Thursday, October 16, 2014

Giants Win National League Pennant

After dinking and walking and bunting their way to three victories, the San Francisco Giants got all of their runs from their first homers of the series, including a tying blast by pinch-hitting power hitter Michael Morse in the eighth, and the improbable three-run walk-off homer by Travis Ishikawa in the bottom of the ninth.  It was the first pennant won by a homer in Giants history since Bobby Thompson's most fabled blast in 1951.  The final score was 6-3.

But it wasn't exactly all power baseball.  Madison Bumgarner had rough patches early, including giving up back to back solo homers in the fourth, but settled down to shut the door through seven innings.  He was later named the series MVP.

There were several excellent fielding plays, including one by substitute center fielder Blanco.  The most crucial was in the top of the 9th, when Pablo Sandoval--who used to get taken out for defense in the late innings--got a glove on a sure extra base hit, deflected it to Brandon Crawford and got an out.  Casia was ineffective that inning and so it was up to Jeremy Affelt to get the final out and keep the Cards off the scoreboard.

Morse had already touched up a great reliever that the Giants hadn't gotten a hit from in earlier games.  Then Cards manager Metheny went to Wacha, the nemesis of the Pirates in last year's series, and he gave up a single to Sandoval, a walk to Belt, was behind 2-0 to the normally light-hitting substitute left fielder Travis Ishikawa, who was sitting on a low fastball, saw it and got all of it, into the right field stands.

The Giants won the series by winning the first game in St. Louis and all three games at home--a real treat for the tremendous Bay Area fans.  Not only did the Giants win the pennant with this game, they showed part of their game that had been missing for awhile.  So now they look a whole lot better against the Kansas City Royals, a team that has not lost a game in the playoffs. They both got next, in the World Series.

Noted: This SF Chronicle article says that Morse, who because of injuries had only 11 at bats since August, got the batting cage pitcher to simulate the sidearm delivery he would see at the plate, and he also got a useful tip before the game from Barry Bonds.

[Notes in Progress]

Top of the fourth: the announcers are talking about the strong wind to right--after Adams ties the game for St. Louis with his homer.  2-2.  Then Cruz hits a long homer to left and the Cards are ahead 3-2.  Bumgarner has thrown 60 pitches in the first four innings. [But this would be his last shaky inning.  He got every batter he faced until he left the game after seven.  Pinch-hitting for him in the eighth was Michael Morse.  His home run tied the game at 3-3.]

Bottom of the third: It's a Panik! With two outs, Gregor Blanco gets his second straight hit (that's right, Blanco) and Joe Panik homers to right--the first Giants homer this series.  It's 2-1 Giants.

After a couple of innings both starters, Bumgarner and more to the point Wainright seem strong.  Third inning: the Cards have scored.  Bumgarner issuing uncharacteristic walks, and a misplayed fly ball, but it could have been much worse.  Wainright can be more aggressive with a lead, though it's only one run going into the bottom of the third. [Wainright got even stronger through the middle innings, but threw a lot of pitches and was lifted in the seventh.]

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