The Giants played a perfect game yesterday, one that perfectly captured a Giants rout in 2010. Tonight won’t be so easy, and that has nothing to do with Madison Bumgarner or Joe Blanton, just that the Phillies are facing elimination. If they lose tonight, they face the prospect of having to win three consecutive games against Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez and Matt Cain.
The Phillies were able to feast on the NL East, but now they’re looking old and tired against the best team in the NL West. Tonight they’re going to play harder than they have all season, and after all the success they’ve had they surely believe they can win 3 of the next 4 games.
Madison Bumgarner is a very good pitcher, but he lets teams hit the ball. If the balls the Phillies hit find holes, gaps, or bleachers tonight, which from time to time they probably will, the Giants are going to need to score some runs. Not 3 runs, or even 4. The Giants need 5+ runs tonight to give themselves a viable opportunity to put Philadelphia in a huge hole, one that will probably discourage them and make them feel like the National League Yankees, who just realized their only dominant players right now are Mariano Rivera and Robinson Cano.
But how to improve a Giants offense that to this point has been as stagnant as a swamp in Florida? Besides churning out different lineups and hoping, perhaps the Giants should look to history.
Check out the Giants who’ve had amazing offensive postseasons since 1987. Jeff Leonard (1987). Will Clark (1989). Barry Bonds (2002). Cody Ross (2010). One of them (Thrill) was balding at the time, the other three had shaved heads when they grabbed the headlines in October. Coincidence? Probably. But that’s enough at this point. Just as certain members of the bullpen bearded up this season, it might not be a bad idea for the Giants’ hitters to fire up the clippers and Mach 3 Turbos and wipe their scalps/slates clean.
Buster Posey’s 1-for-11 in the NLCS. Aubrey Huff’s hair is short, but not short enough — he is 2-for-11. Pat Burrell’s 2-for-9 with 4 strikeouts. Andres Torres is 1-for-10 with 6 K in this series. Jose Uribe is 1-for-7, and would be the only guy in this group who’d probably shave his head on a dare. Except maybe Huff, if someone promised him enough bottles of 5-Hour Energy, or Buster if you promised not to kick his pocket full of tots. But with the Giants’ OPS during the playoffs a meager .570, bald might look beautiful by comparison.
What Philly’s Saying:
Since I just spent 400 words talking about how the Giants should shave their heads (so they can look more like me!), it’s clear that there’s a limit to how much you can dissect the Giants. If they pitch well through seven and don’t screw things up in the eighth, they’re near unbeatable right now. If they walk guys and hit into multiple double-plays, they’re no better than the Braves. So now that we have that settled, let’s check around to gauge the level of concern on that other coast.
— From reader comments:
“The luster is starting to come off Utley, as he has been average to poor this year.”
“Polanco is a shell of himself.”
“Mad Bum’s changeup is good, not great, and his fastball is of the 90 mph variety. He wins because his command is ridiculously good and his delivery is deceptive. He reminds me a bit of J.A. Happ in terms of how he gets guys out.” (Beerleaguer)
— “Then, inexplicably, evil elf Cody Ross got another low fastball, and while he didn’t turn it into a souvenir, he did smack into left for a run-scoring single.” (The Good Phight)
— “Although this is uncharted territory for this team, we all know they canâ€™t be counted out of any series. And while the lineup is sinking like a brick, theyâ€™ll get a chance to turn their fortunes around against the Giants fourth starter.” (Phillies Nation)
— “Charlie need only to have looked in the home dugout yesterday to see that shaking up a stagnant, under-performing lineup for change’s sake can pay dividends. Bruce Bochy inserted Edgar Renteria as his leadoff hitter and Aaron Rowand into the eight-hole yesterday. Both veterans delivered – Renteria singled and scored a run, Rowand doubled and scored.” (Phils-ville)
— “When you signed Roy Halladay and traded away Cliff Lee last December, you did so, at least in part, with this day in mind. The difference between Lee and Halladay was that one was Sandy Koufax and the other was Bob Gibson …I would pitch Halladay today, worry about tomorrow afterward. Isn’t that the Phillies’ mantra? Win today, then worry about tomorrow?” (Philadelphia Inquirer)