Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dynasty

AP Photo

The San Francisco Giants are 2014 World Series champions. It's their 3rd title in 5 years.

I just had to write that before anything else was on the page. This post is my first thoughts now that I have finally realized I'm awake.

I've never been more proud to be a Giants fan. There was something different this time. After 2010 I felt sweet relief as they finally won one. In 2012, it was thrilling, but it was also Game 4. That team was rolling after beating the elimination odds. There was no stopping that freight train. Plus I was a blubbering mess because that was the year my father passed.

But 2014 is different. It's all about love, pride, and the results that come from hard work and a commitment to the right people.

A Dynasty has been built by CEO Larry Baer, Senior VP &GM Brian Sabean, and soon to be Hall of Fame manager Bruce Bochy.


_________________________________________________________


Madison Bumgarner

He's not made of the same stuff as the rest of us. His DNA is different. He's a throwback that gets results in the middle of a specialized age. When Alcides Escobar gave away an out, he allowed Bumgarner to get in to his rhythm and create World Series history.

It was the work of a man who would strap a plow to his back and go out in the fields if that's what needed to be done.

Madison Bumgarner.

I haven't done much reading yet. I really have just tried to let it all sink in. Of course I celebrated and watched interviews all night. It was just too surreal for me to focus and read anything. So far today I have read 2 pieces and I encourage you to check them out as well.

Here's Grant Brisbee on McCovey Chronicles after Game 7 ended. Like all of his stuff it is fantastic but this one was special. To think he got it up so quickly after the game is amazing. I couldn't say more than "blibbity gibbity goo" after the game ended.

Loved the strike zone shots that he showed. Brilliant idea, Bumgarner never gave in and it showed.

The other piece I managed to read was from Michael Powell of the New York Times. I'm so glad he went to North Carolina. As someone that had a strong connection with his father through baseball, that was a great story to read. I totally understand Kevin Bumgarner not wanting the company for Game 7. I couldn't imagine how nervous, yet faithful he must have felt.

Make sure you read the end. The text message that Kevin Bumgarner sent his son had me in tears.

_________________________________________________________


I was super nervous leading up to that Game 7. I wrote about it here and did not hide how freaked out a game 7 made me feel. Toss in the fact that the Giants had never won a World Series Game 7 and I was bouncing off the walls. That's what I am still used to. It's so hard to shake as a fan. For so many years the Giants would come up short and it became the norm. I found out before Game 7 that there's a little part of me that still holds on to that.

Then I read this Facebook post from Giants 3rd base coach Tim Flannery on his Lunatic Fringe page. I saw it about 20 minutes before first pitch and it snapped me right in to game mode. Love harder and celebrate everything.

From there on out my anxiety was gone and I was just trying to put positive things out there. This team doesn't just crawl inside your heart, they become a part of your soul.





_________________________________________________________


- Joe Panik was just amazing in the 3rd inning. That play, just holy wow. Off the bat I was sure it was going to be 1st & 3rd. Then he somehow stopped it AND got it to Brandon Crawford in time for a double play. 

- The catch Juan Perez made on Nori Aoki's fly ball down the left field line cannot be overlooked. That was a perfect confluence of scouting, coaching, and talent.

- Fox showed a moment right before the game in which Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval were huddled together talking. I don't know about you but I was reassured when I saw that. Like they knew they had to be the soul of this team out there in Game 7. Then they did just that. Both were in the middle of all the action and Sandoval scored the clinching run. Plus, that wink. (h/t @carmenkiew)

- Michael Morse, thank you.

- I wrote about Bruce Bochy as a Hall of Fame manager over on Hall of Very Good before the World Series started. I'm certain that will be reworked and posted here now that the Giants have won 3 titles in 5 years.

I'll have much more in the next week or so as I find time to write. There's so many things that happened over the last day, week, month. I can't wait to keep writing and talking about all of them. So look forward to much more and thank you so much for reading again.

I also encourage you to head on over to the SFGiants Reddit page. The people there find some great stuff and it's so much fun to share the experience. I tip my cap to those redditors that keep coming over. Thank you.

The Giants are the Champs again and as my buddy Wade Black (@EveryFifthDay) tweeted to me last night, "Flags fly forever".

They sure do. 

Eric Nathanson
@2outhits on Twitter



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Game 7: Are you ready?



Game 7.

I hate those words.

Well, I hate those words right now. If it was any other team and not the San Francisco Giants, I would be over the moon for a World Series Game 7.

It's not that the Giants can't win Game 7. They absolutely can. It's just all the angst, pressure, anxiety, and general barfiness are ratcheted up a notch.

I was a mess in the time leading up to the Wild Card game. Winner-take-all games do not sit well with me. It doesn't matter who the better team is, anything can happen.

It's not like knowing ahead of time that things would be OK on days Madison Bumgarner started.

Anything can happen.

The Giants are a confident bunch. We already knew that. They have experience and from everything they said after Game 6 they are not worried. Here's a couple quotes from Alex Pavlovic's game story for the San Jose Mercury News. First from manager Bruce Bochy the second from Jake Peavy.

"They're going against the odds -- we've done that before," Bochy said. "You go back to 2012 and look at this postseason. I think a lot of people had us getting beat in the first and second round. This club is so resilient. They're so tough. They'll put this behind them."
 "Listen, this bunch doesn't care," Peavy said. "We'll show up tomorrow and find any which way to win."

That's all well and good now. But it's Game 7 and I think you know where I am going with this.

Anything can happen.

I mentioned the Wild Card coinflip game earlier. Here we are again, but now it's the same, but totally different. Kinda like this is the Pittsburgh game on steroids. This time they are one win away from taking down the whole damn thing, not just trying to get a seat at the table.

I didn't think the Giants would be here. You may have thought that way too. So there's a sense that they are playing with house money and that everything is gravy. Fuck that noise, they made it this far and a championship has always been the goal.

I may reflect back if they lose and appreciate it, but right now all I want is to see them hoist the trophy.

So go do whatever it is you need to do to try and calm the nerves before 5:07 PT tomorrow night. There are plenty of us out here doing our thing too. I'll be wearing a hole in my carpet and drinking too much coffee until then.

Boy, I sure picked a bad day to quit drinking.

Eric Nathanson
@2outhits on Twitter


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Game 7: Tim Hudson or Madison Bumgarner?

Edit: I guess we have the answer.




The Giants were just drubbed in Kansas City 10-0 in Game 6 of the World Seires. I've seen some talk crop up on Twitter on the question of how many innings Bumgarner is available for tomorrow night.

It's a good question that brings about another question. If Bumgarner can go say 4 or 5 innings, should he just start the game?

I'm so glad I don't have to make the decision.

On the one hand if Bumgarner starts the game he gives the Giants a chance to take an early lead against Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie. On the other hand, the prospect of Bumgarner looming in the bullpen can hang over the Royals hitters much like "HDH" is supposed to hang over Giants hitters.

Tim Hudson did a nice job in Game 3 as the starter and that's who I would start. Much like tonight, Bruce Bochy will not hesitate to yank a pitcher if needed. We'll see how this plays out after tonight's game, but it's an interesting question to ponder.

Of course none of it means a thing if the Giants don't score runs.

What do you think? Do you want to see Bumgarner start a Game 7, or would you rather he come in to diffuse a possible bad situation? Feel free to comment below with your thoughts!

Eric Nathanson
@2outhits

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Five keys to another SF Giants World Series victory



It's down to a race to four wins as the San Francisco Giants face the Kansas City Royals in this year's World Series. It's the Giants 3rd trip in the last 5 years while the Royals haven't been since 1985. I remember that Royals team only because the first ever issue of Sports Illustrated I got in the mail was after they won it all.

The Royals have won 8 straight games this postseason to win the AL flag while the Giants have gone 8-2, only losing once in each round on their way to the NL flag. Both teams were in the Wild Card game this season. Kansas City came back at home against the A's and the Giants shutout the Pirates on the road. This is the second all Wild Card World Series. The Giants lost the first back in 2002 to the Angels but that's ancient history now.

Thanks to the stupid rule about the All-Star game winner getting home-field the Giants will start this series on the road in Kansas City Tuesday night. To be fair though, the Royals had one more win than the Giants so in my perfect world they would have home-field advantage anyway. Speaking of win totals.



I discovered that little nugget while researching for the NLCS. It's because of this, that many are calling this a "boring" World Series matchup and the "worst World Series ever". If you're truly a baseball fan, and I'm guessing you are since you're reading this, this is a great matchup for a Fall Classic.

Here's my 5 keys to the Giants bringing another trophy back home to San Francisco.

Madison Bumgarner

He's started 4 of the Giants first 10 playoff games and will start Game 1 of this series in Kansas City. It's another opportunity for the Giants to bring their "horse" out to try to steal home-field advantage. Bumgarner has thrown 16.2-straight scoreless innings on the road in this year's playoffs. It was his dominating stuff in Game 1 of the NLCS that shifted the favor towards the Giants.

If he can keep the speedsters off the bases, Bumgarner should have a shot at grabbing the first game in Kansas City. Who knows? If he wins that game the NLCS MVP may give himself another chance to close out a series in the 5th game.

Buster Posey

Not for the reasons you're thinking. It's the aforementioned KC running game that he needs to neutralize. We saw what the Royals can do against the A's when given the freedom to run. Posey has to be a shut down force in that area. He can do that too with his arm and his ability to guide Giants pitchers.

Also who am I kidding? Posey's bat needs to come through as well. Although if he hits another 7 singles and the Giants win the series in 5 games, I'd be good with that too.

Middle of the Order

I know I said I'd be OK with Posey hitting singles and the Giants winning, but that's not what they need to have happen. The middle of the lineup has to start cranking it up. As a team the Giants have 17 extra base hits in 10 games. That's not a high powered offense.

Hunter Pence (3 doubles), Brandon Belt (1 HR), and Pablo Sandoval (4 doubles) have gotten some key hits, but also left plenty of runners stranded. If any one of those 3 guys gets it going it should be a big boost to the middle of the lineup. Travis Ishikawa (2 doubles, ONE REALLY BIG HR) is not going to always do the heavy lifting.

Infield Defense

It's not an area that I think the Giants need to improve, just an area that could use some attention this series. Fielders need to Make the plays that are given to them. We saw in the last series how important it is just to make the routine play during a high stress situation. The Royals like to run and bunt. There's no need for any infielder to try to make the extra play if an out is there. Take the out and work on the next guy.

According to ESPN Stats & Info the Giants have had the best infield defense in this year's playoffs. Continuing that trend will keep rallys at a minimum and allow pitchers to get out of jams.

Bruce Bochy

He's a key to any playoff series the Giants are playing. Once again it will be up to his magic touch to guide this team home. It doesn't even seem fair to Ned Yost that he has to face Bochy in his first World Series. But those are the breaks and the Giants have one of the best managers of all time.

It's hard to think that Bochy won't continue to press the right buttons. He will have a huge impact on this series with both his in-game moves and lineup choices. I mean it's worked until now, so why question it?


It's "Destiny" vs "Dynasty" or as I like to call it "Young & Dumb" vs "Been there, done that". The Giants are looking like a modern dynasty and it's up to the newcomer Royals to spoil the party. As usual I will be hanging on every pitch but hope that I can stop and smell the roses along the way. After all, what good would a 3rd title be if it's not fun along the way?

Giants will win in 5 games and finally get to celebbrate at home.

@2outhits on Twitter




Seeing SF Giants go to World Series will never get old

David J. Phillip, AP

Here are my thoughts about the National League champion Giants. It's a couple days late because I haven't been feeling too well. I don't get sick often so the timing was not ideal. I jotted down some things in my notebook as I lay curled on the couch and here's what rattled around my head.

What a sight it was to see Travis Ishikawa deliver the San Francisco Giants another National League pennant. To read what he's been through and now he'll be remembered forever. I had no idea he was thinking of retiring during the middle of the season. If it was reported, I totally missed it.

As long as they play Major League Baseball the name Travis Ishikawa will be remembered for sending his team to a World Series with a game-ending home run. Travis Ishikawa. Still blows my mind.

They screwed up the MVP choice. That's not to say that Madison Bumgarner wasn't deserving, he was a worthy choice, but Ishikawa had a line on it too even before the home run. That's on whoever runs the vote for MLB. Henry Schulman tweeted that votes were cast even before the game was over.


It's time to change that. They take 15 minutes to set the stage up. How hard would it be to give the writers some sort of window after the game ends to get their vote in? Is 5 minutes too short? 10 minutes maybe? It's an electronic day and age so there has to be a way to tabulate votes in a quick fashion. Something, anything.

That being said, Bumgarner was an absolute beast the other night. After allowing the second of two solo home runs in the top of the 4th inning he retired the next 13 straight Cardinals hitters. Amazingly only 3 of those were K's and 2 of those were pitcher Adam Wainwright. It just shows how much smarter of a pitcher Bumgarner has become.

Giving his team a chance to win has become what Bumagarner does. It's great to see him getting the national recognition now. He's in line to start Game 1 of the World Series in Kansas City. I'm glad he gets the reward of another Game 1. It will be Bumgarner's 5th start in the Giants 11th postseason game. Also in his favor is a streak of 26.2 straight scoreless innings on the road in the postseason. That includes 16.2 during this year's run.

Something I noticed while watching all the fun after the Giants clinched.



It's exactly what you want to hear from your players no matter which team you're rooting for. It's why I'm proud to be a Giants fan, and of this team in particular.

I did not have Joe Panik in the home run pool. Neither did you. If you missed it, Dave Tobener had a great story on West Coast Bias about that home run. Also, here's the CliffsNotes version.





That's a professional approach from a rookie. I think Joe Panik is going to be around for a while.

I have a ton to say about Bruce Bochy but I'm going to save it for a future piece. My favorite move from Game 5 was when he went out to get Santiago Casilla in the 9th inning. The man is not afraid.

I'll never take for granted a trip to the World Series. It's just stunning the way this team, this organization, conducts itself. I tip my cap to Brian Sabean for yet another National League flag.

I'll have a World Seires preview up Monday so I hope you'll be back to check that out. Thanks again for reading!

@2outhits on Twitter


Monday, October 13, 2014

Can Giants rebound from tough loss? Yes!

 Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants lost Game 2 of the NLCS 5-4 to the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday night. It was an epic, heart-stopping, roller coaster of a ride that ended with a thud for Giants fans.

All of the decisions made by Bruce Bochy have been covered locally and nationally by the writers. We've all heard about the Cards and their amazing home runs after ranking last in the NL. The narrative of a "gritty" Giants team owning October baseball has been written, and rewritten again.

So what happens now? Where does the 2014 NLCS turn as it heads to San Francisco for 3 games at AT&T Park?

For starters, the strained left oblique of Yadier Molina is a huge blow to the Cardinals. Before the NLCS started John Shea of The San Francisco Chronicle wrote about how Molina and Buster Posey are the backbones of their respective teams. These quotes from Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter jumped out at me.
You can’t say enough about what he means to this team, from a defensive standpoint, leadership standpoint and obviously what he does at the plate. He’s the backbone of this clubhouse. He’s hard to replace
I’m sure everybody in the room would feel their role is irreplaceable, but he might be the one guy that truly hits home with. You lose him, the whole dynamic of this team changes. His importance is huge. He’s our leader.
It appears that Molina is not being shut down for the remainder of the series. During today's workout Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he thinks Molina can still contribute. I get what he's trying to say, but if Molina can't swing a bat then what help can he really be?




It's not just the bat. Molina guides the Cardinals pitching staff as an extension of Matheny. I don't think Tony Cruz or (gasp!) A.J, Pierzynski is going to be able to fill that role. Managing the bullpen is tough as it is, not having Molina to guide them is going to make it tougher on the Cards. It's unfortunate for the game that Yadier Molina got hurt, but the Giants need to take advantage while they can.

Now Molina being hurt may not swing an entire series. There's still plenty that needs to be done by the Giants to advance.

There are too many wasted opportunities being left on the bases by the Giants. Through 2 games the Giants are 5-for-20 (.250) with runners in scoring position. It looks a lot better than it is because the Giants are not getting any extra base hits to drive in runs. They have stranded 19 runners on the bases through the first 2 games.

Generally the Giants are a station to station baseball team. If no one is driving the ball, they are limited to singles. Because of this, the bases get clogged up and the Giants end up stranding the runners. A home run, or even a double, would go a long way towards igniting the Giants offense.

Compare that to the Cards who are only 1-for-8 with RISP with 11 runners left on base so far in the NLCS. Four of the 5 runs scored by the Cards have been via the solo home run. The bullpen has limited the damage, but there's work to be done. That leads me right in to the last adjustment that really needs to be made by the Giants.

FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING THAT IS GOOD ON THIS EARTH DO NOT LET HUNTER STRICKLAND FACE ANOTHER LEFTY!!!!!

Bruce Bochy needs to make some adjustments with the bullpen. Losing Sunday night's game in the manner they did will cause the Giants staff to reevaluate how certain relievers are used. The point about Strickland is driven home. Big league hitters can hit fastballs and he's not fooling anybody. The best bet is to use Strickland for 1 batter when a strikeout is absolutely needed. Against a righty of course.

I had no problem with Bochy's use of Jeremy Affeldt for 2 innings, I thought that was one of his best moves this weekend as Affeldt shut down the Cards. It was his use of Javier Lopez and Jean Machi that was concerning. Lopez warmed up multiple times, only to be brought in after a lefty had homered off Machi. I think Bochy got caught trying to squeeze a little too much out of his guys.

It's as if all of the bullpen took their lumps in one game and now can move past it. That was the first time since Game 2 of the 2010 NLDS that the Giants bullpen blew a postseason game. That's astonishing, and a testament to 2 world championships. Now it's time for Bochy to move the pieces around for maximum strength.

I will note here quickly that I was also on board with Sergio Romo pitching the 9th. He has been better than expected over the last month or so. Romo finished the season giving up just 2 runs over his last 19.1 innings pitched. Entering Sunday night's fatal 9th inning Romo had gone his last 11 postseason outings without allowing a run.

So will the Giants make the proper adjustments they need and win the series? I say yes. I'm standing by my prediction of the Giants winning in 6 games from my NLCS preview. For once the Giants have managed to handle a streak of bad games at the plate and still come out with some victories. If we suddenly see the offense that appears during hot streaks, the Giants are going to be a tough team to stop.

I joined the guys over at TortureCast again to talk about the frst 2 games of the NLCS. It was a full house and I found out I'm not the only one that's confident in this team. Click the link and have a listen.

TortureCast Episode 74: NLCS Tied 1-1

Eric Nathanson
@2outhits on Twitter

Friday, October 10, 2014

#ChampionBlood vs #CardinalsDevilMagic

EZRA SHAW - GETTY IMAGES
I wanted the Dodgers.

After a season of watching baseball and interacting with fans of both teams, I wanted a Giants-Dodgers NLCS in the worst way. To me, it would have been the ultimate. No more "he said, she said" about which team is better. It could finally be settled on the field like 1951 and 1962 with the winner advancing to the World Series, It would have been a pinnacle for a rivalry that dates back to its roots in New York City.

The only problem with my dream hypothetical is that the Dodgers failed to deliver. The Cardinals beat them 3-1 in the NLDS and the Giants get to face another old foe. It doesn't quite have the sizzle that Giant-Dodgers would have had, but the match up just oozes what October baseball is all about.

The Giants are in their 3rd NLCS in 5 years. The Cardinals are in their 4th straight. So yes, the rest of America might be getting tired of these two teams. Who cares? We're Giants fans and this is a blast. Let everybody get excited about the ALCS instead. These two teams will just keep going about their business of playing regular October games.

The Giants and Cardinals have done this dance 3 times before. Back in 1987 the Cardinals won the NLCS in 7 games despite Jeffery Leonard's MVP performance.  In 2002 the Giants got some revenge when Kenny Lofton's base hit sent them to the World Series. Just 2 years ago the Giants crawled back from the dead to rip of 3 straight wins to take the NL crown on their way to World Series victory #2 of the Brian Sabean/Bruce Bochy era.

We're going to hear all about "The Cardinal Way" and see lots of #CardinalsDevilMagic tweets as this NLCS rolls on. That's fine. The Giants are comfortable with the spotlight shining somewhere else as they go about the business of winning. It's the team with quiet confidence, "Champion Blood" to steal a phrase  if you will, that should come out on top in the end. Seriously, let's keep this whole #ChampionBlood thing trending through the series.

As a totally biased Giants fan I am obviously picking them to win this series. I do consider myself objective when I look at teams, but let's face it, I'm probably not. That being said, I'm picking the Giants to beat the Cardinals in 6 games and advance to their 3rd World Series in 5 years. Here's my 3 reasons the Giants move on.

Buster Posey

The player that has been the backbone to 2 previous championship teams is one Gerald Dempsey Posey. He's not only controlled the pitching staff, but he's come through with the bat as well. We've seen him hit a grand slam in a winner-take-all game and also lace a single to the outfield to keep a 9th inning rally going.

Posey has 9 hits in the postseason through 5 games, all singles. He's hit safely in every single game so far in the 2014 playoffs. That gives Posey a 6-game hitting streak heading in to the NLCS. Instead of rally moving singles, Buster needs to start banging out some extra base hits for the Giants to win. Yes it's October and legs are tired, but I think Buster has enough of it in him to make a difference in 1, maybe 2, games in this series. If guys like Joe Panik can get on base for Posey, the Giants should be fine.

The Bullpen

This probably would have been the space for me to write about the starting pitching in years past. Not this time around. Bumgarner, Peavy, Hudson, and Vogelsong have all pitched well in this year's playoffs, but it's the bullpen that will make the difference. Sergio Romo seems to be comfortable being the set-up guy ahead of Santiago Casilla. Javier Lopez has been utilized by Bruce Bochy perfectly, and who can forget Yusmeiro Petit's NLDS Game 2 heroics?

Giants pen: 19.1 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4HR, 6 BB, 18 K, .136 opp BA, 0.78 WHIP

The 4 home runs stand out, if only because they were all solo shots. No other runs have been scored against Giants relievers this postseason. The 18 K's in 19.1 IP is eye popping as well. The 6 walks seems like a lot too, but 3 of them were issued during Pettit's 6 inning stint, and Casilla's one walk was pitching around Bryce Harper.

Bruce Bochy knows how to put his bullpen in the best position to succeed. It's a strength of his and also pitching coach Dave Righetti. Speaking of the manager...

Bruce Bochy

Just yesterday Jonah Keri of Grantland called Bruce Bochy "one of the best managers in baseball history". I totally agree with this statement and it's not just because I'm fat & happy after 2 titles the last few years. We've seen time and again how Bochy is not just a manager of players, but a manager of men. Yes, his in-game tactical skill is excellent, but it's also knowing how to treat each guy that makes him a master.

After all, who do you think first uttered a reference to "champion blood"?

Just a reminder, I joined the guys over at TortureCast.com for a Giants podcast. We look back at last round and ahead to the Cards. You can listen by clicking here: TORTURECAST EPISODE 73: NLCS!

Eric Nathanson
@2outhits on Twitter

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The one with SF Giants baseball talk

ALEX BRANDON- AP

As you may have heard, seen, or noticed, the San Francisco Giants beat the Washington Nationals the other day to advance to the National League Championship Series. For the 3rd time in 5 years the Giants are playing for the NL pennant. Once again they will be matched up against the St. Louis Cardinals for the right to play in the World Series.

Last night I joined the Willie Dills and Chad King of the TortureCast podcast (link below) to talk Giants playoff baseball. I've been on the show a few times in the past and was happy to talk more about this year's Giants team.

We wrapped up the NLDS against Washington, primarily breaking down where the series turned and who stood out for the Giants. The antics of Bryce Harper and his matchup with Hunter Strickland were discussed along with other key decisions made by both managers.

Of course there's lots of well deserved love tossed Bruce Bochy's way as we talked about how he always puts his players in a position to succeed. All signs point to Michael Morse being active for the NLCS so we talk about what role he and Tim Lincecum will have going forward.

So click the link below and head on over to TorureCast to tune in. They have tons of ways to download it too. I'd embed it, but I'm not that savvy. 

TortureCast Episode 73: NLCS!

-Eric Nathanson
@2outhits on Twitter

Monday, October 6, 2014

NLDS Game 3: Finally back home, can Giants close out the Nats?

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Have you started to breathe normally again? Rested those tired bones and weary eyes after 18 innings of intense, pressure packed baseball the other night? 

Thankfully, the Giants are back home in San Francisco. I don't know about you, but I did not mind a day off yesterday after the longest game in postseason history. It takes a while to soak in a game like that. It's going to go down as one of the greatest games the Giants have ever played. Like all the way back to New York type game.

Generally speaking, I don't like extra inning games. The longer it goes, the more guys swing for the fences. Then, when guys do get on, we know a bunt is next and then holding your breath for a base hit. The strategy seems to lessen. But the longer I peeled away at this one I saw the brilliance of Bruce Bochy yet again. 

If a young manager wants to learn how to use a bullpen in a high pressure game, they need to watch all of this one. From using Sergio Romo in the 9th, to the decision to ride Yusmeiro Petit for 6 innings, every move he made was the right one. It was a managing clinic put on by a future Hall of Fame manager that has 2 World Series rings.

The Giants are home with a 2-0 lead in the NLDS against the Nats and Madison Bumgarner set to take the hill. He's the clear ace of the staff, as he showed all season and during the Wild Card game. The players and fans are all happy to see this chance to close out the series. Yes, we all know a team can come back from 0-2, so I don't think anyone has chalked it up as a win quite yet.

Before I dive in to some notes about what we may see on the shores of McCovey Cove today, the @SFGiants Twitter account has us all covered so we can all watch the game this afternoon.




That was nice of them wasn't it? I'm pretty sure a lot of the Bay Area will be at a standstill as of 2:07 PT.

It's a rematch twice over this afternoon between starting pitchers. Doug Fister and Madison Bumgarner faced each other earlier this season, and also during the 2012 World Series when Fister was with the Tigers. But let's be honest, none of that really matters anymore. Bumgarner is pitching like he's possessed by Sandy Koufax right now and Fister has been here before and won't be awed by the big stage.

Here's the box scores of those games from Baseball Reference, the Nats won earlier this season and we all know what happened in 2012 against Detroit.

June 10, 2014     2012 World Series Game 2

There's not much history betweem Bumgarner and the Nats. The good news is Jayson Werth is only 2-for-11 against Bumgarner with 2 K's. Anthony Rendon, the guy with 4 hits and then no hits on Saturday, is 3-for-5 lifetime against Bumgarner. The only HR any of the Nats have hit against him came off the bat of Bryce Harper. Overall Harper is 3-for-9 against Bum. After that shutout in the Wild Card game Bumgarner now has 16-straight scoreless innings pitched in the postseason.



Not including the playoffs, no Giants batter has faced Fister more than 6 times. Amazingly, Joe Panik is 3-for-3 against Fister and hit his only career HR against him in Washington back on August 22nd. That day the Giants managed 4 runs in 7 innings against Fister. Three of the runs were on Panik's HR and the other was a solo shot from Buster Posey.

Speaking of Posey, he's 6-for-15 so far in this year's playoffs. He's hit safely in each game and all 6 hits have been singles. I'm hoping he connects for something solid this afternoon and at least drives one to a gap. 

You may have heard that Pablo Sandoval is on a postseason hitting streak. It's up to 13 games and is now 2 short of Marquis Girssom's NL record 15-game streak. Sandoval's streak is the longest in franchise history. He only managed 1 hit in 7 at-bats during that epic game on Saturday but he made it count by driving in Panik.

Once again Gregor Blanco is leading off. It's really quite something that the Giants have won without any real contribution from Blanco. If the Giants get past the Nats I have to wonder if Bochy changes the lineup. Blanco's had 1 hit in the 3 games the Giants have played. Yikes.

Things look pretty good for the Giants to end this series today. Joe Panik is doing things at the top and the 3-7 hitters have all contributed. If Madison Bumgarner does his job then the Giants will be celebrating. If not, well there's more baseball to be played. The Giants get 3 cracks at this, let's hope they end it today.

Eric Nathanson

@2outhits on Twitter



Sunday, October 5, 2014

Final out of every game during Giants 10-game postseason winning streak in GIF form

I was just sitting here contemplating the great and wonderful mysteries of life while surfing Twitter and came across this gem of a tweet. 





Now, I like GIFs as much as the next guy, and the Giants happen to be my favortie team, so I went ahead and followed @MLBGIFs. To make things nice and tidy, I've compiled all 10 that were shared. 

So here it is, every final out during the San Francisco Giants NL record 10-game postseason winning streak.

2012 NLCS Game 5: Giants 5 Cardinals 0 - #RallyZito starts something special





2012 NLCS Game 6: Giants 6 Cardinals 1 - Vogey guts out a great performance





2012 NLCS Game 7: Giants 9 Cardinals 0 - Pence's bat, Scutaroing and all the tears





2012 World Series Game 1: Giants 8 Tigers 3 - Panda joins Reggie, Pujols, and the Babe





2012 World Seires Game 2: Giants 2 Tigers 0 - The relay throw to get Prince Fielder





2012 World Series Game 3: Giants 2 Tigers 0 - Another shutout as Crawford steps up





2012 World Series Game 4: Giants 4 Tigers 3 - Buster's HR, Theriot scoring, another title





2014 Wild Card Game: Giants 8 Pirates 0 - Crawford's Grand Slam, Bumgarner being Bumgarner





2014 NLDS Game 1: Giants 3 Nationals 2 - Jake Peavy and Joe Panik deliver





2014 NLDS Game 2: Giants 2 Nationals 1 - A record 18 innings and a Belt blast





Game 3 is Monday and Madison Bumgarner is on the hill. I can't think of a better position to be in to extend the streak. Cross your fingers!

Eric Nathanson

@2outhits on Twitter

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Can Tim Hudson keep it rolling?

Credit: Charles LeClaire- USA Today


Yesterday afternoon was the start of this year's playoffs and the San Francisco Giants picked up right where they left off at the end of 2012. They beat the Nationals 3-2 in Washington to open up a 1-0 lead in the best-of-5 NLDS.

Everyone has shared it, I might as well too. This was the 9th straight postseason win for the Giants dating back to the 2012 NLCS. That's the longest streak ever in National League history, and 3 shy of the Major League record of 12-straight wins, done twice by the Yankees.

The Giants haven't lost since the epic #RallyZito movement on Twitter happened during the 2012 playoffs. Seriously. It's been that long. Game 4 of the 2012 NLCS was the last time this franchise lost a playoff game. Of the 9-straight wins, 4 have been when facing elimination.

If you're like me, Bruce Bochy is all that popped in to your head during that last paragraph. The Giants are an astounding 24-9 in the playoffs under Bochy. This is the 7th playoff series for Bochy and the Giants, he has won ALL of the previous 6. 

Game 1 was another one of those times we got to watch the master in action. Bochy pulled on every right string as he guided the Giants to the victory. But now is not the time to wax poetic about our favorite manager. I'll praise his Hall of Fame resume another time.

In case you didn't notice, Pablo Sandoval now has a 12-game postseason hitting streak. That's now the Giants franchise record. It was previously held by Marco Scutaro (you may have heard of him) and Irish Meusel. The MLB record is 17-straight games with a hit and that's shared by 3 guys; Hank Bauer, Manny Ramirez, and some guy named Derek Jeter that you've probably heard about lately.

Jake Peavy and his pitching set he tone for the Giants and that's where they have been dominant during this 9-game postseason winning streak. Starting pitchers have allowed only 5 earned runs in 60.1 innings pitched during this time and opponents are batting .182 against them.

The whole staff is in on the act. The Giants haven't allowed more than 3 runs during any of the 9 straight wins. They have outscored their opponents 47-9 and five of the nine wins by the Giants were shutouts.  The staff ERA is 0.99 during the streak and haven't allowed more that 3 runs in any game.

The question now becomes, can Tim Hudson keep it rolling? He was shaky towards the end of the regular season as he dealt with a bum hip and it has been concerning. He's not a young man as evidenced by the fact that he hasn't won a postseason start since the 2001 ALDS with the A's. Game 2 will be his 10th career postseason start. 

There's good news with the opponent being the Nats. Hudson seems to own them. Lifetime he's 18-5 (31 starts) with a 2.35 ERA in 210.1 IP against Washington. No one that has had more than 15 at bats against him has a batting average higher than .288. Familiarity might bring out the best in him.

I'm going to shift gears and wrap it up. I've been toying with the idea of doing a podcast before or after some of these games. The feedback I've gotten on the idea is positive. I'm shooting for Monday to get it going. I was going to start today but I've got a date with the Super Twins to watch Giants baseball together.

Eric Nathanson
@2outhits on Twitter




Thursday, October 2, 2014

Quick thoughts on a Thursday before MLB Playoffs get started

Finally those coin-flip games are over and we can all start looking at a full series. Madison Bumgarner was dominant last night while beating the Pirates 8-0, and it was a sigh of releif in this wild 2014 season. The Giants once again looked like a dominant lineup that could get contributions from anywhere. 

It's almost as the emergence of Joe Panik has made the sting of losing Angel Pagan easier to bear. In his postseason debut the rookie Panik went 3-for-5. He didn't score a run but was right there in the middle of late inning rallys just keeping the line moving.

What can I say about Brandon Belt? That guy has the best plate discipline of any Giants hitter since Barry Bonds. His walk in the 4th inning right before Brandon Crawford's grand slam might have been the at bat of the game. How he took that 2-2 pitch I'll never know.

You just have to feel good for Crawford. After a season in which he struggled at both the plate and in the field, to have a moment like this must be so redeeming for him. He had a great September driving in 16 runs and it looks like it's rolling over to October.

Hunter Pence may not have broken out of his slump but there were some encouraging signs. Specifically his single in the top of the 4th inning to follow Pablo Sandoval's lead off single. In the 4 plate appearances that Pence put the ball in play he saw 5 pitches total, when he walked to lead off the 6th inning he saw 6 pitches. Still, 11 pitches in 5 at bats is not ideal. I really hope Pence can find it in the NLDS.

The postseason versions of Sandoval and Buster Posey showed up again against the Pirates. Pablo did his damage early while Posey got his swing going late. Early on you could see Posey's frustrations with hitting fly balls that were easily caught. He made an adjustment and was able to help the team add to the lead and put it away.

Personally, I hate the Wild Card game and all it's funkiness. We saw two nights ago in the AL version how anything can happen. Now that this is over with it's time to look ahead to a playoff series. Thankfully, the Giants coin came up Bumgarner last night.

I'm going to dive deeper in to the Giants-Nats series later tonight or tomorrow before Game 1. These were just some quick thoughts before I head out for the day. With a nod to my buddy @chaseparker22 below are my picks for these playoffs split in to "head" and :heart" categories.

The Giants are in this year's dance, do you really expect me to be fully objective?

Head
NLDS: Nats over Giants, Dodgers over Cardinals
ALDS: Orioles over Tigers, Angels over Royals
NLCSDodgers over Nats
ALCS: Angels over Orioles
WS: Dodgers over Angels (I'm so sorry. I picked Dodgers back in April on the Atf Podcast)

Heart
NLDS: Giants over Nats, Dodgers over Cardinals
ALDS: Orioles over Tigers, Royals over Angels
NLCS: Giants over Dodgers (How much fun would this be?)
ALCS: Orioles over Royals (All orange and black, plus I want to see Giants hit in Baltimore)
WS: Giants over Orioles (Posey gets first WS MVP)

That's all I have time for this morning. I can't wait to enjoy the ride of this year's Giants team with everyone. Here we go again.

Eric Nathanson

@2outhits on Twitter