For the second straight series, the San Francisco Giants won three straight elimination games. There’s nothing clever one needs to say or write about that. It stands on its own merit.
The Cincinnati Reds were the team with too much offensive firepower. The Cardinals were the team with too much postseason experience, a team with more than enough back-against-the-wall magic to counteract whatever the Giants could produce.
Matt Cain’s first inning looked a lot like Ryan Vogelsong’s first inning in Game 6. The adrenaline was palpable, Cain’s fastball was popping, and the Cardinals were looking to slap-single their way into a rally. Their offensive plan didn’t work.
But while Vogelsong was ridiculously dominant over his first few innings, Cain was decidedly not sharp. It took a leaping grab by Brandon Crawford to save Cain from the indignity of yet another run-scoring hit allowed to a pitcher. Afterward, Cain knew he was lucky to have escaped.
An inning later, Cain did what Kyle Lohse could not.
As the game went on, I thought Cain looked better and better. His last pitch, a curveball to strike out David Freese, was perhaps his best pitch of the night. It was almost like as the adrenaline finally wore off, Cain’s true talent started taking over.
Then his manager came out of the dugout.
Cain yelled “NO!”
His manager was probably right. Again. Call it an October pattern.
When Marco Scutaro caught that one-hopper off the bat of Pete Kozma and mimicked Dashon Goldson’s “hawk” motion with his arms…
That was a pretty fantastic “screw you” to Matt Holliday and the Cardinals. But in the top of the 9th inning was when we saw just how happy the 2012 NLCS MVP was:
And he caught the final out, off the bat of Matt Holliday. Damn right. The guy hit .500, an even greater accomplishment than keeping his ACL — and his career — intact when Holliday tried to take it all away in Game 2…
— None of this would’ve been possible without Barry Zito.
— Buster Posey’s defense behind the plate was solid, but he contributed nothing offensively in a 7-game series the Giants ended up winning.
— In a related story, none of us know anything.
— Brandon Belt’s home run was rude.
— I almost feel bad about how I’ve ignored Pablo Sandoval this series. When he hit that double down the left field line, I couldn’t help but feel a little too confident about the Giants’ chances of winning Game 7 and the 2012 NLCS. For someone who had his heart ripped out by these St. Louis heathens back in 1987, that was a difficult feeling to comprehend.
— Hunter Pence’s broken bat is still making contact with that hit up the middle with the bases loaded.
— If Pence and Belt are awkward, the Cardinals’ defense went through puberty during the NLCS.
— Did the Giants really win Game 7 of the NLCS by a score of 9-0? Sorry, it’s still hard to believe.
— Holliday got plunked by Cain, and while I think it was an accident — Posey often calls for high fastballs on 0-2 or 1-2 counts — the Giants might as well hire Candy Maldonado before next season just to be safe.
— So many whined and complained about how the Giants decided against paying Carlos Beltran, and instead spent almost $10 million on Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez. People also complained about the Giants leaving Melky Cabrera off the postseason roster. Buster Posey referred to it as “the Melky incident,” like some bad garage punk band. I doubt Buster likes punk rock much, either.
— After watching Bruce Bochy up close for the last season and a half, I have an incredible amount of respect for the guy, just for how he carries himself with the media and navigates the craziness of a San Francisco Giants season. But in a playoffs series he is lethal.
He dominated Dusty Baker over the last three games of the NLDS. And just compare his sense of urgency throughout this postseason with what we saw from Mike Matheny, who seemed to be saving his best arms and moves for a Game 7 … where they were rendered irrelevant by the Giants’ bats and the Cardinals’ defense.
As the Giants screamed, jumped and danced in the dugout during the game, Bochy looked no different than what we’d see during a 13-8 win over the Padres in Peoria. But after Scutaro caught the final out, his emotions showed … a little. Then Tim Flannery did a stage dive into the dugout.
— The weather at the end was a subplot in itself, and while Lopez was unable to get a good enough grip on the ball to throw strikes to Carlos Beltran (that’s what I’m going to assume, anyway), Sergio Romo had no problem ending a wild, wonderful National League Championship Series.