October 10, 2012

The Paroxysm

 1. A sudden outburst of emotion or action 

In 2010 the San Francisco Giants never faced an elimination game in the playoffs. Phillies fans* obsess over the 2010 NLCS but the fact remains, the Phillies never got that series to an elimination game. Neither did Atlanta or Texas.

*Phillies fans like to complain about the Phillies out-scoring the Giants in that series. Here's the fact though, if Game 2 wasn't a Phillies blowout they would have never out scored the Giants in that series.

So you can imagine how easy 2010 was for the Giants. Well not easy. They had to play tough games against Atlanta and Philadelphia. But easy from the standpoint the Giants never had to worry about elimination in 2010. Never had that tight game where if they lost, they were eliminated.

So there's the Giants sitting against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati facing elimination in game 3. Cincinnati has always been a house of horrors for the Giants. The Giants pitchers have always crapped the bed there much like how they crapped the bed in the first two games of the 2012 NLDS. With the Giants facing elimination I figured I better go to the Mos Eisley Cantina and pontificate about the game with the Colonel, Bandit, and Boz.

When I entered the Cantina the usual gang were hanging around the bar. The Colonel was already drinking bourbon and the Bandit was drinking a Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale. I pulled up to the bar counter and also ordered a Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale.

"Well how about them Giants?" Boz asks with just a hint of sarcasm. Sarcasm always seems like the best remedy when you're feeling down.

The Colonel and Bandit are eerily quiet. The atmosphere has the feel of a funeral. And in reality it does feel like a funeral. The Giants stunk up the place at home and were damn near no-hit by Broheem Arroyo in game 2. The top of the lineup has gone quiet while Blanco and Crawford look like the terrible hitters they are. The only consistent hitters so far for the Giants have been Belt and Posey.

Game 3 starts just the same as the previous two games. The Reds score early and the Giants can't even reach base. It's been especially bitter watching the Giants hitters not even reach base against the Reds. The Giants might not have hit very many home runs this year, but they could at least reach base and drive each other in. That hadn't happened yet in this series.

"Have you ever seen such a depressing core of hitters?" the Bandit asks. "They're swinging away at everything. I think this strike zone with the outside corner has them freaked." The home plate ump does have a wide strike zone and Homer Bailey is getting every call on the outside corner.

The Giants would tie the game on a combination of magic, grit, and good fortune. And then Pagan would tie the game with a sac fly. The game would stay tied as Ryan Vogelsong while not as impressive as Bailey, kept the Reds hitters at bay something that neither Bumgarner or Cain could do previously.

"What has happened to this team?" wonders the Colonel. "Are they just tight? Is the strike zone freaking them out? The player I'm most disappointed in is Scutaro. He's been a rock for them all year and right now he's failing."

Scutaro just happened to break up the no-hitter in the game.

One of the themes so far of the series has been luck. Besides the three home runs the Reds had hit, they mostly had scored runs on dinks and dunks. Meanwhile the Giants couldn't catch a break. The Reds were making spectacular plays in the field or the Giants hitters would hit the ball deep, but not quite deep enough. WARNING TRACK POWER! was beginning to become the Giants slogan for this series.

"Well one thing I'm pleased about is that the Giants pitchers as a whole have shut down the Reds today and haven't allowed them to dink and dunk them to death," says the Colonel. And he's right, both the Reds and Giants would have to kill someone for a run.

And then it happens. The Reds bring in former Dodger Jonathon Broxton in the 10th inning. Broxton has had past playoff failings and has had past failings against the Giants. We're salivating at the bar for our chance to erupt. Posey gets on base with a grounder.

"I love when Broxton comes into games," says a smiling Bandit. The first time any of us have smiled.

Pence valiantly gets on base with a single despite his calf exploding during a prior swing.

"How he even reached base I don't even know," says the Colonel. It really looked like Pence could barely stand up during that at bat.

Xavier Nady saved the Giants by striking out. We all figured Nady was gonna Nady and ground out into a double play.

"Atta boy Nady," says the Bandit sarcastically. "Just slowly walk back to the dugout now."

And here comes Joaquin Arias. Arias is a fascinating player. He was traded for ARod, bounced around the minors, and somehow landed the role as the do everything infielder for the Giants. Arias isn't the best hitter in the world, he's nearly average, but every once in a while Arias will surprise you. And them WHAM! a passed ball and Posey and Pence advance. The Giants finally have a runner at third.

"Oh thank goodness Arias can't ground into the double play now," says the Colonel.

And then it happens. The lucky horseshoe lands at the feet of the Giants. Arias grounds the ball to Scott Rolen and one of the best defensive third basemen ever commits an error. Rolen bobbled the ball and then threw late to get Arias at first. Posey scored. 2-1 Giants.

Paroxysm. A sudden outburst of emotion explodes at the Mos Eisley Cantina. The Giants finally had a lead and finally had the chance to give Sergio Romo the ball to close out the game. Everything goes accordingly to script and the Giants live to face another day.

"It's about fucking time the baseball Gods smiled on the Giants in this series," says the Colonel.

"Now we just need the Gods to smile at the Giants for two more games," says the Bandit.

After the first two games I expected the Giants to get swept. And at the beginning of game 3 it looked like that was going to happen. And then the baseball Gods smiled. Will they keep smiling after game 3? Who knows. I'm just happy to see the Giants won't be swept in the first round of the playoffs.

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