The Giants, remarkably successful franchise over the last five years, have a serious problem: They are incapable of winning the second game in the National League Division Series. Even worse, they're usually the types of games that have a title, like Name of Player Game. Let's explore this sad history.
1997 @ Marlins
Oh, how I thought this was the year. It was the Brian Johnson year, the year where the Giants had the same pep in their step as this year's Royals. I mean, they were slow as hell for the most part, but they had a pep in their step. Then they ran into the Marlins.
Game 2 of the 1997 NLDS was the Dante Powell Game, which is probably unfair. Roberto Hernandez never recorded an out in the bottom of the ninth, allowing a walk and two singles. Barry Bonds came up with the winning run on second, and grounded into a force play that tied the game only on an error. Mark Lewis left two runners on, which he was pretty good at.
For some reason, though, Dante Powell coming up firing, with a not-yet-gimpy-but-not-zoomy Gary Sheffield coming around third, and hitting the mound with a strong throw became the lasting memory of that game.
Do you know who hit the walk-off hit in the first game? Edgar Renteria. In the second game? Moises Alou. Dammit, Marlins.
2000 vs. Mets
This is the J.T. Snow Game, and one I personally attended. I can't explain the feeling of that ball leaving the park. It was one of the best sports-related experiences of my life. For seven minutes. Then Darryl Hamilton and Felix Rodriguez and Timo Perez and Bonds striking out looking ... that was one of the worst sports-related experiences of my life. Walking out of that ballpark was a trudge of shame and disappointment.
Consolation prize: At least we got Armando Benitez in the end.
Slide, Shawn. Slide.
2002 @ Braves
This one might be called the Kevin Millwood Game, except no one would know what you're talking about if you dropped that into casual conversation. They'd probably think you're talking about the no-hitter. This game featured a Bonds homer against John Smoltz -- 543 of his 762 homers were against Smoltz, you know -- and featured three homers total. But they were all solo, and they were the only runs the Giants would score.
Kirk Rueter allowed seven runs, so maybe the name of this game should be The Game That Made Dusty Start Livan In Game 7.
2003 @ Marlins
Ah, the Sidney Ponson Game, in which the Giants gave their beknighted trade acquisition a four-run lead against Brad Penny -- these Game 2s are incestuous, apparently -- only to watch Ponson cough the lead up immediately because he was bad at pitching. Snow gave the Giants the lead back in the next inning, but with Ponson out, Joe Nathan was sloppy flotsam on the mound and allowed a homer and three straight singles to start the sixth.
So maybe this should be The Game That Made The Giants Trade Joe Nathan For A No-Chinned Soul Vacuum.
Note: In that game, Jim Brower struck out Miguel Cabrera. That seems like something worth mentioning.
2010 vs. Braves
This, of course, is the Rick Ankiel Game. The Giants had an early 4-0 lead, which back in 2010 was a similar feeling to what the Dodgers had going last night. With Cain pitching strong (he hadn't allowed an earned run), a single in the top of the seventh was enough for Bochy to pull him. Javier Lopez got the final out of the inning.
Sergio Romo came into the eight, allowed two singles, and was yanked. Then Brian Wilson came in, getting Melky Cabrera -- incestuous, I tell you! -- to ground to third, except Pablo Sandoval chucked the ball away. One of the Alex Gonzalezes hit a double, and the score was tied, which is where it would stay until the 11th.
You remember what happened. Fox is still showing it on an alternate channel right now. It's Fox Sports 666, and when you turn it on, they're still marveling at just how hard Ankiel hit the baseball.
2012 vs. Reds
This would be the Bronson Arroyo Game, in which the dink-armed, shoop-flooping dooky artist flummoxed the Giants, allowing one hit over seven innings. One measly hit. It came from Brandon Belt in the bottom of the 5th, so it was long enough to make everyone sweat about the no-hitter, too. Madison Bumgarner was shelled -- remember, he looked tired for most of that September and he was dreadful early in the playoffs, bad enough for the Giants to start Barry Zito on purpose.
At no point in my Giants-watching life was I more sure the Giants were going to lose a playoff series. Not after the Dante Powell Game, not after Game 6 in 2002. Right there, with the Giants tinkling away their only two home games, I was sure the Giants were doomed.
And Bronson Arroyo did not allow another earned run for the rest of the 2012 Postseason.
There you have it. Six NLDS Game 2s, six painful and memorable losses. You want more jinxing? The Giants have the longest postseason winning streak in National League history. Look at how they've done it:
Opponent runs during SFGs' 9-game playoff winning streak: 0, 1, 0, 3, 0, 0, 3, 0, 2. Total: 9 runs. /Opponent runs vs. LADs last night: 10.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) October 4, 2014
The longest postseason winning streak in NL history vs. a clear pattern of failure in the second game of the Division Series. Gee, what could go wrong?
I'll guess this one is the Jordan Zimmermann Game, but only because he sits down on the mound and starts taking his socks off like Richie Tenenbaum, screaming something about Brandons. Or possibly because he continues his 138-inning scoreless streak against the Giants. But root for the former.
And never trust a Game 2. They're jerks.