1. Ryan Vogelsong is magic. I tweeted before the game that I thought Vogelsong had at least one more moment of greatness in him, and then he came through with a really good start. I thought if he could get through the lineup one time it would be huge and he gave even more than that. He has to start again. Petit is too good of a weapon in the bullpen.
Bochy is magic too. I know manager’s don’t have as much influence on the game as fans tend to think, but a large factor in this series was Bochy’s experience (now 8-0 in playoff series with the Giants) versus the inexperience of Matt Williams. You’ve got to wonder how the Nats might have fared under Davey Johnson in this series. Asked after the game why he went with Thornton and Barrett in the 7th instead of Clippard/Strasburg/Stammen, Williams said “all year long they’ve been our 7th inning guys.” The key phrase there was “all year long.” You cannot play the postseason the way you play “all year long”. Bochy adjusted, Williams did not. That’s one way to neutralize a more talented roster.
2. I incorrectly predicted every LDS. And I’m totally fine with that. No Tigers, no LA teams, and the Giants are still in it. Yes, please. Not to make excuses, but coming into the playoffs I honestly had no idea what to do: the Angel’s ace was out, Detroit’s bullpen sucked, the Dodgers seemed vulnerable after their two aces, and the Nationals had to play the Giants. This is one of the most wide open postseasons in an era of wide-openness. Anything can happen.
Subthought: the Giants will need more offense to beat the Cardinals. Some good news: the Cardinals don’t have a rotation like the Nationals. One of the reason the Giants struggled to score runs in this series is because the Nationals starters are really good. Runs should come a little more easily this time around. Also, Michael Morse could return, which could mean dingers or a lot of bad swings at sliders in the dirt.
3. For the fifth year in a row either the Giants or the Cardinals will represent the NL in the World Series. In fact, can you guess the last team represent the NL who was not the Giants/Cardinals/Phillies? It was…wait for it…the Rockies. Whoa.
In the last five years the Cardinals have won 30 playoff games, and the Giants 26. That’s the top 2 teams.
A complete list of NL entrants to the World Series since the new collective bargaining agreement era began in 2002: Giants, Marlins, Cardinals, Astros, Cardinals, Rockies, Phillies, Phillies, Giants, Cardinals, Giants, Cardinals, Cardinals/Giants.
The Cardinals have been doing this for 20 year now. Many people think of the Braves and Yankees when they think of long runs of greatness by a baseball team. The Cardinals are in that discussion and, I would argue, at the top of the list for impressiveness. What they have done/are doing is unreal.
No matter how it goes down it is old blood versus new blood in the World Series.
More thoughts on the next round coming soon.