Friday, October 03, 2014

One Giant Step

Joe Panik
The San Francisco Giants played their game, and they won the first in the five game set with the Nats at Washington, 3-2.  Jake Peavy, a much underrated pitcher probably because he faltered in previous postseason game, outpitched his glorified opposite number Strasburg.

The Giants won the way they had to win, with pitching, stubborn hitting and above all with players who are new to the team this year to supplement their veterans on the field and in the bullpen.  They got the biggest out of the game from rookie Hunter Strickland, who struck out a fast ball hitter who often cleans up with the bases loaded, with a 100 mph fastball, with the bases loaded.

Strickland gave up the only runs the Nats got, two bases empty homers.  But the Giants veteran bullpen shut the door after that.

But the rookie of the postseason so far is second baseman Joe Panik.  A kid who looks like he stepped out of the cast of The Natural and with that perfect baseball fiction name, has done what no Giant did before in the team's long history: he's had five hits in his first two postseason games.  He had two in this one, including an RBI and a run scored.  He made some excellent plays in the field as well.

The two Brandons (Crawford and Belt) and now the two Hunters (Pence, who got a run with his running, and now Strickland) were among the standouts.

So the Giants got the game they probably had to win.  Now they can afford a split in DC, pitch Bumgarner at home, and see where they are after 3.  They go into the game tomorrow even more of an underdog than today, despite their win, knowing that Tim Hudson is capable of throwing a gem, or of getting really roughed up.  He'll have to recapture his magic and again keep it a low scoring game, the most likely scenario for a Giants win.

Meanwhile the O's have gone two games up on Detroit.  As of this moment the Dodgers and Cards are in a tense and testy opener to their series, and the Royals play the Angels later.  Update: The Cards got to Clayton Kershaw, wound up winning an improbable 9-8 pitcher's duel, upending that series with the first game.  And the Royals took down the Angels again, and again in extra innings--with a homer in the 11th.  Not a boring game in the postseason yet.

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