Thursday, October 21, 2010

2010 NLCS Game 5: PHI 4, SF 2

The 2010 Giants are in a great place. They are going back to Philadelphia, up 3 games to 2, with 2 quality starters going for them. The Phillies are a very good team, and will be hard to beat, but the Giants chances are more than fair. They have put themselves in a position to make it to the World Series. It could have happened tonight, but it didn't; they still have 2 more chances. It's more than any of us expected. We have a lot of exciting baseball to look forward to this weekend. But with all that positivity and good feeling, one fact remains: tonight's game was for the taking. It could have been won. It could have been over.

The Giants had some misfortune, some misplays, and some mismanagement in this game, all leading to a difficult loss. Before the 3rd inning, everything was looking good. Roy Halladay had only given up a run, but he just didn't seem strong. He wasn't getting the outside corner from the umpire, and he just didn't seem comfortable (we now know he had a groin injury as early as the 1st inning). And the Giants were hitting the ball hard off him. Unlike previous games in the playoffs, where the Giants weren't hitting with baserunners on, this time they were "hitting". The ball just kept getting caught. Whether it was Chase Utley's great leaping catch to prevent a potential Aubrey Huff double, or Jimmy Rollins getting to everything and throwing out everyone with his cannon of an arm, the Giants just weren't getting any breaks. There were certainly some bad at bats in this game (the 8th inning stands out), but in all, the SF batters were working the count and getting good wood on pitches in the zone. It just wasn't their night.

And yet the 2 runs they managed to score could have been enough. Lincecum was looking very good through 2 innings. And then the 3rd inning happened. The 7 and 8 hitters reached base. Halladay laid down a foul bunt that was called fair. Buster Posey threw to 3rd base to get the out, but Sandoval, who had been coming in to field the bunt, couldn't get his foot on the bag. The Giants were able to get the out at first, but that was it. Had the Giants gotten the out at 3rd, the Phillies would have complained very rightly that the bunt was foul. Instead, the play worked out just the way they wanted it to. And then Aubrey Huff added his name to the list of players this postseason who have made critical errors. Victorino hit a grounder to Huff, and it bounced up on him and away, allowing both runners to score. Victorino would then score on a single by Polanco. Lincecum got out of the nightmare inning, and was almost flawless for the following 4. It is technically true what the headlines are saying: Halladay did "outduel" Lincecum. But Lincecum could have easily held the Phillies to 1 or 2 runs without the weirdness that happened in the 3rd. He did look better than Halladay on the mound at least (partly because of Halladay's injury). And it would have been a different game, a game the Giants could have won.

One more thing to discuss before I end for the night: the decision to pitch Ramon Ramirez in the 9th, down by 1 run. Ramirez gave up an opposite field HR to Jayson Werth to lead off the inning, then got the next 3 outs. It is inconsequential now; the Giants failed to get a baserunner against Brad Lidge. But it is still worth talking about, because I believe it was a major blunder by manager Bruce Bochy. Brian Wilson should have been in the game. No question about it. He is the Giants best reliever. The Giants were at home, down by 1. It was the time to protect that 1 run deficit at all costs. And Ramon Ramirez has been good, but he isn't Brian Wilson, and Wilson NEEDS to pitch in those important situations. I can't think of reason against it. He had pitched in the last 2 games, but there is an off day tomorrow, so if the Giants lose, Wilson gets that rest (and if they win, he gets more than a week of rest). They were at home, so there is no situation where you'd want to save him for a save opportunity in extra innings. Once you get to the 9th at home, in a close game, you use your closer if his arm isn't falling off. Otherwise you'll use a lesser pitcher, and end up regretting it.

Something encouraging to take from this game: the top 2 spots in the lineup, Andres Torres and Freddy Sanchez, both looked very good swinging the bat. Torres worked a walk in the 1st inning, the first walk Halladay had issued to lead off a game. Hopefully both these guys will hit in Game 6. Well of course, hopefully EVERYONE will hit in Game 6.

1 comment:

  1. I was a little frustrated to see us making errors early on in this game but it happens sometimes. I really hope we play good ball on Saturday in Philly,not really looking forward to seeing all the jack-ass Philly fans and their unfortunate signs. I lost respect for their fans when I saw that they bring signs that say " Fix your teeth". Who cares about teeth? PLAY BALL.