Giants-Rangers Game 1: First Down

The Giants add another pitcher’s pelt to their wall next to Jimenez, Latos, Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels.  Here’s Cliff Lee’s new post-season stats:

Rk Series Date Tm Opp Rslt H R BB SO HR
1 2009 NLDS g1 Oct 7 PHI COL W,5-1 6 1 0 5 0
2 2009 NLDS g4 Oct 12 PHI @ COL W,5-4 5 3 3 5 0
3 2009 NLCS g3 Oct 18 PHI LAD W,11-0 3 0 0 10 0
4 2009 WS g1 Oct 28 PHI @ NYY W,6-1 6 1 0 10 0
5 2009 WS g5 Nov 2 PHI NYY W,8-6 7 5 3 3 0
2010 Postseason Series Tm Opp Rslt H R BB SO HR
6 2010 ALDS g1 Oct 6 TEX @ TBR W,5-1 5 1 0 10 1
7 2010 ALDS g5 Oct 12 TEX @ TBR W,5-1 6 1 0 11 0
8 2010 ALCS g3 Oct 18 TEX @ NYY W,8-0 2 0 1 13 0
9 2010 WS g1 Oct 27 TEX @ SFG L,7-11 8 7 1 7 0
48 19 8 74 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/28/2010.
That “L” on the last row? That’s the Giants.  Not only does nobody think the Giants are going to win this series, absolutely nobody saw them defeating Lee, especially in an 11-7 game.  The Giants don’t have offense, what was that about?
Even I’m somewhat baffled.  I’m not sure what any of it means.  I would have preferred that the Giants kept the 8-2 score they had in the 5th, that makes more sense to me.  The Giants strength all season has been their ability to keep runs at bay.  So it concerns me that after Lincecum leaves the game the bullpen gives up 5 more runs in 4 innings.  Yes, the Giants scored 11 runs and took the win, but can they do that all the time?  Are they going to have to?  They’ve only scored double digits fourteen times this season. 
On the other hand, I’ve heard the Rangers are pretty good about not giving up runs too, especially Cliff “third greatest post-season pitcher of all time” Lee, and yet they gave up 11.  So I really have no idea what to make of this game.  Maybe it was a fluke for both teams. 
I would like to think that the Rangers 3 runs in the 9th were mostly because Bochy didn’t put in Wilson right away, per usual, and I would like to think that the reason he did that was because the Giants were far enough ahead that he wanted to save Wilson and give other closers a chance to see some action.  Of course, it didn’t work out for Ramirez or Affeldt and Wilson ended up coming in anyway, but maybe those last 3 runs were “freebies” or something.  
Another “battle of the great pitchers of all time” hype that didn’t live up to itself.  Despite giving up more runs, Lee tied Lincecum in the hits department, dominated him in strikeouts and ultimately ended up with a slightly better ERA, even though he pitched one less inning.  But obviously, given the amount of runs in the game, neither star pitcher gave his best performance and the media was once again sad.
The tack-on offense was just amazing last night.  Consider that the Rangers had 8 hits off Lincecum but only generated 4 runs, while the Giants had 8 hits off Lee and generated 7 runs.  The singles and double just kept coming, and it always seem like it was when there were two outs.  Freddie Sanchez made World Series history by hitting three doubles in one game, generating three RBIs.  Posey, Schierholtz, Ross, Huff and Ishikawa all got to contribute RBIs and Juan UUUU-Ribe once again batted one out of the park with two on base.  God I love that guy.  He doesn’t always hit, but when he hits it’s always good.
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Aside from the lame Fox announcers, two things I hated about last night’s presentation: 1) They completely skipped the opening pitch by Giants hall-of-famers in favor of focusing on two igits in the press box who, by their own admission later in the game, don’t know what they’re talking about.  How come I had to watch them instead of watching Orlando Cepeda, Gaylord Perry, Juan Marichal and Willie McCovey?  I don’t even know what they said.  Who cares what they said!  2) Didn’t get to see whether or not the crowd cheered when they announced Bengie Molina.  That was a discussion around the bay area all week, as to whether that would happen.  I heard on the radio this morning that they did in fact cheer his name, and I’m glad for it. I love the Bengie, even if he’s in the wrong colors.  
Speaking of Bengie, his latest blog entry is full of warm-hearted goodness.  My favorite bit:
The first time I was up, I wished Posey luck and he wished me luck. Then I looked out at Lincecum and touched the bill of my cap, and he touched his in response.
 
I had as special a relationship with Timmy as I have had with any pitcher. Maybe because he was so young when I began catching him and I became a mentor to him. We have texted since I was traded but I had not seen him or talked to him in person until the game yesterday. I had heard he had said really nice things about me to the press.
 
When he came up to bat for the first time, I stood and told him, “I want you to know that hits or no hits, win or lose, you’re my boy.”

“Hey, Be-Mo, I love you.”

Then we both got to work.

Awesome.  

Game 1 is in the bag.  Cliff Lee defeated.  The Giants are 1-0.  We’re still making the media scratch their heads in bewilderment.  Keep it up!  

GO GIANTS!


WORLD SERIES WIN COUNTER
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Clinchez

FRIDAY

I was really hoping for a Matt Cain victory on Friday.  Not only is he my current favorite starting pitcher, but it was his birthday, and it would have got the pressure off right away so that I could enjoy a stress-free weekend.  Unfortunately no such luck.  I wasn’t able to watch the game, as my step-daughter was only going to be with us on Friday this weekend, so I sacrificed baseball in favor of a pizza-kid movie evening, but I kept up with it on MLB’s Game Day, periodically checking in to watch as the Padres hit a home run in the second…third…fourth inning, ultimately taking the game 6-4.  Oh well, Giants baseball is not about making things easy for fans, and we’ve still got two more games to go so it’s cool…right?
SATURDAY
While I haven’t been especially confident in Zito lately (which is a shame, because he was real fun at the beginning of the season) I had this weird fantasy that he would destroy the Padres to ensure himself a spot in the post-season, maybe even throw a shut out or perfect game or something, just to make up for all his bad luck.  But a fantasy it was.  Again I couldn’t watch the game, because a family friend of my wife’s family planned a wedding during baseball season for some weird reason.  But at one point we took a break between wedding and reception at a sports bar and I got to see my Giants losing, but also witness another UUUU-RIBE home run.  Afterwards I followed the score on my cellphone as the Giants lost again 4-2.
So okay now we had one more chance before tying with the Padres and having to play a tiebreaker in their home town.  But what are the odds that a team could lose three games in a row?  Or four?  While proceeding to drink mass quantities of free alcohol, I desperately tried to recall if and when and how often the Giants have had a 4+ game losing string this season, or this season post-All-Star break, and I couldn’t think of any examples, but I was pretty sure they must have at some point.  I was starting to feel the panic.
But then the rum kicked in and I realized with perfect clarity what they were doing.  They were waiting for Mat Latos.  Of course!  Why not clinch it when Mat Latos is pitching?  It’s way more dramatic.  The guy trash talked this team, so of course the Giants want to make sure he’s the reason they clinch it.  Plus Jonathan Sanchez will be pitching, and he talked a bunch of bravado about beating the Padres in August and didn’t come through, so this would be HIS chance to back up his bold statements.  That MUST be why they’re playing it this way…right?  Right?  
SUNDAY
Right!
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The Giants finally take the victory with a 3-0 shut out.  Sanchez and the bullpen give up four hits and zero runs while Latos only makes it six innings, giving up two of the three runs.  AND Sanchez got the runs rolling with a triple off Latos in the third inning!  
Again, I ended up following much of the game via the computer (seriously, I’m the worst baseball watcher ever) but I tuned in at the bottom of the eight, just in time to see Posey hit his last home run of the regular season.  From there it was just a matter of Mr. Wilson getting us three outs, which is his specialty, and it was over!  The pressure was off!  Bouncing ensued!  
There’s still a big hill or three to climb, but the Padres are gone!  Not even wild card, just GONE.  That alone is a victory for the Giants this year in my book.  
Tomorrow I’ll start examining the stats and theorizing on our chances of dominating the National League.  Today though, I’m just going to enjoy the feeling of triumph.  
Congratulations Giants!  
MONDAY
Hey look!  I made the first page!  (No I’m not the girl holding the sign…)
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Not a huge deal I guess for the veteran bloggers out there, but it’s a first for me, and a nice bit of icing on a great NL West clinching weekend!  I guess I’d better start spelling things right now…

Today’s Magic Number…

Giants won yesterday, but so did the Padres and the Braves, so the gap did not get wider, and the standing did not change for either the NL West Division or the Wild Card.  But the magic number changed from four to three.   Three measly games and we see playoffs.  Or…if the Giants sweep the D-Backs tonight and the Padres lose, I think the magic number would be one. Or the Giants AND the Padres could win tonight and the number would be two.  I think.  

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The Bay Area is playoff happy already.  I’m trying not to be negative (my natural state) but I think it’s premature to think it’s a lock, too. Maybe I shouldn’t be watching that Ted Williams biography right now.  His entire story seems to be “soooo cloooose…!”  What a crusher if…well never mind.

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Pitching dominated again last night, the Giants only managing five hits. Luckily their five hits were more productive than the D-Backs eight, thanks to the 3-run RBI homer by Pat.  Even though he’s apparently not part of the team, I’ll take the runs!  Sorry Latos. 
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“There’s Beard Inside” is the new slogan, if the hotties holding up the Brian Wilson signs wearing the fake beards have any pull in the advertising department.  Wish I had a picture of that-hilarious.  Oh and did you hear? Samwise Gamgee and Rudy are pulling for the Giants to win the World Series!  Wait…
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Apparently Sean Astin is normally a Dodgers fan, but was at the game last night and decided the Dodgers are out so he’s rooting for the Giants.  I think that makes him NOT a Dodgers fan, but we can consult with Emma about that one.  Stab me in the head but for some reason I’m always interested in which celebrities like what teams.  I wish there was a site that chronicled that.  I know the Dodgers and the Yankees get all the pretty celebrities in their fandom, but the Giants have celebrity fans too!
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You hear that Giants?  “You can do it!”