Saturday, October 16, 2010
As if there was any doubt, the Giants once again pulled out a close game. And once again, Cody Ross and Tim Lincecum showed up in a HUGE way.
You know I don't write recaps, I write observations and analyze the hell out of stuff. You all watched the game anyway. So here goes:
-- Lincecum looked a little out of sorts early and didn't have the command he showed in his shutout 14K performance against Atlanta. Much of this can probably be attributed to a blister problem on his pitching hand. Despite Giants management downplaying the issue, it was obviously bothering him.
As solidly as Roy Halladay pitched, Lincecum was better. Most impressive about that is that he basically did this with two pitches behind his back. His curve and slider were not there, so he was basically going at the most fearsome lineup in the NL with a fastball and changeup...
-- I couldn't believe Bochy trotted Lincey out there to pitch the 7th inning after he was "leaking oil" (Krukowism) in the 6th. Again, the guy proves everyone wrong by perhaps establishing his best rhythm of the entire game, going 1-2-3, and even mixing in a couple soft-breaking sliders. To me, that is the epitome of guts and "leaving it all out on the field". Throwing sliders hurt his finger, he was over 100 pitches, he had 45,000 sleazebags whistling at him, and he pulled out that 7th inning like a stud.
The guy never ceases to amaze and surprise me.
-- If you didn't get the whole whistling at Lincecum thing, Philly fans were catcalling at Lincecum due to his magnificent, lustrous hair. It was if they were drunken, union construction workers sexually harassing an attractive woman walking by during their 2 hour lunch break.
Obviously Phillie fans have a thing for guys with long hair. Haha.
-- Tim Lincecum on the whistles from Phillies fans: "I was thinkin I must have a really nice butt, because I sure heard a lot of em."
-- Cody Ross was an absolute gem of a pickup (as if we didn't already know that). It is truly remarkable how a guy Sabean picked up simply to prevent the Padres from improving has now carried the offense through the NLDS and now onto the NLCS.
He was meant to be a 4th outfielder, a free pickup meant to replace Jose Guillen in the 6th inning as a defensive replacement. Now look at him. Ripping the Braves, killing the Phils.
-- Cody Ross became the first 8th place hitter to hit two dongs from the 8th spot in the playoffs since Chad Curtis did it in 1999.
-- Ross joins Garrett Anderson, Marlon Anderson, Luke Scott, and Corey Hart as the only guys to ever hit two dongs off of Halladay in the same game... regular season or playoffs. (Thanks to Cam Inman for that one)
-- Yes. It's true. Cody Ross, "The Pride of New Mexico" wanted to be a rodeo clown as a kid.
-- The Giants once again failed to bring home a runner from 3rd base with less than 2 outs. Not only that, but Andres Torres struck out in Panda-like fashion against the erratic Brad Lidge.
-- Speaking of Torres. He got one to fall, but the man ain't right. I don't know if he's tired, his appendectomy is bothering him, or if he's just too nervous. Perhaps the playoffs are really meshing with his ADHD to create a perfect storm of ineffectiveness. Regardless, I am worried about him.
-- Andres Torres is now 5-21 in the postseason, with 1 stolen base, 0 runs, 1 walk, and 8 strikeouts. He's been a catalyst all season. This is killing our mojo. Thank God for Cody Ross.
-- Javier Lopez is an absolute monster to lefties. He made Ryan Howard look like an medicated old schoolmarm. This particular deal by Sabean, perhaps the least heralded, ranks just behind Burrell and Ross in importance to the team.
Since Lopez's arrival to San Francisco for Joe Martinez and John Bowker, he has thrown 19.2 innings of 1.40 ERA ball, with a 19 K's and an opposing batting average below .160
-- There are a lot of horrendous home plate umpires out there, namely Crawford, Bucknor, and West, but Darryl Cousins is up there with the worst of the worst.
It's as if the man has zero peripheral vision, cannot bend his neck to look down, and believes all strikes are around the letters. There were no corners or strikes around the knees and he was just plain all over the place. He was screwing both sides all night, and guys like him should not be affecting playoff games. There simply needs to be more accountability for lousy home plate umpires.
-- Raul Ibanez is a liability for the Phils in LF. He's like a statue out there missed a catchable ball by Burrell to "blow the game open"
-- Nice to see Juan Uribe finally get a clutch hit and drive in a run
-- Check out this video of a Phillies fan puking onto the field during a Freddy Sanchez foul ball. At least he didn't puke on an off-duty cop and his children like the last time.
Perhaps nearly as epic as Ashkon's "Don't Stop Believin'" Giants remix, is Frankie Boots's "Lincecum, F Yeah"... set to the tune of Team America's "America, F Yeah"
Probably not safe for work... Good thing it's the weekend.
-- If you were complaining about Dick Stockton and Bob Brenly, well, you're still complaining about the announcing.
My quote is "Joe Buck and Tim McCarver: Ruining baseball since 1996".
Buck sounds like a depressed, blase, out of work actor with a trust fund and McCarver sounds like a senile old drunk. Fox is the worst. It wouldn't be so bad, but the KNBR feed is even further off live TV for Fox than it was for TBS. I'm talking 12 or 13 seconds ahead. I find myself only watching the TV for replays. It's truly unbelievable that in today's society with all this technology, we have to deal with this kind of mind-numbing and frustrating commentary. I swear to God I would do a better job sitting at home in my underwear doing play by play with my dog Rosie as the color commentator.
Does anyone have a way of "DVR'ing" the radio to slow it down??
Looking forward to game 2 and Oswalt versus Sanchez:
-- Oswalt has a career 3.61 ERA against the Giants. Interesting that in teams in which Roy has 15 or more starts starts against, he has surrenders the second highest ERA against San Francisco.
Oswalt Career ERA (15+ starts)
In 2010, Oswalt is 1-3 in 4 starts against the Giants, and he has a 3.33 ERA. His last start, a win, came as a member of the Phillies. Also of note is that King Roy has a 1.76 ERA at Citizen's Bank Park in 2010.
As for Jonathan Sanchez, his road ERA is noticeably lower than his home ERA (2.86/3.26).
In addition to that, Sanchez is 2-0 against Philadelphia in 2010 with an incredible 1.38 ERA (2 ER in 13 IP) and a .114 BAA.
Looks like a great matchup to me!
And BTW, I predicted on Facebook/Twitter before the game that the Giants would win Game 1 3-1, beat Oswalt in Game 2, and lose to Hamels in Game 3. Giants in 6. Proof below.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
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.