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End of an Era

moore

Should Moore have started the 9th inning in game 4?

It’s been just a little over 48 hours since the Giants’ season came to an end in one of the most gut-punching, low-blow, torturous ways possible. Pouring salt on the fresh and open wound was the fact that the Dodgers somehow, although in the exact same position as the Giants, being down 2-1 at home, won games 4 and 5 by one stinking run, and are now facing the Cubs in the NLCS.

The even-year magic is officially dead.

DEAD

As a lifelong 42-year old fan of the Giants, this one hurt. It hurt a lot. Ok, not quite as much as 2002, but I’d rank this at #2 on my personal pain index of postseason failures. Sure, they lost in 2000 to the Mets (I was there, by the way), after J.T. Snow hit a game-tying HR off of Armando Benitez in the 9th, but lost it and the series in the 10th. (Why did we ever sign Benitez, anyway). Then there was J.T. Snow getting thrown out at the plate in Florida to end the 2003 NLDS. The 1989 World Series sweep by the A’s, the 1987 collapse against the Cardinals in the NLCS (CANDY MALDONADO!). The 103 wins in 1993.

I’ve been a conscious, breathing, sentient being for all of these failures. However, the magical even years of 2010, 2012 and 2014 essentially erased all of that pain and sorrow, and then some. How many fans have this much surplus in championship gold in baseball? Certainly the turn-of-the century Yankees, and maybe the Red Sox are somewhat close with three in 10 years. Three in five is amazing. Four in seven would have even been more amazing. But, it wasn’t meant to be.

The 9th inning collapse on Tuesday hurt so much, that I literally didn’t sleep. And I tried. I went to bed immediately. Was under the covers by 9:45 pm. I was still awake at 7 am, never having left the bed. Is that okay? Does that mean I have a problem? I broke out in cold sweats imagining how Bochy could’ve altered the outcome, or how perhaps, I could conjure a time machine and literally alter time by planting suggestions in Bochy’s ear or taking a bat to Zobrist’s ankles. I imagined an alternate universe where the Giants won games 4 and 5 (yes, they would have won game 5) and beat the Dodgers in the NLCS and somehow beat the Indians for retribution for the Warriors and their 4th ring.

I love this team too much.

Here’s a question that will never be answered, really: Why not let Moore start the 9th?

Now, many are on board with this idea, and many are not and are fine with the conventional wisdom plan of baseball.

Personally, I was begging for Moore to start the 9th. Implored the baseball gods. But, when I saw that Derek Law was on the bump, I was partly horrified, but also vexed. Bochy said he was going to close with Romo/Smith. Ok, Romo pitched two innings the night prior, but so did Law, so that can’t be the reason why Romo didn’t start the 9th.

Before I get too deep in the “conga line of doom” that Bochy rolled out, let me get back to the Moore hypothesis:

  1. Moore was CRUISING! He allowed 2 hits through 8 IP, and had struck out 10, while only walking 2. More importantly, he retired the last 8 batters in order! The Giants were out-hitting the Cubs 11-2 after 8 innings!
  2. The bullpen sucks. Ok, we all know that, and yes, at some point, Bochy would have to have relied on his bullpen in the NLCS and/or World Series. But did he HAVE to in this elimination game? NO!
  3. If pitch count was a concern, Moore threw 133 pitches in a no-hitter attempt in LA. Of course this game is more important than a no-hitter, it’s an elimination game! Moore could have faced at least one batter, as he was at 120 pitches. He gets on, they go to the pen. He gets him out, he faces another guy. Butterfly effect and shit.
  4. Moore had not pitched in 9 days since the regular-season closing win against the Dodgers, where Moore had a masterful 8 IP. Of course Romo closed it out, but it was a 6 run lead.
  5. Moore would probably not have pitched until game 4 of the NLCS on 10/18, meaning he would have had 7 days of rest. Basically, the few extra pitches wouldn’t have mattered much.
  6. Moore’s OPS against after pitching 101 or more pitches is better than when he pitches less. Basically, in 18 of his 34 starts in 2016 when he went over 101 pitches, he was money.
  7. DID I MENTION THE BULLPEN SUCKS AND ALSO BLEW THE SAVE THE NIGHT BEFORE?!

Look, it was an elimination game. The type of game where Bochy has brought in Bumgarner to pitch 5 innings (yes, that was game 7 of the World Series). But, you can’t get there if you don’t trust your bullpen, which presents the paradox for Bochy. If he continues to push starters to the brink (Bochy led the league in pitches thrown by starters), it may have a counter-effect on the confidence of the pen. Reality is, the pen failed over and over and over in the second half, and it almost cost them the postseason, and surely cost them the division (and of course, the NLDS), so I don’t think there would have been any psychological effect. I mean, the Giants lost the west by 4 games, but lost 9 games after leading going into the 9th and blew 30 saves overall, far more than the Dodgers.

So, I was surprised to see Law in. Then Kris Bryant hits, what normally would have been an easy ground out to Crawford, but it went in between the shift that the Giants were employing. Then, the quick hook to Lopez. He’s been a saint, a savior, a deft specialist to get that key left hander out. Alas, his age showed as he walked Rizzo, something YOU CAN NEVER DO! Bochy immediately goes to Romo, and he turns Zobrist to the left side, and he hit the only really solid contact of the inning, a double down the right field line that made the score 5-3 and put the tying run at second. This is when my sphincter was in full clinch mode.

Bochy, again!, went to another reliever, Will Smith. Maddon countered with Contreras, who hit a 25 hopper up the middle to score both runs and tie the game. Smith stayed in the game and Heyward had a horrible bunt right back to Smith, who promptly fired to Crawford for the out, but Crawford sailed his throw to Belt for an error, which allowed Heyward to take second, a crucial play. Crawford also had an error earlier in the game which cost the Giants a run, something not to be forgotten.

At this point, the new Giant-killer Baez was coming up, so Bochy went to his fifth and final reliever of the inning, Hunter Strickland. Once again, a not-so-hard-hit-grounder found its way up the middle, delivering Heyward to the plate in what would eventually be the deciding run as Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth.

We saw it happen so many times this year, including two losses when having three run leads in the ninth. With all the magic that Bochy pulls, he appeared to be the frantic kindergartener in the 9th, playing matchups, something that he stopped doing in mid-September, which seemed to stabilize the bullpen.

No one could be trusted. No one could find a rhythm, no one knew their role.

The ninth inning is special territory, reserved for those who have the mental fortitude or possession of a crazy gene to inherit and thrive under that pressure.

Giants’ brass made it clear that they will pursue a closer this offseason in today’s end of year press conference. How can they not?

There’s a reason we call this site and podcast “TortureCast.”

Go Cubs?

Chad

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Out of Left Field

Before I joined TortureCast in August 2011, I regularly contributed a segment on the show called, “Out of Left Field.” It was usually a short 60 seconds of me rambling on about some esoteric stat, streak, or oddity of the Giants’ season.

I’ve decided to resurrect it, and potentially in audio format once again. Because, who doesn’t like listening to themselves? Ok, I don’t, so here it is in digital print. At least most fonts aren’t embarrassing. Except for Comic Sans, of course.

  • The Giants finally broke their 9 game skid at home, which was the longest losing streak since 1940 at the Polo Grounds. I mean, that’s when gas was 18 cents a gallon and my grandmother was still in France about to hide from the Nazis.
  • Despite tonight’s 2-0 loss, MadBum pitched well and was perfect for 4 2/3 until a cleat-made divot caused a ball to bounce at Crawford’s insured face, necessitating the scorekeeper to laugh diabolically and mark it as a hit. Maybe that had a butterfly effect on the Giants’ offense. No, wait, no, that had about as much affect on their offense as I do screaming at the TV while I tear the wings off of a butterfly.
  • The Giants are 5-12 since their high-water mark of 30-20. After starting the season 4-10, that means the “meat” of the season sandwich was 26-10.
  • Giants are 8 GB of last year’s record after 67 games. In fact, they haven’t been worse at this point over the last 5 seasons: 2013: 0 GB, 2012: 2 GB, 2011: 3 GB, 2010: 2 GB
  • Marco Scutaro was symbolically re-signed by the Giants and immediately placed on the 60-day DL. He can now retire a Giant. And to think that I truly believed (last year) that he would certainly come back at some point to relive his glory days in 2012 and 2013. Sadly, he’s rehabbing his 2 fused vertebrae and hoping to “live a normal life, pain free” with his family. Egad. He might not ever play even beer league softball. I’ll stop my bitching about my injured wrist that prevents me from cleaning and jerking in my CrossFit sessions. And jerking.
  • Matt Cain and Jake Peavy are close to coming back into the rotation, but the Giants have stated that they will not go to a six man rotation, which begs the obvious, “who’s out?” I’d say take out Mike Murphy. There are no alternatives.
  • As of today, the Royals would have 8 starters in the All Star Game. If this holds, it’ll be the National League vs. the Royals, plus Mike Trout. I “kind of” want this to happen, if only to force MLB into changing this ridiculous ASG voting by the fans. Ok, well, Aoki is currently slated to start for the NL (being a former Royal), so maybe just this year…. In fact, wouldn’t it be something if Giants fans propelled 8 Giants starters to the final ballot? Man, the Royals could get their revenge…
  • Don’t look now, but Arizona is only two games back of the Giants. I thought Diamondbacks were not allowed to pray to their snake goddess.
  • Chris Heston was named NL player of the week. I wonder if anyone HASN’T been named that after a no-hitter. Glad someone else didn’t throw a perfect game that week, I suppose.
  • Maybe the Warriors can win every odd year championship.
  • Javier Lopez: 0.96 ERA, 0.64 WHIP. Dayum.
  • Giants are hitting .284 as a team on the road, which leads all MLB, 12 points higher than the next team. Can haz hitting at home? (.249)
  • Despite the last few downturns, they’re only 2.5 games back of the Bums. Could be worse. Let’s get back to that meat I mentioned earlier. Maybe it was grand salame?

Chad

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Giants vs 49ers Chevron Charity Shootout at Pebble Beach

 

Matt Cain tees off on the third hole at Pebble Beach on 2/10/15.

Matt Cain tees off on the third hole at Pebble Beach on 2/10/15.

Yesterday exceeded my own expectations. Pebble Beach was gracious enough to let our non-golf-covering outfit cover the shootout yesterday, as we do cover the Giants. The PGA also threw in a “behind the ropes” pass, which enabled me to essentially mingle and walk with the players during their five hole shootout, which gave me the opportunity to capture some great photos of all of the Giants and 49ers playing in the event, which included Buster Posey, Matt Cain, Bruce Bochy, Javier Lopez, Duane Kuiper, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Brent Jones, Dwight Clark and Harris Barton.

My favorite moment of the day was the group “Buster Hug.” As KNBR’s Brian Murphy roasted all of the players, he had nothing bad to say about Buster, so he just happened to mention that he might be best known for the “Buster Hug.” Following that, Jerry Rice and eventually most of the Giants and 49ers embraced him. The video is below:

The weather was as impeccable as the jovial attitude along the course. I was able to interview Steve Young and chat with Cain, Bochy, Rice and others. Most of the questions by all the media were light and engaging to match the atmosphere. Probably the most engaging personality out there was Jerry Rice. The Hall of Famer danced, smoked a cigar, and mingled with  fans all day long. Buster was his usual reserved self and really didn’t talk that much, even to his partner, Matt Cain.

You can view the initial photo gallery over on our Facebook page. No, you don’t need a Facebook account to view them, but if you have one, would you give us a “like” while you’re there?

Here’s a video of Buster teeing off with an iron at 17, just because

Speaking of the tournament, Cain and Posey took the first hole (there were four teams of two), but the 49ers won it in the end during a chip-off at the 18th hole courtesy of Dwight Clark’s chip that ended up closest to the hole. Serendipity helped out as the chip off happened to occur right in front of where I had been standing, so below is a video of Cain and Posey’s chips. There are more videos and photos to come.

-Chad

Bruce Bochy puts for par on the second hole at Pebble Beach

Bruce Bochy puts for par on the second hole at Pebble Beach

Javier Lopez uses an iron to drive towards the green at Pebble Beach

Javier Lopez uses an iron to drive towards the green at Pebble Beach

Buster Posey tees off on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach.

Buster Posey tees off on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach.

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Episode 74: NLCS Tied 1-1

Bumgarner has been the only true ace of the playoffs. (USA Today/Getty Images)

Download the podcast here, or stream it below!

[audio http://torturecast.podomatic.com/enclosure/2014-10-13T23_15_41-07_00.mp3]

A special mid-NLCS episode of the TortureCast finds the Giants and Cardinals knotted at 1 game a piece in this 7 game series. Now, the scene shifts back to our park in China Basin for games 3, 4 and 5. Willie, Ben, Chad and special returning guest, Eric Nathanson, break down games 1 and 2, including what went right (bullpen) and what went wrong (bullpen, BA w/RISP). Although the walk-off HR was soul-crushing for about a minute, we all were inspired by the tenacious Giants coming back throughout the game, including the dramatic 9th inning.

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Interview with Javier Lopez

Both interviews are the same. You can view the video above or click play below to listen to our interview with Javier Lopez!

Chad and Ben interview Giants reliever Javier Lopez at Media Day on January 31, 2014. He praises the fans, the stadium, the team, and winning 2 World Series as the main factors in re-signing with San Francisco. Javy also would like to eliminate the earned run if an inherited runner scores after stealing second through defensive indifference.

Be sure to listen to our other interviews from Media Day including Matt Cain, Sergio Romo, Tim Lincecum, Michael Morse and others.

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Wilson Signs With LA: Giants Freak Out By Not Trading Anyone

AAAAHAHWISALKJASDOIJ LKJAWE@#$ASDJK~~!!!

We all knew it was a distinct possibility.

We just didn’t want to believe it was possible.

Brian Wilson is a Dodger.

My initial gut reaction (Ben and Willie do not necessarily share my opinions on this) was angst, disgust, betrayal. As witnessed by the twitterxplosion, I’d say many Giants fans felt the same way.

At first, that is.

But, when you break it down and look at the known facts (and not everything is known), I do believe it was a business decision, and nothing more. Let’s look at his motivating factors for the bearded one signing with our arch-rivals:

  1. IT WAS THE ONLY CONTRACT OFFER HE RECEIVED: Initially it was reported that he received 3 offers, but as of what is known now, only the Dodgers gave him a formal offer on paper. The man is unemployed and looking for work. His loyalty to the Giants and their fans does not supersede a job offer. On the surface, I don’t blame him. He was quoted by TMZ as saying, “I just play baseball. You know, if there are 30 teams out there and 29 teams don’t want me, what am I going to do, say I’m not going to play baseball?” He’s also probably concerned about what he can turn this into in 2014, and this is a springboard to it, maybe his only one.
  2. The Dodgers are in first place: Ok, it took me 5 minutes to type that sentence out. But, even though the Pirates and Giants were in “talks” with him, he knows the Giants aren’t going any where this year, and perhaps he felt it was more of a “sure thing” with the Dodgers anyway. Just look at how the Pirates fell flat on their face last year. Although, that beard would have been a true “pirate” look.
  3. He lives in Hollywood: Ok, he lives in the neighborhood. He also loves California and apparently doesn’t want to move anywhere else.
  4. Ned Colletti: Ned Colletti, the GM for the Dodgers, drafted Wilson when he was assistant GM with SF in 2003, and this was after his first Tommy John surgery. Now he’s signed him after his second TJ. There’s some loyalty there, perhaps, or perhaps that’s why he was the only GM to offer Wilson a contract.
  5. It’s not out of spite: Asked how Giants fans will feel about seeing him in Dodger blue, Wilson said, “I’ve got much love for San Francisco. We had a good time. But there’s nothing I can do. They don’t want me back so it’s all good. I’ll just play baseball hopefully here with the major league team and see if I can help them win.” This doesn’t sound like spite to me. And, after firing up his Twitter account among other news sources, he’s fully aware of the backlash amongst Giants fans.

Brian Wilson speaks with TMZ today in LA

 

Standing Pat

Well, as of 1 pm Pacific today, it’s official: The San Francisco Giants did not make any trades. Hunter Pence raised his hands and yelled, “YES!” right at the stroke of the deadline. Javier Lopez was reportedly nervous up until then, but was relieved when it passed. It says something about their teammates and the organization when they would rather be on a last place team with these teammates, rather than going to a contender. I believe this is a great sign that they will want to re-sign for next year and they can regroup and have a Mulligan on their season.

Also, don’t forget to listen to our latest podcast here.

Now, let’s see if the Giants can recuperate some respectability the rest of the way.

Chad

@chadk21

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