I hope Mike Krukow’s cool with me stealing one of his favorite lines for this headline. After all, Duane Kuiper has experience with someone taking one of his catch-phrases and running it into the ground this season. Torture, this game was not. It was as much fun as a baseball fan could have, and it was mostly because of Matt Cain.
What an incredible pitcher. Would Cain be this dominant in the playoffs if he was the established No. 1 guy? Maybe, but you have to give credit to Bruce Bochy for making sure that the only boats rocked during the World Series were in McCovey Cove. But Cain deserves 99% of the credit, since rust never entered into play. His control was phenomenal. The Rangers said they looked forward to facing a power pitcher, but they were thinking that Cain was a poor man’s Felix Hernandez. Perhaps over a full season one could argue that, but not over the last two months, when legends are made and style points don’t matter one bit.
Recent events have colored my vision, surely, but can you ever remember so many weak pop-ups hit by one team? Any time the Rangers looked to force the action — most notably when Ian Kinsler was robbed by the center field wall — the mighty sluggers from Texas got jammed and hit lazy fly balls to right field. Cain showed tonight that strikeouts are overrated, but he certainly is not.
C.J. Wilson matched him pretty well, only giving up a homer to Edgar Renteria really until Ron Washington handed the ball to a group of relievers that was even worse than anyone could have imagined. We knew the Giants’ biggest advantage was in the bullpen, but most “experts” only gave them a slight edge in that area. (I’m not going to go into all-out rip mode on the national writers, because it’s a waste of time — let’s just say that the more they screw up, the better people like me look … so keep it up, national writers!) The reason why: Neftali Feliz throws 100+ mph, and unless you pitch for the Red Sox, Yankees or Phillies, nobody pays attention to who your setup guys are until they fail.
Well, the Rangers’ relievers didn’t just fail, they made a close game a laugher. The Giants were known to have great pitching, but they’re proving it now just by comparison. The Rangers are freaking out right now, and their manager isn’t helping.
What was Wash doing tonight? Your young reliever walks Nate Schierholtz (who made an outstanding catch on the heel of his glove in right-center tonight after collecting an RBI-single last night … honestly, I couldn’t be happier for Nate and I don’t care how biased that makes me seem) on four pitches, and you don’t warm anybody up? WHAT??? I know he’s probably not a guy the AL West is taking a lot of notes on, but Schierholtz probably hasn’t walked on four pitches against anyone since he played for San Ramon Valley High.
Still, Washington left Derek Holland out there to flail around like a caught fish on the floor of a fishing boat, and he had no contingency plan. Did Washington and Josh Hamilton hang out in the Tenderloin last night? (Sorry, cheap shot … but all the reefer madness coming from the Texas media today made a dig like that too hard to resist — thanks to my buddy Mac for joke-texting me with the potential Hambone/Tenderloin connection).
An ode to Sabez…
— It’s pretty funny that Billy Beane, who’s presiding over a team where his toady is an ineffectual manager, with assistant coaches who can’t wait to leave, with a “system” that has been stolen by other teams and rendered completely irrelevant, is the subject of a movie starring Brad Pitt.
— While Brian Sabean’s redemption won’t be official unless the Giants win their first World Series under his watch, he came damn close tonight with the performances by Edgar Renteria and Aaron Rowand. He’s been battered over the last five years, but Sabean will probably be here for at least another five.
— If watching Cain calmly mow down opposing hitters from the MIGHTY AMERICAN LEAGUE was as calming as a childhood blankie, having Renteria and Juan Uribe patrol the left side of the infield was like a pacifier. Seriously, it looks like those guys have played together since they were children.
— You know why Cody Ross is awesome? Because he’s one of the rare players who I root for who I know would piss me off if he played for an opposing team. That double he laced early in the game was rude, just like every hit he’s had this postseason.
— Just got off the phone with my dad, and after chatting about Washington’s brain lapses we both decided to play amateur manager. And even though I’m the biggest Schierholtz fan who wasn’t born and raised in Danville or Alamo, it was actually my dad who suggested that Schierholtz should start on Saturday, with Pat Burrell taking a rest day. And after watching Burrell have trouble making contact for several games in a row, I have to say I agree. Especially after Schierholtz’s at-bats in the first two World Series games.
— Plus, you absolutely have to DH Pablo Sandoval in Game 3 against Colby Lewis. Sandoval’s a born DH! He’s going to be in the American League in three years anyway, if not sooner, why not give him practice now! He definitely doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who’d be thrown off by having to sit on the bench between at-bats. Defense for Sandoval seems more like a speed bump than a healthy outlet.
— Joe Buck and Tim McCarver are much easier to take when your team is winning.
— Nelson Cruz has looked like a bankrupt man’s Carlos Lee in this series.
— Kind of funny that Bengie Molina was replaced by Mike Treanor because C.J. Wilson and Molina don’t work well together (shades of Barry Zito in his first year and a half with Bengie), because SGL and I have never seen a group of pitchers shake off their catcher’s signs as often as the Rangers did with Treanor tonight.
— I wasn’t there tonight, so Game 1 will always hold a bigger spot in my heart than Game 2. But so many memories just the same: Cain reasserting his dominance as one of the top 20 pitchers in baseball (hell, top 10); Renteria going yard to his favorite spot in the park (I’ll always remember his grand slam against the Rockies last season which ended up in the same spot); Uribe’s bloop single to center; Javier Lopez making Hamilton look human yet again; Guillermo Mota coming out and throwing 95, in a performance that would probably make him the leading candidate to be the Rangers’ 8th inning guy.
— But mostly, I’ll remember when the Giants’ offense finally looked like the confident group. Last night, they rode a wave of emotion capped by Uribe’s homer. Tonight they looked like the “American League team.” The group that waited out inferior pitching calmly, then struck when the time was right (Renteria’s single to left). The worry now is that the Giants will get too cocky, but with Bochy leading the way and out-managing every single man in his path, that isn’t very likely. And, Buster Posey hasn’t even showed up yet offensively. Saturday can’t get here fast enough.