Step Off the Ledge and Calm Down
I know that losing by 5 runs to the Phillies in a crucial playoff series hurts. Seeing Jonathan Sanchez start the game off by walking in a run after an error by our pint-sized third baseman was no fun. That same third baseman letting an easy pop-up drop in the middle of the infield was salt in the wound. Roy Oswalt singling to lead off a four-run rally punctuated by a bases-clearing double from Jimmy Rollins was the searing-hot acid in the already salted wound. This game was from the 1st inning on, the gleaming example of what an un-fun baseball game is. Even with the fire and brimstone surrounding this loss though, all is not lost.
Firstly, the Giants were not going to sweep the Phillies. That simply wasn’t going to happen against a team that good. So better to lose in Philly early in the series than at home with the pennant on the line. Starting Tuesday three of the next five games are in San Francisco, turning this series into a best of five with home field advantage falling to us. Matt Cain is set to start off the three game swing, with Madison Bumgarner tentatively slated to start Game 4, and Timmy coming back for Game 5. To top it all off, even in scoring only one run tonight, the Giants were pretty damn unlucky the entire game. Off the top of my head, I can recall at least 4-5 different balls that were hit right on the screws that were right at a Phillie defender. The hard contact is there; the hits will fall eventually. The law of averages is our security blanket in that regard.
My biggest concern at this point is Andres Torres, who’s suddenly unable to even put the ball in play. When your leadoff hitter is almost a sure bet for a strikeout, things probably aren’t going well at the top of the order. With the lefty Cole Hamels starting Game 3 for the Phillies, this might be a good time to let Andres sit in favor of Aaron Rowand for a game to let him clear his head. The next order of business is to send Mike Fontenot back to the bench and to shuffle Pablo Sandoval back into the lineup. If one at-bat is indicative of anything (which admittedly it usually isn’t), the walk he coaxed out of Roy Oswalt in the 8th inning showed that maybe, just maybe his approach at the plate is improving if only just a little bit.
Now the Giants head home for the first time in four games, with the series knotted up at one game apiece. Given how heavily favored the Phillies were and still are in the NLCS, splitting the first two games in Philadelphia is the second best outcome we could have hoped for to start things off. It was easy for us to get a little greedy after an inspired Game 1 victory, but reality decided that 24 hours was far too long for Giants fans to feel exceedingly hopeful. Reality is back, and it would like the Giants and their fans to know the Phillies are actually a really good baseball team.
So climb down off the ledge you’ve been inching towards since Jonathan Sanchez’ bases-loaded walk. I know that after Jimmy Rollins cleared the bases jumping seemed like a good option. But there’s much more baseball to live for. The torture continues for at least another three games, so come back inside and have a drink to take off the edge. If you’re like me and feeling strangely calm about this game, then you should probably try to meet the jumpers somewhere in the middle, probably around the “perpetually terrified yet naive” part of the emotional spectrum. Expect a nice healthy off-day post tomorrow to tide you over until baseball begins again Tuesday.