San Francisco Giants


Hanley looked more than ready to swing the bat last night.

Hanley looked more than ready to swing the bat last night.

Matt Barnes has been on the cusp of being a blazing option out of the bullpen for nearly a year and a half now. He can hit the upper 90s on the radar gun and on pure talent, he could be a starter or a shut-down closer.

He’s been stuck in between, though. And on the most ridiculous night in what has already been a rollercoaster season, he was summoned to the mound in the sixth to clean up Tommy Layne’s mess in an especially messy game. Drew Pomeranz cruised through three innings against the San Francisco Giants and was given an 8-0 lead before falling apart in the fourth inning. Soon enough it was 8-5, and three pitchers and two innings later, it was 8-7 and up to Barnes to get the Red Sox out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam.

Ultimately, he was brilliant, pitching three full innings, striking out two and walking none on his way to helping Boston to a 11-7 victory. And his first bit of brilliance was triggered by Hanley Ramirez starting a double play that wound up being just one of maybe five or six great moments for him on this night.

On any other night, Barnes going three innings to bail out the bullpen and shutting down the best team in baseball would be the story of the game. But it’s hard to ignore Ramirez whizzing around with the glove, hitting three home runs and putting the team on his back in a way we haven’t before seen. (more…)

giants-bumgarner-worldseries

I feel like I’ve been droning on about Madison Bumgarner in faux poetry for days now, but after racking my brain for all the other fantastic pitching performances I’ve seen in October and otherwise — Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Josh Beckett, C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Chris Carpenter — nothing compares to what this guy has pulled off.

What he accomplished in just this World Series is legendary, and just by the numbers. In three games, he threw 21 innings, gave up one run, one walk, struck out 17 and kept his ERA to 0.43 en route to two wins and his incredible five-inning save in Game 7. Factor in his entire World Series career, and the numbers get even more ridiculous: a 0.25 ERA, still only one run, five walks and 31 strikeouts over 36 high-intensity innings.

The numbers are for the historians and analysts, who will take into account the era in which Bumgarner pitched — one of pitch counts and controlled innings and proper rest between appearances — and place him among the greats like Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson and Sandy Koufax.

But we watched this in real time. We saw Bumgarner carry the Giants through the Wild Card game, control the Cardinals in the NLCS and then dominate the Kansas City Royals with ease in Game 1. He topped himself in front of a home crowd in Game 5, shutting them out and finishing what he started. And then, after a shaky start to his first batter, with just two days of rest after throwing those nine innings, he settled down, firing nails into the championship dreams of every Kansas City Royals player, coach and fan. (more…)

Madison Bumgarner made his mark immediately as a rookie.

Madison Bumgarner made his mark immediately as a rookie.

Why is the World Series such a great event? One reason is that, every year, without fail, someone seizes control of his own destiny and makes the most of the chance. Last night, that was Madison Bumgarner.

Watching Bumgarner meticulously pick apart the Royals for nine innings in his last start of the season was one of those coronation-type moments. The reality and depth of his October career have already been established — he beat the Rangers as a 21-year-old in the 2010 World Series and has just gotten better from there. But this season has cemented him in that higher plane of October warriors, starting with his dismantling of the Pirates in the Wild Card game and right through to last night’s Game 5, pushing the Giants to the brink of another World Series trophy. (more…)

Last night, Stephen Drew was the pivot in a well-oiled machine.

Last night, Stephen Drew was the pivot in a well-oiled machine.

The Red Sox are on the west coast to play two Interleague series against the Giants and Dodgers, which means a lot of late nights and, realistically, a lot of late nights where I watch the middle innings in bed and fall asleep before the game’s over.

It’s not as if this isn’t common practice at least a couple of weeks per season, but baseball is one of the few games where that kind of passive exposure still feels beneficial and fulfilling. On the same note, there are plenty of those ESPN Wednesday doubleheaders where I’ll tune in and just sort of half-watch the early innings before I pass out. I’ve been doing this since I was 10. I get how time zones work.

So it’s in those games that, while important, I try to suck up as many little bits of information or pageantry as possible. These are Interleague games, so one of my favorite aspects of the game are already built in: there’s no designated hitter, so pitchers have to hit and David Ortiz has to play first base. Both of these things delight me to no end. Pitchers hitting add an element of chaos to the game (what happens if they actually get a hit or walk?), and I’ve always enjoyed watching the big guy play first base. He’s more agile and effective than he gets credit for, considering so many consider him the defensive equivalent of a backstop with a glove tied to a pole.

So, it’s late. It’s probably a little past 11:30 Eastern time, Pablo Sandoval is up in the fifth inning against an incredibly efficient Jon Lester, and I’m already in bed with the sleep timer set on the TV. (more…)

This is Dustin Pedroia. I'm pretty sure he still plays baseball, but it's been a while.

This is Dustin Pedroia. I’m pretty sure he still plays baseball, but it’s been a while.

Today, after work, I walked off the T and picked up a package of ground beef on my way home, changed into my Marco Scutaro t-shirt, relaxed and then got down to the business of making dinner. Tonight was enchilada night, not that every Tuesday is enchilada night, but just to give you a little bit of color this evening.

While I made dinner, I had the Eddie Vedder Water on the Road DVD playing in the background, and “Sometimes” and “Rise” and “Guaranteed” and such provided the soundtrack while I chopped peppers and browned the beef with the taco seasoning.

After dinner, I sat down with a drink and I turned my full attention to the Red Sox game, as they hosted the Padres in the first of a three-game series to dovetail with the Fourth of July. John Lackey was pitching, but I decided to stick with my decision to watch it anyway.

And it was right around that time that I realized this was the first time I was sitting down to watch a baseball game in earnest in more than a month. (more…)

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