Programming note: Tune in to Giants October Quest, today at 4 p.m. leading up to first pitch of NLCS Game 2, and again following the final out, only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!
SAN FRANCISCO It was cruel enough to be sick for Game 1 ofthe NLCS Sunday night.
But my couch-bound experience got a little better once Istreamed KNBR on my MLB app, paused the DVR on my TV just long enough to syncup the audio, and hit the mute button on Joe Buck.
Ill be back at AT&T Park tonight for Game 2 (I do notrecommend coming down with a cold and food poisoning simultaneously, by the way),but here are a few observations I jotted on the back of an envelope betweengulps of Gatorade last night:
--Madison Bumgarner just doesnt have anything left. Heisnt out in front on any of his pitches. Theres no crispness or late life tohis stuff, and that was never more apparent than when he couldnt get a pitchpast pitcher Lance Lynn who was 3 for 50 in the regular season.
RELATED: Box score -- Cards 6, Giants 4
This is kind of what I expected from Bumgarner down thestretch two years ago, when his innings count soared from the previous year inthe minors. He didnt let down as a 21-year-old, of course, and won Game 4 of the 2010 WorldSeries on Halloween night. Perhaps now were finally seeing the result of allthose innings at such a young age.
Bruce Bochy said after the game that Bumgarners next startfor Game 5 is an open proposition. I think Barry Zito is pretty much assured astart now, whether its Game 4 or Game 5 with Tim Lincecum starting Game 4.
--Bochy has been a savant in the postseason, but he mighthave made his first major blunder by leaving Bumgarner in to face CarlosBeltran in the fourth. With Beltrans blinding bat speed, there was no way thatconfrontation would turn out well for the Giants unless he hit a rocket atsomeone. The two-run homer ended up being the difference in the game.
--Hey, the Cardinals bullpen is pretty good. I had no ideathe Oak Ridge Boys could throw like that.
--Actually, you might find it interesting that the Cardsbullpen, despite a series of truck-stop characters who throw 95-plus, had thehighest relief ERA of all five NL playoff teams. The Giants were fourth. Thattells you something about the Reds, Braves and Nats bullpens, doesnt it? Icant remember the last time there was so much terrific relief pitching in theNL at one time.
On a related note, hey, getting an early lead is a greatidea.
--Jeremy Affeldt is such a valuable relief pitcher becausehe can face righties as well as lefties, and he almost always keeps the ball inthe park. Everything breaks down. And my word, Santiago Casilla had thenastiest stuff Ive seen from him since the first half. A 95 mph two-seamer,breaking on the hands of right-handed hitters? And a power curve in his backpocket? Almost seems unfair.
--I thought Mike Krukow nailed it in his commentary on KNBR:Every single Cardinals pitcher was just pumping fastball after fastball. Itwas, Here it is, hit it.
That tells you what the scouting reports must say. And youknow what? Theyre dead on. Pablo Sandoval was late on everything, Hunter Penceis lunging and not balanced at all, and Brandon Belt just about got the batknocked out of his hands on his bloop single.
The only two fastballs turned around all night were onGregor Blancos triple and Brandon Crawfords double.
Blanco, Crawford, Daniel Descalso, Pete Kozma its amazinghow much production both teams are getting out of the lower third of the order.
--Would it be insane to suggest moving Blanco to third andSandoval to seventh?
--Jose Feliciano can sing the National Anthem backwards withsynth-pop and experimental percussion for all I care. Ill get goosebumps. And Ilove that Tony Bennett checks his pitch before God Bless America. Even at 86,he is pitch perfect, every single time.
I feel badly for whomever the Giants arrange to sing forGame 2 and beyond. It really cant get any better.
Luckily, I'm much better today. Off to the ballpark in a little while.