How Fucked Up WAS This Weekend?…
Answer. It was really fucked. Beyond fucking fucked, in fact. If that’s possible, and I think it was. Who the hell wanted the Reds first? Friggin idiots. ;) I’m going to beat Baggs to the damn filing deadline here. It’s fresh, so what the hell?
Overriding all of the excuses or the explanations, the fact is the Reds just dominated. They’re damn good. They’re no fluke. They’ve hit all year, and their pitching is the real deal and better than the Giants, ranking NL #3 in WHIP and ERA over the Giants #5. Put that combo together for the oppo, and you’ve got a shot at getting boat raced in your house if you’re not razor sharp. And, the Giants were as sharp as a straight razor left out in the rain.
What can be gleaned from these first two games? First, the inexplicable, season-long home park funk continued. In spades. The oppo seems able to hit home runs with relative abandon at ATT compared to the Giants.
Next, what happened to the Giants offense that was raking in September? Outscored 14-2 in these weekend games. The key duo up top of Pagan and Scutaro went AWOL. That’s what happened. They keyed the September run, and set the table, and an attitude. Thus far in the series, nearly zilch. A combined 1 for 17 over both games. Ouch. That was killer. The Cueto injury may have proven to be an omen. A bad one. Latos coming in there on the fly may have discombobulated the squad. Not that it should have, but it may have. Nobody else stepped up either to hit, so the fault spreads beyond the top two guys to everybody. Tonight they seemed anxious as hell and trying to hit the damn 5 run homer, helping out fucking Bronson Pinchot who looked like an All Star out there instead of the OK, at best, pitcher that he is. Pablo and Pence were putrid at 2 for 9 (including the meaningless double in the 9th tonight) and 0 for 8, respectively. Posey got some production and an HR. But, the guys at the top flopped, and that set the tone.
Was the winning of the division early a curse? Hard to say, I think NO. Post-clinch, Bochy tried to keep everybody sharp, and played the regulars regularly. If the early clinch had an impact, it wasn’t because of mis-managing personnel in the post-clinch period. And, the Reds had their division sewed up, effectively, weeks and weeks ago. Didn’t seem to impact them much, did it?
Dusty factor? Were the Reds really jacked up about playing hard for Dusty, coming off his health issues? I tend to not believe much in that fluff stuff. If they weren’t jacked up just by playing in the playoffs, I don’t think having your manager coming back from a stroke is going to make a difference. I give that a tiny role.
Pitching. Eh, just showed how the 2010 playoff run was remarkable. Timmeh pitched that first game at ATT v. the Braves and struck out 14 to win 1-0. That set an amazing tone for the rest of the playoffs. Here, Cain wasn’t really on in Game #1. But, he only gave up 3. He wasn’t totally hammered. Bumgarner continued his not so good late season form. He just didn’t have that killer slider, as has seemed to be the case the last month or so. Bochy needs to answer for some questionable relief moves. He didn’t manage the Pen with a real sense of urgency, IMO, as much as he did down the stretch trying to clinch early. In game #1, bringing in Casilla while still just 2 runs down? Why not Romo is the obvious question. Those extra 2 runs given up there were devastating. In game #2, the second stringers came in after Timmy had held serve down 4-0. Faced with going down 2-0 in games, IMO you gotta put in your top 4 Pen guys right then and there to make sure you stay within a grand slam of tying it. If you tie it up, worry then about who’s left in the Pen. But, Mijares and Mota after Tim. Seriously? Then? If you’re up, OK, go with what got you there — I get sticking with roles, but not when the ship is sinking towards 2-0. You get the pumps working to keep from foundering, not the bucket brigade. When you’ve got 4 top Pen guys, it’s all hands on deck time NOW to avoid going down more than 4 runs mid-game at home.
What now? I expect the Giants will NOT roll over. Vogy is going in game #3, he’s going to have that jaw jutting out as far as possible to keep the team close. Hopefully, he won’t be wired so tight that he loses feel and spotting his fastball and cutter that he seemed to get back the last two starts. And, the Giants have been nails on the road. I would not be surprised if they came back to take #3. They really need to score first to get some mojo going, get some leverage. If they can bring it in game #3, then just move to game #4 – the Zitman will have the greatest opportunity in his career to make a statement beyond anything he’s ever done. I would NOT start Cain on short rest, gawd, it’s hard to say this, but I’d let Zito start it and have the shortest fucking hook in the history of the playoffs. If he presents even the slightest whiff of faltering, the Bochy hook happens and it’s bring on the Marines. If there is a game #5, well, we can worry about that then.
BTW, Timmeh coming in to pitch two excellent innings (pitching to the forbidden Posey) with a short warm-up and totally in the stretch will surely set off discussions about his future as a late reliever or even closer. Did Rags just say “Hey Tim — warm up!, and five minutes later he’s in”? I think pretty much, yeah. Hey, a mid-career, even latter-career move from starter to closer worked for Eck…