Whenever you think the Giants can’t possibly shove another memorable moment into this five-year block of history-making, something nutty happens. The Nationals should’ve won a 1-0 game that would’ve been one of the highlights of Jordan Zimmermann’s career. Instead, the Giants rallied against Drew Storen in the ninth and Brandon Belt did this against Tanner Roark:
In the 18th.
Hunter Strickland picked up the save.
I’m still sweating, and not just because of the mid-80s temps we’ve seen this week in San Francisco.
The Giants get to embark on an extremely happy flight, with the knowledge that Madison Bumgarner will start Game 3 on full rest to soothe them as they catch a few winks. But first, I have to at least try to piece together Saturday’s two-games-in-one classic. Good luck to me on this one — my recaps are hit and miss as it is, and just like my heart, I’m not sure if my brain can handle 18-inning playoff games without things getting irregular.
Thanks, old friend!
It all started with a managerial decision that was a head-scratcher, head-shaker and face-palmer. After Jordan Zimmerman walked Joe Panik with two outs in the ninth on his 100th pitch, Matt Williams walked out of the dugout with a purpose. After the game he said there was no way Zimmermann would face Buster Posey. This was a mistake Williams will have a very difficult time shrugging off, possibly for the rest of his life.
Zimmerman had retired 20 in a row before walking Panik, and the Giants got the ball out of the infield TWICE in that time. Call it hindsight if you want — here’s what I said before Posey’s at-bat in the ninth.
Matt Williams takes out Jordan Zimmermann, proving he still bleeds orange and black.
— Bay Area Sports Guy (@BASportsGuy) October 5, 2014
But the Giants still had to make Williams look bad — and they did. Posey lined Storen’s first pitch into the outfield for a single. That brought up Pablo Sandoval, who — according to Twitter — needed to earn every dollar of his next contract on that particular plate appearance. $andoval went the other way (beautifully, I might add) for a double.
Tim Flannery sent Posey!!!!
I thought he was safe after the first replay, then after a couple looks I knew the Giants would head to the bottom of the ninth tied 1-1. Too damned close to call. So was this game for eight more innings.
The amazing pitching continues
The Giants won their 10th consecutive postseason game, and as Tim Kawakami has pointed out, they’ve only allowed 10 runs during the streak.
Tim Hudson was expected to struggle through five, maybe six innings. Besides a well-placed single by Anthony Rendon to knock in Asdrubal Cabrera, the Nats couldn’t get anything going during his 7 1/3 innings. Hudson even struck out eight, something he only did once during the regular season.
Then Jean Machi faced one hitter, Jayson Werth, and got him to fly out (seems silly that Machi only pitched a third of an inning now, doesn’t it?). Javier Lopez struck out Adam LaRoche and strutted off the mound, which was the exact moment I realized the Giants still had a chance to scrape together one lousy run against Zimmermann or whoever.
Sergio Romo pitched a 1-2-3 ninth. Jeremy Affeldt pitched the most Jeremy Affeldt inning ever: plenty of three-ball counts, Cabrera and Williams getting ejected because Affeldt’s high strikes were recognized as such, and an inning-ending double play when most Giants fans were calling for Affeldt’s removal. Then Santiago Casilla retired Washington’s 2-3-4 hitters in order in the 11th.
In came Yusmeiro Petit, who’s made one hell of an arbitration case over the last couple of months. He looked nervous early. He walked Ian Desmond on four pitches, threw a first-pitch ball to Bryce Harper and almost threw it over Belt’s head on a pickoff attempt. From there it was pure uncut dominance.
Petit struck out the side (Desmond/Harper/Ramos) in the 14th. He only gave up a hit and three walks over six innings while striking out seven. Strickland came through with the Giants’ 20th strikeout in the 18th, by the way.
“Petit’s the one that sticks out for me, just because he went through their lineup a couple of times,” said Posey, who had three of the Giants’ eight hits and should probably be known as one of the better postseason pitch-callers of all time after what he’s done over the last few years.
“To keep them off balance like he did, in a postseason game, on the road, for that many innings, for me it’s one of the best performances I’ve ever seen under the circumstances. He’s a guy that doesn’t probably get nearly the credit he deserves. This was a special one.”
Brandon Belt bashes back
These are the words of a front-runner, but I’m going to write them anyway: the people who’ve been complaining about Belt over the last few years are idiots. Morons. Twits. Fools. Degenerates. The Giants have a big, athletic, completely goofy first baseman with great eye for the strike zone, and people bitch about how he strikes out looking a little too often, or his home runs only come when his team doesn’t really need them. There’s no way the Belt-bashers can ignore tonight’s home run, which ended a game that looked like it might last forever, and traveled well over 400 feet on a night when the ball wasn’t carrying.
Belt is coming off a concussion, which doesn’t seem like the time one would “grow up.” But either something clicked in the guy’s head recently, or it clicked earlier in the year and he didn’t get a chance to show it with all his injuries. I’ve already written about how he said the team needed to focus on winning playoff games while the rest of the team was spraying champagne and beer at each other after clinching a postseason spot. I wrote about Belt’s demeanor during the wild card game: no goofiness whatsoever.
And here’s what Posey remembered from Belt’s home run.
“Belt actually came into the dugout (after the HR) and said, ‘It’s not over yet,'” said Posey.
BRANDON BELT, THE VOICE OF REASON.
— Man, I missed hearing my neighborhood go crazy like this. Once the hood lit up with Belt’s home run, people cheered every strike Strickland threw. Never gets old. Never will.
— Hudson was the team’s most dependable pitcher in April and May, which became much easier to recall once he got three straight groundouts in the second inning. Just a fantastic outing from Huddy, who didn’t have a workable slider according to Mike Krukow.
— Rendon started 4-for-4 and ended 4-for-7. He got Petit’d.
— Can someone explain Bryce Harper’s prosthetic tongue?
Or not. Actually, please don’t.
— Nat Vasgersian almost lost control of his bowels when Adam LaRoche hit that fly ball to semi-deep right in the 16th. I’m sorry, besides the voice, the guy is awful at calling baseball games. As for John Smoltz … he was a really good pitcher.
— Williams isn’t quite getting schooled by Bochy, but he’s not ready for this. He shoved Cabrera to the side and STILL got kicked out of his second postseason game as a manager. You’re only supposed to get ejected from regular season games when your team looks lethargic.
— Also, THOSE PITCHES WERE STRIKES.
— Apparently #NATITUDE means yelling “WIL-SON” in a way that makes it sound like you’re mocking your own catcher. It also means leaving in the 12th inning, even though it was only 10:30 pm on Saturday night.
— We tossed a couple ideas over to the people at Fresh Brewed Tees, and they came up with these t-shirts we think you’ll like (supplies are limited — these are for the postseason run only).
— That was one of the craziest sporting events I’ve ever watched on television. The longest postseason game ever (6:23) — can you imagine? I really did believe they’d figure out some way to win after $andoval knocked in Panik in the ninth. What reason is there to doubt these guys at this point?
— LaRoche and Harper each went 0-for-7 with no walks.
— The Giants know they can’t get too cocky yet — they flew to Cincinnati with a 2-0 series deficit two years ago.