I had a defibrillator on standby for this game, you know. That sure turned out to be unnecessary. The Giants made it easy. An early lead, a boatload of insurance by the third inning, and an eventual nine-to-nothing final score. The Cardinals took a beating today — and I’m okay with that because it was them or me.
Some brief thoughts, as we all still digest this…
– THE GIANTS ARE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!
– No, seriously, National League Champions. Has a nice ring to it, eh? Awesome, awesome, awesome.
– The Giants won this game in the third inning, the big blow coming off the bat of Hunter Pence. He cleared the bases with a double to bring the Giants’ lead up to 5-0. The hit was…weird. Pence’s bat snapped mid-swing, and he ended up making contact with the ball three times. Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma misjudged the ball, which potentially made the difference between “three-run double” and “double play.” I’m not sure if he should get the blame for that; I’m not certain, for instance, that Brandon Crawford would have made that play. The fact that Pence hit the ball three times might have had something to do with Kozma’s bad first step.
Whatever the case, it worked out for the Giants. That’s all that really matters in the end, right?
– NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro played in all seven games, collecting a hit in each of ‘em; he had multiple hits in six of ‘em — a new LCS record. Overall, he had 28 at-bats in this series. He collected a hit in half of them. Dude’s a hit machine. Not to mention the fact that his defense has been superb.
Obligatory reminder: Charlie Culberson — who had a .283 OBP in the PCL at the time — was all it took for the Giants to acquire Scutaro. I think I’ve mentioned that a good seventeen times by now, but I mean, wow.
– You can add Jeremy Affeldt to the list of things I was wrong about; it’s sort of a long list. Affeldt was the Giants’ second best reliever this season, and he’s been outstanding in the playoffs. Through eight appearances, he still has yet to allow a run this postseason. I’d say he’s earned that $5M.
– Buster Posey had a pretty disappointing NLCS, and his timing at the plate sure seems off. He’s rolling over pitches, and even the hit he had tonight — a chopper up the middle — wasn’t impressive. You know what? I’m not the least bit worried. He’s Buster Posey. He’ll figure it out.
– Matt Cain was not great. He was missing spots, leaving pitches up, and running up his pitch count. He was good, though. In spite of the high pitch count and the occasional mistakes, he gave the Giants 5.2 innings’ worth of shutout ball.
But more importantly, he didn’t need to be great, or even good for that matter. The offense — and defense, too — carried the team. And the team won. And now they’re going to the World Series.
– Did I mention that the Giants are going to the World Series? Because the Giants are going to the World Series.
Zito, up against one of the best offenses the National League has seen in recent years, a lineup that’s been especially tough on left-handed pitching, more than held his own. For nearly eight innings, with everything on the line, he silenced the Cardinals on their own territory. Considering the match-up and what was at stake, it was probably the outing of his career.
And you could say the same about Ryan Vogelsong, who’s transformed into a postseason force to be reckoned with. Through four and two-thirds innings, he had a no-hitter going. He went on to allow one run in seven innings of work, just as he had done in the second game of this series. His nine strikeouts were a career high, and to top it all off, he only allowed one walk. I’m certain I’ve never seen Vogelsong dominate quite like he did last night.
Oh yeah, and for good measure, Zito and Vogelsong each drove in a run in their starts.
I can’t get over the craziness of all of this. Facing elimination, the Giants sent out Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong, both of whom delivered with spectacular pitching to keep the team’s World Series hopes alive. You know how weird that would’ve sounded a year and a half ago? Zito had been left off the postseason roster entirely in 2010, and Vogelsong a) hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2006, and b) was coming off a season in which he’d allowed nearly two baserunners an inning…in Triple-A.
This Giants team is doing some absolutely amazing things. With their backs against the wall in the NLDS, they fought back, nabbed three consecutive games, and advanced to the next round. And they’re on the brink of doing it again. This is unprecedented stuff.
Now, it’s World Series or bust. Whatever happens tonight, it’s been one hell of a ride. Here’s hoping it’s not over just yet. And with the Giants at home, sending Matt Cain to the mound, I have to say — I like them odds.
After finishing up my second midterm in as many as days — you can see why I’ve been swamped lately — I finally have some time to sit down and write about the Giants. The NLCS has not gone swimmingly, as you’ve surely noticed; it’s gone — ahem – drowningly? I guess you could say that. Aside from Game Two — thank you, Ryan Vogelsong — this series has been dreadful. A brief recap of what we’ve seen:
- Madison Bumgarner continued his untimely downward trend, barely touching 90 in his latest disappointing start. The last thing the Giants needed was another starter to worry about. The good news — relatively speaking — is that it sounds like Bumgarner’s healthy. It goes without saying, but the primary concern with Bumgarner is the future, and the Giants need to protect that at all costs.
- Kyle Lohse limited the Giants to one run, despite allowing two baserunners an inning. Another Matt Cain gem was wasted.
- Tim Lincecum returned to 2012 form, which is to say he was positively Hochevarian. Not that it mattered all that much anyway, as the Giants’ offense didn’t do much to pitch in, either.
The Giants, once again, are facing elimination. Once again, in order to keep their season alive, they must win three games in a row. Hey, it worked before. Maybe the Giants are pressing their luck; but as I said last time, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. For now, all hope rests in Barry Zito‘s arm. And that’s kind of spooky. But as little confidence as I have in Zito, if the Giants can pull this victory off, they get to play the final two games at home.
One game at a time. Win today, Giants.