Well, that was awesome! I love being wrong. Three thoughts coming your way:
- I will take Madison Bumgarner against anyone. Clayton Kershaw is awesome. The Tigers have the last three guys to win the AL CY Young in their rotation. The Nationals have several great pitchers. Adam Wainwright is really good. But, I will take Madison Bumgarner in a big game over any of them. It’s important to note that through the first three innings this was a close game and it looked like the Giants might struggle to find runs. The crowd was loud, and they famously spooked the Red’s Johnny Cueto last year in the same situation. Bumgarner, totally unaffected, just kept mowing them down. Then, in the fourth inning, after the slam, in the classic “don’t-let-them-get-back-in-this-game” moment, he did exactly that, which is actually really hard to do. And there was no looking back from there. Sub-though: Bochy didn’t need to do a lot of magical maneuvering, but he once again proved his worth by out managing Clint Hurdle before the game even started. It is easy to second guess now, but why did the Pirates start Gerrit Cole on Sunday? (BTW: Gerrit Cole is married to Brandon Crawford’s sister).
- Brandon Crawford is the hero, but Brandon Belt looked so good in this game. And that is GREAT news moving forward. Belt went 2 for 3, walked twice (including a big walk right before the grand slam), and drove in 3 runs. Beautiful. The Nationals have some great pitchers, but they are right-handed heavy, which means the lineup you saw tonight is going to be vital to the Giants’ success in the next series. Belt’s presence as a dynamic left-handed threat will make the lineup so much more dangerous. Stay hot Brandon Belt.
- I love Joe Panik. It’s easy to overlook his contributions in this game, but another thing that bodes well for the Giants is this kid continuing to look like he belongs here. He was not overwhelmed by the moment at the plate (3 hits!), and he handled himself well on the play where Pence nearly took him out as they chased a pop-up that Panik was able to hold on to. The Giants, who supposedly have one the worst farm systems in baseball, started homegrown players in all of the infield spots and left field, plus the pitcher, of course. Blanco and Pence were the only guys to appear in this game for the Giants who started outside the organization. I know I’m cheating by including Ishikawa in this, but still, Joe Panik is the next in line of a series of homegrown players developed by the terrible system helping the Giants get closer to a third World Series in five years. I never thought I would write that!
Thoughts on the Nationals series forthcoming!