This newfangled nerd obsession with walks and on-base percentage must seem pretty puzzling to a few old-timers. They just can’t imagine that people think a team can win by sitting at the plate with the bat on their shoulders, refusing to swing. Even if it does work, it makes for some pretty boring baseball, right?
Bookmark this game, then. The love for patient hitters isn’t just about some weird walk fetish. It’s about hitters who don’t swing at a lot of crap. In the past, the Giants had hitters who would swing at a lot of crap. Heck, they still do. But sprinkled at key points in the lineup, there are hitters who don’t swing at a lot of crap. This is a new phenomenon. The lineup that started the season was festooned with hitters who swung at a lot of crap.
Out with Molina, in with Posey. Out with Rowand, in with Torres. Out with Ishikawa, in with Huff. Out with Schierholtz, in with Burrell. Suddenly, there are a bunch of hitters who just love to take crap. Throw some crap at them – they’ll just take it. And that’s how the Giants won. In the fifth Aaron Rowand – who doesn’t have to take that crap – got on via error. After he was sacrificed to second, the Cubs tried to throw a bunch of crap at Aubrey Huff, who took all of it with a smile. Buster Posey took a bunch of crap, too. With the bases loaded, the Cubs tried to do the same with Pat Burrell until they couldn’t. After taking a couple of crap pitches, Burrell hit a grand slam. And, lo, it was beautiful.
Then the bullpen.
The Giants didn’t cough it up completely, though. The Cubs tried to diffuse a ninth inning rally by intentionally walking Huff, trying to set up a possible double play. Posey said, "I do have to take this crap yet again, and I think I have to like it," and he walked, which put the winning run at third with less than two outs. Andres Torres wasn’t just going to swing at any old crap, and he worked himself into a fastball count. Game over, man. Game over.
It’s not about trying to raise the team’s on-base percentage. It’s about letting the crap go by, which leads to better hitter’s counts. Walking is just a by-product of that approach. The Giants were patient today. They worked the count. They won.
Holy cr*p, what a game.