Friday, October 31, 2014

You know the funny thing?

If we just had the no-hitters, that's it - just the 3 no hitters since 2009, that would probably be good enough.  Toss in Cain's perfect game - definitely enough.  Give me some good seasons, maybe a short playoff run, my first ever no hitters, yeah, I'm totally good with this run of Giants baseball.

The San Francisco Giants have won 3 World Championships in the past five years.

Before that, we had won zero championships in all the years, so this has been better than that.

In 52 years in San Francisco before 2010, the Giants won 6 games in the World Series.

We've now tripled that total.

It took a dozen playoff wins to get there this year, starting when Madison Bumgarner threw a 4 hit shutout in Pittsburgh in the coin flip game to knock out the Pirates.  Here's what Bumgarner did this postseason:

1.03 ERA
52 2/3 IP
45 K, 6 BB

His career World Series numbers?

0.25 ERA
36 innings

Brandon Crawford hit a 4th inning grand slam and we eliminated the Pirates 8-0.

The best team in baseball this season was Washington, coincidentally led by a beloved Giant from two decades ago, Matt Williams.  We beat them 3 games to 1.

Jake Peavy before the trade had the worst season of his 13 year career, but as a Giant was our best pitcher down the stretch with an ERA+ of 16, so it wasn't startling that he held the Nats to two hits in 5 and 2/3 innings to win Game 1; Crawford continued here, with 3 hits, rookie second baseman Joe Panik had two, including a triple that led to his scoring what would turn out to be the winning run.

Game 2 may still be going on, like one of those cricket games that last two weeks.  18 innings, 6 and a half hours, the longest playoff game ever played, the Giants were down to their last out in the 9th, with no one on base and a 3% win expectancy. Panik worked a walk, leading to Williams helpfully removing Jordan Zimmerman from the game - Buster Posey followed with a single and Pablo Sandoval with a double that scored the tying run.

Yusmeiro Petit carried us in extra innings, going 6 and giving up 1 hit as the Giants 7th pitcher of the enervating night which finally ended with a Brandon Belt 18th inning home run.

Bumgarner lost game 3 on a throwing error, but Ryan Vogelsong came back with 5 and 2/3 the next day, giving up 1 run on 2 hits. Panik and Crawford again had two hits; Panik scoring the winning run on a 7th inning wild pitch.

Beating the Cardinals has become a Giants tradition; they were the other team on the field when we won the pennant in both 2002 and 2012.  We took it in 5 games this year.  Bumgarner got them in game 1, giving up 4 hits in 7 and 2/3, Pablo Sandoval had three hits, Travis Ishikawa, who was a teenager in the Giant organization when we won that pennant a dozen years before and was now the most makeshift of left fielders, had two.

They got us in the bottom of the 9th in game 2, setting up us getting them in the bottom of the 10th in game 3.

We blasted 4 in the first against another face from 2002, John Lackey; Ishikawa hit a 3 run double that should have won the game - but the Cards chipped away, 2 in the 4th, 1 in the 6th, 1 in the 7th, while we didn't get a hit after the 4th inning.

Until the 10th, when Juan Perez singled Crawford (who led off with a walk) to second, and then a Gregor Blanco bunt was thrown away by the Cardinal pitcher to give us the win.

We needed 3 more scoreless from Petit the next day; Vogelsong couldn't match his NLDS performance and we were down 4-1 in the third - we scored the next 5 including 3 in the 6th on a series of infield hits, to put us a game from our third pennant in 5 years.

The most famous moment in baseball history is probably Bobby Thomson's 1951 home run to give the New York Giants the pennant - 63 years later the Giants had another walk off pennant winning homer.  It wasn't from Michael Morse, but his 8th inning homer tied the game at 3 to set the stage for Ishikawa's three run shot to right to put the Giants back in the World Series.

The Giants took the 2010 Series in 5 games and swept in 2012 - this was not that; in 204 the Giants became the first road team since the '79 Pirates to win a game 7.

Game 1 was Bumgarner - he gave up 3 hits in 7 innings, Hunter Pence hit a two run first inning homer, and we won 7-1.

They won the next two, game 3 was close, game 2 was not - either way, we were down 2 games to 1 and when Vogelsong couldn't get out of the third in Game 4, we were down 4-1, giving the Royals an 84% chance to win that game too and hold a 3-1 Series lead.

Instead, the Giants scored the next 10 runs. We had 16 hits on the game, every member of the lineup reaching base.  Petit's 3 scoreless held the Royals down long enough for the bats to come through and even up the Series.

It became uneven the next night on a 4 hit/0 walk complete game shutout from Bumgarner.  12 more Giant hits sent the Series back to Kansas City.

The Royals smoked us in game 6 - setting up the finale.

Two for the Giants in the second.

Two for the Royals in the second - that ended Tim Hudson's (the oldest game 7 starter in World Series history) night, setting up Jeremy Affeldt's 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, and after a third Giants run in the 4th inning (Morse singling home Sandoval) one of the more dramatic relief appearances in baseball history - 5 innings by Bumgarner in which he gave up just two baserunners (the second a single that, when followed by a two base Gregor Blanco error, put the tying run on third).

The Giants didn't score a run after the fourth inning in Game 7 of the World Series.

Because of Madison Bumgarner, we didn't need to.

One of my favorite stories after the Red Sox won in 2004 was of fans going to graveyards to tell their deceased relatives that their club finally won a title. There is no afterlife, there's this and that's that. But I'm not made of rocks.

My dad died during the 2010 season, he's missed all 3 titles.  My mom and I joke that clearly this means our never having won previously was his fault.

My brother died during the 2014 season, there's not a lot of joking yet about that. Bryan Danielson was in the parade for the World Champion Giants.  Somebody should tell him that.

There were a lot of close Giants losses in those 52 years - a lot of hard moments that define who you are as a baseball fan, and, to a greater extent than is healthy, as a person.

I'm gonna take these three titles, thanks.  Without any apology. If you've got more, I'll take those too.

The Giants are now officially a baseball dynasty.

Thanks, guys.

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