As a lifetime fan of baseball, I can only say that these are the times I live for. I ramble on continuously about the 162-game schedule that baseball utilizes, to determine which team has the moxie and perseverance, to come out on top. When two teams go at it, head to head, and one comes out on top, the other is relegated to also-ran status.
Fans who spew out that their team got beaten by an inferior team, or that a team got “lucky,” annoy me. There is no way that you can say that luck is the determining factor for a 162-game schedule. A team may get lucky because it doesn’t face Clayton Kershaw on a visit to LA, but a team does not get lucky and win a division or win a World Series. No, a team battles it out all season, with the other teams within its division, or with teams in other divisions, who want to win every game they can, because they are all competing with fellow division contenders.
There is a lot of adversity over the course of such a grueling period of time. There are many individual sacrifices made, and there is a lot of teamwork going on. For every high point, there are corresponding low points. Four nights ago, the Giants, with Santiago Casilla pitching, were down to the last strike to put Oakland away, when the Athletics’ rookie catcher hit a three-run shot. End of game, and a painful way to go. Those are the worst kind.
What do you do? There was no time to snivel with the LA [hot] Doggers coming into town. We had to regroup, especially since the Angels were kind enough to dispatch the Doggers on the same night that we were getting “walked off” by Oakland. It doesn’t matter what happened Sunday night; Monday night does not allow for looking backward. If a team gets mired in negative events from previous games, that carries over.
Who was slated to start that first game? The much maligned Barry Zito, who had given up seventeen runs in the previous fourteen innings, and who has alternated between brilliant, and ineffective this season, was the opening series pitcher. I have to tell you, that when Bruce Bochy elected to sit Buster down for the night, and catch Hector Sanchez, I nodded in agreement, and figured we were essentially giving in on the first game. That’s because I am on the outside looking in, and have nothing more than past practices to guide my reasoning.
Who could have logically predicted that Zito could shut out any team, let alone the first-place Dodgers? But that’s baseball, pure and simple. The most extraordinary things occur routinely, and blend and meld with the harsh realities of so many games, to produce an ambrosia for fans to savor, all summer long. Baseball differs from football, in that you get a steady diet all summer long, almost every day. During the fall, all of that sports angst builds up for a three-hour adrenaline rush on the gridiron every Sunday, and it’s all over until the next Sunday.
Having shut out the Bums for the first of the three games, what could the Giants possibly have done as an encore? Do not forget that the Dodgers came into AT&T Park, three games ahead of the Giants. Even if we took two of three, we still would have been two back, so you know that Don Mattingly, the Dodger manager, would have been amping up his troops. He made it clear that going into hostile AT&T Park was a part of the baseball season, and that players had to get used to it.
The team the Giants faced the past three days, is not the same team that was rocking the baseball world, cruising along with the best record in baseball the first two and a half months of the season. That goes back to the marathon approach I was talking about. We have a team that has almost completely transformed itself since the end of the 2010 season, and is now coming together.
But the Dodgers have lost Matt Kemp, and have now lost Andre Ethier.
Ryan Vogelsong has been excellent all season, so the second game might have been more expected, a 2-0 shellacking of the Dog-men. But what about Tim Lincecum? I have said all season, “Don’t you worry about Timmy.” Now that he is overcoming his issues, the Giants stand to emerge that much stronger. Better Timmy struggle the first half of the season than the second half.
The resulting seven innings of shutout ball, is just Timmy’s way of saying that he has arrived. For the first time in its 129 year old franchise history, the Giants held the LA Dodgers scoreless for a three-game set. The New York Giants had last accomplished the feat against a different opponent in 1954, but it had never been done againt the Dodgers.
Like the perfect game Matt Cain threw, it was a once-in-a-franchise occurrence. I could get used to these happenings. We still have to play the Dodgers a dozen times this season, but I like our chances And do not forget that we have beaten Clayton Kershaw twice this season, thank you Ryan Vogelsong. Go Giants!