Alex Smith

Giants pitch their way to the NLCS

Part of it could have been how tired I was after my Lake Tahoe bachelor party, or maybe because the last sports image I saw last night was Alex Smith’s latest deflating turnover (but it wasn’t his fault, blah blah blah), but I didn’t have a good feeling about tonight’s game.

Madison Bumgarner’s still just a baby (or so I thought). The Giants, who still can barely score any runs, were set to face Derek Lowe, a pitcher whose strengths are perfectly suited to attack the double-play-addicted Giants. The Giants didn’t NEED to win tonight. And most of all, nothing has ever come easy for these guys, and as a result, us.

It wasn’t easy at all, and now the Giants get a real test — the Phillies, a much more talented team at full strength. But we have until Saturday to chat about the NLCS, and I have nowhere near the mental faculties after a fun long weekend with my friends and family to write about stuff that hasn’t happened yet. And, I’m overloaded with images from one of the tensest 3-1 series one could ever imagine…

— How about Bruce Bochy? Besides giving Sergio Romo another chance (which Romo earned with an outstanding regular season), he was close to perfect: he agreed with Brian Sabean that Barry Zito shouldn’t be on the roster, and that was because he knew he could trust Bumgarner; he made Cody Ross an everyday outfielder; he finally gave up on Pablo Sandoval; after Romo blew up, he announced today that he wouldn’t be using Romo in similar situations until further notice, and gave Santiago Casilla a shot to continue the dominance he showed at the end of the regular season. I even agreed with removing Pat Burrell in the late innings (the thought of Burrell chasing a line drive down the left field line in the late innings makes me shudder).

— And Bochy wasn’t just a great manager this week, he out-managed Bobby Cox. Sure, Cox had all those injuries to deal with, but he really couldn’t find another option than Brooks Conrad until the guy had three errors in the biggest game of the year? I know Troy Glaus makes Bengie Molina look like Darren Ford these days (only a small exaggeration, actually), but Conrad has always been a terrible fielder and he isn’t that much of a hitter either. He should have been removed from yesterday’s game after he dropped that pop fly that Jason Heyward was too lazy woozy from his collision with the outfield wall to get to. And then Cox let Lowe stay in the game when he shouldn’t have tonight, which seemed like a “this is my last day managing” kind of emotional move. He had an amazing career, but I bet there are Braves fans out there who aren’t that upset he’s leaving.

— Speaking of Heyward, all I have to say about the National League ROY battle is this: Posey’s better (clap, clap, clapclapclap).

— Remember when everyone lost their minds when Bumgarner lost velocity? And to think, he was just saving himself for the postseason.

— Yesterday in Tahoe, my friends and I had a running count of how many times Dick Stockton said error in a way that sounded like “era.” Final tally: 13. It’s a good thing we didn’t base a drinking game off that little diversion, otherwise I don’t think we would have made it home today.

— How many times are we going to read/hear something similar to, “The Giants better score more than 11 runs in the first four games to have any chance against the Phillies”? Probably more often than Stockton said “era.”

— Oh, and TBS? The PitchTrax thing is actually not a bad addition, but that doesn’t mean you get to ignore stuff like how many outs there are or what the count is.

— Is there anything more frightening-looking than that XL Chalupa thing Taco Bell advertised every five minutes? It’s like you’re eating a pound of fake Taco Bell meat in a fried garden shovel. And this is coming from someone who thought of — and then took a couple bites after my cousin David actually made one for me late last night — a new sandwich I called the “Egg Double Down.” The ingredients: scrambled eggs and cheese (bacon optional), in between two fried eggs, over-hard. Denny’s, if you steal this idea you will be hearing from my attorneys.

— The other commercial that made us laugh all weekend: the Rain X ad where the guy without Rain X has a huge mud puddle splash on his windshield at the end of the commercial, and it ruins his day so much that he throws his hands in the air and leans his head into the steering wheel. Did he ever get his windshield clean? Did he just give up on driving altogether and leave his vehicle idling in the intersection? We’ll never know.

— It’s cool to see guys like Eugenio Velez, Darren Ford and Emmanuel Burriss getting so into the post-game celebration, even though they weren’t on the playoff roster. And since Mychael Urban said that Barry Zito sprayed him with champagne or beer too, it sounds like he isn’t too bitter either. However, I guess it’s hard to pass up any sort of opportunity to spray alcohol all over a clubhouse. Although at this point I would be happy not to see another drop of alcohol for a couple weeks or so.

— Regardless of how much it stings, I think if I played baseball I’d be too superstitious to bring ski goggles to a potential clinching game.

— Case in point: my buddy Carp and I totally freaked out when my cousin Kevin mentioned that Jonathan Sanchez had a no-hitter going yesterday. Two hitters later, Tim Hudson hits a single. We didn’t let Kevin forget the “era” he committed for at least a good half-inning.

— Funniest moment after the game: when Jaymee Sire was in the hall talking about getting ambushed by Jonathan Sanchez and a bunch of other Giants, who poured probably about four beers directly on her head, clubhouse legend Mike Murphy wandered out into the hall behind her with his shirt off, turned, looked at the camera, and went back where he came from. I’m just surprised (and grateful) he wasn’t wearing white briefs instead of pants.

— One thought looking forward: Tim Lincecum is going on eight days rest, and Roy Halladay is coming off a no-hitter. After nearly having a coronary tonight in the ninth inning until Wilson got Melky Cabrera to ground out, I have a hard time getting nervous all over again. Not until tomorrow morning, anyway. But wow, am I excited. The Giants’ rotation is carrying this team like no 4-man group I can remember. Facing even better pitchers and hitters, they’re going to have to be just as good as they were against the Braves, if not better.

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