The cynicism of Giants fans isn't something that makes sense to other fans. The Giants have had an awful lot go right for them in recent years, and other people want to punch you when you complain about anything. But it's hard-baked into the collective consciousness, something that can't be scraped off with a little success. It's Charlie Brown sitting on the curb, Candy Maldonado turning a catch into a triple, Russ Ortiz getting the game ball. Don't bother explaining it. Don't bother apologizing for it. Just laugh at yourself when you're so danged wrong.
The 2014 season ended when Ryan Vogelsong didn't step on first base, and we all knew it. It was time to think about the 2015 roster. I had some ideas, see, and they involve ...
They won. After the nightmare third inning, the Giants never allowed another run. They scored 10 unanswered runs, getting hits with runners in scoring position, hits without runners in scoring position, hits with the bases empty, hits with the bases clogged. The Giants scored 11 runs for the first time in the postseason since Game 1 of the 2010 World Series. It felt like they scored 34.
Praise for the hitters first. Curious glances regarding the pitching choices second.
Let's update that stat first, though: The Giants are 7-0 in the postseason when Ryan Vogelsong starts. The Dodgers are 3-5 in the postseason when Clayton Kershaw starts. It's probably just Vogelsong knowing how to win, in my opinion.
The Giants scored 11 runs, the fifth time they've done so in postseason history. They didn't come on a pair of grand slams or in a salacious dinger fest. Call them Creedence Clearwater Revival in the mid-to-late '60s, because there were so many singles th ... no? Fine. There were a lot of hits. Singles mostly. The Giants had more hits in just one game in their postseason history, and Babe Ruth played in that one.
It wasn't just one player who did the bulk of the damage. It's time to celebrate each run individually, like the special, unique snowflakes they all are.
Gregor Blanco took a walk to lead the game off. It feels like that should push the win expectancy to 95 percent, at least. He took second on a wild pitch that barely rolled away from Salvador Perez. WHAT ARE YOU DOING WHAT ARE YOU DOING WHAT phew, good play. Then he stole third with Buster Posey in a 1-2 count. WHAT ARE YOU DOING WHAT ARE YOU DOING WHAT phew, atta boy. He scored on the clutchest force play you'll ever see Hunter Pence hit into until the next one.
Giants lead, 1-0. They are invincible.
Matt Duffy led off the inning, pinch-hitting for Jean Machi, who just had to get the damned pitcher out and barely freaking did it. Duffy singled. It's going to be so rad to watch him hoist that NLCS MVP trophy over his head in 2016. Blanco got him over with a semi-clutch grounder. Posey got him in with a two-out single. He still doesn't have an extra-base hit this postseason. Funny how a game like this makes you not care. Until the next game starts.
This run prevented a shutdown inning, which was something the Royals desired strongly.
Joe Panik continued to impress against left-handed pitching, rapping a double. Buster Posey played small ball because the Royals don't get to come to OUR HOUSE and manufacture ANNOYING, ILL-GOTTEN RUNS better than the resident National League team. Hunter Pence scored the run that was going to allow Wade Davis and Greg Holland to look good again.
This is Hunter Pence.
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Except the Giants actually tied the game right there. Danny Duffy came in to turn a vomiting, left-handed hitter into a vomiting, right-handed hacker. I don't know how it worked, but it did. Duffy couldn't throw the ball far enough out of the strike zone; it was as if he was facing a normal hitter. Pablo Sandoval singled up the middle.
Six years, $129 million. Five player options.
After a Brandon Belt walk -- pretty sure he's matched his regular season total -- Juan Perez came up.
"Just go up there and catch the ball, Juan."
"That's not how it works, skip."
"Catch the ball with your bare hand and throw it back at the pitcher. Play some defense, Juan. You can do it."
"Skip, still not sure which end of this here bat I'm supposed to grab. Little help would go a long way."
A double play ruins everything and loses the World Series. He hit a sacrifice fly that was a normal center fielder away from being a single.
It all started with a Joaquin Arias single, he typed for the 600th time in his life. They'll find splinters from the bat in Salem, but don't be a lawyer about it. Blanco screwed up a bunt and it all worked out -- because that's what he does, and it's the greatest card trick in baseball.
With two outs, though, Sandoval had to hit right-handed again. Brandon Finnegan and Salvador Perez figured there's no way Sandoval was looking for a fastball on the first pitch, and he took it back up the middle. The Giants led for the first time since the first game of the World Series.
Seven years, $200 million. Seven player options. GM position offered after deal expires.
Brandon Belt got the second two-out, run-scoring hit of the inning. "He'll never look for the fastball in the middle of the plate." It was at this point I started to feel this weird, sticky, viscous fluid seeping behind my eyes and into my brain. What in the hell? Optimism? Who let him in here?
Brandon Crawford chopped one off the plate. It was the farthest he's hit the ball in the series. We'll take it. Michael Morse -- who ate Mark McGwire's eyes after a bar fight and now owns his powers of sight -- walked in a great at-bat. Gregor Blanco then bunted, so good things happened.
Seriously, we have the 1) magic bunt of the 2012 World Series, the 2) error-provoking bunt in the NLDS against the Nationals, the 3) screwed-up bunt from earlier in this game, and now 4) the perfect bunt that becomes another run-scoring error. Blanco should bunt six out of every seven plate appearances.
Joe Panik doubles. Two score. The broadcasting team continues to ask if he's more Wade Boggs or Tony Gwynn. I'll allow it.
Hunter Pence doubles. This is Hunter Pence:
I do enjoy him on the Giants.
Everyone in the lineup scored a run or drove a run in. Everyone in the lineup got a hit, including three different hitters in the ninth spot after Ryan Voglesong left. A gentle reminder that the Giants are in the postseason because of their lineup, for the most part. It seems weird to process, but this is as good of a lineup as the underrated goofballs from 2010 and 2012. They're just down an ace or two, so it's a little sketchier.
Game 4 felt outstanding, though. Just think about how you'd feel if they had the tough game tonight and the thrilling come-from-behind win last night. You would be all grumpy and worried because Bumgarner couldn't win the World Series at home.
Yusmeiro Petit is a legend, an epic poem. He will be the subject of a Ken Burns documentary one day, and Daniel-Day Lewis will portray him in the movie. For the second straight appearance, he came in and made sure the other team didn't score another run while the Giants whittled away at the lead. This is fantastic, this niche he's carved for himself.
Except ... hold on, I have something caught in my throat ...
THAT ISN'T HOW BASEBALL WORKS. YOU CAN'T JUST PUT PETIT IN TO TURN OFF THE BROKEN RUN FAUCET AND ASSUME THE GIANTS ARE GOING TO COME BACK. THAT IS BAD STRATEGY. THAT ISN'T HOW BASEBALL WORKS.
Which is to say, I'd rather see Petit start over Vogelsong. You saw the power of balls in play with Vogelsong's nightmare inning. The contact was weak, but the runs were real. Petit has to start over Vogelsong because he misses bats. Except, whoops, that's not an issue anymore. Vogelsong's spot in the rotation will never come up again. The Giants made the wrong decision, and it worked out like crazy. Man, that has to be annoying to watch. For you, I mean. For the other half, too, I'm sure.
This is a bad double play attempt:
This is a good double play attempt:
The first one almost ended the Giants' season, indirectly, if you're a mopey cynic with little faith (which I was). The second one threw momentum out of the back of a speeding van, where it hit the ground and tumbled for a bit before it stopped. It seems like it would be hard to throw momentum out of the back of a speeding van, by definition. I mean, it's momentum.
There will be baseball on Tuesday.
I like baseball.