They don't, they just don't. And when they do happen, like they did last year in Game 6, they don't happen again. Everyone gets all excited about "hey, they've done it before" but the other team knows it as well and puts them away, maybe after a short scare. But they don't happen twice.
Until they do.
I'm a terribly nervous playoff game watcher. I flip away, I do other things while keeping an eye on the game, things of that nature. In fact, that's what made last year's NLDS Game 5 so memorable--I spent the whole game watching, pacing in front of my TV and sharing on Twitter. This year, it was poker night and instead of watching, I went out there after a meeting. (Before you slag me too hard, that's also where I spent Game 7 last year, and that worked out OK.)
Of course, before I even get out there it's 3-0 and as I keep following along on MLB At Bat, it moves up to 6-0. I was on record as saying I thought Gio Gonzalez would be tough to beat anyway, and I just couldn't see this team getting six runs against him. 12 in '12 was nice, but it sure didn't look like it was going to happen.
Shows what I know. Thankfully.
I kept watching and seeing how they were rallying. 6-1. Then 6-3, but even that made me question things. I mean, bases-loaded no-outs (for the second time in the series) and they did get two runs but without a hit. I had to wonder if they were going to be able to get that big hit when they needed it.
6-4. Then Daniel Descalso--man, if I did Heroes and Goats for the postseason, there's no doubt DD would have been my Hero for this one--launches a home run. Descalso! They don't give MVPs for the first round, but he would have been in the discussion. Two home runs and he could have had a third if Jayson Werth doesn't rob him in Game 1. (Then again, if Werth doesn't rob him, I don't think we are playing a Game 5.)
So Jason Motte comes in and I'm thinking, "Well, heart of the lineup up in the ninth, there's a chance for someone to pop one." Right about that time Motte allows the RBI hit to Kurt Suzuki and it seems like all is lost. You know how basketball teams get down and they scratch and claw back to a few points down, but never get over that hump and that's as close as they get? That's a little what the eighth felt like.
Then there was the ninth.
I'm sure those that I was playing with would have been much more annoyed with the fact I kept holding up the game by paying more attention to my phone (which was quickly draining battery trying to keep up) than the action at the table. When Carlos Beltran was on third with two outs, it didn't seem like there was enough magic to do more than just cut into the gap, maybe.
Then Drew Storen couldn't find the strike zone.
Yadier Molina had been cold, including swinging earlier at a 2-0 pitch out of the zone to fly out with runners on. Yet Yadi was patient, knowing that base runners were so very valuable right then.
David Freese had been hot, but he was also patient and didn't try to replicate his big moment from last year. He knew that it was better to draw the walk than to reach for a pitch in anxiousness to be the hero. Which was even more impressive because he knew that the bottom of the lineup was coming up.
So the season rode on Daniel Descalso and, after him, Pete Kozma. If you'd told a Cardinal fan that in April, they'd never have believed that this team could have been playing in October if that was the case. They'd have assumed it was some September game that was the difference in them being eliminated or not, because there's no way those guys are regulars on a playoff team.
Desclaso went up there with a plan and executed it, bouncing a ball off of Ian Desmond's glove and tying the game. Kozma then continued what is going to make for THE most intriguing question of the offseason--exactly how much of this is real and how much can you count on him for 2013--and drove in the two winning runs.
A 1-2-3 inning from Motte later, the National fans are going home with a hole in their stomach while the Cards are taking the ultimate Happy Flight.
It's been almost half a day later. I watched an hour of ESPN coverage last night on the game. I have read many articles this morning about it. I've written this post, even. And yet I still don't have my head around this whole thing. These things just don't happen. They definitely don't happen twice.
Until they do.
Obviously, I've not had a chance to really look at the Giants as we shift focus to the NLCS. You know the experience issue won't be a factor there as the Giants were the 2010 World Series champs and a lot of the same guys are still there. We know they have good pitching, but offensively they are challenged. If the Cards are able to contain Buster Posey and Hunter Pence (who has always bedeviled the Cards), I feel good about their chances in this one. The two teams did split their six meetings this season, splitting four games in St. Louis in August (one of which belied the thoughts about the offense as San Francisco won 15-0) and (if you do the math this isn't a surprise) split a two-game series in AT&T Park back in May.
Lance Lynn will start off the series for the Cardinals. Lynn came out of the 'pen in the NLDS, most notably giving up the home run to Werth in Game 4 and also allowing two home runs in his three innings of work in Game 2, which came after the Cardinals had a healthy lead. He shouldn't have to worry as much about home runs in this game, though SF can strike if he's not careful.
The Giants have been able to get to Lynn in a small sample. He's only seen them once this year, allowing four runs in six innings on August 7. That was in the middle of Lynn's skid this season, before he got demoted to the bullpen and got some words of wisdom from Chris Carpenter. Hopefully we'll see the new Lynn and not that one.
It's not listed on the official page, but ESPN said last night that Madison Bumgarner would be the Game 1 starter for the Giants. If so, it's a great way for the Giants to get a quick lead in the series.
The Cards have often struggled with lefties anyway and Bumgarner is no exception. St. Louis got to him out in San Francisco, jumping on him for four runs in seven and a third back in May, and they also beat him in St. Louis in August, getting three off of him in six innings. So maybe a lot of this sample was done last year. Bumgarner is still a very good pitcher (16-11, 3.37 ERA, close to a strikeout an inning) but hopefully the Redbirds can take confidence from those games earlier in the season.
Got some great ways for you to be involved in the NLCS and I'll share those with you in another post shortly. Also, Bob Netherton is writing The Bird's Eye View for the NLCS and if you aren't getting those series previews delivered to your mailbox, you can sign up for it right here.
Pick your adjective, folks, but last night was incredible. Let's make sure it's not the last highlight of October, though!
The BBA has, as a secondary aim, the goal of producing year-end
awards in a similar fashion to the Baseball Writers of America. These
awards can be found at the official site in October with links back to the voters,
ensuring transparency and, most likely, the onset of some good baseball