Sunday, October 10, 2010
Clutch plays and Conrad overcome impotence and Bochy
That's the only way I could describe my feelings after game 2. You know me well enough to know that I am rarely, RARELY speechless.
I second-guessed Bochy's move to bring in Romo over Casilla or Ramirez and expect Wilson to get another 2 inning save. I second guessed his borderline OCD tic of removing Pat Burrell in the 6th inning. I questioned the move of pinch hitting for Fontenot with Renteria. All of it. But let's not talk about that. Rick Ankiel and Alex Gonzalez and Big Head Bochy are sealed up into a nice forgettable little Game 2 package.
On Sunday, Game 3 happened.
It was an incredible performance by Jonathan Sanchez on the mound, another impotent day at the plate against an other-worldly Tim Hudson and nasty Atlanta bullpen, another head-shaking, profanity-inducing string of decisions by Bruce Bochy, and an improbable comeback by our boys in Orange & Black. Observations are as such:
-- Jonathan Sanchez may have finally turned the corner as a big league pitcher... and a big game pitcher. His 11 K performance was the most prolific strikeout total by a Giants left hander in postseason history, and only one other Giants lefty has ever had 10. The Giants organization has been around almost 140 years, and Sanchez was the guy to set the record.
Not only that, but he had a no-hitter going into the 6th inning that had to be broken up by Timmy Hudson himself!
Even more so than Dirrrty Sanchez's no-hitter last season, this performance perhaps announced the arrival of "good Sanchez" for, well, good. He appears to be a confident son of a bitch out there, delivering a stankeye to Rick Ankiel after striking him out in the 3rd, and then throwing one over his head in the 6th.
Consistency has never been Sanchez's middle name, but my Lord, when he is good, he is GOOD.
-- Mike Fontenot and his Jon Miller-described "Hugh Jackman Wolverine Beard" proved to be a good start, and thank God BHH (Big Head Bochy) figured that out. Pablo Sandoval is a liability. He is an idiot in the field (running into Posey in game 2 and throwing the ball all over creation), and an idiot at the plate (double play specialist, strike out artist). Sandoval is not "back", I never declared him "back", and he will never be "back". He had one flukey season as a rookie, the league adjusted to him, and he's too stupid to adjust back. For Giants fans that aren't 14 year old girls with Panda hats, he's testing our patience to the last rope. If he got traded for Alex Gordon or Chris Davis or Johnny Venters, I'd say. Okay. Sounds good. You can sell Panda hats in KC, Texas, and Atlanta. He's your problem now.
Back to Fontenot.
His triple led to our first run (barely), and I'm shocked by how close it came to a dinger. In addition, it also may have injured Jason Heyward, which is a blessing in a not-so-good disguise.
Fontenot also played a good 3B.
-- Bochy is a hard-headed fool. He's been doing these things all year. He's an old-school guy who makes old-man decisions. Nearly all the Giants fans I talk to on Twitter basically groaned in unison as Romo was carted out to face Eric Hinske.
In fact, here is a string of my Twitterings (left column down, then right column)
And right after "Come on Serge", Hinske crushed a terrible pitch up into RF.
Romo is no longer a viable 8th inning option, and let's be honest, that basically lost us the game. If it weren't for Bobby Cox and poor Brooks Conrad, the second loss in a row would've been on Romo and Bochy. Amazing how baseball works.
-- Burrell needs to play 8 innings. Again, we came up in the 9th inning, needing to score and Pat Burrell was no longer in the game with Nate Schierholtz in his place. No. Bochy. NO!
-- Cody Ross should not hit 8th, Uribe should, until further notice
-- Both Brian McCann and Jason Heyward got banged up on Sunday and may not play at 100% tomorrow. No Billy Wagner worked to our advantage today, and with these two guys banged up, I like our chances.
-- It is a amazing how Sanchez and Huff were struggling so badly, and yet, those two, plus the cold Ishikawa walking off the bench, again, along with Brooks Conrad managed to somehow, ridiculously pull off two runs in the 9th inning.
-- There were two outs, two strikes, and we were almost done. We were literally down to our last strike. Freddy Sanchez came through.
-- Brooks Conrad will be forced into therapy soon. Atlanta is a bad sports town with a lot of fairweather bandwagoners, but they get fired up about stuff that matters, like Braves playoff games and Georgia football. You can bet they won't forget Conrad's 4 NLDS errors (3 in Game 3).
Like Duane Kuiper said on KNBR right after Conrad committed the lead-taking error on Buster Posey's routine grounder,
"I'm gonna take the kid off the hook. He should not have been out there playing second base."
And he's right. It's rare to feel bad for an opposing player. Nick Anderson missing all those free throws back in '95 against Houston comes to mind, and to a lesser extent, Bill Buckner, but this one shouldn't be on Brooks Conrad. Here's why.
--He's not a second baseman by trade, he's a 3rd baseman. It is true that he has not been good at 3B this year, committing 7 errors in 2010, but why, oh why, would a bad performance at 3B translate into a better performance at 2B?
My question to Old Man Cox is, "Why, after the 2nd error or 3rd error in the series do you leave the guy out there?"
Not only that, but the guy was asked to sacrifice bunt, and popped it up foul to Mike Fontenot in foul territory before he committed the final two errors. His confidence was shot, and yet, Cox carted him out there.
The alternative is putting Troy Glaus, a career 3B at third with sub-par range, and Omar Infante, a career middle infielder at 2B. Boom. Problem solved.
Braves fans are putting this loss on Cox like we put Romo and Sandoval's mistakes on Bochy.
-- Wilson was nails out there in the 9th. And thank God, because we needed that from him, not only because of the obvious, but because he needed a good outing to get his "Awesomness" back in to full swing.
Romo should shave his beard though. He can start growing it back, but you need to shave it now.
-- Andres Torres and Juan Uribe are a concern. Their at bats do not look great. They are swinging and missing too much and reaching for pitches. The same can be said for Huff and Freddy Sanchez, but perhaps their 9th inning success got them some mojo back.
And like Jerry Springer, my final thought.
On Saturday morning, after one of the most deflating losses of my Giants fan career, I flipped on my DirecTV box and looked through my DVR for something to watch before the Georgia-Tennessee game. Sure enough, there was 30 for 30 from last week: "4 Days in October".
If you haven't seen it, ask around, and see how you can watch it. Either online, or on your friend's DVR. It's worth it.
I actually wouldn't mind having it on DVD for my own purposes, but that is irrelevant.
This particular 30 for 30 was about the 2004 Boston Red Sox who improbably came back from a 3-0 ALCS deficit to beat the Yankees, in New York, to go on to the World Series where they swept the Cardinals.
I'm not a Red Sox fan. I guess I like them more than the Yankees, but who doesn't? Regardless, it was the most incredible comebacks in all of sports history, and was done by a cast of characters and outcasts with beards who called themselves "The Idiots."
Those Red Sox had Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling. They also had Kevin Millar, who is strikingly similar to Aubrey Huff in many ways. Martinez, Schilling, and Lowe in their primes are pretty damn similar to Lincecum, Cain, and Sanchez, who are all entering their primes. The Sox had Johnny Damon, whose beard made him look like a caveman. We have Brian Wilson whose beard makes him look like a cross between Charlie Sheen in Major League and Billy Mays back from grave.
They are not the same team, and I know that the comparison is a reach. What I will say, is that those 2004 Red Sox were the underdogs who were loose and goofy in the clubhouse. They had weird hair and strange characters, and tortured their fans all year. And yeah. They still beat the Yankees after being down 0-3.
After watching that, I felt better about our 1-1 series. I felt better about the possibility that we could win 1 or 2 at Turner Field, no matter what the circumstances.
Although I was crushed by the Game 2 loss and Hinske's home run, part of me said, "It's not over. These guys have been coming back all year, and if the Red Sox could come back from an 0-3 ALCS deficit, we can beat these damn Braves."
And that, my friends, is why we watch; it's why we're fans.
Game 3 is Monday at 5:37 Pacific on TBS. And Madison Bumgarner is pitching against Derek Lowe.
PS: I couldn't take Dick Stockton, Bob Brenly and TBS any more. After saying they did an okay job in game 1, they, like many of you, made me sick. It's everything from Stockton's pronunciation of error as "errah", to the fact that he introduced the Giants lineup as the "New York Giants", to his spray-on hair.
Brenly, although a former Giant, is sounding more and more like Tim McCarver. In the 4th inning, I put KNBR on, and literally looked at the TV only for visual replays while Twittering. Unfortunately KNBR's feed was about 7 seconds ahead of my DirecTV TBS feed, which makes it impossible to listen and watch in sync. It would be nice for KNBR to give a damn about its listeners and sync up their feed to the TBS feed, but I guess it's not a perfect world.