Is it unreasonable for Cardinals fans to ask themselves whether their team is trying, literally, to throw this National League Championship Series to the Giants? Bad enough the Cardinals lost Game Three on a walk-off throwing error. Putting the Giants on the threshold of the World Series with two bad throws in Game Four’s sixth inning is worse.
At what cost will the St. Louis Cardinals’ National League Championship Series-evening win Sunday night prove to have come? As great as it looked when Kolten Wong ended the game with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the ninth, that’s about how horrible it looked when another swing earlier in the game sent Yadier Molina out of the game—and out of who who knew what else—with an oblique strain.
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.
Now, this is a novel position for the San Francisco Giants to assume. They’re not used to being up two games to none in a postseason set this year. This could be the start of something . . . weird?
The way they got into this position was probably weird enough even by the standards of a Giants team that’s spent at least half this postseason benefitting from the transdimensional. Can you remember any team winning a World Series game with nothing but a double play and a sacrifice fly to score the only two runs they proved necessary?
Two teams who’ve made a fine art of shoving back with their backs against the proverbial wall returned to San Francisco to square off in Game Six of the National League Championship Series Sunday night. This time, it was the San Francisco Giants with their backs to that wall—again—and a pitcher who’d gone from prospect to reclamation project making certain enough that the St. Louis Cardinals joined them in the same position for a seventh game.
Alex Rodriguez in his post-American League Championship Series sweep grief vowed to come back like it was 2007. Barry Zito, starting Game Five of the National League Championship Series with his San Francisco Giants a game away from winter vacation, came out to the Busch Stadium mound in St. Louis Friday night and pitched like it was 2002 and he was nailing his Cy Young Award.
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.
Wednesday is when the regular season could end with a bang for two teams and a wild card settlement for one, after Tuesday ended with a wild card settlement for another team and a surety that Wednesday’s action merely ends the schedule for yet another.
Or: The Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees could end up in a dead heat for the American League East; either the Oakland Athletics or the Texas Rangers will end up as the AL West champions; either the A’s or the Rangers will end up with the American League’s second wild card; and, the Los Angeles Dodgers watched what faint hope they had of reaching for the National League’s second wild card die in a center fielder’s glove in Dodger Stadium Tuesday night.
As has been pointed out several times already, sometimes cruelly, it isn’t as though the San Francisco Giants have been strangers to the tentacles of actual or alleged performance-enhancing substances even if you don’t mention the name of Bonds. Or even Jose Guillen. And with Melky Cabrera suspended, at a time when he was the Giants’ no questions asked best option in left field, we’re going to see what this year’s Giants are made of.