This is a big one. Teams that win Game 3 of the World Series to put themselves ahead two games to one have won … a majority of these series. I’m pretty sure, anyway. Sorry, I can only do so much Googlin’ before my eyes get glassy. Sorry, let’s hope the Giants get off to a better start than I have on this post.
Game 3 is important because the Giants still need three wins to claim their third championship in five years and Madison Bumgarner can only start two more games — at the most. I’ll be in the stands, definitely not following the “don’t cheer in the press box” rule because I won’t be in the press box. Transitioning to silly, irrational, homeristic fandom has been surprisingly easy since the NLCS started, and that’s where we’ll start on this list of things to watch in tonight’s game.
1. Home field advantage
I brought up this idea on the BASGcast we recorded yesterday afternoon with Alex Pavlovic (you can listen to it here), and he shot it down like the rational, facts-based beat writer he is. In taking a look at past games, the Giants DO seem to play pretty well in October in front of their loud, rag-waving fans. Their postseason record of 22-12 at AT&T Park is nothing to sneeze at.
However, they’re 22-14 in road playoff games since 2000. And to shoot another hole in my theory that loud crowds can rattle opposing players, the Giants are 17-6 on the road and 14-6 at home combined during the 2010, 2012 and 2014 postseasons. But there are no absolutes in baseball. Some players, like Doug Fister and Bryce Harper, aren’t affected by the noise. On the other hand, it sure seemed like the crowd got to Cliff Lee in the 2010 World Series (probably because I was in the bleachers with my family and we were all screaming), Justin Verlander in the 2012 World Series (although that was probably due more to Pablo Sandoval than our cheers while watching television) and Randy Choate in the NLCS (I was there and I’m pretty sure I made a difference by taking photos).
Anyway, I’m looking forward to hearing a loud crowd and hopefully it’ll make a difference. We’ll see.
2. Huddy’s first Fall Classic
Tim Hudson made 457 starts, won 214 games and struck out 2,016 batters before making his first World Series start, and that’s just in the regular season. Tonight the Giants need Hudson to accomplish what he’s done in eight of his 11 postseason starts: go six innings or more.
It’s hard to fathom what’s going through Hudson’s mind right now. All this waiting, and this could be his only chance to pitch in a World Series. The first inning, as it has been in this series’ first two games, will be pivotal. In tonight’s case, the first frame will tell us whether Hudson is up to the task. With Ryan Vogelsong — who only lasted three innings in Game 4 of the NLCS — pitching tomorrow, Hudson could save Bruce Bochy a lot of grief by keeping Yusmeiro Petit in the dugout for one more evening.
3. Posey power?
Pavlovic had a good idea as to why Buster Posey hasn’t had an extra-base hit in the postseason. That is, he’s probably fatigued after catching over 1,000 innings in the regular season and 127 (if my math is correct) in the playoffs. Still, it just seems impossible to believe Posey’s power drought will continue for this entire series.