!!!!"  When Scutaro batted in the 7th, I told Susana that he deserved a hit, because of his heroic 3rd inning AB.  Luckily, he saved it for the 9th, ripping another  RBI rope to center ... "Yes!!!!!"  Around the stadium, lots of Giants' fans cheering & lots of Cubs' fans booing.  [Susana asked me whether I would ever boo a Giants' Pitcher.  I said that it depended upon the situation, but, in this case, yes, mostly because he unravelled himself by losing focus on the batter, with all of the throws to 1B, etc..]

What is it about Javier Lopez these days?  I can think of at least 2 previous game-ending DP's he has induced from right-handed hitters.  Sure enough, there he was again, coming in to face another right-handed hitter in a game-ending DP situation.  It's starting to become predictable ... delightfully predictable!!!!!  Game over ... big hug for Susana, getting her first Giants' victory in a tense, stylish way in an historic ballpark!!!!!

Lots of excitement followed: more photos (of the scoreboard, especially), slapping 5's with other Giants' fans, bidding Wrigley adieu amidst a sea of Chicago Bucket Boy (if you've never seen them, check them out on YouTube - I had seen them previously at a Blazers' game) drumming & other festivities.  It wasn't super-late, so we hopped on the 'L' for a quick visit to downtown Chicago, which was crowded, humid, & lively.  We walked around a bit, then got back on the train, walked by the stadium one more time, got in the car, & drove off to Madison, arriving just before 10 PM.

A few final random observations:

- Joaquin Arias has Dan Gladden Disease.  He needs to get back within himself.  I think that he will.

- Nothing Hunter Pence does inspires confidence in me.  I know in my brain that he is a good player, but in the on-deck circle, at the plate, & in the field, he looks like a goofball.  I'll get over it.

- Despite no Closer, our Bullpen seems to be pretty solid again, & that is a very good thing.  Mijares, Affeldt, Casilla, & Lopez all looked very good yesterday.

- It was just wonderful to see the Giants win on the road with Susana.  Too bad we'll have to tell the Kids that they can't go to any more games.  Or, maybe, we can only see the Giants win ins maller sub-sets, not with all 4 of us attending.  We'll work it out!



Brother Bob said...

Good for you! Wrigley is a special place and everyone should go there at least once.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Way to make the call, Ron. Emergency trips to the yard are always the right thing to do.