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NLCS headed back to Philly

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

I went to China Basin for the first time this postseason and I have to say I’ve never experienced anything like this before.

Everything about SOMA was orange and black. It’s all you saw. Everyone, from Starbucks employees to bartenders at Momo, was decked out in Giants gear. You could hear boos from hundreds of meters away every time a Phillies fan walked by. This was Orange October… and everyone seemed to have pennant fever. Bill Simmons tweeted yesterday that San Francisco “is totally underrated as a baseball city – you can’t have a better playoff atmosphere than that.”

Huge crowds surrounded the stadium several hours before the first pitch. Hundreds of fans who couldn’t get tickets swarmed behind the right field fence to get a sneak peak of batting practice. I’ve never seen so many jovial folks on a gloomy Thursday afternoon in October. The Public House was packed by 3PM, as loyal Giants supporters — who all surprisingly had amazing knowledge of the game — gathered for pre-game drinks and the KNBR broadcast of the Razor and Mr. T.

As the game began, the Giants dugout store turned into a Game 5 viewing party, as hundreds gathered in there to view the famous matchup. Every bar in South Beach was standing room only; many had a cover charge of up to $50. The line outside the Public House stretched all the way back to Will Call. Another few hundred stood patiently in front of McCovey Cove, trying to get a glimpse of the game from behind the right-field fence. It began to rain. Still, no one moved.

Nobody was happy about the result of the game. But the crowd didn’t look all that dejected, either. How could they be?  The Giants just took 2 of 3 at home and are still up 3-1. They have to win one game out of two in Philly — they just did this a few days ago.

— Lincecum looked amazing in the first two innings 6 up, 6 down. Was he going to make that one run stand up? Not after the massacre that was the third inning. Single, HBP, sacrifice, error, single. Did the error suck? Big time. But Lincecum made a great point after the game that the HBP and error absolutely blew, but it’s still no excuse to give up hits hereafter. Way to not make excuses.

— That Halladay bunt was foul. Totally foul. But it wasn’t called foul — which was actually a break for the Giants. It set up a double play, pitcher to third to first. But Sandoval couldn’t get back to the bag. I don’t know what defense the Giants were playing there, but there’s no excuse for Pablo not to get back to the bag. Pablo Sandoval is only 24 years old, and he’s 5’11”. The Giants say he weight 245 pounds. The guy hit .345 in his rookie season and .330 last year. He has the potential to be something great, but he can’t continue to play at this level as he ages while at 250 and counting. Guys like Zambrano say weight doesn’t matter, continually citing the likes of Mo Vaughn, Andres Galarraga, and Cecil Fielder. I realize this is become a long rant of a bullet, but none of those players are in the Hall of Fame. Pablo can become something special — but he needs to get in shape. Sure, he is nimble. And he’s quick. But he’s nimble and quick, for his size. A third baseman needs to turn that play.

— For Lincecum to last 7 innings after that horrific third inning was tremendous. He settled down to allow just two more runners in four innings. He kept the Giants in the game the rest of the way. Gutsy performance.

— Ross knows better than to make the final out of an inning at third. Uribe probably would have been walked to get to Lincecum. Regardless, make that happen. Make Halladay work. Let Torres lead off the next inning. Horrible play after a huge double.

These Giants are like watching a toddler learn how to walk. They falter, they struggle, but they eventually pull it off. They’re better at rising up than staying up. So nothing was unexpected today. They don’t do anything easily, but that’s fine. We’ve accepted that and have learned to trust them.

Many would say that Philly has the momentum now because the Giants had a chance to win it at home but didn’t. They created opportunities but couldn’t capitalize. This is the beginning of failure. I think that’s a load of horse shit. Philly still has to win two in a row. Sure, Halladay didn’t have his best stuff, but he pitched around it — that’s what aces do. “Momentum” is the most abused word in sports, along with “swagger.” If momentum was lost so easily, the Giants wouldn’t have won anywhere near 92 games. In 2002, I knew the Giants would lose Game 7 after losing Game 6. This is a different ballclub; I’d even have hope for them to come back to win in a situation like that. (We pray we never face such a situation ever again.)

This is a team that could have closed out the NL West in the first game of the series against the Padres. But they didn’t. And just to toy with you, they didn’t do it on Saturday, either. They got it done on the last day of the season. It’s what they do. Don’t be surprised if this goes to the bottom of the ninth in Game 7, with the tying run at third and the winning run at second. It’s what they do. Brian Wilson “torturing” you in the ninth is a microcosm of what this team has tone all season long.

Today was kind of like that Friday earlier this month. Now the Giants just need to close it out on either Saturday or Sunday, win one of three games. I understand the Phillies led the majors with 15 three-game winning streaks this season. But the Giants had 92 one-game winning streaks.

I like our chances.



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