Admit it. There's a masochistic side to you that wanted to see the Giants win a handful of elimination games in the World Series.* Sure, that was by turns anguishing and exhilarating, but I'll take the Giants exactly where they are now, heading to Detroit with a two game lead. I promise that if things work out, I won't even lament that they might have just played their last game of the season at home.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, however, I know two words that should give you pause: Anibal Sanchez. He's been known to mow down the Giants and induce high amounts of spectator stress for doing so, especially at AT&T Park. Fortunately, the Giants have two things going for them: first, Ryan Vogelsong, and second, Sanchez is not invincible outside of AT&T: in Miami on May 24th, he pitched 5 1/3 innings and gave up five runs on seven hits and two walks. If we could cherry-pick a few things from the boxscore, you'll note that Ryan Vogelsong was the starting pitcher, and that Emmanuel Burriss was playing second. I think the Giants found an upgrade at second somewhere along the line, but I just can't recall. Was it Ryan Theriot? And don't look at the part about Javier Lopez. Don't do it!
What I'll need to remember when I look back at this years from now:
GAME 1: 8-3 Giants
First, Barry Zito has become The Junkball Superstar. Bronson Arroyo would write a nice tuneful tribute, but he's still a bit upset at the whole NLDS thing. Sure, we can stare at Zito's Baseball Reference page for hours and try to puzzle it through, considering the 4.15 that in 2010 got him left off the post-season roster, and that in 2012 made him the go-to guy for Game 1 of the World Series. We could even talk about how his ERA+ was 94 in 2010, and 84 in 2012. Is he actually a lesser pitcher this year? Or does it say more about the (temporary?) fall of Tim Lincecum? Or, that Bruce Bochy was prepared to use all the tools of psychological warfare against Justin Verlander? Or, with a more proficient offense this year, Zito's flaws aren't nearly as glaring?
Was the crowd chanting Bar-ry and then Zi-to? Did I really get an email from a friend who actually wrote:
Forget about Panda's feats last night. It was Zito's night. It wasn't necessarily pretty, but he had a plan that he stuck to. I suspect this will be a long series, but my prediction is Zito will be WS MVP.
For such a bold prediction, I will let you remain anonymous, Mark. Oh, whoops! That's set in stone like the rest of the Internet, so I can't change it now! Never forget, however, that this is Verlander (the first two times) and that's Pablo Sandoval:
I've never heard of those other guys who've hit three home runs in a World Series game, but I'm sure they're good people.**
By the end of this game, I was convinced that Lincecum's post-season calling is to be a super-reliever. He faced seven batters and struck out five. What, would you rather see Guillermo Mota in the middle innings?
GAME 2: 2-0 Giants
Fact: Doug Fister struck the fuck outta the Kansas City Royals and set some kind of record. Fact: Fister struck out only three Giants. For allowing a rare hit to the struggling Hunter Pence, he's the losing pitcher of record, although if baseball recorded assists, I'd say Drew Smyly cemented that one.
Otherwise, we got the Madison Bumgarner that we all remember from earlier in the season: 7IP, 2H, 2W, 8K, 0ER. One of the biggest fears of this post-season was the diminished capacity of the starting rotation, but over the past five games, Giants starters have allowed two earned runs in, hmmm, add the numbers, carry that one to the other one, 33 innings pitched. (Tack on Lincecum in Game 1 and it's 35 1/3). In case you're wondering, that went Zito, Vogelsong, Cain, Zito, Bumgarner. Looks like everybody's in: next up, Vogelsong and Cain.
No time to look back now, just two more wins to go...
* Make no mistake, they'll obviously have to win a game that includes eliminating Detroit, but how about not making it a handful?
**That would be Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and some guy who just cashed in with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.