Giantphoria Waits Again for Champagne
October 27, 2012
At the moment, everything is great in the land of the Giants.
Pablo Sandoval, the happy warrior who embraces the nickname “Kung Fu Panda,” had 12 home runs in the regular season and gets three in World Series Game 1, getting a congratulatory tweet from Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and sealing his fate as a trivia answer. (Hint: The non-trivial answers are Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols)
The Giants pitching staff bats in the same number of runs (4) over the past five games as the slugger-laden rosters of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers. Those games include the three wins that that got the Giants into the World Series and the first two of the Fall Classic itself.
The Giants hold a 2-0 lead over the favored Tigers after facing down their two ace pitchers using the question marks on the Giant’s staff. The pitchers considered the Giants aces – at least before the last two games – are due up in games 3 and 4. After the near-death experiences in the earlier series against the Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds, this doesn’t feel quite right. But then I recall 2010 when the Giants took the Rangers in five, beating their ace Cliff Lee twice and it does have a familiar ring.
So, did anyone actually see this coming?
Look. We’re all happily surprised here in Giantsland. Even at those moments when you thought, “Maybe this team can go all the way…” you were afraid to say it out loud because the pitching wasn’t nearly as good as two years ago. Plus, even in 2010 you had the sense the Giants were talented, lucky and peaked at the right time. They never seemed like a dynasty. And, except for the pitchers and catcher Buster Posey, the team has been remade the last two years.
But, there were some signs.
First, there was a span in mid-August after Melky Cabrera, the Giants most dynamic player on his way to an MVP season, was banished for the season due to a positive drug test. A little later, the Dodgers pulled a blockbuster trade to bring in slugger Adrian Gonzalez and pitcher Josh Beckett from the Red Sox. It was an apparent late bid to challenge the Giants for the division title. The Giants went 10-4 over that stretch. They obviously missed all the reports of their impending demise.
Then, in September, the Giant were a few games ahead of the Dodgers. Over the next 11 games, they lost once. ONCE. Think about that. This wasn’t a random streak during the long season. It was putting the hammer down hard until they heard the sound of champagne corks. As the Giants increased their lead by 6…7…8 games so that only an unprecedented collapse and Dodger surge would foil them, they continued to play like they were in Game 7 of the World Series. Scratching for every run, every night. Bringing in four or five relievers in some games. Giving no starters extra rest. They were relentless. And everyone knew it was an exercise, a dry run for what they’re doing now.
This is why I don’t give the Tigers much hope. It’s not just that they have a bullpen that gives up a run an inning in tight games. The Giants will keep this up until it’s champagne time again. They can already hear the corks popping.