Hello, East Coast. It’s 1:40 a.m. where I am, which means it’s 4:40 a.m. where you are. I don’t know what you do for a living, but your alarm clock might go off in an hour or two. Maybe 20 danged minutes. Good luck with your day. Live in the moment.
When you get a second, though, we should probably talk about the Giants/Cubs game. It was the dumbest, most beautiful game of the season, and I promise that’s only half-hyperbolic. You had to sleep, so I get it, you couldn’t watch. I’m here to help.
Here is the dumb. Here is the beauty. You missed it, but you deserve to relive it. Here are all the dumb, beautiful things that happened in the Giants/Cubs NLDS Game 3.
1. Jake Arrieta hit a three-run homer off Madison Bumgarner
If you’re a Cubs fan, how do you not think the stars have aligned after this homer?
It was a two-strike count. Madison Bumgarner, after wheezing through a stressful inning, finally got the pitcher in a two-strike spot. Before throwing that pitch, the Giants were slight favorites to win the game. After the pitch, the Cubs were overwhelming favorites. And that’s before you consider the fact that the Giants can’t really hit and the Cubs are historically good.
2. Madison Bumgarner was giving up runs in the first place
Another sign. The Giants built their resume on annihilating previously unbeatable postseason pitchers. Cliff Lee waltzed into AT&T Park in 2010 with a bunch of graphics and chyrons comparing him to Bob Gibson. Justin Verlander was the reigning MVP and Cy Young when he faced the Giants in the 2012 World Series, and he was going to be the Cy Young runner-up in a month.
They didn’t have their best games, and that’s because the best postseason pitchers aren’t magic. They’re excellent pitchers who are imperfect and occasionally stumble. It was finally Bumgarner’s turn. "Good," the baseball world yelled out the window. "Good. About time."
3. There was a weird replay that everyone agreed should be overturned, but wasn’t
The announcers. The straw poll in my house. Twitter. Twitter doesn’t agree on anything, you know. But we all agreed that this was a leadoff single.
This vine is interesting... https://t.co/xDL8EyMgBS— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) October 11, 2016
Slow it down, pause it, whatever. It looks like a single no matter how you parse it.
But there was a chance that Anthony Rizzo’s cleat fuzz had an atom or two on the base, so there was no way to overturn the call on the field. Had the umpire called the runner safe, the replay would have taken six seconds.
As is, it was another reminder of replay’s imperfections. It’s just the worst system, other than having no system at all.
It would have stung more if the next batter (Brandon Crawford) didn’t ground into what would have been an easy double play. But that’s a technicality.
4. Aroldis Chapman came in for a six-out save, and got exactly one out
That makes it sound like he was blown up, and I suppose he was, but that doesn’t do justice for the supreme weirdness of the inning. The Giants, with a short bench and a lefty-heavy team, had to send up Hunter Pence and three straight left-handed hitters to hit against Chapman.
Pence struck out, which left everything in the hands of the left-handed hitters. Against Aroldis Chapman.
Just 44 left-handed hitters had plate appearances against Chapman this year, and that wasn’t an accident. Just five of those hitters got a hit, and seven of them got a walk. Yet, the Giants sent up three left-handed hitters in a row, and all of them got a hit.
Including this guy:
5. Conor Gillaspie was on the Giants for some reason, getting the big hit again
He was a first-round pick by the GIants in 2008, a supplemental pick taken after some dude named Buster Posey. But he was caught in a roster crunch and traded away before the 2013 season started. He found a starting job with the White Sox for a couple years, then floated around as a minor league free agent.
He found his way back to the Giants. If this sounds familiar it’s because a) Gillaspie got the big hit last week in the Wild Card Game and b) the Giants did this almost exact same thing already with Travis Ishikawa in 2014.
6. The Giants blew another save
Giants blew 30 saves during regular season, most by any team to make playoffs since saves became official stat in 1969 (via @eliassports)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 11, 2016
And after Gillaspie gave them a surprise lead late, the Giants turned to Sergio Romo, who was their closer in 2012 and 2013. Romo was their fourth choice to close this season, though, as the Giants turned to Santiago Casilla, Hunter Strickland, and Derek Law at different times before this. All of them failed.
Romo failed, too. Because that’s just how the Giants’ season has gone.
The homer hit off the top of the Chevron car in left:
It was a taller car away from being a double. And yet the Giants absolutely can’t complain about that sort of thing.
Ez come, ez go.
7. There was defense
Oh, my word, how there was defense.
This saved the game for the Cubs in the bottom of the ninth:
Albert Almora saves the day. And a double play. #TheKidsCanPlay #Cubs https://t.co/w8Y7HTZ1L8— Matthew Schwerha (@MSchwerha) October 11, 2016
This probably saved the game for the Giants in the 12th:
In between, there were other great plays.
8. It’s now, like, 3:30 a.m., and I’m just going to ask you to trust me, that game was outstanding
It started with a pitcher’s duel of pitcher’s duels. Jake Arrieta vs. Madison Bumgarner. It included a pitcher home run and the puncturing of a postseason legend. It featured a go-ahead triple from an unlikely source against an unbeatable pitcher, only to get flipped upside down again in the top of the ninth inning. From there, it took another four innings before Joe Panik could win the game against poor Mike Montgomery, who deserved better.
It was the game of the postseason so far. And everyone missed it because it took five hours and ended in the middle of the night.
The Giants get to play another game. And another game in the postseason makes the Cubs think, if you’ll pardon the technical term, ruh roh.
The odds still overwhelmingly favor the Cubs in the series. But what started with an unlikely home run ended with an unlikely walk-off hero, and in between there was all sorts of nonsense. The Giants have been pretty good at the nonsense over the years. The Cubs are learning to do their part for the nonsense arts, too.
What a game. What a dumb, beautiful game. It’s a shame you missed it. This postseason game, he said in his best Stefon voice, had everything. Pitchers hitting homers and closers blowing saves, with some beautiful defense in between. It really was dumb and beautiful.
It certainly didn't make a lot of sense, though. I suppose the best baseball games rarely do.