No one thought the San Francisco Giants would win a postseason series back when they were down 2-0 in games against the Cincinnati Reds. When they fell behind three games to one to the St. Louis Cardinals, the climb seemed even steeper due to the Cardinals’ experience and who was starting in Game 5.
Ever since #RallyZito took hold, everything changed. The pitching we thought we were getting before the year started came back, and has experienced uninterrupted greatness. Good timing.
The Giants have won six games in a row, and the pitching stats over those six games add up to this:
0.67 ERA … 5.67 H/9 … 2.5 BB/9 … 8.5 SO/9 … 3.4 SO/BB … 0.2 HR/9 … 0.91 WHIP
Now, that is just disgusting. (Ladies Man voice)
Tonight, the Giants played a game they didn’t really need to win. Sure, now that they’ve won it’s fantastic, and a loss would’ve brought gloom-and-doomsayers out of the woodwork (just like they did when the Giants lost Game 3 of the 2010 World Series, before closing the Texas Rangers out in Arlington). That’s why Ryan Vogelsong was the perfect guy to have out there on Saturday evening. These two teams could’ve been facing each other during Spring Training and Vogelsong would still eat the same chicken enchiladas the night before, he’d still have the same intense stare during every at-bat, and he’d still focus on completing every pitch.
Vogelsong wasn’t as sharp as he was against the Reds or the Cardinals, but it’s not like wiggling out of jams is something new for the guy who makes the 2012 rotation deeper than the one they had two years ago. I have no stats to prove this, but I refuse to believe he doesn’t lead all of baseball in inning-ending double plays over the last two seasons. If you show me the stats that say I’m wrong, I’m going to close my eyes and shout, “LALALALALALA” while tap-dancing.
That fastball Vogelsong threw up-and-in to Miguel Cabrera, to induce a popup to end the 5th with the bases loaded, was so unbelievably smart. Cabrera was jumpy all night (and was lucky to collect a single in the first on that outside-corner breaking ball), and Vogelsong took advantage.
One of my least favorite cliches in sports — and I’m sure you’ve heard this before — is a variation of this:
“He has ‘it.’ I don’t even know what ‘it’ is, you can’t even explain ‘it,’ but he has ‘it.'”
/Biting my lip right now, trying to explain what I’m seeing from Tim Lincecum…
Part of Lincecum has to hate the fact that he has been unable to replicate this kind of dominance as a starting pitcher, but this just adds to the legend. Instead of a lost year where everything went wrong, he became the best relief pitcher in baseball for a few weeks. All year we’ve been talking about velocity, wild pitches, pitching out of the windup or the stretch, walks, favorite catchers…
But isn’t it more obvious than ever that Lincecum’s problems were mental all season? The guy would’ve challenged Andre Ward to a fight tonight, he was so cocky. For now at least, coming out of the bullpen agrees with him. It agrees with him a lot.
Lincecum has become the Giants’ version of a sixth man of the year in basketball. Good enough to start, but even more effective off the bench. No reason to fight it.
1-2-3 inning, ending with a strikeout. Sounds like closer material to most of us, and to Bochy as well. The most agonizing moment in the late innings was a fly ball that was caught in foul territory by Gregor Blanco, which brings us to…
In 2010, the Giants were nearly perfect on defense during the playoffs. During the 2012 postseason they have been just as good, if not better. Pablo Sandoval, who was removed from the lineup in large part due to being a defensive liability, is playing third base the way he did in 2011 — when he should have won the Gold Glove. At this point I think Bochy’s taking Sandoval out in the late innings just to keep Arias fresh.
Brandon Crawford is making his case for next year’s Gold Glove, making diving stops and reigning as the best double play turning shortstop in the land. Look at this freaking .GIF!!!
Gregor Blanco is a Dyson vacuum cleaner. The stats kids are going to hate me for this, but I AM SO GLAD MELKY CABRERA IS NOWHERE NEAR THIS TEAM.
I’m not sure why so many are on a campaign to allow any sort of chemical into the game to prove that chemicals don’t matter, but it’s like the real world doesn’t matter. Life is nothing but numbers, and drugs don’t influence numbers. Um, drugs influence everything. That’s why people do drugs, because they’re having trouble influencing things the way they want to without help.
Melky, the cynical man that he is, took so much testosterone because he wasn’t worried about a potential World Series run. He was worried about Melky’s contract. Now he’s gone, and the Giants are benefitting, because Blanco is contributing offensively and making catch after ridiculously rangy catch in the outfield. Catches Melky never would’ve made. As a result, you get images like this after the Giants went up 3-0 in the World Series.
While we’re talking about the defense, let’s not forget Marco Scutaro and Buster Posey.
Scutaro seems to be getting better and better at turning double plays (I’m sure he was fine before, but winning does that to one’s perception), he makes every single routine play and never seems to be just short of coming up with a ground ball before it reaches the outfield.
Posey made one of the most ridiculous catches in the history of the game, and it was just a mere outside fastball from Lincecum. But Lincecum’s stuff is nuclear right now, and that pitch was so far away from where Posey wanted it. It was the catch which led home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth to get a little mic time from Fox, he was so impressed.
Posey truly is the Ted Williams of this generation in terms of hand-eye coordination. Thank goodness there isn’t a World War going on right now, or Posey would be flying F-22s right now.
— The Giants’ mosh pit, sponsored by David sunflower seeds! (.GIF sponsored by @gidget)
— Everyone LOVES to talk about how midwestern towns just know how to root for their teams better than everyone else. Comerica Park wasn’t even that loud at the beginning of this game. If there’s one thing this postseason has taught us (besides that the idea that the AL is superior to the NL is complete and utter B.S.), it’s that Bay Area fans are the loudest in baseball.
That includes our brothers and sisters in Oakland.
— Bruce Bochy is supposedly boring, and since he’s “old” he’s also supposedly stodgy. But even though he isn’t throwing seeds, clapping and hopping around, he allows this to happen. He may very well encourage it by talking to certain influential players and asking them to “loosen things up a little.”
Maybe I’ll put this another way — can you picture a Jim Leyland-led team doing this? How about Tony LaRussa? Bochy didn’t make the right decision in terms of a DH tonight (I think Joaquin Arias has more than showed he can handle pressure plate appearances), but over his tenure he has created an atmosphere where the players can be themselves. Bochy is 57, remember. That’s far from ancient, but players didn’t act like this when he was a Padre.
— After the game I saw the winning pitcher say this:
— What was Pablo doing when he gave flashed a heart to his teammates?
I’m guessing it was all about the love Sergio Romo keeps saying these guys have for each other. Doesn’t mean the team can’t rip him to shreds from the dugout:
— The Giants’ offense took place in the second inning, and it started with a walk by Hunter Pence, who also had two hits. Four of the other five hits came from Sandoval and Crawford, but the biggest hit was that triple from Blanco. That silenced the crowd and put the Giants on the board first, and at this point they know all too well how important scoring before the other team has become.
— The Giants were called out on strikes seven times, compared to once for the Tigers. But hey, they won anyway. Good eye, fellas!
— Now, in case this post wasn’t ridiculous enough, two more .GIFS.
First, from @carmenkiew — before the game, Lincecum was clearly nervous about coming out of the bullpen (snicker, chuckle … BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA)
— Here is what happens when your team goes up 3-0 in the World Series. Visual geniuses like @gidget create stuff like this (BTW, the .GIF competition next year is going to get fierce, and I can’t wait):
— It’s up to Matt Cain to make sure everyone celebrates like those crazy guys above as soon as possible. I’ve heard assorted hoots and hollers throughout my neighborhood all evening; the Giants are one win away from making that noise turn into a chaotic chorus sung by the entire city, the outlying areas, the suburbs, the woods, counties far away (like Humboldt, where I grew up), and even cities like New York. Most true fans who have been following the team for years and decades have a hard time letting go in times like these, but it’s hard to not to clap a little more frequently and a little louder than usual. And let your mind wander…