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Giants take Game 4, one win away from World Series

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The team that you were cursing last month is creeping closer to the National League pennant.

This. This is a good picture.
This. This is a good picture.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

In an absurd season, this absurd team is putting together an absurd postseason. The Giants are a win away from the World Series, even though they were completely incapable of beating the Padres, like, three weeks ago. Think back to the Kershaw/Hudson game, the Giants' last chance to prevent the Dodgers from clinching at home. Why did the Giants want the NL West? So they wouldn't have to embarrass themselves in the Wild Card Game. Maybe to get home-field advantage. Whatever, it's not like they were going to ...

One win away from the World Series.

The Giants are a win away from winning the pennant without their starting center fielder, starting left fielder, starting second baseman, and All-Star starting pitcher. Oh, and home runs. Oh, and hits altogether. The Giants have decided to skip right past the need for RBI singles. This team is trolling the world, but not before they decided to troll us for months and months first. I'm okay with it. The rest of the world probably isn't, but I'm okay with it.

The thing that drives me mad, though: It feels like the Giants are having good at-bats, all the way through the lineup. They're taking pitches that should be taken. They're swinging hard at pitches that they can handle. It's like they all looked at a scouting report instead of Michael Morse doing that thing where he puts the scouting report in his mouth and shakes it all around, screaming, "I'm a puppy! Look, I'm a puppy!", which is kind of his signature clubhouse gag. And not only are the Giants having solid at-bats, but the Cardinals pitchers really do look like they're about to mess themselves half the time. It feels like the Giants are ... always ... about ... to break ... through.

But they don't. And for all the talk about the Giants' lack of hits tonight, of which I'm guilty, they had 11 hits. They were 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position. The Rally That So Amused went like this: walk, line-drive single, bunt, dumb fielder's choice, dumb fielder's choice. RBI single. That's not exactly the same as Gio Gonzalez forgetting how to control his limbs on a comebacker. The Giants hit the ball hard several times in the inning, just as they did in the first and third. Buster Posey had two hits, a walk, and three RBI, which is sort of how you'd script the perfect Giants win.

It still took a couple of dumb plays by Matt Adams. That's all the postseason is, really: Players being in the right or wrong place at the right or wrong time. Having them be good players helps, certainly. It's probably the most important thing. But Sergio Romo vs. Kolten Wong is going to end in an out more often than it isn't. Hunter Strickland vs. Bryce Harper is going to end in an out more often than it isn't. Them's the odds. Even Tim Lincecum gets Paul Goldschmidt out 44 percent of the time, by golly. And Matt Adams vs. the General Idea of Fielding is going to end in an out more often than it isn't. He's not the worst fielding first baseman you'll ever watch.

For two plays -- the exact plays the Giants needed -- he was the worst fielding first baseman you'll ever watch. The Giants are a win away from the World Series because Joe Panik grounded the ball to first instead of second. Among other things.

Like Posey being good at hitting baseballs, especially with two outs. Like the Cardinals relievers not having the best night. Like Mike Matheny making some curious, curious decisions. Like Yusmeiro Petit being a chin-strapped god sent back through time to save our civilization. It's a rich tapestry.

★★★

I really wouldn't mind some home runs for the Giants, though. A whole mess of them. In the first inning of Game 5. That's more than okay, gentlemen. Don't think we're going for style points, here.

★★★

Let us talk about Yusmeiro Petit, chin-strapped god sent back through time to save our civilization and/or troll the baseball-loving world. It almost feels like it's worth keeping him in the bullpen for future games, where he can come out and be the alchemist who transmutes the awful situation into golden straw. Except that's ludicrous. He should be the person who prevents the mess from happening in the first place. I wonder if the Giants will think the same way if it comes time for Vogelsong to pitch again this postseason.

Vogelsong was dreadful, and he was from the first pitch. If the game had ended 4-3, Cardinals, there would have been grumbling, so much grumbling, about the decision to let Vogelsong start the third inning, with a rested Petit in the bullpen. Forcing another inning on a pitcher who was lost, just so you can pinch-hit for him in the third, is crackers. You were already conceding the idea of the pitcher hitting in the third inning. Because you play in the National F. League. Pitchers hitting in the third is kind of our thing, man. That goes for the starter, and it goes for the mop-up man you're hoping will pitch three or four innings.

As is, the Giants won. They've never lost a Vogelsong start in the post season, you know. They're 6-0. The Dodgers are 3-8 in the postseason when Clayton Kershaw pitches.

I don't know, man.

★★★

The moment I felt like the Giants had a chance: When Matheny sent Shelby Miller up to hit for himself in the top of the third inning. Miller wasn't fooling anyone, and even the outs were loud. He was missing location all game, and he was lucky to give up just a run through two innings.

Except the Cardinals basically have their own Tim Lincecum in Michael Wacha. It's détente! The Cards don't want to use Wacha because he's recovering from a shoulder fracture, and they're convinced he isn't sharp. Which is swell, except ... why is he on the roster? To make matters worse, they have their Lincecum, except they a) don't have the matching Petit for the set, which means they're essentially out of long relievers, and b) they're down a reliever anyway because they took three catchers. They're seriously, seriously limited in the bullpen.

And for Game 5, they'll have Adam Wainwright's tired elbow standing between the game and the tired bullpen. If you don't appreciate Petit now, you never will.

(Except you hella appreciate him. You know I don't use language that forceful unless I mean it, but you're not even upset. You get it.)

★★★

It's impossible to express just how much I love that a) Gregor Blanco fake-bunted just to harass the opposing pitcher, and b) that he admitted it.

★★★

The Giants didn't win because they're lucky. The Cardinals lost because they walked Juan Perez to lead off an inning. Okay, sure, and because the Giants and Posey did a lot of things right with the ol' singlin' stick. But that Perez walk was abominable from the Cardinals' perspective. Perez has hit lefties well throughout his minor league career -- and I still think he has a shot to stick as a benchie, dang it -- but there's no reason to treat him like he's Jayson Werth. The attempts to get him to chase weren't even close, and the Giants have their Ishi-walk of 2014.

He was hitting for Travis Ishikawa, who has been starting in left field, no joke.

★★★

A.J. Pierzynski, professional ass:

Oh, you'll see similar concepts from every team. Pretending like the ball hit a finger instead of the knob of the bat, for example. But nothing this blatant, this impromptu, this gauche. Especially in a situation where flopping wasn't even required.

Like the Holliday barrel roll in 2012, I wasn't convinced the Giants were going to win after that happened, I just wanted it a little more. And I wanted the option to point to it and say, see? "That's how the universe works! You should know by now!" Even if I don't really believe it.

Same thing with the wave and Dodger Stadium, really, which are the snips and snails that Pierzynskis are made of. The wave, Dodger Stadium, and a pail of rotting smug. You wouldn't believe the smell.

★★★

At the risk of beating you over the head with something you surely know, take a moment to think about how the Cardinals and their fans felt after this game. They obliterated the Giants, 8-3. Barry Zito was pitching the next game because the Giants' rotation was in complete shambles. If they didn't win in front of their home fans, cool, they still had two more chances.

They were going up against Zito, man. A team that devoured left-handed pitching, vs. Barry Zito. The fans had to be looking toward the Tigers. Who could blame them? Barrrrrrry Zito.

Losing three straight to the Cardinals would be the June of postseason collapses. We've seen this team do stupid things before. Don't take this for granted.

That written ... I'd sure rather have the Giants up 3-1 than where they were in 2012. Yeah, I've crunched the numbers, and I'm sticking with that. This is a much, much better feeling.

Win one more game, you bozos.