Oct. 10, 2010
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ATLANTA -- Having hustled down to the field for a little live TV and weaved my way through a mostly empty but still joyous Giants clubhouse, I'm back in the Turner Field press box now, marveling at the sea of silence and strewn-about paper.
Crunch time for a baseball writer comes after the game, but you know what? I'm all writered out.
Need proof? I just made up the word "writered."
This is my 10th blog entry of the day, and what a day it's been. Highs, lows, upper-thigh rubs from Ray Ratto. A stirring 3-2 win for San Francisco. Sensory overload.
So I'm packing up. Ray's packing up, too, and if our Senior Insider is leaving, so is this Junior.
Before I go, though, a few quick words about Madison Bumgarner, who'll get the ball for the Giants on Monday in Game 4.
Don't worry about this kid. Not one bit.
If ever a player seemed unlikely to let the hoopla affect him, it's the 21-year-old southpaw who gave his wife a bull calf for his most recent birthday and walks around looking like he's about 22 minutes removed from taking 14 Ambien.
MadBum is neither Mad nor a Bum. He's a big, strapping lad from Hickory, North Carolina, and he actually said he can't imagine the MLB Playoffs being a bigger deal than the state high school championships he played in a few years back.
I believe him. The Giants believe in him. So should you.
UPDATED: 4:50 P.M.
It's called walking the walk, and Aubrey Huff just did it.
All year long we've been hearing -- and in my case, telling -- about Huff's leadership, about his passion for the game, about thirst for postseason pressure.
And when show-me time came, Huff showed up. His two-out single to score Travis Ishikawa with the tying run in the top of the ninth was pure heart.
Speaking of heart, if you have one, it has to be going out to our friend Brooks Conrad. Wow.
Three errors, including a nutmeg grounder in the ninth to allow the go-ahead run to score? And a popped-up bunt?
He'll be lucky to get out of the players' parking lot in one piece.
UPDATED: 4:27 P.M.
It's going to be a very long winter for Sergio Romo if the Giants don't find a way to win this series.
It'll be a long one for Bruce Bochy, too, because his reputation as a players' manager just bit him hard.
How do you get such a rep? By going right back to someone who just had a bad game. It shows the guys you trust them, and in turn, they trust you.
This is not, however, a time to play buddy-buddy. It's time to play the percentages, and Romo, who gave up hits to the only two batters he faced Friday night and just gave up a two-run homer to Eric Hinske to put the Giants in a 2-1 hole entering the ninth, has retired only 40 percent of the batters he's faced in the two biggest games of San Francisco's season.
UPDATED: 4:08 P.M.
With all due respect to the Braves' bullpen, which has been fantastic in this series, the game just got a lot less interesting.
Tim Hudson is no a part of the proceedings, removed after seven innings of four-hit work and 106 pitches.
Let's give him a fond farewell. The run he allowed was unearned, he had Atlanta's only hit to far, and his barking at third-base umpire Ed Hickox in the seventh inning was a priceless little bit of theater.
No clue if Jonathan Sanchez is coming out for the bottom of the eighth, but if he leaves the game will lose more luster. He's at 100 pitches, and he's now the second lefty in Giants history to record at least 10 strikeouts in a postseason game.
They handed out foam tomahawks to every fan that passed through the gates here today, by the way, but thanks to the genius of Sanchez, the anticipated incessant chanting and chopping has been kept to a minimum.
Or maybe Braves fans finally realized how tired that whole thing is.
UPDATED: 3:51 P.M.
Gutsy move, Andres Torres stealing second base with two out in the top of the seventh.
Gutsy pitch, Tim Hudson fanning Freddy Sanchez to make it moot.
If this game doesn't get you going, check your pulse.
Two elite pitchers absolutely dealing in October, with something meaningful attached to everything they throw, every ball hit, every call the umpires make.
This is what we love about the postseason. Right here, right now.
It's a shame someone has to lose.
I'll be a bigger shame if the game ends up having been decided by Brooks Scissorshands.
But thats playoff baseball. Hero or goat, youre larger than life on the games big stage.
UPDATED: 3:36 P.M.
Quick: Who broke Frank Thomas' career RBIs record at Auburn University?
Same guy who just broke up Jonathan Sanchez's no-hitter.
That's right. Braves starter Tim Hudson. The dude can rake. When he wasn't carving people up on the mound at Auburn, he was killing people at the plate and patrolling center field for the Tigers.
Bummer for Sanchez, who's been dominant since the outset today, but at least the hit wasn't a cheapie. Hudson laced that ball.
Now it's game on. History will have to wait. It's a battle of wills now, and neither Hudson or Sanchez is showing any signs of backing down.
UPDATED: 2:56 P.M.
We've settled into a nice little pitcher's duel here at Turner Field. Jonathan Sanchez has walked one and retired everyone else, and Tim Hudson has figured out how to avoid balls being hit to Brooks Conrad.
Meanwhile, I'm amusing myself with frequent trips to the press-room soda fountain. It is there that you find out who is here to work and who is here to pretend they're cool.
Working: Hurried, head down, sweating, speaking very little.
Trying to look cool: Sitting, legs crossed, sipping from the same Starbucks cup they've been toting around for the past four hours, waxing nostalgic about the steakhouse they visited while "covering" the Super Bowl a few years ago.
You know who looks really cool right now? Sanchez.
And he looks cool because he's working, as in working the Braves over.
They're starting to swing at everything, because what the hell? If you're going to look silly sooner or later anyway, might as well make it sooner.
UPDATED: 2:20 P.M.
There is not a hole deep enough into which Brooks Conrad could crawl right now. Braves fans would find it, rappel into it, and beat him to within an inch of his life.
Conrad, a former A's farmhand listed by the Braves as an infielder, has looked more like baseball version of Wolverine in the NLDS. He's playing second base for Atlanta, and he's not playing it well.
He kicked a ball in Game 1, he bobbled a ball in the first inning here, and he just dropped a second-inning popup that allowed Mike Fontenot to score the game's first run.
If anyone in his family has a baby this offseason, they will likely be most uncomfortable should Mr. Conrad ask to hold it.
About Fontenot's triple: Braves rookie right fielder Jason Heyward, who had a bead on it before the wall got in the way, needs to stop watching Premier League soccer.
We get it, bro. You missed the ball. You're a little embarrassed. But don't pull the I-might-be-injured card.
And if you do, for crying out loud don't take a few leisurely sips from a Gatorade cup while the trainer stands there saying, "Can I go deal with the guys who are really hurt now, Jason?"
UPDATED: 2:05 P.M.
Nerves? What nerves?
Jonathan Sanchez didn't show any sign of being nervous in the first playoff inning of his life. Popup, strikeout, walk, strikeout.
Hey, you want perfect? That's not Sanchez. He walks guys. A lot. But he's not nicknamed "Dirty" because Beavis and Butthead get a kick out of saying it. The man's stuff is pure filth, as Brian McCann discovered when he took something offspeed for the last strike of the inning.
Aubrey Huff, by the way, made a heck of a catch of that foul pop. He was staring straight into the sun, and as the ball started its descent, it was pretty clear he couldn't see it. He made a nice recovery and made the catch, but it begs the question:
Why are your sunglasses on your hat, dude? Seems like they'd be a lot more effective elsewhere. Like on your eyes or something.
UPDATED: 1:54 P.M.
Aubrey Huff absolutely has to do a better job than that.
The Braves just gave the Giants a first-inning gift when Brooks Conrad tried to field Freddy Sanchez's hit-and-run grounder to second base with a meat cleaver, putting runner at first and second with nobody out. Momentum, Giants.
Huff, though, a pitch after putting on something of a petulant show at the plate after a borderline call went against him, struck out. Momentum, Braves.
The hit-and-run call, by the way, was a great one. As I noted before the series started, putting runners in motion to stay out of double plays when sinkerballers such as Tim Hudson are on the mound is key in this series.
But what followed Huff's K was, you have to assume, another hit-and-run call, and with Buster Posey at the plate, that made sense, too. But Posey swung through the pitch, Andres Torres was gunned down at third, and Turner Field went nuts.
It went nuts again when, with the bases loaded, Juan Uribe bounced harmlessly to third base to end the inning. More momentum, Braves.
Keep this in mind, though: Hudson threw 24 pitches in the inning. A few more high-stress frames like that and he's gone.
UPDATED: 1:17 P.M.
Not as many Giants fans here as I thought there might be, but they might be saving their money for NLCS tickets.
Either way, the vibe at here at Turner Field is similar to what youfind everywhere in big-league ball this time of year. People are jackedfor playoff baseball.
How else do you explain the guy I just saw while roaming the concourse?He was wearing a Tim Hudson No. 15 jersey with red tights under cutoffjorts (jeansshorts) -- as if it wasn't already pretty clear we were inredneck country -- and an Indian headdress.
And you know what? It worked for him. It's October. Anything goes.
As they often say here in the South, right after cutting someone toribbons verbally, as if adding it makes everything ok, "Bless hisheart."