For the first two games, the narrative was about the Giants being the favored team of the baseball gods. The Giants won 8-3 and a dude hit three homers, but somehow fortuitous bounces and luck became the narrative. A ball hit the third-base bag, the Giants had a two-out rally, and it was all conflated with irrepressible luck.
In the second game, Gregor Blanco bunted a ball that didn't go foul, a third-base coach made a horrible decision, and the narrative continued. It was nothing more than a good bunt, but it became something that turned the Giants into a mediocre team catching all the breaks. Never mind that the Giants didn't allow a run, and they scored their runs on a bunch of walks and run-scoring outs. There are a lot of ways to define luck in a baseball context, but walks and run-scoring outs usually aren't two of them.
Now we're through with the third game. The story has shifted to the pitching. Shutouts and pitching and shutouts and pitching. That's what it's going to be about until something else comes up. Hopefully nothing else will, and that will be the story of the 2012 postseason for the next century. The Giants' pitching is the story, and if you picked the Giants to win the pennant before the season, that's about what you were expecting. It was just, uh, a roundabout way to get there.
Of the three games in the World Series so far, though, this was the first one that made me think of words like "fortunate", "breaks", and "luck." Now that those words are going to quietly disappear, they're more relevant than ever. Because I keep replaying the bottom of the fifth inning in my mind, and I don't understand what happened. I think about the first and the third, and I'm stunned the Tigers didn't score in at least one of those innings.
But while I thought of words like "fortunate", "breaks", and "luck," to describe what happened in that game, I'm sure as hell not going to lean on them. That would be grossly unfair to Ryan Vogelsong and the weird, compelling brand of grind, grind, grind that he calls pitching. Vogelsong didn't melt into a puddle of goo when Cabrera came up with the bases loaded. That's not luck. That's the special kind of crazy that gets Vogelsong through his typical workday.
Vogelsong is unlike any pitcher I've ever watched, as his walks are usually the product of a refusal to give a hitter a good pitch in a hitter's count, not a loss of command. I thought he took the philosophy too far when he walked Austin Jackson in the fifth. It brought him one batter closer to Cabrera with runners on base.
He did have to face Miguel Cabrera with the bases loaded. Vogelsong loaded the bases, allowing one of the best hitters in baseball history to come up. It was likely to end up as a defining moment in the game, if not the series, regardless of how it turned out.
A pop-up. He threw an inside fastball, and he got out of it on a pop-up.
The Giants are annoying teams and opposing fans with heart-hands, salutes, and shark fins. But everyone would have understood if Voglesong pantomimed pushing an invisible wheelbarrow on the way back to the dugout. The better to carry his … well, you get the idea. How else would you expect him to get around with those things? Seems uncomfortable.
Ryan Vogelsong, folks. Jeez.
He had his moments in the postseason sun already. This is better. We probably aren't going to see Vogelsong again in the playoffs, regardless of what happens. So let's take a moment to appreciate what in the hell just happened. Ryan Vogelsong was let go by two Triple-A teams, rode a meteor around the sun, and showed up in a Giants uniform for the second time with all sorts of eerie powers.
The Giants need one more win to make him the best story of the postseason. One more for Vogelsong, please.
Tim Lincecum had his best fastball of the year in Game 3 of the World Series. Okay. This isn't about velocity, either, though that was as good as it's been. His fastball wasn't just quick, it was moving, and he was controlling it.
That guy. I remember that guy. With every painful outing this year, that guy was getting scrubbed from the family photo, making us wonder if he really existed in the first place. His sequence to Prince Fielder was George McFly decking Biff. The picture came back! He was real! We're not crazy!
The sequence to Fielder:
First pitch was a slider. Second was a fastball. Third was a changeup. I don't remember Lincecum making quick work of anyone like that this season, and I'm sure that has to be selective amnesia. There has to be someone who took two quick strikes before flailing at a changeup against Lincecum this year. I sure don't recall it, though. The conviction and execution of those three pitches was amazing. They were exactly where Lincecum wanted to throw them.
Wait, I have it: It was an unfair at-bat. How many times could you say that about Lincecum this year? How many times did you feel bad for a good hitter because Lincecum toyed with him? I can't remember a single instance. Fielder didn't have a chance. It used to be like that all the time.
Tim Lincecum: '70s style relief ace. I'm going to go through Goose Gossage game logs and find some comparable outings now. Here's one. Too many walks in that outing to make it a perfect match, but you know what I'm referring to. The super-reliever is coming back. Lincecum didn't have a bad year; he just wanted to figure out how to share his bullpen vision with the rest of us, and pretending to be bad was the only way.
It makes as much sense as anything else ...
Everyone's in love with Brandon Crawford, right? It feels like this whole postseason is an after-school special about the meaning of defense.
I don't remember what it felt like when the Giants were a win away in Texas. That whole postseason is kind of a blur to me, possibly because this one is even more of a blur. But I don't remember if there was quiet confidence, nervous retching, or some combination of the two.
I can tell you what I'm feeling right now: nervous as all heck. We just watched two ridiculous series comebacks. I'm never going to discount the possibility of another one for as long as I watch baseball.
The Giants have four chances. I'd like to go trick-or-treating with my daughter, and I'd really like to shave this damnable beard, so the sooner the better, but they have four chances to get one win.
My suggestion to them: Win another game. If you could be so kind.