The 2014 San Francisco Giants’ motto should be: “Somehow, Someway.”
The Giants’ inexplicable postseason run continued Saturday with a 3-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.
The Giants again did not tear the ball of the cover. They did manage eight hits, but here is how they scored their three runs.
- A ducksnort bloop single off the Magic Wandoo of Travis Ishikawa.
- An error.
- A sacrifice fly.
And the Giants’ two-run “rally” in the second inning was started on a double by Pablo Sandoval that originally landed in the glove of Cardinals right fielder Randal Grichuk, but popped out after Grichuk hit the wall and then the ground.
The Giants’ third-inning run was aided when second baseman Kolten Wong failed to cleanly field a potential double-play ball off the bat of Hunter Pence. The Cardinals only got one out on the play, so no error, but it made Brandon Belt’s subsequent sacrifice fly possible.
This follows the Giants’ final four runs scored in the Division Series against the Nationals, which were scored on …
- A wild pitch.
- A groundout.
- A walk.
- A sacrifice fly.
The Giants even caught a break when Madison Bumgarner appeared to balk in a run in the seventh inning. But the umpires didn’t call a balk, probably because only the Giants are allowed to score a run on a balk.
It’s hard to figure.
The Giants went 15-61 in games in which they scored three runs or fewer. They were 73-13 when scoring four runs or more, second best in the NL this season (The Nationals had the best mark).
From June 3 to Aug. 25, the Giants went 1-35 in games in which they scored three runs or fewer.
But in the postseason, the Giants are now 4-1 in games in which they score three runs or fewer.
They have scored 12 runs total in their last five postseason games. Yet they find themselves with a 1-0 lead in the NLCS.
After going 5 for 40 (.125) with runners in scoring position in the series with the Nationals, the Giants added a 2-for-11 night with RISP on Saturday. And one of those hits didn’t score a run.
But here’s one stat to note. In the Division Series, the Giants struck out the fewest times of the four NL teams in the LDS round. And it’s not even close. The Nationals struck out 39 times in 172 plate appearances, the Cardinals struck out 37 times in 138 PAs, the Dodgers stuck out 36 times in 155 PAs and the Giants struck out 24 in 175 PAs.
And as the old adage goes “Good things happen when you put the ball in play.”
The other stat is the more obvious one: the pitching.
Giants pitching has an 1.14 ERA in the postseason.
The starting pitching has been even better: 0.64 ERA.
At some point, you have to expect the Giants bats to come alive.
Perhaps that will come in Game 2 on Sunday.
The San Francisco Giants were hoping to escape Arizona without having to put anyone on the disabled list.
That hope ended Tuesday when Marco Scutaro revealed he would open the season on the DL after a trip to the doctor didn’t help resolved his lingering back issue.
Then on Wednesday, as the rest of the team headed north for the Bay Bridge Series, Jeremy Affeldt was placed on the DL with a strained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Affeldt felt discomfort in his knee last Saturday when he gave up four runs against the White Sox.
Bochy seemed frustrated by his left-handed reliever.
“He didn’t have his brace on,” Bochy said.
It’s the brace that Affeldt has been wearing — or supposed to be wearing — ever since hurting his knee way back in May 2012. You’ll recall that’s when Affeldt hurt his knee when his then-four-year-old son jumped into his arms after Affeldt arrived home from a game.
That leaves three pitchers to compete for two spots left in the bullpen, as Yusmeiro Petit and David Huff appear locks as long relievers.
Jean Machi is on the 40-man roster and is out of options, but he has struggled this spring. Non-roster invitees Derek Law and Juan Gutierrez have impressed this spring. But to put them on the opening day roster would require opening a spot on the 40-man roster.
The Giants have one spot open currently, but that is expected to be filled by another non-roster invitee, infielder Brandon Hicks. Hicks is expected to make the team as infield help with Scutaro opening the season on the shelf.
Three other pitchers — Dan Runzler, Heath Hembree and Erik Cordier — will make the trip north with the team this weekend, but Bochy does not view them as candidates to make the opening-day roster.
So the Giants head north, having avoided major injuries like the Tommy John surgeries facing the likes of the Braves’ Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy or the Diamondbacks’ Patrick Corbin. Even Clayton Kershaw had an MRI on his back and will miss his start Sunday.
So by comparison, the Giants are getting off light.
They hope to have Affeldt back by the middle of April. Scutaro’s return date is far less certain. Buster Posey sat out Wednesday with a tight hamstring, and Pablo Sandoval has a sore hand that will sideline him for some of this weekend’s games.
Otherwise, the Giants are marching ahead toward the 2014 season.