Apparently, acquiring Justin Maxwell & re-signing Travis Ishikawa weren't the only moves that the Giants had up their sleeves this off-season. Sergio Romo is coming back, & I am:
- Mighty happy about the concept.
- Mighty amazed about how much money they are paying him, although, given how much various other non-Closers are getting this year, I suppose that I shouldn't be.
I think that Romo has a lot left to offer & will continue to adapt his pitching style to his shifting physical skills ... for example, what would be more goofy than the goofiest guy on the Team starting to throw a knuckle-curve?
I was worried, when LA cut The Beard loose & were supposedly shopping Brandon League, that that dreaded Romo to LA signing was imminent, but no. Now, we need to decide whether having Wilson pitch for us, while getting overpaid by LA is something that we should interested in. Sounds worth a shot, doesn't it? He's another guy who is young enough to learn a new pitch & become awesome again.
I welcome the return of Romo & look forward to some more wheeling & dealing (within reason) to fill in our other needs.
Sergio is back ... more ice cream endorsements ahoy!
In case you were wondering about how baseball teams can spend $150-200M on one player, here's a graph:
Baseball teams are loaded with money. This article by Maury Brown at Forbes gives a breakdown of the details(h/t Baseball Musings). Even poor teams are rich. Mr. Brown points out that revenues have grown over 300% since 1995. Screw blue chips, I want a piece of that pie in my mutual funds.
The moral of the story, for me, is to stop giving a shit how much players cost. They cost what they cost and the money is there and the owners could spend a lot more and still be richer than God.
I really hoped that sprint home with the tying run in Game Two of the NLCS would have resulted in a win and would have become part of Giants lore. Since they lost the game, the moment will fade and come to its resting place in the dustbin of history. But I won't forget! I'm high on Duffy and hope he gets to be the third baseman soon.
Every year I sponsor (on behalf of RMC) a page on Baseball-Reference. I use the site all the time, it's my baseball Wikipedia. Back when Matt Cain was a nobody his page was cheap. Now they want $220. Last year I got Brandon Crawford for, I don't know, $60 or so. This year it is $160! Yikes, too rich for my blood.
So, Matt Duffy it is. Only forty bucks! Makes me feel good to be a part of B-R and it is nice to have the RMC name out there. I hope the price goes up soon as that will mean the former Dirtbag will be climbing the ladder to stardom.
The only comp I can think of for Buster Posey is Joe Mauer. Every time I see Buster take another blow to the head I think "how long can that go on?" The Giants supposedly have no plans to move Buster to another position, but you have to think that will inevitably happen. After all, he is signed through 2021 at $20+M/yr. Head injuries, thankfully, are finally getting the attention they merit. This is near and dear to me as I suffered a concussion from a fall off my mountain bike in September of 2010. I was fortunate that I had no long-term effects, no cognitive issues, or anything other than a long, slow recovery. I was tired a lot, but regained my health in due time. There are still a few hours of my life that I cannot remember yet I was, according to reliable witnesses, walking and talking during that "blackout" phase. Scary, man. I don't want to whack my head ever again.
Here is a graph of Joe Mauer's "games caught" vs. "season." You can see the Twins finally stopped having him put on the gear. They have the DH option, of course. What do you guys think? Should the Giants have a plan for Posey? It seems like the obvious solution is to teach Brandon Belt to play left field! What would you do if you were Boch & Sabes?
Regardless of what may happen and what may have driven this decision, the Giants need a third baseman and a left fielder, to fill at least 2 positions in the rotation, and probably some relief. Discuss
This is a graph I put together of Tim Hudson's 2014 season. The horizontal axis is each start during the regular season. On the vertical axis, I have shown the innings pitched, in red, and the bases Huddy surrendered (from hits, walks and hit-by-pitches) per innings pitched. I thought this might give a better, although still incomplete picture than merely hits/BB/hbp or earned runs.
As you can see, as the season progressed, his innings pitched per game went down, slightly, and his bases per inning pitched tended upward slightly, even leaving out the terrible 1 inning game against LA on September 13. But Tim Hudson also pitched in the playoffs and World Series (won by the Giants!!!). Everyone remembers his start in game 7 (won by the Giants!!!). It didn't go well. He threw 1 and 2/3 innings, gave 3 hits, walked 1 and gave up 2 runs.
On October 4, Huddy gave us 7 1/4 innings of work, giving up 1 run on 7 hits. He walked no one and struck out 8. That was the 18 inning game against Washington, the Giants winning 2-1. He pitched again October 14, against St. Louis, in game 3 of the NLCS at ATT Park, giving up 4 runs on 7 hits in 6 1/3 innings. The Giants won that game, 5-4 in the 10th. Then, he pitched game 3 of the World Series at ATT on October 24 before the October 29 game 7. In game 3, he picked up the loss, going 5 2/3 innings and giving up 3 runs to Kansas City.
So here is my conclusion: Tim Hudson had a hell of a season for the Giants. He was an ace at the beginning of the year, although he ran out of some steam towards the end. Once he got some rest (he had not pitched since September 24 before the Washington game), he pitched pretty damn well. He is, by his own admission, an old man. But recall that he pitched so well during the early part of the season that he was rewarded with a trip to the All Star game. We would not have been in the playoffs without his contribution. I fully expect him to be rested and sharp for the 2015 season.
I think this photo (my birthday present, thanks Nance) is from this game.
Can't stop thinking about that incredible post-season.
It's a great time to be a Giants fan.
p.s. RIP Ray Sadecki. He was a good pitcher who had the misfortune of being on the wrong side of the Cepeda trade. I think the Giants, as Sabes said after 2010, have buried those bones. The lefty was from KC and also pitched for the Royals in the mid-70s after leaving SF.
The 2014 World Series was a unique experience as my wife and I were traveling and we enjoyed the entire event while on the road. We watched Game One in Santa Clarita which is, surprisingly, the third-largest city in Los Angeles County. It was only recently incorporated (1987) and is composed of several former separate communities like Newhall, Saugus, and Valencia. At 1200 feet elevation it sits on the southern edge of the Transverse Ranges before the descent into the San Fernando Valley. It is probably best-known for Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park. We had planned to avoid the downtown LA traffic by crossing the city later in the evening and hoped to stop somewhere along I-5 to watch the game. If you have ever driven to Southern California along that route you know there's not much to choose from. I had identified a likely spot, a sports bar called the Tilted Kilt, which turned out to be in one of those boulevard lined mega-shopping complexes that are no more attractive than the box store strip malls that blight our country's mid-sized towns. The restaurant itself was big and clean and horribly modern with over two dozen televisions. The food was the usual fare but decent overall and the beer selection was passable. It's a "guy" place with scantily clad cute waitresses in tartan halter tops and mini-skirts. Madison Bumgarner and the Giants kicked ass so it was really quite pleasant despite the characterless setting. And we missed the infamous LA rush hour and made it to our South Bay destination in good time. We noticed one or two other Giants fans in the place who actually left before the end. No Dodgers fans seemed to be present--at least none were sporting their blue, and no one else seemed particularly passionate about the event.
Game Two we spent in the home of our dear friend BRZ in Lomita and that was good as the Giants got a whipping by the Royals. It's always nice to have true fans around to commiserate with. We endured Fox and Joe Buck as best we could and had a splendid visit before our train trip. Taking walks around the area we of course wore our caps but LA fans had already forgotten their season and had turned their thoughts to the myriad of other distractions that abound down there. Game Three happened while we were on the Southwest Chief heading to Chicago and we had to depend on text updates from JCP and various bits of info from other passengers. We didn't encounter any real baseball fans although one of the dining car attendants made a point of lamenting the tough loss with us the next morning. I was not prepared to fully follow the action but I was relaxed and philosophical about the disconnect as that is very much part of my travel outlook. Spontaneity and serendipity are really what journeys are all about. We pulled in to Kansas City the morning of Game Four and I saw a few Royals caps on people in the station but once again did not encounter any baseball fans on the train. That evening after we were settled in our hotel in Chicago we took a walk around the neighborhood and discovered Kitty O'Shea's Pub and Restaurant in the ground floor of the Hilton just across the street. We ate dinner and drank to excess and had a grand time watching the epic come-from-behind Giants victory. We spent the first half of the game talking with a lively gentleman whose mother was a devoted Royals fan. He was an intelligent student of the game and knew quite a bit about the Giants and their players. He left before the onslaught but the bartender, who was from Dublin, had a rooting interest for KC. It seems he won a bet from his "bruddah" on the Super Bowl and rather than a payoff had doubled down on the Series. I love the Irish version of the "th" sound in English--you get everything from "t" to "d" and lots in between. Let's just say if an Irishman calls you "tick" it's not a compliment.
Game Five we watched in our room after a long day of walks exploring the city. Madison Bumgarner was sensational of course, and we got to enjoy it in comfort. We wore our Giants gear around town but there was a Blackhawks game happening that evening and the sports fans around seemed focused on the young hockey season. We did talk to a couple in Grant Park earlier in the day who saw our colors and knew we were tourists and gave us some pointers about where to go and what to see. We were on the train for Game Six and had to rely on text updates once again. No one had any interest as far as we could tell which was fine as that contest was decided early as the Giants were trounced. We made it to Philadelphia for Game Seven after an exhausting journey and once again watched it in the comfort of our room. The Giants were brilliant (that Bumgarner fellow was pretty good again) and we celebrated quietly together before collapsing from our extended travel ordeal.
Philadelphia, we found out, is a real baseball town. Strangers would see our SF garb and say "congratulations" or "you guys must be pumped" and whatnot. It was fun. Lots of people wanted to talk about Madison Bumgarner, Panda, Hunter Pence, and even rookie Joe Panik. There was still a buzz about the Series even though the long season was over and there was little or no rooting interest in either team. At NoirCon (the crime writing conference we were there for) we met one of my literary heroes, Eddie Muller, who is from San Francisco. He saw our caps and came over to gush about the championship. We enjoyed several fun and fruitful conversations with Eddie over the next few days. He was charming and approachable as well as a passionate and intelligent fan. Several of the conference attendees were also baseball types and we would chat in the elevator in the hotel or at breaks in the proceedings. Drinking beers (and eating pirogies) with the British writer Richard Godwin and his wife after the conference ended was great as he was very interested in Raising Matt Cain and wanted to know what I attributed the team's spectacular run to. For an Englishman he had a fair interest in our national pastime and knew more than I expected. I told him about the great job the team had done drafting amateur talent, the wisdom of picking Bruce Bochy to be the field manager, and the club culture of valuing players and their contributions. It was a thumbnail sketch and off-the-cuff but I think I hit the key points. Obviously it has been a lot of fun to bask in the glory of the orange-and-black.
I remember telling many of the folks we discussed the season with that I pinch myself every morning about the recent dynastic success of our beloved ballclub. It's an amazing time to be a Giants fan and a great payoff for decades of loyalty. It's particularly rewarding because I started this blog near the end of the 2007 season and the team's ascendancy coincided perfectly with us hitting our stride as bloggers. I hope I have thanked all of you who have been reading along with us enough over the years for being a part of RMC. It's nice to know people are reading when you write something and the discussions and arguments and everything have been great. Some of you out there in comment land are my friends and we've shared the ups and downs over the years. Some of you I only know virtually from our internet encounters but I feel we've been through a lot together and I hope some day to buy you a beer and shake your hand if we ever meet in the real world!
We are just at the start of our cross-country train journey back home to California. And there's wifi! What's up with that? Where was this connection when I needed it?
I'm sure we'll have much to talk about in the off-season, like always, but I'm going to take it nice and slow and put some energy into my other projects over the next few months. I hope my fellow authors will chime in and post up their opinions on the things the team needs for 2015 and beyond.
Madison Bumgarner and the Giants win Game Seven in Kansas City to claim the World Series title! Obviously the hero is the superstar lefty, but you have to acknowledge the incredible play by Joe Panik to start a crucial double play and back up the good effort from Jeremy Affeldt. Pablo Sandoval had four hits, he and Pence would have been co-MVPs if not for the big fella from Hickory. And Mike Morse, much-maligned as a brain-dead slugger and then out of action for much of the stretch run, delivered two huge RBIs to give the Giants and Bumgarner just enough. It was an incredible display of baseball by the orange and black. In the 9th we all had a terrifying moment when Gregor Blanco let a ball get past him and put a runner on third base, but MadBum overpowered Salvador Perez to end it.
MADISON BUMGARNER IS THE ULTIMATE ACE AND THE GIANTS ARE WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS FOR 2014!!!
After 4 it is 3-2 Giants.
Panik's DP is the play of the game so far.
Two great PAs from DH Morse as well.
Affeldt got the outs he needed to get in relief of Huddy.
Bottom of the 5th and in comes Madison Bumgarner.
Perez (and Wotus) save a run!
Blown chance for Giants.
Big hitters for KC in the 6th.
Wow, another great display from MadBum.
Six innings down, three to go, Giants clinging to a one-run lead.
Davis puts up a zero.
MadBum back out for the bottom of the 7th.
Another zero with help from the Panda!
Giants can't solve Davis and MadBum is back out for the 8th.
He does it again and it's on to the 9th!
Holland gets it done for KC.
Boch is going for all the marbles with MadBum!
My World Series Game 6 day got off to a crappy start yesterday, when I read this on MLBTradeRumors:
Jake Peavy told reporters, including Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago-Sun Times, that he will be interested to see where his close friend Jon Lester signs this offseason. Peavy had no qualms in stating that he’d like to once again be teammates with his friend: “I’ve certainly talked to Jon Lester because we’re buddies,” said Peavy. “So I have a feel for what he does. And I certainly know that Chicago would interest him and interest me.” Peavy clarified that he’s not suggesting a package deal for the Cubs, but rather, “There’s a package deal out there for any team.” Wittenmyer spoke to a few people close to Peavy who believe the Cubs would be high on his offseason wishlist, however, having spent several years there with the White Sox.
This is what the guy is worried out about just prior to the biggest start of his career??? Well, I hope that he & Jon Lester have great late careers, losing games for the Cubs.
What a crappy event that was last night. The Posey AB in the 3rd inning was the only moment of hope, but that ended poorly on the first pitch. Oh well ... better to lose 10-0, than 1-0.
We are now faced with having to become the first road Team to win a Game 7 since the 1979 Pirates of 'We Are Family' fame. A little Pence speech, a solid start by Hudson, who I do not think is going to pull a Peavy on us, & some crafty Bochy bullpen management, & we could be in a position to do so. Of course, there is the little matter of having to score a run or two, too. If anyone is due for a big extra-base knock or two or three, it is our Leader, Buster. So, bring it, Buster - it's not too late. Table-setters, get on for him, & let's party like it's 2010 & 2012. Go Giants!!!!!
RIP Oscar Tavaras. The young Cardinal outfielder apparently died today in a car accident in the DR. He as a rising star who had only a short season with the Cardinals.
Madison Bumgarner was spectacular. He threw the first shutout in a World Series game since Josh Beckett in 2003 for the Marlins. He earned his fourth career World Series victory. In 31 innings of World Series ball, he has given up a total of 1 run. Tonight, he threw 117 pitches, 84 of them were strikes. He allowed 4 hits and struck out 8. He allowed 1 runner to reach 2nd base. He did not walk anyone. When the game started, before Maddy settled down, I thought he looked tired. Not from watching him pitch, but just from the look on his face, as though he had a touch of the Giants flu. Shows how well I can read the taciturn lefty, as he gave up a single to Salvador Perez to start the 2nd inning and promptly retired the side on strikeouts. Madison Bumgarner is 25 years old.
The Giants scratched and clawed for their first 2 runs. The first came in the 2nd on a Pence single, a Belt bunt for a base hit (his first in his major league career), an Ishikawa sac fly and a Crawford ground out. The second came in the 4th, also on a Crawford single to score Pablo from 2nd base with 2 outs. Brandon Crawford also collected the final rbi in the 8th, scoring Juan Perez from 3rd.
The 8th inning was amazing. Pablo and Pence started off with singles off of the allegedly unhittable Kelvin Herrera, the first of the three-headed monster that the Royals use for the last three innings, usually when they are ahead. Then the Royals brought in Wade Davis, head #2. After Brandon Belt struck out, Juan Perez put a pitch withing inches of the top of the wall in center for a 2 run double, taking 3rd on the throw. Final score, 5 to 0. Hits up and down the lineup, only Gregor Blanco and Madison Bumgarner did not get a hit.
I like the look of things from here. True, we are going back to Kansas City. However, obviously, we are 1 game up. Second, we get to put Morse back in the lineup. Third, we have the following pitchers to use for multiple innings: Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson, Ryan Vogelsong, Yusmeiro Petit, and Tim Lincecum; the Royals can't match that. Fourth, the bubble of the three-headed monster has been pierced, and the Royals have to be soured on their other relievers. Finally, if you believe in momentum, we got it. Go Giants!
The Giants kicked some serious ass tonight. I've had too many jars at the bar to give you a proper accounting of things, but that is why god invented ESPN. Go there, fer chrissakes, and read the damn summary and look at the beautiful fookin' box score. Despair was the story after last night's frustrating loss, but tonight the Giants rallied and served notice that they are a force to be reckoned with. Ryan Vogelsong looked like an absolute beast in the first two innings, but it all fell apart in the 3rd after a blown play at first base. Hey, give the Royals credit. They are a great club and if you give them a millimeter they will drive a damn Mack truck through that opening. Sound familiar? It should--the Giants worked that same magic on the Nats and the Cards. So, me buckos, if you aren't prepared for a 15-round heavyweight donnybrook then go the fuck home and drink some fecking herbal tea. This is the goddamn Series, it's serious business, and we have to be prepared for some hardcore counter-punching.
We arrived in Chi-town after 50 hours on the Amtrak and the goddamn Best Western--which advertised a bar and restaurant--feebed out big time and offered a pissant goddamn snack bar instead. Well, fuck those corporate penny-pinching arseholes! We wandered the 'hood an stumbled into Kitty O'Shea's, an Irish pub, just around the corner. Being a second-generation American of full-blooded Hibernian ancestry I knew it was home away from home. Irony of ironies, it was part of the damn Hilton. Maybe I should stop cheaping out and go for the four-star and higher when on the road. Ah well, that's another story for another time. We had some fun with the staff and drank pints of local brews and some superb Irish whiskey. We gabbed with a Royals fan, too. His mother was from KC and that meant a lot to me as my own mother is responsible for my love of baseball. Listen up: baseball fans are beautiful people. I would rather knock back brews with a proper Dodgers fan than some gobshite from San Francisco who'd rather watch football. Trust me on this. Cultivate a love of the game, man.
The Giants will travel to Kansas City for Game Six. This team is marvelous. They have been up and they have been down but one thing they have is heart. They battle until the end and fight with all their might. After the agonizing, schizophrenic 2014 season, I had no idea what to expect for the post-season. When they blasted the Pirates in Pittsburgh in the Wild Card game I told my truelove that everything else was a bonus. Then they blew through the playoffs and found themselves in the Series for the third time in five seasons. Did we ever expect a Giants team to have that kind of run in our lifetimes?
I'm greedy. I want to balance the cosmic ledger (three wins versus three losses for the SF club in the finals). I want Bochy to join the pantheon (only nine managers in the history of the game have three rings). But it's not going to be easy. It's going to be the toughest challenge yet. So gird those loins, lads.
"Hola pal looks like no tv or wifi on the train so i hope you can send me text updates!! I obviously wont be able to post so maybe you can do that? Regardless Go Giants!! Kick some KC ass! We are arriving Albuquerque right now."
So that is why I got stuck writing about this kinda close, kinda depressing World Series loss, 3-2, in Game 3 at AT&T Park. I had the dubious honor of texting almost every detail of the bloody thang and I sure don't want to do that again. Unless it is a game we win, of course. Like tomorrow.
Anyway. Tonight will be called close and I suppose that can't be denied. Yet, I never really felt much of a glimmer of impending magic. Quite the opposite. We got KC'ed. They got an early lead and did their bullpen from heaven thing. And, yes, their bullpen does look very strong, especially Wade and Holland, who made our best hitters look very bad. Of course, so did Joe Mediocre Guthrie, their starter. In fact, our top four hitters went 0-15 with 1 walk and 1 lame RBI. So it was hard to tell if they pitch well or we just suck at the plate. Both, I suppose.
Anyway. Can Ryan Vogelsong recapture the magic? Will Buster ever hit an extra base hit again? Will we get the thrill/terror of a Tim Lincecum performance? Can I watch our offense without getting nauseous? These questions and more will be answered tomorrow. Or not.
You could sense that the 6th inning was going to be the critical point in the game. Tied 2-2, the Giants chased Yordano Ventura but could not push across the go-ahead run. Jake Peavy, who'd breezed through the previous nine outs, put the first two men on in the bottom of the inning. Boch immediately summoned Jean Machi who unfortunately could not get the forkball down and a single from Billy Butler plated the go-ahead run. Javier Lopez came in and got the lefty Alex Gordon but then Boch went with rookie Hunter Strickland for Salvador Perez. The youngster gave up a double that scored two and then a homer to Omar Infante to pile on the misery. Seems like the well is tapped on number 60. The bright side of that debacle was that Timmy got to pitch and he looked good. I reckon the bullpen depth chart will get a re-working. He left after five outs with what looked like a muscle tweak on a bad landing--we can only hope the injury is minor and he'll be healthy and still available for the weekend.
A win by the Giants would likely have been the death blow. The Royals were in a must-win situation and they came up with the big hits when they had to have them. I thought Peavy looked really good after a rocky beginning and it was a real bummer when he put those guys on to start the 6th, you knew Boch would have the quick hook there, I can't argue with that. The guys didn't execute and that was the game. Another positive for the Giants is they got a look at the three-headed bullpen monster (Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland) that the Royals depend on to close out games. They are obviously impressive, but the Giants have already beaten two good teams and I expect they can beat another one. It's all set up for a sweep at home--wouldn't that be something?
Tim Hudson gets the ball in San Francisco on Friday night.
I could have gone with a different title, like "Madison Bumgarner's World Series ERA Soars!" But that would have been deceptive. Not that I am above that sort of thing, but it feels so good to type that the Giants have won game 1. First, I am still on a cloud that they are even in the 2014 World Series, and then I am coming to the realization that they look pretty good in this contest.
With our ace on the mound, the Giants brought some bats and did not hesitate to use them. Blanco led off the game with a single, moved to 2nd on Panik's long out, to 3rd on Buster's single, and scored when Pablo Sandoval doubled to the wall in right. Posey was thrown out trying to score from 1st, but it took an excellent throw to get him. With 1 run and 2 outs, Hunter Pence promptly homered to center field to make it 3 - 0 before Kansas City could hit.
The only baserunner for Kansas City was Lorenzo Cain in the 1st, hit on the back ankle by a pitch as Madison Bumgarner was still trying to get all his "stuff" working. The Giants held, and with the help of a double play, kept Kansas City from scoring in the second. In the 3rd, it looked like Kansas City was ready to tighten up the game. Omar Infante went to 1st on Brandon Crawford's inability to field a ground ball cleanly, and to 3rd on Mike Moustakas' double. Madison toughened up and struck out the next 2 batters before walking Cain. An Eric Hosmer ground out ended that threat, and Kansas City never really threatened again. Madison went 7 strong, allowing only 3 hits and striking out 5 in 106 pitches. He gave up his first run in his World Series history (21 innings!) in the 7th to Pablo's friend Salvador Perez. That makes Madison's World Series ERA 0.43, which is still pretty good.
When the Giants came to bat in the 4th, Hunter Pence doubled and went to 3rd on a wild pitch. Brandon Belt walked, and Michael Morse's single chased James Shields from the game. Danny Duffy lasted 3 innings and gave up 2 runs, but after 59 pitches (71 for Shields), he will probably not available tomorrow as a long reliever. The final was 7-1. Joe Panik got into the act with an rbi triple in the 7th, Gregor Blanco was on base 3 times and was credited with an rbi for a walk when the bases were loaded, and Pablo Sandoval picked up a second rbi to score Panik. The Giants had 10 hits on the night.
You have to love it when the Giants show up with bats. Pence hit a home run and a double, looking like a stud. Morse hit. Blanco looked good at the plate and in the field. Everyone in the line up hit except Travis Ishikawa and his replacement, Juan Perez. Strickland (pitching the 9th) looked good. Madison snared two line drives and started a double play. This team has every reason to be confident. Winning game 1 in Kansas City is huge.
Regardless of what happens, don't forget that winning the National League Pennant is great. In the old days, it was all about the pennant, followed by a sort of an exhibition game called the World Series. Don't get me wrong, it is not as though World Series Champion didn't mean anything. But it was only when the playoffs expanded and are now a baseball tournament that it has become a World Series or nothing kind of meme. Which is my round-about way of saying, "Great Job, Giants! Way to Go!"
I was holding my breath this morning over the blog comments because of a sort of "don't count those chickens" attitude. Now those little yellow fuckers are hatched and we can celebrate. The game was - let's just say it was not scripted. Madison Bumgarner was ultimately not the hero, nor was Buster Posey (although, if I had to pick any one reason why we won this pennant, I'd have to say that it was because of the sheer force of Buster Posey's will). Instead we had Michael Morse (remember him?). And, of all people, Travis Ishikawa. Travis Ishikawa. Travis Ishikawa. I love that name. And Joe Panik going deep! 3 home runs! The Cardinals are a good team, consistently competitive year in and year out. It is amazing that the pennants have alternated between the Giants and Cardinals for 5 years now. And I would like to thank them personally for beating the doggers. Thank you!
Do managers matter? I think that the closer to the end of the season, and in the playoffs, they do. Thanks, Bruce Bochy! The Royals are a very good team - as anyone who followed the Giants through the season can attest. But the Giants have plenty of time to rest and plan. It will be a whole new ball game come Tuesday.
The Giants pulled off another dramatic victory tonight in San Francisco and are now one win from the World Series. Ryan Vogelsong saw his string of post-season brilliance end cruelly after three innings, having given up four runs, the last a no-doubt rocket from Kolten Wong. Vogie had five previous playoff starts and had allowed only four runs total in 30-1/3 innings. The Giants battled back and chased Shelby Miller in the fourth, closing the gap to 4-3 on hits from Buster Posey and Hunter Pence. It was up to the 'pens from that point and the Giants proved up to the task and allowed no runs over the final six frames. Yusmeiro Petit was the difference getting nine outs in ten batters, four by strikeout.
The Giants followed up that great effort in the bottom of the 6th with another magic rally. Juan Perez, fresh off yesterday's heroics, came off the bench to open the inning and walked. After a BCraw single Matt Duffy, pinch-hitting, bunted them over. Nice work from the youngsters once again, and it should be noted that bench stalwart Joaquin Arias led off the 3rd with a pinch-hit and eventually scored. It's a team game, man. The Cards brought the infield in and Gregor Blanco shot a grass-clipper right at Matt Adams at first but he took too much time to get the throw off and Perez scored with a nifty slide. The low, off-balance throw was late and short-hopped catcher Tony Cruz who dropped it for good measure.Then Joe Panik hit a hard grounder to the bag at first and Adams gloved it and got the force, turned and threw it off-line to second giving BCraw a chance to scoot home. Buster then delivered a single to make it 6-4 Giants. It was not a good sequence for the big lefty slugger.
Boch had his matchups ready the rest of the way: Affeldt got four outs, then Lopez for Adams after Machi didn't get his man (Holliday), then Romo for the 8th and Casilla for the 9th. St. Louis put a guy on in both of the last two innings and had two on in the 7th but this time Giants pitchers executed and got the big outs. It was a tremendous game, lots of action, lots of anguish, but ultimately joy. The Giants win by attrition--they get the line moving, put the ball in play, and keep the pressure on. They were one massive blow away from breaking the game open, but their relentless peskiness was more than enough. Buster tallied three runs batted in, Pence had two hits, Blanco scored twice, the team had 11 hits and six walks and only struck out five times.
The late afternoon start meant some funny light in the outfield. Both centerfielders muffed tough chances they would normally have hauled in. I think they should play baseball at a proper local time and I'm sick of east coast television ruling the damn world. Alas, another of my multitude of bitches about our media conglomerate masters. Even corporate domination of our very souls can't ruin my high, though. This was an awesome win. I can't find any fancy way to say it. The Giants pulled off a great goddam win and are all set up with their ace tomorrow in a potential clincher. In 2010 Tim Lincecum got the ball at home in Game Five up 3-1 against Roy Halladay and the Phillies who won and forced the series to six games. It didn't matter, as I recall, but I would have rather seen the team nail it down on the first try.
A fresh southerly breeze kept Travis Ishikawa's titanic blast in the 1st from being a grand slam. Instead the ball was blown back on to the field, confusing not just the announcers (and me) but rookie right fielder Randal Grichuk. It went for a bases-clearing double and the Giants finally had a big hit with men on base. The Cardinals chipped away at Tim Hudson the rest of the afternoon, finally tying the game in the 7th on Grichuk's bomb that hit the pole in left. Boch might have stuck with Hudson a little too long there, but it wasn't that bad of a pitch, maybe a bit up but certainly on the inner edge of the zone. Credit the youngster for a great swing in a big spot. Rookie nemesis Kolten Wong had done the rest of the damage earlier with three RBIs on a double and a triple--he was victimized by the San Francisco wind as well on the triple, off the bat it looked like a homer. John Lackey looked terrible in the 1st when the Giants whacked him around with two outs to take a 4-0 lead, but he was dominating over the next five frames and made the lineup look silly. Fortunately the Giants bullpen kept the lid on things, I was especially impressed by Santiago Casilla getting three outs in the 9th on nine pitches. He just keeps putting up zeroes! Pablo Sandoval made a great grab on a grounder by Matt Holliday in the top of the 10th to save a run and that gave the home team another shot at a walk-off win.
And walk off as winners they did. The Giants have some serious power bats like Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, and Pablo Sandoval but they can't seem to get--so far--home runs out of them. Brandon Belt, another slugger, delivered of course an epic dinger in DC, but the long ball has not been part of the Giants equation in this series. Well, if the homers ain't happening then you've got to find something else. Brandon Crawford led off the bottom of the 10th against Randy Choate and worked a walk. BCraw is 0-for-the LCS but has two walks in two appearances against the St. Louis lefty. Juan Perez, who'd put down a beautiful bunt against Trevor Rosenthal before Duffy's Dash in Game 2, could not put one down on two attempts. Boch took off the bunt sign with two strikes and the youngster ripped a liner to left for a single. Rock on, Juan! With runners on first and second all the world knew that next batter Gregor Blanco would attempt the sacrifice, and he put down a perfect one that Choate had to field lumbering toward the third base line. The veteran southpaw (he's the same age as Huddy) heaved his throw into right field and BCraw came home to a jubilant welcome.
It was another amazing back-and-forth battle between two great teams. The Giants keep coming up with goofy ways to score. And the 'pen was up to the task today, thank goodness. We also saw good glove work all around which, as we've seen, can be the difference in these tight contests.
The Cardinals were the second-worst home run hitting team in the majors this season (105 total) so naturally they are the best at hitting them in the post-season. (The worst team at hitting homers in the regular season was the Kansas City Royals. They have eight post-season bombs.) The Cards hit seven against the Dodgers in the LDS and hit four tonight against the Giants to grab a big win. The Giants bullpen could not do the job and allowed three solo shots: one off Jean Machi (Oscar Taveras) to tie the game in the 7th, one off Hunter Strickland (Matt Adams) to take the lead in the 8th, and one off Sergio Romo (Kolten Wong) to win the game in the 9th. All were left-handed hitters and all were pulled to right field off right-handed pitchers. Matt Carpenter, another lefty, also stroked one to right off starter Jake Peavy in the 3rd to give St. Louis an early lead. That was Carpenter's fourth in the playoffs--the Giants have two in their seven games. Once again the Giants offense created a number of chances but could not get the game-breaking hit. They scored runs--tying it up against Lance Lynn in the 6th and even taking the lead off Randy Choate in the 7th but stranded nine runners despite ten hits and four bases on balls. The crazy, miraculous rally in the 9th off Trevor Rosenthal that tied the game saw both Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval get chances for a big hit but it didn't come.
The Giants needed to win a game in St. Louis before coming home to San Francisco. They did that. They survived a poor start from Jake Peavy and came from behind to take a late lead. Alas, the bullpen, that fountain of strength, finally faltered. It was an exceptional effort by the rookies (Andrew Susac, Matt Duffy, Juan Perez, and Joe Panik) to score against their closer, but it went for naught after the walk-off in the bottom of the inning. Machi has now allowed two homers in relief, and Strickland is now up to four. I'm not sure what Boch does with him going forward, maybe stick to pitching against righties. I thought having both Romo and Casilla for the end of the game would work in the Giants favor, instead Sergio gave it up on only his second pitch of the night.
It was an epic contest, a see-saw affair that saw the Giants empty their bench and almost pull off another amazing road win. The Cardinals had the magic power bats working after getting shut out the night before and were not to be denied. Yadier Molina left the game with an injury and backup catcher Tony Cruz had a tough go of things in a critical spot but his team hung on to win. A disappointing result as we are not used to seeing the Giants bullpen look so vulnerable, and we have yet to see the lineup (except against the Pirates) get the big knock that drives in a pair or clears the bases to open up a game.
Tuesday's game is listed for 1:00 pm Pacific (on FS1). Tim Hudson and John Lackey.
The Giants take on the Cardinals in the LCS for the fourth time. In 1987 St. Louis prevailed in seven to claim the pennant but lost to the Minnesota Twins in the World Series. San Francisco, the Wild Card team in 2002, grabbed the flag in six games but lost to the Anaheim Angels in the Series. The Cards and Giants squared off just two seasons ago, the Giants overcoming a 3-1 deficit on their way to their World Series sweep over the Detroit Tigers. The Redbirds won the whole enchilada in 2011, in between the Giants two titles, and again claimed the NL pennant last season but lost to the Boston Red Sox in the Series. These two clubs are among the oldest in the majors and have played over 20,000 games apiece and fielded over 3700 different players. The NY/SF franchise claims 25 playoff appearances, 23 pennants, and seven championships. The St. Louis franchise has been in 27 playoffs, grabbed 25 pennants, and 11 titles.
The 88-74 Giants scored 665 runs and allowed 614. They batted .255/.311/.388 as a team with 2144 total bases. The 90-72 Cardinals scored 619 runs and allowed 603. They batted .253/.320/.369 as a team with 2003 total bases. The Cards get on base more often (471 to 427 BB) but the Giants have more power (431 to 401 XBH). Otherwise the teams are pretty close. In terms of wOBA the teams have an identical .308 mark.
On the pitching side both clubs are among the stingiest in allowing hits, the Giants giving up 8.1 per 9 and the Cardinals 8.2 per 9 for the second and fourth best spots in the NL. Both allow 0.8 HR per 9 but the Giants are a little better with walks, 2.4 to 2.9 per 9 innings. Both teams strike out 7.6 batters per 9 innings, rates which are near the bottom of the league standings. The Cardinals struck out 36 Dodgers, however, in 35 innings, and the Giants struck out 49 Nationals and Pirates in 54 innings, so both teams have elevated their games in the post-season. The Giants have the 10th-best FIP in the majors (3.58) and the Cardinals are 13th (3.65).
On the fielding side, the Cardinals and Giants are again very close. The Giants made more errors (100 to 88) but turned more double plays (154 to 146) and had more assists (1699 to 1617). Giants had one more putout (4347 to 4346) but the Cards take the edge on fielding percentage (.985 to .984). Baseball-Reference has a stat called "defensive efficiency" which estimates the ability of a team to convert balls in play to outs. The Giants are second best at .703 and the Cardinals third at a .701 rate.
For what it's worth here are the "experts" on the NLCS re-match:
Should be fun. That is if you consider torture to be fun.
The Giants played a game tonight in San Francisco that made no sense and yet they won, amazingly, and punched their ticket to the LCS. It was like absurdist theater, not baseball, but once again the result favored the orange-and-black. The Giants don't need any more data to back up the "October magic" claim but they went ahead and added to the pile with another impossible victory. The Giants scored all their runs in bases loaded situations: a walk, a ground out, and a wild pitch. No dramatic stroke to clear the bases, no, that's too normal. Had to do it the hard way. This game featured a booming home run from Bryce Harper off Hunter Strickland yet finished 3-2 Giants. Didn't that happen already? This game featured a very close play at the plate to get Buster Posey and a replay ensued affirming the call. Didn't that happen, too? This game featured a pitcher making an error that led to runs. Wait--didn't that already happen? This game featured a Giants starter throwing no-hit ball for the first four innings and getting pulled after an excellent 5-2/3 overall. Jake Peavy in Game One and Ryan Vogelsong in Game Four, Game Scores of 65 and 63 respectively.
So, I've got the formula: good start plus good defense plus lots of guys on base plus voodoo weird-ass nonsensical stuff plus the x-factor and the y and z, too, and that equals a win. Man the Giants generated a lot of chances but could not get the killer blow. But, it didn't matter in the end! Oustanding play by Hunter Pence, obviously, to rob Werth, but both Gregor Blanco and Juan Perez (good move, Boch) made all their plays and that was huge as the Nats hit a lot of fly balls.
There's a lot to talk about. What a crazy win. Bring on St. Louis!
Do my paper this morning tells me that the only tv showing the Giants playoff game in San Francisco is MLBnet. What the fuck? So after looking frantically to find MLBnet, I am informed that I have to pay extra for it. However, the ordering information on the tv does not work, I am instructed to call Comcast XFinity. Fuck, like that would take no more than a minute or two.
So I did not see the game. Apparently, Bumgarner decided to go to third on a bunt with a man at first and second, threw wide and the ball had to be retrieved by Ishikawa in left. 2 runs scored and then another. The Giants scored one in the ninth after Harper hit a solo home run. The Nats have to be feeling pretty good about themselves, they beat our ace.
Why is MLBnet showing this game? I already pay an ungodly amount of money each month for cable and phone and a poorly functioning internet connection, and now I have to pay more to watch my own baseball team in the playoffs? FUCK YOU, MLBnet, you bunch of corporate motherfucking assholes. This is what an anti-trust exemption has brought us and I demand that Congress rescind it immediately. The Giants lost.
The stadium was designed by Populous, which is what HOK Sport is now called, as have been all the newer "retro" stadiums. It opened in 2008.
As with the Phone, it is open and accessible. It is hard to tell the barriers that actually define the stadium as you walk in off of the street. Between the 2 block walk from the Metro Station and the park, there is an outdoor area surrounded by stacked up boxcars in which they sell beer, some food and has bands and a big screen set up for these games. As can be imagined for a playoff game, it was a very festive mood in the boxcar area and as you approached the stadium. Guys drumming on plastic pails, a dixieland jazz band set up on the sidewalk, guys on stilts, guys on bullhorns encouraging everyone to repent, and an unrelenting sea of red.
Not too many Giants fans, but I have to say that we were treated well (perhaps it helped to be walking next to my friend and host, who is just large enough to give one pause). I was a bit surprised that I was not engaged more in conversation as one of the few black and orange clad spectators, but neither was there the kind of nastiness that one can expect in, say, southern California. I saw one Pirates fan who looked a bit out of sorts. Our seats were what would be the equivalent of the View Boxes at ATT, right behind the Giants' batting circle. Excellent seats. You know how the announcers complain about the location of the press box here? It's true, I was way closer to the ground that Jon, Kruk and Kuip who I could see in their window. Unlike ATT, however, the concourses are wide and movement is easy, and the seats can accommodate the generally heftier bodies in this part of the country. What was crowded, however, was the Metro Station. There is only one stop at the ball park and after the first game, it was pretty tight until trains gradually moved people away. After the second game, many fans had left as it was in the low 40's.
The pace of the first game was not brisk. Both Peavy and Strasburg piled up the pitches, unlike both Hudson and Zimmerman. I remember looking at the clock in the second game, at 5 minutes before 8 in the middle of the eighth inning and thinking that we could probably get to dinner near my friends house in Virginia by the same time we did the evening before. That did not prove to be the case. I was very impressed with Hudson. I did not expect more than 5 innings out of him. I think that is an example of where a seasoned manager can make a significant difference - I like the roster construction that gives us plenty of long relief without burning through starters. When Williams replaced Zimmerman with (and it was a mistake, part of the deal with managers is that they get judged in hindsight) Nats fans looked at each other - he was the same guy who blew the save against the Cardinals two years ago (although he had an impressive season). The home run by Harper to the third deck was impressive, Nats fans had said they had never seen one that far. Strickland used mostly fastballs, although his slider is perhaps his most devastating pitch. You don't want to give Harper enough pitches to time a fastball, even a 99 mph one. That is why he needs a change up or something. Later, I was remarking to my friend about Belt's power to right and how he could put one out there, although I wished it for quite a few innings before it happened.
Quiz: Do you know what they refer to the Nationals logo as? The curly W. That seems to be an official thing. It was a delightful weekend, and I am not normally a spontaneous type of person. The Nationals are a powerful team, with a deep rotation and lots of hitters. We saw 27 innings, 8 runs total, and fortunately, 2 wins for the Giants. I would have been thrilled to get a split. And as the lady on Southwest Airlines said, "Welcome to San Francisco, Go Giants."