How Santiago Casilla ruined my ESPN Streak For the Cash

I will preface this by saying I'm not a Giant fan, nor a Giant hater. Just a Met fan that wishes you well with Voltron. Anyway, ESPN had an interesting wager tonight on their Streak for the Cash Game that I stupidly enjoy playing. The "wager" was which game will end first, Dodgers vs. Phillies or Giants vs. Pirates (if this was mentioned in your game thread tonight I apologize for rehashing). I could not resist taking the Giant game. A sucker bet you say? The always efficient Cliff Lee is pitching for the Phils so, obviously the Dodger game will end first? Perhaps. But, as I'm sure you Giants fans realize, your games go quickly, because many of your players swing as if blindfolded and set upon a pinata. Plus, you're home and are probably going to win, while the Dodgers are home and are probably going to lose. That's a half inning swing right there, baby. Leverage. And that's how it was playing out, but watch what happened when a human glacier named Casilla entered the damn game and made time stop...

My streak is only at 6, I'm not really invested it, but once I see that these games are running closely and each is in about the 7th inning, I decide to watch simultaneously on the MLB Mix Channel. If there was ever a reason to use this seizure-inducing feature, it's now, plus there's an extra inning game betweeen Detroit and Cleveland and a close barnburner between Zona and Houston (which I proceed to ignore). My wife has just gone off to bed, we just finished watching Pillars of the Earth on DVD (pretty good, btw) so its late night baseball on the West Coast, always enjoyable, because it's baseball goddamnit.

The Giants game begins to pull away from the Dodgers game as Fontenot and Torres harmlessly and predictably pop up and we head to the eighth. Sergio Romio does his job and pitches around a double and we cruise to the bottom of the eight almost a full inning ahead of the Dodger game.

The Dodger game starts picking up speed though, despite a freakish Rod Barajas walk, which prompts a silent fist pump from me. It's a stupid Streak for the Cash bet, yet I begin acting like I'm in Vegas. Whatever. Meanwhile, the Giants offense is deciding to show up (I thought you guys don't get 2 outs hits w/ risp! Grant said this earlier today!) through an agonzingly long bottom of the eighth and Clint Hurdle yearns for camera time, making not one, but two pitching changes. The second one was when it was 6-0. The horses are out of the barn, Clint, and they are not coming back, you SI Cover Boy you.

Cut to Giants in the top of the ninth, still miraculously more than a full half inning ahead of the festivities at Chavez Ravine as they have not even begun the top of 9th yet. I watch Casillo about to throw his first pitch. And I watch...oh my god. How does he not know what his first pitch will be? Why is he squinting at the catcher like Lalush? There's no one on base.

Cut back to Chavez, where the usually horrible Blake Hawksworth is cruising through the weak part of the Phillies lineup in the top of the ninth with Phils up 2-0. Castillo hasn't retired a batter yet. It's cool, they still have to go through commercials between the half innings, I say. Just then Ryan Ludwick pops out. This was probably the quickest ab of the inning. It took 9 minutes! A walk to Doumit comes next, but back in LA, Ethier remembers how to hit and strokes a leadoff single. Still ahead! Back in SF, Casilla tkes a deep breath and stares off into the sky. Seriously, Santiago, you are my friend, I have faith in you. See your future and be your future you illegitimate son of Steve Trachsel, you.

Cut back to LA: Kemp almost grounds into a DP, bullet dodged. Back to S.F.: Holy shit Jeff Keppinger, you have to turn that Double Play that would've ended the game! On Danny Murphy's grave, you need to turn that and worry about you collateral ligaments at a later date!! I'm streaking here, Jeff!

Now it's close, both games have 2 outs, pitchers are practically synchronized in their windups (at least for 2 pitches before Castillo sees a spec of dirt he doesn't like on the mound and begins to dig like Indiana Jones) like it's that SNL swimming sketch. Game can end at any time in either place at any moment! Are the a-holes in Bristol laughing at me right now? I'm freaking out, and money is not even involved.

2 strikes now, and holy crap Casillo delivers a pitch to the never dangerous Pedro over, easy grounder...until Panda happens and quadruple clutches. A simple double clutch would've resulted in an out. Next, an improbable mound visit by Boche. It's 6-0! still!!! Pitch! Pitch!

Too late, Madson has given up another hit, plus a run, and recorded the final out. As the Phillies congratulate themselves in the annoying way that only Philly can, Santiago Casilla is still squinting in at the signs and heaving deep breaths....

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