Archive for the ‘ 2012 Playoffs ’ Category

What “The Third Team” Did

For anyone that followed Henry Schulman’s advice on Twitter to take in “The Third Team” on MLB Network, you got to take a look at the World Series from the perspective of the umpires. To the casual sports fan, I’m not sure how much this interests them, but I should hope this interests avid baseball fans — anytime you get an exclusive look and listen to the game, you become that much more knowledgable about what goes on. Besides the obvious of benefit of getting to relive the 2012 World Series, I believe there was only one thing the program did, and it was an important one thing: the humanization of the game.

Doesn’t matter the sport, any big fan of any franchise can become so engulfed in the activities that we forget we are taking part in games with human beings that actually live their own lives when their time on stage as our entertainment has finished. I am a holder of the belief that it is important to be reminded that this game involves people, and not robots (much as some might fight for the “robot-umps”), and just as a lot of the players are trying their best to get the job done for the team, so are the umpires of the game. It’s easy to forget, but when it’s remembered, for me, it brings about a greater sense of appreciation and admiration for the game. If you’re asking specifically how this does it for me, I direct you to the broadcasted conversations of the umpires with the managers, in Game 2 when Dan Iassogna makes the call at the plate and when Detroit Manager Jim Leyland comes out for an explanation and you hear something like:

“Hey, Jimmy, [Posey] got him right at that mark.”

“There’s no way he got him there”

“Yes, he did, Jimmy. He got him right there.”

Or even in a double switch with Bruce Bochy.

“So, Casilla’s out, Arias is in, batting 9th…. and, Romo’s in batting 3rd.”

“Yup, Romo throws nothing but strikes” –Boch

They share a laugh, the game moves on, and you see the locker room interactions and see that they realize there is a lot of pressure on them to be mistake-free, and overall in this World Series, they did pretty well. If you haven’t had a chance to watch the hour-long program, I recommend it, especially if you miss 2012 WS highlights, this program includes those as well.

Connecting Fanbases: Does Every Fanbase Know a Current Giant?

Was trying to figure out if all 30 MLB teams have some direct connection with a former player being with their squad. I cheated a little bit and included Bochy and Rags, but have a look-see:

 

Mota’s so old he played with the Expos. Anyway, the answer to the question is no: no Angels, and no Mariners. Timmy’s well known in the Seattle area maybe that counts, I’m not going to count it officially though. Still, most fanbases might be able to smile for one of their former players, but I know not every player leaves their team with the best image.

World Series Champions: The Guys I’m Happiest For

Every World Series Championship team has their fill of stories. Everybody loves it when someone has fought through adversity to achieve, because no one knows what it’s like to skate by the whole time and be successful!… or maybe no one I know. Anyway, those kinds of stories give people hope. Twenty-five guys on the roster, so I’ll try to rank who I am happy for the most, but let it be very clear: I’m happy for all of these guys. It may be of no surprise to you that the guys earning their first ring are the ones at the top of my list.

#1 Ryan Vogelsong: Do you need the background on his story? Didn’t think so. He joined the Giants in 2011 after they had clinched and just wanted a chance, and got it. Now, the man’s can say he’s been to the top with the organization that drafted him. He’s also a lock for the 2013 All Star Game, by the way.

#2 Marco Scutaro: This guy has been on plenty of teams in his career, and his only other postseason was with the A’s when the Tigers showed them the door. How sweet it must’ve been for this guy, the NLCS MVP, to drive in the winning run, and have so many of his teammates fight for him to get there.

#3 Gregor Blanco: You want Andres Torres version 2.0, here it is, your minor league player that hits more than a quarter of the time in the World Series and did just enough for the Giants in the absence of their All Star Left Fielder.

#4 Brandon Crawford: The boy that grew up a fan of the Giants gets to be a Champion with them. How many of us in our childhoods grew up with that dream? And he gets to live it? Awesome.

#5 Barry Zito: Well chronicled as it was that he was left off the 2010 Postseason roster, Barry really has been the type of athlete a fan wants to see during a time of struggle: keep working, don’t whine, and figure it out. He may not have figured it all out, but he figured enough of it out to have an absolutely stellar NLCS and WS, beating guys the national media, and some Giants fans, thought he had no chance against. Kruk even called him “the soul of the team” this morning, so you know he admires the guy, haha.

#6 Tim Lincecum: The Freak may have been the Postseason MVP in 2010, but anybody who paid attention knows this year was tough on Timmy, and seeing him not be himself in the starter’s role was so painful. While he may or may not have 100% been on board with the bullpen role, he thrived in it, and flashed the Cy Young stuff he tantalized opponents with in years past.

#7 Buster Posey: Two healthy years, two World Series Championships. If that doesn’t make this kid the Boy Wonder of the San Francisco Giants, what will?

#8 Pablo Sandoval: The fat storyline got put on to him most of the season, didn’t hit for power as well as he had in the past, and yet he dominated the postseason scene, with a historic performance in Game 1.

#9 Sergio Romo: The dude really hadn’t been getting enough credit for his art, especially with his injury risk and maybe even perceived lack of a “closer mentality,” and perhaps the lack of a legitimate number of LHH splits to warrant him being the high leverage pitcher. He was given his shot, and unless the dude at the plate was named “Hanley Ramirez,” he did not disappoint.

#10 Brandon Belt: He’s been put through so much garbage, I’m not sure how good he will actually become and if he even stays with the Giants as long as he’s supposed to be under team control. That said, I’m glad he got to experience success with this team even if he is always being tinkered with.

#11 Madison Bumgarner: A Cy Young candidate in the middle of the season turned into a work-in-progress, including his NLCS Game 1 start that left him needing to work on his mechanics. Luckily, the North Carolina boy that loves cows or something got it all together just in time to throw 7 shutout innings at home.

#12 Angel Pagan: He was with the Mets, and it was time for him to go. He comes over for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez who were heroes from the 2010 campaign and he has a pretty decent year, with his salutes and crazy routes to the ball in the outfield.

#13 Aubrey Huff: The guy is at the end of his career, and what better way to go out than on top. Hopefully all issues he had have been overcome as he rides off into the sunset, 2 of his 3 years with the Giants involving parades.

From there, I think it’s all equal love across the board for the guys like Affeldt, Lopez, Pence, Theriot, Arias, all important pieces to the puzzle. Huge credit should of course go to Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean for putting those pieces together and putting them in just the formation to succeed. What a year. What a postseason run.

Postseason Recap: The Most Important Things the Giants Weren’t Involved In

A lot had to take place to create everything you saw come into play from Game 1 of the NLDS to Game 4 of the World Series. I’m going to do my best to recap the important things that could have very well affected the Giants being in, and the Giants matchups in, the World Series.

Wednesday, October 3rd: The A’s complete their comeback over the Texas Rangers to win the American League West. This sets up the Rangers for a date with the Orioles at home, and the A’s going to Detroit for the beginning of the ALDS.

Remember this mess? The staff had to clean up the trash fans were throwing on to the field in a very unforgettable moment in the first official play-in game.

Friday, October 5th: In Atlanta, the Cards and Braves were playing until the Braves were up and it was all INFIELD FLY MOTHER EFFERS and the momentum of a rally seem stifled, and in the end the Braves lost. What if the Braves won? The NLDS and NLCS are automatically different. And in the AL, If the A’s don’t come back, they’re playing the Orioles. That could’ve changed things. Instead, the Rangers complete their fallout and Joe Saunders beats them and they play the Yankees as a reward.

Thursday, October 11th: The A’s forced the Tigers to use Verlander a second time, maybe more importantly the Orioles force the Yankees to use Sabathia a second time, and Lance Lynn loses a battle to Jayson Werth to send the series to a fifth game where Adam Wainwright gets lit up and has to wait until Game 4 of the NLCS to be used.

This image would spawn some pretty funny photoshops

Friday, October 12th: The Yankees outlast the Orioles for the right to play the Tigers, and the Cardinals complete an unbelievable comeback against the Nationals. That Giants-Nationals NLCS? Maybe another time. Obligatory “WHAT IF STRASBURG” sentence.

Saturday, October 13th: A day after winning their ALDS series, the Yankees play the Tigers, and lose their Captain in extras, after pummeling Valverde with internet sensation in Philadelphia FHOFRI (“Future Hall of Famer Raul Ibanez”). From there…

Jeter’s injury was but the beginning of the end for the Yankees

Thursday, October 18th: Max Scherzer and his Tigers finish the dismantling of the Yankees, beginning a period of wait that may or may not have had some effect on the role players that would end up going against the Giants.

So in the end, yes, this post was about how everything had to be the way it was for us to have seen what we saw tonight. Might they have won if the Nationals held on? Or if the Rangers had been the AL West Champs? Or if the Braves had actually rallied without that whole infield fly fiasco? Who knows. What we do know is that everything, every stressful pitch, every disputed call, and every over-analyzed decision turned out for the best for the eventual Champs.

Courtesy of ESPN

World Series: So That Was Something Else

Play that victory tune I like

I’ve been battling what my wife and I think has been a sinus infection, and alcohol really congests the heck out of me, so I haven’t been drinking like many other adults out there. I wish I could have had a beer or something, but the extreme feeling of happiness will do. I don’t know how we can process this, so I’ll just do a by the numbers thing.

0: Number of times the Giants lost in the World Series

1: Extra inning game in the World Series, and ultimately, the final game the 2012 season would see

2: Wins the Reds had against the Giants before the G-men charged back; the number of championships in three years

3: Wins the Cards had until Zito led the charge; also the number of innings the Giants trailed in the World Series

4: Wins against the Tigers in their first ever World Series matchup

6: Runs scored by the Tigers, tied for the fourth-fewest in a four-game series in MLB history

7: Consecutive wins the Giants ended their season with

11: in the morning on the 31st is when the parade will begin in San Francisco

24: Hits in the postseason by Pablo Sandoval, a club record

56: Consecutive innings the Giants were not behind

89: MPH that Sergio Romo sinker had to end the baseball season

See you at the parade.

World Series Game 4: This Could Be It (Chance One of Four)

You’ve heard about the San Francisco Giants leading the Detroit Tigers 3-0 and the history in the World Series that teams with 3-0 leads have never gone further than 5 games. 20 of those 23 teams swept. I don’t care much for “it’s never happened before therefore it can never happen again” type talk, so let’s talk about what has happened: The Giants have lost 4 in a row two times this year, the Tigers have won 4 in a row eight times (seven times in the regular season, once in the postseason). The Giants know as well as anybody that a team with its back against the wall like the Tigers are capable of lighting it up at any time… getting hot, that’s what the postseason is all about, isn’t it?

Anyway, the lineups. The Giants with a new DH blessing their 8 spot:

 

Ryan Theriot has the slash line that would tell you things could be alright in .269/.314/.308, but obviously he hasn’t done much power against RHP, including a .279 wOBA against and a 76 wRC+ vs. RHP. Not really all that inspiring, but I will say it’s probably going to be better than what Hector Sanchez could do.

The Tigers and some notes from them:

 

It was going to be the normal Tigers lineup vs. a RHP, but now Gerald Laird will take Avila’s spot in the lineup. Gerald Laird, as you may remember, does not throw out basestealers at as good of a rate as Avila, so this could be a break for the Giants.

5:15PM PST first pitch on FOX. No matter what the score is in tonight’s game, or in any of the if necessary games, it is not over until the final out is recorded. Hopefully the baseball season ends tonight.

Go Giants.

World Series: Game 3 Lineups Have a Different Look

Perhaps the only thing more documented than Anibal Sanchez’s career numbers against the Giants and the fact that Tigers hit RHP better than LHP is the fact that we are now playing by American League rules. American League rules mean we get that Designated Hitter spot in the lineup. We heard yesterday that Bruce Bochy was leaning Hector Sanchez for the DH, and you only have to look to Game 3 of the ALCS to guess what Jimmy Leyland’s going to throw out there on the lineup card.

The visiting Giants are throwing out this lineup:

 

*Blet!* Bochy has split up the straight line of LHH at the bottom of the lineup by putting Sanchez in the 8 spot just in case Leyland might try to neutralize that spot with someone like Smyly or Coke later in the game. Could’ve done the same thing with Arias, but it is what it is.

While the Tigers are throwing out this unsurprising lineup:

 

Exact same thing as that lineup linked in the first paragraph, and as you’ll notice, the 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th spots are all LHH, so their lineup goes R-L-R-L-R-L-R-L-R repeat, so no complaining from Tiger fans when Bruce Bochy walks to the mound after every batter in the 8th, because Leyland brought it upon himself!

————————

Familiar Formula: It’s also been no secret that the Giants starting pitching has saved the team and their fanbase from either abandoning baseball or watching the World Series with slumpy shoulders, to having a two-game advantage over their opponent in the Fall Classic. A look at the line scores for the rotation, with two starts from the very rich, and very omelettey Barry Zito:

NLCS Game 5, Zito: 7.2 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 6 K’s, 115 pitches, Game Score 72

NLCS Game 6, Vogey: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 9 K’s, 102 pitches, GS 73

NLCS Game 7, Cain: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 4 K’s, 102 pitches, GS 62

WS Game 1, Zito: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 3 K’s, 81 pitches, GS 55

WS Game 2, MadBum: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 8 K’s, 86 pitches, GS 79

Combined, 5 GS: 33.0 IP, 23 H, 6 BB, 30 K’s

If you’ve listened to Mike Krukow, you’ve heard him enjoy talking about WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched), and while it’s not my favorite method of evaluating pitchers, you notice that have less than a baserunner an inning allowed is pretty good when you’re going against teams in the postseason. If Vogelsong and Cain can continue their dominance of their opponent that Giants SP have established in the last five starts and not get Cain’d, the Giants could very well be looking at the improbable and very preferable sweep of the AL Champion Tigers.

Anibal Sanchez vs. the Giants

Game 3 SP Anibal Sanchez, courtesy of Leon Halip/Getty Images

You’ve heard the bad news: Anibal (I do not believe it’s pronounced “Anibelle” by the way) Sanchez is starting Game 3. He’s thrown 36.1 innings against the Giants in his career, and has a 1.98 ERA against them. Yikes! 31 strikeouts and 7 walks against them as well — uh oh! This is a post to tell you that yes, though Anibal Sanchez is good, we really need everyone to calm the f down, while also realizing that this year RHH have actually hit him better than LHH (thanks to @hangingsliders for the observation), and the dude at McCovey Chronicles scarily told us about Sanchez’s fastball is slowly getting faster as you can see in this chart here. Anibal has faced the Giants five times. All matchups were while Sanchez was still a young Marlin before he got promoted to being a Tiger. I’m going to show you the boxscores from the Giants lineups just to make a point that maybe any panic/narrative of dominance should be pushed down.

2010 on May 4th (9-6 Giants in 12 innings) and July 29th (5-0 Marlins):

 

Matt Downs started a game for a team that eventually won the World Series, haha.

Now for the one game in 2011, on May 26th against Ryan Vogelsong, also known as “the day after the unspeakable incident” which ended in a 1-0 victory for Florida:

 

Who let that Miguel Tejada in the lineup?!

And for the most recent matchups on May 3rd and May 24th, both against Ryan Vogelsong, where the results were 3-2 Miami, and 14-7 San Francisco, respectively.

 

 

Conor Gillaspie, Melky Cabrera, Emmanuel Burriss, Joaquin Arias all in the lineup, and all are not scheduled to be in the starting lineup against Anibal Sanchez tomorrow… though you never know… Burriss could sneak in there! In the 2012 games, 5 hits and 2 ER were not allowed by Anibal Sanchez but by those that took his place.

In 2010 and 2011 in games that Anibal pitched pretty well, only one position player from those box scores will be in the starting lineup and only one other will be on the roster, and that would be Pablo Sandoval (from 2010) and Aubrey Huff (now riding the pine).

So even with Anibal Sanchez having a 4.38 ERA in 12.1 IP against the Giants in 2012, it still isn’t the greatest representation of what to expect because of the obvious small sample size, and then only five of the nine starters in tomorrow’s lineup will have seen him in 2012. The Giants obviously want to win tomorrow’s game with Scherzer and possibly Verlander on the horizon, but this game is much less impossible in my opinion than people are trying to hype up with those “career numbers.” Poppycock to people using those numbers, I say. I fully expect Ryan Vogelsong to be angry and do well for the Gigantes, and do better than Anibal, which is all that will matter when they hand the ball to the bullpen.

Panic Post: The Tigers Can Still Win (Obvious Point is Obvious)

Delmon Young and Jhonny Peralta gather at home plate after a 9th inning HR off RHP George Kontos as Giants C Buster Posey looks on.

The Giants have won two straight games over the Tigers, and five straight games overall, taking out some pretty good pitchers and bullpens along the way, not to mention the hitters as well. There’s a lot of understandable optimism in San Francisco and pessimism in Detroit with the gap being what it is. I’ve been cautiously optimistic, but I expect the Giants to win tomorrow at the very least of their three-day stay in Detroit at the very longest. Here are some reasons why you should not shut the book on the Tigers in case you’ve already started using the “p” word (hint: ticker tape) in every other sentence when talking about the Giants.

Tigers Home Streaking: Small sample size and arbitrary end points be damned, the Tigers have won eight straight games at home and have not lost at Coamerica Park since September 23rd. That’s more than a month ago. They won both their games against Oakland, and since they swept New York, they couldn’t have lost those games in the postseason. The fans have been spoiled, and the team may get more into that comfort zone to execute once they get into familiar positioning.

The Tigers Still Are Allowed to Hold a Bat in Their Hands: Despite ten hits in two games, and being shut out in Game Two, the Tigers by rule will continue to be allowed to go up for their hacks after the Giants have their turn. This means offensive contributors like Austin Jackson, Miguel Cabrera, and Prince Fielder will get their shot at redemption against San Francisco Giants pitchers. It’s not like Giants pitchers don’t make mistakes. They do, but the Tigers just haven’t run into one enough for a big rally.

If Game 3 is lost by the Giants then…: You have strikeout artists in Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander in Games 4 and 5, respectively. Even if the Giants lose Game 3, you got to believe there will be lots of rah-rah-ing in Detroit believing because of those two pitchers themselves. Sure, it would be unfair to overlook Matt Cain and Barry Zito, but it’s only because we know they’re not invincible.

Hector Sanchez is the DH: Want me to lay off that breaking ball out of the zone? Too bad! I went to the Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval school of “if I can see it, I can hit it fosho!” While it is amazing he has 2 walks in the postseason, he also has a 1-for-7 with 4 K’s going on. To be fair, National League rosters aren’t really built for the DH, but for the National League (duh).

So in Conclusion: I think the Giants still win this, but the games still need to be played, and the Giants still need to execute.

World Series: Game 2 Lineups and Links

Pablo was very pleased last night, will he get a chance to hit tonight?

The Giants are up 1-0 after a Panda barrage of hits and Zito keeping the Tigers guessing, which left many people feeling like they could do anything. As a result, my wife isn’t talking to me right now, but she’ll get over it. But then people started to think about the 1-0 lead, and oh nooooooooooooooooooooz:

Credit to @MLBMeme

Tonight it will be up to Madison Bumgarner and his reported mechanical fix to keep those Tigers bats quiet and the Giants bats to stay active against sinker-baller RHP Doug Fister. I am cautiously optimistic with Ryan Vogelsong going in Game 3, but like every Giants fan, I would love to see the Giants sweep the home part of the series like they did against Texas in 2010. Same lineups for both clubs New catcher for the Tigers with Laird in and Avila out (thanks @FaultCombs), but besides that and the starting pitchers, same deal.

Tigers:

Giants:

5:07PM PST first pitch scheduled. Same bat time, same bat channel throughout the WS.

And now, for the links:

Game 2 Previews from SBNation’s McCovey Chronicles, and Bless You Boys.

A.J. Ellis is a funny guy and he’s doing some work for the LA Times now, recapping last night’s game.

USA Today unearthed some high school shots of some Giants and Tigers.

Brisbee’s Game 1 recap.

Sam Miller’s Game 1 recap (I believe a subscription is required)

Troy Renck’s thoughts and comparing the ’07 Rockies to the ’12 Tigers.

The Getting Blanked recap and preview combo, with front pages of local periodicals

Go Giants.

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