Giants-Phillies Game 6: Onward

I painted all day Saturday. 
The wife and I just bought a new house, so my weekends have been
replaced by manual labor in an effort to make the house her own.  Labor makes me tired and I almost forgot that
Game 6 was even happening that day, but I managed to wake up and tune in to see
the Phillies score 2 runs off Sanchez in the 1st. 

Off to Game 7, eh? 
God damn it. 

I was tired, it had already been a long day, and the idea of
three hours of torture to cap off my evening did not appeal to me at all.  I turned on Star Trek.  This will be easier.  Captain Kirk always wins, even when he’s in
Philadelphia. 

It started off good. 
I managed to sit back, relax and enjoy watching the exploits from where
no man has gone before.  But then the
back of my brain started scratching. 
“Hey, what if something awesome is happening right now?  What if the Giants have hit eight home runs
in a row or something?  You’re missing
it!”  I brushed it off and kept watching,
but “what if…?”

I cave and flip to the game, “just briefly” I tell myself,
and it’s tied up 2-2.  I convince myself
that a tie is worse than losing, and it will probably go 12 innings now just to
get to Game 7 anyway.  I flip back to
Trek.  Captain Kirk isn’t doing so well
but I’m confident he’ll come through. 

I start switching back more frequently.  Every time there’s the briefest lull in Trek
action, I use it as an excuse to “let’s just quickly see how it’s going.”  Still 2-2. 
Over and over again, it’s still 2-2. 
Every time I switch back, there’s a new pitcher; Sanchez, Affeldt,
Bumgarner (BUMGARNER?) and it continues to remain 2-2.  

By the 8th inning, I’m watching more baseball
than Trek.  It was more torturous to not
know what was going on than it was to just watch the torture.  UUUU-Ribe hits a home run.  Captain Kirk will have to go on without
me.  Game 7 gets farther away.  Can we hold them? 

Lincecum is brought in to try.   Lincecum! 
One day of rest and coming in to help close?  Ridiculously unusual, and I’m not sure if it’s
a great idea, but I’m glad to see him anyway. 
He strikes out Werth.  But then
Victorino and Ibanez get on base.  Oh
no.  Then they call in Wilson.  Oh no again. 
This is too early for him isn’t it? 
It’s only the 8th. 
They should only bring him in when there’s three outs left, not
five!  Double play-YES! 

Three more outs and the World Series. 

Wilson’s back. Good, it has to be Wilson.  Ross Gload grounds out, two more to go.  Jimmy Rollins walks, oh no.  That’s okay, Wilson always has to have a
little drama, it’s part of his charm.  Palanco
grounds out.  ONE MORE TO GO.  Utley walks. 
OH NO.  There’s drama and then
there’s drama, Wilson.  Ryan Howard steps
up.  The crappy Fox announcers talk about
how he hasn’t done anything for the Phillies all post-season.  “Thanks for the jinx”, I think to myself, wondering
if this will be the moment where he decides to snap out of his funk and hit one
out of the park to keep his team in the game. 

pennantclinch.jpg

Strikeout!  Giants win
the NLCS!  World Series bound! 

The Giants come rushing off the bench and everyone jumps up
and down as the quietest stadium I’ve ever seen in my life watches their
victory.  My wife and mother-in-law were
all watching at this point, and even they commented that it seemed a shame no
one else was celebrating.  Were there no
Giants fans there?  Probably but
considering the massive sea of red, they must have been few and far between.  I didn’t expect fireworks or even applause
really, but man was that moment quiet. 
It’s a real shame they couldn’t have won it in San Francisco. 

Nothing against the Rangers, but they weren’t officially in
it until the other day and haven’t really been on my radar.  The Phillies have been the team to beat since
the Giants made it into the post-season. 
They’ve been to the World Series the last two years and have clinched
their division consecutively since 2007 and they were number one in the
National League this year.  They were the
hurdle the Giants had to get past as soon as the regular season was done.  Hats off to you Phillies, MUCH respect.  You didn’t make it easy.

Off to the World Series. 
Giants vs Rangers.  Posey vs
Molina.  “Haven’t won a World Series
since NY” vs “Haven’t won a World Series ever.” 
I know little about the Rangers, other than Molina’s been hitting and
Cliff Lee is full of win.  I’ll look into
them later.  Right now let’s just bask in
the joy of winning the NLCS. 
Aaaaaaahhhhhhhh….

P.S.

Congrats to Cody Ross for being selected MVP of the
NLCS.  You da man!

bossross.jpg

Giants-Phillies Game 5: Want In One Hand…

Didn’t get to watch the game yesterday.  Open House night at Little Girl’s school.  We went to pizza before it started so I got to see inning three, which was the game changer, so I guess I saw everything I ultimately needed to see.

I wanted Lincecum to get the win as he’s the “franchise” and all.  I’m glad he at least pitched better than Halladay again, despite the loss.  I guess Halladay now says he had a groin injury though.  
I wanted the final win to happen in SF and now that will not happen one way or the other.  It’s all Philadelphia from here. 
Texas and San Francisco are now in the same boat, except Texas is at home.  The Magic Number is 1 and it’s the Padres all over again.  Hopefully with the same outcome, even if it that means more torture on a grander scale.
Trying to not lose hope, but a little piece got chipped off yesterday.  But we still have the advantage. It’s do-or-do-or-die time for the Giants and do-or-die time for the Phillies.  It’s a do-over opportunity for Sanchez.  It’s head down, no errors, play smart and well, and let’s get this done time.  
See you all Monday, hopefully with a new banner and another celebratory wallpaper!

Giants-Phillies Game 4: Mirror Universe

Yesterday’s Game 4 was the opposite of Game 3, lackluster pitching, stellar offense and horribly torturous.  

It started as I left work, so I got to listen to it on the radio on my commute home, which is always a nice way to stave off the boredom of the drive.  Sanchez scores off an RBI from Posey in the 1st and I instantly think “uh oh” for some reason.  I have no stats or research to back this up, but I always feel like when the Giants score early they end up losing it.  Still, first run on the board, so let’s try and be excited, shall we?  
Bottom of the 3rd, again Buster drives in Huff to score with a double to center field.  Well alright, maybe this will be okay!  Let’s do this!
Top of the 5th, everything falls apart and the Phillies score 4 runs.  Ack.  The crappy post-season announcers start patting themselves on the back because their team is now winning and start spouting off stats like how the Giants haven’t score more than 3 runs in game since Game 2 against Pittsburgh in 1975.  “Can that be right?” I thought to myself but figured it probably was.  So we’re out then right?  Darn.
Somewhat answering back, Huff drives in Torres with a single to center field.  Okay well they’ve hit their cap.  Still losing.
Bottom of the 6th, Pablo Sandoval of all people hits a double and Burrell and Ross score.  WHAT THE HECK?  That’s more than 3 runs!  We’re ahead again!  OH MY GOD are we going to do this?
Top of the 8th, Jason “the Jesus” Werth hits a double and Ryan Howard scores, tying the game.  I get pissed at this point.  I hate tied games after the 7th.  I loathe them.  I hate the idea and possibility of extra innings.  Extra innings are so damn torturous and seemingly never ending.  And yet here we are, probably going into extra innings.  At this point I admit, I was a bad fan and took a break.  Dishes needed to get done anyway, kids needed to be put to bed.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to come back.  But the wife was uncharacteristically light with the cooking hardware and dishes were done relatively quickly, and back again was I in front of the television, nails digging into sweaty palms.
Nothing happens for the Giants in the 8th, nothing happens for the Phillies in the 9th.  The status quo remains, extra innings are looming, I need to turn this off but I can’t.  The Phillies bring in Roy Oswalt for the 9th.  NOT HIM!  He schooled the Giants in Game 2, we’re never going to get anything now.  The only saving grace, I thought to myself, was that if we lose tonight, at least they had to wreck their second starter to do it.
But wait, he’s on two days rest and they’re hitting off him.  Single by Huff!  Single by Posey, Huff takes 3rd!  They bring in Uribe.  He hasn’t played all night, his wrist is jacked, but I knew he could do it.  Hindsight is 20/20, but I was feeling it. I was positive. I don’t know why, I’m rarely positive.  But Huff was right there, it wouldn’t take much.  He could do it. UUUU-RIBE! sacrifices one to left field and Huff slides into home.  
GIANTS WIN!
giantswin.jpg
I feel like I need to burst with opinionated ravings but I also want to just shut up and let it ride until it’s done done.  No jinxes.  Everybody keeps asking me today if I’m happy and excited, and yes of course, but my answer is always “we still got one to go” because I don’t want to get ahead of this.  
Lincecum vs Halladay rematch tonight.  I’m trying not to cave to superstition (because I easily could) but whatever everybody did on Game 1 of the post-season, do it again.  Lincecum needs to be on fire.  I want a win tonight.  I don’t want another away win, where the celebratory Giants are surrounded by sad faces and crying managers. I want to see orange rally rags and panda hats and chicks with beards.  
Tonight will be the hardest game the Giants have had to win all season.  But it’s going to be the hardest game the Phillies have had to win all season too.  

Giants-Phillies Game 3: Home Sweet Home

I love day games because I get to watch them. Digitally anyway, as I hide MLB’s Game Day amongst my many open work windows. You would think watching a pixelated baseball game wouldn’t be very exciting but I’ve found that it’s just as interesting as listening to a game on the radio or watching it on TV. Well maybe not “just as….” but pretty close. 

Yesterday’s game was a good example of how the Giants have been doing it all year; stellar pitching, a sprinkling of offense and the game is won. The only difference between yesterday’s game and your average win of the season was that it was completely free of torture. Other than a very brief nail biter in the 7th inning, the game was very straight forward. Even Brian Wilson didn’t load the bases before getting his three outs. Weird! 
The Bochy Shuffle seems to be working as Matt Cain, who swapped starting positions with Sanchez, threw a three-hit shutout. Renteria moved to first and got the first hit of the game in the 5th. Cody Ross was bumped to fifth and drove Renteria home with a single to left field. In the same inning, Huff, who was bumped to sixth, drove home Burrell with a single to second base. Aaron Rowand was added to the line-up and gets on base in the 6th with a double to left field, and Freddie Sanchez, who’s probably the only guy who kept his same position, runs in Rowand with another single to second base.
Huff and Sanchez should thank Utley for doing his best Brooks Conrad impression.
Yesterday I posted a comparison chart between Hamels and Cain:
cainvshamels.jpg
Here’s how they compared yesterday:
cainvshamels.jpg
Other than the bases on ball, pretty much the same thing, eh?  I love it when a stat comes together!  Matt Cain is not an undersized, two time Cy Young winner with a wild pitching style.  He’s doesn’t have a shoe polished beard.  He has no drama, so no one talks about him.  But he’s Mister Giant in terms of tenure, and he’s a constant, which may not be interesting for the media to talk about, but I think he rocks anyway.  Check it:
fourstarters.jpg
Bad start in April and a mild dip in June, but otherwise the guy is a flat line.  Certainly more consistent then his fellow starting pitchers.  Not better or worse, but right down the middle.  
Anyway, two more to go.  It would be great if they could clinch it in San Francisco, but that’s probably asking too much.  It would be great if they could clinch it period.  Let’s stick with that.  

Cain vs Hamels

Can’t write about Game 3 today because it hasn’t happened yet.  Everybody got a day off yesterday so they could bring the fun to San Francisco.  So let’s look at more stats!

Now that it’s a tied series, Game 3 seems like a pivotal point for both teams, so I’m glad Cain got swapped with Sanchez for third starter position.  Not that I dislike any of our starting pitchers in the slightest, but I feel like Cain is the coolest cucumber of the bunch.  Giants lose today and everything will fall on Bumgarner, which may not be fair to the rookie.  
So let’s see what Matt’s up against: Matt Cain vs Cole Hammels.
Cole Hammels
H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA
Buster Posey 2 2 0 0 2 0 0 .667
Edgar Renteria 2 0 0 0 2 1 0 .667
Andres Torres 1 1 0 0 2 1 1 .333
Pablo Sandoval 2 1 0 1 1 0 0 .333
Juan Uribe 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 .500
Pat Burrell 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000
Aubrey Huff 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000
Tim Lincecum 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000
Cody Ross 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333
Aaron Rowand 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000
Freddy Sanchez 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .667
Jonathan Sanchez 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000
Nate Schierholtz 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.000
Eli Whiteside 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/19/2010.
Matt Cain
H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA
Jimmy Rollins 3 0 1 1 3 0 0 1.000
Carlos Ruiz 2 0 1 0 1 0 0 .667
Chase Utley 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 .333
Joe Blanton 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000
Ross Gload 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000
Raul Ibanez 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000
Placido Polanco 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000
Shane Victorino 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Jayson Werth 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/19/2010.
Summary
cainvshamels.jpg
They tie for home runs allowed, but Cain has a better RBI, bases on balls and overall batting average.  Unfortunately Hamels clearly has the better strike out count, which is my personal favorite pitching stat, as it seems like the only one they have complete control over.  Oh well, Cain still takes three out of five. 
How about just offense in general.  Seems like the deciding factor in everyone’s mind is that the Giants probably won’t make it because, while they have great pitching, their offense isn’t there.  I can see that argument, I have been following them the entire season after all. So how do they do against the Phillies offensively?
Tm R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA
PHI 772 1451 290 34 166 736 108 560 1064 .260
SFG 697 1411 284 30 162 660 55 487 1099 .257
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/19/2010.
offense.jpg
Yep.  The Phillies either tie or are better than the Giants at everything offensively, except their overall batting average, which is worse by a hair.  But speaking of hair, that chart doesn’t make the Phillies offense seem as foreboding as I was lead to believe.  Yes it’s better, but not by leaps and bounds.  They have 4 more home runs than the Giants this season.  Seems more like the Phillies base stealing and ability to generate bases on balls is what the Giants should be worrying about.  
Since I looked at the offense, let’s look at pitching, even though according to everyone it’s a wash:
Tm W-L% ERA H R HR BB SO
PHI .599 3.68 1402 640 168 416 1183
SFG .568 3.36 1279 583 134 578 1331
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/19/2010.
pitching.jpg
So how come pitching is a wash but offensive is a shoe in for the Phillies?  Seems like both sets of stats are fairly close (something I would assume is true of all post-season teams), the Giants edging out the Phillies in everything but bases on balls (damn that Sanchez!).  
Anyway, I guess I’m bias, but all I’m saying is I think this is a closer race than people are thinking (and by people, I mostly mean media).  
So let’s take Game 3 and shock the crap out of everybody.  GO GIANTS!