Results tagged ‘ Postseason ’
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’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.