Thursday, July 18, 2013

While We Wait For Baseball...



Today is day two without baseball. I'm pretty sure when I was a kid the game started back up on Thursday and not Friday. What's up with this extra day off? It sucks. We want baseball.

It seems others feel that way. Yesterday, Bay Area Sports Guy posted a great blog that is worth a read. Check it out here. They are running a contest for both a pizza party and a trip to New York to see the Giants play the Mets and Yankees. If I lived in the area I'd be all over it, so go enter, that's a cool prize.

The question on the post is what Giants game would you go back in time to attend in person? I love it, just love the concept. I said any game Willie Mays played in because I never got to see him play. But it got me thinking. Since I can't go back in time to watch a game, what control do I have?

Well MLB.tv has all the games back through at least 2010, maybe even 2009. I don't know. What I do know is that I can go fire up any game I want, at anytime. So I can go back in time, I just have to do it through the magic of moving pictures.

Since 2010 was the first championship in San Francisco, I'm going to go back to the beginning of that season. There's no baseball on until Friday. So what do I watch in the meantime? Well my top 5 favorite regular season games since the start of 2010.

This is obviously skewed to the games that I most enjoyed and thought had an impact on the team. It's totally subjective. I have 5 games, and I don't think giving them an order or ranking does each individual game justice. They all stand out for different reasons.

So here's my top 5 favorite San Francisco Giants games since the start of 2010. In chronological order.

Friday April 9, 2010 - AT&T Park
Giants (5) Braves (4) 13 innings - Home Opener

This was the home opener for the 2010 season. The Giants came in rolling after sweeping Houston to start the season. The pitching looked dominant and fans were anxious to see their team. This game felt like the beginning of a long journey. 

Jonathan Sanchez started and was not effective. Tim Hudson started for the Braves and pitched a really good game. The Giants only managed 3 hits and 2 runs in his 7 innings. Even those runs came on ground outs. The Giants headed to the 9th down 4-2. 

Eugenio Velez led off the bottom of the 9th with a double off Billy Wagner. Aaron Rowand struck out swinging and Edgar Renteria stepped in. On a 1-2 pitch he hammered one deep in to the people to tie it at 4. The extra innings were not without great escapes. Brian Wilson loaded the bases in the 11th and Sergio Romo came in to bail him out. 

Finally, in the bottom of the 13th the fans got to go home happy. With one out Kris Medlen walked Juan Uribe. With Aaron Rowand at the plate next Uribe stole 2nd and scampered to 3rd after Brian McCann threw the ball in to CF. On the very next pitch Rowand hit a weak hopper that scooted far enough through the infield to score Uribe. Quite a home opener.

Sunday October 3, 2010 - AT&T Park
Giants (3) Padres (0) - Giants Clinch NL West

Again, Jonathan Sanchez started an important game on this list. Again, he wasn't brilliant. But no one remembers that. We all remember the triple that Sanchez hit off Mat Latos in the bottom of the third inning. The crowd was electric after that.

Torres struck out and with 2 outs it was up to Freddy Sanchez. If you're reading this than you know I love two out hits. Well, F. Sanchez hit a ball up the middle on a 0-1 pitch to score J. Sanchez. Aubrey Huff followed that up with a double and the Giants were ahead 2-0. This was the year of torture, and this game was no different.

The Padres had chances. They had runners in scoring position in each the 6th and 7th inning. Javy Lopez and Romo closed out the 8th with relative ease. Buster Posey hit a solo HR in the bottom of the 8th to give the Giants one more insurance run with Brian Wilson coming in for the 9th.

After a 10 pitch at bat that ended in a groundout with Luis Durango (whoever that is), Wilson got the next 2 outs on just 7 pitches. The Giants were champions of the NL West after being down 6.5 games on August 25th. It was a great moment for the team, and we all know the rest of the story.

Wednesday June 13, 2012 - AT&T Park
Giants (10) Astros (0) - Matt Cain Perfect Game

I've written extensively about this game. You can find that here. But if you've been reading this long, then you don't want to go read another long post, you just want to finish this one. So I'll still recap quickly.

This game is an all time classic. It had all those things that we all love in magical games. Jordan Schafer hit a foul ball in the 4th that may have been fair. Gregor Blanco made the catch in the 7th that is burned in all our minds. The final out of Joaquin Arias to Brandon Belt is a moment that makes us all smile.

I won't insult you any further by recapping this one more. This is a memory that Giants fans will carry for a lifetime.

Monday August 20, 2012 - Dodger Stadium
Giants (2) Dodgers (1) - Giants Take Over 1st Place, Never Look Back

The Giants entered this game 1/2 game back of the Dodgers for the division lead. This was game 1 of a 3 game series in LA. Clayton Kershaw started against Madison Bumgarner. The Giants were a week removed from the Melky Cabrera suspension and we weren't sure which direction the team was going to go. This was the classic late season showdown.

The Giants have always had trouble with Kershaw. Runs have never been easy to score against him. Bumgarner though, was coming off a complete game victory over the Nats and was locked in. This one fit the bill. Bumgarner went 8 innings, gave up 4 hits, walked nobody, and struck out 10 batters on 123 pitches. Kershaw did his part as well throwing 8 innigs but giving up 2 runs on 6 hits. He also struck out 10 and didn't walk anyone.

You have to get to the great ones early, and the Giants did just that against Kershaw. Angel Pagan led off the game with a double to the gap in LF. Marco Scutaro followed with a bunt to push him to 3rd with less than 2 outs. Bruce Bochy was not going to waste an early scoring chance against the Dodger left hander. The move paid off when Pablo Sandoval hit one deep enough to score Pagan on a sac fly. The Giants led 1-0 and Bumgarner took over.

The top of the 6th was a great example of why the Giants went on to win it all last year. After both Blanco and Bumgarner went down swinging, the top of the order took over. With 2 outs Pagan, Scutaro, and Sandoval all had singles. That's a huge win with 2 outs against a pitcher as good as Kershaw. It was also the run they would need to win the game.

The 2 run lead in the 9th inning was handed to Romo. This was a time when the closer role was still undefined on this club. Bumgarner couldn't finish, he had thrown 123 pitches already. The first 2 outs were recorded with relative ease on a strikeout and a groundout. But Hanley Ramirez drove a 1-2 slider over the LF wall. Bochy brought in Javy Lopez to face Andre Ethier. On a 1-2 pitch he grounded out to Brandon Belt at first. The Giants had a hold on first place for good.

Saturday July 13, 2013 - Petco Park
Giants (9) Padres (0) - Tim Lincecum No Hitter

This just happened. It is fresh in all of our minds. We all know the numbers by now. 9 innings, 148 pitches, 13 K's, and 27 swinging strikes. That's an amazing number. Tim Lincecum on that night pitched the most beautiful game of his life. It meant so much to Giants fans. I'm not going to apologize for my love of Tim Lincecum, and no one else should either. That love came out in full force that night and Giants fans should enjoy it. 

We're all going to remember this one. Timmy is "our guy". I wrote about it earlier this season here. There was so much to his no hitter. Pablo's play at 3rd and Hunter Pence's catch in RF were the star defensive plays. There was the element of a high pitch count that had all of us wondering if Lincecum would even get to finish the game. 

Then in the 9th inning it all came together so simply that it was elegant. The 13th and final strikeout was Chase Headly to lead off the 9th. The following two batters both flew out on lazy fly balls to Blanco in LF, and the celebration was on. It's these moments that we will remember so vividly as well. Buster's hug from behind, the team mobbing Timmy and all you can see is his head sticking out, and the hugs he got from Bochy and Dave Righetti. The celebration is just as much a memory as the game itself.

So those are my 5 to watch since 2010 began. What are yours? Feel free to share them below.

Eric Nathanson
@2outhits on Twitter 






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