For the Giants, winning requires losing

For the Giants, winning requires losing
October 23, 2012, 5:03 am
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The Giants first seventh game in 50 years wasnt a game at all, but a high-speed parade with bits of debris stuck in the grill work. It was also a tribute to Indonesia during the monsoons, but that was just something for the tourists and the TV folks.And something to scare Giants trainer Dave Groeschner.Im out there scared to death about the mound, that one of our pitchers is going to slip and hurt his arm or something, he said. But I knew the umpires werent going to stop it, and besides, why would we do anything easy?Well, there is that. Even in the final few flooded moments of their 9-0 victory over St. Louis and the propulsion into their second World Series in three years, they couldnt back in. They had to do a little more stunt work first.Hunter Pence hit a three-run double up the middle, three times in one swing. Marco Scutaro sno-coned the final popup. Matt Cain struggled with the strike zone before subduing it, with an RBI single as an exclamation point. And on and on and on into that sodden happy night.BAGGARLY: The Giants win the pennantAnd in 43 hours, they would have to do it all again, and even weirder, against the Detroit Tigers. They do so soaking wet and scorching hot. Comfortable and balancing on a hot knife-edge. And looking for one more way to scare themselves to death, as they have all year.The Giants have embraced this postseason while wearing a damp dynamite overcoat.They didnt overcome adversity as much as they kicked it in the throat. They didnt overcome the threat of elimination as much as they wore it like a shiny orange fez.The Giants, in short, are the 2010 team, only with a death-cheaters swagger they couldnt even pretend to attempt two years ago.And to play this out to the end, they will require one demonstration of proof against the Tigers. After winning their sixth elimination game in 13 days, winning the World Series apparently will require that they lose the first two games of the series.And no, this isnt the third bottle of Tractor Shed Red talking, or the lead paint inhalation problem acting up. This is now what they do.In laying out the Cardinals in such perfectly bizarre fashion, the Giants have made claim to the elimination game as their chosen idiom. With the dark hand of Uncle Death ready to clutch their very throats (or something like that), they outscored the Cardinals, 20-1. And in defying logic, they have refashioned it for themselves.So now you see how the Series has to play out for them to get maximum value. They have to lose Game 1 to Justin Verlander in a 60-mph wind, and Game 2 to Max Scherzer in an unplayable fog. And both games must feature systematically starved seagulls who view the players as grub on the hoof.RELATED: VERLANDER STATSIt isnt the only way to win the Series, and by most analytics it is a stupid way to do it. But it is the way the Giants seem to like it best these days. Its like when we won (Game 5) in St. Louis (behind Zito), Scutaro said while cradling his LCS MVP trophy. It just seemed like the ball started bouncing our way.And when Game 7 came along, the Giants had their best pitcher, the redoubtable Cain.Hey, hes the guy Id want out there, Game 6 winner Ryan Vogelsong said. I think it started with Barry, but it ended with the right guy.Tales will be told of the extraordinary alchemy Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean affected to make this team . . . well, this team. Brian Wilson became Santiago Casilla who became Sergio Romo, the guy who ended it. Tim Lincecum became Vogelsong. Freddy Sanchez became Ryan Theriot who became Scutaro. Carlos Beltran became Melky Cabrera who became Pence. Orlando Cabrera became Brandon Crawford. Madison Bumgarner became Zito. Pablo Sandoval became a much better Sandoval. Brandon Belt, who homered the last run of the series over the steam cannons in right, became a more reliable Brandon Belt.And Cain pretty much stayed the same.Not all these changes worked out ideally, but the Giants arent an ideal team. They have flaws. They are, however, indigestible. The more you tenderize them, the tougher they are to swallow.This strangely zen approach to the task of winning baseball games makes them hard to figure in the Series, even against a Detroit team that had the seventh best record in the American League. And to be sure, this is Detroit team with its own advantages. Verlander comes about as close as a pitcher can come these days to putting the other team two games in the hole. He beat Oakland twice, crushed New York in Game 3 of the ALCS sweep, and is aligned to start Game 1 against the Unsinkable Molly Brown . . . err, Zito.SPOTLIGHT: The Detroit Tigers
So assuming Verlander is Verlander, and as such the best pitcher the Giants have faced since The Disappearing Steven Strasburg subdued them August 15, the Giants may well have to figure out how to win four out of the other five games to reprise their World Series of two years ago.And if that seems unduly pessimistic at a time like this, you may blame them. They choreographed their postseason for maximum shock value. They juggle cleavers. They saw themselves in half. They scare the audience without scaring themselves. They wait until only the foolhardy proceed, and then they break into a dead sprint. This is what they do now. This is who they are.The conditions be damned.

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