Rambling rundown of everything awesome about last night’s game, as viewed from a couch 4.5 miles from AT&T Park
I left work about 15 minutes before the first pitch to pick my roommate up from her office. I work four blocks from the park, she works two block away. With a freeway entrance (and constant roadwork) standing between our offices, it usually takes about five minutes to make it those two blocks. Tonight, it was a little longer… and as I sat there stopped in traffic on 4th Street, I got to listen to the roar of the post-anthem flyover.
We listened to the game on the way home (while cursing out other drivers, because damn, nobody in the city knew how to drive tonight.). By the time we got home, the Giants were at two outs in the bottom of the first and Panda was coming up to bat. Every other game this post-season, we’ve stayed in the car until the last out/commercial break so we don’t miss anything. Today, I kind of shrugged and said “Eh, I think we can probably assume Panda’s gonna go out trying” and cut the engine, and we headed up the half a block to our apartment. We’d made it about almost to our building’s door when all of a sudden, the bar across the street erupted with cheers. Roomie and I looked at each other and laughed giddily with the realization that that was definitely not the sound of a strikeout.
We made it up to the apartment and got the TV on in time to see a replay of the first of Panda’s home runs.
- Blanco’s diving catch to wrap up the top of the third with all of six inches and a split second marking the difference between the third out and a base hit to get a man on third. I’m maybe weirdly defensive of Blanco, especially in the face of some of the recent (wrong, IMO) rumblings of “they should’ve let Melky back,” so to have him prove time and again that he is a huge asset in left field is phenomenal. (Now, if only he’ll find some hitting mojo.)
- Pagan’s double off yet another ball taking a weird bounce off the bag.
Look, I’m not saying that the Giant’s haven’t deserved to win every game they’ve taken this post-season. I love them. I’m pretty much always going to believe that the Giants deserved to win. But let’s be real… they have had some seriously beneficial bounces and spins and mistakes/bad judgment by their opponents (Kozma is definitely going to spend the off season taking a long, hard look at some of his choices).
And Pagan’s hit ricocheting off third? Just add it to the list. But it was still a joy to watch Cabrera’s bafflement as it landed fair and bounced and rolled right past him as he just looked at it.
- As Scutaro came up to bat, I jokingly said, “Well, he’s been out once, so he’s due.” Which, obviously I don’t actually expect him to be able to keep up the .500 avg, not without the same kind of collapse that the Cards had in the field. (All due credit to Scutaro, who has been a phenom, but with better fielding some of those hits in the NLCS wouldn’t have been). And then it got to that seventh pitch, and Marco took that step back and smiled, and all I could think was that was he was thinking “Okay, Bochy, I frustrated him and tired him out a little like you asked. Now I need to prove that I could have hit any of those fair.” And then he did.
- "Well, I’m starting to become particularly fond of the third inning," I tell the roomie after Panda knocks another one out of the park to make it 4-0.
The best part about this one was that I was on the phone with my father, whose TV feed is consistently 5-8 seconds ahead of mine. So suddenly he’s on the other end of the line saying “Oh! Ohhh! Look, look look!” and just as he finished shouting, I got the pitch already knowing that it’s a goner.
- That double play. I’d feel worse about the fact that it left me saying “Wait, what?” for a couple seconds if it hadn’t done exactly the same to Delmon Young.
- "Holy crap," I say to my roommate, two pitches into Belt’s at bat. "Verlander’s got the yips." I was not wrong.
- Zito does it again at the plate, knocking out a single to get Belt home and stretching the “Giants Pitchers Earn RBIs” streak to four games (as literally everyone writing about the game has pointed out). Not gonna lie, I’m almost sad that we’re gonna have to play by AL rules in Detroit with how our pitchers have been getting it done.
My heart did a weird little fluttery thing as the park broke out in a “BARRY! BARRY! BARRY!” chat. And then I wanted to kill McCarver and Buck for being dipshits, but that’s neither a new or different feeling.
- Fox throws up the “3 Home Run Club” graphic as Panda comes to bat, talking about how he’s looking to join the club. “Oh my god, NO HE’S NOT,” Roomie and I both say, because nobody actually sets out thinking they’re going to homer three times in any game…. oh. Hey. Look at that. He did it. Well then. And we promptly lost our shit. And it’s at that point that I start to think that maybe I was hit by a truck on the way home and this is a coma dream. Or maybe somebody slipped some acid into my Diet Coke.
My father calls, kindly requesting that Roomie and I “keep it down with the squeeing, because I can hear it all the way in New York.” I quickly inform him that it’s not squeeing happening in the apartment, but full on SCREAMS of disbelief.
- Blanco does it again. Because clearly one faceplanting diving catch to keep men out of scoring position per game just isn’t enough.
- Barry gets pulled for Peralta, and Tim Lincecum: Reliever Extraordinaire (?!) gets that fucking GORGEOUS strikeout, leaving Barry making his “Damn, guys, I could’ve done that” face for way different (better?) reasons than usual. Not gonna lie, that face is one of my favorite faces even though it usually means the Giants just gave up a run, but I’d definitely rather see it because he was sure he still had the stuff to get it done than because the reliever came out and immediately gave up the runs they were trying to stave off.
- Lincecum keeps the outs coming, getting guys to swing at the dirt like WOAH, which then means when he’s done with that he gets an at-bat. Oh god, his at-bat… for all that some our pitchers can get it done, he is really not one of them (oh, your .089 avg, Timmy). But I do so enjoy just how uncomfortable and young and awkward he looks with a bat in his hands.
- And the hits keep coming too… Sure, I’d love to see out hitting spread out a little more because I hate seeing Crawford and Pence and Blanco going 0-for, but having the half the team that did get hits going 1-2 (Zito), 2-4 (Pagan, Scutaro, Posey) and PERFECTION FOR PANDA with the line drive on top of the three homers? Pretty acceptable. But oh my god, McCarver and Buck, shut UP about “And now he takes aim at home run number four.” Or however they were saying it before Panda’s final at-bat. Or really just shut up in general you complete wastes of airtime. (God, why can’t I make TV and radio broadcasts line up right so I can just listen to KNBR while I watch)
- Um. Not actually calling it a highlight because it was damn painful to watch, but that home run bouncing off the tip of Pagan’s glove. THE WORST. In part because we watched him basically scale the wall to steal back one just like it a few games ago, and we know (and he knows) that if he’d had two more steps on it, he maybe could’ve done it again.
It’s not like that kind of save should be expected every time (it would stop being an impressive play if if did), but ugh… worse than him not making it was (a) how frustrated he looked with himself for not making it, and (b) the fact that Fox just would not stop showing it. Yes, we get it. It was close. SHUT UP.
- Affeldt’s one pitch to finish things up. I don’t know why it amuses me as much as it does when that’s all it takes for one guy to do his job… but it really is one of the things I love about baseball. *Throw… and done*
Where the series goes from here, no clue. I’m not the kind of fan who ever feels comfortable in belief that my team’s got it, not after a Game 1 win for sure, and not even with a ridiculous lead in nearing the end of the last game of a series. When the Giants were up 8-0 in game 7 on Monday night, I was muttering about “come on, how about some more insurance runs.” (And was relieved when Belt homered because 9-0 felt just a little safer). So I don’t think that last night’s game was any kind of portent of things to come.
But I do believe that it was a thing of beauty.