|Why so serious?|
Told you guys the wild card game was a bad idea. But seriously: horrendous call; awful error by Chipper in his farewell game; sloppy, to say the least. The evening game went about like I expected. The O's should not be taken lightly. And you probably shouldn't fall behind them after the 7th inning, if that 75-0 record is to be believed. And I guess it is.
But what about the Giants? Well, what about them? I told you they'd be here, and they're here. Granted, they followed a path quite different from anything you or I expected. But they're here. And once you're here, anything is possible. Just ask Kevin Garnett.
Overall, I think the Reds and G's are a good matchup. Good to great starting pitching, even by Charlie Manuel's standards. Lineups that can score runs in bunches when everything's clicking. Live arms and personalities in the bullpens. And a couple master tacticians and veteran apologists pulling the strings. There will be pitching changes.
At first blanch, I don't think anyone likes the idea of the 2-3 NLDS format. The favorite would probably prefer a 3-2 setup. The dog might prefer to play more critical games 3 and 4 at home and try to "steal" one of the first two on the road. But the travel time just isn't there this year if we want to keep the World Series out of November, when the casual sports-watching world switches over to hoops and pigskin.
But you gotta like how this stacks up for a team like the Giants, who boast one of the best home field advantages in the league and played incredibly stout on the road in the second half. They've had bad patches at AT&T this season, with power outages and uncharacteristic collapses. But there's been very little fault to Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner within the friendly confines in 2012. And they've both had success this season against the Reds – with and without Votto.
If the Giants can jump out 2-0, it's hard to imagine them getting swept in the 'Nati, especially with the Horse coming back in a decisive Game 5. The pressure would be on Dustiny's Children to be perfect, and it's not hard to envision a 3-and-out scenario if the Reds can't win one at the Cove. But this is Giants baseball. We all know that whatever happens, it's gonna be torture.
So let's go ahead and assume we're headed back to GABP at one game apiece. Who do you throw in the pivotal Game 3? It's been two months since the Giants lost with Barry Zito on the bump. Or has Tim Lincecum earned the right to take the pearl with the season in the balance? Regardless of who pitches, if they lose, we see Cain on short rest in Game 4.
Personally, I give it to Zito. And I'm not gonna lie, there's a lot of sentiment behind that pick. But the fact is, he's got his stuff going right now, the team feels confident behind him, and THEY HAVEN'T LOST A GAME HE'S PITCHED IN TWO MONTHS. I love Tim Lincecum and everything he's done for this team. But he hasn't been the same this year, for whatever reason, and we all know it. We can see it without looking at his FIP or WHIP.
So let's stop wetting the bed over this and go with what makes sense. And wouldn't it be a great story if Zeets goes out there and dominates? Seriously. Ink for days...
I'm already on record on the Twitter thingy, but I'll say it here just to be sure: Ryan Vogelsong is going to come up huge in some capacity in October. Maybe he'll do his best impersonation of Affeldt in Game 6 against the Phillies in 2010. Perhaps he'll pull an extra-inning assignment in a marathon Game 2 and get the walk off hit in the bottom of the 15th. Whatever may occur, Vogey has earned his place in Giants lore, and I hope he gets his moment in the spotlight. I just hope Joe Buck is sick that day...
Okay, I guess I can't get away without some grander predictions. I could go back to the picks I made in a #HeatCheck blog that never was about three weeks ago, but it wouldn't make much sense given the eight teams remaining in the current idiom. Suffice it to say I had the A's winning the West and someone else didn't even mention them in the playoff picture. #Butchtradamus
Here's who I have in the final three rounds:
Giants d. Reds
Cardinals d. Nationals
A's d. Tigers
Yankees d. Orioles
Giants d. Cardinals
Yankees d. A's
Giants d. Yankees
I'll be honest. I think we might be headed for a Bay Bridge Series, but I'm convinced the A's would win, which I can't bring myself to predict. Yes, I feel ashamed.
Enjoy Cueto-Cain, e'rybody.