The Giants won an all-time classic last night, and Grant recapped it, then recapped it again, then presumably went to bed and slept forever. But one of the parts of the game that went as under the radar as a part of this game could go was the Giants bullpen. Should we go over them individually? Yes! We should. Let’s do that.
With another reliever, this is where the game would have been lost. The team had chipped away at the Cubs’ 3-0 lead, getting to within a run, and even against Jake Arrieta, even against the mighty Cubs, a 3-2 lead was never going to be insurmountable. But a false move in the 6th or 7th or the Giants bullpen doing some Giants bullpen type shit (more on that later!), and the momentum is lost, the game is lost, and the season is lost.
Derek Law did not make a false move. Conor Gillaspie did, starting off the 6th with an error, and how could that guy ever redeem himself, but to Law it was no big deal. He got Miguel Montero, Arrieta, and Dexter Fowler with a huge strikeout, and he was as fired up as any of us will ever see him.
Cubs fans took exception to this, to which I say with great maturity: Shut up and let him be excited.
Law breezed through the 7th too, allowing only a walk to Jorge Soler as he went through Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Ben Zobrist. One takeaway from this is that Derek Law not being the closer saved the Giants’ season. Because as good as Bruce Bochy is with postseason bullpen management, there’s still no way he uses Law like Andrew Miller and brings him in for the 6th inning if he’s the closer. Derek Law was unequivocally the best reliever on the Giants this year, and his being available early in the game to give the team time to come back was massive tonight.
Also, dude can rock the rally rag.
Hunter Strickland pitched a scoreless inning in this game and you didn’t notice him at all, did you? He struck out Addison Russell, got a fly out from Javier Baez, walked Wilson Contreras, and then struck out Jason Heyward. That’s a really good inning. You have no memory of it whatsoever though, do you? That’s a shame. It was quite good.
This will perhaps be the least effusively positive section of this article, because Sergio Romo walked Dexter Fowler with a 2-run lead to set up a Kris Bryant homer. Those were the first two batters he faced in the game, and he did a very poor job with both of them. You shouldn’t walk anyone with the bases empty and a 2-run lead in the 9th, and the pitch that Bryant hit out was right smack in the middle of the zone. However, after that, instead of finishing his meltdown and giving the Cubs the lead, he composed himself, got three outs, then in the next inning got three more.
Now, I don’t want to oversell Romo. He did generally pitch very well post-dinger, but, well, that Baez AB in the 10th did have the hangeriest hanger that ever hangered.
He made up for it with his hilarious fourth pitch that struck Baez out – I didn’t do a bad job cropping this image; it was just too far off to the side for the mini-strike zone on Gameday to show it – but that pitch was in almost the exact same spot as the one Bryant hit out. Slightly more outside by a fraction of an inch. A little higher by a fraction of an inch. Still a belt-high hanging slider over the heart of the plate. Maybe take that one out of your repertoire, Sergio.
The next hitter was Wilson Contreras, and Romo pitched him perfectly.
It’s a really tough thing in baseball to rebound from possibly costing your team the game to then giving them two strong innings, so, like I said, could’ve been meltdownier. And with this Giants bullpen, we all kind of expected it to be. Way to not let that happen, Sergio.
Will Smith pitched a scoreless inning and, I guess, technically a perfect one. I say technically because he didn’t allow a baserunner, so by baseball’s definition, that’s what happened. I also say technically because the first two hitters he faced hit absolute rockets, one to Joe Panik, and one to Brandon Crawford. The fact that those were caught was pretty lucky. Still, he didn’t give up any baserunners and struck out Kris Bryant to end the inning. That’s not nothing!
Everyone’s talking about Conor Gillaspie as the Hero Of The Postseason, and with good reason, but don’t sleep on Ty Blach, who apparently turned himself into a left-handed Yusmeiro Petit when we were all looking right at him and saying "Oh, he’s not gonna do that." On the heels of his 1.1 scoreless innings in Chicago in Game 2, Blach came in last night and immediately struck out Rizzo, got a very nice catch from Denard Span to record the second out, and then got an easy groundout from the Cubs pitcher, WHICH YOU WOULDN’T THINK WOULD BE THE MOST IMPRESSIVE THING, but it’s been a wacky series.
The 13th was a little hairier, with one-out singles to Baez and Contreras, but then Ty Blach did Ty Blach things and got a double play from David Ross, which the Cubs then wasted several minutes of everyone’s time challenging. And in the bottom of the inning, the Giants ended up winning, so Blach got the win, which is totally something that we all expected in the spring, that Ty Blach would get a win in an NLDS game. Let me just find the place where I totally predicted that.
Yeah, there it is.
In all, the bullpen went 8 innings, gave up 3 hits and 2 runs, struck out 8, walked 3, and were absolute lifesavers. Yes, Romo blew the save, but a 2.25 ERA over 8 innings against the Cubs, as a whole body of work, is pretty damn impressive. Way to go, bullpen. Way to be great.
Now please also be great tonight.