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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Giants One Step Away From Date With Destiny, Kansas City

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 5:30 AM

click to enlarge One Giant step to go... - JOE ESKENAZI
  • Joe Eskenazi
  • One Giant step to go...
Baseball is a cyclical sport. Every 30 years, like clockwork, Kansas City makes the World Series. Every even year, like clockwork, the San Francisco Giants win the World Series. It's a bit like the Foucault pendulum at the Academy of Sciences that knocks over the pegs at regular intervals. 

And, in the postseason, the games last about as long, too. 

In this extended playoff run, the Giants have perfected another reliable routine: Scoring runs without the benefit of registering hits, and profiting from opponents' tendencies to unleash wild throws. For a spherical object, a baseball can take some pretty funny bounces — and, so far, it's all bounced San Francisco's way. 

That's how it went once again last night, as the home side put away St. Louis, 6-4, and moved within one game of punching a return ticket to the Series. Tonight, Madison Bumgarner can finish off the Cardinals, just as he's managed to do with alarming amounts of the beer produced by the conglomerate that once owned that team

Wednesday night's contest was about as taut as a slow-paced, Wagnerian, four-hour playoff ballgame can be. And though the Giants fell behind early, and though St. Louis was swatting everything Ryan Vogelsong offered up into the far reaches of AT&T Park, there was an assuredness among the 43,000 and change gathered in the park. Everyone seemed to know the Giants were going to make a game of it. 

Well, that's new. 

And, sure enough, they did. In the third, pinch hitter Joaquin Arias singled for the ineffective Vogelsong, and moved to third after two productive outs. Sometimes, you need a hit: And Buster Posey delivered. Moments later Hunter Pence singled in Posey and, just like that, a 4-1 deficit was reduced to 4-3. 

In relief of Vogelsong, ongoing revelation Yusmerio Petit took the mound. The journeyman resembles an imam who moonlights as a furniture mover. But, for the Giants, he's been the indispensable man. After six shutout innings in the team's methuselean victory over Washington, he tossed three more scoreless frames Wednesday— and won the damn game.

That came courtesy of a three-run outburst in the sixth in which, once again, the Giants scratched out runs sans hits.

With Juan Perez on third and Brandon Crawford on second, Gregor Blanco hit a shot to first baseman Matt Adams, playing shallow. The burly infielder double-clutched and came home. Perhaps he shouldn't have: Perez scored on a spectacular slide, and catcher Tony Cruz couldn't handle the low throw anyway. One batter later, Joe Panik rapped another bullet Adams' way. He nonchalantly stepped on first to initiate the inning-ending double play — but tossed wide to second, allowing Blanco to scamper in safely and Crawford to break for home.

(It was a forgettable half-inning for Adams who, to boot, could have caught Crawford wandering too far off third if he'd bothered to look that way. He didn't.)

So, the Giants registered the tying and go-ahead runs in what has become their arch-typical manner. Then, for good measure, Posey ripped another single to left, giving San Francisco a 6-4 lead. In a tight series, a two-run bulge seemed downright luxurious.

Right now, the Giants are exactly where they want to be. Their ace is rested and ready, and one more win puts them in a matchup with Kansas City in which San Francisco will play the role of ambitious wicked stepsister to the Royals' Cinderella. 

But that's putting the cart before the horse. A team succeeding so improbably could undergo any number of tribulations before notching that elusive final win. Because baseball is only cyclical until it's not. And then, in the words of Joaquin Audujar — a man who was forcibly dragged from the field in the clinching game of the Royals' last World Series triumph before smashing a toilet with a baseball bat — "YouNeverKnow." 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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