Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Done, Done In

Two things about this final game of the SF Giants' season.  First, if you're a team of destiny, you get hits like the Cubs got in the 9th inning.  Derek Law induced a double play ball, except there was an overshift and nobody was at home in the usual shortstop area.  And the hit that tied the game was a slow hit ground ball that just happened to be perfectly placed, also due to the defensive alignment.

Second is that if you have a bullpen that can't hold a 3 run lead in the 9th, you probably don't deserve to get very far in the playoffs.  The Giants were that team.

Had the Giants won this game, they would have felt good about this season even if they'd lost in Chicago.  They got two magnificent starting pitching performances in the first and fourth games by Johnny Queto and today by Matt Moore, they had their surprising hitting star in Conor Gillaspe, solid hitting by Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford, with signs that the bats of Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt were coming around.  They were resilient.

But for all that, the total bullpen meltdown in this game has once again given this season a bad taste.  There are few things in baseball more dispiriting than a bullpen loss in the 9th, and the Giants went through that way too many times.  It's going to make a difference in who is on the field in 2017, probably beyond the bullpen.  

Well, at least here come the Warriors.

We Had 'Em All The Way

The Chicago Cubs came into the division series a confident team, and it showed.  They risked starting a pitcher the Giants had gotten to earlier in the season instead of their ace for the first game, and it worked.  They got to the Shark in game two, stifled the Giants and left Chicago looking for the sweep in San Francisco.

The Cubs took the lead on an improbable home run by ace pitcher Arrieta off Bumgarner.  Neither of the starters made it out of the sixth due to high pitch counts, although it was just a 3-2 game.

The Giants started giving the Cubs some doubt in the 8th.  They put two on and the Cubs tried to restore order with their flame-throwing closer Chapman.  But Conor Gillaspe, long ball hero of the wild card game, smoked a 101 fastball into triples alley and therefore got a triple (the first Chapman has given up to a left handed batter) and drove in the tying and lead runs.  The Giants got one more to go to the 9th ahead 5-3.

But of course the 9th has been the Giants' Waterloo since July, and new/old closer Romo walked the leadoff hitter and hung a slider for home run hitter Kris Bryant, who barely got it over the wall to tie the game.

There would be more drama, especially some amazing defensive plays by both teams, as both teams were rapidly running out of players.  Until the bottom of the 13th, a Brandon Crawford double and a Joe Panik triple, and the Giants won their 10th straight postseason elimination game, the longest streak in MLB history.

Now both teams come back barely 17 hours after this game concluded, to go at it again.  The Cubs may not be quite so confident, but they sure don't want to take it to a 5th game, not with Johnny Cueto on the mound.  And they know the Giants have done this before--come back to win a 5 game series after losing the first two. They'll face Matt Moore on Tuesday.