The Baseball Gods are with the Giants!
What an amazing run! The San Francisco Giants have won the World Series for the second time in three years, and this time, against all odds! I just got home from walking up Mission Street from 16th Street to 24th Street, enjoying the thousands of people in the street, bonfires, music, cars honking, everyone high-fiving each other, a huge party…
The game ended in 10 innings tonight, with a perfect poetic called strike three fastball down the pipe to triple-crown winner Miguel Cabrera. Sergio Romo worked his magic again and the Giants won a convincing four-game sweep, after winning an improbable six elimination games to overcome 0-2 deficit to the Cincinnati Reds and a 1-3 deficit to the St. Louis Cardinals to get to the World Series.
I decided my costume at Critical Mass on Friday night this year was to be “The Temporary Representative on Earth of the Baseball Gods” and this is what I wrote to explain it:
September: The hated Los Angeles Dodgers trade for star pitchers and hitters, and yet the Baseball Gods allow them to falter and fade, while the Giants surge ahead and win the division with ten days to spare.
The Division Series: After losing the first two games to the Cincinnati Reds at home, the Giants are held to one hit through nine innings in game 3 in Cincinnati, and yet, miraculously, they are tied 1-1 going into extra innings. In the 10th inning, the Giants manage to get runners on base and when Cincinnati third-baseman Scott Rolen bobbles a grounder with two outs (thank you Baseball Gods!), the Giants score, and win the game 2-1. The next two games are a complete turnaround for the Giants and they win 8-3 and 6-4, featuring a Buster Posey Grand Slam in game 5, as the Giants become the first team in National League history to recover from an 0-2 deficit and win three in a row in their opponents’ ballpark, and go on to the National League Championship Series.
The Championship Series: The Giants are outplayed by the St. Louis Cardinals through the first four games and find themselves in another impossible hole, down 3 games to 1, with Game 5 still to be played in St. Louis. Barry Zito is the starting pitcher for the Giants, one of the most famous busts in history with his $127-million 6-year contract having gotten the Giants four bad seasons of very subpar performances. This year, though, Zito righted his ship and the Giants were on a long winning streak when he pitched. He pitched his best game ever and the Giants won 5-0, with a key turning point coming when the Baseball Gods saw fit to have the opposing pitcher catch an easy comebacker and throw it directly into the second base bag, bouncing into center field, allowing the Giants to score their first runs of the game. The series turned on that play and from then on the Giants were on a roll, dominating St. Louis and outscoring them 20-1 for the remaining games, winning the series 4 games to 3.
The World Series: Facing the powerful Detroit Tigers and their ace Justin Verlander in Game 1, the Giants are surprised when the Panda belts a home run in the first inning. In the third inning, now leading 2-0 (again behind the surprising pitching of Barry Zito) the key moment in the game comes when with two outs Angel Pagan (could there be a more perfect name for a San Francisco ballplayer?) hits a squibber down the third base line in what should be an easy out. Instead, the Baseball Gods see to it that it hits the side of the third base bag and caroms into left field, allowing Pagan to get to 2nd base. The inspiring Marco Scutaro follows with a run-scoring single, which leads to the bizarre scene of the Detroit pitching coach walking to the mound to talk to his ace in the third inning (Verlander is considered “above” such consultations!). Verlander is not impressed, and after sharing some smirks and noting that the pitching coach’s visit has fired up the San Francisco crowd, he finally makes the next pitch to Pablo Sandoval, who promptly blasts it into the left field seats for his 2nd consecutive home run. Sandoval would hit his 3rd home run two innings later off another pitcher, giving the game the glow of something blessed and unnatural!
In Game 2, a scoreless pitching duel between Madison Bumgarner (MadBum) and Doug Fister, in the Giants 6th inning Hunter Pence leads off with a single, followed by a walk to Brandon Belt. Two on, none out, Gregor Blanco coming to bat, a known good bunter. He takes a few pitches and with a 2-1 count, gets a beautiful bunt down the third base line. The Tigers decide to let it roll foul, but it doesn’t! The Baseball Gods stop the ball perfectly in fair territory, and now the bases are loaded. The next batter, Brandon Crawford, grounds into a double play, but Pence scores the first run of the game, made possible by the eerily perfect bunt! Giants win 2-0!
After that, here’s how it all wrapped up:
In Game 3, the Giants went in to Detroit and behind the amazing resurgent Ryan Vogelsong and with Tim Lincecum out of the bullpen for 2 1/3 innings of scoreless ball, they win 2-0 again! Incredible! And then tonight in Game 4 they go ahead first when Hunter Pence doubles in the 2nd inning, followed by a screaming triple off the right field wall, the first hit in the World Series by the otherwise struggling Brandon Belt (but great defense at 1st base). When Miguel Cabrera gets a wind-aided 2-run homer you wondered if the magic might be over, but then two innings later Buster Posey rises from his ten-game offensive slumber to blast a two-run homer down the left field line, putting the Giants up again, 3-2. The Tigers got a homer that made it into the right field stands again thanks to the 25-mph winds, again casting doubt on the Giants fate. But Cain made it through 7 innings, and Affeldt and Casilla shut down the Tigers in innings 8 and 9. In the top of the 10th, Ryan Theriot gets a leadoff single, Crawford bunts him to second, Pagan makes another disappointing out, but Marco Scutaro does it again–a solid single to center scoring Theriot, 4-3 Giants! Then Sergio Romo comes in and strikes out the top of the Detroit batting order, culminating in a called strike three fastball down the pipe to Miguel Cabrera! Wow!
What a satisfying championship!