Results tagged ‘ Brandon Crawford ’
I was happy to get two hits yesterday, given the skid I’ve been on. But I’d rather have an 0-fer and win than get a bunch of hits and lose.
I started the year so well at the plate, then the hits just stopped coming. You try everything to figure out what you’re doing wrong. I’ve put videos ofmy swing from the past week side-by-side with my swing from the first few weeks. My mechanics are exactly the same.
I was particularly stumped by a fly ball I hit recently to left field for an out. An identical swing on an almost identical pitch resulted in an opposite-field home run last month. What was the difference? I saw it on a slow-motion replay. On the home run, the ball hit the bat square. On the fly ball, it hit a few millimeters off center. A fraction of a fraction of an inch. That’s how thin the line is between success and failure at the plate.
The toughest part of going through a slump is maintaining your confidence and keeping a consistent mental approach. Hitting is all about that. The thing is, almost any kind of swing can be successful. Look at Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro. They have completely different swings,but they’re both good hitters. And they’re both confident in the swings they have, so it works for them.
I think maybe there are certain times when I’m trying to do too much instead of just seeing the ball and hitting it like I was earlier. Maybe I’m overthinking what the pitcher might be throwing.Or I’m trying to pull the ball in certain situations instead of just staying up the middle.
During the game, your teammates aren’t going to offer too many suggestions. They’re busy with their own stuff. But the other day in batting practice, Buster said I was pulling my front shoulder off the ball a little bit. So I tried to incorporate that into my batting practice, keeping the shoulder closed and putting the ball up the middle or the opposite field.
I never lose my confidence on the field. Even when I was getting criticized early last season for errors, I didn’t lose my confidence because I have no doubts about defense. If you can play defense in the minors, you can play at the Major League level. A ground ball is pretty much a ground ball.But hitting in the Major Leagues is different from the minors because the pitching is better. It’s an adjustment. It takes time to develop the same sense of invincibility at the plate that you feel in the field.
A blog reader asked about “the weird pad’’ on my left hand when I’m batting. I think he’s talking about the thumb guard (see the photo). A lot of guys wear them. It keeps the handle of the bat from sinking into the webbing between your index finger and thumb. I think it makes for a quicker bat. And you don’t feel the sting as much when you get jammed. I’ve been using it my whole pro career.
Then when I get on base, I take off the thumb guard and gloves and put on a different thumb guard. I sprained my thumb at the beginning of last year so I wore it all season to protect it when I slide headfirst. This year I jammed the thumb again putting down a tag at second on Carlos Gomez, so I’ve put the thumb guard back on.
A follow-up from the previous blog post. We ended up not going to Sea World in San Diego. One of Jalynne’s nieces was sick. So we walked along the coast to Seaport Village with the dog and the stroller. It was great – and we didn’t have to pay $150 or whatever to watch a sea otter show that Braylyn won’t even remember.
It was also great to go back to our new home in Arizona when we played the Diamondbacks. The best part was sleeping in my own bed. My bed in Arizona is a lot more comfortable than the one here. The bed here is the same cheap one we bought when I was called up from the minor leagues. It might be time for a new one.
A few thoughts on the Dodger series and our tendency to play close games. I think it was Hunter who said we’re addicted to one-run games. We do our best to make sure it’s a one-run game whether up by a lot of runs or down by a lot of runs. That Saturday game, we were up 5-0 and thinking maybe we’d make it 10-0. Then all of a sudden we’re losing and have to come back and win 10-9.
Flan jokes that maybe it has something to do with the yin/yang, fiery/laid-back pairings in our batting lineup. You start with Pagan and Scutaro, then Pablo and Buster, then Hunter and either me or Belt, then Blanco and either me or Belt. It’s an interesting observation, isn’t it?
OK, I’ll be late to the park if I go on any more. Let’s hope for a better game today than the first two against Philly.
I loved giving Pablo a hard time when I had more home runs than he did.
“Yeah,’’ he’d say, “talk to me in September.’’
I had to get my shots in while I could.
It’s great hitting home runs, believe me. I had four all last season and have three already this year. But to tell you the truth I take just as much pride in laying down a crucial sacrifice bunt, like the one last night in the ninth inning.
Sacrifice bunts might not get the scoreboard flashing and the water spouting, but they are noticed by your teammates. They know you did your job and that it was a key to winning the game. My job last night was to move Torres into scoring position, just as in the fourth game of the World Series it was to move Theriot into scoring position. In each situation, the next batter got a hit that scored the runner. If the runner is still at first, he doesn’t score.
OK, so laying down the sac bunt isn’t as much fun as getting the winning hit. You’re not in the newspaper the next day or on the highlights that night. But you know what you did. Last night, after everyone punched Belt in the ribs a few times, my teammates congratulated me on the bunt. I point this out to make the point that winning is a team effort. When you stop playing as a team, you stop winning.
I was really happy for Belt getting the big hit after scuffling the way he has. He was definitely due for a good rip.
People have been asking me why I’m hitting better this year. I made an adjustment in the spring. Former Fresno manager Steve Decker, who’s now the organizational hitting coordinator, was in the batting cage with me down in Arizona. I was warming up as I usually do by hitting off the tee, and Decker was placing the balls on the tee. I think I’ve written about my routine before, about how I position the tee in nine different locations so I practice my swing as if the pitch were in different locations – high, middle, low, inside, over the plate and outside.
Later during batting practice, Decker told me to swing as if I were hitting off the tee at its highest point. That meant I stood taller. My hands were higher. My front shoulder, which usually turned in toward the plate, now stayed more stationary. It was a simpler and shorter approach. It allowed me to have a flatter swing, so I got more backspin, which meant the ball had more of an upward trajectory.
Soon after that, Hunter and I were working on our hitting in Scottsdale while most of the team were playing on the road.
“You’re getting your hands up really well,’’ Hunter said.
We talked about mechanics and why this tweak made a difference.
And it has. I would not have hit an opposite field home run, as I did in Milwaukee, with my old stance.
In Chicago, a group of us went out to dinner – Affeldt, Buster, Hunter, Nick Noonan, Bumgarner, Javy, a couple more, I can’t remember everybody. (Belt didn’t go. He went to the movies by himself. He claims he didn’t know about it.) One of the highlights of any meal is watching Bum eat. It’s entertaining to marvel at the amount and the speed.
When it was time to pay, we considered the old “throw your credit card in’’ game. I quickly pulled an old hotel key-card and tossed it on the table. But in the end, Buster and Hunter split the bill. The one advantage to making less money is you don’t pick up too many checks. But I got Starbuck’s for Buster one day. I think we’re even.
Jalynne, Braylyn and I are flying down to San Diego right after the game tomorrow. We’re going to spend the off day at Sea World with Jalynne’s sister and her two little daughters. I don’t know how much Braylyn will appreciate the killer whales and sea otters, but I know she’ll enjoy herself. She lights up at the smallest things these days. I hated to leave her today to go to the ballpark because she was laughing at everything and having such a great time. Glad she and Jalynne will be on this road trip!
Haylee made me a great cake for my 25th birthday on Saturday. Chocolate and vanilla. I was so hungry when I got home from the game that night I ate a huge piece while we waited for our pizza to arrive. I love chocolate. I’d have an all-chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce. But Haylee’s cake was really, really good. There’s nothing like a homemade cake. I think she spent about two hours making it, so I restrained myself from asking why there wasn’t ice cream.
We had an official birthday dinner Sunday night after the day game. We went to Bobo’s on Lombard and Van Ness. Stopped for a milk shake at a burger joint then went to see the new Tom Cruise movie. Just the two of us. Nice night.
Maybe the cake and milk shake will help put some weight back on me. I only gained back 3 or 4 pounds of the 11 or so that I lost when I was sick at the start of the season. It’s hard to keep weight on during the season, much less gain weight, because you’re playing every day. I’m drinking more protein shakes when I’m at the field, so I’m sure I’ll eventually get back to normal.
Bochy is giving me time off against left-handed pitchers, hoping to help me recapture the good rhythm I had in spring training. I know people make a big deal when you start the season slowly. They look up at the scoreboard and see your average is below .200 and kind of go a little nutty. But as a player you have to ignore the numbers. All you have control over is your current at-bat. You have to approach each one the same way, with the same confidence. You don’t have control over the results. You know that the balls will start to fall and the numbers on the scoreboard will start to creep back up.
This doesn’t mean that you completely ignore your struggles. I’m working with Bam-Bam and Joe in the cage and watching video. But in baseball especially, you have to take the long view. There are still more than five months left in the season. We’ve played only three weeks! So it’s crazy to get all panicky. I’ll be fine.
In the meantime, Crawford is hitting well enough for both of us. He’s seeing the ball really well. He’s so comfortable at the plate. He’s in such a good groove I think he’ll be hitting the ball well for a long time.
It seems to work out that way on this team. When one person’s down, the next guy picks him up. You never know on this team who’s going to be the guy who comes through with the big hit or the big play. Even though I’m scrapping right now, or maybe especially because I’m scrapping, I’m having a great time watching Crawford crush home runs.
Believe me, I’m not excited to be sitting on the bench. Nobody likes sitting. I’d like to play every inning of every game. As long as we’re winning, I’m happy.
I spoke to a group of Little League players before Sunday’s game, and one of them asked if I missed pitching. I grew up as a pitcher. I wanted to be Randy Johnson, another tall lefty. So I said I hoped that someday we’ll be going into the 27th inning and Bochy will be out of pitchers and I’ll get the call. That would be awesome.
Another kid asked what I ate before games. I said, “Anything that’s put in front of me, plus a Red Bull.’’
And someone else wanted to know who was the funniest guy on the team. “Bumgarner,’’ I said, “even though he doesn’t try to be. If you can understand what he’s saying, he’s pretty funny.’’
See you out at the ballpark.
Marco Scutaro returned to the team this morning from the World Baseball Classic. So great to have him and Pablo back. The clubhouse is always a bit louder with Pablo around. He was there this morning playing cards with some of the Latin players at the round table near his locker. I don’t think there is ever a moment when Pablo isn’t finding a way to have a good time.
While Marco was gone, different guys played second, including Tanaka who speaks very little English. Communication is probably the biggest thing between a shortstop and second baseman so it’s something we work on in spring training.
If a ball’s hit to right-center, for example, you have to communicate who’s the cutoff man and who’s going to trail. With Scutaro I already know that I’ll take the cutoff because I have a stronger arm. But if Joaquin Arias is playing second, he’ll take the throw. A shortstop has to work that out with every second-baseman.
Or if I’m expecting a hit-and-run — let’s say there’s an average runner at first and a good contact hitter at the plate — I’ll alert the second-baseman that I suspect a hit-and-run to the right side and that I’ll be covering second.
Of course the other team can’t know what you’re saying. So there’s a lot of nonverbal communication. Before a pick-off play, I’ll point to the second-baseman if he should cover the throw, or I’ll wiggle my glove if I’m going to take it.
If we’re expecting a runner to steal second, I’ll signal with my mouth to the second baseman who’s covering the bag: If I open my mouth, he’s covering; if I close my mouth, I’m covering. I do this, of course, behind my glove so the the opposing team can’t see.
Yesterday all the fielders worked on taking cutoffs. You might think, “What’s there to work on? A cutoff’s a cutoff.’’ But Bochy had us doing something different. He noticed that when outfielders had to retrieve balls all the way to the wall, their throws weren’t as crisp and strong. The reason is they had to basically stop to pick up the ball before throwing, which means they had no momentum. The throws sailed in on an arc, and we’d have a tough time making the play.
Bochy had the infielders position themselves about 15 feet farther out than usual to receive the throws. The result was that the outfielders’ throws were stronger and faster, and so the cutoff men got the ball back to the infield more quickly. It should give us a better chance at nailing runners at third and home.
We also worked on bunts. I’m pretty good at sac bunts — I hit the best sac bunt of my life in Game 4 in Detroit to put Theriot in scoring position at second base. But I need to get better at bunting for base hits. I always bunt too hard, and the third-baseman throws me out easily. You have to deaden the ball so the third-baseman can’t reach it. And the trick to that is to almost catch the ball on your bat. It’s really an art to get the timing just right — to pull the bat back just as it’s meeting the pitch. And you have to make sure you take the pitch at the top of the zone and push down so you don’t pop it up.
I’ll keep working on that and a dozen other things through spring training. We’re having a great time just being together. And the weather is perfect right now. But I’m a Bay Area guy, so I’ll be happy when we go north, back to AT&T and 40,000 cheering fans.
See you there.
It rained all day today but that doesn’t mean we didn’t work out. We took turns in the batting cages and weight room and most of us got finished a little bit earlier than usual. I just got back to the clubhouse so I’ll catch you up on the off-season and the start of spring training.
As you probably know, we had a baby December 18th, a girl we named Braylyn. It’s a name we decided on two years ago — a combination of both our names. (We had a boy’s name, too: Jaydon.) Braylyn did not arrive easily. A week after the due date, Jalynne was induced but after two days she had to undergo a C-section. Braylyn had a little cone head from trying to come out but it went away after a day.
Braylyn is two months old now and smiling and even kind of laughing once in a while. She’s already developing a personality. And for the past week and a half she has been sleeping through the night. I have become very quick and dexterous at changing diapers. Who knew that fielding all those grounders would prepare me so well for fatherhood?
We recently bought our first house. It’s here in the Scottsdale area – a four-bedroom place with a yard and a pool that costs about half of what it would in California. We move in on Friday. Jalynne’s parents are driving out from California with the stuff we had in storage, but we pretty much had to buy all the furniture. We hope that will arrive on Friday, too. We’re pretty sure this is where we’ll live in the off-season. It’s easier for me to work out at the Giants minor-league complex because there are always players here. Cain and Romo live here, plus a bunch of other guys. And it’s pretty accessible to both sets of grandparents.
As for baseball, it’s great to be back with everyone again, though the first week or so are pretty, well, I won’t say boring – how about basic? If you came to the first few days of workouts here this week, you might be surprised at our drills. They are as fundamental as a Little League practice.
Jose Alguacil, the minor league’s roving infield instructor, literally rolls the ball to us. The point is to work on footwork and on exchanging the ball from the glove to the throwing hand, though we don’t throw. It’s not like we forget how to do any of this. But we’ve been off for three months, so you want to regain your form one step at a time to make certain you’re doing everything the right way.
For batting, we start by hitting off a tee. You can set the tee at different locations. First thing I do when I get to the park in the morning is take five swings at nine locations: up and away, up middle, up and in, middle away, middle middle, middle in, down and away, down middle and down and in. That takes about 15 minutes.
Then a coach tosses balls underhand to me, and I’ll hit for another 15 minutes doing that.
Yesterday, our third base coach Tim Flannery had a session on base-running. He gathered all the position players at first base. He reminded us that a player who gets 200 hits in a season spends only 42 minutes on base. “There’s no reason you can’t stay focused for 42 minutes!’’ he said.
He also reminded us that in the park we play in and with the pitching we have, we play a lot of close games so good base-running – getting that one run — often is the difference between winning and losing. “If we score three runs, we win 75 percent of the time,’’ he said. “If we score four runs, we win 80 percent of the time.’’
After going over the fundamentals of running from first base, Flan walked us all to second base and went over the basics of that. Then we went on to third. Then he had us run from home to first, then first to third, home to second, second to home, home to third, then he had us tagging up at third.
Yes, it can be a little boring and repetitive. We’ve all done this a million times. But baseball is so much about fundamentals. The basics. One lapse can lose a game. So if you play Little League, guess what? You’re going to keep doing the same drills for as long as you play ball.
I’m loving it, though. I’m more relaxed and confident than I was at this time last year, though I don’t take my job for granted. There are great players here in camp. You always have to earn your job.
Hope to see some of you down here. Games start Saturday. If you can’t make it here, I’ll see you soon at AT&T.
It’s been great to be in contact with a lot of you through Twitter (@bcraw35). Sorry to have disappeared from the blogosphere. But I’ve been busy relaxing. It’s taken up most of my time. It’s one of my favorite things, and I’m good at it.
I’m exaggerating but not much.
Today, actually, I visited Casa Colina, a rehabilitation hospital in Pomona. It’s where Jalynne’s father, John, recovered from the traumatic brain injury he suffered in Australia during the 2000 Olympics, where Jalynne’s sister Jamie was competing on the U.S. gymnastics team. A bus ran a red light and hit the taxi John and his oldest daughter Jennifer were riding in. She had minor injuries, but he suffered a fractured skull, bruised brain, two collapsed lungs, fractured left wrist, bruised vertebra and trachea injury. He was in a coma for a week. It was five weeks before he was stable enough to leave the hospital in Sydney. Then he put in18 long months of rehab at Casa Colina.
I visited Casa Colina last season during the All-Star break and, like then, I came away today in awe of the courage and perseverance of people dealing with tragedy. I met men today who had been injured in Afghanistan. One had been shot in head. I met a teenaged-looking kid in a wheelchair who can’t talk and can barely move his hands. Yet he managed to give me a thumb’s-up for the World Series. I was glad Jalynne’s father came with us. He’s a great example of the power of the human mind and spirit to heal. The brain injury prevents him from driving or working, but otherwise you’d never know what he went through.
I love Jalynne’s parents like my own. We’re living with them in Southern California for the time being. They had an extra room where they’re helping us set up the nursery for the baby, who’s due in a little over a week. We have the crib, changing table, playpen. Our plan is to spend Christmas Eve down here then drive up Christmas day to spend time with my family in Pleasanton. We’ll probably stay five or six days there. In mid-January, I’ll go to Arizona for conditioning camp. Then there’s FanFest in early February. Then spring training. Then Opening Day!
I’m learning that when you keep playing through the last game of the World Series, the off-season can go by pretty quick. So that’s why I’m relaxing really hard, trying to cram as much in as possible between movies and miniature golf. And now I’m working out, too. There’s no getting around the fact I’m in a physical business. I took two weeks off after the parade then got back into the gym.
The highlight of the off-season so far was the getaway to Ojai Sunday through Tuesday of this week. Jalynne and I stayed in a resort there to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. Major relaxing.
I was thinking about what an amazing 12 months it’s been. I married my best friend. Became the starting shortstop on the team I rooted for as a child. Won the World Series. Rode in a ticker-tape parade through my home city (with my parents and three sisters in the trolley in front of Jalynne and me). And I’m about to become a father.
Not sure I want 2012 to end.
Except that 2013 looks like it will be a pretty good one, too. We’ll have the baby. Almost all of my Giants’ teammates will be back. And I get to play in the best ballpark in the world with the best fans. Life is good.
You never know how important a play might be until the game plays itself out. You can’t know in the second inning, for example, that nailing Prince Fielder at the plate would be so huge. The way we were hitting and scoring in Game 1, one run for the Tigers would have been pretty meaningless. But as it turned out, we couldn’t afford to give an inch tonight.
I’m sure you saw the play. With Fielder on first, Delmon Young doubled down the left field line. I ran out to take the cutoff. Seeing Fielder round third base, Gregor fired the ball in. It sailed over my head. All I was thinking was, “I hope Marco’s there.’’
He was. He took the throw, spun and fired it home to Buster, who put down the tag and got Fielder.
After the game, reporters asked me if that’s how the play is drawn up. It is. We practice it in spring training. I go deep for the cutoff, and the second baseman follows behind me in case the throw is high or comes in on a short hop, and the third baseman covers third in case the runner tries to return to the base.
I still don’t know if Gregor overthrew the ball or if he meant to go to Marco. I’m sure I’ll find out in tomorrow’s paper. It doesn’t matter. It worked.
That’s how things have been going for us. Things seem to be breaking our way.
But it’s not luck. OK, maybe a little luck. But mostly I think you make your own luck. For example, usually if we haven’t scored a run through six innings, we’d be pressing. We could press ourselves right out of the game. But I didn’t see any of that. We were relaxed, confident that, with the way Bum was pitching, he’d keep them off the scoreboard. He had more life on the ball than his last outing and he was hitting all his spots. We wouldn’t need a lot of runs to win.
When I went up to bat with the bases loaded in the seventh and no outs, neither team had scored yet. I wanted to keep my approach as simple as possible, the way I would with two strikes. Don’t try to do too much. The infielders were playing normal depth, so it seemed they were conceding the run at home if I put the ball in play. That surprised me considering the strength of our bullpen.
When I grounded the ball to second base, I thought, “Oh no, double play.’’ Then: “OK, that will do.’’
Hunter scored from third, putting us up 1-0.
In retrospect, to be perfectly honest, I wish I had been more aggressive up there. Smyly, their pitcher, had nowhere to put me. He was going to have to throw strikes. But I didn’t know him. I might have faced him in Double A a couple years ago. I didn’t know what he was going to throw.
In any event, it’s probably the most productive out(s) I’ve ever made. The run put us ahead for good.
A lot of reporters have been asking about our defense. I’m really glad it’s getting some recognition. I think it’s been a key to our success. Our defense has been good the whole second half of the season. Our pitchers get some credit for that. They’ve been awesome. We know where to position ourselves defensively because we know our pitchers are going to hit their spots.
We need two more wins. Fifty-four outs.
But as you know we’re not accustomed to being ahead in a series. This is a new experience.
I like it.
My whole family is traveling to Detroit. Mom, Dad, my three sisters and Jalynne’s parents. The players, wives and staff have to be at the park tomorrow morning at 8:30 to board the buses to the airport. I know it will be a happy flight (made happier by the five different kinds of little cakes Barry Zito’s wife Amber has been making and sharing with everyone).
Maybe the next time we’re back in San Francisco, it will be for a parade. Is it bad luck to say that? But that’s how it feels. We feel we’re on a major roll, like nothing can stop us.
Of course, Cincinnati probably felt the same way.
OK, I take back the parade comment.
One game at a time. One out at a time. One pitch at a time.
It’s worked for us so far.
Keeping up with the blog during the postseason is a bit more difficult than I thought it would be. I had no idea how busy I’d be. I guess I should have known, but I didn’t really think about it.
Today we had a big media session at the park. Each player sat at a small table, and the reporters – a couple hundred, I’d guess – came up to whoever they wanted and asked questions. Everyone asked me about growing up a Giants fan and now playing for them in the World Series.
After that we had batting practice. Then I’ll be going out for Mexican food with Jalynne and get a good night’s sleep.
Last night was something none of us will ever forget. From beginning to end, it had kind of a movie quality to it. The rain at the end put it over the top. It never rains here during baseball season, so to have a downpour like that was crazy. And it was raining hard. I’ve never played in a downpour like that.
When the game was over, my parents and my three sisters came to the edge of the field and we hugged in the rain. Then I joined the rest of the team in running the perimeter of the field to thank the fans. Then the wives made their way onto the field. Jalynne couldn’t find me at first then jumped into my arms, or as much as she can jump seven months pregnant. We stood in the downpour without saying a whole lot, just looking around and trying to take it all in. It was really unbelievable.
Which is not to say I’m surprised we’re in the World Series. I would have been surprised maybe a week or so ago when we were down 3 games to 1. I will admit now that during batting practice in St. Louis before Game 5, I wondered if this would be the last time Ron Wotus hit me grounders until next spring.
But I had none of those thoughts yesterday or the day before. We were so confident. You could it see in everyone’s faces. We were completely loose. Boch has been telling us all along to enjoy this time, to appreciate how hard we worked to get here, to savor the experience. We listened.
When the game was about to start, we heard the roar of the crowd and saw what looked like a million orange towels flapping from every row of the park. How could you not enjoy yourself? There were guys actually dancing in the dugout. Someone tossed Pablo a bright orange wig and he pulled it on and mugged for the fans before tossing it back.
When I ran out onto the field with the rest of the starting lineup, I looked back and saw the rest of the team lined at the rail three deep. They would stay that way for the whole game, yelling and clapping and going as crazy as any fan in the stands.
Yes, we were enjoying and savoring.
Everyone had something to take pride in during yesterday’s game. Everyone contributed. I was happy to catch Lohse’s line drive in the second inning with runners at second and third. Two runs might have scored had it gone over my head. Because of what was at stake, I’d say that was one of my best plays ever. It wasn’t a sharp liner, which you can catch by leaping straight up. This was a soft liner. I had to take a couple steps back and time my jump just right. It’s a great feeling to be able to come through like that.
Just like fans, we like watching the videos on the scoreboard. They’re great, and they’ve gotten even better as they’ve added highlights from the postseason. And we get a kick out of the Fist Pump Lady – who is the 87-year-old grandmother of Marco and Dominic, two brothers who work in our clubhouse. I also really liked seeing video of the Muni buses and airport and local business that have put up Giants signs.
The most amazing thing, though, was just to look around the park at all the fans, to see how happy everyone was. It’s incredible what a sports team can mean to people. I remember as a kid how excited I’d get when the Giants would win. And I remember how devastated I was when they lost Game 6 in 2002. Nothing else makes you feel the way a sports team makes you feel. It was cool in St. Louis to watch a video on the scoreboard of fans’ reactions to the Cardinals’ comeback against the Nationals. There was one guy by himself in his living room jumping up and down on his couch. You had to laugh, but I’ve felt like that myself!
We are so ready for tomorrow. We are so glad we open at home.
By the way, I changed my walkup song at the beginning of the NLCS. It’s by Kevin Rudolf and called “I Made It (Cash Money Heroes)’’ I had used it in Double A because I liked the beat. I was listening to it before the first game of the NLCS, and I decided the lyrics were perfect.
“I made it, I made it!
“I used to dream about, the life I’m living now
“I know that there’s no doubt.
“I made it, I made it!’’
I woke up around 1 this afternoon still smiling from last night’s game. There was Zito’s amazing performance – his pitching and his RBI bunt. The great plays in the field from Pablo, Scutaro, Pence, Pagan, everybody. The timely hitting.
I can’t tell you how happy I was to get that two-run single with two outs. There is no better feeling than coming through for your team in crucial moments. It’s particularly satisfying for me, considering how I began the year and considering that I’m known for my defense.
Why do we seem to lift our game when we’re in absolute must-win situations? I have no idea. But we do. We seem to thrive on it.
We had a players-only meeting in the clubhouse before the game. Not only did Pence talk but also Zito and Scutaro and a few others. As a kid I watched Zito and Marco when they played for the A’s. (I joke with Zito about it now and then.) Marco’s almost 37 years old and has never been to the World Series. It puts into perspective for us younger guys how special this is, what we’re doing right now.
I haven’t been in the major leagues very long, so I don’t know if this kind of selflessness – of genuinely wanting to win for each other – is common. But I can’t imagine it is. I wish everybody at some point in their lives could feel what this is like, to be part of something so much bigger than you, to put 100 percent of yourself into something because you know everyone around you is putting out 100 percent, too.
It’s hard to explain exactly what it’s like. I don’t know that I want to think too deeply on it just yet. I’m trying to stay focused on one day, one game, one inning. But I also want to make sure I soak in what I know will go down as one of the really special experiences of my life.
We had an optional workout this afternoon and just about everybody showed up, despite landing from St. Louis this morning around 3 p.m. Jalynne and I got back to Walnut Creek around 4, and I slept until 1. I think we’re just going to chill tonight. Not sure if we’ll go out to eat or eat in. But we just want to relax.
I can’t wait to get to the park tomorrow. We have Vogey on the mound. We’re in front of our own fans. It’s a must-win game.
I’m in the hotel room with Jalynne resting a little before I walk over to the ballpark at around 2:30. Last night was as frustrating a game as you can have. We had pitching, defense and offense – but we simply couldn’t get the hits when we needed them. It’s crazy to have 12 runners on base and score only one run.
But you’re going to have games like that. And you have to forget them.
We’re all sharing information with each other in the dugout about the pitcher: How’s Lohse’s slider today? Is the ball sinking more than usual? Can you pick up his changeup? I especially ask other left-handed hitters what they saw at their at-bat because that’s probably what I’ll see, too.
Before my first at-bat, either Pablo or Angel said Lohse threw him a backdoor slider or cutter. So with the count 3-2, sure enough I got a backdoor slider. If I hadn’t had that in my mind, I probably would thought the pitch was going outside and taken it for a called third strike. Instead, I was able to foul it off. I walked on the next pitch.
All those little things can really count.
I was happy to get two hits yesterday after getting robbed twice Monday night at our park, particularly on that line drive to short in the second inning. Jalynne retweeted a tweet from Alex Pavlovic: “Brandon Crawford just found out what it’s like to hit a ball to Brandon Crawford.’’
I thought that was funny.
The rain delay seemed like it would never end. I was walking around, eager to keep playing. I couldn’t sit still. I ate a Nutrigrain bar and drank some water. I wandered into the trainer’s room and sat around talking to the other guys in there. I went back to the clubhouse and watched TV. But the TV was showing the same video that was on the scoreboard outside: a review of the Cardinals’ 2011 championship season. Wilson and Mota and I think Timmy were playing dominoes. (There haven’t been many dominoes games this season because Wilson and Mota weren’t around.)
So I walked out to the dugout to check out the weather and the field. The dugout was packed with camera men and the grounds crew and TV reporters. Erin Andrews pulled me aside for a short interview, asking me how we were passing the time and what we were hearing about resuming the game. Then Theriot came out and joined me on the bench. We sat there the rest of the time, talking to whoever was around. Better than watching Cardinals’ highlights.
After the game, I went to dinner with Jalynne and my dad, who flew in for the series. Peter Magowan came over to say hi and introduced himself to my dad, which was really nice.
We’re all looking forward to seeing Timmy on the mound today. We’re confident that if we keep playing the way we’re playing, the hits will start to fall when we need them. The Cardinals are a tough team. A lot like us. You can never count them out.
Just like you can never count us out.
Thanks for reading.