Friday, October 08, 2010


NLDS Game One: Giants 1, Braves 0 (or, Timmah!)

Was Tim Lincecum's complete game, 14-strikeout blanking of the Braves the best pitching performance in San Francisco Giants history? I'd have to believe so. His main competition is Jack Sanford and his shutout in Game Two of the 1962 World Series, Dave Dravecky in Game Two of the 1987 ALCS, and Jason Schmidt in the 2003 ALDS. As good as those performances were, Lincecum blows them away.

Going purely by Game Score (go here, you purists, you), Sanford's shutout of a power-laden Yankee lineup rated an 84. Dravecky's performance rated an 85, while Schmidt's moment of glory against the Marlins rated 86. Lincecum's Game Score from last night? An insane 96, which is like the second-best in postseason history (it rated even better than Roy Halladay's no-hitter, which came in at 94). It was mostly due to the strikeouts, but also due to the fact that he surrendered just two hits and made Braves hitters look bad all night. I'm not one for hyperbole, but Lincecum's performance was a million times better than Don Larsen, Whitey Ford, and Curt Schilling combined. Freaktober is here.

On that high note, let me bring you all down with a cautionary tale from the past. Remember back in 2003, after Jason Schmidt waltzed through the Marlins' lineup, and every Giants fan assumed the team would coast past Florida and into the NLCS? Right. Complacency has a way of biting those who practice it. The Marlins came out swinging in a Game Two victory, then went on to win the next two contests in heartbreaking fashion. Yes, the Giants had to follow Schmidt up with fat, worthless Sidney Ponson that series, while Matt Cain follows Lincecum tonight, but still. Timmy's brilliance has us all revved up, and rightly so, but after years of playoff disappointment, Giants fans should know not to get cocky.

--The Giants caught some huge breaks last night in addition to Lincecum's brilliance. The most obvious was the horrible safe call that went in their favor on Buster Posey's stolen base. The play led directly to the only run in the game, and Braves fans are still up in arms. If I were on the other side, I'd be frothing at the mouth, too. However, no Giants fan is going to shed a tear for another team after a blown call literally cost them a game against the Mets this year, an error that very well could have cost them the division.

The other major break was Bobby Cox's decision to walk Pablo Sandoval and pitch to Cody Ross after Posey's hit in the fourth inning. Pablo looked awful in his first at bat, and Ross has been swinging a hot stick for two weeks. That early in the game, it seemed to make more sense to pitch to Sandoval, because he appeared to be ready to swing at anything. Instead, Cox inexplicably walked him, and Ross made the Braves pay (albeit on a hit that Omar Infante probably should have handled).

--Freddy Sanchez had an inauspicious playoff debut with some of the worst at bats you'll see in his first two times up. He quickly erased Andres Torres on the bases with a double play in the first inning, then swung at a pitch a foot off the plate in the third, leading to a rally-killing rundown. Hopefully he was just overanxious, but man, I'd expect better plate patience out of Eugenio.

--I'll be catching Game Two in about an hour at one of my favorite sports bars in Sac. I'll either be drinking to celebrate, or drinking to forget. Either way, I'll be drinking. Giants baseball. Beer. Just like Flame and Citron, has there ever been a sweeter combination? Go Giants!

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