2016 SF Giants – I Still Believe

2016 Giants

The 2016 SF Giants have their backs against the wall, yet I still believe.

I still believe. Brenda K. Starr – 1987

After losing game two to go down 2-0 in the NLCS against Godzilla, I mean the Chicago Cubs, the season rests upon the broad shoulders of that snot blowin’, shutout throwing, homer hitting, Puig hating, son-of-a-gun, Madison Bumgarner.

Later today, he takes the mound in what may be San Francisco’s only home playoff game this year. He faces Jake Arrieta, who when asked about Bumgarner said, “He’s good, but he’s beatable.

It’s yet another elimination game, which isn’t foreign to Bumgarner. Hell, it’s not foreign to many of these Giants players. Less than a week ago, Bumgarner beat the New York Mets in the wild card game with the season on the line. Less than two years ago, he took the mound in the 7th game of the World Series as a reliever and shut down the Royals for five innings to secure the Giants third championship since 2010.

Let’s not forget that 2012 Giants team who came back from a 2-0 deficit in the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds, winning the third game of that series thanks to a Hunter Pence speech and Joaquin Arias grounder misplayed by Scott Rolen. They would win the next two games of the series to complete the comeback thanks to the redemption of Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey ruining Mat Latos’ career.

But that wasn’t the only series that season in which they had to bust out the torturous theatrics. In the NLCS, the Giants spotted the Cardinals a 3-1 lead thanks to some terrible baseball. But game five became #RallyZito (which was so amazing in retrospect), the Ryan Vogelsong game happened in game six, and finally, they won game seven while Marco Scutaro drank in the rain.

So what does that have to do with this series against the King Kong Cubs? Not much. The Cubs are a different animal than those Reds and Cardinals teams were. In fact, this is probably the best team the Giants have faced in their recent run. The 2010 Philadelphia Phillies were damn good. But I don’t think they were this good.

The less said about the Cubs’ game two victory against the Giants, the better. The Giants needed to give starter Jeff Samardzija some runs to play with. More chucker/thrower than game one starter Johnny Cueto who defines the word pitcher, Samardzija has been up and down all season. Though much better than his 2015 campaign, he wasn’t quite as good as his 2014 campaign, when he made the All-Star team and had an incredible 1.07 WHIP compared to his career WHIP of 1.26.

Most Giants fans I heard from fully expected Samardzija to struggle back in Chicago, where he spent his first six and a half seasons. And it was up the Giants offense to pick him up. Well, they didn’t. Facing National League ERA leader Kyle Hendricks (by nearly a damn run), they did score two runs to counter the Cubs’ early four, but that’s all they’d get. George Kontos came in to relieve Samardzija and did well, until he gave up a home run to relief pitcher Travis Wood who replaced Hendricks after Angel Pagan lined a ball off his forearm and he had to leave the game. That left the Cubs with a 5-2 lead and the game would end that way.

That brings us to tonight. Madison Bumgarner can pitch another shutout, but unless the Giants offense comes to life, it probably won’t matter past game three. They have to hit and have to score runs so that the pitchers don’t feel like they need to throw zero run baseball. The key to the 2012 comebacks, beyond that game three in Cincinnati, is that they hit the hell out of the baseball when they needed to. In the last three games against the Cardinals to complete their comeback from down three games to one, they outscored them 20-1.

The Giants have guys in their lineup with big hits on their resume. They have guys who have come up huge in big games on their resume. They have guys who have helped complete historic comebacks. And they have Madison Bumgarner.

But they need leads. They are 0-64 this season when losing in the 9th inning. They haven’t had one single 9th inning comeback. And multiply that times a million when Aroldis Chapman is closing for the Cubs. He doesn’t give up leads. So not only do they need to score runs, they need to be ahead going into the 9th. It’s a tough task.

I’ve seen it happen though. I saw it happen in 2012 in two series in a row (hi Barry Zito). And I saw Bumgarner pitch in game 5 and then come back for game 7.

Like Brenda K. Starr, I still believe.

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