Well, shoot. This is not how it was supposed to go at all. The only way I could envision the Giants beating the Nationals involved absolutely NOT losing the Madison Bumgarner game.
But this is the 2014 postseason, where it looks like all of my predictions are incorrect. Where the Giants beat the Nationals 2, maybe even 3 times, at home, then lose the Madison Bumgarner game and STILL have a chance to win this in 4 games. 3 thoughts:
1. This team continues to remind me of 2010. They play so much better when they get an early lead. And they make it close and tortuous, but still get it done. Remember in 2010 the Giants won game 1 in each series, allowed the opposing team an opportunity to hope (game 2 vs the Braves, game 5 vs the Phillies, and Game 3 vs the Rangers), and then finished it off before it got too stressful. 2012 was all about back-to-the-wall, never-say-die heroics. You tell me which you prefer.
2. Bochy will play this like an elimination game. Again, this totally feels like game 6 against the Phillies in 2010. The Giants had a 3-1 series lead, could finish it off at home, and they didn’t get it done. With fear and trembling the series went back to Philadelphia, Jonathan Sanchez started, but was not long for the game, and Bochy mixed and matched his way to a 3-2 victory. The silver lining from yesterday is that the Giants didn’t really use too many bullpen bullets. Affeldt, Lopez, Romo, Strickland, and Casilla should all be fresh and ready to go. The big question is Petit. Could he give anything so soon after his Game 2 heroics? Will we get an inning of magic from Lincecum today? Can Vogelsong make it twice through the Nationals lineup? That seems to be the key to me. Get Vogey through 5 (hopefully 6) innings and let the bullpen do the rest.
3. The Giants need to score many runs. No doubt the Bumgarner/Posey mistake to throw the ball to third was the pivotal moment in that game yesterday. It never should have happened. Even, though, with a smart throw to first, it’s hard to imagine the Nationals not scoring at least 1 run there. Obviously, 1 is better than 4, but the way the Giants have been swinging it, 1 seemed like a lot to overcome. They’ve gone from 3, to 2, to 1 run. In some ways, this game could be the most challenging for them to score with lefty Gio Gonzalez on the mound. Of course, the way things are going for my prognostications they probably score 6 runs in the first inning. However they do it, the Giants need to wake up the bats today! My guess is that if Bochy makes any changes at all he goes with Perez in left over Ishikawa. But I’d suggest going a bit more radical:
- Pence RF
- Panik 2B
- Posey 1B
- Sandoval 3B
- Belt LF
- Susac C
- Crawford SS
- Blanco CF
Probably not going to happen, but something like that, to give a little more right-handed presence, could be helpful.