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The Padres were preyed upon by the Giants, who were licking their wounds after being swept in Milwaukee in games which exploded the ERAs of Barry Zito and Matt Cain.
So the Giants relished the opportunity to face a weak opponent back at home in the friendly, wide-open spaces of AT&T – they were eager to do what they do so well they’re the World Series Champs.
The formula is clear: pitching, defense, just enough hits and taking advantage of opponents’ mistakes. We should stop calling Giants Baseball “Torture,” because it’s the Giants’ method that creates the tension. They want to set the conditions taut and then to play crisp, so the other team will make a mistake first.
Giants Ball is small ball with four basic priorities. The simple formula applied effectively, can be beautiful. In order of importance:
1. Pitching – quality starters and a stable pen. The Giants rely heavily on starting pitching and on the bullpen. Bochy continues to improve at making the necessary moves to prevent runs from crossing the plate.
2. Crisp Defense – Marty Lurie on Bench Coach Ron Wotus: “What Ronnie said was, ‘If you get a double-play ball you better turn it. (beat) That’s the difference between a pennant winning team and another team.'”
3. Just Enough Hits – situational hits to produce “just enough” runs. It’s a different philosophy … think Just Enough Hits as opposed to Murderer’s Rows. We keep mowing down Murderer’s Rows in the World Series. Pitching wins out over a month of postseason play. All you need is just enough hits.
Jon Miller: “Sandoval is now hitting a *cool* five fifty with runners in scoring position. Pablo’s playing the chauffeur telling those runners in scoring position, hop in, I’m driving you home.”
4. Take Advantage of Opponents Mistakes
Some may think of plays that result from opponents errors as lucky, but when you play tight, crisp, team ball like this, you create conditions by which to seize upon errors of the opponent.
It’s a plan that’s going to generally result in close games. Lurie: 14 of 19 games have been decided by less than 3 runs and the Giants are 10-4 in those games.” We’ll take that!
So quit chewing your nails and get used to it. Learn to enjoy the chess match from the defensive perspective, let’s talk pen vs. pen.
I joined Marty Lurie on the Post Game to talk about that and other joys of small ball … and it was fun:
The highlight of the weekend was Angel Pagan’s walkoff double on Friday night. Though the Giants had to come from behind and score late to win it, the score was low because the pitchers were doing their thing.
Giants starting pitchers gave up two runs over 27 innings and had two shutouts.
Bumgarner got tagged by Chase Headley for those runs, which was an anomaly in his pitching. Otherwise he was on target and the team didn’t let him get the loss: Pagan’s walk-off prevented it.
Tim Lincecum’s performance was dominant – with eight strikeouts over 6 innings – and the Giants’ system worked most efficiently in Game Two. Pablo Sandoval’s two run homer was all the scoring we needed and all we got. Mijares, Casilla and Romo cleaned up, held and closed.
In Game Three, Bruce Bochy left Barry Zito in through the 7th, which, if it were Bumgarner or Cain I would consider exactly the wrong move (please see other posts) … but Zeets is a special case, pitching perhaps the best of his life. He wants and deserves the innings. He was, to borrow Marty Lurie’s word for it, “electrifying” – seven shutout innings on 102 pitches with 71 strikes and pitched a great game.
Chad Gaudin came in with a five run lead and in a non-save situation maintained the shutout for the final two innings. The bullpen is really starting to gel.
Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey each had a two-run homer in the series: Buster’s first home run of the year and Panda’s game two decider. The Giants have hit 11 Home runs, and I believe that’s 3rd worst in the Major Leagues – Just Enough Hits as opposed to Murderer’s Rows.
In the absence of power, key hits are what’s important and several guys on the team are doing the job to create a collective effort – a different hero every night.
Pablo’s bat has woken up after back-to-back, 0-fer nights and he is now leading the team and ranked int he league in RBIs, hitting .550 with RISP, which prompted Jon Miller to remark: “Pablo’s playing the chauffeur telling those runners in scoring position, ‘Hop in, I’m driving you home.'”
Angel Pagan won Game One with that walk-off double but has been getting other key hits throughout the young season. Last year he tied the 109-year-old Giants record for home hit streak and he seems focused on breaking it this year. He and Andres Torres have been picking up the pace to get on base as Marco Scutaro starts to find his stride.
Hunter Pence has been getting key hits as well and has four home runs to lead all Giants. Brandon Crawford is having his best year hitting in the majors thus far, threatening to end the season as a .300+ hitter and a Gold Glove winner.
Zito is getting calculated, intentional hits: well-executed bunts, infield hits and even a base hit swinging that looked great. Bay City Ball has a great piece about where Barry Zito’s hits go. Hint: the same way all the time.
Nick Noonan continues to show presence that’s unusual for a rookie – key pinch hits, solid infield work. Brandon Belt has been streaky, still looking for his swing. The negative comments on a hole in his swing get ugly. I still have faith.
This was a good series against a weak opponent that featured pitching and just enough hits by the Giants.