That was one crazy game and crazy series. Any game in which a pitcher is able to record just one out, which occurred by way of a wild pitch he threw while attempting to complete an intentional walk, but resulted in tagging Buster Posey out on a close play at the plate because he was blocking the plate in a way that the “Posey Rule” is supposed to prevent, is the definition of crazy. And as a giddy Giants fan, I have to say that at least a small part of me feels bad. Almost like we took something we didn’t deserve. Three runs scored on a walk, a ground out, and a wild pitch. Bryce Harper’s home run went farther than all of the Giants hits combined.
The Giants are always this way, but this year seems more extreme than others. In 2010, the Giants pitchers were legitimately elite–Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner and the bullpen were as good or better than anyone, and the only reason they were underdogs that year is because no one on the east coast knew of them yet (and they had a lineup filled with Uribes, Burrells, and Renterias). That was fun because it allowed me to prove to all my east coast friends that the Giants were as good as I had been saying. In 2012, they still had the core of their elite pitching staff, and hot hitters like Pagan and Scutaro and Sandoval and an MVP in Posey.
This year, just about no one is hitting and their only remaining elite pitcher lost the game he pitched. Their closer is unproven, and their best pinch hitter is a pitcher. By contrast, everyone in the Nationals lineup was a threat to hit a home run or at least a triple. The Giants have only two and a half guys in their lineup to be at all scared about. The half is Sandoval because you never have any idea what he can hit and what he can’t. If Joe Panik isn’t hitting as was happening in games 2-3, there’s basically 4 automatic outs all looped together from 8-9-1-2.
Last night looked ominous. The Giants lineup looked like it would be absolutely horrible against a really good left handed starter. I counted 6 easy outs in the lineup to start (Sandoval was batting right handed which neutralizes him; I included Crawford because he can hit lefties). That’s not promising. But the 8-9-1-2 guys were huge last night, even if it included errors, misplaced bunts, and scratch singles. If the 3-6 hitters did anything, they’d actually have won last night running away. And now the best 4 teams have already been eliminated and the Giants have a realistic chance to win it all, again. Incredible.
It does have to be added that Bochy got away with a huge mistake last night. If they had lost, the decision to let Strickland face Harper was huge. Don Mattingly and Matt Williams would be getting a hundred derisive questions with that one. Harper loves fastballs, and particularly Strickland fastballs. But who cares. Bochy and the Giants can do no wrong in October.