Well, that was fun. Detroit wasn’t prepared, and that was fun.
Hell, I wasn’t prepared, either.
I mean, not unprepared for a good game from Zito. I had hopes from NLCS Game 5, compounded with statistical history from the Tigers not doing well against left-handers, and the common sense that an over-amped team coming off a layoff might be too eager to wait and square up against a junkballer.
I also was not unprepared for the Giants to take a win from Zerlander. The Giants have historically done well with aces, especially in the postseason.
But this game. This rout. Not prepared, not at all. Not that I miss it THAT much, but what happened to the torture?
Let’s be honest, there has been a nagging feeling at the back of my mind. Ever since Game 3 of the NLDS, one thing I felt was that the Giants were getting a lot of breaks (like balls hitting bases or bats a few times), a couple of calls (or non-calls) from the umpires (like Crawford being way out of the baseline against the Cards), and mostly doing a great job of taking advantage of mistakes by their opponents. I mean, taking advantage is not a very easy thing to do; it’s not automatic. And some mistakes by the Cardinals came from having a lot of pressure being put on them by the Giants.
Tonight’s game wasn’t about mistakes by the Tigers. There was a bobble in center, but that didn’t affect anything. Delmon Young had a throw that will haunt him in gif form for years, but even a good throw wouldn’t have made a difference. And it could be said that Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta wasn’t doing enough to backup the ball that Pagan hit off third base to hold Pagan to a single. But none of those mistakes were glaring or game-changing. Hell, the Tigers were the ones who to a two-run break when they got a home run on a ball that wouldn’t have gone out if Pagan hadn’t tipped it while trying to catch it.
When Sandoval was hitting home runs, they weren’t mistake pitches. Hell, I expect most hitting coaches would have called them mistake swings until they saw the results. Verlander was right to try and blow a fastball up out of the zone past a free-swinger. On a 2-0 count with a runner on, painting the outside of the plate was a good idea. And Al Albuquerque was throwing a pitch that was on it’s way into the dirt to knock Bugs Bunny into taking that “Left Turn at Albuquerque” he’s always complaining about, and Pablo gave it a right turn towards Alameda.
The rest of the squad weren’t bad either, except maybe Pence. Scutaro and a lot of other Giants batters were fouling off pitches, and not allowing themselves to strike out against Verlander. They piled on Valverde when the opportunity arose. And they ran hard, and played hard.
And, just a moment to point out that Tim McCarver had a rare moment of lucidity, and rightfully praised Roberto Kelly for making a difference as a first-base coach, alerting Pagan to take second. First base coach is often a role that, at least during a game, is almost as ceremonial as the first pitch. Both on Fox and on MLB network, good on them for taking a moment to point out a difference-making call.
And then there was the pitching. Zito was exactly what he needed to be. He wouldn’t let Detroit amp up, even with a breaking ball he couldn’t control early. He kept them off-balance, and as Detroit has often done against left-handers, they faltered. And then came Lincecum.
Following Barry Zito with Tim Lincecum is like chasing a fine Scotch with a shot of Jägermeister.
This was domination. It was a domination that even those who picked the Giants to win the series did not see coming. It was great.
Welcome to the World Series in San Francisco, world. We’re loud, we’re proud, and you should never, EVER, expect anything normal out of it.