Wow. Just wow.
First, a couple of thoughts about this series.
A lot of people will talk/write about the breaks the Giants got, and they got a lot. (Note that the Cardinals got their fair share in the first half of the series). But, it is ALWAYS about pitching, and if you only allow 1 run over the course of three games you have a great chance of winning.
Marco Scutaro gets a well deserved MVP award. One of the amazing things about what he did (14 hits) is that he beat Will Clarks record of 13 in 1989. Clark did it in 5 games. Will Clark was pretty good.
Marco overshadows the work of Pablo Sandoval. The Panda had an RBI in each of the last 5 games of the series. That’s huge.
There was some argument between Scutaro and Vogelsong for MVP, but the guy who quietly has impressed me the most this post-season is Jeremy Affeldt. 8 straight scoreless appearances (more on this below).
All post-season long I’ve been mulling over the differences between 2010 and 2012. 2010 will always be special because pre-2010 everything related to the Giants ended in pain and suffering. And in 2010 we stood on the brink of pain and suffering so many times. I spent three weeks simply waiting for the shoe to drop and everything to fall apart. Never happened. It’s been a new baseball reality for me ever since.
So, a couple of thoughts on the two teams/experiences…
1) I was way more stressed in 2010 than this time around. Seems weird to say: the 2010 team never faced elimination once. 6 times we’ve gone into a game this year thinking: “this could be it.” And yet, it hasn’t been that stressful. Game 5 against the Reds was the closest thing to “torture” so far.
2) 2010 will always be special because it was the first time I’ve experienced a Giants World Series win. But, this team is special too, mostly for all the things they’ve overcome. So proud of their spirit.
3) Which team is better? It’s too early to say, you can’t really argue until there’s a trophy. But let’s do it anyway. The 2010 had the dominant starting pitching and a strong bullpen. Wilson and Lopez in particular were amazing. 2010 also had home run hitters in the 3-8 spots. It was home runs, close games, starting pitching, and Wilson at the end.
2012 has been opportunistic offense, and just enough good pitching to win the right amount of games in each series. The big difference to me has been the bullpens. No one would argue that the 2010 ‘pen wasn’t good. But the 2012 version is more impressive to me. Having Tim Lincecum in the ‘pen is a huge weapon. And I would argue that the addition of Jose Mijares has allowed Bochy to really use Affeldt to his full potential. In 2010 the Giants faced lineups with really great lefties (Utley, Howard, Hamilton) and Bochy used his two lefties very effectively to neutralize those guys. But Affeldt is an incredible weapon: a left-handed reliever who get right-handers out and pitch multiple innings.
So, in many ways Bochy has had even more options and weapons in the ‘pen this time around which has helped cover for the less dominant starting pitching.
Again, which team is better? Hard to say…I’ll always put my money with strong starting pitching, so 2010 still has an edge, but I’ll get back to you on this after this WS is done.
The Giants outscored the Cardinals 20-1 over the last three games. Send that back to June when Pablo was out, second, short, and first were black holes, and Melky Cabrera was the best hitter on this team.
Should have more to say about the Series tomorrow. I don’t think Tigers present any more of a challenge than the Reds or Cards, BUT neither of those teams have a Justin Verlander type ace. But then again, we’ve seen the Giants take down some unbeatable pitchers before.
Final thought: Buster Posey looked exhausted at the end of game 5 against the Reds and he has continued to look tired during the NLCS. But, the finish line is now firmly in sight and I have a feeling we will see an energized Buster in the World Series. Look for him to have some big moments on the grandest stage.
Tom Verducci with some interesting thoughts especially about Bochy (see point #5)