Giants: Torture Us Again, Why Don'tcha?
(originally written 10/17/10)
So much for that blister, huh?
Phillie fans have every reason to be overconfident. Their team has won four straight N.L. East titles. They’ve won two straight N.L. pennants and are hungry for a third. Over the final month-plus of 2010, no N.L. team played better. They blew through the Reds in the NLDS, reducing them to oversized Bad News Bears in the process. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Roy Halladay are future Hall-of-Fame players in their prime. Cases could be made for “J-Roll” and Roy Oswalt, should the next five years of their careers go a certain way.
Meanwhile, the Giants have water buffaloes at 1st base and left field, the latter of whom was paid millions from his prior team to go away. Our starting CF once went five years between major league appearances, and no, not because he was fighting in Iraq. Our best player in 2009 isn’t even our first pinch-hitter off the bench in 2010. Our second baseman can’t always throw. One of our starters is nicknamed “MadBum”. Our ace pitcher, nicknamed “Freak”, can’t stop dropping F-bombs on live media. Our highest-paid player isn’t even on the playoff roster, and not for physical reasons unless he can't pitch through indigestion.
Yeah, I can understand the overconfidence on display by the Phillie faithful. But I can’t lend it credence—our guys can hang with anybody. N-E-BODY.
On the KNBR postgame show, Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow—men whose opinions rarely differ from mine—commented on the key point in the game, the 6th-inning non-strikeout of Pat Burrell by Halladay on a frontdoor sinker called a ball by ump Darryl Cousins. Kuip said “Halladay had Burrell struck out; he just didn’t get the call.” And Kruk echoed that sentiment. I have to disagree with the K-men; in no way was that a clear strikeout in my eyes. Sure, it was a tough pitch to take, but Lincecum didn’t get a single call on fastballs at the knees when he needed them most—remember the walk to Utley in the 3rd?
BOCHY HIMSELF, not Dave Righetti, had to personally calm Lincecum down on the mound after that one.
Cousins lived up to Krukow’s pregame analysis in that his strike zone ain’t consistent, and it shrinks as the game goes on. Brian Wilson, who fought Cousins’ tough zone to record a well-earned four-out save (all via K), had to strike Raul Ibanez out three different times in the same at-bat. I don’t care what FOX’ Pitch Trak says; that thing is about as accurate as Nigerian birth records.
Cody Ross is upstaging who had been the best eighth-place postseason hitter in the N.L., one Carlos Ruiz of Philadelphia. How hot has he been? After his first of two home runs off Halladay, FOX already had a black-and-white commercial break bumper reading “Up next: ROSS” set up and ready to go! That’s when you know you’ve arrived, I guess. After the game, Ross was asked by the FOX guy what it felt like to be playing well in the postseason. I know how I would have answered such a ridiculous question:
“Well, it kinda sucks, cuz I could be at home playing video games or fishing instead of stuck here working. Hopefully we get eliminated soon and I can get my off-season started.”
(Ross doesn’t appear to share my sarcasm streak.)
The Phils know how to battle. They’re not impressed or intimidated by anyone. Sure, they have the likes of Howard, Utley, Rollins, blah blah blah. The one dude who scares me, who I don’t want to see up ever, is the ex-Dodger Jayson Werth. He’s scary. He seems like he’s seven feet tall and he looks like a cross between The Undertaker and The Joker as portrayed in The Dark Knight. He’s aggressive and fearless, and even when he K’s, it doesn’t feel like the pitcher got him out!
I felt this way long before he deposited a Lincecum fastball in the seats to cut Philadelphia’s deficit to 4-3. If Lincecum had better command of his curve on this night—he was routinely leaving it up—then maybe he bounces one to Werth in that situation as I’d instructed him to do through my screen…
The only point in the game in which I wasn’t nervous was Javier Lopez’ two-batter stint. He easily subdued Utley on a weak grounder to 2nd which in a way was a small victory for Utley. He then K’d Howard on four pitches. He was methodical, aggressive, and efficient in picking apart the Phils’ two best players. And I thought he wasn’t worth Joe Martinez and John Bowker three months ago!
Rollins, the Phillie shortstop who came off the worst regular season of his 10-year career by far, didn’t square a ball up all night. He hit two of the weirdest fouls off Lincecum I’ve been witness to—there just appeared to be no strength behind them. As a Giants fan, I’m not sad to see J-Roll struggle (he finished 0-for-4 with three K). But he’s a likable player and a Bay Area native who'd I like to see succeed...once this series ends.
When the team put runners on first and third with two down in the 4th, just after Ross’ 1st bomb, Uribe subsequently grounded out. At that point, part of me felt that would be it for the G-Men offensively—they tend to go into their collective shells once they’ve crapped on a golden scoring shot. But another part of me remembered the April contest in which they dropped a crooked number on Halladay; I refused to give up faith in them and boy, did they reward me (and all other Giants fans.)
Don’t delude yourselves, fans. If we go to the World Series, it will NOT be pretty. There are going to be a lot of men stranded on third who arrived with less than two outs (as in the 9th inning vs. Brad Lidge; Andres Torres K’d badly, only to have Freddy Sanchez follow him with the useless two-out sac fly).
There will be few steals, and some of the steals we DO get will be courtesy of blown calls (see: Buster Posey vs. Atlanta).
There will be no shortage of full counts for pitchers, and 0-2 counts for hitters. Bats will break, and when they don’t, they’ll go flying down the 3B line (as in Ross in his 3rd AB against Halladay).
Runners won’t be moved up. Bad pitches will be chased. And thanks to Eugenio Velez, there’s even a chance the uniforms won’t have correct spelling.
You know what? In spite of those truths…I’m IN! Rooting for the 2010 Giants can be “torture”, but watching the Padres square off against the Phils right now would be even worse. Jonathan Sanchez vs. Roy Oswalt tonight; let’s get about seven runs and let Wilson’s arm recover. Oh—and GAME FRIKKIN’ ON.