Monday, October 20, 2014

Feel-good stories from a feel-good postseason

AP has cranked out a very feel-good story about the fan who caught Ishikawa's homer on Thursday.

And Roger Angell has a nice piece for The New I am posting the whole thing. He is 94 years old. 94 years old....

A classic, not a curio. The home-team San Francisco Giants, reminding themselves that baseball is not always a parlor game, struck with a tying, pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the eighth and a walkoff, pennant-winning three-run homer in the ninth, eliminating the Cardinals and putting themselves into the World Series for the third time in the past five years. They will play the engaging young Kansas City Royals, starting in K.C. on Tuesday. Last night’s game was deeply restorative, in a post-season that, aside from those prearranged preliminary one-game shootouts between two wild-card teams in each league, never produced a winner-take-all final game at any level or venue. This held up right to the end, with the Cards winning only once in this best-of-seven against the Giants. But the brisk and breathless last game provided the drama we’d been missing, producing reminders of the 1951 Bobby Thomson shot that killed the Dodgers at the Polo Grounds, long before anyone had heard of “walkoff” or imagined handkerchief-waving hordes screaming beside the Bay.
Last night also put the quietus to that numbing “small ball” we kept hearing from the game announcers all summer, in a season dominated by enormous heat-radiating relievers and resulting low scores and shrivelled offense. You can win games like this, to be sure, as these Giants had been telling us. They’d scored the winning runs in the previous two Cardinals games without anything knocked out of the infield: on a wild peg by Cardinal reliever Randy Choate, and, a night later, two botched plays by first baseman Matt Adams. Wicked laughter is O.K. but not exactly nourishing, and you could almost hear the “Aw right!”s from the massed San Francisco fist-bumpers when their second baseman Joe Panik delivered a two-run homer in the third, putting them briefly ahead, by 2–1. It was the first Giants home run in two hundred and forty-three plate appearances and only their second in the post.

But I’m leaving out the splendid pitching, I see, and the redemption and the luck and the human interest and more. Onward: we’re entering an irony-free zone. The game was a rematch between the first-game starters, Adam Wainwright and Madison Bumgarner, with the Cards ace (a clear winner of the Frank Langella look-alike contest) out there to redeem some recent shakiness. You could see everything falling into place for him in the middle innings—his excitement when his plumb-bob changeup reappeared, and his impatience to get the ball back and fire it once again. He struck out the side in the sixth, and, defending a 3–2 lead, retired ten straight batters before his departure, after the seventh. The Fox announcers made much of him, and no wonder, but scarcely mentioned Bumgarner, who was not at his silencing best but getting it done anyhow: thirteen batters set down in a row, before he, too, sat down, after eight.
So we rushed to the end. The side-arming new Cards pitcher, Pat Neshek, came on in the eighth, to face a right-handed pinch-hitter, Michael Morse, who conked a home run into the left-field stands, tying things at 3–3. Ecstasy. Always in the middle of things, Pablo Sandoval, the portly Giants third baseman, knocked down a hard Cardinals ground ball in the top of the ninth, deflecting it to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who relayed to second for the second out of the inning: nothing to it. Another Giants reliever, the left-handed Jeremy Affeldt, was required to finish off the Cards here, and bring on the resonant and astounding finale: a single by Sandoval, a walk to Brandon Belt, and, on a 2–0 pitch by Michael Wacha, the winning home run into the right-field stands by the Giants’ Travis Ishikawa.
The irony—oop, sorry—was that Ishikawa, normally a first baseman but on this night a relative newcomer to left field, had misplayed a hard-hit fly ball out there in the third inning, leaking in a run for the visitors.
The redemption: Ishikawa, who is thirty-one, had begun the season playing first for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but stank it up there, lost the job, and went down to the minor-leagues, from which he was extracted and elevated by the savant, warmhearted, foresighted San Francisco Giants. We will meet all these guys—well, no: half of these guys—again on Tuesday night. Be there.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Orange and Black bandwagon

The postseason run of 8 vics in 10 games has been impressive enough for an Oakland A's fan to have gotten on board on the Mad Sports blog. Here's an exceprt -- 

While I can’t stand watching that team win, there’s a larger part of me that respects it to the fullest. They’ve built a dynasty from essentially the ground up. Everyone hates the Yankees because the Yankees “buy” their championships- the Giants have done just the opposite. Lots of home-grown talent, some minor free agent signings and 24 metric tons of team chemistry.
And what’s crazy (just regular crazy, not Hunter Pence crazy) is that this year’s team is even more impressive than either of their last two World Series champions.
They’ve managed to trek back to the World Series (as the second Wild Card team, mind you) without their starting centerfielder and one of their best two starting pitchers. Not to mention the fact Tim Lincecum has become a non-factor, bullpen or otherwise.
When Angel Pagan went down for the year, it looked like the Giants might be done. He really seemed like the catalyst for their success. They fell apart when he went down with a leg injury last year, and didn’t play particularly well without him this year. Certainly not well enough to go to the World Series, anyway.
Their rotation also looked shaky going in. Madison Bumgarner is nails, but with no Matt Cain, there were several question marks in Ryan Vogelsong, Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson. Surely if they couldn’t pitch, they wouldn’t be able to scrape enough runs together to win.
They also went without a starting second baseman for about half the year. That spot in their lineup was such an enormous heaping pile of dinosaur feces that they brought in Dan Uggla to fill the void. DAN. UGGLA. THE TEAM THAT WILLINGLY EMPLOYED DAN UGGLA AT ONE POINT IS IN THE WORLD SERIES. Alas, they settled on 2011 first round pick Joe Panik for the final 73 games.
A lot of things pointed towards the Giants not doing much in the postseason this year. But since they’re ridiculously good at pulling themselves up from the ashes (ask the 2012 Reds and Cardinals), they figured out a way to put it all together.

Friday, October 17, 2014

It was 25 years ago today

I was at Game 3 of the 1989 Series at the Stick when the Loma Prieta quake hit -- and I do mean hit

What a perspective-changer. My thoughts and best wishes go out to the brave men and women who endeavored to rescue survivors and battle the fires.

And the Stick survived. Despite being the object of scorn, it was fortunately well built enough to withstand the most massive quake since 1906.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

8 Down, 4 to go

Shades of Bobby Thomson, 63 years later!

3-run homer  in the bottom of the 9th gets the Giants into the World Series. Thanks to Mike Matheny for the puzzling decision to have Michael Wacha pitch the 9th after a month layoff. Perhaps he was inspired by Michael Morse hitting a pinch homer in the 8th.

Anyhow, Lefty Malo summer it up nicely by posting a Muddy Waters video of "(Going to) Kansas City.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lucky, lucky

Giants Win was at the game yesterday in section 310.

It felt a little lucky but I will take it.

Juan Perez finally got a hit when it counted after failing utterly to bunt. Gregor Blanco finally got a bunt down, which the Cards pitcher threw into right field.

What a beauty of a game, particularly after the meltdown of the pen on Sunday

Six down, six to go

Monday, October 13, 2014

Giants upbeat despite brutal loss

Well, that's what Chris Haft of says in his recap. I, for one, found it pretty brutal to watch all those Card HRs tonight. 

They are the ones that have to play the games, not me. This was a tough one, though -- so close.

here's the first few grafs --

The Giants appeared devoid of disappointment after their 5-4 loss Sunday night to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. And why not?
Certainly, they missed a chance to jump ahead 2-0 in the best-of-seven series when Kolten Wong led off the Cardinals' half of the ninth by lining Sergio Romo's 1-0 pitch over the right-field barrier to break a 4-4 tie. But the game was so tumultuous that they felt a tad exhilarated, as if they had just finished bungee-jumping or zip-lining. The Giants overcame a 2-0 deficit to inch ahead, 3-2, in the seventh inning and trailed, 4-3, after eight before pulling even in the ninth with a rally that Romo called "inexplicable."

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Once they get a lead, they hold it

Five down, seven to go

A three-run lead by the 3rd inning after 3 one-run vics against the Nats. This was a relatively low-stress game tonight,,,,

The headline is from Henry Schulman's game story for the SF's part of what he said following that assertion ....

For most of Game 1, “they” meant Bumgarner, who pitched 72/3 innings and broke a 90-year-old postseason record for consecutive shutout innings on the road, 262/3 and counting.
The schematic for this win was familiar; Brandon Belt needed few words to describe it.
“We just want to give Bum a few runs early and let him settle in,” Belt said.
The Giants took a 3-0 lead by the third inning against Adam Wainwright and watched Bumgarner protect it like a dog with a favorite chew toy in his mouth.
The 25-year-old, now 4-0 in postseason road starts, allowed four singles on the night and none from the third through sixth innings.
“He was really good,” Buster Posey said. “He’s been on quite a roll. When he throws the ball as well as he did tonight, we don’t have to score too many.”
Which is good for the Giants, because they have not exactly been an offensive dynamo this postseason. After scoring eight runs to beat the Pirates in the wild-card game, they have squeaked out three, two, one, three and three. Yet they are 4-1 in those taut affairs.
“The fact that we’re grinding out a lot of wins, even though we’re leaving a lot of guys on base, is a good thing,” second baseman Joe Panik said. “It speaks volumes about our pitching.”