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 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!