Singin In the Rain: the Giants Win the NL Pennant in a Wash

GeneKellyIn this version of Gene Kelly's classic film it was forty thousand Giant fans who were splashing in the puddles along King Street in delirious love with their National League Pennant-winning Giants.

It was pouring rain and it didn't matter. In fact, for those of us in the stands who had just watched the San Francisco Giants clinch the National League Championship Series over the St. Louis Cardinals with a 9-0 win, the rain was perfect. Everything was perfect.

Giants’ starter Matt Cain once again proved his mettle and tenacity battling a St. Louis line-up that finished the regular season second in NL runs scored (765) and first in OBP (.338). Cain pitched into the 6th inning and gave up five hits and 1 walk with 4 strike-outs.

Giant hitters pounded out 14 hits, including 2 doubles and a home run to squash any hope the Cardinals had of moving on to the 2012 World Series.

The tote-board for St. Louis was a tsunami of bad numbers: starter Kyle Lohse gave up 5 earned runs in 2 innings; the Cards’ bullpen backed that up with 7 innings of consistent imperfection: 8 hits, 4 walks and 4 earned runs.

San Francisco’s defense, which led the Majors in errors at the stormy start of the 2012 season, was game-changing in its perfection. Throughout the NLCS shortstop Brandon Crawford and right fielder Gregor Blanco made a half dozen dazzling plays that killed potential rallies and kept San Francisco’s momentum going.

But one startling set of numbers perfectly defines the Giants’ crushing dominance in the 2012 NLCS: in San Francisco’s four wins they outscored St. Louis 27-2, including two shut-outs.

Game 5: The Critical Difference
NLCS Game 5 was the first potential elimination game for San Francisco after the Cards took a 3-1 lead in the Series. But starter Barry Zito gave the performance of his career by shutting out St. Louis for 7.2 innings with 6 hits and 1 walk. The Giants took Game 5 by a score of 5-0 and the team was obviously inspired by Zito's performance against the Cardinal hitters. Without Barry Zito there is no Game 7 to win.

Marco Scutaro: It Was All About Hitting, Not Getting Hit
Scutaro was named the NLCS MVP as he become the first player in history with 6 multi-hit games in a League Championship Series; he tied the LCS record with 14 hits (and did that with the fewest number of plate appearances among the other record-holders).

And anyone who thinks that the Cards’ Matt Holliday’s illegal take-out of Scutaro at second base in Game 2 somehow “inspired” Scutaro to hit better might remember this: Marco Scutaro finished third in the National League in hits this season with 190.

He is apparently one of those players who brings a quiet dominance to the clubhouse and the Holliday incident seems to have affected his teammates and the fans more than it did him. The best way of thinking about Scutaro is that he’s a number three hitter who is batting second in the line-up.

pence3Hunter Pence: Woody Harrelson on Caffeine
Hunter Pence has become the crazy uncle on the 25 man roster. His super-charged pre-game inspirational rants are already a legend in Giants lore; his physical demeanor at the plate and in the field are moments that make you stop whatever you’re doing to just watch him.

No other hitter in baseball history did what Pence did in the bottom of the 3rd inning of Game 7. When Cards’ starter Kyle Lohse loaded the bases with no outs in front of Pence, reliever Joe Kelly was summoned from the bullpen. Pence swatted a Kelly pitch and the baseball broke his bat. Then the momentum of his swing made the bat hit the ball a second time.

And then, incredibly, his bat hit the baseball a third time before it bounded between second base and shortstop Pete Kozma. Kozma misjudged the crazy spin Pence put on the ball and actually took a step toward third base before he made an unsuccessful course correction. The ball wamped past Kozma's glove and into center field where John Jay let it bounce off his glove.

All three Giant runs scored on the damnest double ever hit by a San Francisco Giants player.

The Rain
The Sunday night before the game the San Francisco Bay Area was hit by an Alaskan storm that produced several inches of rain. At the game's 5:00PM start time the rain had let up, but sprinkles and then large drops began to appear by the 8th inning. It would be just a hint of the deluge to come.

In the 9th inning as the rains picked up, virtually every fan in AT&T Park stood up laughing and cheering waving their soaking wet orange rally towels. As reliever Javier Lopez valiantly tried to get the final Cardinal hitter out (a certain Matt Holliday) the rain was coming down in sheets.

No one (and I mean no one) left the Park, reveling in the utter joy of this Giants team going to the World Series and the experience of getting completely soaked to the skin doing it. Finally Sergio Romo came in from the bullpen as small bodies of water were forming in the infield and got Matt Holliday to pop out. To a certain Marco Scutaro.

And the puddle splashing party on King Street started in earnest.

Richard Dyer

About Richard Dyer

Writer, bass player, carrot juice wrangler. His Twitter following is limited to one person at a time. "My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music." --Vladimir Nabokov