Amidst the revelry, amidst the glee, amidst the enduring image of Hector Sanchez curling into an armadillo ball as his teammates tried to murder him, think about these four words: Giants/Dodgers NLCS. Not that it's likely this year, or that it will happen in the next 10, 20, or 30 years. But the rules of the game will allow it. It can happen.
It's April, and I lost a year off my life because of this stupid game. Mostly because the Earth revolved around the sun exactly once before the game finished. But also because it was intense, because it was stupid, frustrating, and beautiful. It's April. It's Aaaaaaapril. We were just watching Corbin Nalvin pitch to Scolo Merende in a split-squad game at Mesa, drinking in the sun, and suddenly baseball kicks open the door and starts blowing a vuvuzela. I'M AWAKE. WE'RE AWAKE.
Now picture an NLCS with these two teams.
Way, way, way too early to think about it happening this year, but it's something I've worried about/secretly craved since the addition of the wild card. When you get a game like this, you can understand why it has to/absolutely cannot happen. It would be awful/wonderful.
The bottom of the 12th inning started with Brandon League getting a fly out that was caught by Chone Figgins. A sleeping baseball god got a text alert from the answering service. "Oh, you assholes," he slurred, as he fumbled for his jeans.
The Giants left 16 runners on base. They were 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position. They had the bases loaded in five different at-bats, yet didn't score a run in any of them. If there was a game they didn't deserve to win, this might have been it. But deserve's got nothing to do with it. That should be the next ad campaign for Major League Baseball: a 45-hop double pointing a gun at a cowering 94-m.p.h. cutter in a dusty saloon. Deserve's got nothing to do with it.
But it sure feels like deserve should have some say, and when Brandon Hicks lined into a double play, it felt unfair. It might have been the hardest ball Brandon Hicks has hit as a professional baseball player, just deconstructed. It didn't just turn into an out, but two. Everyone watching said, "One of those games, man. One of those games."
Baseball's just making it up as it goes along, though. It's an improv class with the topics being shouted out by Björk. There's no deserve, no reason. Did you see the pitches Josh Beckett threw to Hunter Pence in the fourth? After throwing Pence a curveball that made him look like an electrocuted dolphin swinging a guitar string, Beckett came back with another curve that Pence juuuust laid off. Then he came with a with a fastball right down the middle that Pence just missed. Because it was a fastball down the middle. After another curve, Pence singled off a fastball.
Pence was millimeters away from this game being about him and his three-run homer. Millimeters. And that would have been a deserve hit. Beckett would have deserved those three runs. Tim Federovwizczc would have deserved to think, "Should have come back with more breaking balls, I reckon." It would have made sense.
Instead, five hours of baseball, and I'm not sure any of it made a lick of sense.
Tim Lincecum probably should have been the story. It's kind of depressing to give him the same atta-boys we would give Barry Zito when he didn't actively light the stadium on fire, but we're in year three of this, so we're getting used to it. We're also on game three of Lincecum's 2014, and he's walked just one in 15 innings, with 17 strikeouts.
I'll tell you, xFIP thinks he's the bee's knees, I mean the real caterpillar's spats.
Apart from that, I'm encouraged by the control, even if it's not exactly translating perfectly to command within the strike zone. But I don't even know how to analyze the guy anymore. You know that bit up there about Pence just missing a pitch from Beckett? Lincecum threw those, too, pitches that deserved to be hit a lot farther than they were hit. Yet he gave up just the one run.
Does that mean Lincecum got lucky, or does it mean that every pitcher gets away with a few of those every game, and the problem over the last 50 or 60 starts is that Lincecum disproportionately doesn't get away with them? That's a question for the philosophers. I'm kind of done with it.
/feeds xFIP a peanut
Good boy. Goooooood boy.
Print it. Laminate it. Take it around with you, guy. You've earned it. You could have ruined everything. There was no way the umpires were going to assume Angel Pagan was going to score. One batch of rogue neurons misfiring and telling you, "YOU NEED THAT STITCHED ORB, DO ANYTHING TO ACQUIRE IT," would have led to a Giants loss, I'm sure of it. The Giants just might make or miss the playoffs by a single game. You are a hero. You are a damned hero.
That guy at least gets his own float.
Find the guy and get him another pair of tickets down the line, on the house, Giants. He's the kind of good people who should be there permanently. Brandon Belt got an RBI double instead of a sad double because that feller was thinking smart thoughts. It's such a pleasant surprise to think happy thoughts about the people in those seats.
Also, Belt's building a nice résumé when it comes to these game-tying and game-winning hits in the ninth. A list of his highest WPAs, most of which you'll recognize as late-inning comebacks. He has a chance to be the next Milt May, this kid.
Hector Sanchez gets credit for the clutch walk (that didn't amount to anything) and for the game-winning hit, but he also gets credit for grenade-smothering the assortment of nonsense balls thrown in the dirt by Santiago Casilla, Yusmeiro Petit, and Sergio Romo with runners on base. We do like to poke fun at the stab-stab-stab, but Wilin Rosario gets one of those balls stuck in his nose as the runners circle the bases, guaranteed.
The at-bats were nice, but the defense helped a bit, too.
All in all, I'm glad the Giants decided to win that game instead of lose it. Which they tried to do. Often. The Dodgers tried harder, though, bless them. The Dodgers tried harder.