The last time the Giants lost a postseason game, the only thing to do was appeal to the simplicity of the situation. The Giants needed to win three straight games. When was the last time you texted "I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS THREE-GAME WINNING STREAK!" to anyone? Three-game winning streaks are part of the game. They happen every year. Multiple times, even.
The Giants need to win three straight again. Ah, hell. It worked once. And this time they get a couple of home games. I don't see what the big deal is.
The beauty of an appeal to simplicity is that it doesn't rely on science-fiction or flights of fancy. It makes you realize that baseball is made up of little three- and four-game streaks. There's a dark side to this appeal, though. It means in a situation like this, you have to ask yourself the same question that made you feel better in 2012. Is it possible for the Giants to lose two games in a row to a talented team?
Suddenly it's not so funny. The Giants seemed to specialize in losing two games in a row after May, especially to good teams. They'll have their least productive starter on the mound on Tuesday, and they'll feature their dynamic lefty-mashing lineup that's adept at not mashing lefties.
This ... this would have been a good game to win.
It's also easy to mope around a little too much, and I'm as guilty of that as anyone. The Giants already won an elimination game on the road this year, and they're 3-1 in the postseason. Acting like the world is going to end after every postseason loss seems like an exhausting way to live.
Paying attention to charts that show the rising doom levels and plot the rate at which the doom caps are melting, though, doesn't seem like a bad idea. Going up 2-0 was the April and May of this series. There could be a whole lotta June and July left. That's why you feel like this, even though the Giants are still in an enviable spot.
My suggestion: Pretend Jordan Zimmermann completed the shutout on Saturday and that you're really enthusiastic about the game the Giants just won. Make up a score. Make up what happened. Can you believe the Giants won, 18-1? And Madison Bumgarner hit three grand slams? Boy howdy, what a day.
Now you feel better.
Ha ha, you don't feel better.
If the Giants don't play at least .500 ball over their two games, The Play will live in infamy. Heck, the backs of your eyelids are movie screens, watch it right now. Bumgarner gets the ball -- not especially quickly, mind you -- and turns. When he turned, there was a collective "NOOOOO," slow-motion, complete with gasps. That wasn't the play. That wasn't the play, dammit, and it was obvious from the moment Bumgarner picked up the ball.
Everything after that was a blur. Pablo Sandoval was writhing around the ground in pain. There were 37 different people in a Giants uniform down the left field line. Travis Ishikawa was at third yelling at the left fielder to throw him the damned ball before realizing what happened. Six innings of dominant pitching were erased by a single, a five-pitch walk, and chlamydia of the fundamentals. Remember that when the Giants are struggling to score runs. So, tomorrow. Remember that all it takes is a bloop and a walk and an unconscionably bad decision from one of the best players on the field.
(The decision was Posey's, by the way. The Giants will never win anything with that guy calling the shots.)
Bumgarner deserved better. He gets a quality-start participation ribbon that he'll be too self-conscious to hang above his locker. He started the game with a fastball down the middle called a ball, which could have rattled anyone. Tom Hallion's weird strike zone could have unsettled both pitchers, considering it was shapeless and amorphous. For six innings, though, Bumgarner was a delight.
Ramos could have bunted it foul for an out. He could have bunted it back to the mound for two outs. Instead, he bunted it in the exact spot that made Posey think mmmm-maybe and the exact spot that would befuddle Bumgarner when he picked up and fired as hard as he could. Baseball has been working in the Giants' favor for the last week. It's hard to chew it out too much for being a jerk, there.
Also, after The Play, Asdrubal Cabrera singled softly to left. So if Bumgarner threw to first and Cabrera's at-bat ended the same way, the Nationals still would have put it out of reach. The walk to Harper was the biggest problem of the inning.
The Giants scored a run. Good for them! They scored two the game before that. Outstanding! However. considering the Giants average of one run scored per nine innings of baseball, it seems that, perhaps, they should consider scoring more, lest this become a problem.
The funny thing is that people keep tweeting mean things about the villains, as if it's one players fault. Yes, if the Giants trade Gregor Blanco in for Jacoby Ellsbury tonight, by gum, the problem will be solved! That's how baseball works. Good show.
The only two hitters doing good things this series: Buster Posey and Brandon Belt. Everyone else is scuffling, and, yeah, the top of the order is especially dismal right now. Panik is 2-for-15 in the series; Blanco is 1-for-15. It's almost like they're pitching against good pitchers who've had time to prepare for ... no, no that can't be it. There's got to be something different.
We know the Giants can win a Strasburg/Peavy matchup, and we also know the Giants can struggle against good left-handed starters. For whatever reason, though, I like the matchup against Gio Gonzalez tomorrow. Sure, Gonzalez finished the season with a string of quality starts and threw his best in his last start, but ...
... I don't know how to end that sentence. Just hit the damned ball, you bozos. Let us peons start celebrating in the third inning.
Ryan Vogelsong was unwatchable for most of September. He was excellent in August. Maybe the extra rest turned the September arm into an August arm?
That's all I got for you.
Before signing off, let's take a moment to laugh at the Tigers for trading Doug Fister in the first place. Sure couldn't have used him, you jackasses. Nope. Needed to trade him for win-later help because there just wasn't a way to leverage a sought-after starting pitcher during the offseason and turn him into something that can help your current roster.
That Tigers roster was basically perfect at the time of the trade, so there was nothing else to do. Just get that problem workhorse off your roster, and look for pitchers who can contribute in 2015 or later.