Tag Archives: MLB Playoffs

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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Episode #114: Heading to Chicago! NLDS Preview

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MadBum continued his legendary postseason performance with a 3-0 complete game shutout victory over the Mets in the NL Wild Card game. (photo: AP)

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Willie, Chad and Eric soak in the post-wild card game glory of another legendary performance by Madison Bumgarner and another unlikely postseason hero as Conor Gillaspie hits a 3-run homer in the 9th to defeat the Mets 3-0 and move on to face the best team in the majors, the Chicago Cubs.

The Giants have now won 11 consecutive postseason series, tying the Yankees, and Bum has 23 scoreless innings in elimination games in the postseason, and lowers his road postseason ERA to a microscopic 0.50, easily the best in the history of baseball.

We revel in the stats, the momentum and talk about how the pressure now is really on the Cubs.

Join us for episode 114, it’s a good time!

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Episode #113: We’re In!

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Wildcard game to take it all. Bum vs. Thor. Courtesy of “The City Graphics”

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Somehow, some way, the Giants figured out how to win five of their last six games, including a sweep of the Dodgers at AT&T Park to stave off the also-surging Cardinals by one game.

Their reward? At least one postseason game. But, what a game this will be with postseason hero Madison Bumgarner dueling Thor himself, Noah Syndergard at Citi Field on Wednesday night.

The whole crew (Chad, Eric, Willie and Ben) talk about this magical one game of barf-baggedness. Will the Giants keep their undefeated postseason streak under Bochy alive? (They’ve won all 10 under him). Or, will an unfortunate error, or mistake by Bum produce a heart-breaker for us Giants’ fans?

All I know is that I’m going to have an industrial-sized barf bucket nearby.

Chad

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Episode #111: The Turnaround?

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The majestic Pence beard has awoken from its slumber. (photo: Darin Wallentine/Getty Images)

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Hey, the Giants have won 4 out of their last 5 and turned a 1-4 roadtrip into a 5-5 with great starting pitching and Hunter Pence playing like frickin’ Hunter Pence, wildly flailing appendages, hair and all!

The Giants still have a slim shot at the division and hold a lead on a wild card spot. Chad and Eric talk about their chances, Santiago Casilla, and if Bochy has developed dementia all in episode 111.

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Episode 95: Somehow the Giants are Still in it

Putting orange things in your ears apparently is a good thing. The Giants’ ain’t having not going to the playoffs, maybe, in 2015.

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Despite a 2-5 road trip, the Giants actually GAINED a half a game on the Dodgers, who have lost 5 in a row, and now the Giants only sit 1 1/2 games back. Let’s just not think of the wild card at this point.

Chad and Eric are joined by Ryan Leong from Associated Press Radio, who covered all 4 games in Pittsburgh, plus the Steelers exhibition game. We talk about the series, pinch-hitting MadBum, the Giants’ league-leading batting average, and their chances on catching the Dodgers. Really, it doesn’t look to bad…at least now.

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Episode 77: We are the Champions…Again!

Buster Posey dishes out his third championship #BusterHug to Madison Bumgarner moments after Pablo Sandoval caught a foul popup to secure the Giants’ third World Series in five years (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Download the podcast here, or stream it below!

They did it.

Again.

For the third time in the last five years, the San Francisco Giants are World Series Champions!

Riding the superhero left arm of Madison Bumgarner, the Giants squeezed out a 3-2 win in game 7 of the World Series to down the Kansas City Royals.

Willie, Chad and Eric record our longest podcast of the year to discuss this memorable World Series; the heroes, the almost-goats, and what it took to fuel a remarkable run that has placed the black and orange in “dynasty” status.

Even if you have to listen to it in two parts, sit back, relax, and bask in the glow of three Commissioner’s trophies!

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Episode 76: One. More. Win.

Buster Posey congratulates Madison Bumgarner after another magical performance: a complete game shutout in a 5-0 victory over the KC Royals that have put the Giants up 3-2 in the World Series and on the precipice of a dynasty. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Download episode 76 here, or stream it below!

[audio http://torturecast.podomatic.com/enclosure/2014-10-28T00_30_54-07_00.mp3]

One. More. Win.

And the San Francisco Giants will be World Champions for the third time in five seasons.

We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to talk about our favorite team, potentially on the eve of the clincher as the Giants head back to Kansas City up three games to two. If not tomorrow, then perhaps game 7. Even if they don’t win it all, this has been a hell of a ride.

Listen to episode 76 as Willie, Ben, Chad, and lucky charm guest Eric break down the first five games of the World Series and look forward to a hopeful clincher in either game 6 or 7.

These moments, right now, are why we do this show.

The TortureCast, the podcast by and for fans of the San Francisco Giants.

Good luck, and let’s bring it home, boys!

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Episode 75: We’re Going to the World Series!

Unreal. The San Francisco Giants have won the National League Pennant and are in the World Series for the third time in the last five years.

Unreal. The San Francisco Giants have won the National League Pennant and are in the World Series for the third time in the last five years.

You can download episode 75 here, or stream it below!

[audio http://torturecast.podomatic.com/enclosure/2014-10-21T00_34_38-07_00.mp3]

Incredibly, our boys in black and orange have done it for a third time in five years! In a rousing 4-1 NLCS win over the St. Louis Cardinals, the Giants move onto the fall classic to face the young upstart Kansas City Royals beginning Tuesday night. Willie, Ben, Chad and guest Eric Nathanson review the NLCS, including the momentous homeruns hit by Michael Morse and Travis Ishikawa that have left indelible marks in Giants’ lore. In the last half of the podcast, we preview the Royals, their strengths and weaknesses, and how the Giants might exploit them. We also talk about Hunter Pence’s lack of geography knowledge, a horrible ESPN article, our favorite guys and we make series predictions (hint, all 4 of us take the Giants). Tune in for a jam-packed special World Series episode of the TortureCast!

 

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Episode 74: NLCS Tied 1-1

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

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[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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Episode 73: NLCS!

I wonder if the Giants will put up a chalk outline on the wall to commemorate this catch?

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or stream it below!

[audio http://torturecast.podomatic.com/enclosure/2014-10-08T23_32_08-07_00.mp3]

The Giants were considered the 10th seed in the MLB playoffs, yet here they are, demolishing the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals to become one of the “Final Four” in Major League Baseball. Willie, Chad and Eric (@2outhits) discuss the Giants’ chances in the NLCS vs the Cardinals and what makes these teams so special in episode 73 of the TortureCast!

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