The stakes were high. The Giants had finally pummeled Clayton Kershaw, knocking him around for two runs. This was one of his worst career starts against the Giants, but there was a chance the Dodgers were going to get out of it. The Giants couldn't let this opportunity slip away. They needed this.
If you think that's hyperbole or poetic license, not really. The six-inning start was tied for Kershaw's second-shortest against the Giants in 26 career attempts. He's allowed more than one run in just 11 of those, more than two runs just twice. This game was it, this was basically Kershaw in Coors with a hangnail. Two runs. They had him on the ropes. This is the best they will do against him until he turns 43. Don't screw it up, the masses urged.
They didn't screw it up. Madison Bumgarner pitched well, and he was even gracious enough to set up a walk-off win. That's a true showman, right there. And after the Giants opened the season playing like extras fired from the Million Dollar Arm set, and after the Dodgers looked like they were going to threaten 1,000 runs this season, the Giants took yet another game. This is their first series win since the opener in Arizona, and they can even ... well ... you know. Against the Dodgers. Thursday afternoon. They can totally do it and everything. You know. That.
This series has gone well so far.
For all of those issues up there with Kershaw, the Dodgers are only 16-11 with him facing the Giants. He's a probable loss, but he's anything from a certain loss. He started the Posey walk-off game, for example. For one beautiful example. But all walk-offs against the Dodgers are created equal, so don't linger over that one. Celebrate the new one. Joe Panik needed to hit the ball in the air. Joe Panik hit the ball in the air.
And you thought Brandon Belt was going to hit into a double play. Tsk tsk.
Bumgarner pitched well, but it was clear that he didn't have pinpoint location. He didn't look tired, just off. Not erratic, mind you, just ... off. He couldn't put away Scott Van Slyke after getting him 0-2 fifth inning, and that came after he lost Yasiel Puig. His command was fine, not impeccable. Is this nitpicking? You bet. Because Bumgarner was largely fantastic.
He wasn't otherworldly, though. This wasn't the start you save on your DVR for the winter. Which leads to some more nitpicking, except there needs to be a disclaimer, first.
Disclaimer: I'm not sure if I would have used Bumgarner in Game 7. Like, at all. It's easy to convince myself that I was all for the move at the time, but I'm pretty sure I was worried that the extra fatigue would sap his command. I would have ruined the 2014 World Series. You should not listen to me about pitching decisions. Ever.
I would have let George Kontos start the seventh. Easy for me to say because we don't get to see the three-run dinger he would have given up in that alternate reality, but Bumgarner wasn't sharp enough in the fifth or sixth to want more juice out of that lime.
On the other hand, Bumgarner's off is better than most pitchers' on. I don't know. It made me nervous at the time, so I feel vindicated.
These are my Giants opinions on my Giants blog, and I hope you enjoyed them. They are very serious Giants opinions. Go Giants.
Okay, fine, I also thought Belt was going to hit into a double play. That was a great piece of opposite-field hitting! Atta boy. Had it all the way!
Don Mattingly reminds me of Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda, so I assume that when he's making his 58th trip to the mound, he's misquoting Nietzsche and generally screwing things up.
The inning of doom for Kershaw started with a Joaquin Arias single. Brandon Crawford extended the rally with one of his better walks. From BrooksBaseball (and from the catcher's perspective).
That little fella at the top left. That took some chutzpa. Or maybe Crawford was just fooled. Either way, what a brilliant walk to set up a bunt for Bumgarner, who got it down with two strikes. At the threat of grave personal injury, mind you.
That set up an Aoki fielder's choice and a garbage jam jorb from Matt Duffy. Two runs. It wasn't decided right there, but it's why the Giants won.
Why don't they just make the whole airplane out of that inning?
Norichika Aoki update: One hit, one RBI, one comically effective return to first base, one painfully inept stolen base attempt, one fielder's choice, several swings in which he looked like Raoul Duke waving his fly swatter in the middle of bat country, at least two inside pitches that left him prone in the dust, and a nice sliding catch in left.
My only regret is that we haven't seen him play with Hunter Pence yet.
In which we are reminded that the best part of Tim Flannery was when we never noticed him.
you had one job pic.twitter.com/GIjHaTtoZ6— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) April 23, 2015
Blanco was already stopping and in the process of returning to the bag when he collided with Kelly, which wasn't against the rules. Still, that's twice this month when it's been clear that the dude in the third-base box is still getting used to this particular horse. Easy, big feller. Easy.
My favorite part of this is the part where the Giants win, but I'm also found of J.P. Howell slipping.
That slider was kinda japey, imo.