All Hope Rests in Barry Zito’s Arm

After finishing up my second midterm in as many as days — you can see why I’ve been swamped lately — I finally have some time to sit down and write about the Giants. The NLCS has not gone swimmingly, as you’ve surely noticed; it’s gone — ahem – drowningly? I guess you could say that. Aside from Game Two — thank you, Ryan Vogelsong — this series has been dreadful. A brief recap of what we’ve seen:

  • Madison Bumgarner continued his untimely downward trend, barely touching 90 in his latest disappointing start. The last thing the Giants needed was another starter to worry about. The good news — relatively speaking — is that it sounds like Bumgarner’s healthy. It goes without saying, but the primary concern with Bumgarner is the future, and the Giants need to protect that at all costs.
  • Kyle Lohse limited the Giants to one run, despite allowing two baserunners an inning. Another Matt Cain gem was wasted.
  • Tim Lincecum returned to 2012 form, which is to say he was positively Hochevarian. Not that it mattered all that much anyway, as the Giants’ offense didn’t do much to pitch in, either.

The Giants, once again, are facing elimination. Once again, in order to keep their season alive, they must win three games in a row. Hey, it worked before. Maybe the Giants are pressing their luck; but as I said last time, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. For now, all hope rests in Barry Zito‘s arm. And that’s kind of spooky. But as little confidence as I have in Zito, if the Giants can pull this victory off, they get to play the final two games at home.

One game at a time. Win today, Giants.

NLCS Game Four – Giants v. Cardinals

With the Giants down 2-1 in the series, it’s Tim Lincecum facing off against Adam Wainwright. The lineups:

Giants
1. CF Angel Pagan
2. 2B Marco Scutaro
3. 1B Buster Posey
4. 3B Pablo Sandoval
5. C Hector Sanchez
6. RF Hunter Pence
7. LF Gregor Blanco
8. SS Brandon Crawford
9. SP Tim Lincecum

Cardinals
1. CF Jon Jay
2. 1B Matt Carpenter
3. LF Matt Holliday
4. RF Allen Craig
5. C Yadier Molina
6. 3B David Freese
7. 2B Daniel Descalso
8. SS Pete Kozma
9. SP Adam Wainwright

NLCS Game Two – Cardinals v. Giants

You should expect some inactivity on this blog over the next several days because, well, life. I’ll do my best to find time to post here, though.

Anyway, via Alex Pavlovic, here are today’s lineups (same as yesterday):

1. CF Angel Pagan
2. 2B Marco Scutaro
3. 3B Pablo Sandoval
4. C Buster Posey
5. RF Hunter Pence
6. 1B Brandon Belt
7. LF Gregor Blanco
8. SS Brandon Crawford
9. SP Ryan Vogelsong

Cardinals
1. CF Jon Jay
2. RF Carlos Beltran
3. LF Matt Holliday
4. 1B Allen Craig
5. C Yadier Molina
6. 3B David Freese
7. 2B Daniel Descalso
8. SS Pete Kozma
9. SP Chris Carpenter

NLDS Game Five Recap: Giants 6, Reds 4

Alternate title: The Giants are going to the NLCS, baby!!!

I dislike Mat Latos. Strongly. Part of it is because he comes off as obnoxious. That’s just his persona. He’s the kind of player that elicits passion from fans, which is a good thing, I suppose. But I hate him. And admittedly, most of my distaste for Latos — give me some credit here for not saying “Latos intolerance” — stems from the fact that he’s really good at his job. Prior to this game, he had made 11 starts against the Giants in his career. In ten of them, he lasted six-plus innings. In ten of them, he allowed three runs or fewer. In eight of them, he allowed two runs or fewer. He’s given the Giants fits over the years, and I hate him I hate him I hate him.

And then there’s Buster Posey. 2012 NL MVP. Symbol of all things great in this world. What can I say about Posey that hasn’t already been said, that isn’t already apparent?

Anyway, let me cut to the chase. This happened, folks:

Buster  Posey's Grand Slam Off Mat  Latos

Buster Posey hit a grand slam off Mat Latos in the final game of a postseason series. And it was glorious. I’ve watched it over and over and over again, and it doesn’t get old. There’s Posey gazing at it — both hands on the bat, then just the right hand, then the casual bat flip. There’s Latos, not even bothering to look at it. Just a quick hop step, then a steady walk away from the mound. And then, perhaps my favorite part: Ryan Hanigan. You can pinpoint the second his heart rips in half. The whole thing is simply beautiful.

You know who’s made it easy to forget about Melky Cabrera? Gregor Blanco. He reached base three times in Game One, scored one of the Giants’ two runs in Game Three, and homered yesterday. Today, he got things started in that six-run fifth inning by leading off with a single. Another year, another outstanding minor-league signing for the Giants.

I’ve praised Bruce Bochy for his bullpen management in this series, but he left Matt Cain in the game too long. It worked out, thanks in large part to Buster Posey — who continues to impress on both sides of the ball. But not without making me a nervous wreck in the process. Results: good, process: meh. But it worked, so I guess there’s not much point in dwelling on it.

Matt Cain, by the way, did his job today. Surprise, surprise.

Remember when George Kontos was a “maybe” for the postseason roster? It’s a good thing that all worked out because he’s played a crucial role in this series. Four appearances, each of ‘em scoreless.

At the top of the list of things I was wrong about this season: Brandon Crawford. His performance today — and all season long, for that matter — speaks for itself.

The tying run reached base for the Reds in the sixth inning. And the seventh. And the eighth. And the ninth (in fact, the winning run reached base there). It had to be that way; I don’t know why, it just had to. The baseball gods care not about my mental health.

With the game on the line — the season on the line, really, the Giants got it done every time.

Tying run at the plate? Oh, here’s a strike-’em-out throw-’em-out double play.

Tying run at the plate? Oh, here’s a spectacular inning-ending catch.

Winning run at the plate? Oh, here’s an eleventy pitch at-bat, culminating in a flyout.

The Giants’ big lead in yesterday’s game enabled Bochy to rest Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt, and Sergio Romo, as I mentioned. Sure came in handy today, eh? Romo threw 35 pitches. He’s only done that once in his career, and that was way back in 2008. He had made eight postseason appearances prior to today, and his previous high in pitches: 15. He exceeded his previous postseason career high by 133%. Yeesh.

I thought the Giants were toast just a few days ago. They were facing elimination, against a 97-win team, with all three remaining games on the road. Now, they’re the first team in baseball history to come back from an 0-2 deficit and win a five-game series by taking three straight road games.

Baseball, man. Baseball, baseball, baseball. This stuff is crazy, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. THE GIANTS ARE GOING TO THE NLCS!