God knows (as does His servant Casey Stengel) that I had better things to write about on the day after Opening Days. Things like Nationals’ shortstop Ian Desmond calling second baseman Dan Uggla (yes, Virginia, that Dan Uggla) off a by-the-book popup, dropping the ball, allowing the Mets first and second, leading to Lucas Duda busting up Max Scherzer’s no-hit bid with the two run single that made the difference in the Mets’ win.
At this writing, the defending world champion San Francisco Giants—as in, the twice-in-three-years-defending champs—are in a dogfight with the Colorado Rockies for the National League West’s sewer. Adding insult to further insult, the Giants were eliminated mathematically from postseason contention on 11 September. And the Giants’ ignominious collapse from the top of the heap to the bottom of the sea has been what the conspiracy theorists seem to wish the original 9/11 atrocity was, an inside job.
“We could not find our game in the World Series,” Miguel Cabrera mourned, while the San Francisco Giants partied heartily in Comerica Park’s visiting clubhouse. Actually, the Detroit Tigers found their game in Game Four, when they needed it most. The problem was finding it against these San Francisco Giants, who were so accustomed to playing with elimination a game away they didn’t know how to get comfortable on the threshold of a sweep.
Presumably, the world can breathe a little easier now that the first post-Slide confrontation between Matt Holliday and the San Francisco Giants has ended without on-field amputations, at-the-plate decapitations, or other actual or reputed disembowelings. None involving Holliday, anyway.
The nearest thing to a legitimate atrocity in the St. Louis Cardinals’ 3-1 Game Three win was the one committed by Carlos Beltran’s unexpected substitute, in the third inning, in his first time at bat after stepping in for the wounded slugger. The Giants could and did beat Chris Carpenter on the mound earlier in this National League Championship Series, but they could not and did not beat Matt Carpenter stepping into the Cardinals’ unexpected right field breach and hitting a go-ahead two-run homer whose advantage survived an eventual 3.5 hour rain delay.
This is going to be a very large and hard pill for Dusty Baker to swallow. It’s bad enough that he couldn’t find a way for his Cincinnati Reds to push the San Francisco Giants down, back, and out of the postseason in this fifth division series game. But he’s entering the history book on the dime of the franchise he once pulled to within five outs of a World Series title a decade ago.
Did I say it was going to hover well and large over the Cincinnati Reds, when Brandon Phillips ran them out of what should have been a bigger first inning Tuesday, and Scott Rolen got so eager trying to field a short hop he chested the San Francisco Giants into a tenth-inning, life-saving Game Three win?
If I didn’t quite say that, Game Four may compel its saying just yet, with Pablo Sandoval tacking on the exclamation point with his mammoth two-run bomb in the top of the eighth, and Tim Lincecum merely signing off on what may yet prove these Reds’ death sentence.
While glancing around looking for the top WAR men on major league teams, I noticed Philip Humber through this writing has a -0.5 WAR. (He was due to return Tuesday night, after missing a month with an elbow strain.) Obviously, his perfect game in April didn’t exactly do him many favours; in fact, he may be on track to produce the weakest post-perfecto season’s performance among any pitcher who’s thrown a perfect game.