Previously on Giants Baseball…
Rick Ankiel hit a homerun into McCovey Cove in Game 2 of the NLDS.
MATT CAIN THREW A PERFECT GAME.
The Houston Astros dominated Barry Zito.
The Seattle Mariners dominated Tim Lincecum.
And now, the exciting conclusion to this week’s games…
Tom Wilhelmsen was the most appropriate player to appear in the game. The Wilhelm Scream is one of the most famous sounds in the history of film. His appearance in the top of the ninth inning that ended when Nate Schierholtz grounded out with the bases loaded was cinematic. The entire ninth inning couldn’t have been scripted any better.
Emmanuel Burriss somehow got a hit. Then he got a bad jump while trying to steal second, which happened to be on a wild pitch that he never saw because he didn’t look in after his bad jump. So, Burriss probably should’ve been at third base, but let’s give him a pass here because as a part-time player it’s possible that the muscle memory and situational awareness required – especially in high-pressure, late game scenarios – might not be recalled instantaneously. Still, factoring in the strikeout he had in the second inning – on a pitch he thought was ball four and, so, started walking to first – he is the most consistently Velezious (Velez + hilarious) player in the National League (probably. I’m not going to check that).
Then, Gregor Blanco walked, which – wait, no, he didn’t walk. Get back in that batter’s box, dude. That’s right… Joe West had a late-game cameo as the replacement home plate ump after Andy Fletcher got knocked out by wrist injury and he proceeded to lose track of balls and strikes. Side note: Miguel Olivo totally whiffed on catching that ball in the dirt. Even when he wasn’t hitting he was still able to hurt the Giants – ALBEIT TANGENTALLY! Still, I’ve been called into work on my day off and I am basically as effective as Joe West was today, so, I’ll give him a pass here, especially since Blanco wound up walking on the next pitch anyway (the robo ump thing is still a valid counterargument to this, of course).
Pablo Sandoval walks on four pitches. Hold the damn phone. Pablo Sandoval doesn’t walk. And the whole weekend had to that point been a series of pranks by the Mariners pitchers to see how many high fastballs he’d chase. And yet, there it was. Amazing.
But then Melky Cabrera struck out on three pitches.
And then Nate Schierholtz grounds out, Sergio Romo explodeslefsen, and Justin Smoak ends it. What a glorious ending. It was harrowing, hilarious, and heartbreaking. That’s how you make a moving picture!
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- Madison Bumgarner was utterly impressive once again. I don't know how else to characterize his starts because they have been consistently... impressive. Just dominant. As I said on Tuesday, I expect him to pitch like this every five days. But it's pretty crazy to think such a thought for a 22-year old pitcher. You can see the confidence on the mound. You can see the crispness of his pitches. He really seems to go off of deception and pitch set ups over raw power/stuff. Nothing he throws looks unhittable, but everything looks so great that the sequence of the pitching makes it all work perfectly.
- Felix Hernandez got cained through eight innings until his light-hitting teammates finally scratched together a run to win the game. Swap Felix Hernandez with any Giants starter since 2009 (except Barry Zito and now Tim Lincecum) and the statement is true for basically an entire season's worth of starts. Safeco played like AT&T today. The bullpen was equal parts unhittable and bend-but-don't-break throughout the series. Aside from the color scheme and the absence of animal hats (Seager beavers?) or "Gamer Babes from Couer d'Alene" the Mariners managed to out-Giants the Giants after the Giants out-Mariner'd the Mariners.
- The Giants and Mariners have combined to score 93 runs over the past four seasons. The mirror image idea has been bandied about before, and if I recall correctly, part of the reason why Herr Sullivan rooted for the Giants in 2010 was because it gave Him hope that the Mariners could be in the very same position very soon. If the Mariners had two or three more Felix Hernandezeseseses I think they’d have a great shot, actually. Offensively, though, the Mariners seem committed to the same type of hitter as the Giants: Hector or Freddy Sanchez. That’s a gross generalization, of course, but the Giants and Mariners combined for kind of a gross series. Both the best and the worst of them were on full display.
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"It’s not every day you see a guy beat ya with an emergency swing." – Mike Krukow, after Angel Pagan’s RBI hit in the first inning.
That emergency swing concept is something that the Giants have seemingly lacked since the offensive implosion in the post-Bonds era. The hitters don’t seem to have a plan and, failing that, the ability to improvise with their own skills. Angel Pagan, Melky Cabrera, and Gregor Blanco can "handle a bat", which I do not intend to mean that they are good at bunting. They can use their bats like a whip or a wedge and spray the ball all over the place. Their swing versatility makes them dynamic players to watch on offense and their speed and glovework make them joys to watch on defense.
This has to be one of the best outfields the San Francisco Giants have ever put together (through 60-some odd games, at least). It’s like their speed and defense plan from 2008 came to fruition with the accidental bonus of being above average at creating runs.
Sure, the Giants lost and lost the series and now they go down to Anaheim to face a far better team, but Happy Father’s Day!