Thursday, October 30, 2014

Madison and the big Ps

Hard to believe that the Giants did it again. Bochy was enough of a genius to recognize the weapon he had in Bumgarner last night.

An old friend of mine asked me how in the world could a team that looked and played like the worst team in baseball in June and July could turn around. My answer was Panik and Peavy.

Upon further reflection, John Shea noted that Juan Perez should be added in. I've been enormously skeptical about Perez but he plays the outfield in a top notch way. Anyhow, here's John Shea's take on the rooks for the SF Chron...

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In the middle of Champagne Central, where Joe Panik was holding court after another World Series championship — who predicted that phrase was possible back in spring training? — he blocked out the noise, vapors and rowdiness to answer all questions.
With the same cool perspective he plays second base.
Someone asked, “How do you feel right now, Joe?”
“Oh, yeah,” he said, “I feel nice and cold from the beer being poured down my pants.”
As a teammate sneaked up from behind and stuck an open beer where the sun doesn’t shine, Panik made no attempt to see who did it. He probably knew. It was Matt Duffy. Rookie on rookie prank.
Thanks to Wednesday night’s 3-2 clincher, the Giants are champs again, with a twist. Manager Bruce Bochy inserted two rookies in his Game 7 lineup, and it’s a reason he’ll receive a third ring. Panik and left fielder Juan Perez were nothing close to front-line players when the season opened, but they made plays that made a difference in the finale.
“It’s crazy man,” Perez said. “You never know what could happen. This game, one day you’re here, one day you’re not. I’m lucky to be part of the organization that gave me a chance to play baseball. I’m here, and this is the World Series, and we won it.”
Panik and Perez were among five rookies on Bochy’s World Series roster, a far cry from the Giants’ veteran-heavy championship clubs of 2010 and 2012.
“If you told me in spring training this is where I’d be, I’d tell you you’re crazy,” Panik said. “Especially as a rookie and starting the year in the minor leagues; it doesn’t get any better than this.”
While Panik emerged in the second half to fill a gaping hole and help solidify the defense, Perez shuttled between the minors and majors all season and came off the bench most of the postseason.
Wednesday, Panik and Perez went 0-for-7, but who cares?
The lasting image of Panik was his diving snag of Eric Hosmer’s sharp grounder up the middle and, in the same fluid motion, his flip to shortstop Brandon Crawford to begin a crucial double play. The score was 2-2 in the third inning, and Lorenzo Cain opened with a single, so the double play not only silenced the Kauffman Stadium masses but wiped out Kansas City’s brief attempt at momentum.
“It was all instinct,” Panik said. “At the time, I was telling myself, 'Knock it down, try to get one.’ I caught it and was like, 'Get it out of the glove, he’s a fast runner.’ Instincts took over, and Craw did a great job turning it over.”
The next inning, the Giants scored the deciding run on Michael Morse’s single. Left field belonged to Morse much of the season, but an oblique injury sidelined him in September and through the Division Series. So Bochy turned Travis Ishikawa into a left fielder, and all he did was win the pennant with a walk-off homer.
Ishikawa’s defense has been shaky, and he was 3-for-13 in the World Series, so Bochy went to Perez, who came off the bench to hit a two-run double in Game 5 and got another hit in Game 6. “I just thought about it and said, 'You know what? We’re going to put our best defense out there,’” Bochy said.
As Panik did in the third, Perez helped stifle a possible rally in the fifth not only with his athleticism but his positioning. Perez played shallow against the lefty hitting Nori Aoki and glided toward the line to glove Aoki’s liner.
The night didn’t end without ninth-inning drama. With two outs, Alex Gordon’s liner skipped past center fielder Gregor Blanco, and Perez was slow to back up and mishandled the ball. Gordon got to third. No worries. Madison Bumgarner retired Salvador Perez on a popup, and another Giants party ensued.
“I thought Gregor had the ball all the way, and then he missed it,” said Perez, admitting the rookie mistake.
Perez, who scribbled “RIP O.T.” on his spikes for his friend Oscar Taveras, the Cardinals’ outfielder who died Sunday, made his second start of the Series. The Giants hadn’t started two rookies in a World Series since Game 4 in 2010 when Bumgarner and Buster Posey teamed up for eight scoreless innings.
Four years later, Bumgarner and Posey were at it again, Bumgarner working the final five innings in relief, completing one of the all-time World Series performances as Panik, Perez and three other rookies — Andrew Susac, Hunter Strickland and Duffy — gleefully rode his wave to the finish line.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Never the easy way

CSBN Bay Area's Andrew Baggarly says Madison Bumgarner could go up to 50 pitches tonight but it looks like we'll have to rely on Tim Hudson's 39-yar-old arm for a Game 7 vic.   

KANSAS CITY – Giants manager Bruce Bochy had a regular morning prior to Game 7 of the World Series. He had breakfast with his son. He answered a couple emails. He got to Kauffman Stadium at the same time, 1 p.m., and changed into his uniform.
A routine start on a day that is anything but.
He made one lineup change, prioritizing defense by going with Juan Perez over Travis Ishikawa in left field. He knows that any small weakness gets exposed in a Game 7. And he likes the way Perez is swinging the bat.
The real question, though, is how Bochy plans to manage his pitching behind 39-year-old Tim Hudson. Bochy said Madison Bumgarner usually throws 40 to 50 pitches in his side session. “So he’d be good for at least that, the manager said.
There was no second thought of starting Bumgarner on two days of rest. He’s not a toy, Bochy reiterated. He’s a human being.
Yusmeiro Petit is available for two to three innings as well, and Bochy acknowledged that he backed off using Tim Lincecum to mop up Game 6 because he might find a useful spot for him in this winner-take-all game. For all his issues, he’s a long guy who also can miss bats, and there could be a situation where the Giants’ only escape is a strikeout.
“We’ll do anything tonight,” Bochy said. “It’s that game. There’s no game to play tomorrow.”
Will there be one final speech? Bochy said he would talk to a couple of his clubhouse leaders, gauge the room. But … “I’ll probably say something.”
Days of Thunder? Braveheart? Champion blood?
“It’ll be `Win one for the Gipper,’” said Bochy, smiling.

Monday, October 27, 2014

"A game for the ages"

That's how Ann Killion of the SF Chronicle put Madison Bumgarner's Game 5 shutout.

11 down, one to go

Here we go --

 Madison Bumgarner soaked it all in. He took his time between pitches. He listened to the “MVP, MVP” chants. He looked at the crowd on its feet, roaring into the night on every pitch. He saw the fans bowing down to him the way they used to for Barry Bonds.
“That was fun,” he said. “That was pretty special.”
As special as it can ever be in baseball. Bumgarner pitched a game for the ages, one of the October beauties in the 111-year history of the Fall Classic.
And he put the Giants one win from a World Series title. It would be their third title in five years. The only pitcher in the starting rotation for all three Octobers is Bumgarner.
“His legend just grows,” said Will Clark, the old baseball sage in the corner of the Giants’ clubhouse. “Just absolutely dominant. In the fifth game of the World Series.”
Juan Marichal, the pitcher whose statue stands outside of the ballpark and the one previously known as the Giants’ greatest, added: “When that man is on the mound, I know we’re going to win.”
The numbers that Bumgarner, 25, has compiled in his career are staggering. Sunday’s shutout on 117 pitches was the 13th postseason start of his career. His shutout was the first in the World Series since Josh Beckett in 2003 in Yankee Stadium.
He has pitched 472/3 postseason innings in six starts this October, the most ever by a left-hander in the postseason and the second most ever. He has allowed just one run in four career World Series appearances. His 0.29 ERA is the lowest of pitchers who have thrown at least 25 innings in the World Series. He became the first pitcher to ever throw a shutout with no walks and at least eight strikeouts in World Series history.
All Bumgarner needed was one run from his offense, which he got in the second inning. But the Giants did him a solid and gave him four more in the 5-0 victory.
There was some second-guessing about Bruce Bochy leaving in Bumgarner for the ninth. Bochy could tell that (A) he was watching history and (B) it’s a bad idea to pull a pitcher who is rolling, like Washington’s Matt Williams did back in the Division Series.
“He didn’t have any stressful innings,” Bochy said. “He had great stuff in the eighth. … Sure, I thought about maybe taking him out.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

3 in a row

The Giants have had plenty of 3-game winning streaks this year. So they'll start one this afternoon.

One of the more interesting - and less noticed -- moments of last night's game was seeeing Tim Lincecum warming up in the 6th inning as Javier Lopez was pitching and letting in that unfortunate third run.

The pen was stellar after that and the good guys put a 2-spot in the bottom of the inning.

MLB.COM columnist Mike Bauman notes that the Giants have been here before -- stretches where they could not score -- before bouncing back. That's RIGHT.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tim Hudson's time

Timmy's back for a bit

That was one of the few highlights of the game following a dismal performance by Hunter Strickland in Game 2 of the World Series.

From what I heard from the radiocast, Tim was hitting the corners again. Then he got injured after getting 5 outs and had a 1-2 count on Sal Perez when his back tightened up. Dammit. 

Bochy told MLB.COM that he thinks Tim will be OK. 

Except for Gregor Blanco's leadoff HR and the back to back doubles by Panda and Belt, that was pretty much it for the positive side of things. Oh, and Casilla struck out Perez on one pitch.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"I felt pretty good"

Thus spoke the man who had just won his third career World Series game. Here's Al Saracevic's game story for the SF Chron, the bottom half ....

“Bumgarner, he was dynamite,” said Royals manager Ned Yost. “I mean, man, was he good tonight. We had an opportunity in the third, and I was really impressed with the way he fed off our aggressiveness and just worked up the ladder to get out of that jam. But he was nails tonight.”
If you want to know what makes this young man so good, look no further than that jam in the third inning. The Giants were up 3-0, but the Royals had mounted their first real challenge of the night. After the first two batters got on, one by error, Bumgarner shut the Royals down with two strikeouts and a weak grounder, leaving the bases loaded in his wake.
It was a miraculous escape act, worthy of a magician. And it showed some serious intestinal fortitude.
“He did a really nice job the one inning,” Bochy said. “He bowed his neck and made some great pitches to get out of that. I mean, they’re getting back in the game, but he kept them from scoring.”
It was a remarkable night all around for the Giants. Clutch hitting and great pitching added up to a blowout. The ball now goes to Jake Peavy, who will try to follow Bumgarner’s act in Game 2, here in Kansas City. Good luck with that.
True to his North Carolina roots and his no-nonsense demeanor, Bumgarner was nonplussed by his performance, or the records he set. It was just another day at the office for the World Series Wonder.
“I felt pretty good,” Bumgarner said. “I know that’s a boring answer, but for me, that’s all it is.”
“I’m not here trying to set records and keep streaks going and whatever, but you do know about it. A World Series game is not something you exactly forget about.”
You’re right, Madison. No one’s going to forget that gem.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Feel-good stories from a feel-good postseason

AP has cranked out a very feel-good story about the fan who caught Ishikawa's homer on Thursday.

And Roger Angell has a nice piece for The New I am posting the whole thing. He is 94 years old. 94 years old....

A classic, not a curio. The home-team San Francisco Giants, reminding themselves that baseball is not always a parlor game, struck with a tying, pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the eighth and a walkoff, pennant-winning three-run homer in the ninth, eliminating the Cardinals and putting themselves into the World Series for the third time in the past five years. They will play the engaging young Kansas City Royals, starting in K.C. on Tuesday. Last night’s game was deeply restorative, in a post-season that, aside from those prearranged preliminary one-game shootouts between two wild-card teams in each league, never produced a winner-take-all final game at any level or venue. This held up right to the end, with the Cards winning only once in this best-of-seven against the Giants. But the brisk and breathless last game provided the drama we’d been missing, producing reminders of the 1951 Bobby Thomson shot that killed the Dodgers at the Polo Grounds, long before anyone had heard of “walkoff” or imagined handkerchief-waving hordes screaming beside the Bay.
Last night also put the quietus to that numbing “small ball” we kept hearing from the game announcers all summer, in a season dominated by enormous heat-radiating relievers and resulting low scores and shrivelled offense. You can win games like this, to be sure, as these Giants had been telling us. They’d scored the winning runs in the previous two Cardinals games without anything knocked out of the infield: on a wild peg by Cardinal reliever Randy Choate, and, a night later, two botched plays by first baseman Matt Adams. Wicked laughter is O.K. but not exactly nourishing, and you could almost hear the “Aw right!”s from the massed San Francisco fist-bumpers when their second baseman Joe Panik delivered a two-run homer in the third, putting them briefly ahead, by 2–1. It was the first Giants home run in two hundred and forty-three plate appearances and only their second in the post.

But I’m leaving out the splendid pitching, I see, and the redemption and the luck and the human interest and more. Onward: we’re entering an irony-free zone. The game was a rematch between the first-game starters, Adam Wainwright and Madison Bumgarner, with the Cards ace (a clear winner of the Frank Langella look-alike contest) out there to redeem some recent shakiness. You could see everything falling into place for him in the middle innings—his excitement when his plumb-bob changeup reappeared, and his impatience to get the ball back and fire it once again. He struck out the side in the sixth, and, defending a 3–2 lead, retired ten straight batters before his departure, after the seventh. The Fox announcers made much of him, and no wonder, but scarcely mentioned Bumgarner, who was not at his silencing best but getting it done anyhow: thirteen batters set down in a row, before he, too, sat down, after eight.
So we rushed to the end. The side-arming new Cards pitcher, Pat Neshek, came on in the eighth, to face a right-handed pinch-hitter, Michael Morse, who conked a home run into the left-field stands, tying things at 3–3. Ecstasy. Always in the middle of things, Pablo Sandoval, the portly Giants third baseman, knocked down a hard Cardinals ground ball in the top of the ninth, deflecting it to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who relayed to second for the second out of the inning: nothing to it. Another Giants reliever, the left-handed Jeremy Affeldt, was required to finish off the Cards here, and bring on the resonant and astounding finale: a single by Sandoval, a walk to Brandon Belt, and, on a 2–0 pitch by Michael Wacha, the winning home run into the right-field stands by the Giants’ Travis Ishikawa.
The irony—oop, sorry—was that Ishikawa, normally a first baseman but on this night a relative newcomer to left field, had misplayed a hard-hit fly ball out there in the third inning, leaking in a run for the visitors.
The redemption: Ishikawa, who is thirty-one, had begun the season playing first for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but stank it up there, lost the job, and went down to the minor-leagues, from which he was extracted and elevated by the savant, warmhearted, foresighted San Francisco Giants. We will meet all these guys—well, no: half of these guys—again on Tuesday night. Be there.